Deathprod - Imaginary Songs From Tristan Da Cunha LP

Deathprod - Imaginary Songs From Tristan Da Cunha LP (Smalltown Supersound)

Our Review:

Deathprod is the existentially bleak solo project of Helge Sten, who is also a key member of both Supersilent and Motorpsycho. In 2004, Rune Grammofon published a 4CD box-set compendium of Deathprod's work that was recorded between 1991 and 2000. Housed in an matte black box with a all black artwork and the sparest of text, this anthology presented itself as a semantic void, with nothing but the harrowing orchestrations of controlled noise and brooding atmosphere into Deathprod's oeuvre. This reissue campaign from Smalltown Supersound marks the first time any of these recordings have been on vinyl. Like before with the CD box-set, this too is enshrouded in matte black packaging.

Working with old magnetic tape recorders, hand made delay and sundry other electronic devices, Sten manipulates fragments of sound (e.g. a two note melodic interval or a final orchestral cadence) into brooding dark soundscapes, rich with overtones from feedback and often overlaid with guest performances from fellow Supersilent members. It is the very limitations of the equipment that Sten uses that become the sources for the beautiful timbres he produces: an over-saturated tape input, a primitive sampler that never reproduces the same note the same way twice or the uneven decay from primitive tape delays. Typical are tracks which blossom out from a single cell of an idea: one chord, or one blast of noise. At times Deathprod sounds almost like an attempt at recreating Thomas Koner's soundscapes using the audio palette of Maurizio Bianchi.

On Imaginary Songs From Tristan Da Cunha, Sten went so far as to record tracks on a Nagra deck, transfer them to wax cylinders and then transfer them once more to digital media. The result are authentically old and decaying tracks which are hauntingly beautiful as well. Other tracks feature deteriorating blasts of what sounds almost like a fog horn progressively decaying into grinding metal; throbbing drones and eerie female chorus, taking cues from Ligeti's Lux Aeterna and building with layers of feedback into chilling washes of sound.

BJ Nilsen & Stilluppsteya / Anla Courtis - Golden Circle Afternoon LP

BJ Nilsen & Stilluppsteya / Anla Courtis - Golden Circle Afternoon LP (Editions Mego)

Our Review:

Ah, the plight of the supergroup touring the world with fits of drunkenness, wanton groupies, the drudgery of long travel days, and of course a couple of good gigs between. Such is the fictional landscape mapped out by the dada-punk sound artists BJ Nilsen, Sigtryggur Sigmarsson & Helgi Thorsson (aka Stilluppsteypa) and Anla Courtis. Nilsen & Stillupsteypa have been working together for many many years now, alternating releases between Editions Mego and The Helen Scarsdale Agency, proving to be a rare commodity in the realm of avant-electronics that a collaborative project can develop beyond the one-night stand of hedonistic improvisation followed by bouts of slumped file-sharing. No, their wintery psychedelic collages of existential madness, sheering drone, VHS horror sound design and Haflerian confusion have developed into one hell of an expressionist vocabulary. In bringing fellow paratactic musician Anla Coutis into the fold, the notion of these four embarking on some stupid-ass world tour akin to the Travelling Wilburys seemed apt. So, they ran with it in the same lysergic madness that Leif Elggren musters in his ludicrously brilliant art forms. The languid drones of the opening number "Aurora Australis" (named for the southern hemisphere polar-light phenomenon) suspends cryptic field recordings and nocturnal creaks upon corona-glow drones that ebb and flow with a psychological tension that Lynch & Splet mastered on the Eraserhead soundtrack, but here pocked with frightening gasps for air and violent jabs of noise. Side B's title "Fish Is God" seems like the punchline to a surrealist's knock knock joke; and if that may be an apt analogy, these four take that credo of absurdity rather seriously. Rolling out oceanic swells of rippling tone that rise up its tidal crescendo only to have its motion cut out with a dramatic tug to silence before an unsettling chunk of guttural vocalizations of an one-man orgy fitted to scabs of fragmented white noise. It's hard to really tell what Courtis may be up to in these procedures, as the album is very much a continuation of those amazing records that Nilsen & Stilluppsteypa have crafted over the years. Brilliant stuff.

Shredded Nerve - In The Shadow Of What Never Was LP

Shredded Nerve - In The Shadow Of What Never Was LP (Chondritic Sound)

Our Review:

There's a specific act of American born terrorism which serves as the conceptual framework for this meditation on violence through sounds. Back in 1983, David and Doris Young took 153 people hostage at a school in Cokeville, Wyoming; yet their gasoline bomb unexpectedly exploded, severely injuring Doris. David aborted their plans to start a revolution by ransoming the schoolchildren for two million dollars by killing his wife and himself, leaving behind a number of questions as to why this tragedy had to happen. David Young did leave behind a convoluted manifesto entitled "Zero Equals Infinity", along with a checkered past of mental illness from both him and Doris. Shredded Nerve uses this gruesome chapter of American history as a subject to dwell and ruminate upon for this LP of gnarled electronics, nightmarish tape-loop hypnogogia and dystopian metallic klang. The restraint of these recordings is noteworthy given how easy it would be to take this to a theatrical extremes, positing the structures and compositions somewhat close to the realm of Small Cruel Party or the early convolutions from irr. app. (ext.), if Waldron were reinterpreted by Aaron Dilloway. Another exceptional document from Chondritic Sound!

Liebestod - Beta Male LP

Liebestod - Beta Male LP (Chondritic Sound)

Our Review:

Jesse Sanes presents Liebestod as his fully realized Power Electronics project, one that parallels his role as frontman for the nihilist hardcore outfit Hoax. A violent intensity and spilt blood carry over in both projects, even as the vehicles are radically different. It must be noted that Sanes has collaborated with Puce Mary as Fejhed and JH1.FS3, whose two recordings mine a controlled malevolence through synth noise and heavily processed voice. Such is also the strategy for Liebestod, through which Sanes hangs an electric dread upon the voltage controlled blurts, junkyard metal-bashing, and scalding flames of white noise. Leibestod's psychological / conceptual position on Beta Male seems outside the typical poetics of sexual control and/or extremist political chest-thumping, scribing instead an existential crisis with Sanes standing at odds with everything and everybody, including himself. It makes for a brilliant if disturbing album, one that mirrors a similar plight found in Maurizio Bianchi's first fruits in the '80s applied through a brooding regimentation akin to Anenzephalia. As such, this album gets our highest recommendation, settling next to Puce Mary's The Spiral as one of the best noise albums of 2016.

Swans - Filth LP

Swans - Filth LP (Young God)

Our Review:

Filth. An aptly named album for a time and a place and a band. Swans' first full album came out in 1983 from the gritty underbelly of New York City, before Guiliani has kicked out all the freaks, criminals and artists. The sound of Swans engorged the primal violence and psychological dread that had been first broadcast under the banner of No Wave a few years earlier. Led by the tyrannical Michael Gira, who probably only learned how to crack a smile some 15 years after the inception of Swans, barked and grunted lyrics which might be easier read as agitprop slogans, decrying the perceived imbalances of power through sex, money, depravity and (later) religion. He controlled and commanded his band to perform pummeling excesses of rhythmic brutality with lurching basslines and atonal splashes of guitar shards forming the barest sense of what could pass for a melody. At the time of Filth, Gira had two thugs - Roli Mosimann and Jonathan Kane - behind drum kits, augmenting their panzerkorps marches with bloodyknuckled sheets of metal tossed into that engine at unpredictable moments and angles. For all of the furious muscularity and self-inflicted violence of Filth, Swans could color their claustrophobic slabs of sound with empathizing spells of existential misery. "Power For Power" is probably the best example of this, with guitarist Normal Westberg (the longest standing member of Swans aside from Gira) chopping the melody that could very be knocking on the door of The Stooges' raga-dirge "We Will Fall". It should also be noted that John Gossard swiped the title "Weakling" for his cult black metal band, and like Gira, used the term not to self-identify but as a damning epithet. The song itself is a depressive trudge of basslines alternating with dissonant guitars, shoved along by a strangely spry rhythm from one of the drummers.

Filth still stands as one of the great achievements of an already highly acclaimed band. It's never been an easy listen, and never will be.

Swans - Love Of Life LP

Swans - Love Of Life LP (Young God)

Our Review:

The necessary vinyl reissue of the 1992 album Love Of Life! A propulsive, almost jubilant Swans is heard here, foreshadowing the Americana twang that Gira would later adopt in the Angels Of Light after Swans called it quits in the late '90s. Gira's great trick on this album is that he layers his shimmering, chiming guitars into slowly building walls of dissonant harmonics that rasp out of the acoustic instrumentation. It's a much more sophisticated dynamic than the emaciated bombast of such claustrophobic Swans recordings like Greed and Holy Money; and comparatively, it makes for a more subtle incarnation of Swans, even when Gira implores his multiple drummers to hammer away at their kits with militaristic flair and insistent rumbling.

Aphex Twin - Syro 3xLP

Aphex Twin - Syro 3xLP (Warp)

Our Review:

Richard D. James, aka Aphex Twin, while undoubtedly considered one of the key figures within dance music and dance culture, simultaneously manages to both celebrate and mock, or at least have fun with, that very same dance music and dance culture. He has one foot firmly planted on the dancefloor while he uses the other to give dance music a good kick in the ass. This couldn't be more true than on Syro, which actually might be his most danceable album in years, maybe ever. Whereas albums like, Richard D. James, I Care Because You Do and Drukqs, might make you think you can dance to them before throwing you horribly out of step, it's conceivable that one could actually dance to the songs on Syro, without missing a beat. This might initially suggest that Syro might be Aphex Twin's least adventurous album, his most conventional to date. Of course, it could be pointed out, that relative to his other albums, the idea of Aphex Twin making a straightforward dance record is in itself sort of adventurous. If only it was that simple, if only Syro was in fact a straightforward dance record. Aphex Twin's music is more interested in subverting and somehow actually drawing our attention to the way in which we can be manipulated by that repetition. That may be more true than ever on Syro, simply because this record might actually get you to dance. But just when you start to get lost in a groove, something alien and ominous will creep in, like a spider letting you know that you've been caught in it's web. These moments, of which there are plenty, make it clear that if you came to this particular dance party expecting the usual bit of the ol' bump-n-grind, then you should prepare to have your expectations confounded constantly. These moments are akin to being at a party when the acid starts to kick in and things begin to get a bit strange.

There is a lot about Syro as a whole, that brings to mind Aphex Twin's "Windowlicker". It's not that any one song is that sonically similar to "Windowlicker", although many of the songs do juxtapose dance tropes with weirder, more experimental sounds, in a way that does seem similar. But what Syro has in common with "Windowlicker" is actually more philosophical and has more to do with the content of the Chris Cunningham directed video, than the song itself. The way in which the two male protagonists show up to an Aphex Twin "hosted" "dance party", with the expectation of having nothin' but a good time, only to be caught off guard by something far stranger, and to their sensibilities, far more disturbing. This album, much in the same way, is constantly disturbing and defying any expectations of where the listener thinks it might go. Take a song like "180 db", which aside from the wavering and almost sickly tone in the background (which might already be saying something), comes across as a straight ahead banger. But just when things seem to be getting a bit too normal, this most "normal", and perhaps tellingly shortest, of all the tracks, leads into one of the strangest intros on the record, namely the tweaked "AFX 237V7" A.K.A. "Rubber Johnny"-like vocals of "Circlont 6A". Not that Aphex Twin is any stranger to confounding expectations, he's been doing it his whole career, it's just that on Syro, he might be doing it in a way that is surprisingly, and subversively subtle.

Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument - Shemonmuanaye 2xLP

Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument - Shemonmuanaye 2xLP (Awesome Tapes From Africa)

Our Review:

Among Ethiopian Jazz aficionados, Hailu Mergia may not have as big of a name as Mulutu Astatke or Mahmoud Ahmed, but this 1985 recording of traditional Ethiopian jazz pieces played on analog synth, piano and accordion could have easily been part of the great Ethiopiques series. Mergia cut his teeth with The Walliaa Band, the legendary group founded by Mulatu Astake, and has backed many of Ethiopia's greatest bandleaders (the band still performs to this day at the Addis Ababa Hilton). But it's this solo excursion, played in true one-man-band style that takes the sensual loping rhythms of Ethio-jazz into realms so warm and personal and utterly unique. Recommended!

Bruce Haack - Electric Lucifer LP

Bruce Haack - Electric Lucifer LP (Telephone Explosion)

Our Review:

Can you imagine if "Music To Moog By" maestro Gershon Kingsley had dropped acid, joined a commune, got religion, and jammed with the Silver Apples. That might approximate what the unique, wondrous psych-pop "Mooglove" of 1969's The Electric Lucifer sounds like! Well it's about as psychedelic as you can get, a concept album that's futuristic and Biblically ancient at the same time. Haack used an electronic "computer voice" (long before it was cliche) that he named FARAD, as well as regular human vocals, to convey deep Age of Aquarius astrological/philosophical concepts, sometimes in the form of sinister liturgies, at others like playful rhyming lullabies. These Moog-y, moody and groovy compositions feature churchy organ sounds, bleeps and bloops, and rhythmic percolations that wouldn't sound out of place in the Star Wars cantina. There's lugubrious droney passages, mechanical beats, switched-on classical flourishes and musique concrete style sound collage. Very weird yet oh-so-catchy. Highest recommendation. Listen to the love angel, people!

Kraftwerk - The Man-Machine LP

Kraftwerk - The Man-Machine LP (Kling Klang)

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.

Kraftwerk - Trans Europe Express LP

Kraftwerk - Trans Europe Express LP (Kling Klang)

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.

Roedelius - Durch Die Wuste LP

Roedelius - Durch Die Wuste LP (Bureau B)

Our Review:

Durch Die Wuste was the first solo outing by Hans-Joachim Roedelius of Cluster/Harmonia fame, originally out on 1978 on the always impeccable Sky label. Melding his tastes for classical composition, spaced out ambience and electronic rock possibilities, this album found Roedelius simmering in warm rolling waves that just invite you to get lost and daydream in their subtly hypnotic pull. What's most amazing and compelling about this album is how organic it all sounds. Years before folks were really getting a grasp of how to intertwine traditional instrumentation with electronics, Roedelius was doing it masterfully. We're also so taken by the divine percussive quality that rises to the surfaces on lots of the album, especially the record's last two songs where Roedelius manages to play the drums himself and creates an amazing orbital groove that we could listen to forever. Durch Die Wuste manages to combine both his more dark and outsider tendencies with his ability to create the ultimate in shimmering cosmic bliss. This clearly stands up against any of Cluster's breathtaking moments. Highly recommended!

Roedelius - Offene Turen LP

Roedelius - Offene Turen LP (Bureau B)

Our Review:

Offene Turen (Open Doors), Roedelius's little known fifth album from 1982 and is definitely not like the others. Often considered his "experimental" record, this album was completed shortly after the Cluster record Curiosum. It sometimes seems as if he wanted to make a record through the eyes of his more taciturn partner, Moebius. While it doesn't quite have Moebius's way with mechanical musical calibrations, the vibe is more stark and atmospheric and the closest we've heard any of the Cluster clan come to sounding cinematically proggy in the vein of John Carpenter and Goblin. Lots of church organ sounds and bell tones with an occasional glimpse into Roedelius's classical romantic side. Definitely one of the weirder records in the Cluster canon, there's lots to love, from songs that are seriously spooky and to other tracks that are charmingly naive experiments with the newest (at the time) digital tech.

Kraftwerk - Radio-Activity LP

Kraftwerk - Radio-Activity LP (Kling Klang)

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.

Kraftwerk - Autobahn LP

Kraftwerk - Autobahn LP (Kling Klang)

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!

Cluster & Eno - s/t LP

Cluster & Eno - s/t LP (Bureau B)

Our Review:

This is one of our favorite albums, in the first of two collaborations between art-rock genius / ambient pioneer Brian Eno and Krautrock electronics legends Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius aka Cluster! On it, they're joined by guests Asmus Tietchens and Can's Holger Czukay, and construct warm, organic instrumentals utilizing both acoustic instruments and analog synths. This is soft and mellow and melodic but at the same time these songs are no push-overs, however gentle.

Roedelius - Jardin Au Fou LP

Roedelius - Jardin Au Fou LP (Bureau B)

Our Review:

The pastoral half of Cluster explores his penchant for French romanticism in this dazzling suite of spacious baroque minimalism from 1979. Produced with the assistance of Peter Baumann, Roedelius broadens his focus as a traditional composer and displays ample musicianship with an eclectic array of instrumentation: flutes cellos, pianos and harpsichords, steering away from the abstracting qualities of the sequencers and processors normally employed in his main group. There's a carnivalesque playfulness to the tracks here, suggesting carousels and waltzes, penny arcades, and street performers, but with a refined restraint that evades schmaltz. Like the perfect accompaniment to a Resnais film, each piece is a delightful handmade miniature strung together in a labyrinthian web.

Survive - s/t LP

Survive - s/t LP (Holodeck)

Our Review:

Here's the much needed reissue of the eponymous Survive LP, first published in 2013 and before the Austin outfit had an inkling they would be making such a big splash with the Stranger Things soundtrack. Survive mines a brooding alien proggy sound that comes close to early Cluster, Klaus Schulze and Conrad Schnitzler through synth-heavy arpeggiations, skittery beats and ghostly melodies with killer hooks. It's an awesome record that shows the fledgling sound of this evolving outfit still more fully realized then most veteran practitioners.

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.

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.

Raymond Scott - Manhattan Research Inc. 3xLP

Raymond Scott - Manhattan Research Inc. 3xLP (Music On Vinyl)

Our Review:

The academic eggheads that congregate around the musical institutions of the globe have from time to time tried to bring elements of whimsical pop to the sonic weirdness of musique concrete and the electronic oscillators that have continued to gyrate since the 60s. For the most part, the experiments meshing pop & academic New Music have been pretty lame, but not those of Raymond Scott. The Manhattan Research Inc is a double cd which collects the "new plastic sounds and electronic abstractions" from Scott's idiosyncratic work from the 50's & 60's, which included space-age ditties for commercials and oddball electronic noodling. As weird as the 60's space electronics from Dick Hyman / Command Records, yet just as complex as Tod Dockstader or Vladimir Ussachevsky, but with Scott's previous work with Carl Stalling scoring cartoons, these recordings retain a solid grasp on the intrinsically catchy pop jingle. Top it all off with commercial voice-overs for detergent and chewing gum for a wonderful collection of electronic esoterica. It should also be noted that, if you didn't know any better, on first listen, there's a good chance you would mistake this for a Tape Beatles or Negativland record!

Brian Eno & David Byrne - My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts 2xLP

Brian Eno & David Byrne - My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts 2xLP (Nonesuch)

Our Review:

Mixing elements of world, funk, dub and electronic music has for the most part turned out to be a recipe for disaster. All too many have attempted this mix with a glossy shine and a clumsy hand and without fail have produced pretty tepid attempts at cross cultural imagination. From 1979-1980, Brian Eno and David Byrne recorded their take on this fusion, years before it became chic. Of course with just the right kind of careful and talented hands, they were actually able to make those elements come together and create a brand new language. What's so nice about hearing this reissue is how it's both ahead of its time but also so contemporary of the early '80s as well. With moments that bring you back to the bits on early Talking Heads records and with a recording quality so refreshingly raw and primitive. This record was recorded by a large ensemble cast including Bill Laswell who was just then starting his band Material with lots of the same ideas and elements. While not totally related in exact sound, we can totally see how many of today's cross cultural sonic explorers were influenced by this record. There's no doubt these were sounds soaked up by the best hip-hop & electronic producers of the '80s and '90s as well as folks like Animal Collective and Excepeter. Essential.

Ata Kak - Obaa Sima LP

Ata Kak - Obaa Sima LP (Awesome Tapes From Africa)

Our Review:

Wow! This is one of the most ecstatically strange recordings of hip hop dance music we've heard in quite awhile and it is no wonder that its elusive existence was the spark that inspired Brian Shimkovich's Awesome Tapes From Africa blog (and subsequent label) a decade ago. After years of searching for the man behind the music and eventually getting permission for the reissue, Awesome Tapes' hard work does not go unnoticed on this left-field reissue.

Hailing from Ghana, Ata Kak Yaw Atta-Owusu released this cassette in 1994, an awesome tape indeed of homegrown African Hip-house - a hybrid genre of high energy disco, b-boy hip hop and off-kilter rap-singing, that we weren't sure even existed. Only 50 tapes were originally made and out of them, only 3 sold, making its rediscovery that so much more remarkable. Made with a synthesizer, a 12 track recorder and Notator Atari software, Obaa Sima is like no African hip hop we've heard before. Tinny drum machines, fast-paced babble-rapping, helium voiced back-up vocals, infectious bass grooves and a beamed-in-from-outer-space soulfulness that somehow makes this all work. Seriously, it's as much fun as the craziest Bollywood disco stuff. Get in on this party train! Super recommended!!

Raime - Quarter Turns Over A Living Line 2xLP

Raime - Quarter Turns Over A Living Line 2xLP (Blackest Ever Black)

Our Review:

This duo of Joe Andrews and Tom Halstead, aka Raime, have conjured up this strange and mysterious slab of dark brooding black energy that's equal parts minimal electronica, bleak black ambience, abstract techno and avant sound design. Casting electro-doom plod as stripped down electronic skitter Raime remind us of Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore, creating heaving slabs of rumbling crumbling blackened heaviness. At the same time, there's an industrial menace that could sound like Wolf Eyes if they were commissioned to score for an orchestra. The mutant strains of dub and jungle transform into creeping expanses of sinister stutter and stretching dubstep bass that warble into haunting sprawls of cinematic menace.

The record almost plays out like a soundtrack or score, the various pieces blurring into one another that are still sonically linked through a unifying blackened noise-drone. Distant keening melodies are laced with shards of grinding glitch and underpinned by ominous chordal thrumming. The vibe is dark and doomy, subtly rhythmic and a little bit dubby. Quarter Turns Over A Living Line remains a classic album of superbly rendered black-dub, while also being harsh and inhospitable.

Grotto - Grotto II: Wait, No Hurry LP

Grotto - Grotto II: Wait, No Hurry LP (Kranky)

Our Review:

The tracks on The Man Who Died In His Boat were recorded during the same sessions as Dragging A Dead Deer, which has long been viewed as the watershed album for Grouper's transformation into an icon of DIY drone-rock etherealism. Not surprisingly, The Man Who Died In His Boat feels like a long lost twin. While she still employs the waves of foggy reverb and layered far away voices, there is a reappearance of fully formed songs and a sheen of less-filtered clarity. Both records are informed by key childhood memories, this one by a discovery with her father of beached sailboat and their speculation about the man who disappeared sailing it. The ocean roar, the swelling waves of reverberant sound and the far away sadness of acoustic sea shanties pour throughout the release creating a moving hypnotic spell which invariably holds us helpless in its grasp. Beautiful!

Felicia Atkinson - Hand In Hand 2xLP

Felicia Atkinson - Hand In Hand 2xLP (Shelter Press)

Our Review:

Hand In Hand begins and ends with the support of two stately institutions of avant-garde electronic music. The French polyglot Félicia Atkinson began composing this album while in residence at EMS in Stockholm in 2016; and upon completion of the work, she exhibited a seven hour extended version the following year at GRM in Paris. Lucid, yet cracked, Hand In Hand emerges as an enchanting fever-dream of telepathic thought, disconnected desire and acute emotion which all expand from a myriad of appropriated and detourned texts.

In years past she first began recording under the moniker Je Suis Le Petit Chevalier, whose droning plainsongs paralleled those of Natural Snow Buildings and Motion Sickness Of Time Travel. The somnolent ambience of her first fruits has gradually slipped away amidst an intimate, idiosyncratic hybrid of spoken text, deconstructed electronica and hypnotic abstractions. Where there once were songs buried under six feet of snow, there are now asymmetrical sounds upon which balance Atkinson's sibilant whisperings in English. She quotes wholesale from J.G. Ballard, Phillip K. Dick, architectural manuals, instructions on caring for house plants and texts of her own construct. Amidst the elegantly dismal arrangements for rhodes organ motifs (think Dirty Harry) and the filagrees of spluttered waveform table cycles, these texts hang a constellations in the night sky. Infinitely detailed references with their contexts voided through the power of the razor blade. Brilliant.

DJ Shadow - Endtroducing 2xLP

DJ Shadow - Endtroducing 2xLP (Mo Wax)

Our Review:

One of our fave albums and all-time best sellers, Josh "DJ Shadow" Davis' seminal Endtroducing debut. DJ Shadow's masterpiece is a brillant example of hip hop DJ-as-composer, sample-based songwriting, a mostly instrumental suite of songs built entirely from sounds, hooks and grooves sourced from the depths of Shadow's extensive record collection. He didn't invent the idea, of course, but he did do it better than almost anyone before (or after!) him, garnering for himself worldwide fame and heaps of deserved critical praise. It's dark, dramatic, bright, hip-hop, soul, and jazz. It is very accessible. Shadow picked cool samples (like the peculiar Swedish '60s psych-folkster Pugh Rogefeldt or a super-early bombastic b-side from Giorgio Moroder) AND also turned these samples utterly into his own, new music. Music that's groovy and moody and challenging, never all that easy to figure out, and not at all about turntablist hi-jinx or trickery, just about careful listening and the love of all kinds of old LPs!! Cut Chemist, in the liner notes, is quoted as calling DJ Shadow "The King Of Digging" and vinyl collecting/crate digging for sure is celebrated by Endtroducing, from the famous cover shot of the racks in the vast Sacramento shop simply called Records to the grooves reborn within. As Shadow himself put it: "this album reflects a lifetime of vinyl culture". He never topped it and probably never will. Not that anyone else has either!

Wire - Silver / Lead LP

Wire - Silver / Lead LP (Pinkflag)

Our Review:

It's been exacty 40 years since Wire – using the nimble, austere lines of the now-canonical Pink Flag – completely redrew the musical map. To celebrate, the band have released a new album that sounds nothing like their debut, and yet everything like Wire.

Their 15th full-length, Silver/Lead is the latest in a busy and compelling run by the most recent incarnation of the band, now four albums deep with guitarist Matthew Simms, who stepped in following the 2006 departure of founding guitarist Bruce Gilbert. The album offers much of Wire at its singular best – combustible vectors of melody and velocity – but with tracks landing in the three- to four-minute range, the album allows the mature Wire to expand both in space and time, across gnarled bursts of brittle glam, lush keyboard vistas and, throughout, a rich ecosystem of guitars. Throughout, Colin Newman's sparklingly detailed production stays on the moody and slightly fucked side of the psychedelic, a color wheel of processed vocals, flanged drums and textural electronic whorls.

As Wire enter their improbable fifth decade, Silver/Lead serves up a puckish cross-section of their storied history and a map of brand new territory by one of contemporary music's most adventurous outfits.

William Basinski - The Deluge LP

William Basinski - The Deluge LP (Temporary Residence Ltd.)

Our Review:

The Deluge is one of two variations on the same set of tape loops constructed by William Basinski. This body of work being released on vinyl, with a Cascade emerging in a different composition for CD release. Piano and orchestral recordings are the source material embedded onto those tapes, which Basinski colors with the muddled patina of a fictionalized antiquity. It's same deliciously haunted atmosphere that he's produced ever since he released the seminal Disintegration Loops nearly back in 2002. We'd love to believe that he stumbled up a pile of quarter-inch tape from some closet in a forgotten school who had a music program sometime in the '50s and '60s, whose students were only instructed on playing the most elegiac of funeral dirges on the piano. Or at least that's what Basinski's antiquated sounds allude to. It's a soft, contemplative, dreamy composition, all the while keeping true to his woozy melancholia traced with delay, echo, reverb, and drone. So fucking what if we've already heard Basinski present this same technique on every preceding recording? It remains always unnervingly beautiful and spellbinding!

Diamanda Galas - All The Way LP

Diamanda Galas - All The Way LP (Intravenal Sound Operations)

Our Review:

Though Diamanda Galas' new record All the Way is a collection of standards, very few artists could make other people's songs sound so distinctly their own. Using only subdued piano and her expansive, enormous voice, Galas transforms songs popularized by Frank Sinatra and Johnny Paycheck (amongst others) into explorations of timbre and Gothic introspection. There are very few effects added to the piano or her voice post-production, Galas' uncanny vibrato and operatic growl carrying the listener through her longest notes, the occasional echo delay filling the space between words. Despite the difficulty of sometimes understanding the exact words Galas sings, the narratives are instead told through her vocal delivery–the songs' predictable emotional cliches shattered and remolded. Two tracks off All the Way were recorded live, a fact that makes the performances that much more unbelievably stunning. 

Much attention and praise over the decades has rightly been given to Galas' unmistakable voice, but her virtuosic piano playing is almost equally as impressive. Possibly influenced by the jagged-but-fluid style of Thelonious Monk (whose "Round Midnight" is found on All the Way), Galas knows when to lay back, when to bring the hammer down, and when to explode. Moments of dissonant darkness are complimented by gentle touches of feathery jazz chords, which might evolve into something akin to the blues. Especially on "Round Midnight" and "O Death," Galas floats and crashes through motifs, alluding to the listener's sonic expectations before completely destroying them. Her first new record in almost ten years, All the Way is not to be missed by die-hard fans or those new to Diamanda Galas.

Look Blue Go Purple - Still Bewitched 2xLP

Look Blue Go Purple - Still Bewitched 2xLP (Flying Nun)

Our Review:

Look Blue Go Purple blossomed in Dunedin, New Zealand alongside many of the seminal Flying Nun bands (The Chills, The Clean, Bailter Space, etc.) of the mid-'80s. This quintet featured an impressive line-up of eccentric-pop ladies some of whom earned considerable credibility in their other projects. Denise Roughan went on to front the brilliantly shambolic 3Ds, Kathy Bull soon found herself on Xpressway and Norma O'Malley later founded Chug. But here in Look Blue Go Purple, the sound was very much of the quintessential bittersweet jangle-pop. Their strummed minor chords on multiple guitars gave further credence to the aphorism that everybody who bought a Velvet Underground album also started their own band. The vocal harmonies from Roughan, O'Malley and Kath Webster spiral around the rough and ready numbers float with an ethereal haunt that countered the laconic urgency of the arrangements. While Look Blue Go Purple were an all-women band and immensely inspired by the DIY prowess of The Slits and The Raincoats, they were irked to be lumped into the discourse of gender politics. No mere token chicks playing rock and roll with their boyfriends, Look Blue Go Purple were a great band that were prescient what came from Lush and Galaxie 500 and even the Ride-inspired shoegaze band Blind Mr. Jones (thanks to both bands exemplary use of the flute as an accompanying instrument).

The band produced three EPs for Flying Nun in the span of a couple years, then called it quits in 1988. All of the original EPs had become highly collectible; and this anthology marks their first collective return to vinyl.

Selda - s/t LP

Selda - s/t LP (Finders Keepers)

Our Review:

No surprise that the fine folks with impeccable taste at B-Music / Finders Keepers are responsible for this amazing collection of Selda at her best! With a singular voice that demands and grabs your attention with such utter flare, seduction and style, Selda is truly a musical treasure who we're sure will win the ears and hearts of just about anyone who listens. Every song has a rich musical backdrop, perfectly cradling her lovely vocals, with a sound that has no easy genre lines to point to, but that so few have touched on with such perfection. It's psych-rock and glorious pop, it's folk and funk, it's fun and dramatic, it's whatever it wants to be, and it's a collection of songs with absolutely no misses! There is a playfulness in the performances that totally imbue the songs with a rich full color fever that just can't be denied. While some reissues exist more for history's sake or for just a couple cool tracks, this is one of those records that requires repeated listening, and lord knows we have listened to this over and over and over. In some ways we even think of Selda like a Turkish version of Asha Bhosle, with that sort of amazing voice that turns everything it touches into musical magic.

Sand - Golem LP

Sand - Golem LP (Rotorelief)

Our Review:

Sand's first album Golem is an utter classic of ur-folk krautrock recorded back in 1974 with the nascent technology known as Artificial Head Stereo Sound, meant to the expand beyond the quadrophonic. The recording gear was being lugged around by Klaus Schulze who was the man responsible for capturing Sand's album. They were a peculiar band for the whole Kraut scene, as they were drummerless - or mostly so, as a Yahowah 13-ish hippie boogie is tapped out on the album's finale "Sarah". But for the remaining four-fifths of the album, it's just bass, guitar, synth, and voice. The openness of their arrangements served the Artificial Head recording very well (with the results best rendered on headphones, very trippy); but all of these cool tricks would be worthless had Sand's Golem not already been lumbering, lugubrious monster of an album. The sprawling tracks roll in and out of slowly plucked / strummed guitar - like Manuel Gottsching or Gunter Schickert if played at 16rpm. It's sparklingly gloomy avant-folk, with spooky vibes from the synth and horror-laden lyrics uttered by the weirdly mannered vocalist Johannes Vester, whose take on a Cockney slur via Bavaria is most certainly an unconventional approach. It's no wonder that this album was one album that David Tibet obsessed over upon discovering it in Steven Stapleton's record collection. So much so that Tibet not only reissued the album, but reprised Sand's "When The May Rain Comes" on the iconic Current 93 album Thunder Perfect Mind. Probably the closest neighbors to Sand would be the beloved strum-und-drang of German Oak or the weeping fortune telling of Paternoster. Required. Required. Required.

Boards Of Canada - Geogaddi 2xLP

Boards Of Canada - Geogaddi 2xLP (Warp)

Our Review:

For those of you who love the Boards of Canada mellow electronica sound and have committed their debut full length Music Has the Right to Children to memory, here are 66 minutes more of the same delicious recipe: emotional minor-key organ / piano / synth melodies, looped samples of record static imparting an aged, organic patina to the entire album, disembodied voices murmuring, electronic glitches that aren't there for glitch's sake but to bring drama to the narrative of the album, and lush deep s-l-o-w breakbeat rhythms that add a shimmering tension to the music. The Scottish duo's music is still interesting, thankfully not boringly repetitive, and artistically successful. A lovely record.

Boards Of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest 2xLP

Boards Of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest 2xLP (Warp)

Our Review:

Boards Of Canada have never deviated much from what they're best at: well composed and structured melodies that have a worn, warm and warbled sense of nostalgia. Aged library sounds, abstract organic design and educational nature film scores were often the heart of the bands reference points. So it's 2013 and we finally have a brand new record and it's definitely their most mature and complex record to date. While it has certain touchstones that make it sound distinctly like a Boards Of Canada record, the feel overall is much darker, tense and moodier, reading like a score to some environmental science fiction film like Idaho Transfer or Phase IV (or more recently, Beyond The Black Rainbow!). Even the album title and the cover shot (of San Francisco, taken from the Alameda Naval Shipyards) gives off a Soylent Green vibe. The nostalgic quality that permeates the band's sound has a more toxic feel this time around too, as if hearkening back to a place now poisoned, a kind of daylight horror dread.

The opening track, "Gemini" starts out with a crackly filmstrip fanfare like from some old seventies educational film, and that sort of faded, gristly, sci-fi vibe pervades throughout the first track, a dark, blurred, fuzzy field of pulsing synths and ominous atmospheres, it's immediately evident, that the new Boards Of Canada is a much darker beast than the group who brought us the pastoral, autumnal Music Has The Right To Children. Boards Of Canada fuses the old loping, meandering beat driven dreaminess to something a shade darker. Some tracks locked into tranced out smoldering grooves, draped in chiming softly distorted melodies, others, brooding menacingly, some peppered with creepy processed voices, only adding to the seventies creepy sci-fi/horror flick vibe. Others blossom into time-lapse slow motion sprawling expanses of experimental rhythmic textures, shifting dreamily, tonal colors bleeding into each other, woozily prismatic, like the music from some old crumbling, planetarium show. While the old Boards Of Canada sound surfaces throughout, Tomorrow's Harvest, definitely exists in a much bleaker soundworld. These sounds the score to a future world scorched and barren, a world of faded memories of what once was, and what could have been, had it not all gone terribly wrong.

Boards Of Canada - Music Has The Right To Children 2xLP

Boards Of Canada - Music Has The Right To Children 2xLP (Warp)

Our Review:

Having released a couple of obscure singles and a hard-to find full length, Boards of Canada seemed to have come out of nowhere when they made their debut. Named after and inspired by the seventies documentary film company The National Film Board of Canada, this band of Scottish brothers Marcus Eoin and Mike Sandison created one of the first IDM outfits that built off the futuristic electronic and downtempo beatscapery of genre pioneers Autechre and Aphex Twin while infusing their music with a warm, nostalgic and sun-dappled melancholy. It was hard at first to pinpoint what created that distinct nostalgic feeling, because back then not many folks were as clued into the world of library music (essentially instrumental soundtrack music made by private companies for use in commercial and industrial films including the educational-minded National Film Board of Canada) as we are now. Many of the melodies and themes on Music Has the Right to Children seem to be lifted straight from those elementary school educational films, the type that inhabited our childhoods as well. The music gives off a warbled lilting pastoral vibe that prismatizes into a sunburst of kaleidoscopic reverie, evoking memories of hip educational graphics of basic science concepts like geometrical forms, color spectrums and weather patterns that would allude to a larger sense of wonder that we, as adult listeners, no longer seemed to have. How it was made, whether through instrumental musicianship, a sophisticated sampling and filtering process, or a combination of both remains mysterious today. A few years back when the philosophic concept of Hauntology (a past premonition of a future that never was, to put it very simply) was being bandied about a lot with groups like Broadcast & The Focus Group and The Caretaker, many have spoken of this album as a key musical touchstone. It does indeed have a strange quality of being both of and beyond its time, a quality in turn that continues to bedazzle, beguile and bewitch. Essential!

Dead Can Dance - s/t LP

Dead Can Dance - s/t LP (4AD)

Our Review:

Perhaps more so than the revolving door project This Mortal Coil, there was no other band in the '80s that embodied the 4AD sound more so than Dead Can Dance. Their labored, heavily orchestrated songs hinged upon a dark, neo-romantic reading of medieval leitmotifs and Renaissance melody with plenty of Celtic flourishes tossed in for good measure. Firmly linked to the Dead Can Dance sound were the voices of Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry - the former epitomizing an ethereal swoon counterpointed by the latter's exacting baritone. Their first album found the two Australian transplants living in London and showcasing much more of their Australian post-punk roots than on later albums. Gerrard had recorded a couple of singles with her unfortunately forgotten band Microfilm, and Perry had a stint in a band called The Scavengers.

Joy Division and 154-era Wire were the springboard for much of Dead Can Dance's ideas on this album through the bass-driven post-punk songs dappled with spectral guitar work and primitive electronic underpinnings. If it weren't for the instantly recognizable twin vocals from Gerrard and Perry (the latter of whom carries the bulk of this album), Dead Can Dance's debut could be mistaken for anything that would have come out on Factory at that time. Hints of their more well-known orchestrated sound appear on this album in the form of some hammered dulcimers and tribal percussion spiraling around their songs. Altogether, it holds up surprisingly well.

Cocteau Twins - Blue Bell Knoll LP

Cocteau Twins - Blue Bell Knoll LP (4AD)

Our Review:

Cocteau Twins' music creates the same bittersweet comfort as a feather stalk poking out of your pillow, candied anise, a scratchy wool sweater or the smell of your mother's hair. From any era, their sound is quite unmistakable. Their guitars issue luminous wires of platinum that reflect the singular sound of Elizabeth Fraser's vocals. Her vocals are unique, not only because of their their crystal clarity, but her lyrical style that drifts between glossolalia, a baby's earliest utterances and some elfin prayer. Blue Bell Knoll is by no means a departure from previous albums. Their career never involved any sharp turns, but rather a refinement of a sound. What's unique about Blue Bell Knoll is that previous albums were usually fairly dark, lit by dusk or moonlight whereas Blue Bell Knoll exists in a strange sort of joyous, daylight melancholy. The kind of joy that is so overwhelming that it spills into other emotions and brings tears to your eyes.

Cocteau Twins - Heaven Or Las Vegas LP

Cocteau Twins - Heaven Or Las Vegas LP (4AD)

Our Review:

Heaven Or Las Vegas - the 1990 album that marked the creative peak of this ethereal and influential British trio - gets a proper remastered vinyl reissue and it has never sounded better.

This was the last album the band did for indie stalwart 4AD of which the band had a long, genre-defining relationship with throughout the eighties, before they headed for major label territory. The sound had noticeably more polish, sparkle, and shimmer in its production than anything previous, introducing them to a whole new audience. Also very noticeable was that the lyrics of singer Elizabeth Fraser contained actual words instead of the wordless glossolalia that had become one of the band's hallmarks. Not that anyone could really divine any coherent narrative from the lyrics, still, these were big changes for a band that seemed so far removed from outside influences and popular trends. They were really going for something larger here as evidenced in the title, and at the time, it seemed sadly like it was the end of an era, and perhaps it actually was. Yet, we have to say, this record has really grown on us over the years and eventually became one of our favorites. The music swoops and floats as if conjured by the wings of the most lovely and magical birds. Somehow it's at once immensely majestic, deeply comforting and sweetly infectious. Robin Guthrie's glistening guitars and Fraser's voice spiral together effortlessly while Simon Raymonde forms waves of regal bass lines that anchor the proceedings. And its influence stretches far and wide into the ethereal-pop sound of so many recent bands from the past couple of years. Perhaps the band's most fully realized and strongest release in a string of incredible records. Beautiful and highly recommended!

Cocteau Twins - Stars And Topsoil A Collection 2xLP

Cocteau Twins - Stars And Topsoil A Collection 2xLP (4AD)

Our Review:

Finally a good Cocteau Twins collection on vinyl! There has been plenty of anthologies and collections of this ethereal dream pop trio coming out since the band's 1996 break-up. We suspect that is partly to satisfy fans by collecting all the odds and ends the band recorded (they have 4 cds worth of singles and B sides alone), but perhaps also to get more fan influence to pressure the band to finally release their scrapped and abandoned last album. Here's hoping!

Stars and Topsoil is a vinyl reissue of an 18 song compilation originally released on cd in 2000 of the band's picks from their essential 4AD catalog, from Garlands to Heaven Or Las Vegas, including rare ep and single tracks. Diehard fans who already own the records will no doubt have this stuff already, but for new fans or the newly curious, this is as good as a place to start as any. You can hear so many recent artists (Beach House, Gang Gang Dance, Ulrich Schnauss, M83, Sleep Over, Grouper, Ekin Fil, Puro Instinct, to name but a few) in the gauzy DNA strains of this seminal group.

Aphex Twin - I Care Because You Do 2xLP

Aphex Twin - I Care Because You Do 2xLP (Warp)

Our Review:

The mad-scientist of electronica - Richard D. James aka Aphex Twin - released I Care Because You Do in 1995. This album's single "Ventolin" stood as one of the more cantankerous tracks that RDJ had recorded to date. A harsh, tinnitus-inducing squeal permeates the sequencing of clunky rhythms and dum-dum melodies of that single thumbing its noise at everybody who took the whole Intelligent Dance Music thing way too seriously. At the time, the track was a blatant provocation, and after all these years, it still sticks out as a grotesque distortion, with the album moving somewhat like a palindrome around that track - progressing up to that nasty piece of electronics from more stately and subdued tracks before reversing course. One of the tracks that brackets "Ventolin" is the majestic "Icct Hedral" which spirals around an orchestration worked out by Phillip Glass for Aphex Twin, with James girding the cauldron of repetitive woodwinds and strings with his trademarked crunching breakbeats and phase-shifting parametric filter sweeps. The sweaty acid-breakcore track "Come On, You Slags!" is the other bookend to "Ventolin" with more introspective abstractions pooling on either side with plenty of counterpointing rhythmic complexities tossed in for good measure. It was on this record that the Aphex sense of humor - with its broad spectrum from the strange to the village idiot - first came into its own as a unique facet to Aphex Twin's vocabulary. So much of this work still sounds amazing after all these years, and it's also great to see this on vinyl again finally, too!

Drinks - Hermits On Holiday LP

Drinks - Hermits On Holiday LP (Birth)

Our Review:

Drinks sports the angular songwriting one-two punch of Tim Presley (aka White Fence) and the beguiling Welsh chanteuse Cate Le Bon. The result of their collaboration is sheer post-punk perfection. Taking turns on vocals, the interplay between Tim and Cate through these minimal and infectious songs works so well. There is not a wasted note or wasted second on this record. Think of the best parts of Young Marble Giants and Deerhoof coming together, and you might start to get a sense of the vibrant sounds that Drinks create. Art-damaged, punchy and stripped down sounds that ring with an immediacy that is so damn refreshing. Hermits On Holiday also recalls a long and super underrated record that was the only recording by a band named Klang who featured an ex-member of Elastica. If you ever heard that record, No Sound Is Heard, you know the greatness it contained and we were so stoked to finally hear a brand new record that taps into that same sound, and likewise channels early Rough Trade output in all its brilliant post-punk glory. Recommended!

Aeolus - A Retrospective LP

Aeolus - A Retrospective LP (Aloha Got Soul)

Our Review:

Robert "Aeolus" Myers is a composer and performer who began recording new age music in Honolulu, Hawaii in the early 1980s, first performing on Bob Kindler's rare and sought after cassette, Music From The Matrix I and later on his own releases. While living in Hawaii, Myers was a pivotal member of the Hawaiian avant-garde performance arts and modern dance scene, collaborating with numerous dance and theater companies, and often featuring modern dancers in his own live performance. He is also a classically trained bassoonist who performed with the Honolulu Symphony and others.

While the recordings featured here - compiled from his four long out of print solo releases - fall under the umbrella of new age, his experience in the world of classical music and avant-garde theater inform the pieces and elevate them far beyond your standard crystal shop background music. Working with flute, synthesizer and percussion Aeolus at times brings to mind Jon Hassell's Fourth World, the layered repetition of minimalists like Reich and Glass, impressionist composers and even the smoother side of 80s soul. Compiled by the artist himself and Roger Bong of the great Hawaii-centic label Aloha Got Soul, Aeolus: A Retrospective, is a beautiful collection that will appeal to fans of Eno and Iasos alike.

Death And Vanilla - s/t LP

Death And Vanilla - s/t LP (Fire)

Our Review:

Death And Vanilla are a Swedish haunted-pop duo who have found themselves caught in the vortex of retro-futurism circa 1969. On the one hand, they've got a good grip on the baroque psychedelia of the United States Of America, Free Design and even some of the more woolly tracks that Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg produced. On the other, they're keen on the whole library music phenomenon augmenting their songs with plenty of sparkling synths, crackling radiophonic samples, EVP recordings (yes, that is Raymond Cass coming through!) and tripped-out-to-space production tricks that would be right out of the Daphne Oram and Delia Derbyshire playbooks. There's even a track on this album called "Library Goblin"! If you might think all of this seems like the same strategy that Broadcast employed on their highly acclaimed collaborations with The Focus Group back in 2009-2010, you'd be pretty spot on. Even Death And Vanilla's Marleen Nilsson sounds an awful lot like Broadcast's Trish Keenan, with her breathy delivery and unexpected melodies which soar above the monochromatic lullaby of many of the songs. As sacrosanct as it may seem, Death And Vanilla rivals Broadcast in songwriting ability. Their cinematic pop gem "Cul-De-Sac" should be in the running for poptune of 2012 for sure with its complex interweave of harpsichord, vibraphone, fuzzed guitar, strutting basslines and shuffling rhythms all driven by the vocal harmonies. This transitions rather deftly into the far more experimental avant-pop number "Sombambulists" which drifts aptly towards a dreamy headspace of loping basslines and percolating synths all bathed in sound-dissolving reverb. The filmic references also abound on tracks like "The Unseeing Eye" and the aforementioned "Library Goblin" as sublimely revisionist '60s pop numbers with bubbly vibraphones and seductive vocals amidst electronic filigree and charming synth blorp, before disintegrating into an otherworldly interlude of ethereal radio noise and cosmic vibrations. As such, it's a pretty irresistible album for any fan of Broadcast, Ghost Box and Stereolab.

Current 93 - Swastikas For Noddy / Crooked Crosses For The Nodding God 2xLP

Current 93 - Swastikas For Noddy / Crooked Crosses For The Nodding God 2xLP (The Spheres)

Our Review:

Here is the necessary reissue of Current 93's masterpieces Swastikas For Noddy and Crooked Crosses For The Nodding God - two albums that solidified the apocalyptic folk songwriting for David Tibet and company. Tibet's sergeant-at-arms for these sessions was Douglas P of Death In June with the ghostly presence of Steven Stapleton felt through sporadically through the mix; and a rather large cast of characters involved in making what are minimal neofolk albums. Swastikas For Noddy at the time of release in 1988 was quipped as "the pop album" for Current 93. Compared to the Crowleyian chants and nightmarish bricolage of Nature Unveiled and Dogs Blood , this would certainly ring true; but in the light of the entire C93 oeuvre, Swastikas For Nodd is a feral scrabbling of the more baroque orchestrations and arrangements that Tibet would coax out of his musical troupe. Noddy is a British children's character from the mid-century and in the fluid pantheon of godheads that Tibet worked into his cryptic poetry and revelations, Noddy had become a semi-deity which he figured into a canon of his own making alongside Christ, Crowley and Lucifer. It's an absurd declaration; and the whimsy that Current 93 can muster in such jaunty numbers as "Beau Soleil" and "Hey Ho The Noddy Oh" acquire a sinister irony to them. Current 93 offers their version of "Oh Coal Black Smith" which had been a British folk staple dating back to the early 19th Century under the title "The Two Magicians", matching Current 93's then infatuation of Comus with the wild-eyed psych-folk mania and urgent, two-note acoustic guitar strum alongside Tibet's feral vocals.

Crooked Crosses For The Nodding God is an album that originally came out in 1989 on Stapleton's United Dairies, as remixed, restructured and rerecorded versions of many of the songs that went into Swastikas For Noddy. These versions are much more skewed, demented and psychedelic, showing much more of Stapleton's penchant for dislocating the minimal folk arrangements and singsong tunes with warped effects, drones, cloak and dagger. Included here is a version of Current 93's "Looney Runes" with its glam-goth guitar riff and early Alice Cooper vibe, amidst Tibet's freakish chanting. It makes perfect sense to bind these two albums together, with the latter as the lysergic mind-fuck version of the former.

Clipping - Clppng 2xLP

Clipping - Clppng 2xLP (Sub Pop)

Our Review:

The debut from LA noise-hop trio Clipping. (and yeah, the period is part of the name) finds roots in classic hip hop, but augmented with super minimal abstract noise, the sort of stuff you might hear on an RRR comp, think Bastard Noise or Sissy Spacek making a hip hop record and you'd be close. Even more interesting is that the two guys responsible for the music in Clipping. are Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson, might also be known for their stunning score to the Stanley Kubrick conspiracy documentary Room 237, the soundtrack which was released on Death Waltz.

But this is no retro soundtrack. Clppng is twisted noisy weirdness, wild feedback drenched analog skree, squelch drenched gristle, hiss and hum and screech and howl and thrum and buzz, blasts of digital noise wound around low slung beats. From the onset, rapper Daveed Diggs spits rapid fire on devastating "Body And Blood" that rides a grinding industrial beat, with a creepy processed voice 'chorus.' Then "Work Work" surprises (as does much of the record), with its almost dreamy looped glitchy gamelan, that transforms into some low slung low rider booming bass throb. And while at first blush, some of the lyrics sound typically hip hop sexist, dig deeper, and there's way more going on, which is again balanced when Cocc Pistol Cree delivers her bad ass verse. And there are other guests too, King T, Gangsta Boo, Guce and more, but it's the core three who have their sound down. King T's guest verse on "Summertime" is a crusher, especially when the background sound swells into a cloud of alien laser blasts, deep bass thrum, and woozy sonic squiggles. Let's not forget the insanely infuriatingly brilliant "Get Up", where the music is just the sound of an alarm clock, maddening for sure, but then so satisfying when this modulates into a weirdly radio pop chorus. The magic of Clipping. is that it can be so obtuse and difficult, but still so groovy, so hooky, so funky, and so catchy.

The vinyl edition comes in a super swank spot varnish printed gatefold, with an extra lp side, loaded with 100 locked grooves: noisy, distorted, blown out, abstract, dubby, clicky, funky, bloopy, bleepy and pretty much every variation in between.

Carter Tutti Void - f(x) LP

Carter Tutti Void - f(x) LP (Industrial)

Our Review:

That's Nik Void of Factory Floor once again joining the esteemed duo of Cosey Fanny Tutti and Chris Carter, proving that their first collaboration was not just a flippant one-off romp betwixt likeminded technicians; and hopefully, f(x) will be just one of many albums produced by this meeting of minds. As we experienced on the outstanding album of rebooted Chris & Cosey material, Carter Tutti has been exceptionally good as of late; and the insertion of Void into the mix changes that not one bit. If anything the pop quotient from the Carter Tutti productions has been distilled into faint melodies swimming amongst a chemical amalgam of hyper-processed / semi-aqueous sounds that are all suspended upon the girders of an almighty cybernetic whump generated with teethclenched tension. The rhythms begin and end with a chest-rattling pulse that is omnidirectionally nowhere and everywhere - the beat of an underground nightclub whose entrance cannot be found, the hollow-body vibrations from a multitude of car stereos straining at the urgency of those Gas albums from nearly 20 years ago, the chrome-plated precision of perfectly tuned machines purring at 126 bpm. Vocals and guitars from both Void and Cosey lock into place within these rhythms, albeit throughly processed, abstracted, haunted, and disembodied. The amount of details that pop into focus is startlingly dense for an album so overtly minimal, yet the trio effortlessly corral all of the component parts into one hell of a great electronic album.

Can - Unlimited Edition 2xLP

Can - Unlimited Edition 2xLP (Mute/Spoon)

Our Review:

Limited Edition (so-called because originally they only made 15,000 of the LPs when it first came out in 1974) was an album of unreleased bits from Can's recording sessions up to just before Soon Over Babaluma. And now, these "sound polaroids" are remastered and rereleased for us to enjoy once again, in the expanded form of Unlimited Edition! Yay! While other, maybe not-so-legit, Can out-take albums that have been released have sometimes bordered on the unlistenable in terms of recording/production quality, Unlimited Edition maintains the pristinely clear sound of their most notable releases like Ege Bamyasi and Future Days. How engineers Holger Czukay (also Can's bassist) and Rene Tinner got their sound to be this good in the Can studio remains a longstanding mystery; but man, it is eternally impressive! If you follow them as a band, Unlimited Edition seems much different than other albums. It does not lack direction in any way, though the songs seem to be an assemblage of either exercises in different styles of music making (i.e "Ethnic Forgery Series No. 36" - a loose New Orleans-style jazz number or "Cutaway" - a tape-spliced collage piece) or intuitively crafted with more cerebral/artful emphasis in rhythm, synth layers, improv and space. There's much more of a stoney experimental intensity in many of these tracks, leaving those on our other favorite Can albums to sound like crazy, catchy funk jams in comparison. The tracks compiled here are from '68 to '75. Throughout, Unlimited Edition demonstrates Can's intuition and entropic ingenuity balanced by both an incredible sense of form in sound and impressive self-engineering. This is highly highly recommended.

Can - Flow Motion LP

Can - Flow Motion LP (Mute/Spoon)

Our Review:

This is Krautrock at its absolute dreamiest. The three minute track pop ditty "Moonshake" is surrounded by three much longer numbers to create a lush, lifting journey. Suzuki's vocals just merely whisper in and out of the scene as the percussion and organ work itself into a transfixed polyrhythmic atmosphere and becomes balanced again through use of some contant and pulsating bass.

Can - Monster Movie LP

Can - Monster Movie LP (Mute/Spoon)

Our Review:

Monster Movie! This was the 1969 debut LP from The Can, that band of kraut-rockin', Stockhausen-studyin', JB's-lovin, beat-poetry-recitin' hippy freaks. Monster Movie features the unique vocals of Can's original singer, the African American singer Malcolm Mooney and establishes Can's signature style of relentless rhythmic psychedelia with songs such as the 20-minute "Yoo Doo Right" and the urgent groove of "Father Cannot Yell." Along with the Velvets and the Stooges, Can were one of the most advanced groups of the era, and certainly one of the best Krautrock bands. If you've yet to explore the world of Can, you could do a lot worse than starting here.

Can - Future Days LP

Can - Future Days LP (Mute/Spoon)

Our Review:

This is Krautrock at its absolute dreamiest. The three minute track pop ditty "Moonshake" is surrounded by three much longer numbers to create a lush, lifting journey. Suzuki's vocals just merely whisper in and out of the scene as the percussion and organ work itself into a transfixed polyrhythmic atmosphere and becomes balanced again through use of some contant and pulsating bass.

Can - Ege Bamyasi LP

Can - Ege Bamyasi LP (Mute/Spoon)

Our Review:

Can's indispensable fourth album contains some of the group's best-loved and most influential work. Released by United Artists in 1972, Ege Bamyasi offers brittle, propulsive funk-pop and boundless avant-rock in equal measure, offering strong evidence of Can music as a genre unto itself, wholly unlike anything before or since.

The commercial success of the 1971 single (and Ege Bamyasi closer) "Spoon" - used as theme music for the German TV miniseries Das Messer - had allowed Can to move into a disused cinema in the small town of Weilerwist, which they soon converted into a recording facility dubbed Inner Space, and got to work. Ege Bamyasi jumps out of the gate with the taut livewire funk of "Pinch," Jaki Liebezeit's skittering drum beat quickly encircled by the rest of the group as Damo Suzuki's glossolalia coats the track. As the album progresses, Holger Czukay's edits hew closer to pop form than they ever had before, or would again, in sharp contrast to the astronomical sprawl of Tago Mago, the group's mind-rending previous release.

Thankfully, the Can discography has been beautifully served in recent years by Spoon/Mute's closely-supervised reissue series. Ege Bamyasi is the highwater mark of Can music, the most fluent and accessible example of the band's unparalleled march through late 20th century sound.

Stars Of The Lid - The Tired Sounds Of Stars Of The Lid 3xLP

Stars Of The Lid - The Tired Sounds Of Stars Of The Lid 3xLP (Kranky)

Our Review:

The triple LP masterpiece from Austin, Texas' kings of the lullaby drone. Stars of the Lid's sound, while similar to past efforts, has undergone some pretty dramatic changes. Their multi-layered 4-tracked guitars are still present in all their serene beauty and dark tranquility, but the sound is more lush and more detailed. The treated strings, organs, backwards tubular bells and field recordings add even more depth to this already layered and impossible-to-grasp-in-one-listen recording. The Tired Sounds Of Stars Of The Lid is easily the their most obviously melodic record to date, thanks in no small part to the addition of strings, horns and piano. Dreamy nocturnal slow motion drones are the glorious backdrop to the ebb and flow of dark sonic swells and soaring strings. While lots of drone based music sounds sinister, threatening and often clinical, Stars Of The Lid manage to imbue their minimal soundscapes with warmth and a sort of hope and joy. When the mood does change, it's more melancholic, lost, maybe lonely, never evil. So much avant / experimental music is technical and electronic, but the shimmering ambience of the guitars and the grit and grime of the recording, as well as the perfect arrangements make this music transcend its contemporaries, filling your ears with thick slow sound, until it slowly spreads through your whole body. Think Angus Maclise, Terry Riley, Brian Eno, Low, Alan Lamb's wire recordings, Pauline Oliveros' deep listening recordings, John Cale, Godspeed You Black Emperor, the harmonium works of Hermann Nitsch or Tony Conrad. But mix in those magic (non-academic) ingredients (rock background, songs, melodies) and you have probably one of the most beautiful recordings we have ever heard.

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.

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 - Delay 1968 LP

Can - Delay 1968 LP (Mute/Spoon)

Our Review:

The aptly titled Delay was recorded in 1968-1969 with Malcom Mooney on vocals. This is a way more stripped down, raw, proto-punk Can then maybe most folks are used to. Recorded around the same time as White Light / White Heat, this shares the same blistering spirit that The Velvet Underground were exploring across the sea. There's no doubt that Can is a huge influence on so many critical favorites including Circle, No Neck Blues Band, Nurse With Wound, Throbbing Gristle, Radiohead, Tortoise, etc., but listening to Delay you begin to think that Can may just out-rock them all. A year or so before The Stooges would hit the scene, Can were already displaying such raw emotion and all out-rock exuberance, that the world couldn't help but be awed (if they'd heard it). Delay once again demonstrates that no matter what kind of sounds Can were working with they always managed to find the emotional core, and let it seep into every bit of music they made.

Stars Of The Lid - And Their Refinement Of The Decline 3xLP

Stars Of The Lid - And Their Refinement Of The Decline 3xLP (Kranky)

Our Review:

Since their first record Music For Nitrous Oxide from 1995 up to their beloved The Tired Sounds Of Stars Of The Lid from 2001, it's been fascinating to observe their sonic development, from 4-track recordings of murky bedroom guitar drones to their current sound of richly produced, almost orchestral compositions of reverberant swells.

The Stars Of The Lid sound has obviously become much more clear and well defined and polished, much from Nitrous Oxide is still present, albeit in slightly altered form. Stars Of The Lid were always about swells, with the ebbtide of melodies and compositions played out over expansive stretches of oceanic shimmer. Notes aren't just played, they begin as tiny sparkles that gradually grow into thick massive rumbles, before fading away again. Oceanic is definitely an apt descriptor, like some epic dimly lit sonic sea swirling and churning, sometime tranquil and barely moving, other times heaving and tumultuous. It's so completely epic while at the same time managing somehow to be pastoral and contemplative and breathtakingly beautiful.

In the early days it was just 2 guitars and a four track, and the sound reflected that, much more gritty and the mood a lot darker. And only now it seems that the band is able to fully realize the sound they have been hearing, and essentially creating, all along. Stars Of The Lid incorporated guitars here and there. This is after all still the root of their sound, but they seem to be overshadowed by the other instruments, heavy on the strings as well as a surprising arsenal of horns, and a children's choir! And the results are divine. Many of the tracks do sound like bits of modern classical compositions stretched out into languorous stretches of muted drone and subtle shimmer, like watching the planets from outer space, observing the epic drifts of solar systems and an infinity of cosmic interactions. Others definitely reference more earthly sonic treasures, such as "Apreludes (In C Sharp Major)" which has some serious Morricone going on, and "Don't Bother They're Here" references Scott Tuma's washed out guitar work in Souled American. But whatever subtle flavor is introduced into each track, the sound is definitely and distinctly Stars Of The Lid. Their shift to a triple LP also seems to suit them, allowing their slow burning soft swell compositions plenty of time to sprawl and spread and evolve into epic and soul stirring soundscapes.

Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society - Simultonality LP

Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society - Simultonality LP (Eremite)

Our Review:

Simultonality is the fourth fully-realized album from Joshua Abram's Natural Information Society, and while it continues down the path tread by its predecessors, it's a truly remarkable record in and of itself. Simultonality is Abrams' strongest declaration of purpose yet, presenting his vision of ecstatic minimalism with striking clarity.

For more than 25 years, Abrams has played with everyone from tenor icon and AACM co-founder Fred Anderson to the Roots. Also, his hands are in seemingly every important Chicago post-rock project in between. He was in Sam Prekop's band, played on a milestone early Tortoise EP and was a member of Town And Country. Despite this breadth of experience, the focus of the Natural Information Society project has been nothing but consistent. In this platform, Abrams weaves his experience in experimental rock groups, study of postwar American composition, and training in jazz and North African trance-music traditions into an intricate array of continuously collapsing patterns of sound. You wouldn't be wrong to call this music meditative, but you'd be remiss to not also mention its relentless, momentous pulse. Early in his career, Steve Reich famously borrowed from traditional African musics. Simultonality strips from American minimalist music any sheen of secular, academic sterility and returns it to the source, albeit delivered by a furious motorik beat.

On most of these tracks Abrams plays a ceremonial instrument of the Gnawa of North Africa, the guimbri. The first Natural Information Society album to be recorded with a regular band, Simultonality also features guitarist Emmet Kelly, who Abrams has played with in the Cairo Gang and with Bonnie "Prince" Billy, and harmonium player Lisa Alvarado, whose paintings are hung to accompany performances by the group. One of those paintings has been reproduced for the album's cover, beautifully silkscreened by Alan Sherry of SIWA. Pressed on heavyweight vinyl by RTI, in a limited edition of 825 copies.

Children Of Alice - s/t LP

Children Of Alice - s/t LP (Warp)

Our Review:

It's been 6 years since Trish Keenan's shocking untimely death and we have about lost all hope for any posthumous Broadcast release (their various tour-only releases and remixes of other groups have sadly yet to be anthologized). Yet, what we do have finally is this first widely-released foray into a post-Broadcast sound-world made by surviving member and partner James Cargill, former Broadcast keyboardist Roj Stevens and Ghost Box founder Julian House, also of The Focus Group. Like a counterpoint to the group's final release, Broadcast And The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of The Radio Age, Children of Alice channel a mesmerizing sound-world of curious wonder through four labyrinthine tracks. Plundering down the rabbit hole through radio-phonic textures, eldritch mystery and dreamy hypnotic electronics, the effect of this new project is toward a different kind of life-altering endgame than the dark turns and consequences of the previous Broadcast release. Instead, it seeks a mirroring lightness, a ghost chase in the form of bittersweet memories of innocence being brought to life in refracting crystalline hues. A beautiful tribute to one of our most missed fallen treasures.

Byron & Gerald - Unity LP

Byron & Gerald - Unity LP (Eremite)

Our Review:

To put it simply, Unity is a monster of a record. The first album recorded under Byron Morris and Gerald Wise's leadership, this legendary blast of liberated fury was originally privately released in 1972 on the artists' own E.P.I. Records. Unavailable in any format since, Eremite has finally brought us the gorgeous reissue this album deserves.

Recorded over two days at Howard University in 1969, Morris and Wise play with frenetic and inspired abandon. Unity also features incendiary playing from percussionist Keno Speller and his regular sparring partner Byard Lancaster, fresh from making his Vortex debut and a rejected session for ESP, along with an assortment of rarely-recorded local players from DC. Eric Gravatt rounds the group out on the drum kit, but whereas his playing in the 1970s with Wayne Shorter and various icons of the Japanese jazz scene blurred the line between bop and fusion, the pummeling he lays down here is decidedly avant garde.

The first of two side-long tracks, "JWM+53" opens with lyrical playing that recalls "Lonely Woman," but Ornette's ballad is all about longing and his playing of it plaintive and tender, whereas this piece seizes all that possibility and liberates its passion in the name of an anarchic new order. "Black Awareness" is even more powerful: amplified and tuned percussion reminiscent of Marzette Watts "Backdrop for Urban Revolution" sets the scene before crashing tidal swells of drums wash it out to sea, carried away by a righteous storm of trumpet and saxophones.

This reissue is limited to 550 copies. Pressed on heavyweight vinyl by RTI, with an insert featuring Byron Morris' newly penned liner notes screenprinted by Alan Sherry of SIWA.