Biosphere - Shenzhou 3xLP

Biosphere - Shenzhou 3xLP (Biophon)

Our Review:

Biosphere - the project of Norwegian Geir Jensen - has always stood out amongst the practitioners of ambient-electronica by never allowing his music to comfortably fall into the regions of aural wallpaper. His first two albums Microgravity and Patashnik would probably transcend their status as minor classics in their thoughtful recomibinations of techno propulsion and ambient utopianism, if it weren't for the ill-advised (though fashionable at the time) use of extra-terrestrial imagery.

At the height of the ambient-techno phenomenon in 1995 or so, Levi's licensed a Biosphere track off of Patashnik for a jeans commercial, which had the same steroid-injected effect on Biosphere's sales as those of Spiritualized, Trio and Nick Drake with their use in Volkswagen adverts. Wisely, Jensen took the money and ran from commercial success. He has since declared his permanent base of operations to be Tromso, Norway, located some 400 miles north of the Arctic Circle and began working at the time with the reknowned Touch label. Both decisions have resulted in a profound maturation of the Biosphere sound.

Shenzhou is the third Biosphere record for Touch (now reissued through Jensen's Biophon imprint) and continues to describe aural environments that are at once decidedly Arctic, yet wholly inviting and warm. Jensen has drawn a very direct line on this album back to impressionist composer Claude Debussy by basing this album on some very old vinyl recordings of various Debussy pieces. The surface noise crackle may parallel that of the Touch productions from turntablist Philip Jeck, but Shenzhou doesn't extend the comparison beyond their similar source materials. This is distinctly a Biosphere album filled with synaesthetic driftings, subtle rhythmic pulsations and hypnotic loopings, all culled from the muted instrumentation of those Debussy compositions. Biosphere has yet again succeeded in crafting an exceptionally poetic album that is as accessible as it is subtly expressive. Recommended.

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Roberto Cacciapaglia - Sei Note in Logica LP+CD

Roberto Cacciapaglia - Sei Note in Logica LP+CD (Mirumir)

Our Review:

Released in 1979, Roberto Cacciapaglia's second release, Sei Note In Logica, embraces his minimal classical leanings. While his first album, The Ann Steel Record, also from that same year is a retro-future pop album Sei Note In Logica is an avant-garde systems composition for voices, orchestra and computer. He takes a six note melodic phrase and runs it through every possible musical combination with a choir of female vocalists (including the processed spoken voice of Ann Steel) and the instrumentation of marimbas, strings, woodwinds and computer-based electronics. Its emphasis on repetition and rhythm puts Cacciapaglia rightfully in a more well known circle of minimalist composers like Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Terry Riley. The album makes for a beautifully epic piece of economic means. Recorded in two parts, this vinyl reissue includes a cd of the vinyl recording plus a bonus version of the acoustic version of the piece with the ensemble without the computer derived enhancements and Ann Steel vocal. Highly Recommended!

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Current 93 - Thunder Perfect Mind 2xLP

Current 93 - Thunder Perfect Mind 2xLP (The Spheres)

Our Review:

Thunder Perfect Mind has long been considered one of the best and most well-rounded albums for the very prolific Current 93.

Up until this 1991 album, Current 93 had conjured a mythology out of occultism, apocalyptic literature and pataphysical dialectics that went hand in hand with the post-industrial research from Psychic TV, Clock DVA, Lustmord, etc. Yet, with Thunder Perfect Mind, Current 93's figurehead David Tibet began to explore his own relationship with these theologies and begin to actively form his own highly personal, visionary interpretations of ancient, esoteric texts.

The title to this record itself comes from a cryptic poem written in the 2nd Century and associated with a various heretical sects of Christian Gnosticism. The text describes a female deity who acts as metaphysical balance between the opposites on the earthly plane. Inspired by the beauty and riddles of this poem, Tibet firmly established the blueprint of Current 93's music which continues to this day: an eccentric reworking of '60s British folk tinged with an epistemological sadness that reflects Tibet's own notion of the fall of humanity against the backdrop of a Godly perfection.

Lilting melodies for acoustic guitar laced with violin and flute dominate Current 93's Thunder Perfect Mind, with the ever-present Tibet divining his own personal mythology with its pantheon that includes Christ, Hitler and Khalki as its protagonists as well as saintly references to his many friends (notably Death In June's Douglas P and at least one proclamation toward one of Tibet's former lovers). As strikingly personal as Tibet's lyrics are, there is a portentous universality and stylized beauty that he invokes through his fragile folk music.

Reissued for the first time on vinyl since 1992.

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Yasuaki Shimizu - Kakashi LP

Yasuaki Shimizu - Kakashi LP (Palto Flats)

Our Review:

It's all about the cat! Sporting one of our favorite album covers ever, Yasuaki Shimizu's sublime fourth solo album from 1982 finally sees a LP reissue outside of his native Japan. Saxophonist and frontman for the group Mariah, whose Utakata No Hibi was a standout reissue last year, Shimizu employs a playful exuberance towards a modern atmospheric exoticism. Anchored by marimbas and saxophones, the wiley songcraft on Kekashi maneuvers dynamically between experimental pop, jazz, dub and cinematic ambient textures. Easily one of the best and highly anticipated reissues of the year. Kekashi will appeal highly to fans of Yellow Magic Orchestra, Stereolab, Tortoise, Cornelius and the High Llamas as well as far out seekers of exotic pop rarities.

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T.J. Hustler Metaphysical Synthesized Orchestra - Age Of Individualism 2x12"

T.J. Hustler Metaphysical Synthesized Orchestra - Age Of Individualism 2x12" (Companion)

Our Review:

T.J. Hustler Metaphysical Synthesized Orchestra is the work of one Tim Jones, a Bay Area soul and funk scene veteran who had previously released two 45s in the early '70s as part of the group Dawn And Sunset and an LP in 1975 as leader of The Mysterious Minds. Though Jones plays a keyboard instrument of his own creation (The Brass Orchestra Cabinet) on The Mysterious Minds LP, none of his previous work could possibly predict the visionary brilliance that is 1979's Age Of Individualism. A concept album performed entirely by Jones and his ventriloquist dummy partner, the titular T.J. Hustler. Age of Individualism is part party record, part philosophical manifesto, part self-actualization workshop, part comedy routine.

Originally released as a double 12" (one at 33 rpm, one at 45) Age Of Individualism is 4 side long tracks of lo-fi synthesizer and drum machine funk that rival anything on the now legendary Personal Space compilation of electronic soul. We're hesitant to label T.J. Hustler as outsider music because, while the record is extremely personal in its creation and vision, Jones performed regularly with his ventriloquist dummy in a traveling show at the time, and continues to perform live bookings to this day. The original packaging of Age Of Individualism was two cardboard covers bound together by a length of yarn, the idea being that this was the first volume of his personal statement and there would be many more volumes released which you would be able to house in the same package by loosening the yarn and widening the spine. While Jones only released this lone document on vinyl, he has continued making music under the Preacherman moniker and has released keyboard instructional videos, all of which is highly recommended. On Preacherman's CD Baby page it says "Recommended if you like: Fairytale Rap, Philosophy Funk, Sun Ra Dianetics" and that sounds about right to us.

Age Of Individualism has been lovingly reissued by our friends at Companion Records, so you know that the utmost care has been put into the sound quality and packaging. Released in a limited edition of 500 copies, this probably won't last long.

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Nuno Canavarro - Plux Quba LP

Nuno Canavarro - Plux Quba LP (Drag City)

Our Review:

Plux Quba is a record that after the nearly 30 years of its existence remains impossible to categorize. It's almost as if it was an alien broadcast beamed in from another planet. Little is known about its creator, Nuno Canavarro, outside of his native Portugal and its discovery is so unbelievably legendary and riddled with hearsay that it's easy to dismiss this as a probable hoax.

Recorded in 1988 and released on a private label, it was believed to be discovered in 1991 by Jim O'Rourke while traveling through Europe with Jan St. Werner (Microstoria, Mouse On Mars) and Carsten Schulz (C-Shultz and Hajsch). Liking what he heard, O'Rourke eventually started a label call Moikai in 1998 and the first release was Plux Quba remastered by Portuguese guitarist and composer Rafael Toral. That the sounds contained on Plux Quba would go on to heavily influence the sound of all three artists' later output (not to mention bearing a strong sonic forbearance to Aphex Twin's early ambient pieces, Boards of Canada's nostalgic filmstrip melodies and Christian Fennesz's sublime Endless Summer) is a bizarre case of cosmic synchronicity. Rumors that this was an elaborate prank by the three electronic artists have since been quelled by enough evidence of Canavarro's existence as an architectural student, a member of semi-popular Portuguese new wave bands and his subsequent compositional work in Portuguese cinema.

Indeed, the 15 tracks (8 of which are untitled - many clock in just over a minute) of Plux Quba can be seen as a bridge between the electro-acoustic computer-processing works of Robert Ashley (1979's Automatic Writing) and David Behrman (1984's Leapday Night) on the Lovely music label and the advent of laptop-based electronica of the '90s. Yet Plux Quba seems less aware than that, as if created in a total vacuum. Its mystery remains one of its key attractions. Each track is its own micro-universe of texture and mood. The first bursts of high piercing squelches, random cluster tones, bell drones and squeals, come off as abrasive and abstract, appear than disappear. Its soft-volume minimal experiments are heightened by pauses of pregnant silence that are not easy on casual listeners. It's not until about five short tracks in that processed disembodied voices, bird-like chirps and chord washes begin to emote a tangible melancholy melody and that's when Plux Quba begins to work its magic.

Made with electronics, melodica and pre-recorded tapes of acoustic instruments such as harp, flute, bells, marimbas, organ, an out of tune toy piano and accordion, the overall sound is augmented by whispered transmitted voices, abstracted squeals, glitchy computerized electronics, toy instruments, crying children, animal noises, Conet Project style shortwave babble and off-kilter hand percussion. It's almost as if a computer was fed some primitive bedroom recordings performed by children and asked to mimic the results. The cover art with its childlike drawing and strange font layouts doesn't offer any clues either, unless one is versed in Portuguese perhaps. But even then, Plux Quba seems to be mining a territory where language is useless as an orienting factor, but trades on a highly prevalent universality of emotion. It remains a singular and beguiling artifact that won't appeal to everybody, but offers massive rewards to the curious, adventurous and patient.

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Zazou / Bikaye / CY1 - Noir Et Blanc LP

Zazou / Bikaye / CY1 - Noir Et Blanc LP (Crammed Discs)

Our Review:

Noir Et Blanc is a signature record for Crammed Discs, the Belgian label that has curated an eclectic roster of artists from around the globe since 1980, including Tuxedomoon, Konono No. 1 and Arto Lindsay. This particular album was originally released in 1983 and marks the first collaboration for Algerian-born / French-resident Hector Zazou and Congolese singer Bony Biyake. After Noir Et Blanc, the two continued to work together throughout the '80s. Here, the two are joined by a very interesting cast of characters in the studio, including the analog synth duo CY1 (comprised of Claude Micheli and Guillaume Loizillon), Fred Frith, Marc Hollander and Vincent Kenis (the future producer of the Congotronics series).

Within this inspired marriage of Central African music and post-punk electronics, Hector Zazou's arrangements are kept minimal yet funky through his supple sequencing. Even amidst the choppy, art-rock guitars and mechanized polyrhythms, Noir Et Blanc always turns its focus back to Biyake's marvelously rich voice. Since the original release of the album, generations of fans, musicians and DJs have constantly (re)discovered thed album, hailing it as an unsurpassed Afro-electronic milestone. RIYL Liquid Liquid, African Head Charge, William Onyeabor's Afro-synth funkiness and the Music From Memory ethno-ambient hybrids.

"One of the most innovative LPs of the year... resembles the startling outcome of an imaginary collaboration between DAF and Fela Kuti" - Melody Maker, UK, '83

"Fela Kuti-meets-Kraftwerk-on-the-dancefloor - International Musician, USA, '86

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Brainbombs - Inferno LP

Brainbombs - Inferno LP (Skrammel)

Our Review:

Eight brand new Brainbombs songs recorded in the end of 2016.

Those of you familiar with the brutal musical world of Brainbombs will know exactly what we're going on about. The rest of you, be very very careful. They traffic in a sludgy,  garage-rock scuzz stomp with repeated riffs, simple pounding drums and leering psychedelic dirges underpinning tales of murder and mayhem, murder and rape, death and dismemberment. All delivered in a sort of fey, heavily accented English. The lyrics are misogynistic, misanthropic and just plain messed up. The sound is like Melvins meets Whitehouse filtered through the fuzzy garage stomp of the Stooges but with a maniacally repetitive looped quality, that cranks up the tension, while the vocalist slowly unravels and gets meaner and meaner, more and more insane. And let's not forget the occasional warbly warped trumpet. What can we say? We love Brainbombs.

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Nocturnal Emissions - s/t 2xLP

Nocturnal Emissions - s/t 2xLP (Mannequin)

Our Review:

This eponymous recording is an impressive anthology into the broad history of Nocturnal Emissions, which started as an oblique electronic project, immolating at first with an industrial fury and later gliding into supple ambient soundscapes. Nocturnal Emissions was birthed in 1980 by Nigel Ayers and Caroline K who also both ran the Sterile Records, which released highly influential records by Lustmord, M.B., SPK as well as many of the seminal Nocturnal Emissions albums.

This historical document tracks through the many impressive albums of the '80s, including Tissue Of Lies, Viral Shedding, the band's masterpiece Drowning In A Sea Of Bliss, Songs Of Love And Revolution, Spiritflesh and Stoneface. Nocturnal Emissions' earliest works are creeping mutations of primitive electonica implode into audio collages of overblown noise, distorted media cut-ups, and tape loops. Upon the adoption of more gear and technical prowess, the band began to embrace minimal-wave rhythms while keeping to their noise bursts and dead-eyed tonalities. By the late '80s, Ayers had re-invented Nocturnal Emissions through the strategies of ritualized ambient composition through accretions of loops cast in echo and delay, not dissimilar to the equally hermetic projects :zoviet*france: and Cranioclast.

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Various - Bollywood Bloodbath: The B-Music of the Indian Horror Film Industry 2xLP

Various - Bollywood Bloodbath: The B-Music of the Indian Horror Film Industry 2xLP (Finders Keepers)

Our Review:

Bollywood Bloodbath, as you may have guessed, is a collection all taken from the soundtracks to Hindi horror movies! Ghost stories, killer thrillers, zombiethons, that sort of thing... but unlike American slasher flicks and Italian giallo from the same period (the '70s mostly, though this disc ranges as far back as 1949, and up to the '80s), these Indian fright films are elaborate musicals like other Bollywood productions. So the bloodbath sounds like it's taking place at the discotheque!! It's a perfect mix of the over-the-top pop groove-a-delica of the best vintage Bollywood stuff, infused with the even weirder, wilder and wiggier sounds demanded by the horror movie genre, like shocking screams, stabbing cacophonous chords and impassioned female vocals pleading for mercy.

Yep, it's pretty brilliant the way this collection combines two of our favorite soundtrack genres into one. Gotta give it up to compiler Andy Votel and his diligent research (involving hours and hours of viewing cheap old VHS tapes found at the Indian grocery store, no doubt), as he's dug up a delightful 'best of' from a hybrid cinematic genre we've yet to explore ourselves. And even if these songs were sourced from Z-grade movies, there's for sure some top talent involved on soundtrack side of things, including even the legendary RD Burman.

Although there's a modicum of ominous, atmospheric creepiness to be found in most of these cuts, moments that are mystical and mysterious, truth be told it's not all that frightening, as the spookiest stuff always gives way to urgent uptempo beats and zipp-zapping "seance fiction" synths, lively rock/disco orchestration and spirited singing, i.e. typical Bollywood bombast!

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Various - Pomegranates 2xLP

Various - Pomegranates 2xLP (Finders Keepers)

Our Review:

Pomegranates is an amazing compilation of "Persian pop, funk, and psych of the 60s and 70s" compiled by a pair of Iranian-American music lovers delving into the pop culture past of their parents' generation, prior to the fall of the Shah, an era of rapid Westernization, economic stratification, and eventual sociopolitical upheaval. Looking back with bittersweet nostalgia, enthusiasm, and curiosity, they've put together a dazzling array of music that's usually quite groovy, also often melancholic, and sometimes subversive. Several tracks are considered classics, some are total obscurities (same to us!), all are irresistible. It's a colorful hybrid of East and West, of Persian musical traditions (already a melting pot of international influences) and electric youth energy. You'll hear strains of Western psych-pop, James Brown funk, Indian raga, Gypsy flamenco, Turkish folk and other "exotic" Middle Eastern motifs.

The highlights include Googoosh's "Talagh", which sets her sweet voice soaring over an insidiously slinky grooves, pulsating with sinister fuzz-funk energy under flourishes of cinematic strings. She's got a couple more tracks on here, as befits her status as one of Iran's top pop stars of the day, a true sensation. If you like Turkey's Selda, you'll like what you'll hear here from Googoosh and this disc's other female vocalists. We also should note the zinging sitar funk of Abbass Mehrpouya's "Soul Raga", definitely another standout (it also appears on the full-length Mehrpouya reissue we raved about recently). But we haven't scratched the surface, the tracks by the other artists here, including Parva, Zia, Soli, Sima Bina, Ramesh, Noosh Afarin, Kourosh Yaghmaie, and others, are all awesome too, varying from groovy dancefloor workouts to aching love songs, sometimes both in one. Lots to enjoy, dive in!!

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Einsturzende Neubauten - Zeichnungen Des Patienten O.T. (Drawings Of O.T.) LP

Einsturzende Neubauten - Zeichnungen Des Patienten O.T. (Drawings Of O.T.) LP (Potomak)

Our Review:

A brilliant reissue from the seminal German industrial ensemble Einsturzende Neubauten. This album represented the first full realization of the Neubauten project, with F.M. Einheit and Marc Chung (both hailing from the underappreciated post-punk ensemble Abwarts) joining the trio of Blixa Bargeld, Alexander Hacke, and N.U. Unruh. The O.T. from the title of this record references Oswald Tschirtner, a resident of psychiatric hospital for artists, where the patient created these compulsive drawings out of the unkempt visions in his head. Such is the way the Neubauten seeks to employ sound on this record: cracked, naive and dangerous. Found objects, stolen radio transmissions, repurposed machinery and lots of metal bashing appear in this album, inspired as much by musique concrete juxtaposition as by punk fury. The desolate drone-centric piece "Armenia" and the propulsive "Vandium I-Ching" represent two of the extremes found on this ever-impressive album.

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Einsturzende Neubauten - Kollaps LP

Einsturzende Neubauten - Kollaps LP (Potomak)

Our Review:

Kollaps. The first album from Einsturzende Neubauten, released back in 1981, found the band as a trio with the wild-throated frontman Blixa Bargeld buttressed by the anarcho-rhythmicists N.U. Unruh and F.M. Einheit. The band photo of Neubauten on Kollaps is quite telling, as a it parodies Pink Floyd's grand collection of instruments that emblazoned the back cover of Ummagumma. Instead of the marching band sized collection of drums and mallets, there's an assortment of hammers, pipes, a couple of drills, a cheap looking synth, an ax (yeah, there is a guitar, but there's also an ax!) and sheet metal twisted in the shape of drumheads. These are the instruments that Neubauten uses in the hyper-primitive, industrial-punk tracks found on Kollaps. Neubauten's amplified junkyard was a clearly a bold statement of DIY primitivism, this trio was not without their structural prowess, crafting anthemic blasts out of their rhythmic churns, bristling with sparkplug noise and rabid distortion. "Tanz Debil" is curiously catchy in its amplified shopping cart bashing which Unruh & Einheit hammer out to accompany the demon-then-zombie vocal delivery from Blixa Bargeld. The title track is a 8 minute monochord mantra, and the band actually pulls off an instrumental cover of Serge Gainsbourg's "Je T'Aime." Very rough around the edges, but there is a serious-minded, infernal poetry of pain, anger, and rage focused through these scrap metal arrangements. A tremendous record.

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John Duncan - Klaar LP

John Duncan - Klaar LP (Black Truffle)

Our Review:

Sonic provocateur John Duncan has made a career through leaps into the unknown. During the heyday of Los Angeles performance art (i.e. Chris Burden, Paul McCarthey, etc.), Duncan conceived of a number of projects that deliberately antagonized his audience through perceived violence and shattered taboos. At the same time, he began exploring the empty channels on shortwave radio where unsettling noise, silence and crackle could propagate. He was particularly intrigued by the psychological colorings of the sounds that often reflected dread, anxiety and paranoia - themes that were commonplace in his performance pieces.

Duncan's first works were published in conjunction with the Los Angeles Free Music Society, with whom he performed on occasion in various ensembles. His work began to really blossom upon a decision around 1981 to leave America for Japan, a place where he knew no one and where he knew nothing of the language. His work with radio began in earnest both as a source material and as a platform for pirate radio broadcasts. By the end of the decade, he relocated once again, this time to Amsterdam to begin a fruitful series of collaborations with Andrew McKenzie (a.k.a. The Hafler Trio). Shortwave radio was still prominent, with his compositions becoming more complex and nuanced.

Klaar was first published on the Australian imprint Extreme in 1990. The aforementioned McKenzie contributes various field recordings, with Duncan lacing those amidst long-form collages of blank static, distant signals detuned into smeared vibration and swells of electric noise. The relative calm of the album's proceedings belie the implied threat within Klaar. Duncan actively seeks to reflect a psychic, subliminal violence within society through the unintended artifacts of commonplace technologies. Here, the existentially nihilist agenda is to spook through the haunted radio. Klaar, along with much of his catalogue that spans three decades, remains a remarkable work of spectral electro-acoustics. 

And for the first time, Klaar is pressed on vinyl. Highest recommendation.

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Armour Group - Purge LP

Armour Group - Purge LP (Trait)

Our Review:

Taking their name from track by Genocide Organ, Armour Group is a potent, industrial-noise proposition with its roots harkening to the Tesco Organisation aesthetic for an overload of bad vibes through brooding, bleached electronics. The Group is based out of Melbourne, Australia and is comprised of Harriet Morgan (aka Military Position) and Luke Holland (who runs Trapdoor Tapes). Their solo projects rank as very impressive entries in the grizzled history of power electronics and death industrial, with their collaboration being no exception.

The sexual politics of Armour Group make them unique, as the vocal duties are traded off between both partners even as the content as with most power electronics is shrouded in form-destruction noise, distortion and various effects. In this alternation between the male and the female perspectives on the mirrored violence within society, their ferocious co-habition presents itself as a unified front, standing against the agents of subjugation, betrayal and unrest.

Purge is the band's first major work, encapsulating these ideas within a sonic bombshell of hammered electronic rhythm, dead-line tones and barked vocalization. Their Australian origins are also heard in the hyper obscure VHS only horror references, positing themselves as snippets of salacious evidence from a troubling crime of passion. The blasted nihilism of this monumental album finds parallels with early Whitehouse, Atrax Morgue, Anenzephalia and Intrinsic Action.

Limited to 250 copies.

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Psychic TV - Dreams Less Sweet LP

Psychic TV - Dreams Less Sweet LP (Angry Love Productions)

Our Review:

Dreams Less Sweet is the 1983 second album from Psychic TV following the demise of Throbbing Gristle, and this remains a favorite document from the entire post-TG catalog. It almost reads as a companion piece to TG's 20 Jazz Funk Greats in that it invites unusually accessible chamber folk and pop tropes into their sound only to subversively twist them into something much more sinister. Recorded using Zuccarelli Holophonic technology to create an atmospheric spatiality of near and faraway sounds (this is a headphones record if there ever was one!), the group was then able to record in some very unusual places like The Hellfire Club Caves (a notorious British site of aristocratic Satanic liturgies and hedonistic ritual) and take advantage of the systems 3D effect. The album's mixture of sweetness and light with ritual creep and foreboding is at once beautiful and deeply unsettling and on first listen it's hard to decipher what you are hearing and its mystery still beguiles, many years later. We're invited in by the melancholy pastoral chamber pop of "The Orchids" with its vibraphone, guitar and oboe and Genesis' dueling vocals welcoming the morning light in innocent VU "Sunday Morning" fashion. But then the totality of the album swings from hallowed reverence to eldritch mysticism and from remotely animalistic to eerily brutal and back again mimicking the cycle of a day or a season as it moves between songs and strange far-off occult musique concrete. There are lots of guest appearances both real and invoked. Monte Cazazza is heard reciting lyrics over the phone, and one can hear John Balance of Coil getting a tattoo. There is an angelic choirboy singing a Charles Manson song, and most notably on the track "White Nights," a sweet Christmas-y pop number with lyrics lifted wholesale from Jim Jones final sermon at Jonestown. Throughout, bells intone, chants are muttered, a lot of acoustic exotic instruments are played with atmospheric intentions more than melodic ones. But the full power of the collective's brutal aural abilities culminates in the penultimate track - "In The Nursery" - which invokes fairytale symbolism and ritual and industrial soundscapes in a nightmarish blend of hellish terror. Exquisite.

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Laraaji - Ambient 3: Day of Radiance LP+CD

Laraaji - Ambient 3: Day of Radiance LP+CD (Glitterbeat)

Our Review:

Ambient 3: Day of Radiance is the breakthrough album for Edward Larry Gordon (aka Laraaji, to use his preferred, new age moniker), produced by Brian Eno and published in 1980 on Editions EG. It was this album that introduced Laraaji's majestic, electric zither ambiance to a wider audience. Discovered busking in Washington Square Park after years of self-releasing tapes, studying eastern mysticism and developing a practice of laughter therapy, Laraaji was soon after enlisted by Eno to release an album in his Ambient series, much as Eno did with Harold Budd. Comprised of two suites of music, "The Dance" and "Meditation", Laraaji employs gamelan-like rhythms on an electronically treated hammer dulcimer in the first suite, while the slowed down zither is featured in the second suite. Eno as usual keeps a restrained but guiding role in delicately layering and treating the tracks with a beautifully soft-focus feel. An essential release!

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Cosey Fanni Tutti - Time To Tell LP

Cosey Fanni Tutti - Time To Tell LP (CTI)

Our Review:

Solo recordings from Cosey Fanni Tutti are a rare offering. Her legendary history in British electronic music began in the early '70s through the transgressive collaborations in Coum Transmission that later morphed into Throbbing Gristle. Concurrently, she pursued in intertwined avenues of performance art and collaged photographs, often of her own body from her work as a nude model for numerous porn magazines. After TG's mission was terminated, she continued her own art, but most of the recorded work was manifest through Chris & Cosey, with former TG pillar and longtime partner Chris Carter.

Time To Tell was her first solo outing, originally published as a single-sided cassette in 1982 via the British experimental magazine Flowmotion. Later CD editions featured an additional lengthy bonus track from a 1986 performance called "Ritual Awakening." This edition marks the first time any of this material has been published on vinyl, remastered from the original tapes with the tracks that were featured on those CD editions.

The centerpiece to the album is the titular track that sprawls through her skeletal distillation of progressive electronics into a darkly blissed-out hypnosis of cyclical synth tones and sci-fi echo patterns. She delivers the lyrics in a hushed monotone, presenting a treatise on sexual expression through her own body and experiences in the sex industry. As her words fade into the electronic miasma, cosmic synth melodies and appropriated dialogue samples flash to the foreground of this brilliant track. The other tracks reprise her electronic sequencing amidst vaguely mechanized calm augmented with her spooky guitar work and muted cornet. With parallels to Conrad Schnitzler's Ballet Stratique and a precognition of the "moon musick" period from Coil's sidereal ambience in the late'90s, Time To Tell remains and under recognized masterpiece in the broader context of England's Hidden Reverse.

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Brainticket - Cottonwoodhill LP

Brainticket - Cottonwoodhill LP (Cleopatra)

Our Review:

Cottonwoodhill, originally released in 1971, the debut from Swiss psychedelic groove-meisters Brainticket, is simply one of the freakiest, LSD-trip inspired slabs of groovy musick of all times. Up there with Funkadelic's Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow, even.

The first two tracks on side one, "Black Sand" and "Places Of Light", ease you into it, being laidback groovers laced with stabs of distortion; then the true "trip" begins, the utterly over the top, three-part "Brainticket", that starts on side one and spreads over all of side two, dense and propulsive and repetitive through the maddeningly-catchy psychedelic throb. The vocalist Dawn Muir exasperatingly recites in real-time an acid trip in full bloom, with orgasmic yelps and uncomfortably numb sermonizing. It's the perfect soundtrack to completely mad. In addition to wah-wah guitar, organ, flute, tabla, and sci-fi electronics, there's layers of musique concrete through tapes of car-crashes, explosions, clanging bells, clattering trains, cheering crowds and a panoply of noise panic.

One of the most intense albums from the Krautrock scene (even as this ensemble was Swiss) and was huge inspiration on Steven Stapleton. Not only did Brainticket make it onto the legendary NWW-list that accompanied his first record, but he also covered the almight "Brainticket" suite. We have to admit Stapleton's version pales in comparison to the original!

Along with Nurse With Wound, fans of Amon Duul II, Gunter Schickert, A.R. & The Machines and the more cosmic Funkadelic facets will be well served in checking this one out.

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Skinny Puppy - Remission LP

Skinny Puppy - Remission LP (Nettwerk)

Our Review:

Beyond the buckets of fake blood and the recent publicity stunt in which they invoiced the US government $666,000 for unauthorized use of their music at Guantanamo Bay, Skinny Puppy's albums from the '80s remain an impressive hybrid of industrial grit and new wave programming. These albums became synonymous with the aggressive, industrial dance sound furthered by Ministry and Front 242. Skinny Puppy was founded by two Canadian young men both named Kevin, having grotesquely altered their names to avoid confusion. Principle technician cEvin Key was born Kevin Crompton, and vocalist Kevin Ogilvie rechristened himself Nivek Ogre. Skinny Puppy signed to Nettwerk upon the strength of their Back And Forth demo cassette, noted for its gloomy, punk approach to electronics. During this early incarnation, Ogre and Key were also joined by Bill Leeb, who later went to found Front Line Assembly. 1984's Remissions was the band's proper debut transmitted through Key's alien sequencing, Ogre's hoarse vocals and a confrontational use of sampled dialogue culled from art-house and b-movie horror films alike. Originally released as a six track EP, Remissions is replete with the bright timbres of galvanized synths lashed to beat-box aggression. Coupled with Orge's affected vocals, Skinny Puppy's sound is given an acid bath treatment through the generous use of a tinny flange that's at once sharp, clinical and distancing. The lead-track "Smothered Hope" found Skinny Puppy full-formed in their saw-tooth industrial dance idiom, with the slippery "Glass Houses" paralleling Severed Heads were doing down in Australia. This pressing restores Remission to its original track listing and design.

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Skinny Puppy - Bites LP

Skinny Puppy - Bites LP (Nettwerk)

Our Review:

Bites marked the first full-length for Skinny Puppy, originally released on Nettwerk in 1985. It's a swaggering collection of electro-industrial programming and their signature horror-laden iconography. The band was formed a few years later by principle technician cEvin Key and Nivek Ogre, bastardized pseudonyms for two Canadian who were both graced with the first name of Kevin. This early incarnation of the band found them working alongside Bill Leeb, who would shortly found Front Line Assembly. Dave Ogilvie (no relation to Kevin "Nivek Ogre" Ogilvie) also began a long-term production relationship with the band, helping refine and expand their already caustic electronic sound. On Bites, Skinny Puppy followed the gloomy, aggressive sequencing of the earlier Remissions EP through bolstered propulsive rhythms. Both "Assimilate" and "Dead Lines" laid the groundwork for countless industrial dance projects to augment a streamlined techno rhythm with nervous-twitch sequencing and shards of synth-noise. Yet the remainder of the album shifts toward slower-paced dirges and more experimental sequencing structures. The case could be made that Skinny Puppy's "Icebreaker" is a distant response to SPK's "Despair" as both lumber with mutant monstrosities and eerie elliptical patterning; and "Basement" entirely eschews Orge's vocals for a Numanoid rhythm cloaked in a desolate synth drone and vampire-movie samples. This pressing restores Bites to its original track listing and design.

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Coil - Time Machines 2xLP

Coil - Time Machines 2xLP (Dais)

Our Review:

The art of Coil involves a confluence of the surreal, the deviant, the magical and the psychedelic, all stemming from their inception within Industrial culture in the early '80s. Time Machines was conceived by Coil's John Balance, Peter Christopherson and Drew MacDowall back in 1998 as a series of audio hallucinogens, constructed by means of method acting. The zeitgeist of Time Machines is the very same as Spacemen 3's early compendium Taking Drugs To Make Music To Take Drugs To, while the compositional sensibility travels down a very different path. For Balance, the concept to the album reflected the notion of hallucinogens as means of time travel, as he posited, "they can conjure up histories of yourself and/or act as predictors of the future. In any case, they can remove you from 'temporal reality.'" The four tracks are named after four powerful chemical compounds with hallucinogenic properties, with each track presumably engineered both for and through those exact chemicals. Such is deeply rooted in the tradition of kosmische electronica and psychonaut minimalism. La Monte Young, early Tangerine Dream, Nurse With Wound and certainly Coil stand at the pinnacle of a tradition for lysergic music that transcends the need for drug-taking to embrace the full experience.

Time Machines remains one of the few truly successful pieces of electronic music in this liminal oeuvre. Slow oscillating tones gird vibrating patterns, and black-hole echoes of rhythm slither in the distance behind slightly dissonant saw-tooth drones. This simple structural sensibility belies the investigative and imaginative prowess that Coil have long mastered. You can't just turn on a synthesizer and have these sounds spill from the circuitry. In Coil's calibration of electricity with chemistry, this immersive pool of sound is a stark document of their power in dissolving time.

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Hiroshi Yoshimura - Music From Nine Postcards LP

Hiroshi Yoshimura - Music From Nine Postcards LP (Empire Of Sign)

Our Review:

We've experienced a flutter of essential early 80's Japanese reissues the past couple years, and now Spencer Doran's imprint Empire of Signs may have just dropped the most obscure and best so far. Recorded in 1982 Hiroshi Yoshimura's Music For Nine Post Cards was created to be "environmental music" also known as "kankyo ongaku" in Japan, and the same phrase used to describe Brian Eno's Ambient 1-4 series, which was released four years prior.

It would be convenient to listen to a small sample of this record and categorize it as background muzak. The album's concept is very similar to Eno's Music For Aiports, but compositions are stripped down and much shorter than anything that appears in the Ambient series.

A keyboard and a Fender Rhodes are the only instruments featured on this record. Yoshimura seamlessly overlays a tactile presence of the musician's hand onto dreamy overtones creating an ethereal ambience to the album. Yoshimura's slow, gentle, and soulful keys throughout leads the listener into intimate and poetic realms of interpretation. For fans of K. Leimer, Midori Takada, Woo, Nuno Canavarro, Badalamenti's Twin Peaks and Brian Eno's ambient series.

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Patrick Cowley - Afternooners 2xLP

Patrick Cowley - Afternooners 2xLP (Dark Entries)

Our Review:

One of the most revolutionary and influential figures in the canon of disco, Cowley created his own brand of Hi-NRG dance music, "The San Francisco Sound." However, little known during his brief lifetime (Cowley died from AIDS in 1982), he also composed seductive electronic soundscapes for gay porn soundtracks based on his pioneering work as founder of the Electronic Music Lab at City College of San Francisco in the early seventies.

Afternooners is the third and final installment of unreleased film scores released by Dark Entries / Honey Soundsystem following two previous collections, School Daze and Muscle Up. The songs on Afternooners reflect the advances of the equipment available at the onset of the 1980s. Cowley's unadulterated electronic forms are stripped down and dubbed up. Lush electronic percussion, soaring synthesizer riffs and low slung funk grooves co-mingle on these magnificent downtempo trax of proto-techno instrumentals.

Featuring 70 minutes of remastered music never before released on vinyl including three bonus tracks not featured in the original film. Comes with a fold-out poster featuring a handmade collage using photography and xeroxed graphics of classic gay porn imagery and an essay from Drew Daniel of Matmos. This is provocative and sensual music for those unafraid to show off in the bright light of day. For fans of Giorgio Moroder, John Carpenter, Oneohtrix Point Never and Bernard Fevre.

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Akira Rabelais - Spellewauerynsherde LP

Akira Rabelais - Spellewauerynsherde LP (Boomkat Editions)

Our Review:

The tongue-twistingly titled Spellewauerynsherde is a hauntingly beautiful record from the enigmatic electronic composer Akira Rabelais. As with his previous albums, Rabelais offers a labyrinth of elliptical allegories, subtle chance operations and impressionistic romanticism as an accompaniment for his elegant sound constructions. Given the incredible amount of semantic engineering that went into this record, it is certainly possible that Rabelais deliberately arranged to have this album released at the same time as Bjork's Medula. The source for Snellewauerynsherde is a collection of traditional Icelandic a capella songs recorded in the late 1960s or early 1970s on Ampex tapes and then forgotten about. The first few tracks of Snellewauerynsherde present the raw recordings Icelandic songs, sanitized of their tape hiss and debris. The content may remain foreign to our ears, but the songs' existential sadness transcends any language barriers. When he actually processes these sources, he extracts a mournful etherialism that he stretches into a gracefully solemn minimalism that falls between Steven Stapleton's production of Current 93's A Little Menstrual Night Music, Eliane Radigue's evocative timbral compositions and Arvo Part's late period chorale pieces. Rabelais continues to distance himself from the clicks 'n' cuts electronica of his contemporaries and crystalize his own substantive self-built mythologies.

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Alvarius B. - With A Beaker On The Burner And An Otter In The Oven, Vol. 1: Natural Wonder LP

Alvarius B. - With A Beaker On The Burner And An Otter In The Oven, Vol. 1: Natural Wonder LP (Abduction)

Our Review:

Here donning his Alvarius B. persona, Alan Bishop returns with a trilogy of albums, all recorded from 2014-2017 in Egypt with various members of Cairo's Invisible Hands and the Master Musicians Of Bukakke.

Alan, his brother Richard Bishop and Charlie Goucher were the legendary Sun City Girls - the outsider free-noise / ethno-punk outfit that deliberately confused the unenlightened and frustrated their die-hard fans. In any given set of recordings, glorious melodies and teasingly brilliant psychedelic hooks would erupt with a thousand ideas culled from the world's songbook: Morricone's serpentine drama, John Leyton's murder ballad / pop glory, Trịnh Cong Son's torrid simplicity and Omar Korhseid's non-occidental rock'n'roll passion. Yet at the same time, the Sun City Girls thrived on undermining any given perception as avant-rock geniuses with their impish humor that angrily jabbed with a misanthropic bile. Those who love the Sun City Girls may have come to an understanding to disagree with the politics of these jokes, but there's a recognition that the Girls needed to shove back at polite lefty-liberal society.

Charlie Gocher died in 2007, and the Bishop brothers dissolved the Sun City Girls in honor of their partner. Many of the ideas continue unabated in the Bishop brothers' solo careers. Alan Bishop, especially as Alvarius B., comes the closest to manifesting the panoply of horror and glee found in the Sun City Girls, leading us here to these three volumes of With A Beaker On The Burner And An Otter In The Oven, which are filled suitably filled with a trove of horror and glee.

Across the three albums, Bishop crafts effortless reconstructions of a century's worth of folk-rock-blues idioms through his slack acoustic-guitar splutter. His songs alternate between the sensible and the snarling in varying ratios across the trilogy. It may be true that the first volume is the most "melodic, savvy" of the three as Bishop quipped in his thorny press releases, but his bitter melodic croon persists throughout the trilogy. It may be true that Alan believes the second volume to be his favorite. It may also be true that the final album may be the most problematic of the lot, but when is an Alan Bishop project not problematic? Art should never be easy.

Alvarius B. on With A Beaker On The Burner And An Otter In The Oven, Vol. 1: Natural Wonder:

"Volume One of three new LPs I am releasing simultaneously called Natural Wonder, this is the more melodic, savvy one and you might like it. Maybe I'm lying and it's the innocent, straight record so maybe you should get Volume 3 instead if you're in a darker mood. But that's not really true either. Or maybe it's one of those records that grows on you the more you continue playing it, like a cancer. The musicians who played on all three albums don't deserve to be involved in these kamikaze promotional descriptions so don't blame them for any of this. The modern world of record making has become so fucking dull and obedient that someone has to ram a poison dagger up your asses and since you're all under hypnosis, I promise you won't feel a thing. I could pay Dougie Jones to write this piece to match your intellect or hire a publicity company to promote it but who really gives a fuck? By deciding to write my own album promos, I can perform some market research. For example, this album description text will undoubtedly be copy/pasted by most online retailers onto their respective sites because they don't write their own new album reviews or get too excited about music, they simply want to create the illusion that they're in business to sell records. So I could put something like: Fuck all website retailers that copy/paste this description onto their site because they are too fucking cheap, lazy or chicken shit to have an opinion to write individual album reviews - and they probably wouldn't even notice while doing it (ed. - yes, Alan, we noticed and we copied the press release anyway). Anyway, back to my new album. These songs are pretty good, most likely way better than your songs, and I don't even have time to be a real songwriter, so what does that say about you? It says that you suck. And most of you do. But you should buy my new three album set because it's probably as good or better than any other LPs that will be released this year. But if you aren't ready to go all-in with confidence, then forget it."

One-time pressing. Includes printed inner sleeve with lyrics and credits.

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Alvarius B. - With A Beaker On The Burner And An Otter In The Oven, Vol. 2: A Mark Twain August LP

Alvarius B. - With A Beaker On The Burner And An Otter In The Oven, Vol. 2: A Mark Twain August LP (Abduction)

Our Review:

Here donning his Alvarius B. persona, Alan Bishop returns with a trilogy of albums, all recorded from 2014-2017 in Egypt with various members of Cairo's Invisible Hands and the Master Musicians Of Bukakke.

Alan, his brother Richard Bishop and Charlie Goucher were the legendary Sun City Girls - the outsider free-noise / ethno-punk outfit that deliberately confused the unenlightened and frustrated their die-hard fans. In any given set of recordings, glorious melodies and teasingly brilliant psychedelic hooks would erupt with a thousand ideas culled from the world's songbook: Morricone's serpentine drama, John Leyton's murder ballad / pop glory, Trịnh Cong Son's torrid simplicity and Omar Korhseid's non-occidental rock'n'roll passion. Yet at the same time, the Sun City Girls thrived on undermining any given perception as avant-rock geniuses with their impish humor that angrily jabbed with a misanthropic bile. Those who love the Sun City Girls may have come to an understanding to disagree with the politics of these jokes, but there's a recognition that the Girls needed to shove back at polite lefty-liberal society.

Charlie Gocher died in 2007, and the Bishop brothers dissolved the Sun City Girls in honor of their partner. Many of the ideas continue unabated in the Bishop brothers' solo careers. Alan Bishop, especially as Alvarius B., comes the closest to manifesting the panoply of horror and glee found in the Sun City Girls, leading us here to these three volumes of With A Beaker On The Burner And An Otter In The Oven, which are filled suitably filled with a trove of horror and glee.

Across the three albums, Bishop crafts effortless reconstructions of a century's worth of folk-rock-blues idioms through his slack acoustic-guitar splutter. His songs alternate between the sensible and the snarling in varying ratios across the trilogy. It may be true that the first volume is the most "melodic, savvy" of the three as Bishop quipped in his thorny press releases, but his bitter melodic croon persists throughout the trilogy. It may be true that Alan believes the second volume to be his favorite. It may also be true that the final album may be the most problematic of the lot, but when is an Alan Bishop project not problematic? Art should never be easy.

Alvarius B. on With A Beaker On The Burner And An Otter In The Oven, Vol. 2: A Mark Twain August:

"This is Volume Two of my new three LP set, and it's called A Mark Twain August. Now don't go asking me what the fuck that title means but I will say that it may be my favorite of the three. My 'fans', all 133 of them, are pretty smart. I used to think only 67 people mattered on earth, now it could be far less, but it's beginning to trouble me how I've actually accumulated 133 fans. So if you're not a moron, I don't mind if you buy this record. I made more copies than I have fans so I need to expand on the audience a bit but I don't want fucking idiots buying my albums. A brand new car loses value the moment you drive it home, but my records will always go up in value (like my Dodge Ram Van which tripled in value when I drove it off the lot) so this is also an investment opportunity. If you were to walk slowly on a hot bed of coals you may discover that Don McLean never actually drove his Chevy to the levy and that the singer-songwriter is dead, just like all the poets. What do contemporary poets and the entire Indonesian population have in common? Most of you cannot name even one of them. Homo Sapiens now love to complain and act as if they know how the world works by 'expressing' themselves on their social media networks - that's become the new poetry. And I think there are only nine people writing songs today that I respect, I'd have to check to make sure. And the Thinking Fellers were a great band - I could name a dozen more from the past 30 years that I'd call contemporaries, but that's about it. And I almost forgot to mention that Mark Twain's old banjo appears on this record. Oh and this is better than that Wolf King Of LA album by Papa John Phillips, for all those who got mesmerized by it 30 years after it came out. There's only three or four good tracks on that and A Mark Twain August has six great tracks on it, at least."

One-time pressing. Includes printed inner sleeve with lyrics and credits.

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Alvarius B. - With A Beaker On The Burner And An Otter In The Oven, Vol. 3: Heathen Folklore LP

Alvarius B. - With A Beaker On The Burner And An Otter In The Oven, Vol. 3: Heathen Folklore LP (Abduction)

Our Review:

Here donning his Alvarius B. persona, Alan Bishop returns with a trilogy of albums, all recorded from 2014-2017 in Egypt with various members of Cairo's Invisible Hands and the Master Musicians Of Bukakke.

Alan, his brother Richard Bishop and Charlie Goucher were the legendary Sun City Girls - the outsider free-noise / ethno-punk outfit that deliberately confused the unenlightened and frustrated their die-hard fans. In any given set of recordings, glorious melodies and teasingly brilliant psychedelic hooks would erupt with a thousand ideas culled from the world's songbook: Morricone's serpentine drama, John Leyton's murder ballad / pop glory, Trịnh Cong Son's torrid simplicity and Omar Korhseid's non-occidental rock'n'roll passion. Yet at the same time, the Sun City Girls thrived on undermining any given perception as avant-rock geniuses with their impish humor that angrily jabbed with a misanthropic bile. Those who love the Sun City Girls may have come to an understanding to disagree with the politics of these jokes, but there's a recognition that the Girls needed to shove back at polite lefty-liberal society.

Charlie Gocher died in 2007, and the Bishop brothers dissolved the Sun City Girls in honor of their partner. Many of the ideas continue unabated in the Bishop brothers' solo careers. Alan Bishop, especially as Alvarius B., comes the closest to manifesting the panoply of horror and glee found in the Sun City Girls, leading us here to these three volumes of With A Beaker On The Burner And An Otter In The Oven, which are filled suitably filled with a trove of horror and glee.

Across the three albums, Bishop crafts effortless reconstructions of a century's worth of folk-rock-blues idioms through his slack acoustic-guitar splutter. His songs alternate between the sensible and the snarling in varying ratios across the trilogy. It may be true that the first volume is the most "melodic, savvy" of the three as Bishop quipped in his thorny press releases, but his bitter melodic croon persists throughout the trilogy. It may be true that Alan believes the second volume to be his favorite. It may also be true that the final album may be the most problematic of the lot, but when is an Alan Bishop project not problematic? Art should never be easy.

Alvarius B. on With A Beaker On The Burner And An Otter In The Oven, Vol. 3: Heathen Folklore:

"Serial killing was one of history's greatest art forms. Now it's becoming almost impossible to get a skull-drilling startup off the ground unless you murder for the corporations or governments where you have highly organized protection from any enforceable law but at the expense of sacrificing all the glory for the anonymity required to maintain employment. So, unfortunately, the days of any zit topography random commoner being able to string together a few killings to hit the big time before being caught has almost come to an end. Sad. This record, the third and final volume of my new three-LP set called Heathen Folklore, could serve as somewhat of a manual of inspiration on how one could start such a career, as risky and unpopular as it is. It gets much more fucked-up than the previous two LPs, and sometimes I think it's the best one due to that aspect. I'd have to give it one more listen but I also think this is the LP with coded messages that could trigger an unsuspecting listener to start his/her career in extreme behavior. But killing isn't everything you know. There are many more ways to express yourself and reach the top of the charts these days. In fact, I saw Burt Bacharach three weeks ago gripping a huge fucking machete while chasing modern dance music architects off his champion ship and into deep water where they hopefully became shark bait. And to set the record straight, Jimi Hendrix did not fake his death and become Morgan Freeman nor was Hunter S. Thompson directing snuff films. But most of that other weird shit you hear about these days is probably true. And I'm working on a film called Being Alvarius B. where all of you loser fucks crawl into my brain and see yourselves from my perspective and then commit collective suicide because you finally realize I was right all along. And I am. Can't wait to make more albums so I can write these album descriptions. Cocksuckers."

One-time pressing. Includes printed inner sleeve with lyrics and credits.

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Vikki Jackman, Andrew Chalk & Jean-Noel Rebilly - A Paper Doll's Whisper Of Spring LP

Vikki Jackman, Andrew Chalk & Jean-Noel Rebilly - A Paper Doll's Whisper Of Spring LP (Faraway Press)

Our Review:

The arrival of anything that Andrew Chalk touches is a cause for celebration here, and here we have this LP entitled A Paper Doll's Whisper Of Spring. A tiny edition of these recordings appeared and disappeared on CDR back in 2012, with the occasional duo of Vikki Jackman and Andrew Chalk working here with the hitherto unknown to us Jean-Noel Rebilly. The Jackman and Chalk aesthetic of wintry pastoral piano clusters swelling with beautifully rendered gossamer clouds of impressionism, haze, fog, smoke and whatnot remain intact, so what Rebilly is contributing is not all that clear. But given how good Jackman and Chalk work together, why mess things up? At times, it appears that the three are in fact working as a trio, with Jackman sitting behind the keys and with Chalk and Rebilly taking up possibly guitar and bass. There sounds are so ephemeral and so seamlessly integrated into the languid tones and suspended drones out of Jackman's piano that it's hard to really tell. Synths, koto and possibly flutes also get wrapped up in the mirage-like sonic miasma that Chalk weaves from his source materials. That of course is the magic of Andrew Chalk, his ability to render the drone musical, and blur all sounds into time-lapsed experiences of forgotten memories, haunted films, and half-remembered dreams. Beautiful stuff as always and again, as with all Chalk releases, immaculately packaged. Limited to 400 copies.

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JH1.FS3 - Loyalty LP

JH1.FS3 - Loyalty LP (Ideal)

Our Review:

This anagrammatic abbreviation unscrambles into the names for Frederikke Hoffmeier - aka Puce Mary and Jesse Sanes, former frontman of the nihilist punk outfit Hoax and now operating in the power electronics guise Leibestod. Both Hoffmeier and Sanes share a taste for grim expanses for gristled sicktones, slow panzer rhythms and declarative vocalizations broadcasting grotesque exaggerations of anxiety, rage and despair. Those joint aesthetics certainly carry over on Loyalty, with both parties focused on the other as the subject and object of their noise poetics. More often than not, they address the complications of sexual dynamics that can go against the titular theme. The electric volatility found on their separate work is somewhat tempered. This seems by design as if to accentuate and highlight the content of their spoken couplets, with Hoffmeier's uttering in emotionally detached monotone and Sanes lurking with an prowling aggression. "Visions Of A Scene" sets a creeping low synth pulse along a narrative through field recordings of nervous footsteps and anxious breathing racing through field and forest. A voyeuristic re-enactment of a crime, the manifestation of sexual fantasies, the fracture of identity within a relationship - these are just a few of the tangled themes Hoffmeier and Sanes wrestle with on Loyalty.

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Coil - Another Brown World / Baby Food LP

Coil - Another Brown World / Baby Food LP (Sub Rosa)

Our Review:

At the height of England's hidden reverse, Coil (alongside Current 93 and Nurse With Wound) were tireless contributors to various experimental / industrial compilations hither and yon. The two lengthy tracks on album represent what Coil offered to Sub Rosa. A suitably scatological recoloring of Brian Eno's classic, "Another Brown World" was featured on the 1989 compilation Myths 4, alongside Current 93 and Cheb Mami. While built upon an insistent, haunted synth line, this particular track is darkly-lit labyrinth of divergent musical ideas: a repeating phrase from a fuzzed-out guitar, eerie flares of electronic trickery, and various cut-ups from ethnographic studies recorded at the Animist Monastery at the summit of Mount Popo in Burma. In the same year, Coil contributed a track called "Contains A Disclaimer" to a Pathological Records compilation which used many of the same elements -- that guitar freak-out and that reductive Goblin-ish synth motif. While these tracks are clearly linked, it's always been unclear if "Another Brown World" is the lysergic dub of the other or if it is the early exploration of ideas later ratcheted into submission. It's always been a corker of a track, no matter how anybody looks at it.

"Another Brown World" is coupled with the 1993 track "Baby Food" which finds Coil in their post-rave guise. From here, the Balance / Sleazy duo also delivered their iconic Worship The Glitch album a few years later. This particular track looks forward actually to what Aphex Twin would produce on his seminal Selected Ambient Works, Vol 2. It's a psychoactive track of rounded acid tones shaped into a hypnotic / aquatic percolation. It's a beautiful and melancholy example of Coil's take on '90s electronica, easily bettering most of their peers at the time.

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Chris Bell - I Am The Cosmos LP

Chris Bell - I Am The Cosmos LP (Omnivore)

Our Review:

Chris Bell was an original member of mighty pop legends Big Star, but quit the band after their debut, #1 Record failed to propel them to super stardom. For the next few years years, Bell struggled with depression while recording demo after demo. In 1977, Bell released the single "I Am The Cosmos", an amazing little slab of practically perfect pop, an absolutely beautiful gem, dense with wistful harmonies and glistening instrumentation, which ended up being a big enough hit that it drove Bell to form a band to begin work on a new album. But before that could happen, Bell died in a tragic car accident. I Am The Cosmos is a collection of all of his unreleased demos, but plays like some lost classic album. As good as any of the Big Star records for sure. A dark and brooding, dreamy and glistening pop masterpiece, from beginning to end. Super varied, from crunchy melodic power pop to deep introspective ballads, but somehow all the parts fit perfectly. So goddamn good.

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Andrew Chalk - Ghosts Of Nakhodka LP

Andrew Chalk - Ghosts Of Nakhodka LP (Faraway Press)

Our Review:

You may be thinking, there was an album by Andrew Chalk with this exact same title. And you would be correct but for one small distinction - the 2009 album was called Ghost Of Nakhodka and this 2015 album is Ghosts Of Nakhodka. Ah, the difference of plurality! The album is pegged as a sister to that 2009 album though Chalk has implemented a different set of tools on this one. Instead of piano and guitar laced with placid droning effects that was found on the singular Ghost album, here he's using a monophonic synthesizer occasionally dappled with field recordings and a few choice effects. It becomes very clear this a Chalk record through the albums' impressionist fragments spilled across 13 tracks, each rich with his languid sense of space and his elegant timing in placing this free-roaming kosmische blorp here and that swollen ambient blur over there. Brian Eno's Discreet Music and Apollo would be the closest references to what Chalk is up to here, though his production methods are qualitatively rough hewn in the synth manifestation of melancholic nostalgia with little of the portent that Eno imbues into his work. The miniatures presented are exquisite jewels coming from a craftsman keen on showcasing his work to a select few and within an deliberately intimate setting. It would seem far out of Chalk's character to broadcast works such as these at the Guggenheim or even the ICA. Instead, a humble English cottage with a sod roof and a console-sized cathode ray television as the only means of transmission. Ah, the wonders of Andrew Chalk never cease.

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F.J. McMahon - Spirit Of The Golden Juice LP

F.J. McMahon - Spirit Of The Golden Juice LP (Anthology Recordings)

Our Review:

Santa Barbara's F.J. McMahon cut one record, 1969's impossibly rare Spirit Of The Golden Juice, before disappearing into the ether (or, in reality, a career as a computer engineer). A brilliant slice of singer-songwriter folk-rock and one of the most brutally personal and honest treatise on the Vietnam War, Spirit Of The Golden Juice has long been one of the more coveted obscurities of the hippie era. It was originally released on the Accent label, the sort of befuddling enterprise that released 45 after 45 of the most tepid schlock you've ever heard while simultaneously gracing the world with three and four figure garage, psych and soul rarities from legends like The Human Expression, and intriguingly named acts like Soul Injection, Silk Winged Alliance, and Peacepipe, as well as this lone(r) singer-songwriter masterstroke. Accent was the kind of label whose bi-polar A&R work could seemingly only be explained by something like the label owner's turned on, tuned in and dropped out offspring being brought into the fold circa 1967; the kind of label with such counter-cultural disconnect that they'd describe the monster garage-psych of The Human Expression on their 45 labels as "vocal with orchestra."

Inspired by McMahon's time in the military, the songs of Spirit Of The Golden Juice are dark and rarely hopeful. These are the reflections of a young man unable to come to terms with what he has seen and a humanity that would allow such things to happen. While the songs are anti-war, they are not cliched or preachy. Instead they are uniquely personal (like "Black Night Woman" about the suicide of a GI's foreign girlfriend or "The Road Back Home" about struggling to find yourself after war). They are the songs of a man who spent the Summer Of Love in Southeast Asia, not San Francisco, a man who hated war not just on principle but because he had lived its atrocities.

Spirit Of The Golden Juice draws comparisons to everyone from Tim Hardin and Fred Neil, to Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. While the Dylan comparison falls flat lyrically and vocally, where it makes perfect sense is in the musicianship; Spirit Of The Golden Juice plays out like a West Coast John Wesley Harding, as it employs a country session drummer whose in-the-pocket drum work is a centerpiece of the record - subdued yet funky, complex but unobtrusive. It's the perfect complement to McMahon's stellar lead guitar work which was inspired by surf wizards like The Ventures and Dick Dale. When transposed to the acoustic guitar as it is here, it delivers a swirling, haunting effect that renders the songs' even more powerful. But nothing is as important to the record as that voice and those lyrics. The gripping tenor of McMahon's voice rivals that of Hardin and Neil. Dare I say it, while both of those more famous artists may have had higher highs in their songwriting career, neither of them ever put together an album as consistently honest and striking as Spirit Of The Golden Juice.

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Tarab - An Incomplete Yet Fixed Idea LP

Tarab - An Incomplete Yet Fixed Idea LP (Aposiopese)

Our Review:

"Careful arrangements of sonic rubbish." That's one hell of a great artist's statement, courtesy of Eamon Sprod (aka Tarab). Over the past decade, this Australian sound-artist has quietly produced some of the finer examples of composition through field recording. His work is a far cry from the pleasantries of a soft ambient whoosh set as the backdrop to various birdsongs plopped willy-nilly for the listener to identify. There's always the threat of psychological, psychic and existential violence lurking throughout Sprod's work. When the insect chorales push through to the foreground, it's symbolic of pestilence, disease, blight and the simple fact that much in the outback can fucking kill you. It's easy to tap into the ultra-violent, post-apocalyptic, doomsayer and/or isolationist scenarios mapped out elsewhere through the Australian psyche (e.g. Mad Max, Chopper, On The Beach, Bad Boy Bubby, etc.), and Sprod carves out his own niche in digging through the hinterlands of urban neglect, locating meaning of psychogeographical import (or the lack there of) within a recontextualized sound object. Since his debut Surfacedrift back in 2004, Sprod's work has steadily exhibited a maturation in conceptualization and aesthetic complexity, leading to his first piece of vinyl as An Incomplete Yet Fixed Idea.

He eschews any notation as to the sources of these sounds on An Incomplete Yet Fixed Idea, but their meaning is clear. This environment is a hostile one. Torn metal and shattered concrete rupture in tandem with stinging buzzes and noxious industrial vibration throughout the album that takes its composition cues from the G*Park, Dave Phillips and Francisco Meirino as well as Luc Ferrari and Michel Chion. Brilliant work as always, from Tarab.

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Maria Monti - Il Bestiario LP

Maria Monti - Il Bestiario LP (Holidays)

Our Review:

Holidays Records present a welcome first-time vinyl reissue of Maria Monti's Il Bestiario, a hidden gem of the Italian avant-garde. Monti's collaborators form a free music supergroup with Alvin Curran, Steve Lacy, Prima Materia's Roberto Laneri and guitarists Luca Balbo and Tony Ackerman. Monti sings evocative texts by radical poet Aldo Braibanti, whose imprisonment in the late '60s under Fascist-era legislation caused a furor among the Left a few years prior to the album's 1974 release.

Il Bestiario is anchored by Monti's hypnotic voice, around which the ensemble constructs lush electro-acoustic filigrees. Braibanti's plaintive texts stand as wry allegories saturated by an inchoate desire – cautionary tales of snakes, peacocks and chameleons that only partly mask a more general protest against needless privation, loss and longing. While breathing the same air as Emmanuelle Parrenin, Brigitte Fontaine and Desertshore-era Nico, Il Bestiario remains an unlikely and beautiful record at the intersection of several visionary careers.

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F Ingers - Awkwardly Blissing Out LP

F Ingers - Awkwardly Blissing Out LP (Blackest Ever Black)

Our Review:

A trio comprising Tarquin Manek, Sam Karmel and Carla Dal Forno, F ingers creep and curl all through Awkwardly Blissing Out, the unnerving and brilliant follow-up to 2015's Hide Before Dinner. Arrangements creep from the corners in queasy synth fogs as skeletal rhythms of stutter-step basslines, flanged drum machines and muffled handclap flurries eddy in a collapsing gyre of echo. F ingers sculpt a subterranean dub at once spectral and sensuous.

The runic psychedelia of Dal Forno's vocal limns the edges of songs, carving contours with washes of wordless tone and delay-smeared chirrups. As with both the previous F ingers album and Dal Forno's stunning solo debut You Know What It's Like, for this reviewer, one of 2016's standout releases, this is an unusually dense minimalism, its gauzy fragments of menace and melody hanging in negative space, distant yet looming.

Listening to this new album by F ingers, a series of dazzling postpunk counterfactuals press against your bleary eyes: sides three and four of Tago Mago cut to Adrian Sherwood's Tascam, Virginia Astley sitting in with This Heat, Liz Harris taking a knife to Bourbonese Qualk tapes. But even such vaunted comparisons stop well short of doing justice to the music on Awkwardly Blissing Out, which is undoubtedly among the best you will hear, this or any year.

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Steve Roach - Structures From Silence LP

Steve Roach - Structures From Silence LP (Telephone Explosion)

Our Review:

Structures From Silence is one of those classic California records that, not too long ago, could be found languishing in bins up and down the coast for next to nothing. Like Bobby Brown's Live and Laura Allan's Reflections, it's the kind of record that you never would have even done a double take on in the pre-internet age, until your more adventurous friend placed it in your hands and, ignoring your skepticism, just said "trust me." It's funny because looking at the cover now, it looks amazing; I want every record I stumble upon in 2017 to look just like this, but there was a time when myself, and hundreds of others like me, would have flipped right past this corny bullshit in hot pursuit of psych and punk and funk and soul.

Which is not to say that nobody knew about Steve Roach until recently, he's a composer and analog synthesizer pioneer who has been successfully and prolifically recording ambient music for 35+ years; it's just that it took a long time for the world of record collectors to catch up. Roach began playing synthesizer at the age of 20 in 1975, inspired by the usual suspects of Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk. His early recordings, first with the group Moebius and later solo, are interesting pieces of synth-pop and Berlin School electronics, but it is with 1984's Structures From Silence, his third album, that Roach forges his own path.

Originally released on the pioneering new age/ambient label Fortuna (Bernard Xolotl, Emerald Web, Michael Shrieve), Roach spent months working on the album, listening only to his own work, endlessly tweaking and "fine tuning," spending much of his time in silence, the departure and return to which being the measuring stick he used to judge his compositions ("For me, the essence of this music is what is felt when it ends, a returning to the silence," he writes on the original sleeve notes). The result is nearly 60 minutes of perfectly restrained and flowing, slow building, pure ambient. Structures From Silence is a wonderful record that deserves to be in the conversation with the likes of Eno, Hassell, Riley, etc., and Telephone Explosion's brand new LP reissue is a welcome release, especially since I haven't seen a cheap used copy in years now, not even in Marin County.

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OOIOO - Gold & Green 2xLP

OOIOO - Gold & Green 2xLP (Thrill Jockey)

Our Review:

This is the third album from OOIOO (say "oh oh eye oh oh"), the Osaka based, all-female quartet masterminded by Yoshimi P-We (drummer/trumpeter/vocalist for the Boredoms, et al.) At times playful and childlike, Gold And Green abandons the grating, no-wave dissonance of earlier albums for a more textural, atmospheric and melodic experience. It's much more Terry Riley's In C than the noise-punk deconstructions of early Boredoms / OOIOO material. "Mountain Book" (which seems to be the musical accompaniment to the lovely artwork for this record) is the beautiful standout track on which they are joined by many guests including Seiichi Yamamoto (Boredoms), Yuka Honda (Cibo Matto) and even Sean Lennon: epic, hypnotic, dreamy psychedelia with piano, dulcimer and tabla. So nice!

The 2017 Thrill Jockey version also features a beautiful gatefold album jacket and a full color booklet of children's psychedelic fantasy artwork by Yoshimi herself!

This long-time favorite finally gets its first ever US pressing on vinyl.

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Sun Ra - The Magic City LP

Sun Ra - The Magic City LP (Cosmic Myth)

Our Review:

It is impossible to point to a single Sun Ra album as being his best. One would be better served waving a hand (or fully-extended arm) towards the Arkestra's output from the late '50s onwards and nodding, "There."

However, if your record shelf is about to collapse under the sheer weight of Saturn, there is really nothing like The Magic City. Recorded in 1965 just after the Heliocentric Worlds sessions for ESP, The Magic City captures some of the fiercest group improvisation ever. The epic title track alone is worth the price of admission.

This newly re-mastered edition from Cosmic Myth should be considered definitive.

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Pharoah Sanders - Izipho Zam (My Gifts) LP

Pharoah Sanders - Izipho Zam (My Gifts) LP (Everland Jazz)

Our Review:

Pharoah Sanders' Izipho Zam (My Gifts) is an absolutely essential part of the free jazz canon. Out of print for far too long, we are thrilled to see it available again in a new edition on Everland Jazz.

Izipho Zam was one of several sessions that Clifford Jordan had originally produced in the late '60s for a label that never came to be, and put out in the '70s as the Dolphy Series on legendary Spiritual Jazz imprint Strata-East. It features Pharoah at the height of his powers both as a player and a bandleader, accompanied by some of the biggest names in the free and spiritual jazz underground.

"Prince of Peace," the opener, was later re-recorded for Jewels of Thought, albeit under a different title and nowhere near as raw as the version here. Chunky piano chords and tender electric guitar riffs lift Leon Thomas' ecstatic vocals to higher and higher peaks, with a cast of five drummers and percussionists teasing at the chaos to follow. "Balance" announces itself with a fanfare of rollicking horns, but quickly devolves into a storm of furious playing – Sonny Sharrock coaxes tension out of nervous guitar riffs, cut up with shards of dissonant chords and blasts of howling amplifier feedback. His playing here is nothing short of incredible. Howard Johnson's tuba playing is unbelievably thick and heavy, sounding nothing like what one expects from the instrument, freeing bass players Cecil McBee and Sirone to add their part to the hurricane swirling above. Sonny Fortune and Pharoah himself trade screaming saxophone parts in the upper register, some of them richly melodic and others gleefully atonal, as Lonnie Liston Smith frenetically hammers along on piano.

Thomas once again takes the lead for the title track of the record. Basses and horns stumble after him through joyous but disjointed choruses, interspersed with brief intermissions that allow the percussionists to find each other and temporarily take charge of the proceedings. Of course, the whole thing is blown wide open before the end, and the resulting crescendo is completely spectacular.

Even considered among other Pharoah Sanders records from the period, there's something exceptional about Izipho Zam. It's a fantastic record, one of the key highlights from the height of fire music, and it's a real treat to be able to hear it again. There really are few free jazz records that are this much fun. Don't miss out this time.

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X-Ray Spex - Germfree Adolescents LP

X-Ray Spex - Germfree Adolescents LP (Real Gone)

Our Review:

In the last years of the seventies, X-Ray Spex, fronted by singer / songwriter Poly Styrene, were one of the most visible and artistically successful punk originals. Led by Poly Styrene who had charisma with a capital C, the British band's songs were super intense, noisy and ragged, while simultaneously catchy, ridiculously melodic and hook-filled. Powerful, hundred-miles-an-hour drumming, wailing skronk saxophone, Poly's sandpaper yowl of a voice, it all adds up. X-Ray Spex obviously influenced Sleater-Kinney as well as pretty much any grrl punk group you can think of, and, hell, a lot of male-led bands too. And along with the Raincoats and Liliput, X-Ray Spex is the foundation of the female vision of punk!

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Brian Eno - Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) 2xLP

Brian Eno - Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) 2xLP (Astralwerks)

Our Review:

Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) is a loose concept album with topics ranging from espionage to the Chinese Communist revolution. One of Brian Eno's best songs kicks off Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) - the lovely "Burning Airlines Gives You So Much More", with a gorgeous post-Beatles melody and snaky harmonized guitar (an Eno trademark, often played by Robert Fripp on these releases). From there on out, the album expands upon the ideas that began with Here Come The Warm Jets. Slightly more introspective. It's also less sneering. Of course, Bauhaus resonated with Eno's idea of absurdist / glam / experimental pop, later covering this album's sixth song "Third Uncle." Really, this often sounds like Chairs Missing era Wire in spots, and we all know that's a good thing!

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Brian Eno - Another Green World 2xLP

Brian Eno - Another Green World 2xLP (Astralwerks)

Our Review:

What remains to be said about Another Green World - one of the all-time classic art-rock records? Here we find Brian Peter George St. John Le Baptiste De La Salle Eno (yes, that's his full name!) leaving behind the song structures of the preceding albums, and jumping straight into inventing the mood-driven, fragmentary approach of atmospheric songs. A melding of his ambient sides with occasional vocals. "Sombre Reptiles", "I'll Come Running", "St. Elmo's Fire," all fantastic songs. If you've never heard this record, buy it and fall in love with it. Really, just a flat-out model and inspiration for everything synthetic / experimental / art / punk / pop from Bowie's Low album to Talking Heads to Stereolab and beyond.

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Andrew Chalk - Time In Hayfield LP

Andrew Chalk - Time In Hayfield LP (Faraway Press)

Our Review:

Andrew Chalk has long been one of our favorite drone / ambient composers. Following his first noise productions as Ferial Confine in the early ‘80s and his early contributions to David Jackman’s Organum during that same time period, Chalk came into his own through the ‘90s and early ’00s, during which his work is slowly shifted toward a brightly cast sensibility. Across records like Goldfall and Blue Eyes Of The March (both from 20016), he manifests a soft focus impressionism of his ringing overtones and dynamic vibrations. Here on Time Of Hayfield, Chalk employs the talents of Vikki Jackman on piano. The airy, ethereal ambience of Chalk's drones shimmer as if they were the reflections of the sun striking the windswept body of water of your choice. For us, it would obviously be the cold waters off the Northern California coast; but for Mr. Chalk living in the northeast of England, it's the North Sea. There's something bitingly cold about this album; but the slippery icy drones that evolve and tumble in their organic cycles enjoy a beauty so profound as to ameliorate anything threatening and hostile. A beautiful, airy and meditative drone record. Originally released in 2007 on CD, Time Of Hayfield gets a beautiful repress on vinyl with a set of prints from the artist.

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Psychic TV - Allegory & Self LP

Psychic TV - Allegory & Self LP (Sacred Bones)

Our Review:

Allegory & Self was released originally in 1988 and marks the end of an era for Psychic TV as this would be the final recording to feature founding member Alex Fergusson. Shortly after the release of this album, ringleader Genesis P-Orridge would shift gears away from the melodic, alternative pop numbers found on Allegory & Self and Dreams Less Sweet and dive deep into British rave culture through the Jack The Tab series and Toward The Infinite Beat.

Few would ever say that P-Orridge has ever been a decent singer. Yet, with charisma, quixotic charm and profound confidence, P-Orridge molded the conventional ideas of '60s rock and '80s new wave into an enchanting chimera on Allegory & Self, balanced with experiments in free-form / out-rock strategies. The opening track "Godstar" announces it being a tale about the Rolling Stones' Brian Jones, tying his fascination with the occult and psychedelics to his death in an uptempo, jangling tune complete with harmonizing vocals and downright catchy pop riffs. "Godstar" along with "Baby Gone Away" and "Just Like Arcadia" may have been gambits to seduce a broader audience; the rest of Allegory & Self was designed to work against what was perceived as a commercially successful product. P-Orridge guides each of his songs with hermetic references that snap neatly into the vast mythologies that he's laid out for Psychic TV complete howling wolves, diabolical incantations and svengali detachment. The darkly hypnotic numbers such as "Starlite Mire" and "Ballet Disco" with their mechanical cut-ups into rhythmic sequences find PTV returning to an industrial aesthetic, before turning back to their self-described 'hyperdelic' sound. Fans of The Fall, Julian Cope and Public Image Limited will certainly find plenty in Allegory & Self to embrace.

Newly remastered and reissued on vinyl for the first time since the late '80s.

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Psychic TV - Pagan Day LP

Psychic TV - Pagan Day LP (Sacred Bones)

Our Review:

Originally subtitled "Pages From A Notebook," Pagan Day is a revelatory album delving into the song-writing process for Psychic TV in the early '80s. Various half-truths and self-generated myths surround Pagan Day, including a claim that the album was recorded in a single session of a cup of coffee. It nevertheless remains an intriguing album of primitive 4-track recordings from the core PTV duo of Genesis P-Orridge and Alex Fergusson. A few of these songs were reprised on the 1988 album Allegory & Self, and there's also a primitive version of the baroque pop-ditty "The Orchids" from PTV's iconic Dreams Less Sweet, here christened "Cold Steel" and sung by Fergusson, not P-Orridge. Continuing a peculiar fascination with the Rolling Stones' Brian Jones, Psychic TV appropriate the arrangement from the Stones' "As Tears Go By" with entirely different lyrics under the new title "Farewell." The best tracks on Pagan Day are of the post-punk / motorik variety as heard in the eeriely empty rhythms on "New Sexuality" and the sinister grooviness of "Cadaques."

Newly remastered and reissued on vinyl for the first time since the late '80s.

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Jim Haynes - Electrical Injuries LP

Jim Haynes - Electrical Injuries LP (Aussenraum)

Our Review:

California sound artist Jim Haynes composes through variable degrees of acceleration and accretion, even as his research continues to ruminate on sonic decay. You gotta build something up, before you can tear it down. Electrical Injuries furthers Haynes' actionist tendencies as the density of noise waxes and wanes with a profound sense of urgency and tension. It makes for a powerful suite that amplifies the dynamics of musique concrete techniques through the aggressive volatility of industrial / noise culture. Ice is mentioned as a source material, but that's clearly not the only thing going on here. Given the title, electricity and the mishaps of hot-wiring circuits in proximity to human body (presumably his) allude to something Frankensteinian. One can discern an infernal distortion of radio-signals, the tickings of geiger counters, various motorized pistons firing and eerie pulsations from unknowably alien, electronic beacons. The clatter and grind of Electrical Injuries doesn't really align comfortably with the SPK / TG models of grim electronic sequencing, but there's more of a rhythmic spine than found in many of Haynes' contemporaries (i.e. Kevin Drumm, Francisco Meirino, S.E.T.I.). The opening salvo cycles through a shattering of glass with its correspondent frequencies glowing white hot with a corona of atonal harmonics, and Haynes reprises this compositional paroxysm at various points throughout the album. Sinews of disquieting drone and agitated texture connect these pinnacles of noise for a vibrant if at times hostile album. Highly recommended.

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Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza - Azioni / Reazioni 5xLP+DVD

Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza - Azioni / Reazioni 5xLP+DVD (Die Schachtel)

Our Review:

Azione / Reazioni documents the brilliantly abstract percussive improv from legendary 1960s outfit Gruppo Improvisazione Nuova Consonanza, who among its members counted a young Ennio Morricone. The line-up was mutable, and at various points featured Walter Branchi, John Heineman and the aforementioned Morricone, alongside Roland Kayn, Ivan Vandor, Mario Bertoncini, Egisto Macchi, Jerry Rosen, Antonelli Neri, Giovanni Piazza, Giancarlo Schiaffini, and for a time, Musica Elettronica Viva founder Frederic Rzewski.

The pieces on Azione / Reazioni were recorded between 1967 and 1969, released here for the first time on vinyl. A series of lengthy improvisations found within range from clattery, percussive soundscapes assembled from all manner of objects, tangled with haunting whorls of electronics, skronky horns, pounded piano and weird tape experiments. Gruppo deftly articulates droney spaced out free jazz, but always retaining a wide-eyed innocence and a penchant for kicking up a seriously noisy racket. Most of this sounds like it could easily have been recorded in this day and age as some mysterious outfit from Finland circa 2006 or Japan in 1982. Noisy as all get out, but incredibly captivating and strangely lovely at times.

Includes DVD of a gorgeous black-and-white concert film from 1967 and expansive 64-page book. Edition of 500.

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Oval - 94 Diskont 2xLP

Oval - 94 Diskont 2xLP (Thrill Jockey)

Our Review:

At the time of the release of 94 Diskont in 1995, Oval was a trio of electronic musicians including Marcus Popp, Sebastian Oschatz and Frank Metzger. Eschewing synthesizers in the construct of their electronic music, the trio deliberately scratched and scribbled on CDs. Upon playback, these damaged discs would generate skittering glitches and microdot ruptures, which became the source material to their luxuriously textured ambient tapestries. The glitched errata of those damaged CDs is an ugly sound. Yet in the hands of Oval, these became liquid nirvana in the form a data-streaming electronica. Those glitches became so granulated and multiplied as to evolve into a sentient hologram singing luminous chorales from within the dreaming mind of a computer. This album predicted / inspired much of the digitally clipped 'clicks 'n' cuts' electronica that announced the turn of the millennium with all of its Y2K paranoia and giddy emptiness, though none of that work came remotely close to the emotional depths found on 94 Diskont. Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works, Volume Two would be the nearest contemporary parallel to 94 Diskont in terms of the scope and richness of the work, though this album also very easily fits into the pantheon of great electronic works by Eno, Cluster and Carl Stone. As with the original release, 94 Diskont is fleshed out with a second LP of remixes by Jim O'Rourke, Scanner, Mouse On Mars and Christian Vogel.

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Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - On The Echoing Green LP

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - On The Echoing Green LP (Mexican Summer)

Our Review:

Beginning with his overt homage to lovesliescrushing on the Love Is A Stream album from 2010, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma has reinvented himself as a sonic confectioner of sugar-crush drone pop. One of the two piloting guitarists for the now defunct Tarentel, Cantu-Ledesma remains an intrepid experimentalist with style and form. This was certainly the case for Tarentel which traversed the avant-rock landscapes, first soaring through post-rock crescendos of radioluminescent guitar noise akin to Mogwai and Godspeed! You Black Emperor. As the band progressed, Cantu-Lesdema was encouraging the band to embrace digital trickery, tape manipulation, unconventional instrumentation and disjointed time signatures, cross-referencing the aesthetics of Fennesz, AMM and Talk Talk. This evolution continued into his solo work which really came into its own on that aforementioned 2010 record. On The Echoing Green once again shifts things but in a more subtle manner. Pre-fab drum machine rhythms gird the mostly-instrumental songs that cycle through wistfully melodic guitar lines and equally bucolic drifts of liquid ambience.

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David Lynch & Alan R. Splet - Eraserhead OST LP+7"+Book

David Lynch & Alan R. Splet - Eraserhead OST LP+7"+Book (Sacred Bones)

Our Review:

Here's the soundtrack to David Lynch's infamous, career defining early cult film Eraserhead. It's a work so claustrophobic, nightmarish, perverse, anxiety ridden, bleak and black humor heavy that it continues to this day to be unsurpassed in many strange and wonderful ways. Many movie soundtrack are just glorified rock compilations. Not this one! In Eraserhead, Lynch began working with sound designer Alan Splet, who followed Lynch throughout his career, with both fully aware that sound, noise and silence were an intrinsic part to constructing the film. Filled with intrusive industrial scrapes and discomfiting drones, the soundtrack to Eraserhead unquestionably plays an integral role in brewing up the unsettling atmospheres that Lynch navigates with an unchartered dream logic. Unfriendly cold sweat ambiance, prickly electrical charges, choked guttural gurgles, distant echoes of carnival organ melodies and dialogue snippets lurch in and out of focus. And of course the out of the grey dankness emerges the Lady in the Radiator's "In Heaven (Everything Is Fine)," as sung by Lynch himself with his peculiar, signature falsetto. Long been a cult classic soundtrack, not just a cult classic film, for a reason. The 7" features tune "Pete's Boogie" (written by Lynch and Peter Ivers) which was unreleased up until the Sacred Bones reissue.

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Ry Cooder - Paris, Texas OST LP

Ry Cooder - Paris, Texas OST LP (Real Gone)

Our Review:

One of the best pairings of soundtrack and visuals ever committed to film: Wim Wenders' 1984 existential Western drama Paris, Texas, starring the inimitable Harry Dean Stanton. Ry Cooder's gorgeously pensive score plays on both the wide-open space of the empty Texan landscape as well as its oppressive heat. Through beautifully spacious slide-guitar compositions and forlorn Mariachi ballads, we're thrust into the emotionally lethargic environment of the borderlands and left to ponder where and why it all went wrong.

Limited edition of 900 copies on translucent blue vinyl.

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Pierre Mariétan - Rose Des Vents 2xLP

Pierre Mariétan - Rose Des Vents 2xLP (Mana)

Our Review

Originally commissioned by the French government in 1981 and released in a private press in 1987, Pierre Marietan's Rose Des Vents is an inimitable blend of field recording, psychoacoustics, sound art and serialist composition. Swiss by origin, Marietan studied composition with Boulez, Pousseur and Stockhausen before moving to France and founding the Groupe d'etude et realisation musicales (GERM) in 1966. Over the next several years, Marietan's interests gradually centered around the study and preservation of urban sound environments, providing the impetus for the project that became Rose Des Vents.

Marietan conceived of Rose Des Vents - idiomatic French for "compass rose" - as an evolving series of site-specific actions and recordings, rooted in the sonic environments of a number of small villages in the Val d'Oise around Paris. Spending up to a week in each of these towns, Marietan recorded the sounds of daily life - barges, trains, birds, carillons, children at play - and later mixed these with studio recordings of brief melodic phrases, largely played on saxophone and keyboard, as well as snippets of synthesizer and electronics. The result cuts the sonics of quotidian chance with elegant compositional restraint. While Rose Des Vents finds its closest analogues in the recordings of Alvin Curran and Luc Ferrari, Marietan's work retains a sense of singularity as it captures the uncanny nature of everyday life and its disarmingly moving acoustics. Mana Records' welcome reissue contextualizes Marietan's work with reflections from the artist as well as a wealth of contemporaneous documentation and ephemera. Truly unlike anything you've ever heard!

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Bill Orcutt - s/t LP

Bill Orcutt - s/t LP (Palilalia)

Our Review:

It's only been eight years since Bill Orcutt's first post-resurrection single appeared out of nowhere. While his mangled 4-string shredding in legendary Miami outfit Harry Pussy borrowed as much from free jazz as hardcore, Orcutt's re-emergence as a blues guitarist has been a completely arresting, exhausting and exhilarating ride.

This new self-titled LP, his first solo electric studio album, is a tremendous capstone to dozens of releases issued on the artist's own Palilalia label. That one would someday be listening to Orcutt playing standards may have seemed unthinkable during HP's mid-90s heyday, but perhaps more shocking is just how gorgeous this record sounds. Rich chords and delicate arpeggios shimmer with vibrato, and Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" sounds just as radical here as it did six decades ago. Orcutt's playing remains striking, bold and inspired. This may be the best Orcutt record yet, and yes that says a lot, but beauty is still a rare thing.

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Fra Lippo Lippi - In Silence LP

Fra Lippo Lippi - In Silence LP (Onderstroom)

Our Review:

Fra Lippo Lippi's debut album is an outlier in the band's discography. In the earliest incarnation of 1981, the Norwegian band was a trio featuring Rune Kristoffersen (guitars / bass) Per Oystein Sorensen (vocals), and Morten Sjoberg (drums), with all taking turns on keyboards. Kristoffersen's presence is noteworthy as he later founded the avant-jazz / avant-rock label Rune Grammofon in 1998, publishing work from Supersilent, Motorpsycho and Biosphere. By the mid '80s, the band's line-up changed and their sound shifted towards a soft-pop of electronic ballads that brought them some commercial success with albums on Virgin and EMI. In Silence is most definitely not of that sound. Inspired by Joy Division and paralleling like-minded acts such as Section 25, Siglo XX and Second Layer, Fra Lippo Lippi shaped their sound through a post-punk gloom. The songs keep a stately, if tear-stained pace just a tick above a funereal dirge. The chimed guitars recall Robert Smith's minor-chord strum on The Cure's Faith and Seventeen Seconds with the rhythm section darkly lumbering in time with the b-side to Unknown Pleasures. In keeping true to the sound of Martin Hannett's productions, Fra Lippo Lippi pushed the monotone vocals and moody ambient wash to the back in the mix, bathing these droning, gloomy elements with a tear-stained reverberation. It makes for an atmospherically bleak album, less claustrophobic and more somber. Those who found their mid '80s work too saccharine will have much more to sink their teeth into on In Silence.

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Clara Mondshine - Luna Africana LP

Clara Mondshine - Luna Africana LP (The Great Thunder)

Our Review:

OH YES!!! We've been intrigued by this artist & album ever since seeing mention of it in a useful reference book we found called New Sounds: A Listener's Guide To New Music, published in 1987. One might hope for Clara Mondshine to be among the rare female krautrock composers, but no, in fact Clara Mondshine was the pseudonym or project name for a man named Walter Bachauer, a radio director and journalist as well as composer and musician. His krautrock pedigree does extend back to the ‘70s when he played in Peter Michael Hamel's excellent improvising acoustic/ethnic ensemble, Between. As a solo artist, he released three albums under the Clara Mondshine moniker, starting with this one, Luna Africana, in 1981. (Perhaps he would have made more records, but he sadly passed away in 1989.)

Mondshine's music on Luna Africana is DIY cosmic electronica, 'Berlin School' style, made with analog synths and other probably fairly lo-tech, lo-fi electronic gear. Mondshine's repetitive machine mesmerism is super droney and trippy, and almost playful too. These all-instrumental space-outs also sometimes having a touch of ethnic/world music to them as well (a la Between). This is also another example of something at the intersection of krautrock and new age. Hence titles, once translated into English, like "Raga Of The Rising Planet" and "Harp Of The Amazons." On one track, delightful melodic figures repeat over equally charming pulsing patterns of motorik rhythm, followed by a more atmospheric excursion into the outer space drone-zone on the next, and then it's back to relaxing runs of gentle tones over cyclic bleep-bleep-bloop, wreathed in whips of drone. What's not to like about that? Definitely for fans of Cluster, Kraftwerk and A.R. & Machines, among others.

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Sun Kil Moon - Common As Light And Love Are Red Valleys Of Blood 4xLP

Sun Kil Moon - Common As Light And Love Are Red Valleys Of Blood 4xLP (Caldo Verde)

Our Review:

After dissolving Red House Painters, singer/songwriter Mark Kozelek resurfaced in 2002 with Sun Kil Moon, refining his acoustic balladry and confessional lyricism. Sun Kil Moon's ambitious double-album, Common As Light And Love Are Red Valleys Of Blood, maintains Kozelek's stream-of-consciousness style of songwriting with a few notable detours, at least in terms of content. Since the 2010 album Benji and through Universal Themes from 2015, Kozelek has steered the poetry of his lyrics away from the plumbed depths of a world-weary romantic towards sardonic observations, with these tribulations becoming damning epithets at the turn of a quick phrase. Kozelek's declarations that lead up to the release of Common As Light (with many of these themes spilling into the songs themselves) set him up as a polarizing character in the public eye. It's almost inevitable that this stance is by design, even if he's harvesting his honest reactions. There's his disdain for Twitter and his animus for those who only pine for his early recordings; and these are just two of the targets of his gall. As much as he celebrates one perceived virtue and denigrates one perceived vice, Kozelek is very much the product of self-absorption that he so often rails against. It makes for a complicated, complex exploration of the self here on Common As Light. Kozelek nakedly spills his lyrical soup through his inimitable hushed hymnal voice onto Sun Kil Moon's unadorned indie-folk arrangements that profess a surprisingly bold use of electronic sequencing. Kozelek deliberated held back the vinyl edition of this album by three or four months, meaning that his fans who patiently awaited this 4xLP opus probably already passed judgement on Common As Light And Love Are Red Valleys Of Blood.

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Gunter Schickert - Uberfallig LP

Gunter Schickert - Uberfallig LP (Bureau B)

Our Review:

Uberfallig was Schickert's second album, originally issued in 1979 on the Sky label and the follow up to his 1974 Brain debut Samtvogel. We've been in love with this record forever, referencing it and Schickert plenty of times in other reviews when we want to cite something incredibly atmospheric and minimalistically trance inducing from deep in the krautrock zone. Here on Uberfallig, Schickert's exceptionally hypnotic space-echo guitar work, similar to Manuel Gottsching of Ashra, is matched by fascinating rhythmic pulsations, at times recalling prime Can-like velocities or the circular bubbliness of AR & Machines and some Pink Floyd Meddle era pastoral psych vibes as well. And it's mostly just Schickert (guitar, voice) and a few friends (drums and vocals) plus nature sounds, deftly deployed.

It builds from calmly rhythmic beginnings to pure hypno-guitar bliss, mixed with subtle, splashy, sploshy field recordings - evoking the idea of Schickert and his drummer colleague Charles M. Heuer wading upstream in the wilds somewhere as their music plays. That begins the recurrent watery theme found on this album, an ever present liquid watery ambience, the sounds of wind and rain and surf and babbling brooks woven in among the "actual" instruments.

It's all druggy and delicate, moody and mesmeric. Quite the tour de force, coming to a close with strange samples and lovely crackling.

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Gunter Schickert - Kinder In Der Wildnis LP

Gunter Schickert - Kinder In Der Wildnis LP (Bureau B)

Our Review:

Originally released as a cassette tape in 1983, the material on Kinder In Der Wildnis consists of disparate DIY recordings drawn from Schickert's archives, so it's a bit more varied than either of his earlier albums, though if you've heard those, you'll recognize right away that you're back in Schickert's sonic realm, one of organic field recording atmospheres and trance-inducing minimalist pulsations. But something about this is so much more nervy and dark, and more "rocked out" too at times. Maybe it's the influence of the Neue Deutsche Welle, but we're still talking krautrock.

Even though Schickert does everything himself (guitar, tape, vocals, percussion, trumpet), it somehow sounds like a whole band, and that band sounds like Amon Duul II and Faust trapped together in a bunker, jamming endlessly in the middle of the night. The music is dark and claustrophobic despite the environmental nature sounds that Schickert likes to weave into his recordings. There's the children's voices on here too (his daughter sings on the jittery title track) but that's in stark contrast to the druggy darkness of so much of this. Tracks like "Rabe In Der Nacht" and "Hollentanz" are a dense lo-fi mesh of percolating beats, wailing psych guitar, and sound FX. Bird twitter-y field recordings (and crazy crow-like cawing from Schickert himself, we assume) meet overdubbed layers of chanting vocal parts, including more animal-like cries, in the hallucinatory mix. Swirling drones of synth coalesce into hypnotic throbbing rhythms, over which lilting keyboard motifs hint at the likes of Goblin.

Yep, it's a freakin' great record all right. Trippy and weird and psychically round the bend. In other words, super satisfying.

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