Ok, I hadn’t planned on such a whopper of a news letter, but why not go out with a bang! This week brings you our staff top picks of the year AND a pretty massive new arrival list as well. There were just too many great things in this week to skip them since there won’t be another list until the new year. That’s right, this is our final transmission of 2017. Thanks to everyone who came in over the year and bought records from us, it means the world to us. Have a safe and happy holidays, stop in on Boxing Day for our usual sale and see you all in 2018!
Sun Dec 24 – 12 – 4
Mon Dec 25 – Closed
Tues. Dec 26 – 11 – 5
Sun Dec 31 – 12 – 4
Mon Jan 1 – Closed
…..staff picks of 2017…..
Love Theme – Love Theme (Alter)
Carla Dal Forno – The Garden (Blackest Ever Black)
Rakta – Oculto Pelos Seres (La Vida Es En Mus)
F Ingers – Awkwardly Blissing Out (Blackest Ever Black)
Anthony Linell – Consolidate (Northern Electronics)
Dedekind Cut – The Expanding Domain (Hallow Ground)
Total Control – Laughing At The System (Alter)
Lebenden Toten – Mind Parasites (Self Released) and Static! (Iron Lung)
Internazionale – The Pale And The Colourful (Posh Isolation)
K. Burwash – Moonlanding, Static Control – Debris, Soft Ions – s/t (Pseudo Laboratories)
Mauno – Tuning (Idee Fixee) LP
Six Organs of Admittance: Burning the Threshold (Drag City) LP
Chad Van Gaalen: Light Information (Flemish Eye) LP
Jom Comyn: I Need Love (Double Lunch) CS
Why?: Moh Lhean (Joyful Noise) LP
Grandaddy: Last Place (Columbia) LP
Pissed Jeans: Why Love Now (Sub Pop) LP
Bully: Losing (Sub Pop) LP
Saltland: A Common Truth (Constellation) LP
The Caretaker: Everywhere at the End of Time Stage 3 (HAFTW) LP
Alice Coltrane- The Ecstatic Music of… Turiyasangitananda
Colleen- A Flame My Love, a Frequency
Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society- Simultonality
Colin Stetson- All This I do for Glory
Abdou El Omari- Nuits de Printemps
Fiver- Audible Songs From Rockwood
El Michels Affair- Return to the 37th Chamber
Midori Takada- Through the Looking Glass
John Bender- Plaster Falling
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Flying Microtonal Banana
Protomartyr: Relatives in Descent (Domino) LP
Daniel Romano: Modern Pressure (You’ve Changed) LP
Sheer Mag: Need to Feel Your Love (Wilsuns) LP
K.Burwash: Moonlanding (Pseudo Laboratories) CS
Not Waving: Good Luck (Diagonal) LP
War on Drugs: A Deeper Understanding (Atlantic) LP
Faith Healer: Try 😉 (Mint) LP
Metz: Strange Peace (Royal Mountain) LP
Wares: s/t (Double Lunch) CS
Lee Hazlewood: Requiem For An Almost Lady (Light in the Attic) LP
Jonny Nash/Lindsay Nash: Fauna Mapping (Island of the Gods) LP
Caterina Barbieri: Patterns of Consciousness (Important) LP
Sarah Davachi: All My Circles Run (Students of Decay) LP
Loke Rahbek: City of Women & Buy Corals Online (Editions Mego) LP
Iona Fortune: Tao of I (Optimo) LP
Ben Frost: The Centre Cannot Hold (Mute) LP
Yair Elazar Glotman: Compound (Subtext) LP
Transcendence Orchestra: Modern Methods for Ancient Rituals (Editions Mego) LP
Visible Cloaks: Reassemblage & Lex (RVNG Intl) LP
Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society: Simultonality (Eremite) LP
Coil: Time Machines (Dais) LP
Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda: The Ecstatic Music of (Luaka Bop) LP
Maria Teresa Luciani: Sounds of the City (Finders Keepers) LP
Roberto Musci: The Loa of Music (Soave) LP
NSRD: Workshop for the Resto Ration of Unfelt Feelings (Stroom ) LP
Steven Roach: Structures from Silence (Telephone Explosion) LP
Claudio Rocchi: Suoni di Frontiera (Die Schachtel) LP
Yasuaki Shimizu: Kakashi (Palto Flats) LP
Midori Takada: Through the Looking Glass (WRWTFWW/Palto Flats) LP
Hiroshi Yoshimura: Music for 9 Postcards (Empire of Signs) LP
Various: Even a Tree Can Shed Tears (Light in the Attic) LP
Various: Miracle Steps (Optimo) LP
Various: Mono No Aware (Pan) LP
Various: Tokyo Flashback (Black Editions) LP
Various: Wayfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmare (Numero) LP
…..picks of the week…..
Yasuaki Shimizu: Kakashi (Palto Flats) LP
“Originally released in 1982, Kakashi is another high water mark in the 80s Japanese underground. This album, which has gathered cult status in recent years, is the project of musical visionary Yasuaki Shimizu, and considered to be a highlight of his solo career. Shimizu was the bandleader of Mariah, who also saw their album Utakata No Hibi reissued by Palto Flats in 2015. Kakashi offers a similar blend of saxophone experimentations, jazz fusion and ambient dub excursions.”
File Under: Electronic, Jazz, Dub
Transcendence Orchestra: Modern Methods for Ancient Rituals (Editions Mego) LP
The title of the debut album from The Transcendence Orchestra outlines the modus operandi of this pairing of Anthony Child and Daniel Bean. Recorded in a remote English rural setting over a period of 24 hours, this is an apt location for a recording that eschews time and space in favor of methodological displacement and deep psychological navigation. Modern Methods For Ancient Rituals is an experiment in acoustic and synthetic symbiosis which is deeply influenced by the atmosphere and acoustics of the rural location of Cats Abbey resulting in a set of recordings which can aid to the transformation of consciousness. Deploying a range of ancient and modern instruments and effects, including Buchla Music Easel, harmonium, shruti box, bass guitar, hurdy gurdy, Electro Harmonix 45000, Strymon Blue Sky, and Roland RE 101 Space Echo, among others, Child and Bean conjure an audio experience which encapsulates elements of drone, trance, pulse, rhythm, and melody, subtly shifting all into a psychologically penetrating experience beyond the aesthetic and into the comforting unknown. Front cover image by Ali Wade; Back cover image by Cathrin Queins; Design by SOMA. Mastered and cut by Rashad Becker at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin, 2017.
File Under: Ambient, Electronic, Drone
Basil Kirchin: Worlds Within Worlds (Superior Viaduct) LP
“Basil Kirchin was a pioneering British composer who blurred the lines between musical genres. While his career began in the ’40s as a professional jazz drummer, in the ’60s he started to make field-recordings, painstakingly splicing tapes and slowing-down sounds until the source material would be virtually unrecognizable. Originally released on Island Records in 1974, Worlds Within Worlds juxtaposes Kirchin’s various tape manipulations – -amplified insects, animals, engines, glossolalia of children — with traditional musical instruments to form an organic totality that has the overall effect of otherworldly, ambient soundscapes. As Brian Eno writes in the liner notes on the original release, ‘Within the first couple of minutes it became obvious to me that Basil had not only discovered a whole new area of sound, but had exploited it with extreme skill and sensitivity, producing beautiful and evocative music as well. . . . So Basil Kirchin has made a double contribution: he has not only built the instrument, but has written and played the first successful works for it.’ Worlds Within Worlds remains a lost classic in sonic abstraction. This first-time reissue is recommended for fans of Broadcast, Aphex Twin and Nurse With Wound.”
File Under: Ambient, Experimental, Sound Collage
Alexander: s/t (No Label) LP
“Alexander is the solo guitar project of New Haven, CT native David Shapiro (Headroom, Nagual). After spending most of 2016 and 2017 touring behind an on-going series of improvised cassette releases that document the various locations Shapiro has lived, he settled down long enough to offer up a full-length LP of fingerpicking tunes. The nine tracks that make up Alexander are bound together by a melancholy sweetness that evokes a performer’s wandering lifestyle and the characters they meet along the way. Sonically tied to the ‘American Primitive’ school of guitar playing, Shapiro distinguishes himself with an exacting, almost academic focus, manipulating tempo and harmony with a confidence far beyond his young years. Where masters like Fahey and Basho drew from earlier musical lineage, Alexander incorporates a contemporary pool of influence, broadening the fingerstyle palette with patience and self-assuredness. Recorded on a guitar that Shapiro built himself, Alexander is an earnest and substantive debut that gives the listener a window into the player’s intimate devotion to his instrument and the language it speaks.” –Ian McColm Cover text by Cyd Goodwin. Recorded at Key Club Recording Company by Bill Skibbe. 180 gram vinyl; Pressed at Erika Records.
File Under: Folk, Guitar Soli
Derek Bailey: Solo Guitar Volume 1 (Honest Jon’s) LP
Honest Jon’s Records present Solo Guitar Volume 1, a reissue of Derek Bailey’s Solo Guitar release on Incus in 1971, with additional tracks included on previous reissues and a performance at York University in 1972. Kicking off a series of collaborations between Honest Jon’s Records and Incus: three double-LPs of the legendary free-improvising guitarist Derek Bailey, solo and in duos with Anthony Braxton and Han Bennink, augmenting the original releases with marvelous, previously unissued music. Recorded in 1971, Solo Guitar Volume 1 was Bailey’s first solo album. Its cover is an iconic montage of photos taken in the guitar shop where he worked. He and the photographer piled up the instruments whilst the proprietor was at lunch, with Bailey promptly sacked on his return. The LP was issued in two versions over the years — Incus 2 and 2R — with different groupings of free improvisations paired with Bailey’s performances of notated pieces by his friends Misha Mengelberg, Gavin Bryars, and Willem Breuker. All this music is here, plus a superb solo performance at York University in 1972, a welcome shock at the end of an evening of notated music. It’s a striking demonstration of the way Bailey rewrote the language of the guitar with endless inventiveness, intelligence, and wit. As throughout the series, the recordings are newly transferred from tape at Abbey Road, and remastered by Rashad Becker. The records are manufactured by Pallas.
Derek Bailey/Anthony Braxton: Royal (Honest Jon’s) LP
Honest Jon’s Records present a reissue of Derek Bailey and Anthony Braxton’s Royal, expanded to include both intended volumes. Volume 1 was originally released in 1984; the second volume was never issued. The second release in a series of collaborations between Honest Jon’s Records and Incus: three double-LPs of the legendary free-improvising guitarist Derek Bailey, solo and in duos with Anthony Braxton and Han Bennink, augmenting the original releases with marvelous, previously unissued music. Recorded in 1974, at the Royal Hotel in Luton, with Braxton playing soprano and alto saxophones, and Bb and contrabass clarinets. Two volumes were planned; only one was issued, till now. This was an early transatlantic meeting between the leading free improvisers. Many of Braxton’s signature techniques and ideas were gestated in such sessions. It still brims with inquisitive musical creativity and knockabout jazzbo allusiveness. Newly transferred from tape at Abbey Road, and remastered by Rashad Becker. The records are manufactured by Pallas.
Derek Bailey/Han Bennink: s/t (Honest Jon’s) LP
Honest Jon’s Records present a reissue of Derek Bailey & Han Bennink, originally released in 1972. The third release in a series of collaborations between Honest Jon’s Records and Incus: three double-LPs of the legendary free-improvising guitarist Derek Bailey, solo (HJR 200LP) and in duos with Anthony Braxton (HJR 201LP) and Han Bennink, augmenting the original releases with marvelous, previously unissued music. The tussling vegetables in Mal Dean’s cover-sketch somehow befit perfectly this extraordinary duo of Bailey and the great Dutch drummer Han Bennink. Recorded in London in 1972, Incus 9 was their second record (after an Instant Composers Pool in 1969), becoming a blueprint and inspiration for generations of free-improvisers. It is paired here with a brilliant session from the following year, with the same power and friendly combativeness, and oodles of creativity, technique, and humor. It’s obvious how much they loved playing together. Newly transferred from tape at Abbey Road, and remastered by Rashad Becker. The records are manufactured by Pallas.
Biosphere: Shenzhou (Biophon) LP
Biophon present a reissue of Biosphere’s Shenzhou, originally released by Touch in 2002. This expanded reissue includes a bonus album The Samphire Tower. Paul Cooper, of Pitchfork, on the album: “Shenzhou, aside from being the name of the Chinese manned-spaceflight vehicles, means ‘magic vessel’, and I can’t imagine a more apt description for Geir Jenssen’s latest excursion into ambient deep listening. . . . Jenssen again relies on found sound as source material for Shenzhou, but this time, the found sound is old vinyl recordings of the orchestral works of French Impressionist composer and ambient precursor, Claude Debussy. Jenssen lifts fragments of these scratched records in a similar manner as he did for Cirque’s ‘Black Lamb Grey Falcon’ and ‘Iberia Eterea’. The ten tracks (out of the dozen on the album) that follow this model all begin as a barely audible hum, like a small electrical transformer, out of which the dust-dappled loops of Debussy’s woodwind, brass, and strings emerge, condense, and fade out into pink noise rustles. Unlike Steve Reich’s phase pieces or Brian Eno’s Discreet Music, though, Jenssen doesn’t set his loops against each other to produce juxtapositions and piquant dissonance; he uses them to describe imagined terrain, at first glance monotonously flat and barren, but on concentration, replete with minute detailing. The overall effect of these pieces is a sense of immensity. The orchestral loops sound distant, abandoned in a vast wilderness, and strenuously battling against Arctic winds. Jenssen sets the listener down in this wilderness as an aloof observer, a witness to the music’s futile struggles against entropic forces. The two tracks not derived from Debussy share the same hypnotic aesthetic. The brief interlude ‘Bose-Einstein Condension’ is a loop of piano chords lolloping in search of coherence, while ‘Gravity Assist’ is a longer voyage into woofer-quaking low-frequency manipulation, bell-like drones, and contrails of subdued noise. I can’t help but feel that these tracks fit awkwardly and break up the conceptual flow of the album. This, however, is a minor quibble given the power of this music. Shenzhou is unquestionably a magic vessel, but one that reveals its enchantment only to those who pay close attention.”
Calcium: s/t (Monster Melodies) LP
Monster Mélodies present the never before released album by Calcium. A legendary French psychedelic rock album, recorded in 1969, of which only two tracks were released at the time. Percussionist Stéphane Vilar played with pianist Jef Gilson and recorded on his 1964 album Oeil Vision. Musician Graeme Allwright introduced Vilar to Marc’O, then director of the theater school of the American Center Boulevard Raspail. The director, looking for musicians to play rock n’ roll in his project Les Idols, hired Vilar along with jazz pianist Patrick Greussay, saxophonist Didier Malherbe (Gong, Clearlight), and guitarist Didier Léon who features on the Barney Wilen’s 1972 album Moshi. Stéphane then recruited jazz bassist Jacques Zins through Jérôme Savary. Les Idols is where the musicians who baptized The Rollsticks played. It was performed in 1966 and was later adapted for a feature film in 1968, where the same participants were joined by Valérie Lagrange. Stéphane Vilar then decided, together with his brother the painter Christophe, to create his own band which included some of the Rollsticks: Jacques Zins, Patrick Greussay, Didier Léon, drummer Alain Sirguy, and singer Danièle Ciarlet known as Zouzou. Model and muse of the Parisian night scene, Zouzou acted in Eric Rohmer’s Afternoon Love (1972). Considered to be the French Marianne Faithfull, she released two 45 EPs orchestrated by Jacques Dutronc. She represents the image of the liberated woman in France in the sixties. The group took the name of Jardin, and soon changed it to Calcium. Thanks to financial support from Sylvina Boissonnas, the group bought instruments and practiced and refined the compositions for a year before recording. Two recording sessions were held at the Davout studios in 1969. Christophe was replaced by guitarist Denys Lable who later recorded on Jean Claude Vannier’s L’enfant Assassin Des Mouches. After the recordings, Michel Taittinger, the heir of the namesake Champagne and television producer, obtained a contract with Pathé for the band. A single was put on the market without any promotion, resulting in poor sales. It’s now considered to be one of the rarest singles of French psychedelic rock. Due to the disinterest of the record company, which only wanted put Zouzou’s character forward to create a new Janis Joplin, the masters for the album were abandoned on a shelf for forty-eight years. Color vinyl; Includes two inserts; Edition of 1000 (numbered).
File Under: Psych, French
Michael Cosmic/Phill Musra Group: Peace in the World (Now Again) LP
“Potent mixes of spirituality, expressionist fire and electrified newness, these LPs are presented as the 7th entry in the Now-Again Reserve Edition, mastered from the original tapes. Contains download card for .Wav files of the full release — including bonus tracks by Phill Musra Group and World’s Experience Orchestra — and a booklet with extensive liner notes by jazz historian Clifford Allen, photos, show flyers and many other unpublished gems. In an homage to the original issues, both front and back cover feature hand-printed, pasted-on slicks.”File Under:
Crystalized Movements: Mind Disaster (Twisted Village) LP
Limited 2017 LP reissue of the first Cystalized Movements LP, Mind Disaster, in paste-on sleeve replicating the original 1983 edition — on the original label, Twisted Village. The Crystalized Movements were formed in 1980 by Wayne Rogers and Ed Boyden, two Tolland High School freshmen brought together by a mutual love of no wave and ’60s psychedelia. After three years of experimenting (and countless versions of “Gloria”), they decided in early 1983 that it was time to make an LP. They recorded loose duo versions of some of Wayne’s songs, and then promptly split up after graduating from high school in June of 1983. Wayne, under the spell of the Plastic Cloud and Randy Holden, then spent the summer piling on mounds of guitar overdubs. The results were issued as Mind Disaster at the end of that year in a bank-breaking edition of 130 (as Twisted Village #1001). After a minor stir in collectors’ circles, it was reissued on the UK Psycho label with a new cover in 1984. It was received by the “psychedelic revival” community with universal horror and quickly went out of print. Wayne, meanwhile, added new members to the band and it treaded on as a little-known Connecticut institution until 1992… The years have been kind to Mind Disaster, and its wah-wah and fuzz overload have made it a much sought after LP. After uncountable requests from our adoring public, Twisted Village finally reissue Mind Disaster, with its original cover. It is perhaps the last teenage garage-psych LP to be made in our time.File Under:
Elder: s/t + Demo (Armageddon) LP
Elder’s self-titled debut album from 2007 was an impressive offering of psychedelia-tinged stoner rock and doom that set the tone for the band’s later progressive developments. In 2006, three longtime friends and members of the small music scene anchored in the port city of New Bedford, Massachusetts got together with the mission of making music that was heavier and more brutal than anything happening around. The first version of Elder was an interesting beast, combining sludgy riffs, primitive black metal vocals and Genghis Khan-themed lyrics. After toiling in these murky waters for a year, the band shed their extreme metal origins and emerged with their first proper album, Elder, an album that would already establish the band as some of the best riff-dealers this side of Birmingham. To celebrate the record’s 10 year anniversary, this reissue comes with a second LP containing the band’s first ever recordings from their early days.File Under:
Equiknoxx: Colon Man (Demdike Stare) LP
Colón Man is the debut album proper by visionary Jamaican dancehall artists Gavin Blair (Gavsborg) and Jordan Chung (Time Cow) plus their extended crew, aka Equiknoxx — once again for Demdike Stare’s label. Where their widely acclaimed Bird Sound Power primer compilation, issued on DDS in 2016, brought the rest of the world up to speed with the music produced between late ’00s and 2015, their first album now brings a 2020 sound into sharp, technoid focus through a baker’s dozen steely, heat-seeking riddims galvanized with clinical electronics and a Midas Touch approach to sampling. The record’s title, Cólon Man refers to a Jamaican tale (and song) about a mysterious character, whom, like Marcus Garvey, was one of over 100,000 Jamaicans who returned from working in Cólon on completion of the Panama Canal. In context of the album, Gavsborg and Timecow take the story as a metaphorical foundational for a roots and future sound, acknowledging the vital groundwork of previous generations of producers, whilst soundly contextualizing their mutant new advancements of Jamaican dancehall. Recorded between December 2016 and June 2017, the results of Colón Man form a stark, stripped down and conceptually blinding record. In tone and texture, the duo favor far colder, more abstract sounds, crucially lit up with sparingly used samples that lend the record its dissonant, harmonic color and bittersweet hooks, stylishly feeding forward their playfully weird sense of humor into a rugged, nutty, and even noisily imagineered set. Bookended by the gauzy, Detroit-compatible synth looks and acid hall grind of “Kareece Put Some Some Thread In A Zip Lock”, and the mesh of Motor City sleekness with Far Eastern strings on “Waterfalls In Ocho Rios”, they distill and diversify their bonds in myriad ways across the album. There’s a killer dancehall/trap hybrid in the percolate chorales and man trills of “Plantain Porridge”, along with the secretive dub-into-dancehall transfusion of Addis Pablo’s melodica in the belly rolling “Melodica Badness”, while “Ceremonial Eating Dog” and the hyaline designs of “We Miss You Little Joe” — a tribute to their pal Alty Nunes — are arguably the most forward Jamaican riddims you’ll hear in 2017, and “Enter A Raffle… Win A Falafel” uncannily recalls the clockwork mechanics of Haruomi Hosono’s “Alternative 3”, from his S-F-X LP (1984). Curated by Jon K and Demdike Stare. RIYL: Lenky, Haruomi Hosono, Errorsmith. Mastered and cut by Matt Colton at Alchemy.
File Under: Electronic, Dancehall
F/I: Space Mantra (Sorcerer) LP
Sorcerer Records present a reissue of F/i’s Space Mantra, originally released on RRRecords in 1988. First time on vinyl for nearly 30 years for this classic slice of American space rock. Milwaukee’s F/i have been an ongoing concern since 1981, pioneering a certain brand of experimental rock which encompasses elements of industrial and psychedelic space-rock sounds. Originally a purely electronic outfit heavily influenced by Throbbing Gristle and prolific in the underground tape scene, they made the transition to “rock band” in the mid ’80s, and for many, 1988’s Space Mantra LP remains the high point. With fuzzed guitars, metronomic rhythms, swirling synths, and occasionally bucolic forays into blissful acoustics, it’s a masterful take on cosmic music during the Reagan years. It was previously only ever released on LP once by the famed RRRecords label. RIYL: Hawkwind, Amon Düül, Causa Sui, Cluster. Edition of 500.
File Under: Psych, Kosmische
Flashback #9 Magazine
Issue #9 of Flashback, Winter 2017. Features: Group 1850: Led by the charismatic Peter Sjardin and featuring the brilliant guitarist Dean van Bergen, Group 1850 were one of the most imaginative bands of their era — but it has taken decades for their legacy to be appreciated. Here their story is told in full for the first time… Jukebox: Reine Fiske of Dungen on 12 tracks that have inspired him… Disc & Music Echo: It may have been less esteemed than some of its rival pop weeklies, but that doesn’t mean this paper wasn’t packed with priceless information… First Person: The legendary Jeff Dexter takes us on a personal tour of ’60s London’s counter-culture… Fuchsia: An experimental union between a rock trio and three classical musicians at Exeter University yielded one of the era’s most enduring classics… The Love-In Festival: An eyewitness account of this landmark July 1967 event, with the aid of many rare photographs… Blonde On Blonde: This Welsh quartet played many remarkable gigs and made three fine albums, but their story has never been told until now… Nicholas Greenwood: The enigmatic bassist describes life in the Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, the making of his fabled Cold Cuts LP from 1972 (KIS 4046CD), and his stint with prog favorites Khan… Ben: Renowned for having made one of the rarest albums on Vertigo, this jazz-rock quartet give their first ever interview… Sweet Slag: This aggressively unique band combined driving rock, free jazz, and nihilistic lyrics, and give their first interview here… Overseas & Underground: 50 intriguing British albums that weren’t released at home, spanning pop, freakbeat, psych, jazz, prog, blues and more… Reviews: Thorough coverage of recent CDs, LPs, and books, taking in household names (The Beatles, Pink Floyd), cult heroes (The Zombies, Margo Guryan, Grapefruit), and ultra-obscurities (The First International Sex Opera Band, Majic Ship)… Crying To Be Heard: The poignant story of John Phillips and his sole album, released in 1969 and missing in action ever since…
Keiji Haino/John Butcher: Light Never Bright Enough (Otoroku) LP
Keiji Haino, one of the foremost exponents of the Japanese avant-garde, always provides a masterclass in constantly shifting improvisation. John Butcher is a saxophonist of rare grace and power, who has expanded the vocabulary of the saxophone far beyond the conventions of jazz and other musics, to encompass a staggering range of multi-phonics, overtones, percussive sounds, and electronic feedback. Haino and Butcher met when Butcher opened for Fushitsusha at the show Cafe Oto arranged at St. John, Hackney — five years ago. In 2016, they were invited to play two duo concerts — at The Empty Gallery in Hong Kong and at Cafe Oto in London. Otoroku present the audio documentation of their first UK meeting. Recorded live at Cafe Oto in July 2016, the results are an uncompromising milieu of swirling sound played out as a total union of these two legendary performers. Haino’s blues drenched guitar entices skittering notes from Butcher’s sax playing as numerous sonic clues unravel over the course of this unique and compelling journey. Personnel: Keiji Haino – vocal, guitars, etc.; John Butcher – saxophones and feedback.
File Under: Free Improv, Jazz, Experimental
Heron Oblivion: The Chapel (Heron Oblivion) LP
The Chapel was recorded live to analog tape at the Chapel in San Francisco on January 27th, 2017, capturing Heron Oblivion at peak stage powers and bookending nearly a year of performance and touring in support of their critically acclaimed self-titled debut for Sub Pop Records. The broad dynamics, beauty, noise and ferocious tangle of guitars that fans have come to love and expect from the band are all present, enhanced and oversized here by adrenaline, a hometown crowd and raw live energy. Featuring a fifty-one minute set of six songs from the debut album, The Chapel also has two new and previously unreleased tracks, including a smoldering eight minute cover version of Doug Sahm’s “At The Crossroads.” Engineers Chris Woodhouse (Thee Oh Sees, Fuzz) and Eric Bauer (Ty Segall, Heron Oblivion, White Fence) strike a perfect balance of bootleg in-the-red rawness and multi-track vintage analog fidelity to create a unique piece that fans will find essential as the band closes their first chapter and heads toward a new one with their second studio album for Sub Pop.
File Under: Psych
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble: Book of Sound (Honest Jon’s) LP
With its cathedral-like, richly resonant acoustics, the new Hypnotic Brass Ensemble album Book Of Sound is a brilliant expression of this interplanetary principle. The album is by turns urgent and contemplative, funky and reflective, varied in its textures; but entirely of one piece. Underpinned by concepts of earth’s place in the cosmos, held in place by meditation, swirling with notions of history, science, theology, ancestry, there is a rich conceptual brew here. The album rings with what back in the 1950s the jazz critic Whitney Balliet called “the sound of surprise”. Book Of Sound makes you believe again in the validity of “spiritual jazz”. Talking to Cid, one of the Ensemble’s two trombonists, one phrase recurs: “back to the beginning”. “We wanted to go back to the beginning, when we were kids, real young, and our father would wake us up at 5AM to practice for two hours before breakfast.” One outcome — initially unplanned but subsequently embraced — is that unlike their two previous albums on Honest Jon’s, this is an album without a drummer. “When we started, as Wolf Pack, just brothers on the street with our horns, there wasn’t a kit in sight.” Book Of Sound retains plenty of rhythmic heft, but the absence of a drummer opens up space for a notably varied instrumental palette. Acoustic guitar, piccolo, synthesizer, alto sax — all have their place on the album. Most striking perhaps are the vocal lines that thread through the album and give it a palpable warmth. Sessions were recorded in Brooklyn and Chicago, and brilliantly mixed at Abel Garibaldi’s studio in the Loop, and it’s the Hypnotic’s hometown that permeates. For Cid this is a deeply Chicago record: “It’s got the vibe of the lake, the vibe of the prairies opening up to the west.” It also has the vibe of those Sun Ra Arkestra albums recorded in Chicago in the 1950s, and — of course — the Phil Cohran albums from the 1960s. It’s Phil Cohran (the father of all seven members of the Ensemble and their first teacher, and not just in music) who is the album’s guiding spirit. For Cid it’s a major regret that, in the months before their father’s death early in 2017, Phil was not well enough to play on the album. But Book Of Sound is a magnificent testament to their Cohran legacy.
File Under: Experimental, Rock, Noise
Khan Jamal Creative Arts Ensemble: Drum Dance to the Motherland (Eremite) LP
Eremite presents the definitive vinyl edition of the most legendary private press underground jazz album of the 1970s. There’s not another record on the planet that sounds even remotely like vibraphonist Khan Jamal’s eccentric, one-of-a-kind masterpiece, Drum Dance to the Motherland. In its improbable fusion of free jazz expressionism, black psychedelia, and full-on dub production techniques, Drum Dance remains a bracingly powerful outsider statement forty-five years after it was recorded live at the Catacombs Club in Philadelphia, 1972. Comparisons to Sun Ra, King Tubby, Phil Cohran and BYG/Actuel merely hint at the cosmic otherness conjured by The Khan Jamal Creative Arts Ensemble and by sound engineer Mario Falana’s real-time enhancements. Originally issued by Jamal in 1973 in an edition of three hundred copies on Dogtown records, Drum Dance to the Motherland was effectively a myth until Eremite’s 2005 CD reissue (MTE 050CD). Eremite’s LP edition has been a long time coming. With the master tapes long vanished, the audio was transferred on the pneumatic Rockport table at Sony Music’s 54th street studio from a minty copy of the original LP, manually de-clicked, and remastered on Sony’s vintage outboard tube EQs by Ben Young and Andreas K. Myer. The LP is pressed on premium audiophile quality vinyl by RTI from a Kevin Gray lacquer. Alan Sherry at Siwa Studios screenprinted by hand every component of the package: the screenprinted labels and heavyweight Stoughton laserdisc jackets reproduce exactly the artwork of the original Dogtown release. A screenprinted insert with Ed Hazell’s detailed telling of Drum Dance’s incredible history and eremite’s signature retro-audiophile screenprinted dust sleeves are unique to this edition. 999 copies. Personnel: Khan Jamal – vibraphone, marimba, clarinet; Alex Ellison – drums and African percussion; Mario Falana – sound effects; Dwight James – drums, glockenspiel, clarinet; Billy Mills – fender bass, double bass; Monette Sudler – guitar, percussion.
File Under: Jazz, Free Jazz
Jay Glass Dubs: Dubs (Ecstatic) LP
One of the boldest new producers to broach the dub sphere in recent times, Jay Glass Dubs is subject of Dubs, a prime “early years” survey of his work, compiled by Alessio Natalizia (Not Waving) for his Ecstatic label, and released quick at the heels of their ace Trax Test set and Novoline album. Written during what Dimitris Papadatos, aka Jay Glass Dubs, describes as “an adventurous and bold period”, and holding material variously issued by Hylé Tapes, THRHNDRDSVNTNN, and Seagrave between 2015-2016, the Dubs compilation frames a singular, stripped-down take on classic dub forms, wherein Jay Glass Dubs perceptibly retains the sound’s heavy function and mystic qualities, but subtly updates its palette with a range of nods to shoegaze, darkwave synth styles, and weightless dynamics. The results form a sort of ghostly, filleted subtraction of classic dub architecture, all plasmic tones and diaphanous, boneless structures buoyed by an often overwhelming, yet somehow intangible bass presence. Beyond the obvious, thematic ligature that connects the material, which was all recorded within a very short period of time, the artist also suggests there is an underlying, encrypted similarity to the material which is “merely apparent to me”, and awaits much closer investigation from keen ears. From Jay’s eponymous 2015 debut for Hylé tapes, listeners will encounter the heaving smudge of “Definition Dub”, the serpentine, Coil-like digital delays of “Grumpy Dub”, and a grime drone drill “Depression Dub”. Off the II tape for THRHNDRDSVNTNN (2016) comes the darkwave synths and militant step of “Magazine Dub” recalling a gauzier Equiknoxx production, next to the bass-less scudder, “Detrimental Dub” and the shoegazing bloom of “Daria Dub”, while his III tape (2016) tees-up some abyssal highlights in the vertiginous “Hilton Dub”, the melancholy, Basic Channel-scoped scale of “Sieben Dub”, and the HTRK-eaque starkness of “Everlasting Dub”. Exclusive to the set is “Perfumed Dub”, recorded in 2017 and pointing to vast, layered, atmospheric directions for a timeless project which is only just hitting its stride. Recorded in Athens, Berlin and Paris between 2015-2017. First time on vinyl for all the material included. Cut by CGB at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin.
File Under: Electronic, Dub
Hamad Kalkaba & The Golden Sounds: s/t (Analog Africa) LP
180 gram vinyl; Includes eight-page booklet; Gatefold sleeve. Analog Africa on Hamad Kalkaba and His Golden Sounds 1974-1975: “I remember the day clearly. I was searching for treasures in a record shop in Yaoundé, the Capital city of Cameroon, when suddenly I came across a 7-inch record with a picture of a young man wearing a traditional hat and bearing the marks of several imposing vertical scars on the side of his face, carved when he was just a boy as a reminder of his heritage in the Musgum tribe of the northern part of the country. The record contained two songs — ‘Gandjal Kessoum’ and ‘Touflé’ — by an artist I had never heard of before named Hamad Kalkaba. Both cuts were raw classics of fuzzed-out bass, pin-sharp horns, built upon the unshakable foundation of Northern Cameroon’s mightiest rhythm: the Gandjal. The shop owner finally said to me ‘There is another single with a green cover of the same artist, if I am not mistaken’. Over the next six years I searched for that ‘green cover’ and finally found it in a record collection belonging to an old bar in Parakou in northern Benin. . . . These two records, plus a third simply named ‘Nord Cameroon Rhythms’ constitute the entire discography of Hamad Kalkaba. Neglected for decades by all but the most devoted collectors of Afro music, Hamad Kalkaba and the Golden Sounds at long last gathers together the body of work of one of Cameroon’s forgotten geniuses. But unlike many musicians who emerged from nowhere, recorded a few singles and vanished again, Kalkaba hadn’t disappeared. Far from it. He was a distinguished public figure, a retired Colonel in the army of Cameroon, and a former member of Cameroon’s Olympic Selection Committee. When we tracked him down he was serving as president of the Confederation of African Athletics. And although Kalkaba’s job kept him busy, and he seemed initially dismissive of the music he’d made as a young man, he turned out to be an enthusiastic ally in this project. He arranged interviews, helped fill in the blanks and, when we finally met him in Yaoundé in 2016, provided us with photographs, lyric sheets and notes.”
File Under: Funk, Psych, Afrobeat
Eyvind Kang: Plainlight (Abduction) LP
A gorgeous set of new tracks by the brilliant composer and multi-instrumentalist Eyvind Kang. It took him a decade and a half to revisit the vibe concocted on his masterpiece from 2001, Live Low To The Earth In The Iron Age, but the wait was worth it. It features an array of spiritually intoxicating instrumentation: tamboura, electric guitar, organ, trumpet, oboe, trombone, and Korean traditional instruments. Eyvind Kang on Plainlight: “In 2002 I wanted to make a kind of sequel to my first solo record on Abduction, Live Low To The Earth In The Iron Age. I found that the ‘weight’ of sounds seemed to evaporate the compositions. The last thing I wanted to make was a traditional shoegaze recording. 15 years later, I had a strange dream: a voice said ‘Because a plainlight has fallen in Heaven, heartbreak would cease.’ This statement then became a kind of guiding image and method. Thus, with Korean traditional instruments playing the ostinato and drone, things fell into place. I would like to thank all the musicians, Randall Dunn, Alan Bishop, and each and every listener.” Limited edition, one-time pressing; Edition of 400.
File Under: Electronic, Folk, Classical
Sylvia Kastel: Air Lows (Blackest Ever Black) LP
Air Lows is the debut solo album by Silvia Kastel. The Italian artist has been a fixture of the underground since her precocious teens, clocking up many miles in Control Unit with Ninni Morgia, including collaborations with the likes of Smegma, Factrix, Gary Smith, Aki Onda, and Gate (Michael Morley of The Dead C). Both solo and in her work with others, Kastel has explored the outer limits and inner workings of no wave, industrial, dub, extreme electronics, free rock, and improvisation. Air Lows is both her fullest and most refined offering to date, a work of vivid, isolationist electronics which draws deeply on her past experience but breaks new ground. Prompted by a late-flowering interest in techno and club music, Kastel sought to create something which combines a steady rhythmic pulse with the otherworldly sonorities of musique concrete, and avant-garde synth sounds inspired by Japanese minimalism and techno-pop (Haruomi Hosono’s Philharmony (1982) being a particular favouite). The formal artifice of muzak/elevator music, the intros and outros of generic popular songs, the extreme light-heavy contrasts of jungle, the creative sampling of hardcore, and the very “human” synths in the jazz of Herbie Hancock’s Sextant (1973) and Sun Ra: all were touchstones for Air Lows’ conception and composition, and all strains of music addressing — or complicating — the relationship between the human and the technological. Though used sparingly, Kastel’s voice remains her key instrument, whether subject to dissociative digital manipulations as on “Bruell”, delivering matter-of-fact spoken monologues, or providing splashes of pure tonal color. Recorded between her expansive Italy studio and a more compact, ersatz set-up in Berlin, Air Lows gradually takes on some of the character of the German capital: you can hear the wide streets and uninhabited spaces, the seep-age of never-ending nightlife, the loneliness. Air Lows is The Wizard of Oz in reverse: the glorious technicolor J-pop deconstructions of its first half leading inexorably to the icy noir of “Spiderwebs” and “Concrete Void”. These later tracks are reminiscent of 2015’s magnificent 39 12″, Kastel in the role of numbed, nihilistic chanteuse stalking dank, murky tunnels of reverb and sub-bass. But in fact there is contradiction and emotional ambiguity to Air Lows from the outset, and throughout — a sense of both infinite space and acute claustrophobia; energy and inertia; fluency and restraint.
File Under: Electronic, Experimental
Lady June: Lady June’s Linguistic Leprosy (Mental Experience) LP
Mental Experience present the first vinyl reissue of Lady June’s Linguistic Leprosy, originally released in 1974. The legendary debut album by Canterbury scene pivotal figure, performance poet, painter, and experimental musician June Campbell Cramer, better known as Lady June. Produced by Kevin Ayers, who also plays on the album along with Brian Eno, Pip Pyle (Gong, Hatfield And The North), and David Vorhaus (White Noise). Originally released by Virgin’s budget imprint Caroline (home also of artist like Faust With Tony Conrad, Gong, Lol Coxhill, etc.), Lady June’s Linguistic Leprosy is a surreal, eccentric, psychedelic oddity of interest to fans of the Soft Machine-Gong-Canterbury family as well experimental/sound poetry/art-rock explorers. This cult album was included on the legendary Nurse With Wound list. Remastered sound; Insert with photos and liner notes by Ayers archivist Martin Wakeling. RIYL: Gong, Catherine Ribeiro, Laurie Anderson, Boards Of Canada, Mopsie Beans.
File Under: Jazz, Psych, Rock
Les Filles De Illighadad: Eghass Malan (Sahel Sounds) LP
Future Tuareg music from the female led avant-rock group Les Filles de Illighadad. Mixing traditional percussion with electric guitars, Les Filles brings ancient village folk music into the modern era. Drawing on traditional tende music, the forgotten inspiration of Tuareg guitar, Fatou Seidi Ghali and Les Filles breathe new life into the genre. Hypnotic guitar riffs, driving rhythm, and polyphonic resonant vocals combine to create organic sound, that is both timeless and natural. A wholly original project, from a band that just last year had never left their village. Eghass Malan is their first studio production. Les Filles are all from Illighadad, a secluded commune in central Niger. The sound that defines rural Niger is a music known as “tende”. It takes its name from a drum, built from a goat skin stretched across a mortar and pestle. It is a music form dominated by women. In the past years, certain genres of Tuareg music have become popular in the west. International acts of “desert blues” like Tinariwen, Bombino, and Mdou Moctar have become synonymous with the name “Tuareg”. But guitar music is a recent creation. In the 1970s young Tuareg men living in exile in Libya and Algeria discovered the guitar. Lacking any female vocalists to perform tende, they began to play the guitar to mimic this sound, replacing water drums with plastic jerrycans and substituting a guitar drone for the vocal call and response. In time, this new guitar sound came to eclipse the tende. If tende is a music that has always been sung by woman, the Tuareg guitar was its gendered counterpart. Fatou Seidi Ghali, lead vocalist and performer of Les Filles is one of the only Tuareg female guitarists in Niger. Sneaking away with her older brother’s guitar, she taught herself to play. While Fatou’s role as the first female Tuareg guitarist is groundbreaking, it is just as interesting for her musical direction. In a place where gender norms have created two divergent musics, Fatou and Les Filles are reasserting the role of tende in Tuareg guitar. In lieu of the djembe or the drum kit, so popular in contemporary Tuareg rock bands, Les Filles de Illighadad incorporate the traditional drum and the pounding calabash, half buried in water. Recorded on their debut tour in Europe after just a handful of concerts, Eghass Malan maintains a feeling that is spontaneous and inspired.
File Under: World, Tuareg
Lightmen: Free As you Wanna Be (Now Again) LP
“Drummer, bandleader and activist Bubbha Thomas had toured America with R&B revues, served as a session musician for Peacock and Back Beat Records, and played straight ahead jazz with legends before the political and social upheaval of the late 1960s led him to a path first charted by Coltrane. Free As You Wanna Be predates the deep-set, maverick jazz issued by the likes of Tribe and Strata East and is a harbinger of best of the 1970s jazz underground, a collective voice of resistance to the musical and cultural status quo. This is the first time that Free As You Wanna Be has seen reissue, and it is presented in both the issued stereo and previously unissued mono mixes as a double LP. Bubbha and his band’s story is told in great detail by Houston music and cultural historian Lance Scott Walker (Houston Rap/Houston Rap Tapes) and Now-Again’s Eothen Alapatt, in a booklet that contains dozens of unpublished photographs.”
File Under: Jazz, Funk
Mask of the Imperial Family: s/t (Important) LP
Important Records present a reissue of The Mask Of The Imperial Family, originally released in 1981. Replica LP; housed in a screen-printed jacket. All copies are pressed on turquoise vinyl to match the sleeve. Edition of 200. Mutant Sounds on the album: “Both profound and profoundly jaw dropping, the esoteric moves of this massively rare and insanely obscure 300 copy Japanese marvel have until now remained the sole preserve of a handful of heavyweight collectors. It’s time to let the cat out of the bag on this one. The dankly cavernous and unsettling acid maneuvers of Dome circa their first three LPs (though absent vocals) are the nearest antecedent I can summon for the principal thrust of the sound here. So too, there’s a ritualistic dimension to this stuff that’s also a bit suggestive of something like Vasilisk or The Hybryds, though the arcane initiatory atmosphere here is far more penetrating that anything I’ve heard either of those two muster. Combine that with a Johan Hedran-like overlay of wafting, heat-warped systemic electronics and you’re at least in the general neighborhood, but these are only indicators pointing toward the occult sonic universe that The Mask Of The Imperial Family are enacting…”
File Under: Electronic, Experimental
Timothy McNealy: Funky Movement (Now Again) LP
Originally released for Black Friday RSD 2017. “Texas funk music is amongst the highest regarded styles in the genre, a unique mixture of jazz, blues, R&B and James Brown’s syncopation that evolved in metropolises like Houston (Kashmere Stage Band), San Antonio (Mickey and the Soul Generation), Austin (James Polk and the Brothers) and Dallas. Dallas birthed a variety of independent labels, Soultex and Doin Our Thing amongst them. But no one in Dallas, Texas or America, created a run of 7″ singles like Timothy McNealy did on his Shawn imprint. When it comes to heavy, funk music, in Dallas — in Texas — Timothy McNealy is king. This means that when it comes to funk music, in general, McNealy is hallowed. Yet McNealy’s music has never been collected as an album, nor reappraised in its totality. A series of 7″ single reissues have come out in the past 15 years, including his masterpiece ‘Sagittarius Black,’ a psychedelic funk instrumental that has been a cornerstone in every fan’s rediscovery of the genre for the past 20 years. But this is the first time that his music is presented in its totality, giving the enlightened fan an opportunity to hear the breadth and depth of his Funky Movement.”
File Under: Funk, Soul
NVPR: 33 33 (Editions Mego) LP
NPVR is moniker taken on board by Pita, AKA Peter Rehberg, and Factory Floor’s Nik Void. Peter and Nik both share formidable reputations in the post-industrial shape-shifting world of sound and form with a vast range of releases and collaborative endeavors over a number of years. Together they tie together their collective experience into a vast array of sonic devices unleashing an album of pragmatic imbalance and psychedelic orientation. Blurring the lines of techno, ambient, avant garde, noise, etc. 33 33 positions itself in the nebulous realm of contemporary (dis)comfort presenting itself on the border of music and sound, the social and the private. Recorded and edited at The Premises, London, July 2017. Artwork by Nik Void; Photography by Georg Gatsas. Mastered by Russell Haswell at Haswell Studio, London, August 2017; Cut by CGB at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin, September 2017.
File Under: Electronic, Industrial, Techno, Ambient
OCS: Memory of a Cut Off Head (Castle Face) LP
It is easy to forget (especially amidst the ringing of ears and aching of muscles after a typical Oh Sees show) that initially, OCS was a rather hushed affair. After the minimalistic brutality of Coachwhips, the band was the diametric opposite corner of John Dwyer’s musical world, quiet to the point of whispered in the wind, buffeted by the airy whirr of singing saw, soft and strange. Those early records especially had a rather contraband hush about them, as if the party had gone on all night and continued into the morning and everyone’s raspy from talking too much and agrees to whisper and pantomime as they watch the sun come up over the hills. Since then of course, things got gradually louder, faster, crazier…the band evolved into the Oh Sees everyone knows. For the 20th Oh Sees release, 100th Castle Face title, and 20th year doing it, Dwyer re-examines the quieter roots of it all in particularly baroque and homesteadly fashion. Memory Of A Cut Off Head was co-written with longtime collaborator and vocal counterpoint Brigid Dawson, recorded in total in Dwyer’s own Stu Stu Studio, and it’s lush, sumptuous in texture, but satisfyingly retains the gentle grace of the early stuff. There’s beautifully executed strings throughout, courtesy of Heather Lockie’s fine arrangements, horn arrangements courtesy of Mikal Cronin, and they even brought back the old saw—Patrick Mullins, that is—on saw and electronics. A return and a refinement of old forms, a few solemn meditations on life lived at high velocity, perhaps a respite from it…a softer side of JPD and distinguished company.
File Under: Psych, Folk
Loke Rahbek & Frederrik Valentin: Buy Corals Online (Edition Mego) LP
First outing for this collaborative effort from the prolific Posh Isolation mainstay Loke Rahbek and Frederik Valentin of KYO, also on the revered Danish label. As old friends circling around the same scene, this is the first time they have combined their respective perspectives. The results are an ambitious aquatic infused audio environment. Recorded near water at Valentin’s studio within the vicinity of the new aquarium in Copenhagen, Buy Corals Online channels the sensual floating aspects of such environments. “During Japan’s Edo period (1615-1868) the phrase ‘the floating world’ (ukiyo) evoked an imagined universe of wit, stylishness, and extravagance — with overtones of naughtiness, hedonism, and transgression. Implicit was a contrast to the humdrum of everyday obligation. The concept of the floating world began in the Japanese heartland, migrated eastward, and came to full flower in Edo (present-day Tokyo), where its main venues were popular Kabuki theaters and red-light districts.” –Wikipedia Buy Corals Online arrives as a suite of works embracing the joy of being close to something you don’t require interaction in order to experience. This enchanting aquatic infused audio hovers a sensual world rich in sensory experience. Loke Rahbek and Frederik Valentin’s debut outing conjurer’s a world both sensual and abstract as it moves casually alongside fantasy. Recorded 2016 & 2017, Copenhagen S, Natfabrikken. Mastered and cut by Rashad Becker at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin, Germany 2017.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Solid Space: Space Museum (Dark Entries) LP
Dark Entries is honored to finally present the first ever official vinyl reissue of Space Museum by Solid Space. Solid Space was the British duo of Dan Goldstein (keyboards, vocals) and Matthew “MAF” Vosburgh (guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals) formed in 1980. Dan and Matthew met at the age of 11 while attending school in north London. In late 1978 at at the age of 14, they formed Exhibit ‘A’ with Paul “Platypus” and Andrew “Lunchbox” Bynghall. They recorded two EPs in 1979 and 1980, self-released on Irrelevant Wombat Records and appeared on The Thing From The Crypt compilation. After the dissolution of the group, Mathew started taking his guitar over to Dan’s house where he’d play his Casio MT-30 and they would record songs. Eventually a second hand drum machine and Wasp synthesizer were acquired from classified ads in Melody Maker and the Solid Space sound was born. By this time they were just turning 18 and finally found the freedom to make the music they’d had in their heads. Over the course of the next two years the band assembled eleven bedroom recordings that would become one of the most cherished DIY obscurities of its kind. Their debut album Space Museum was released in 1982 on cassette by In Phaze Records. The band’s music and lyrics were heavily indebted to science fiction, in particular the 1960s television series Doctor Who. Space Museum is an unveiling of atmospheric, minimalist post punk supported by bright melodies. The music combines drum machines and synths with acoustic guitar and toy drums whilst also experimenting with samples between tracks. Representing a bubbling spirit within the underground, they foreshadowed an entire world of independent music which would emerge across the ’80s and well into the ’90s. For this reissue we’ve included two bonus tracks from the band’s archive, “Platform 6” originally released on the B-side of the second single by Exhibit ‘A’, this song features only Dan and Matthew and is the first Solid Space track ever recorded. “Tutti Lo Sanno” is a cover of In Phaze label mates Marine Girls, though the lyrics have been changed to suit the gender of the new singer. Each song has been carefully remastered for vinyl by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. The record is sleeved in a replica of the cassette artwork featuring the Cybermen and Jamie from the Doctor Who episode “The Wheel in Space”. Every copy includes a double sided 11×11 insert with lyrics, notes and never before seen photographs of the band taken by Maf as well as a postcard featuring an original advert for the cassette.
File Under: Minimal Wave, Cold Wave
Sun Ra & His Arkestra: Featuring Pharaoh Sanders & Black Harold (Superior Viaduct) LP
“To understand the significance of the word ‘featuring’ on Featuring Pharoah Sanders And Black Harold, consider how infrequently Sun Ra used it and the exact way it had been used. “The October Revolution in Jazz, organized by Bill Dixon in the West Village in 1964, presented a vivid cross section of approaches to the new music, including a sextet led by Ra. For the October Revolution’s continuation, titled Four Days in December, held at nearby Judson Hall on the last days of 1964, the Arkestra performance presented Pharoah Sanders as well as a flautist (who was and remained obscure thereafter) named Harold Murray, nicknamed Black Harold. “It wasn’t until long after Sanders had achieved worldwide acclaim with John Coltrane that Ra and manager Alton Abraham decided to issue the music they’d recorded at Judson Hall. After its first release in plain or hand-decorated covers in 1976, Featuring Pharoah Sanders And Black Harold remained an exceptionally rare item in the El Saturn discography, known to a few lucky collectors. “We’re lucky to have this glimpse of what Sanders sounded like in such a different context, galvanizing the large group and in turn being inspired to make his first significant contribution on record.” —John Corbett (excerpt from the liner notes)
File Under: Jazz
Thor & Friends: The Subversive Nature of Kindness (LM Duplication) LP
“The Subversive Nature of Kindness is the sophomore effort from Thor & Friends, the avant-chamber ensemble formed by its namesake, polymath percussionist Thor Harris. The album was recorded in Albuquerque, New Mexico, produced by Jeremy Barnes from A Hawk & A Hacksaw and engineered by Barnes and Deerhoof’s John Dietrich. It is hoped that the melodic meditations offered up will ease some of the terror of living in these uncertain times. The three primary members of the band are Peggy Ghorbani on marimba, Sarah ‘Goat’ Gautier on marimba, vibraphone, xylophone, organ, voice, mellotron and piano, and Harris on sundry percussion and wind instruments, including some of his own devising. The band has toured extensively over the past year and have performed live with many guest musicians. All these players have influenced the way the group hears its music and this had a significant impact on this new album. On this recording voice plays a more prominent role with the core trio being joined by several guest singers who provide wordless vocals: Stine Janvin Motland, an opera singer from Oslo, Norway; Michael Gira from Swans; Enrique Soriah, a throat singer from Oregon. It features more fully developed string arrangements by Barnes and Heather Trost. There are also contributions from similarly adventurous musicians including Jhno Delicateer on Armenian Duduk, violin improvisationist Aisha Burn, and Adam Torres, who provides finger-picked guitar. The band draws on classic Minimalist composers including Terry Riley and Steve Reich, but also amalgamates such diverse influences as Brian Eno, Aphex Twin, Moondog and The Necks. They embody utopian optimism by rooting their art and operation in both improvisation and the involvement of neighbors and friends in their process, making use of what and who is around at any given moment.”
File Under: Percussion, Experimental, Classical
Total Control: Laughing at the System (Alter) LP
“However you might try to find the words for it, Total Control’s caustic charm is stunning and oblique. A sensible account of the band typically focuses on its parts—the associated groups, the touring configurations, etc.—as if finding ways by which Total Control is divisible gleans critical information for breaking through their cryptic sheen. With tonic, wry twists, and forever employing aphoristic brevity for the comic/cosmic dynamite that it is best reserved for, the band seems to indulge this with each new release, or tour, or whatever’s put on the counter. The bands European tour tape from 2015 was a sure reminder of this. Their new 12″, Laughing At The System, is a succinct statement, but it feels like the sharpest thing they’ve ever assembled. Written and recorded over the past couple of years in various lounge rooms, bedrooms, and rehearsal studios, across Melbourne, regional Victoria, and Western Australia, Al Montfort, Daniel Stewart, James Vinciguerra, Mikey Young, and Zephyr Pavey are—for the record—all accounted for in the process. Laughing At The System is bookended by a title track in two parts. The scattered mania of the opener is an unsettling beginning, with cascading madhouse-riffs somehow finding a ricocheting unison. The closing part has the familiar head-charge of Total Control’s most gnashing moments, with the guitars balancing the equation between running-too-fast and drinking-too-fast in one queasy commitment. With a brilliantly acerbic wit, we’re implored to gather that there’s some equivalences here. And it’s this kind of impulse that’s kept up throughout the 12″. Drizzled with Vinciguerra’s fraught fills, which have the rare quality of being unmistakably his in both electronic and acoustic form, this punctuation comes in and out of focus between elegiac moments and breezy experimentation, the latter including the elated instrumental ‘Cathie and Marg.’ Throughout, Stewart scripts a tumultuous wake for a flatlining reality, forever nudging the listener to second-guess themselves about the sincerity and intent. Far from cynical, but earnestly neurotic, the potency of the atmosphere that Total Control has mustered across Laughing At The System registers as a deeply commanding, though bleak, psychedelicism for the future.”
File Under: Punk, Post Punk
Ugly Things #46 Magazine
“On the cover this time: The Equals the dynamic multi-racial London group famous for songs like ‘Baby Come Back’ and ‘Police on My Back,’ but whose catalog runs much deeper, as our lengthy interview with lead singer Derv Gordon explains. Also featured this issue, Curt Boettcher’s innovative folk-pop group The Goldebriars, Southern California biker rock badass Simon Stokes, The Byrds, The Balloon Farm (A Question of Temperature), pre-Dictators ’70s rockers Total Crudd, Harvey Kubernik’s examination of Bob Dylan’s John Wesley Harding album (which turns 50 in December), occult rocker Geof Crozier, Texas-to-California garage rockers The Visions, New Jersey’s Mods and the mysterious Revelation VII label, and a mad interview with the late, great Captain Beefheart. Also we reveal the 12 ‘rejected’ tracks from Lenny Kaye’s original Nuggets compilation, plus the Flamin’ Groovies saga continues into the ‘Shake Some Action’ years, and of course there’s our acclaimed, info-packed reissue and book review sections.” 152 pages; perfect bound; full-color glossy cover
Zomby: Mercury’s Rainbow (Modern Love) LP
After nearly a decade in the making, Zomby finally dispatches Mercury’s Rainbow, his astonishing and uniquely formulated dedication to Wiley’s series of Eskibeat releases, aka the cornerstone of grime. Originally recorded over an intense couple of weeks while suffering from circadian dysrhythmia, Mercury’s Rainbow documents Zomby riffing on intricately hand-programmed arpeggios, using theories of color and its relation to the sonic chromatic spectrum — the circle of fifths — to place an expressively avant spin on the Wiley Kat’s sliding Triton squares and frozen, post-garage drum patterns. Rather than simply imitating Wiley’s foundational unit of grime currency, Zomby innovates with a structure of bewildering, modal styles, refracting 16 diamond-cut permutations according to a color-sound spectrum of tonalities. In the process he effectively loosens up and liquefies the Eski riddim, rendering its bones and sinew in varying states of reactive, physical deliquescence or GIF-like micro-organisms. For dancers and DJs, the fluid contours and viscous, displaced rhythmic anticipation of Mercury’s Rainbow suggests myriad geometries for movement in-the-mix, and serves to single-handedly put to sleep a whole genre of also-ran, prosaic “future grime” through its methodical, inventively ground-up construction. While it’s difficult to say with certainty, if Mercury’s Rainbow was issued at the same time it was created, it may have arguably altered the course of UK grime instrumentals in much the same way Wiley’s original template coined a whole new genre, essentially making it the last word in grime futurism, proper. Master and lacquer cut by Matt Colton at Alchemy; Limited edition vinyl.
File Under: Electronic, Grime
Various: Tokyo Nights: Female J-Pop Boogie Funk (Cultures of Soul) LP
“Following successful disco excavation from the Caribbean to South Africa, Boston-based label Cultures of Soul booked a first class ticket to Narita to bring you the latest release, Tokyo Nights: Female J-Pop Boogie Funk: 1981 to 1988. This compilation presents 12 of the most memorable and sought-after songs of the era recorded by female artists. The music is a reflection of the unbridled optimism, technological achievement, excess and exuberance of Bubble-era Japan. More than catchy melodies and funky baselines, these are reflections of a time when Japan was the center, and future of the world. The Bubble can be characterized as an endless, extravagant party where personal and corporate wealth soared through the explosion of real estate and stock prices. Scores of young Japanese men and women moved to cities in search of affluence, transforming them into neon wonderlands. Changes in morals, values and gender roles followed suit. Prosperity leads to indulgence, and the taste for nightlife, from flashy restaurants to glitzy discotheques, was unquenchable. A soundtrack to this new, lavish lifestyle was necessary and the latest sound, City Pop (urban pop music for those with urban lifestyles), epitomized these attitudes. While influenced by American R&B and boogie, elements of fusion, YMO style Technopop, and adult-oriented rock (AOR) are front and center. Sung primarily in Japanese (with a word or two of English sprinkled in), City Pop is Japanese music for Japanese people. Producers like Tatsuro Yamashita, Toshiki Kadomatsu, and Haruomi Hosono were quick to embrace the latest studio equipment and technology. Synthesizers like the Yamaha DX7, Roland Juno-60, ARP Quadra, Moog Polymoog and Oberheim OB-8, as well as drum machines like the Linndrum, were prevalent. Digital reverb was applied liberally. Compiled by Eli Cohen (Alliance Upholstery) and Deano Sounds (Cultures of Soul), Tokyo Nights includes tracks by Hitomi Tohyama, Junko Ohashi, Mizuki Koyama, Kaoru Akimoto, Aru Takamura, Mariko Tone, Rie Murakami, RA MU, Kikuchi Momoko and Yumi Seino. Each selection celebrates the unique traits and meticulous production that define the sound. Think sandy beaches and metropolitan skylines; illumination and romance. Embrace the feeling of movement, from a coastal highway stretching towards the horizon or the city sprawling into the future. Turn on the hi-fi and slip into these Tokyo Nights.”
File Under: Funk, J-Pop
Laura Baird: I Wish I Were A Sparrow (Ba Da Bing) LP
Binker & Moses: Journey to the Mountain… (Gearbox) LP
Cactus Blossoms: You’re Dreaming (Red House) LP
Alice Coltrane: A Monastic Trio (Superior Viaduct) LP
Crass: Feeding of the 5000 (Crass) LP
Current 93: Thunder Perfect Mind (Spheres) LP
Mac Demarco: Salad Days (Captured Tracks) LP
Efterklang: Tripper (Leaf) LP
Elder: Dead Roots Stirring (Armageddon) LP
Harmonia: Musick Von Harmonia (Gronland) LP
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: I’m In Your Mind Fuzz (Castle Face) LP
Gigi Masin: Talk to the Sea (Music From Memory) LP
Drew McDowell: Collapse (Dais) LP
Jonny Nash/Lindsay Todd: Fauna Mapping (Island of the Gods) LP
National: Alligator (Beggars) LP
Oh Sees: Orc (Castle Face) LP
Oh Sees: Help (In The Red) LP
Orb: Naturality (Castle Face) LP
Arvo Part: Fur Alina (Mississippi) LP
Radiohead: Amnesiac (XL) LP
Ty Segall Band: Slaugherhouse (In The Red) LP
Sheer Mag: Compilation (WRC) LP
Sheer Mag: Need to Feel Your Love (WRC) LP
Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation (Goofin) LP
Pauline Anna Strom: Trans-Millenia Music (ReRVNG Intl) LP
Suicide: s/t (Superior Viaduct) LP
Sun Ra: Space is the Place (Jackpot) LP
Midori Takada: Through the Looking Glass (WRWTFWW) LP
Wolves in the Throne Room: Thrice Woven (Diadem) LP