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March 20, 2014

special announcement

BOOGARINS IN-STORE PERFORMANCE AT OTHER MUSIC

MONDAY,  MARCH 24 @ 8PM

Free Admission | All Ages |  Limited Capacity | Facebook Invite

Obviously we're biased, but Boogarins really blew our minds at SXSW last week, and we were not alone in that feeling -- the kids from Brazil got a lot of love in Austin, including from Jon Pareles of the NY Times, who wrote about them in his ArtsBeat blog and again in the paper, and check out this live feature in the Austin Chronicle. That was the start of a massive world tour that has the band at Burgerama this weekend, Psych Fest in May, Primavera, and a ton of other amazing shows, including a couple next week in New York. Boogarins' NYC debut is this Monday, March 24, at 8 p.m. in an in-store performance right here at Other Music!

BOOGARINS AT GLASSLANDS W/ VERTICAL SCRATCHERS

TUESDAY,  MARCH 25

Glasslands: 289 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn

Then on Tuesday, March 25, Boogarins play Glasslands Gallery in Brooklyn with Vertical Scratchers. Tickets are on sale here, and we have a pair of tickets to give away too -- just email enter@othermusic.com for your chance to win!


MAC DEMARCO IN-STORE PERFORMANCE

THURSDAY, MARCH 27 @ 8PM

All Ages | Limited Capacity
Facebook Event Invite

Come join us as we'll be celebrating Mac DeMarco's new album, Salad Days, a few days before its actual April 1 release date. Mac will be playing a solo, acoustic in-store at Other Music on Thursday, March 27th at 8:00 p.m. Please note: due to overwhelming demand from his upcoming sold out show at Webster Hall, we'll only be able to guarantee entry to the first 80 people who pre-order the album with us at the shop or on-line here -- one admission per purchase. (You'll be able to pick up your pre-order on the evening of the performance.) We'll also be selling the record early on this night only before its official release date on April 1st.

in this week's update

FEATURED NEW RELEASES

Anna von Hausswolff (Limited LP)
Ekoplekz
The War on Drugs
Perfect Pussy
Cut Hands (2 LPs)
Efdemin
Donato Dozzy & Nuel
Voices from the Lake
Tycho
Metronomy
Sid Selvidge
Bent Wind
Josefus
Unwound (3LP Box Set)
STL
Weekend (12" EP)
Axxa/Abraxas
Axemen
Lyrels (Cassette)
HCrink (Cassette)
 

ALSO AVAILABLE

Sufjan Stevens & Cat Martino (Flexi)
Christopher Tignor
Aloe Blacc
Kangding Ray
Bryce Dessner & Jonny Greenwood

 

NOW ON VINYL

Arthur Russell (World of Echo)


announcement

WIN TICKETS TO WARPAINT

FRIDAY, MARCH 21

Webster Hall: 125 E. 11th St. New York, NY

2014 has been an incredible year for Warpaint thus far. Their acclaimed, self-titled sophomore album has been nothing less than a breakthrough for these four women who now return to NYC to play a sold-out show this Friday at Webster Hall, with Cate Le Bon opening the night. If you missed out on tickets, you've still got a chance to catch the performance, as we're giving away a pair. Email contest@othermusic.com for your chance to win.
 


TICKET GIVE-AWAY TO HOW TO DRESS WELL & FOREST SWORDS

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26

Le Poisson Rouge: 158 Bleecker St. New York, NY

Other Music is giving away a pair of tickets to this great bill next week at Le Poisson Rouge presented by PopGun, featuring the haunting and atmospheric electronic pop sounds of How to Dress Well and Forest Swords. Email enter@othermusic.com for your chance to win!
 


WIN TICKETS TO TERRY RILEY & GYAN RILEY

SUNDAY, MARCH 30

Le Poisson Rouge: 158 Bleecker St. New York, NY

On Sunday, March 30, Minimalist purveyor Terry Riley will be performing with his son Gyan at Le Poisson Rouge, and Other Music is giving away a pair of passes to the show! Email tickets@othermusic.com for your chance to win tickets to this very special night.
 

this week's update

ANNA VON HAUSSWOLFF
Källan (Prototype)
(Touch)

It's been well over a year since Anna von Hausswolff's epic Ceremony LP was first issued in Sweden, and with a North American release on our own Other Music Recording Co. last July and a European release on City Slang, as well as an ongoing world tour, it's been a while since we've heard any new music from her. She is currently working on a proper follow-up to that breakthrough album, but between tours Anna's restless muse has also seen her exploring everything from fine arts and architecture to improvisational collaborations, and here, on this limited 12" EP from Touch, avant-classical sound composition.

Recorded in the UK last October, live at Lincoln Cathedral as part of a performance series presented by Touch at the Frequency 13 Festival, Källan (prototype) is a sketch of a longer orchestrated piece that Anna has written. This spare composition builds slowly over the course of the record, relying on the powerful pipes of the Cathedral's massive organ, and in the thoughtful recording by Mike Harding -- the natural ambiance of the room and the ambient audience sounds, from the harsh interruption of an errant cough to the collective breathing of a spellbound crowd, is reminiscent at times of Nils Frahm's recent live recordings on his Spaces LP. If you are looking for more of Ceremony's intensely beautiful gothic pop, you won't find it here, but Anna's organ playing is unmistakable, and for those with an ear open to more experimental soundscapes and classical composition, this is a truly beautiful LP. Limited to 500 copies worldwide (and already sold out through Touch), vinyl-only, with artwork and photography by Jon Wozencroft, and a pretty cool locked-groove at the end of side one. [JM]

$15.99 LP


EKOPLEKZ
Unfidelity
(Planet Mu)

In a word: WOW. Producer Nick Edwards delivers what is arguably his finest release to date as Ekoplekz with the new Unfidelity for Planet Mu. Combining a dark post-punk aesthetic with classic British early electronic music influences, this album creeps and throbs like the bastard lovechild of early Cabaret Voltaire and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, fusing techno rhythms and musique concrète sampling techniques with a shadowed, menacing dread. There's a wonderfully vivid attention to texture and tone on Unfidelity, with Edwards expertly blending more raw and shadowy greyscale lo-fi aesthetics with bright shots of light and color. The album somehow manages to unintentionally chart a neglected history of DIY electronic invention, beginning with the primitive sampling techniques of musique concrète radiophonics, touching upon German psychedelic classicist meditations, moving through the industrial brutalism of the punk era (one track is even named after punk electronicist Robert Rental!), and into the heady negative spaces of dub techno.

Edwards has a keen but perverse way with melodic elements, never quite laying them out in the open, but rather pouring acid and paint onto them until they become some form of mutant scientific monstrosity as depicted on the album's brilliant Zeke Clough cover art. It's been a long time since an electronic record has captured my senses as fully and drunkenly as Unfidelity has; it's simultaneously familiar and yet unsettlingly alien, its eleven tracks full of surprises. Unfidelity's drones, dubs, and dreamstates fully deliver for fans of quality electronic music-- it's the rare album that can satisfy both ambient drifters and nasty beat heads. Absolute highest recommendation on this one, folks. It's on my shortlist for 2014's best records. [IQ]

$14.99 CD
$22.99 2LP


THE WAR ON DRUGS
Lost in the Dream
(Secretly Canadian)

Of the last War on Drugs record, we opined that songwriter Adam Granduciel, armed with a scuffed and battered suitcase filled with vintage guitar pedals and a nasal twang, had tapped into a most sacred and almighty heartland rock and roll vein. Petty, Springsteen, Dylan, and Twilley all leapt to mind when we cued up Slave Ambient, as well as Lindsey Buckingham, Can, those earliest and best My Morning Jacket albums, and Granduciel's former War on Drugs band mate, Kurt Vile. But where Vile's records can feel like a parade of gray clouds across the sky, Granduciel lives for that moment when a kingly ray of sun pierces those clouds to reveal streaks of blue and fiery orange. Lost in the Dream is an ecstatic rock album, filled with songs that roll like thunder until they explode into color. Production-wise, the record shares DNA strains with that gloriously clean 1970s style of rock and roll production, the kind that seemed to emanate like magic from the fingers of Jeff Lynne and Buckingham. "Dreaming" is the most Springsteen-esque, with some well-placed howls, lyrics about rivers flowing and being dead to rights, and glittering keyboards that recall "Dancing in the Dark." "Suffering" is a bruising breakup lament woven into a drunkard's alleyway shuffle and some seriously heavy grand piano. This joint sounds tremendous at full volume, and I'm sure chugging rockers like "An Ocean in Between the Waves" sound just as good during morning subway commutes as they do while accompanying long stretches of wide-open highway. [MS]

$12.99 CD ON SALE
$19.99 2LP


PERFECT PUSSY
Say Yes to Love
(Captured Tracks)

Well, here it is, the debut album from Syracuse dynamos Perfect Pussy, the band that drove Rolling Stone to put together a Top 10 Cassette Releases list for 2013. They have sass for days, a live show that'll break your spine, and everyone is all over them in every way imaginable. Should you be as well?

Reviews of this group tend to get polemical, so I'll say my piece -- no one should mistake this for a punk band, or a hardcore band, but that's alright. You mostly hear those terms from people outside of either punk or hardcore, who want those genres to be more like the music Perfect Pussy is making. There's some truth in that -- neither punk nor hardcore has necessarily advanced since their inceptions, nor were they ever expected to. Bands tend to use elements of those genres in their own music as a latent influence, or coloring of a different sound, but even here that is a stretch. Still, given the energy put forth by Perfect Pussy, their challenging attitudes and their willingness to engage with the press on any number of personal issues, they embody the outspoken, dissatisfied scrawl that drove punk in its beginnings, and they have become the kind of band that is all things to all people. Not bad for a group that really just got going last summer!

And to get honest, this band is pretty damn good, and shows a lot of promise for their future. The handful of you who rode for PP vocalist Meredith Graves' former group, Shoppers, know what to expect from her end: brutal truths about her life and the experiences around her, spelled out in harsh and vibrant terms. She's put down her guitar to focus on singing, so the discordant factors in this band have to come from elsewhere, namely the pitch of her voice, the noise machines of electronics guy Shawn Sutkus, and the rather murky production on Say Yes to Love, which transposes the TV interference of their four-song cassette with layers of hiss and what sounds like a film projector flickering in the background. As for the rest of the band, they are surprisingly bright and poppy, playing like Velocity Girl on 45, all clean, jangling guitars and spirited rhythm. They race through seven songs (and hang out in back for the noise collage closer) with all of the speed and aggression you've heard about, and drive Say Yes to Love through the gate, not waiting for it to open. Check it out! [DM]

$12.99 CD ON SALE
$15.99 LP


CUT HANDS
Volume 3
(Dirter)

Finally!! William Bennett's Cut Hands project returns with two new LPs featuring the first vinyl release of tracks from his 2012 sophomore CD, Black Mamba, fresh edits of his singles for Downwards and Blackest Ever Black, and some brand new pieces never before released anywhere. Black Mamba was a big leap forward for the Cut Hands project, giving Bennett's Afro Noise and pummeling hand-drum ritual beats a bit more breathing room; that trend continues here, offering a blend of relentless kineticism, crushing sonic textures, and more ambient washes. Volume Three includes four tracks taken from earlier releases; "Krokodilo Theme" and "Madwoman" are new versions of tracks previously featured on out-of-print 12"s from the Blackest Ever Black and Downwards labels, while "Erzulie D'en Tort," "No Spare No Soul," and "Witness the Spread of the Dream" are taken from the aforementioned Black Mamba CD, pressed on vinyl for the first time. [IQ]

$27.99 LP


CUT HANDS
Volume 4
(Dirter)

Volume Four of Cut Hands' Afro Noise LPs compiles music from Bennett's recent CD and 12" releases, many of which are seeing their first vinyl pressing. "Black Mamba," "El Palo Mayombe," "54 Needles," "Nzambi Ia Ngonde" and "Nine-Night" are culled from 2012's Black Mamba CD, and are getting their first taste of vinyl mastering, while "Eat Them Like Bread," "River Mumma" and "Inchantment" are new versions of cuts from his recent out-of-print 12"s on Downwards and Blackest Ever Black. I'm not choosing favorites here because, let's face it, if you want one of these, you're going to also want the other. Bite the bullet and pick both of them up; the project remains to be one of the best, most engaging of the current shadowed industrial techno/beat production scene, not to mention the best work of Bennett's long-controversial career. If you like your drums dirty and dark, and your synths serrated and raw, you need these. [IQ]

$27.99 LP

EFDEMIN
Decay
(Dial)

Efdemin (a/k/a Phillip Sollmann) has dropped a gorgeously unique album for us to sink our teeth and minds into, one of his absolute best yet. Recorded in his Berlin studio and completed in Kyoto while attending an artists residency for a forthcoming film project with Hanne Schwartz, Decay is unapologetically lean, tightly focused, warm and throbbing techno fraught with effortlessly elegant sound choices and an unhurried sense of development. These are tracks built for the club but with sound design and structure that is focused on distilling a unique moment -- a point of utter, introspection and clear focus. Turning away from expectations and squarely towards the dance floor, the sole maxim seems to be doing it precisely on his own terms. Sollmann has effectively brought techno that offers higher experience, as the tracks have a strange and wonderfully unique proportion of depth to energy: enough force to be qualified unquestionably as techno but with an uncluttered and non-soporific depth that still leaves room for thought. This, plus imagination-grabbing atmospheres aided by mysterious and distant drone elements, warm bass, earthy scrapes and the analog details and texture of contemporary club music, are tightly and thoughtfully woven without being strangulated while also being paced in a way that leaves room to breathe. While fans may argue that these qualities apply to most all of Sollmann's output, it must be said that the results found here are uniquely successful.

From the start, album opener "Some Kind of Up and Down Yes" makes the mission clear: a round, dry, assertive (yet softer than expected) bass kick, a lilting drone and a wet, almost-whistling hi-hat instantly yet gently drives our attention to the track at hand without doubt or hesitation. This uniquely gentle urgency continues with the rumbling "Drop Frame," the quietly massive "Transducer," and even the tropical Robert Hood meets M. Vainio of "Solaris." A dose of house elements arrives in "Track 93," with its vocal refrain of "I've got a love, love, love, right here..." but slowly and surely gains momentum. More familiar chime-laden Dial house comes in "Parallaxis," with its undulating bells and the stomping/snapping house of "The Meadow." These are at once beautifully colored swaths of deep techno, very visual in nature (almost suitable for framing!), but the sounds of Decay invariably hit the listener deep in the brain, (deep in the temporal lobe to be exact), eliciting pleasure and insight all at the same time. By album's end we are reminded to consider music with more than just our ears as we hear the repeating phrase "...music, touching music, touching muuuusic." Another top of the year record here. [SM]

$29.99 2LP


DONATO DOZZY & NUEL
The Aquaplano Sessions
(Spectrum Spools)

Finally, Donato Dozzy and Nuel's infamous Aquaplano Sessions receive a wide release on Spectrum Spools after being issued in limited edition on the now-defunct Hardwax-affiliated Aquaplano label in 2008-'09. In retrospect, these sessions appear remarkably out of tune with more general developments within techno at the time, but have become hugely influential since they started circulating. Harking back to slower, dub techno templates from the late 1990s, the introduction of tribal rhythms and heavily textured psychedelic soundscapes make way for a hypnotic strand of techno that is as functional as it is heady. Hinting at hazy after hours with bodies slowly moving in unison on the dance floor, there is a sense of understated grandeur to these utterly efficient, minimal deployments of the basic parameters of techno. Doing away with traditional harmonic and melodic developments, however, results in this case in a refreshing reversal of musical clichés, leaving a bare trance-inducing residue instead.

The outcome is eight monotone, absorbing tracks that combine drones with throbbing bass and acidic textures. There's no need to detail individual cuts here, as that might ruin the surprise of listening, but when halfway through the record a beatless ambient track interrupts the seamless, hypnotic flow, the effects are as massive as when the same relentless beat is reintroduced in the next track. Mesmerizing, floating, always in flux, Donato Dozzy and Nuel (a/k/a Manuel Fogliata) are aiming for nothing less than transcendence here, and finding it. [NVT]

$14.99 CD ON SALE
$29.99 2LP


VOICES FROM THE LAKE
003
(The Bunker New York)

For its third release in little over a month, the newly established The Bunker record label (from the renowned New York club institution) presents the first full release by Voices from the Lake since their stellar full-length album from 2012. On that initial record, the Italian duo of Donato Dozzy and Neel masterfully crafted a state of hypnotic lushness with a strong sense of narrative flow, using the most minimal means at their disposal. Displaying an immaculate sense of timing, the result was one of the most enthralling, balanced, and purified techno records of recent years, in which the introduction of something as subtle as a steady kick drum twenty minutes into the album created a sensory earthquake. Although their ambitious scope and decisive purposefulness gets somewhat lost on the inevitably more restricted 12’ format, Velo di Maya nevertheless offers a captivating listen.

Originating from a 6-hour long Bunker performance in 2012, Dozzy and Neel have produced three live studio tracks based on the organizers’ favorite segments. Opener “Velo di Maya” sets the tone with a slowly evolving groove in which fluid and pulsating textures are gleefully played off against one another. “Sentiero” highlights flickering and metallic sounds guiding fluctuating, deep pulsations, while “Respiro (live edit)” offers an altogether more linear affair with dark, psychedelic overtones. With this new 12’, Voices from the Lake shed new light on their inner workings, revealing more club-oriented sensibilities. The result feels more like an in-between release than a fully-fledged statement. This is by no means a point of critique, of course, it simply feeds our curiosity, as we are more than eager to find out what their next steps will be. [NVT]

$12.99 12"


TYCHO
Awake
(Ghostly International)

Scott Hansen has been making hazy, beautiful techno records for close to ten years, and his 2011 Ghostly LP, Dive, was a bit of a commercial breakthrough, but in some ways his long-running Tycho project has only fully come into its own on Awake. Without losing the ticklish grooves or dreamy Boards of Canada moods he has been perfecting over the past decade, Hansen has expanded the group into a proper three-piece band, and the meticulously layered live guitar, drums and programmed electronics breathes new life into Tycho's sound, creating something fresher, more original and engaging than any other LP is his long career. The sound is still classic Tycho through and through, but the expanded instrumentation gives Hansen the tools to mix things up creatively, from true ambiance to post-rock, without ever abandoning the Balearic heart of Tycho's sound. [JM]

$12.99 CD ON SALE
$15.99 LP


METRONOMY
Love Letters
(Elektra)

Every Metronomy album sounds like a completely different rendering of the same songwriting talent. Could this even be argued? Joseph Mount's knack for crafting heartfelt, dizzying melodies are totally baked into the Metronomy sound (witness how certain riffs from his debut laptop record Pip Paine crept into the art-pop of 2011's masterful The English Riviera), and as the worldview of his band continually steps backwards, from cut-up electronica at the outset, to the exuberant early-'80s dance floor workout of Nights Out, to the stately Roxy Music-isms of The English Riviera, and now to dustbin pop, radiophonic experiments and Peter Max-colored late-'60s/early-'70s UK psych/bubblegum on Love Letters, his signature remains indelible.

Love Letters shares with those earlier albums the sense of discovery that comes with two or three really in-depth listens, and in this case the first two tracks (including first single "The Upsetter") sound like the comedown from The English Riviera, before the heavy atmosphere of muted percussion, an army of analog synths, and harpischord majesty close in on "Monstrous," sprightly even through all that darkness. Metronomy's reliance on the keyboard is all over this record, diversifying in ways not expected -- bouncy, upright piano mayhem on the title track, wet funk synth-bass on "Boy Racers," the ye-ye bubblings of "Reservoir," the digital horn section of "Call Me" -- and all of it colors this album in dark pastel hues, Mount's dark side getting the better of him even through all the window dressing. It's another great statement from a band that refuses to sit still. [DM]

$13.99 CD
$22.99 LP


SID SELVIDGE
The Cold of the Morning
(Omnivore)

Longtime Memphis scenester, musician and singer-songwriter Sid Selvidge passed away of cancer late last year, sadly before the reissue of this, his greatest solo masterpiece, could see the light of day again. Selvidge was a key, if under-known, part of that fertile Memphis renegade set that included the likes of legendary producer Jim Dickinson, photographer William Eggleston (who took the portrait on the cover of this LP), and Alex Chilton. His first album, recorded at Ardent, came out in 1969 on Stax subsidiary Enterprise, and while it's a lovely and somewhat underrated record, it rather pales in comparison to its follow up, 1975's Cold of the Morning. Sadly, no label expressed interest in the LP, which ultimately led to the formation of Selvidge's own Peabody imprint, that in addition to releasing his own albums would also notably put out Alex Chilton's solo debut.

I've long loved, loved, loved this record, but in some ways it's not a surprise that he had a hard time releasing this, as the sounds and songs herein have way more to do with the Greenwich Village folk boom of the early to mid '60s (a la Fred Neil, Tim Hardin, Vince Martin, Jackson C. Frank, Karen Dalton, et al.) than anything au courant in '75. Selvidge's rendition of coffee house standards like "Shake Sugaree," "Boll Weevil" or "Lazarus" are as deeply affecting as any those masters ever put to tape, and his performances of certain songs you thought you could live without ever hearing again become positively compulsive listening. With the high notes he has the loveliest tremolo imaginable, and the low ones are perfectly raspy and lived in. Selvidge got about as close to the folkstream as an individual can get with Cold of the Morning, crafting an album that I have quite literally never tired of after years of listening. Including six bonus tracks, Omnivore (Gene Clark, Townes Van Zandt) has done the world a great service here by rereleasing this masterpiece of folk song. [MK]

$15.99 CD
$19.99 LP+MP3


BENT WIND
Sussex
(Ugly Pop)

Rightly hailed as one of the best and heaviest Canadian psychedelic albums ever, Bent Wind's Sussex has had a far weirder trip than LPs from contemporaries like the Plastic Cloud or Reign Ghost. While all of those records have been bootlegged over the years, for some reason the Bent Wind album has undergone various alterations, with tracks added, new LP covers created and sequences adjusted on many of the gray area editions. Thankfully, new Canadian reissue label Ugly Pop has restored the record to its original running order and cover, and you can now hear the album as first issued in all of its murky, fuzzy glory.

I originally became aware of the band in the early days of the Forced Exposure mailorder catalog and Vermonster's cover of the song "The Lions." As over the top as their version was, it still didn't really prepare me for how unique and amazing Sussex is, but when you hear singer/guitarist Jerry Gibas shout, "The lions serve us all, get stoned!" and then go into crazed guitar runs, it isn't hard to see how a bunch of kids who were jamming to Guided by Voices and Sebadoh found this record from twenty years earlier speaking to them in a major way.

Murky and fuzzy are definitely the key words here, as nothing is in sharp focus but the songwriting and playing are top notch. Album opener "Touch of Red" sets the tone with what sounds like drums mic'd from across the room, and then the fuzz guitar comes in and then the fuzz everything else comes in, and for a certain segment of folks reading this, you know this is right where you want to be for the next thirty-five or forty minutes. [DMa]

$22.99 LP


JOSEFUS
Dead Man
(Numero Group)

Collectors of hard rock and proto-metal have known the score about Josefus' Dead Man for years, but if you're new to it, here's the deal. Josefus hailed from Houston, TX at the turn of the '70s, and were one of the driving forces in that state's long history of rock bands that dredged their influences in roots/their roots in influence and smoked the whole thing down. They cut two LPs during their brief tenure before reformation periods in the late '70s, the '90s, and today, and Dead Man (originally released independently on the Hookah label, of which original copies now command a grand or two), a breakout regional hit, remains the best way to get a look at 'em. The first six songs set the tone, all gruff wildman guitar flash, in-the-pocket rhythm section, and a vocalist that splits the diff between Robert Plant and Arthur Brown, including a crazy cover of "Gimme Shelter." But it's the closer, the 17-minute, side-long title track that wins out, choogling along the death trail of its narrator the entire length, never breaking for a drum solo but continuing to allow their ideas the space to develop. There's a reason this record has been reissued so many times, and this latest edition should shake up those who have yet to step to the real. [DM]

$17.99 LP


UNWOUND
Rat Conspiracy
(Numero Group)

There was a lot of music for a young college-age guy at a well stocked campus radio station to sort through in the early-to-mid '90s, so you'll excuse me for not discovering Unwound until 1995, when their third album The Future of What was released. That record sent me spiraling down the rabbit hole, trying to figure out how much damage I'd caused myself by not looking into this group's body of work any sooner. By then they'd formed, written a surfeit of material with an older lineup, scrapped a debut album when that lineup disbanded, and reinvented themselves as a trio ("power trio" seems an unlikely way to describe exactly what Unwound was at the time; they knew power could be a weapon or a blanket, and sometimes both), ceaselessly touring and releasing albums and singles that could fell an unsuspecting teenager at 500 yards. Rat Conspiracy is the second box set released by Numero in their Unwound reissue campaign, and arguably the most important records in the band's history. By the time The Future of What came out, they had already hit a stride and were starting to mess with the formula. But the two albums that preceded it -- 1993's Fake Train and the following year's New Plastic Ideas, plus the singles and compilation tracks which comprise this set -- so perfectly distill the essence of what that group was, and who/what we were when we listened to them, that it could all stop here.

Beyond the way that guitarist Justin Trosper, bassist Vern Rumsey and drummer Sara Lund attempted to reverse the polarity between the music of Joy Division and the energy of Fugazi, and the manner of which they rolled up so many other seminal influences up to that point in their manner of expression, these records were profiles of spending all of one's abilities, of not holding anything back. Songs would thrash around in existential angst, or merely wallow in it, laying in the cut until the perfect moment to lash out, at which point whatever was left of your young mind would have been scattered to the four winds. As a live band, this came at a great surprise to anyone not expecting utter devastation by the end of their sets; I first saw them in Morgantown, West Virginia, on a fall tour with Brainiac, and might not have gone had Clikatat Ikatowi not been on the bill as well. Clikatat never showed, citing van trouble (go figure ... I never got the chance to see them), and if you were there at the time, amidst a stifling conflagration of poverty-stricken kids and collegiate idiocy, you too might've felt like there was nowhere left to go in the world. Somehow, Unwound picked up on this, and delivered a totally devastating set, looking, as they often would, like they had been reanimated, forced into the toil of nightly performance, and were lashing out at those who kept them there. It's the demeanor that this band struck, for sure, but it saved my mind that day, connecting with me like few other groups ever have. At that age, in that time, before we were all in constant electronic communication grievances with one another, those feelings stayed inward, a smear of rage and ennui so confused it was difficult to tell where one stopped and the other began, and had made a lot of us unable to express ourselves in a way that would bring any manner of relief or understanding to our souls.

Without saying as much, when the band drifted into "Arbouretum" off New Plastic Ideas towards the end of their set, it was revealed; three other people -- the kind who'd jam lit cigarettes under the strings of their headstocks -- knew exactly what I was going through. I'm sure other groups have made people feel the same sort of sympathetic response, but none delivered exactly the way Unwound could. That era of their band, captured on Rat Conspiracy, distills Unwound's music down to the ether. Breathe it in and choke. [DM]

$34.99 3LP Box Set


STL
At Disconnected Moments
(Smallville)

STL has been releasing some of the most unique, headiest and genre-defying house coming out of Germany in recent years, yet despite a load of great 12" vinyl EPs and albums on the Something label (all adorned with a UFO logo), along with a couple of records on Smallville, he has somehow remained a bit under the radar. This is very strange and stoned minimal house, a special type of eerie otherness with a very specific blend of earthy dankness and spacey stratospherics, plus an affection for funky klunkiness aided by an utter lack of BPM or track-length fascism. STL clearly chooses his tempos and song lengths by feel, and steers clear of all clichés, whether he's channeling hip-hop, house or techno elements. (See "Space Cats," with its Detroit house stuttering bass line, clicking hi-hats and dripping-wet, basement-pipe atmosphere laced with the fragrance of lunar mist.)

"One Day" sports a foggy Rhythm & Sound atmosphere, with the feel of a lone highway drive through a sleeping, flickering Midwestern city. Then we have "Good Wine," a darkened dreamlike slosh through a gigantic cask of your favorite red. "Ghostly Ambit" has a deep space/rainforest trudge that surprisingly yet naturally takes a stroll through the graveyard at night halfway through its nearly 12 minutes. Which is precisely what we have come to expect from STL: ending up somewhere we didn't expect, and enjoying the ride. Label mate Christopher Rau (another personal fave) has shared elements, but STL seems to be the more unhinged of the two. The rawness and unpredictability of STL tends to run higher, but like Rau, doesn't lose its course entirely along the way. Other People's deep and weird is where this man starts his tracks, and things just get weirder and eerier along the way -- a great album! [SM]

$17.99 CD


WEEKEND
The '81 Demos
(Blackest Ever Black)

Weekend were a wonderful band who rose from the ashes of infamous Welsh post-punk minimalists Young Marble Giants; after that group's dissolution, front woman Alison Statton formed Weekend with guitarist/violinist Spike Williams and guitarist Simon Booth (later of jazz-pop band Working Week). Their sole album and handful of singles, all released in 1982, were a shocking change from the stark greyscale ruminations of YMG; Weekend were one of the first groups of the era to bring in jazz, samba, and Afrobeat/highlife influences into their pop songs, shortly before bands like Everything but the Girl, Sade, and Swamp Children followed suit to usher in a more soulful and worldly brand of British pop.

These four demo recordings, made in 1981 and collected here for the first time on vinyl by Blackest Ever Black, are essentially the bridge connecting Statton's work with Young Marble Giants and the lovely cosmopolitan café pop of Weekend's released ouvre; they hint at the more elaborately decorated arrangements of Weekend's studio recordings whilst remaining as skeletal and eerily haunting as YMG's material. The demo of single (and career highlight) "Drumbeat for Baby" retains the final version's propulsive drive, but in a more relaxed chug stripped of its jazz leanings, and the instrumental demo of "Summerdays" already centers around the swirling spiral of African highlife guitar so integral to its final version, but is presented in a more intimate setting recalling Francis Bebey's drum machine palmwine etudes more than the lush jazz dance-band grooves of the album version. The real centerpiece of the EP, though, is the epic take on the group's "Red Planes," extended to nearly ten minutes and featuring a breathtaking violin lament soaring above the soft pitter-pat of a drum machine and Statton's pained, impassioned vocal recitation.

The EP is absolutely stunning and yet somewhat unique; it's not particularly representative of the band's final sound, capturing them more at a crossroads that's fascinating and beautiful to be able to witness. Fans of Young Mable Giants and the more contemporary emotive minimalist pop that the group seems to have inspired, like the xx, would be wise to grab this before it disappears; as with the rest of Blackest Ever Black's catalogue, these are strictly limited. It's one of the most surprising yet welcome releases from the label yet, and gets my absolute highest recommendation. [IQ]

$19.99 12" EP


AXXA/ABRAXAS
Axxa/Abraxas
(Captured Tracks)

Axxa/Abraxas is an album of charming, garage-y psych rock by visual artist Ben Asbury, who takes the same approach to his rock and roll as he does to the collages and screens he creates with the RTA Art Collective in Atlanta, GA. Asbury begins with the Xeroxed forms of bands like Shocking Blue, the Monkees, and countless Farfisa-tootling Nuggets groups, then splashes his songs with shades of Ariel Pink and Elvis Costello, until the whole shebang sounds like the aural equivalent of a Richard Hamilton piece: whimsical and referential. In its best moments, like during the "Venus"-aping of "I Almost Fell," and the mid-'90s alternative crunchfest of "So Far Away," Asbury can make you forget that you're hearing a guitar tone/sound/vibe that you've made/heard/felt before.

Produced by Woods' Jarvis Taveniere (and even featuring their drummer, Aaron Neveu), at times Axxa/Abraxas suffers by coming across a little too much like Woods Jr. -- particularly in the crooning vocals, and during "Beyond the Wind," which sounds uncannily like the title-track from last year's Woods album. But even fans of that scene will hear a little more Three O'Clock than bands like Crystal Stilts, and this is a sprightly LP from a very fresh songwriter, whose first foray into non-cassette record-making shows a great deal of promise. [MS]

$11.99 CD ON SALE
$14.99 LP


AXEMEN
Derry Legend
(Luxury Products)

As with their fantastic 39 Clocks reissue, Luxury Product once again live up to their name with a beautiful package on this LP, originally released on Flying Nun in 1989. Derry Legend was the second proper Axemen album and it is also the band's most immediate and coherent statement. Coherent is a pretty funny term to apply to this group, who always seemed to teeter on the brink of it and more often fell into chaos, but compared to their earlier work, the sprawling double album Three Virgins and earlier cassettes Scary Pt. III and Big Cheap Motel (all of which have been reissued by Siltbreeze over the past few years), Derry Legend is a perfectly distilled statement of all that the band was capable of. This is a record that shifts from off-kilter rock 'n' roll to Tin Pan Alley ballads to what is most likely New Zealand's first (and only?) anti-drug, conscious, rap/rock hybrid -- and all of this is even before you get to the track called "Human Hot Dogs!"

I've wracked my brain trying to think of any New Zealand bands that might have been the forbearers of such insanity and can't really come up with any. Surely there must have been some Captain Beefheart and Bonzo Dog Band records involved and there are a few moments, like on the album opener "Disc to Disk" and closer "Mourning of Youth," where they don't seem too far off from the sound that made Flying Nun famous. You get the sense that if they wanted to they could have made a classic LP in that mold, but thank god they didn't, as what they did make is far more unique and wonderful. If anything this record reminds me of a Kiwi version of Alex Chilton's Like Flies on Sherbert, as it embodies that same sort of free-spirited, devil-may-care attitude, and like that album the more you listen to it the better it sounds. [DMa]

$24.99 LP


LYRELS
Make This Sight Real
(Love All Day)

Two new tapes that continue to explore the further ends of ambient soundscapes from one of our favorite cassette-focused labels, Love All Day. First up is Lyrels, the nom de plume of Pacific Northwest-based artist Lala Maria Conchita, formerly of NNA Tapes act Diamond Catalog. Featuring a mesmerizingly dark and nearly doom-laden tableaux of sound that somehow winds up being as post-industrial as it is pre-Colombian, at times Make This Sight Real nearly recalls Burial at his most esoteric, with a sub-atomic dubbiness that can effortlessly glide into gently shifting and shimmering organ tones. This one rewards deep listening, as it's totally disorienting and more than a little likely to set your imagination on edge. [MK]

$6.99 CS


HCRINK
Pastures of Heaven
(Love All Day)

HCrink's Pastures of Heaven resurrects the mid-'90s bedroom recordings of a then teenaged Jeff Hassett, who would go on to found possibly the very best source for information on obscure records on the internet, Waxidermy. Tons of very hyped reissues we've carried here at Other Music were the direct result of people at Waxidermy sourcing albums, so it's more than a little Karmic that Hassett was eventually hit up for the tapes he'd been sitting on in his closet for almost the last two decades. All recorded on a Yamaha four-track, this is totally out-of-time sounding meditative bedroom ambient music of a very high level. (I know I for one wasn't going on such successful inward journeys of self-discovery as a late teen!) Pulsating clouds of air collide with distant glints of percussion and faded, spiraling electric guitar lines. You can hear some of the tape hiss obfuscation to be found in Flying Saucer Attack here, but on the nine-minute-long opus, "Celebration of Distance," the effect is combined with a loping guitar pattern that ends up sounding like a beautiful, nearly narcoleptic version of E2-E4. Amazing archival release! Both this and the Lyrels cassette above are limited to 100 each and both include a high quality download. [MK]

$6.99 CS

also available

SUFJAN STEVENS & CAT MARTINO
Take the Time
(Joyful Noise)

The final installment of the Joyful Noise Flexi-Disc Series, this limited edition single is a previously unreleased track from longtime friends Sufjan Stevens and Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Cat Martino. Only 1000 copies made, so don't hesitate!

$5.99 FLEXI


CHRISTOPHER TIGNOR
Thunder Lay Down in the Heart
(Western Vinyl)

This is the second release from Slow Six bandleader Christopher Tignor. Beginning with an intimate recording of John Ashbery reading his 1956 poem, "A Boy," the album spirals into a sonic reinterpretation of verse with electronics, drums and the Boston-based string ensemble A Far Cry all incorporated into Tignor's composition. The album also includes two ambient-tinged remixes of "Thunder Lay Down in the Heart" as well as a remix created by composer/pianist Rachel Grimes from Rachel's.

$8.99 CD ON SALE
$14.99 LP


ALOE BLACC
Lift Your Spirit
(Interscope)

Lift Your Spirit is former rapper turned crooner Aloe Blacc's first album since 2010's Good Things, and his first for a major label since leaving the Stones Throw camp. Blacc steps into the major leagues with a more refined and polished take on the breezy soul sounds of his earlier work, offering a few twists and turns along the way, including an acoustic version of "Wake Me Up," his hit collaboration with EDM artist Avicii, and some disco-funk grooves made with Pharrell Williams. Blacc is still keeping things sunny-side-up, but the bigger budget gives him liberty to take some risks he's never before attempted, often with satisfying results.

$11.99 CD
$18.99 LP

 


KANGDING RAY
Solens Arc
(Raster-Noton)

Kangding Ray returns with a new full-length for Raster-Noton, his first since the stunning OR back in 2011. Solens Arc is a marked shift away from the trademark electronic minimalism of most of Raster's catalogue, instead focusing on a heavy, brooding rhythmic lurch that's more in line with recent output by the likes of the Modern Love label, and even Vangelis' iconic Blade Runner score. Kangding Ray has long been one of Raster's most intriguing and satisfying artists, and Solens Arc fully delivers the goods.

$17.99 CD
$24.99 2LP


BRYCE DESSNER & JONNY GREENWOOD
St. Carolyn by the Sea
(Deutsche Grammophon)

Deutsche Grammofon issues this intriguing piece of orchestral esoterica by two of contemporary rock music's most talented composers. The National's Bryce Dessner has three pieces featured on this album, while Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood has a suite of music from his score for Paul Thomas Anderson's film There Will Be Blood showcased. All are performed by the Copenhagen Philharmonic and conducted by André de Ritter, with Dessner's "St. Carolyn of the Sea" featuring both he and his bandmate and brother Aaron Dessner on electric guitars.
 

$15.99 CD

available on vinyl

ARTHUR RUSSELL
World of Echo
(Audika)

Finally reissued on vinyl! A customer once asked me if World of Echo was a dub album. I answered yes, but not in the popular meaning. Although Arthur Russell sits next to King Tubby in the echo chamber of heaven, it has nothing to do with reggae. Russell was obsessed with water, often riding the ferry back and forth from Manhattan to Staten Island while listening to the various versions and sketches of his personal diary in musical form. Here, he creates his own aquatic world where waves of sound and voice float and ripple into the atmosphere, doubling and tripling itself into a dusk-reflected pond of emotion and double-hidden meanings. Originally released in 1986, World of Echo is the ultimate solo album with Russell accompanying himself on his faithful cello and providing hand percussion. The sonic world that his lonesome body generates is astounding. He whispers, sighs, cries, speaks and sings story-like sound poetry atop his bowing, plucking, thumping and sliding cello, all filtered through his subtle use of echo and delay boxes.

Russell creates rhythms and sounds that morph the worlds of classical, minimalism, folk and spoken word into a submerged ruby-tinted looking glass. Think of a hallucinatory personal musical history where the wandering spirits of unique vocalist like Robert Wyatt, Jandek or Antony sing with Terry Riley, John Cage or Steve Reich, diving head first into purposefully deconstructed yet very human musique concrète. His words sculpt images of love, hope, faith, humor, beauty, intimacy and longing. I'm holding back a little, wanting to paint a proper picture of what's at hand but not wanting to give away the secret. World of Echo is hard to describe in words, but the magic is best felt when listened to loud and in the dark with candles burning and a loved one, or alone with headphones. Go ahead. Dive in, the water's just right. Essential. [DG]

$15.99 CD
$31.99 2LP

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