Wire - Pink Flag LP

Wire - Pink Flag LP (Pinkflag)

Our Review:

Between 1977 and 1979, Wire made three astounding albums with all appropriate economy and precision, delivering maximal effect via minimal structure. Not a single superfluous note. Impossible to forget.

Pink Flag remains punk's first and most potent autocritique. 21 songs in 35 minutes. A surly, brutalist piss-take, airless and above all abstemious. No guitar wankery, no sloganeering, no quarter. The lyrics, wayward and gnomic, are quotidian language rendered deeply alien, compressed and explosively suggestive.

Daniel Schmidt & The Berkeley Gamelan - In My Arms, Many Flowers LP

Daniel Schmidt & The Berkeley Gamelan - In My Arms, Many Flowers LP (Recital)

Our review:

Daniel Schmidt has been a Bay Area new music institution for generations, but the release of In My Arms, Many Flowers marks the first time any of his recordings have been available to the public, save for an obscure 1986 cassette. Schmidt studied traditional Javanese music and electronic composition at Cal Arts in the early 1970s before moving to Northern California, where, with the encouragement of the composer Lou Harrison, he built a gamelan by hand from aluminum and wood. Berkeley Gamelan is the name bestowed by Schmidt onto both his one-of-a-kind instruments and the ensemble he formed to play them.

Schmidt is one of the primary architects for a distinctly American gamelan style, influenced as much by Javanese traditions as it is by American minimal process music. Lines can be just as easily drawn to Java as they can to Steve Reich or Schmidt's longtime collaborator Paul Dresher. The most obvious difference between the music here and the work of Philip Corner and other contemporary pioneers of Western gamelan is Schmidt's confident foregrounding of repetition. Ambient but not otherworldly, the music here is strongly evocative of the San Francisco Bay Area's endless tides of ocean and fog – patterns of ringing tones evolve and dissolve over shimmering sustained notes and droning strings, ever-so-subtly distorted.

Released on composer Sean McCann's Recital imprint, this limited second edition of a sold-out 2016 release comes in a gorgeous package, with a booklet of notes, scores and archival photographs. Daniel Schmidt's music is a delight – gracefully ethereal and very Californian. For connoisseurs of postwar composition, fans of ambient electronic music and students of California counterculture, this is not to be missed.

Emahoy Tsegue-Mariam Guebru - s/t LP

Emahoy Tsegue-Mariam Guebru - s/t LP (Mississippi)

Our Review:

The incredible solo piano compositions of an Ethiopian nun named Tsegue-Maryam Guebru have always had a place in our hearts. Her playing is devastatingly lovely and haunting, a curious hybrid of old time jazz and classical of the Satie variety, but still truly Ethiopian. Dark and contemplative, moody but subtly playful too, her music is like exotic lamentations that have an impressionistic lyrical melancholy.

Now Mississippi Records have gifted us with a second collection of Guebru's recordings. These recordings, originally collected in the incredible Ethiopiques anthologies, were the first signs that we were hearing a uniquely distinct musical voice for the first time, and we've been hooked ever since.

These compositions were recorded in the sixties following a tumultuous life as a musical child prodigy, prisoner of war, nun, national bandleader and fleeing refugee. She has dedicated her life and musical practice in pursuit of charity for children. Now in her nineties, living in Jerusalem but nearing death, a foundation in her name has been making concentrated effort in trying to preserve her legacy by transcribing her numerous compositions to benefit future generations.

And like her fantastic and adventurous life, her music is equally as remarkable, the sound and feel is so dense with memory and imagery, musical but somehow quite visual, warm and woozy, a fuzzy, sepia toned old timey feel, due in no small part to the recording. Sounding reminiscent of old 78's, with dark rumbling low notes underpinning sweet swirls and delicate flurries of minor key melody. Sweet and lowdown for sure, reminding us of warm evenings, back porches, big beautiful parlors, huge empty fields, grass waving in the breeze, long late night wanders and moonlight strolls. So completely dreamy and lovely. Highest recommendation!

Midori Takada - Through The Looking Glass LP

Midori Takada - Through The Looking Glass LP (WRWTFWW)

Our Review:

Midori Takada is a Japanese composer and percussionist who combines influences from African and East Asian traditional percussion music with American jazz, new age and avant-garde practices. She first performed in the percussion trio Mkwaju Ensemble, who have two highly sought after LPs from the early 80s. Through The Looking Glass, her first solo recording, was released in 1983 and became almost instantly unavailable. Long chased by collectors and recently only available for outrageous sums, it's a blessing to have this beautiful record back in print thanks for the joint efforts of Palto Flats and We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want Records.

Entrancing recorder and marimba melodies are slowly overtaken by disquieting, throbbing bongos, which eventually give way to harmonium drone. Takada's work shows an understanding of such varied traditions as Balinese gamelan, African mbira and marimba, Japanese traditional music and the works of such 20th century composers as Glass and Reich. All those elements are grounded by Takada's compositional personality resulting in an album that is at the pinnacle of Japanese ambient music.

Wire - 154 LP

Wire - 154 LP (Pinkflag)

Our Review:

Between 1977 and 1979, Wire made three astounding albums with all appropriate economy and precision, delivering maximal effect via minimal structure. Not a single superfluous note. Impossible to forget.

The menacing pointillism of 154 yields some of Wire's most exquisitely harrowing moments of détourned melodic beauty. Oblique freeze-frame explorations of psychology and gesture, position and perception. Songs against themselves. Such an enduringly influential and preternaturally inventive hat trick has hardly been matched, let alone bested, in the years since.

Wire - Chairs Missing LP

Wire - Chairs Missing LP (Pinkflag)

Our Review:

Between 1977 and 1979, Wire made three astounding albums with all appropriate economy and precision, delivering maximal effect via minimal structure. Not a single superfluous note. Impossible to forget.

Confronted with the opaque estrangements of Chairs Missing, a listener might be forgiven for thinking that this is stuff of a different lineage altogether. Wire's sophomore LP takes the monochrome negations of their debut and turns them inside out. In-studio experiments and controlled doses of synthesizer introduce ambience, dissonance and texture into the band's kaleidoscopic sound.

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.

Arthur Russell - Instrumentals 2xLP

Arthur Russell - Instrumentals 2xLP (Audika)

Our Review: 

In just the last decade – thanks to the efforts of Audika Records – Arthur Russell has assumed a rightful place as one of the foremost composers and producers of his generation, a critical enshrinement that's largely obliterated the tragic obscurity with which his music long contended. "Instrumentals" collects work that makes the best case for Russell's preeminence, or at least one facet of it.

Begun in 1974, Russell's "Instrumentals" project is one of the most unique suites of music ever to come out of downtown New York (or anywhere else). The two volumes presented here originated in what Russell had conceived of as 48 hours of continuous music, drawn down by ensembles that included Jon Gibson (flute, clarinet, saxes), Garrett List (trombone), Ernie Brooks (bass) and Rhys Chatham (flute), among others.

The pieces gathered as Volume 1 are languorous and dreamy, their melodies rooted in the pop architecture of the 30s and 40s but sounding like space rock for the downtown Manhattan set. For Volume 2, Russell held to similar compositional principles but removed all percussion; as he told David Toop in the 1980s, "in outer space you can't take your drums. You take your mind." Audika has also included two of Russell's most adventurous pieces, "Reach One" and "Sketch For 'Face Of Helen.'"

Arthur Russell wrote that "Instrumentals" was his idea of "the popular radio sound of the future" – and we can imagine these pieces as intermittent broadcasts from an alternate timeline, where melody is measured in microtones and such utterly gorgeous music has been known to stop clocks.

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.

Grace Jones - Nightclubbing LP

Grace Jones - Nightclubbing LP (Island)

Our Review:

Recorded in 1981 in the Bahamas, Nightclubbing is the ultimate snapshot of the greatness of Grace Jones. Musically it's for sure her strongest moment. With Sly & Robbie as her rhythm section, the mood is totally irresistible. There are so many hits or should-have-been hits here. While there have been a few different collections and best of's, we really think that this proper album blows all of them away. From start to finish Nightclubbing just sizzles. It's the perfect late-night, up-to-no-good soundtrack. The title track is of course the Iggy Pop song (written by David Bowie) that Grace Jones somehow takes to new heights. In fact, the whole record feels like the kind of drugged-out, raw space disco that you can't help but give in to.

Guided By Voices - Bee Thousand LP

Guided By Voices - Bee Thousand LP (Scat)

Our Review:

Once again this legendary slab of lo-fi indie rock is available again on vinyl. The umpteenth iteration for sure, but honestly, if for some reason you don't own this record already, or missed out on previous vinyl issues, do NOT snooze, cuz this really is one of THEE greatest indie rock records EVER, and most probably the finest moment from a band whose career is littered with finest moments.

And while we love LOTS of GBV albums (and singles and EPs), if forced to pick THE ONE record that best exemplifies what made Guided By Voices so special, it would have to be Bee Thousand. Originally released in 1994, Bee Thousand perfectly captured both sides of GBV, the frustratingly experimental fragmentary side, with short 30 second bursts of pop brilliance that burnt out before making it out of the first verse, exhausting in under a minute, the sort of hooks other bands would kill for and would most likely repeat 50 times in a song if they had come up with it themselves, and classic pop songsmithery, with gorgeously hooky, jangly pop gems, cobbled together from bits of the Beatles and the Kinks and other pop stalwarts, all filtered through GBV frontman Bob Pollard's non-sequitur flecked lyrical flights of fancy and a distinctly drunken desire to ROCK! It's impossible to describe exactly what makes this record so great. The songs sure, but also the way they are recorded, and the sequencing, and the way some songs are butted up right against each other, and some songs just cut off and trample all over the end of another songs. It's absolutely perfect. One of those rare records where the spaces between songs and the random bits of sonic detritus are jus as catchy as the songs themselves. Sort of like the way you would find yourself humming the drum fills in Nirvana songs, GBV records were a single dense collection of sounds and songs and parts and pauses and chunks of rock and pop assembled in a seemingly haphazard arrangement, but really, on closer inspection, it couldn't be any other way, and most certainly couldn't be played by any other band. The first ten minutes of Bee Thousand is possibly the finest opening salvo in musical history. "Hardcore UFO's," "Buzzards And Dreadful Crows," "Tractor Rape Chain," "The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory." A 1-2-3-4 punch! And while the record is basically solid, no filler to be found, there are a handful of POP CLASSICS scattered throughout: "Echoes Myron," "Goldstar For Robot Boy," "Awful Bliss," "I Am A Scientist" and more... This record is definitely one of the best (if not THEE best) indie rock records of all time. Fuck Slanted And Enchanted. Sure that's a great record, but it's often irony-heavy and too cool. Bee Thousand is just a regular bunch of beer drinking yokels from Ohio who love pop music, love to rock and somehow struck gold. And somehow, even all these years later, Bee Thousand still sounds as fresh and exciting, and bafflingly and confusionally next level weirdo pop bats hit bonkers as it did the first time we heard it.

Manuel Gottsching - E2-E4 LP

Manuel Gottsching - E2-E4 LP (MG.Art)

Our Review:

With a collective sigh of relief, we are finally announcing the arrival of this renowned early '80s krautrock / proto-techno classic! German guitar guru Manuel Gottsching, founder of legendary krautrock pioneers Ash Ra Temple (which morphed into the new-age-ier Ashra), made a few records in the eighties under his own name. E2-E4, recorded in Berlin in 1981 and released in '84, was first and foremost among them. It's rightly hailed as a classic and was a great inspiration for early Detroit techno artists like Derrick May and Carl Craig. The resonant timelessness of E2-E4 has extended beyond many other albums of the era and its influence has continuously popped up in more recent minimalist techno circles – most noticeably within the Cologne scene.

E2-E4 is one loooong track split at a judicious edit at the end of each side, with nine titled and timed subdivisions indicated on the cover (suggestive of a chess match: "Quiet Nervousness," "Queen A Pawn," "Draw"). The album flows and flows and flows through Gottsching's guitar and electronics drifting and dancing beautifully over the continuous, pulsating, subtly-shifting proto-techno beat. It's so very pleasant and airy, also soooo hypnotic and ahead of its time. Even after an hour you won't want to end, once it has lulled you into trance. Listening to this, it's easy to see why the Boredoms' Eye would revere it and of course those above mentioned Detroit legends too. An absolute classic.

Barney Wilen - Moshi 2xLP+DVD

Barney Wilen - Moshi 2xLP+DVD (Souffle Continu)

Our Review:

Originally released on Saravah in 1972, Barney Wilen's Moshi is an album absolutely deserving of its legend. For too long impossibly hard to find, we are very excited to see this available again on vinyl. Wilen was a mover in the Paris bop scene. The saxophonist played with Miles Davis and Art Blakey whenever they came to France in the 1950s. By the 1960s, he was dabbling in exotica, free jazz and musique concrète. Invigorated by their experiences during the 1968 Paris Revolt, he and partner Caroline De Bendern embarked for Africa with a team of filmmakers, musicians and sound engineers in a convoy of colorfully painted, brand-new Land Rovers. The plan initially was to shoot two films and make a record of Pygmy songs, with a brisk six month schedule but that was not to be. The filming went nowhere, and the crew spent its time playing with guns and debating politics, until one final argument led to their quitting en masse. The rest of the planned excursion dragged on for the next two years. There was success found in recording Archie Shepp with Gnawa drummers in Algiers, but after a narcotics bust and deportation from Algeria, everything completely fell apart while recording Touareg musicians near Agadez. Their cinematographer converted to Islam and vowed to no longer document the human form. The project's furious financial backer called an end to the adventure, providing just enough money to return with the Land Rovers. Wilen and De Bendern returned with two and pocketed the difference, but they also brought home the tapes that became the foundation for Moshi.

With producer Pierre Baouh, Wilen built collages from his field recordings and put together a terrific band of French and African pop musicians to respond in the studio. Moshi is an extraordinary record – at times dark and foreboding, at others full of boundless joy. This is the sound of complete disregard for borders between cultures or genres. It is Pharaoh Sanders jamming along to the Ocora catalog and inviting Funkadelic to join in, too. For this deluxe reissue, Souffle Continu has remastered the original double LP and included a booklet and DVD of De Bendern's never-before-available private documentary of the trip that led to Moshi's conception. Limited to 1000 copies.

Flying Saucer Attack - s/t LP

Flying Saucer Attack - s/t LP (VHF)

Our Review:

Dave Pearce began his adventures in "rural psychedelia" back in 1993 under the moniker Flying Saucer Attack with a series of homespun shoegaze / drone-rock releases on his own FSA Records, based out of Bristol, England. Much of the work was uncredited but it's long assumed that Flying Saucer Attack drew in Rachel Brook (who later struck out on her own piloting Movietone) and Matt Elliott (aka Third Eye Foundation) and possibly others from Bristol's broader community that came and went through such projects as Amp, Crescent, Light, The Secret Garden, etc. Pearce's Flying Saucer Attack embraced a signature sound of murky fuzz and overblown 4-track distortion that draped upon his languid drone-rock hymns that were driven by his mournful Nick Drake whisper of a voice that somehow pushes through all of the swirl and drone.

The eponymous record is alternately titled "Rural Psychedelia" given that charmed epithet graced the back cover of the album. Pearce and company alternate between two complementary songwriting strategies. The more explosive and intense tracks build around the primordial post-VU drone-rock minimalism with surges of Jesus And Mary Chain blasts of noise that punctuate the chorus or a chord change. The iconic "My Dreaming Hill" and the outstanding cover of Suede's "The Drowners" belong to this camp of cracked art-drone-pop genius. In their more exploratory guise, FSA will set forth long drifts of tranced-out feedback and cavernous guitar drone with hypnotic rhythms that look back to the transcendent works of Amon Duul's first hippie incarnation and the Popol Vuh soundtracks. In fact two of these tracks give direct nods in the instrumental tracks "Popol Vuh 1" and "Popol Vuh 2." Still sounds so goddamn good after all these years.

This marks the first US vinyl release of this album.

Can - Future Days LP

Can - Future Days LP (Mute)

Limited edition gold vinyl.

Can was founded in 1968 by Irmin Schmidt, Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli, and Jaki Liebezeit, who formed a group which would utilize and transcend all boundaries of ethnic, electronic, experimental, and modern classical music.

Future Days is the fifth studio album by Can. This is the last album to feature Japanese vocalist Damo Suzuki. On Future Days, the band explored the ambient direction they had introduced into their sound on the previous year's Ege Bamyasi creating a landmark in European electronic music. Future Days is fiercely progressive, calming, complex, intense, and beautiful all at once.

The band's powerful influence has never diminished, and their indelible mark is apparent in the bands who freely acknowledge their importance - from Portishead, James Murphy, New Order, Factory Floor, Public Image Ltd., Mogwai, Kanye West (who sampled "Sing Swan Song"), and Radiohead - as well as across other disciplines such as visual art and literature.

The album is featured at #8 on Rolling Stones "50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums Of All Tiime," #56 on Pitchfork's "Top 100 Albums Of The 1970s," and also features in the book 1000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die.

Warren Sampson - Traveller LP

Warren Sampson - Traveller LP (Love All Day)

Our Review:

Warren Sampson released his only album, Traveller, in 1987 and not long after, it was gone. Not gone in the figurative sense as in ignored or quickly forgotten, but rather literally gone as Sampson threw most of the original pressing in a landfill. It's fortunate for us, then, that Chicago-based label Love All Day (who resurrected another beautiful, private-press obscurity, Planetary Peace) presents a timely reissue of this lost ambient classic.

At its heart, Traveller drew inspiration from a painting that Sampson first saw in London in 1980. About that painting, the artist reflects, "Looking for it online now I find I had the title wrong and it probably wasn't hanging in the gallery I thought it was. Oh well. How much new art is created by trying to copy something and getting it completely wrong? ... Chinese ink painting in particular is something I have to restrict to those small doses. It absolutely, completely overwhelms me. I mean holy shit. The power and depth and atmosphere of simple black ink – the stuff they sign checks with – applied to take the maximum effect of the swirling, cloudy texture of silk. Those Chinese painters invented negative space."

This sentiment perfectly captures the vibe of Traveller: poignant without pretension. Displaying a warmth not usually associated with the "fourth world" scene, Sampson finds solace and humanity in the sparse contours of Traveller. Perhaps the fact that he is from Minnesota appears apropos. Where else does one find tenderness amid the icy brutality of nature?

Built on repeating guitar and synth patterns that slowly unfold over 46 minutes, Traveller is a journey through the long Midwestern winter. Its sound is reminiscent of Sampson's influences like Brian Eno and Jon Hassell, but also of post-rock artists like Explosions In The Sky or Stars Of The Lid. While electronic music of the '80s is often presented as an offering to a higher power (supernatural or technological), the beauty of this LP is in its simple earthiness – an offering to the dirt, the ice, the unending flow of a river, the purity of black ink on paper.

Limited edition of 250 copies.

Gas - Box 10xLP+4CD

Gas - Box 10xLP+4CD (Kompakt)

Our Review:

Almost everyone we know loves Gas – the blissed-out, minimal techno project of Wolfgang Voigt. But don't let the word "techno" scare you off, as the music of Gas can easily win over the most ardent technophobes. The techno element in the sound of Gas is only one facet to Voigt's magical sound world, often just a shadow, a distant heartbeat like pulse, sometimes more pronounced, but usually just a murky throb or a rhythmic murmur. The music of Gas is gauzy and shimmery, blurred and softly buzzy. It's like an even more dreamlike Oval, or perhaps Porter Ricks crossed with Labradford, or Tim Hecker recording for Chain Reaction. When we talk about Kompakt's Pop Ambient sound, Gas is the template, that which we measure all other "pop ambience" by. The sound is at once ethereal and intimate, haunting and mysterious, lush and expansive, the beatless tracks drift endlessly, each a divine blur of soft chordal whir and looped effervescence. The more beat heavy tracks retain that same washed out otherworldliness, but manage to infuse them with a subtle, barely-there groove, sometimes adding gritty crackle, or subtle dubbed out delay, but always sounding light and airy, weightless and darkly blissful. We once described Gas as sounding like being adrift in a sea of electronics, in a fog so deep, the pulsating beats that would guide you back to shore are murky at best, muffled by distance and the unending push of the droning wind.

Box collects three of the Gas albums, all of which have been out of print for ages: Zauberberg (1997), Konigforst (1998), Pop (2000) and the highly collectible Oktember EP (1999). What is notably missing from the collection is the debut eponymous record, which did get reissued on the 2008 4CD box set Nah Und Fern (whose vinyl counterpart was a pitiful 2LP truncating an entire album onto a single side of an album). Each of these full albums for the Box are pressed as triple LPs, plus the lengthy Oktember EP. All of the material is reprised on the 4CD set that accompanies the vinyl.

As much as we love all these Gas albums, Zauberberg and Konigforst make up the heart of this Gas box. Both luminous and exuberant, yet subdued and melancholic. Sedate technotic pulses beneath wind-swept drones. Expansive orchestral sprawls burnished to an exquisite golden luster. Voigt's subtle dub techniques on these two discs coax the polytonal swells of deep sustained horns into lush rhythmic repetitions. These are heroic if gloomy electronica epics, realizing a fantasy fusion of Wagner's teutonic vigor and a disembodied dancefloor drone. Oktember distills all of the ideas from these two album onto two extended monophunk transmissions that are as good as anything on either of those two albums.

Where the earlier works were dark haunts of deep fluid ambience topping the nonstop pulsating rhythms, Pop is a shimmering sun-filled excursion that is mostly beatless. Its structures emerge from repetitive sequences of trilling ambience swelling in and out of each other within Voigt's surreal sound world of hypnodub washes. The lost beat resurfaces finally on the last track which is a beautiful looped repetition of the previous ambient modulations, but subtly and gracefully merged with a muted, insistent underwater dancefloor throb. Breathtaking.

Once again, we are reminded of this work as a modern minimalist electronic masterpiece. Utterly timeless.

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.

Performing Ferret Band - s/t LP

Performing Ferret Band - s/t LP (Beat Generation)

Our Review:

Originally released out of the UK on the band's own Pig Productions label in 1981, Performing Ferret Band's sole LP finally sees a proper reissue in its entirety. This record stands alone as perhaps the finest self-released vinyl full-length to emerge from the golden era of the late '70s/early '80s UK DIY movement. It certainly best exemplifies that primal porridge of rock, folk and experimental dole-queue-inspired genius – utilizing the lowest-tech instrumentation by default, which defines the DIY genre to this day.

The Ferrets LP uses a bare-bones electrified approach to create a spare, arid sound that draws the listener in with a sort of trembling anticipation akin to reading the next page of a stranger's diary. There is also that dash of daft music hall humor that runs deeply through much of the best British music of the last half-century. The band themselves credit influences from Captain Beefheart and The Velvet Underground.

This album fully deserves its legendary cult status, and this reissue should properly elevate the band's rep up there with fellow travelers such as The Desperate Bicycles, Television Personalities and The Good Missionaries. Mark E. Smith was apparently an enthusiastic fan as well, which is the toughest-earned recommendation one could hope to receive.

Limited edition of 500 copies includes insert with the band's story, photos and memorabilia.

Brian Eno - Another Green World LP

Brian Eno - Another Green World LP (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.

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.

Pharoah Sanders - Izipho Zam (My Gifts) LP

Pharoah Sanders - Izipho Zam (My Gifts) LP (Pure Pleasure)

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.

Kraftwerk - Trans Europe Express LP

Kraftwerk - Trans Europe Express LP (Atlantic)

Limited edition clear vinyl.

Our Review:

Arguably, Kraftwerk's best recording, Trans-Europe Express from 1977 marries the Kosmische minimalism of the Ralf and Florian record with the technological sublime sound of Autobahn while at the same time foreshadowing the robotic dance pop of The Man-Machine and Computer World. We also see for the first time, the image of the band as a uniform commodity dealing with post-modern themes of surface, reflection, repetition and reproduction that would thoroughly dominate their later output.

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.

Brian Eno - Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) LP

Brian Eno - Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) LP (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!

Sons Of Kemet - Your Queen Is A Reptile 2xLP

Sons Of Kemet - Your Queen Is A Reptile 2xLP (Impulse!)

Our Review:

London reed player Shabaka Hutchings is a relentlessly inventive and tireless musician. In no less than three groups (Sons of Kemet, The Comet Is Coming and Shabaka & the Ancestors) as well as guesting on albums by Yussef Kamaal, The Heliocentrics and more, Hutchings has firmly positioned himself as one of the most sought after and progressive players on the contemporary jazz scene. While his renown spread around the globe with 2016's The Wisdom of Elders on Gilles Peterson's Brownswood Recordings, Sons of Kemet is where his forward-thinking ideas have been fully realized. Your Queen Is A Reptile, the group's first for the legendary Impulse! label, is indeed his finest release to date.

Sons of Kemet feature Hutchings on reeds, tuba player Theon Cross and two drummers (a rotating core including Tom Skinner, Seb Rochford and Eddie Hick). That may not sound like your standard jazz quartet, but Sons of Kemet are far from standard jazz fare. Taking inspiration from such diverse sources as the Afro-Caribbean carnival tradition and contemporary UK club culture of grime and dubstep, Your Queen Is A Reptile is party music with a purpose – like Fela Kuti and James Brown. The title itself is an attack on the concept of lineal superiority, the absurdity of the notion that one can possibly be more deserving by birthright. In his song titles, Hutchings offers alternate queens, powerful and influential Afro women from the famous to the familial (Ada Eastman of album opener "My Queen Is Ada Eastman" is Hutchings' great-grandmother).

With the group's drum interplay and tuba driven basslines, one can't help but be reminded of New Orleans' brass band and second-line traditions, yet the reference points here lie further to the Southeast, deep in Hutchings' Afro-Caribbean heritage. Poet Joshua Idehen's vocals on the opener are reminiscent of another brilliant British artist from the Afro-Caribbean diaspora, Linton Kwesi Johnson. Delivered with dramatic pacing and power, Idehen confronts themes of racism in contemporary London.

"My Queen Is Nanny Of The Maroons" begins with a Nyabinghi-esque drum pattern – a nod to the spiritual music of the Rastas which was itself derived from the musical traditions of African slaves brought to Jamaica in the 17th and 18th century – while "My Queen Is Angela Davis," perhaps the most "spiritual jazz" leaning track here, is informed by the Afro-centric sounds of late '60s America. It is these subtle allusions within Your Queen Is A Reptile that show Hutchings is not simply listing off names he read in a book, but rather he is paying homage to women that deeply inform his political views, compositional personality, his very self-identity.

For decades Impulse! has been a beacon of pioneering jazz, releasing some of the heaviest recordings from heavy artists such as Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp and Albert Ayler – truly revolutionary fire music. For adventurous listeners, the signing of Sons of Kemet is a sincerely warm welcome. On the closing track Idehen sings, "I don't want to take my country back, I want to take my country forward." While this sentiment is surely about present day England, it could just as easily refer to the group's feelings about the contemporary jazz landscape. As Hutchings himself described his playing, "I'm trying to just spit out fire." And indeed he does and Sons of Kemet do.

Kleenex / Liliput - First Songs 2xLP

Kleenex / Liliput - First Songs 2xLP (Kill Rock Stars)

Our Review:

One of 2016's stronger gut-punches came in May with the death of Marlene Marder, guitarist and occasional vocalist for Kleenex. First Songs compiles the 1977-1981 output of the group, which became LiLiPUT in 1980 following legal threats and the departure of founding vocalist Regula Sing. Marder and bassist Klau(dia) Schiff(erle) formed the heart of the group, mainstays through the regular personnel shifts that marked its run.

A restlessly creative band that constantly surpassed its own musical and conceptual horizons, the sound of Kleenex / LiLiPUT brims with life and inventiveness – whether in Schiff's rhythmically exuberant yelps and shouts, Angie Barrack's whorled sax lines, or the taut, rough beauty of Marder's guitar. Their entirely sui generis musical (and visual) style corresponded to a use of language without precedent or worthy successor. Through a mix of Swiss-German, invented words, bursts of pure sound and evocatively "incorrect" English – all filtered through a deliberate economy of expression – Kleenex / LiLiPUT songs register a wry and playful but unflinchingly serious awareness of the costs at which this expressive freedom is bought, intimating the myriad threats to autonomy (action, happiness, creativity) that such liberating music can nonetheless never fully keep at bay.

Through a joyful dialectic of compression and release, Kleenex / LiLiPUT's First Songs provide the sonics and semantics of freedom's necessities, infusing the threats, constraints and routines of everyday life with a sense of possibility that today remains infectious and inspiring. RIP Marlene Marder.

J Dilla - Donuts 2xLP

J Dilla - Donuts 2xLP (Stones Throw)

Original front cover version.

Our Review:

Chock full of soulful vocal snippets, sloppy edits and stony melodic breaks. This is like a worn mix-tape of short buttery sonic collages culled from the cream of bad thrift store records: trashy R'n'B, mid-'70s jazz, easy listening and peppered with more pedigreed takes from the likes of the Three Degrees, Esther Philips and Raymond Scott. The beauty of Jay Dee's production is the unconventional way he pulls the sounds together, exposing instead of polishing the rough edits and scratchy recordings. Delicious and catchy, these "donuts" will keep you humming all day long. This sublime record of hip hop instrumentals is made sadder by Jay Dee's recent untimely death at the age of 32. For DJs, fans of Jay Dee and Stones Throw records, purchasing this is a no-brainer: It's essential! For those of you who may not know the mad production skills of J Dilla, there is no better introduction than this. Totally Recommended!

Alice Coltrane - World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda 2xLP

Alice Coltrane - World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda 2xLP (Luaka Bop)

Our Review:

The transcendent music of Alice Coltrane resonates deeper with each passing year. Through impressive releases on the Impulse! label in the late '60s and '70s, Coltrane has become one of the key figures in spiritually-aligned jazz. Even ten years after her death in 2007, Alice's legacy has retained its vital life-force largely because her music is informed by an elusive devotional mystique, which only grew stronger when the pianist/harpist retired to her Ashram outside of Los Angeles in the late '70s.

Luaka Bop's new series World Spirituality Classics focuses on this later period of Coltrane's work. The first title in the series – culled from cassettes recorded between 1982 and 1995 and originally only sold direct through the Ashram – immerses the listener instantly in the communal vibe mid-ritual. Ever-quickening clouds of jubilant group chants, hand-claps and warm synthesizers gradually unfold into Vedic hymns and soulful harmonies.

The real revelation here is Alice's solo voice, as this is the first time that she sings in her recorded catalogue. Coltrane's hypnotic vocalizations are understated, yet insistent and passionate. While mostly featuring later compositions, the record also includes an incredible revisiting of her best known piece, "Journey In Satchidananda," which starts off as a long processional and slowly opens up into a beautifully sonorous chorus.

Alice Coltrane's music is steeped in both gospel and Hindu traditions, but transmitted as if beamed from outer space. Ecstatic, indeed.

Brian Eno - Ambient 1: Music For Airports LP

Brian Eno - Ambient 1: Music For Airports LP (Astralwerks)

Our Review:

Perhaps the most renowned of Eno's ambient albums, 1978's Music For Airports is thee seminal ambient work. Proof is over forty years worth of other artists (and some downright imitators) who have amassed an enormous collective body of work directly inspired by this one album. This is the O.G. of gorgeous shimmering atmospheric soundscapes. While Eno's conceptual "hands off" compositional style is certainly one of the larger factors in his influencing other future ambient artists, the thing about Music For Airports that makes it so compelling is the way in which it manages to impart a feeling of warmth, despite the clinically mechanical way in which the pieces are played. While the performances are not executed by machines, the impact of its influence carries on down, all the way to Aphex Twin's zenith of robotic beauty, The Richard D. James Album. The four pieces ("1/1," "2/1," "1/2" and "2/2" named for their sequence on the LP) build one upon the next. The first is arranged entirely with electric and acoustic pianos (with some help from Robert Wyatt), the second a chorus of voices, and the third and fourth pieces a combination of those elements with additional synth. The drifting and staggered arpeggios cascade in slow-motion giving the pieces a shapeless consistency – somehow always moving forward, yet remaining frozen. A suitable antidote to muzak, if there ever was one. Truly sublime.

Kraftwerk - Autobahn LP

Kraftwerk - Autobahn LP (Atlantic)

Limited edition blue vinyl.

Our Review:

Autobahn was originally released in 1974, and it was in most cases the band's introduction to the rest of the world with the surprise hit single of the title track, edited down significantly for airplay. It was also the point where Kraftwerk began to combine a classic pop approach with their intense Teutonic experimentation (which remains considerable here). What was seen by some people in the mid-1970s as somewhat of a novelty; however, laid the foundation for one of the most innovative music groups to ever exist. Clocking in at almost 23 minutes, "Autobahn" may be one of the most evocative songs ever, especially considering how minimal it really is. Synthesizers give you the impression of traveling throughout Germany by car, through many different environments and observational states, as the vocal melody classically apes the Beach Boys "Fun, Fun, Fun". The song also marked the beginning of the band's reliance on vocoders and drum machines, which would from this point forward would play an integral role in defining Kraftwerk. The other songs here retain many of the sonic qualities of earlier Kraftwerk, but it's now plainly apparent where things are heading: Pop Immortality!

Steve Roach - Dreamtime Return 2xLP

Steve Roach - Dreamtime Return 2xLP (Telephone Explosion)

Our Review:

California ambient pioneer Steve Roach released Dreamtime Return, arguably his finest album, in 1988 following extensive travels to the Australian outback. The word "dreamtime" refers to the Australian Aboriginal belief system, specifically to their notion of the distant past and its inhabitants. Though now considered a dated and anthropologically inaccurate term based on the faulty interpretation of an Aboriginal concept, in the '80s it was widely used in popular culture especially within the nascent new age movement. Roach's goal, to which the title alludes, was to evoke the sensation of the mythologized ancestral landscape while looking to the potentialities of the future, a quintessentially new age sentiment.

As a means to that end Roach incorporates ancient instruments such as the didgeridoo, gourd drums and dumbek into his electronics, and the effect is seamless. Oftentimes this approach of incorporating acoustic instruments into the electronic ambient/new age realm feels clunky at best, but the drums and wind instruments are recorded and produced in such a way that they fit perfectly in place with Roach's glassy synth work. Featuring assistance from notable contemporaries like Kevin Braheny and Robert Rich, Dreamtime Return sounds simultaneously like a return to his Berlin school origins as well as a look to the future of the '90s ambient and electronic scene, and it's clear that his work here was hugely influential on the dark ambient scene that was set to explode across Europe.

With songs ranging from the ambient bliss of his earlier classic Structures From Silence all the way to tracks that, in the right light and heightened mind state, could conceivably fill a dance floor, Dreamtime Return is Roach's most diverse and exploratory album. A welcome reissue of a truly essential piece that connects the legacy of peak era '80s Hearts of Space new age and the fourth world movement with a sound that presages the oncoming convergence of ambient and techno.

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.

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.

Kraftwerk - The Man-Machine LP

Kraftwerk - The Man-Machine LP (Atlantic)

Limited edition red vinyl.

Our Review:

The Man-Machine was originally released in 1978, a year after the artistic and commercial triumph of Trans-Europe Express. Obviously there was a lot to live up to following that album, and Kraftwerk had little difficulty doing so. The Man-Machine is likewise a genre-defining masterpiece, containing at least two of their most well known songs with "The Robots" and "The Model." It also features one of their strangely overlooked songs, the too-awesome-for-words "Spacelab". The cold, mechanical approach Kraftwerk had been striving for is perfected on this record, also expertly conveyed from a visual standpoint on the cover, where the group appears all angular and unsmiling in their matching red shirt/black tie getup. It's pretty crazy to imagine the reaction this must have received right in the middle of the punk explosion. As the rest of the world reveled in sloppy, wide-eyed rock n' roll, Kraftwerk became more precise and jettisoned the most recognizable traces of human emotion usually reserved for the pop market. Still, though the most noteworthy traits here bring to mind a glum, dystopian future, like on the title track and the ominous "Metropolis", there is also a good deal of humor and an implied human warmth, as Kraftwerk themselves, more than anything, take the role of detached observers in a world that defines itself more and more through technological progress.

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.

Bruce Langhorne - The Hired Hand OST LP

Bruce Langhorne - The Hired Hand OST LP (Scissor Tail)

Our Review:

We weren't really sure what to expect with this one. A lost soundtrack from 1971 to a movie none of us had ever heard of, directed by and starring Peter Fonda. The second we threw it on, we knew this was it! A dark and languorous abstract country psych-folk gem. Hearing this for the first time, you'd be forgiven for guessing it was Scott Tuma, Souled American, Califone, Golden Hotel, Thuja, Woven Hand or some totally obscure cd-r on some little tiny label from some mysterious band of psychedelic country folk minstrels. Slow and mournful, delicate and dreamy, acoustic guitars, farfisa organs, harmonicas and an echoplex. Spare and skeletal, mini epics of melancholic twang. Imagine if Sergio Leone had Ennio Morricone assemble a band cobbled together from members of the Jewelled Antler Collective, No Neck Blues Band and Souled American to score one of his Westerns. Definitely recommended if you dig any of the folks mentioned above, especially Morricone.

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.

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

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.

Terry Riley - Songs For The Ten Voices Of The Two Prophets LP

Terry Riley - Songs For The Ten Voices Of The Two Prophets LP (Beacon Sound)

Our Review:

Songs For The Ten Voices Of The Two Prophets originally released in 1983 on the German kosmische label Kuckuck, marked a new direction for Riley. Here, we find Riley not only switching instruments from the Yamaha organ to the Prophet 5 polyphonic synthesizer, but also with shifting his focus towards the voice. Long an acolyte of his mentor, the Hindustani classical singer Pandit Pran Nath, Riley recorded this piece live in Munich, channeling the deep raga vocal styling of the master vocalist. Two Prophet synthesizers provide the percolating foundation of warm swirls and polychromatic bell tones. His voice floats through undulating valleys and peaks, intoning poetic mantras of vivid mystical experience. An incredibly deep and lovely listen that comes highly recommended. Remastered on vinyl for the first time since its original release. Limited repress, so act fast!

The Morning Glory - s/t LP

The Morning Glory - s/t LP

Our Review:

Multi-instrumentalist and producer Josiah Steinbrick (Cate Le Bon, Devendra Banhart) had long known that his mother-in-law, a music industry veteran, was in a group in the '60s, but he was totally unaware they had recorded anything until an acetate was uncovered after her passing.

The Morning Glory have a backstory that is almost too good: three teenagers from The Bronx and Harlem in that heady year of 1966, a mafia associate named Salvatore and an ill-timed heroin bust. It's the kind of quintessentially New York tale that could easily have been a plot point left on the cutting room floor of Scorsese's Mean Streets. Of course, none of this would be anything more than a good yarn to spin if the music didn't pass muster. Fortunately for us, it does.

Drawing inspiration from Spector, Motown, West Coast jangle, surf and garage, The Morning Glory have managed to remind this listener of artists as diverse as Laura Nyro and The Rezillos, which is no small feat. Recorded at Rossi Enterprises in Brooklyn, which garners a few google hits linking to old editions of Billboard and Cash Box and little else and featuring a backing band and songwriting credits that are both lost to time, The Morning Glory covers a surprising amount of territory in its eleven tracks.

After a pleasant if unremarkable start, it really kicks into gear with "Billy Gotta Go," a song that is something akin to a harmonica-laden female Ramones pulling into the station ten years ahead of schedule. "Please Stop Pretending" is a moody organ drenched mid-tempo ballad in 6/8 time which (in this reviewer's humble opinion) is the best time signature out there. The title track is a beautiful piece of lite psych, and "I'm Through With Boys" sounds like a sneering New York City response to The Beach Boys hit of the previous year, "California Girls."

Far too good and naturally talented to be described as "real people" or outsider, but much too shoestring to accurately approach Spector's Wall of Sound or Motown's Hitsville, The Morning Glory exist in that glorious middle ground where talent wasn't lacking, but time or studio capabilities perhaps were. The end result is a record that's almost there, yet something's not quite right ... which, for many of us, makes it even more perfect.

Limited edition of 315 copies.

Peter Brotzmann Octet - Machine Gun LP

Peter Brotzmann Octet - Machine Gun LP (Cien Fuegos)

Our Review:

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Machine Gun's release, but it's still just as shocking and powerful a record as ever, a stunning and bewildering listen from beginning to end. Peter Brotzmann's second release as a leader, this was the album that firmly established his voice as a performer and an improviser, defined what would become the FMP aesthetic, and truly distinguished European free-music from its American counterpart.

Machine Gun opens with a deafening blast of pure sound, a pummeling broadside of Brotzmann, Evan Parker, and Willem Breuker's saxophones. Even today, so many years after this was captured to tape, it's still startling, and still brings to question any ideas you might have about what could be considered "jazz." Yes, American fire music players had broken countless barriers earlier in the 1960s, but nobody had ever really sounded like this before. Noise artists for generations to come would give everything to be half this abrasive. Machine Gun is not all volume, though: there are passages of silence and chilling hints of space between barrages of instrumental fury. There are even hummable themes, however brief they may be. One of two drummers in the group, Han Bennink loudly declares his intent to push free percussion in a direction unique from his American counterparts, Murray, Graves, and Ali. The octet is rounded out by several other players who would form the foundation of the European free avant-garde: Fred Van Hove, Peter Kowald, Sven Ake-Johansson, and Buschi Niebergall.

Originally released on Brotzmann's own Brö imprint, Cien Fuegos has remastered the original album and lovingly presented it here on this limited, 180 gram reissue. If there is one Peter Brotzmann record to own, this is it; if there is one European free jazz record to own, this it. We are thrilled to see it available again. Don't sleep.

Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe - Thought Withdrawal LP

Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe - Thought Withdrawal LP (Land & Sea)

Our Review:

A transcendent splendor radiates through all of the sounds broadcast by Robert AA Lowe. Beginning with the harmonic vocal incantations found as Lichens in the early aughts, Lowe has constructed beautifully rendered tapestries of overlapping tones, phased loops and ecstatic minimalism. Both in album and in performance, his pieces are mostly spontaneously assembled into hypnotic dronings and undulating currents, evoking an earthen spiritualism that feels far more earnest than the archetypal New Age psychonaut. In recent years, Lowe has been bolstering his sound with a modular synth array that has become something akin to his own personal philosopher's stone - an alchemical device to transform raw electricity into sympathetic chorales to his own hallowed voice. Thought Withdrawal documents a live presentation of Lowe's work, commissioned by one of our favorite alternative spaces, Land And Sea run by Oakland artist Chris Duncan. The steady swoosh of a slow-motion LFO guides the first half of Lowe's performance through which he tangles a drowsy leitmotif of cello-like melodies that seem to be struggling to wake up and wanting to quicken in the pace. Lowe dials in a quintessential zoned-out, cosmic vibe of a really mellow JD Emmanuel, which gives way to a generative sequence of muted rhythm box patter all soaked in reverb. As Lowe introduces voice to this water drip scaffolding, a dream-time architecture of cubist cathedrals aglow with crimson / pink neon is fully realized through sound. So lovely.

Flying Saucer Attack - Distance LP

Flying Saucer Attack - Distance LP (VHF)

Our Review:

Dave Pearce began his adventures in "rural psychedelia" back in 1993 under the moniker Flying Saucer Attack with a series of homespun shoegaze / drone-rock releases on his own FSA Records, based out of Bristol, England. Much of the work was uncredited but it's long assumed that Flying Saucer Attack drew in Rachel Brook (who later struck out on her own piloting Movietone) and Matt Elliott (aka Third Eye Foundation) and possibly others from Bristol's broader community that came and went through such projects as Amp, Crescent, Light, The Secret Garden, etc. Pearce's Flying Saucer Attack embraced a signature sound of murky fuzz and overblown 4-track distortion that draped upon his languid drone-rock hymns that were driven by his mournful Nick Drake whisper of a voice that somehow pushes through all of the swirl and drone.

Distance was first compiled back in 1994 as a collection of five tracks from the first three FSA singles with three tracks recorded during those same sessions. Those early self-published singles had quickly gone out of print, making this a necessity. These tracks follow the same dual track course laid down on the first record, with ungrounded echoplex bleariness set next to noise pop liberated through blown out Xpressway grit and shambolic radioluminescence. The punk throttle basslines that Rachel Brook gives to the FSA probably don't get due credit for providing the urgency for tracks like "Standing Stone" and "Soaring High," but these two tracks in particular highlight her influence on the FSA sound. It's still Pearce's chiming hypno-drone guitar that is center stage, dripping with a deep British folk melancholy that has been hot-wired and fried through a drugged-out noise not even Spacemen 3 had dreamed of.

This marks the first US vinyl of this album.

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.

Joshua Abrams And Natural Information Society - Mandatory Reality 2xLP

Joshua Abrams And Natural Information Society - Mandatory Reality 2xLP (Eremite)

Our Review:

Following on the heels of 2017's Simultonality is this double LP masterstroke from Joshua Abrams and Natural Information Society, Mandatory Reality. Featuring an eight-piece acoustic incarnation of NIS - with Abrams on guimbri, along with harmonium, tam-tam, gongs, autoharp, piano, tabla, tar, cornet, alto sax, and bass clarinet - the album is centered around two long form compositions by Abrams ("In Memory's Prism" and "Finite"). Recorded live to tape at Electical Audio in Chicago, Mandatory Reality reveals its beauty slowly and methodically.

Though ostensibly a jazz group - and Abrams' pedigree is mostly under the umbrella of Chicago's long-running free-jazz scene including stints in Nicole Mitchell's and Rob Mazurek's groups - NIS' music doesn't give much space to soloing or histrionics. The pieces on Mandatory Reality have more in common with 20th century minimalist composers or the more experimental side of the '90s post-rock scene than they do the catalogs of Blue Note or Impulse!. In fact, the album is in part the logical progression of his former group, Town & Country and even, at times, feels like an acoustic counterpoint to the work of electronic artists such as Pole or Jan Jelinek.

With Natural Information Society, Joshua Abrams has created his most engrossing works. This is a group that has found such an elusive thing - a sound that is simultaneously methodical and boundless, the art of reaching a meditative state through intense concentration and dedicated craft - and Mandatory Reality is their most assured album to date.

Kraftwerk - Radio-Activity LP

Kraftwerk - Radio-Activity LP (Atlantic)

Limited edition yellow vinyl.

Our Review:

1975's Radio-Activity is the first album where Kraftwerk became Kraftwerk as history knows them. It introduced their classic lineup and did away all acoustic instrumentation (believe it or not, there were actually some guitars on Autobahn), and is the perfect precursor to Trans Europe Express, arguably their finest moment. Like all Kraftwerk albums, this one is highly conceptual, with a dual emphasis on radio-activity from a scientific standpoint and the emergence of the new(ish) culture based around the radio. Even with its moments of darkness, Radio-Activity may also be one of Kraftwerk's most "fun" albums, with the joyful pop propulsion of "Airwaves" and the playful minimalism of "Antenna". Then there is the title track, a masterpiece of slowly brooding German melancholy if there ever was one. This is the album where the band truly found themselves able to consolidate their more experimental tendencies into a solidly pop format, resulting in truly imaginative and original music. It's strange that as the group became more poppy, they also became weirder and developed a sound that was pretty much unprecedented. But hey, that's how Kraftwerk does things.

Brian Eno - Ambient 4: On Land LP

Brian Eno - Ambient 4: On Land LP (Astralwerks)

Our Review:

1982's On Land is arguably a place card for a wellspring of ambient musicians forging soundtracks for non-existant films. Hints of Eno's dark soundscapes can be heard from the likes of Biosphere, Andrew Chalk and Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II, yet Eno himself drew inspiration for On Land while visiting Ghana where he made field recordings and clustered disparate sounds into a single aural frame. In doing so, Eno discovered a simple and effective concept: with the elimination of melody and rhythm, sound becomes flattened in the stereo field and thus creates a world unto itself. As the artist states, "the landscape has ceased to be a backdrop for something else to happen in front of: instead everything that happens is part of the landscape. There is no longer a sharp distinction between foreground and background." Listening back all these years later, it's pretty clear On Land's various textures and tones resound today in the very best sense possible. Absolutely timeless.

The Sound - Jeopardy LP

The Sound - Jeopardy LP (1972)

Our Review:

The story goes that The Sound should have been huge – as big as any number of successful post-punk outfits like The Cure or The Fall or Echo & The Bunnymen – but for reasons seem to baffle most everybody, they didn't find that success. Frontman Adrian Borland cut his teeth in the 1976 punk frenzy in a project called the Outsiders; but grew dissatisfied with the amphetamine trad-rock that punk was becoming. The Sound formed around Borland's increasingly complicated songwriting, following a similar art-punk route that Howard DeVoto took after leaving The Buzzcocks to start the equally adventurous Magazine.

Jeopardy was the first album for The Sound, whose complex pop-punk was built around Borland's nervously chiming guitars and engaging hooks that paralleled those from The Cure's mod-pop debut Three Imaginary Boys, the theatrical bellowings of Juilan Cope's The Teardrop Explodes and of course Magazine. This album was recorded roughly, supposedly for less than 800 British pounds; and the urgency (or panic) of getting everything to tape quickly works well with these songs. The Sound embellish a number of their new wave / punk tunes with glammy synthesizer melodies that harken back to Roxy Music and an occasional sax blurt for good measure; but it's Borland who passionately drives this band, one that should have been heard back then ... and right now.

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.

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.

Sun Ra - Space Is The Place Book+DVD+CD

Sun Ra - Space Is The Place Book+DVD+CD (Harte)

Our Review:

For all deep fans of the late great Afro-futuristic jazz visionary Sun Ra, this is something special, possibly essential. A 40th anniversary celebration of Sun Ra's one of a kind, mind blowing low budget sci-fi movie from San Francisco in the '70s, Space Is The Place, consisting of a book, a cd, and dvd. On the dvd, you get two different cuts of the film, on the cd the film's classic soundtrack, and in the book tons more pertaining to the project - including never-before-seen photos from the set, various essays, and interviews with cast and crew. One of the highlights is the chat with Ray Johnson, the only professional actor in the film (he was in Dirty Harry), who played the "Cosmic Overseer" in Space Is The Place. His stories about shooting scenes with Sun Ra are great. What's cool is that to this day he's clearly a true believer in the man's out of this world genius. And the same goes for others featured in the book, including the young cinematographer who knew nothing of Sun Ra and his scene before hand, but ever since has been big avant-jazz fan.

So, this is the ultimate Space Is The Place artifact for sure. Hardcover, 11" x 10", full color, 124 pages, with DVD in a pocket inside the front cover, and CD in a pocket inside the back. Introduction by Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips.

Sarah Davachi - All My Circles Run LP

Sarah Davachi - All My Circles Run LP (Students Of Decay)

Our Review:

As one of the most original and compelling artists currently working, it's to our collective sonic benefit that Sarah Davachi stays as busy as she does. The composer and multi-instrumentalist released two fantastic LPs last year – Vergers and Dominions – and now follows with All My Circles Run, her second full-length for Students Of Decay and her most arresting work to date.

Davachi's prolific output is somewhat at odds with the air of patience and deliberation that pervades her albums, and it's this sense of purpose and precision that helps make All My Circles Run an early contender for album of the year. Forgoing the analog synthesizers around which she's structured much of her recent work, the pieces on All My Circles Run each center on a specific instrument ("For Strings," "For Organ") around which Davachi builds a lattice-work of sound. Given the lush sonorities Davachi creates, the album's deceptively simple track titles are perhaps best understood as dedications, scrupulous and prismatic displays of each instrument's harmonic intricacies.

This album might elicit some standard art-critical watchwords – textural, ambient, ruminative – but rarely does music achieve the elusive balance between granular detail and disarming expressivity that Davachi shows here. All My Circles Run is captivating work from a singular talent. Do not miss this record.

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.

Manuel Gottsching - Inventions For Electric Guitar LP

Manuel Gottsching - Inventions For Electric Guitar LP (MG.Art)

Our Review:

After the initial implosion of Ash Ra Tempel in 1974, Manuel Gottsching traded the vertiginous, self-immolating riffs that formed the quintessence of kosmische music for a more earthbound guitar art charting inner-space, inverting the effect of his group's sonic overload to create music as patient and unfussy as it is propulsive and hypnotic.

The novelty implicit in its title everywhere enlivens the music of Gottsching's solo debut, Inventions For Electric Guitar. On its two longer tracks, ostinato guitar phrases form a morse-code low end, a rhythmic foundation then crosshatched with echo-treated melody lines and, later, fuzz-chewed blues leads corkscrewing through the arrangements. Gottsching creates via four-track and delay unit the illusion of music made with a sequencer or synthesizer (and so too anticipates the reverberant influence of his also just reissued E2-E4). Between these sits a gorgeous piece of overdyed ambience, "Quasarsphere," harmonic swells cutting through the sheen of undulating glissando. A uniquely self-contained masterpiece, the crystalline rhythmic ecosystem of Inventions marks a watershed moment in the history of rock-adjacent guitar music.

Michael Rother - Flammende Herzen LP

Michael Rother - Flammende Herzen LP (Groenland)

Our Review:

We'd assume that the majority of Stranded regulars are largely familiar with at least one of Michael Rother's projects. Whether it be his work with Kraftwerk, Neu!, Cluster, or Harmonia, Rother's contributions to the last 30 plus years of music are innumerable. Still, his solo work has been conspicuously absent from most write-ups and record shelves. Perhaps that's because the early '80s saw Rother in a bit of transition period from his kosmische glory days to a point where he embraced New Age with arms wide open.

Flammende Herzen, which means Flaming Hearts in English, is a blissful concoction of motorik beats beneath Rother's trademark shimmering, soaring melodies. It's easy to see why it was a big hit when it was first released (apparently outselling all of Rother's albums with Neu! combined). Truly gorgeous instrumental compositions that will brighten your day, being sources of both relaxation and energy. Fans of the kosmische stuff that overlaps with New Age, like Ashra, Tangerine Dream, Deuter, and Popol Vuh will find a lot to like here. Such nice music for a drive in the country, or lazing at home on a rainy afternoon, as well. Definitely a fine follow up to his work in Harmonia.

Disco Inferno - D.I. Go Pop LP

Disco Inferno - D.I. Go Pop LP (One Little Indian)

Our Review:

Mixing an obsession with New Order and sampling with their own dark sensibilities, Disco Inferno took a colossal leap forward with their second album, D.I. Go Pop. Released in 1994 on Rough Trade, Go Pop would become a high water mark for '90s experimental music – the post-rock equivalent of P.E.'s It Takes A Nation of Millions. From the opening watery loops of "In Sharky Water" to the crushing bass and darting claustrophobic tension of "A Crash At Every Speed" and the deceptively beautiful "Footprints In The Snow" set against recordings of people literally running in deep snow, Ian Crause and crew somehow managed to make the record that you always knew The Teardrop Explodes heard in their heads. Highly recommended.

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.

Colin Newman - A-Z LP

Colin Newman - A-Z LP (Sentient Sonics)

Our Review:

A curious case: a band at its peak announces a hiatus and then the members fill the next half-decade with constant recorded output, often in combinations nearly identical with that of the original group itself. Such is the case of Wire, who in the wake of an abandoned follow-up to 154 seemed to neatly bifurcate into projects that often dramatically adjusted the gradient of Wire's chiaroscuro songcraft. Colin Newman's early '80s output is a palimpsest of that source material, serving both to cross-section some of Wire's component parts and to provide a counterfactual or alternative history to the "official" quiet that followed their exalted late-70s run.

Often referred to as the "lost" fourth Wire album, Colin Newman's A-Z was released by Beggars Banquet in October 1980 and features Wire drummer Robert Gotobed, producer/keyboardist Mike Thorne and Desmond Simmons – even Charles Bullen, under an alias. Augmented with looped and multi-tracked vocals, variously treated guitars and Thorne's prominent keyboards, the songs on A-Z find pop and experiment in equipoise, at once drawing on Wire's established strengths ("& Jury," "Order For Order," "Inventory") and point to its then-unwritten future ("Image," "Life On Deck," "Seconds To Last").