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February 20, 2014

special announcement

JESSICA PRATT IN-STORE PERFORMANCE

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22 @ 9PM

Free Admission | Limited Capacity

Jessica Pratt's stunning self-titled 2012 LP is a huge favorite at the store, and her live shows are simply mesmerizing. We are thrilled to be hosting an all-too-rare appearance this weekend from this California-based songwriter in a special Saturday night performance. (Facebook invite.)

in this week's update

FEATURED NEW RELEASES

Boonlorm
Angel Olsen
Death and Vanilla
Tinariwen
Sensations' Fix
Rainer Veil
Jack Dice
Stefan Jaworzyn
Beat Happening
Mark Lanegan (Box Set)
Hidden Fees
Dance Mania (Various Artists)
Victrola
Big Ben Tribe
Lè Travo

ALSO AVAILABLE

Wire (Issue #361 March 2014)
Com Truise
Dan Zimmerman
The Caribbean

NOW ON VINYL

Glenn Branca
Bobby Charles

NOW ON CD

Pye Corner Audio (Black Mill Tapes 1-4)
 

BACK IN PRINT

William Basinski (2 CDs)

 


announcement

WIN TICKETS TO ENNIO MORRICONE

SUNDAY, MARCH 23

Barclays Center: 620 Atlantic Ave. Brooklyn
Tickets Available Here

Ennio Morricone returns to New York City on March 23rd for an extraordinary event at Barclays Center with an ensemble of 200 musicians and singers. This concert will mark the first time Morricone has taken the podium on the U.S. East Coast since his 2007 Radio City Music Hall NYC debut. Morricone has composed the scores for more than 450 films including five of Sergio Leone's westerns -- A Fistful of Dollars; For a Few Dollars More; The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly; Once Upon a Time in the West and A Fistful of Dynamite -- and The Battle of Algiers; Sacco and Vanzetti; Cinema Paradiso; 1900, Malena; The Untouchables; Once Upon a Time in America; The Mission; U-Turn; The Unknown Woman; The Best Offer; Kill Bill: Vol.1; Kill Bill: Vol.2; Inglourious Basterds; and Django Unchained, among hundreds of others.

Other Music is thrilled to give away a pair of tickets to this once-in-a-lifetime concert; email enter@othermusic.com for your chance to win!


WIN TWO-DAY PASSES TO CHICKFACTOR 22

THURSDAY, MARCH 20 & FRIDAY MARCH 21

The Bell House:  149 7th St. Brooklyn, NY

Our good friends at Chickfactor celebrate the ubiquitous 'zine's 22nd anniversary next month, throwing a fantastic two-day extravaganza at Brooklyn's Bell House. On Thursday, March 20, Withered Hand, Jim Ruiz Set, Lilys, and Amor de Dias (featuring the Clientele's Alasdair MacLean and Lupe Nunez-Fernandez of the indie pop duo Pipas) will be performing, and the following night, Friday, March 21, the Clientele, Versus, Barbara Manning, and the Saturday People will take the stage. Other Music currently has $21 tickets to both nights along with $41 two-day passes for sale at the shop. We're also giving away a pair of those two day passes, so if you're feeling lucky, email tickets@othermusic.com for your chance to win!
 


CHEAP TIME TICKET GIVE-AWAY

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22

Union Pool: 484 Union Ave. Brooklyn

Cheap Time's glam/punk/garage rock is ready-made for sparking an underground riot, and this Saturday, Jeffrey Novak and his band will do their best to get one going -- or more likely, put on a killer show. The bill is solid, with Pampers and Nancy opening, and we're giving away a pair of tickets to one lucky winner. To enter for your chance at 'em, email giveaway@othermusic.com.


this week's update

BOONLORM
String Figures
(Snow Dog Records)

We first stocked this wonderful album by Brooklyn-based producer, DJ and sound designer Skooby Laposky back in 2012, when he consigned a handful of CDs at the shop. Two years later, Japan's Snow Dog Records (the same label behind the excellent Black Jazz reissues) has thankfully seen fit to re-release this nicely re-mastered version of String Figures, ensuring that Laposky's unique take on house music will finally be heard by a wider audience. While he has also recorded and produced plenty of remixes for major label artists under the name of Pocketknife, it's as Boonlorm that Laposky seems to have found a special cross section for his many interests. Here we find him working with prepared piano and raw, minimal drum programming, and it all comes across as a natural, perfectly matched blend of John Cage's avant-garde keyboard treatments with the sort of jazzy and jacking vibes of Theo Parrish. Mainly utilizing hi-hat, kick, and snare, he fills the soundscapes with the various outcomes of his piano tuning and experiments. Often the rich, low-register thumps are supplied by the plucking and strumming of strings whose varied tonal ranges fill the rhythms and fit well into the house template.

Upon first listen, String Figures instantly earns its status as an underground classic. Call it "piano not piano" house if you will, the record is not like much else around, and I don't believe Boonlorm's approach has really ever been used before. The closest comparison I can even think of is Pantha Du Prince's work with the Bell Orchestra, but Laposky's music is a little dirtier and less refined, while no less classically inspired or engaging. The album also has a harder edge than you might expect. Sometimes "fusion" or "screw" tactics end up becoming a handicap, or are simply reduced to gimmicky accents, yet as Boonlorm, Laposky uses the idea of fusion to create an awesome, accomplished record of truly avant-inspired dance music. I'll be honest; the packaging for the earlier consignment version was less than desirable, and it deterred me from listening -- definitely my mistake. Yet even now, while released on a bigger label and in much nicer packaging (not to mention added bonus tracks), I'm not sure how long this'll be around so don't hesitate. String Figures is the type of album that you can play anytime for any reason, and there's enough meat to engage the head as well as the hips. I only wish I would have recommended this sooner. [DG]

$14.99 CD


ANGEL OLSEN
Burn Your Fire for No Witness
(Jagjaguwar)

Angel Olsen's stunning new album finds itself in good company -- and in strong competition for your ears -- with other, stunning records released by female singer-songwriters within the past year. Burn Your Fire for No Witness is as intimate as Jessica Pratt's debut, as melancholic as Marissa Nadler's latest, and as energetic as Cate LeBon's Mug Museum...and surely, if you fell in love with any of those LPs, you already know about Olsen. Her voice is most easily compared to the sound that a singing saw makes: mournful and elastic, at once undeniably American in origin but utterly cosmic in application. She's downright spooky at times, like a Leonard Cohen song emanating from Karen Dalton's mouth.

Burn Your Fire opens with "Unfucktheworld," a brief and lovely number that features Olsen alone, strumming an acoustic guitar and harmonizing with herself. "I am the only one now," she sings, a line that is both a clever reflection of her place in the song's production and a statement of defiant intent that weaves itself into the fabric of the rest of the album. "Forgiven/Forgotten" is an electric blast of energy, as sharp and woolly as anything from Deerhunter's Monomania. "Hi-Five" takes a country shuffle and a Hank Williams lyric and slathers it in waves of wobbly guitar tremolo that'd make Link Wray grin. There's a good amount of twanging lilt to her voice on tracks like "Hi-Five" and "Dance Slow Decades," but she never sounds like she's dressing up her songs in flannels and cowboy boots. Instead producer John Congleton ensures that Olsen comes across as what she is: a continuation and evolution of past singers as diverse as Vashti Bunyan, Moe Tucker, and Nancy Sinatra, but never an imitation of any of them. As a songwriter, Olsen lands between Aimee Mann's clever lyricism and Emmylou Harris' heartland earnestness. The second half of the album skews towards the more ruminative songs like the Dalton-esque "Iota" and "Enemy," which gives Burn Your Fire a perfect cyclical structure that echoes back to the four-track intimacy of "Unfucktheworld." It's hard to praise this record enough without sounding like an advertisement for diamond jewelry: beautiful, captivating, and unique, this album will linger in your mind long after it has stopped spinning. [MS]

$13.99 CD
$15.99 LP

DEATH AND VANILLA
EP
(Hands in the Dark)

I'm absolutely thrilled to be able to offer up the debut EP by one of my favorite new contemporary groups, previously available only as a limited edition CD (that's since gone out of print), and now thankfully pressed up on vinyl for the first time. Death and Vanilla are a hypnotic, intoxicating Swedish band who conjure haunted space-age pop seancés, fusing whirring, gurgling synthesizer melodies with tight nods to classic European jazz and cosmic Krautrock. Dreamy female vocals float through the atmospheres of these songs, as drum machines, trap drums, and vibraphones set up deeply propulsive rhythm beds that enable the synths to rocket off into the stratosphere. If you can imagine the raw synthetics of Broadcast's Tender Buttons with the more stately, shadowed jazz melancholy of their early Work and Non Work-era singles fused together into one magic slice of vinyl, you've pretty much got this beast right here.

There have been quite a few bands who've attempted to carry the torch left behind since Trish Keenan's passing, but D&V are the first group I've heard to successfully present a new perspective on the influences and experiments they so beautifully mastered. These guys are going to be a band to watch; they've released a full-length LP that is also now sadly out of print, and have another on the way later this year. This is where it all began, though, and if you're keen on their beautiful sound, you'd be wise to snatch this up, as copies are limited (this is actually the second pressing of the EP's vinyl release -- we sold out of our stock on the first printing before it even hit the Update!). This one gets my absolute HIGHEST recommendation! [IQ]

$25.99 LP


TINARIWEN
Emmaar
(Anti-)

Tinariwen's desert blues is born of struggle and heartache, and while they are a rather successful band able to tour the world over, the brutal conflicts of their homeland Mali will always be with them in ways more real than most anyone reading this could ever imagine. As a Western listener with no knowledge of the Tuareg language, I have no idea what the group's lyrics mean, but they mix well with the guitars and minimal percussion into a hypnotic whole that is a joy to hear as the songs unfold. Emmaar was recorded in Joshua Tree, California -- a much different desert than the expanses of Mali -- and what results is a very balanced sound with everything fully captured. The guitars are still nicely raw, but there are no moments of chaos that might be the result of less than optimal recording conditions like what exists on a Sublime Frequencies release. And finally, if, like me, you were a bit underwhelmed by Tinariwen's last LP, Tassili, this new album finds them back on track -- not that the previous record was bad per se, and it certainly gets better with repeated listens, but the multiple guest appearances actually distracted from the "hypnotic whole" that I like best about this group. There are guests on Emmaar as well, but they hang back and for the most part you only know about them if you read the credits. Extra bonus for vinyl junkies: there are three extra songs on the LP version that are mighty fine as well. [DMa]

$14.99 CD
$24.99 LPx2+CD


SENSATIONS' FIX
Fragments of Light
(Superior Viaduct)

I was first introduced to Sensations' Fix in 2012 via RVNG Int'l's excellent compilation, Music Is Painting in the Air; hearing it over the store speakers for the first time, I was instantly, for lack of a better word, hypnotized by the band's version of cosmically-inclined prog music. And while RVNG's compilation is a great, comprehensive primer to the mercurial Italian group, it's nice to see the always reliable Superior Viaduct reissue Sensations' Fix's first album in full, as it was originally released back on Polydor in 1974.

The brainchild of Italian composer/guitarist/keyboardist Franco Falsini, the music on Fragments of Light is a thing of beauty, captivating in all the right ways. The ethereal guitar work is fluid and stealthy, maneuvering among washes of synthesizers as vocals drift in on one track, not to reappear on the next. Straight from the eponymous first track, the album ebbs and flows, blending the kosmische elements of bands like Cluster and Popul Vuh with guitar musings in the vein of and perhaps an inspiration to Vini Reilly and his Durutti Column. Warm and soothing, the musical excursions here -- especially on tracks like "Music Is Painting in the Air" and "Life Beyond Darkness" -- leave an indelible audial mark, Falsini somehow never falling victim to mindless self-indulgence.

Funnily enough, after I listening to the record quite a bit, I found out that the entirety of Fragments of Light was actually recorded by Falsini alone in his at-the-time girlfriend's basement in Virginia; he originally intended these songs to be rough demos to be explored with the Sensations' Fix band at a later date. For whatever reason, that didn't pan out. I would have never been the wiser. Gorgeous from start to finish. [PG]

$21.99 LP


RAINER VEIL
New Brutalism
(Modern Love)

The two latest releases on Modern Love raise the stakes of their already stellar and surprising discography quite considerably; after recent dispatches that traveled through the cloudy waters of post-industrial, dark, ambient rhythmscapes and a head-scratching, chest-bursting meeting between Andy Stott and black metal group Battilus, these new EPs are perhaps even more shocking.

Rainer Veil's New Brutalism is a stellar set of five grand, majestic explorations of the ghosts of rave and UK hardcore culture; it balances the heavily conceptual ambient braininess of Lee Gamble's Diversions 1994-1996 and the afterhours lamplight flicker of prime Burial, yet trades in decidedly more sinister atmospheres. There's a cold, cutting wind that blows through these tracks, a storminess that undercuts a warm, amniotic sensuality; anchoring all of this are stark, snapping rhythms that shuffle, crack, and slither underneath like a black serpent offering candied apples in a rave Eden. If you dig the sounds of the aforementioned, not to mention the wide axis of narcoleptic dub-soul beats perfected by the likes of Basic Channel and Tri Angle Records, this is seriously some essential listening for your ears. Do NOT sleep on this beast! [IQ]

$18.99 12"


JACK DICE
Sip Paint
(Modern Love)

Perhaps the biggest shocker of Modern Love's career as a label, thus far, has to be this incredible and cracking EP by Jack Dice, a duo comprised of Walker Chambliss and Type Records boss John Twells. The two are both noted hip-hop and rap aficionados, and while their previous EP as Jack Dice hinted at their love of blunted contempo rap styles, the new Sip Paint takes things straight into the open with some confident, strutting beatsmithery that blends a history of hip-hop's avant flirtations and innovations -- the Art of Noise's digital re-appropriation of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's tape splicing, Timbaland's multiculti polyrhythmic timbral experiments, DJ Assault's relentless ghetto warehouse mutations of Steve Reich's vocal loops, and DJ Screw's cough-syrup slo-motion shoegaze hypnotism -- into one of the best pieces of beatwise vinyl set to be released this year. This thing is epic, setting up grand vistas that stretch and sprawl across empty streets blanketed in the late-night musk of sewer exhaust and subway-tunnel heat.

While four of the five tracks are gorgeous instrumentals, the biggest surprise and arguable highlight is "Stash's Theme," a full-on rap tune with rhymes by newly discovered MC Stash Marina. Her flow is cool, cocky, and completely entrancing, and yet as shocking as it might be at first to hear a woman rapping about "ass 'n' titties" on a label best known for dark, destructive soundscapes, it makes perfect sense blanketed in the thump and clang of Jack Dice's beat. No exaggeration, this is one of my favorite records of 2014; it's certainly not for everyone's ears, but this is a huge leap forward for Chambliss and Twells, not to mention a rock-solid slice of rhythm wax. Highest recommendation on this one, folks! [IQ]

$18.99 12"


STEFAN JAWORZYN
Drained of Connotation
(Blackest Ever Black)

The list is heavy: Skullflower, a member of Whitehouse for a hot minute, proprietor of both Shock Records and the extreme cinema magazine Shock Xpress, as well as free jazz improviser in Ascension and Descension. Any one of these factors would be enough to endear the man to lovers of extreme music, but when you consider the totality of it all -- wow! So it was certainly a shame when Stefan Jaworzyn abruptly ceased operations on all fronts at the tail end of the 1990s, but thankfully the past year or so has yielded a bumper crop of archival along with recent and forthcoming releases that stand well beside anything in his discography.

The tape for Drained of Connotation was discovered while rummaging around for Skullflower material for the Kino I-IV CDs. Jaworzyn credits the recording to a weekend left alone with a borrowed synth and a primitive drum machine, and the end result is a suite of crude bleeps and blurts that sound not too far off from Craig Leon's recently reissued Nommos LP. Rediscovering this has also led to Stefan recording again, and he has just released two 12"s of amazing and brutal improv/noise/techno that are some of the ultimate room-clearing masterpieces of our modern era. Jaworzyn has always had a knack for creating work that is both grating and alluring, and Drained of Connotation is equal parts of both and entirely essential. [DMa]

$25.99 LP


BEAT HAPPENING
Black Candy
(K Records)

Beat Happening's third album, Black Candy, is back on wax as part of an ongoing series of reissues for Calvin Johnson's own K Records. This 1989 follow-up to Jamboree juxtaposes the band's naive lightheartedness with a macabre twist. Channeling his inner Lux Interior, Johnson uses his famed baritone vocals, backed by bass-driven and fuzzed-out guitars, to explore paranormal curiosities, plot revenge, and party in haunted houses.

During the title track, the darker tone of Black Candy is set with a rhyming and eerie list of commands that Johnson sing-chants as if he is casting a spell on the listener: "Drip my blood, fall in love, mess my head, crush my heart, molten led, read my palm, give me some." The album reaches its raw peak with the Tom Waits-ish "Gravedigger Blues," a finger-snapping a cappella ballad which was infamously sampled by Jens Lekman for "Pocketful of Money," and is then followed by "Cast a Shadow," another oft-covered standout.

Heather Lewis chimes in on the sweeter parts of the record ("Other Side" and "Knick Knack") where her breathless vocal innocence accompanies the band's trademark stripped-down jangle pop to create the charming teenage aura Beat Happening is famed for. Overall, in just about 30-minutes Black Candy explores the group's most disparate sounds with Calvin's ingenious songwriting describing the unique world these lo-fi pioneers imagined to live in. After being out of print for nearly a decade, it's a delight to have back on vinyl. [ACo]

$17.99 LP


MARK LANEGAN
Has God Seen My Shadow? An Anthology 1989-2011
(Light in the Attic)

When I heard that Light in the Attic had assumed the very daunting task of putting together a Mark Lanegan box set, my mind was racing with the possibilities of what it would be like. Simply put, the man has and continues to release an unbelievable amount of music, and most of it is worth your while. Would the box have any Screaming Trees material, or anything from the great albums he made with Isobel Campbell? What about the many guest spots he has done on other people's releases? The short and somewhat unfortunate answer is no; this anthology chooses to ignore those records and instead focuses solely on the solo releases that Mark has issued under his name alone. Even then, within the context of those records, they eschew the more rocking material in favor of the slow burners and ballads.

And you know what? That is fine, because the whole thing is amazing in its consistency and quality. The first two LPs/first CD are culled from the five records under his own name, as well as the two credited to the Mark Lanegan Band, not to mention the singles and EPs contextually related to them. The third LP/second CD is entirely unreleased and none of it the sort of throwaway/lying-around-the-vaults material that you might expect. All of the stuff here could have easily fit onto one of his records, or even been a great album on its own. I guess that would be the only downside here -- if you've been buying all of the man's releases all along, it can be a rather steep price tag to pay for one new record. That being said, it certainly is a nice package all around, and simply put, Mark Lanegan has one of the best voices in rock 'n' roll and any time spent listening to him sing is worthwhile. [DMa]

$19.99 CDx2
$41.99 LPx3


HIDDEN FEES
So What
(Beats in Space)

Hidden Fees represent some ideas of what could happen in a dance music environment, without reflecting any costs associated. It is all right there in the name. I would say name of band, but they are not really a band, apart from some odd transactions here and there. On their second release, Ivan Sunshine né Berko (though the former an actual family name I've been assured) reconnects with his former partner in the 'one and done' Ghost Exits, Christopher Exit né Anderson. These guys hit town (NYC) in and around 2000 with notions of Robbe-Grillet and heady East Coast-based post-hardcore promises of an upcoming relation to disco, missing both the DFA and Italians Do It Better variants along the way. They basically missed all variants and managed one solid four-track 12". In fact, the first Hidden Fees release, "Sale Away" (feat. Light Asylum's Shannon Funchess), was on a brief partnership with the Exits' old label Social Registry (So Laid or something) which had an eye dangerously well past Bushwick and as a consequence nearly broke the bank. Fees. This one is on the redoubtable Beats in Space.

This number "So What" has actually existed in limbo as a fine recording for some time, and there are some special remixes by Portugal's DJ Tiago. The nature of those reflects on the relationship of NYC undergroundish culture to Portugal's, which hopefully can last as one becomes a playground and the other an opportunity to austerize for the rich. [DHo]

$9.99 12"


VARIOUS ARTISTS
Hardcore Traxx: Dance Mania Records 1986-1997
(Strut)

While storied dance imprints Trax Records and DJ International broke the original Chicago house sound to a wider global audience in the late 1980s, the relatively lesser-known Dance Mania flourished well into the music's second and third waves, honing a rawer, raunchier sound that came to be known as "ghetto house." Hardcore Traxx: Dance Mania Records 1986-1997 collects two dozen of the label's most crucial cuts, spanning its earliest diva-driven and deep house tracks to its later breakneck-tempo and decidedly X-rated material. Many of the compilation's early roster of artists -- already established as key players in the early house scene -- appear here under aliases such as Housemaster Boyz (Farley Jackmaster Funk) and Hercules (Marshall Jefferson), or in remixed form. (DJ Funk's "The Original Video Clash: Video Clash II (Street Mix)" takes Lil' Louis' distinctive acid-soaked original and bumps up the BPMs and bass for the then nascent merging of hardcore techno and acid house.)

Lesser-known Dance Mania artists, such as DJ Deeon, Traxmen, and DJ Funk, gained notoriety in the local Chicago club scene but eluded larger audiences, their raw, stripped-back, and playfully misogynistic tracks seemingly out of step with the "universal" and "inclusive" narratives of mainstream house music in the mid '90s. Somewhat ironically, it was electronic dance music's biggest act, Daft Punk, who, on its 1997 track "Teachers," name-dropped many of the Windy City's most underground DJs and producers in a respectful tip of the hat to the Parris Mitchell Project's 1995 cut "Ghetto Shout Out," a bass-driven roll call of the Chicago scene's heavy hitters. [DS]

$17.99 CDx2
$26.99 LPx2+CD


VICTROLA
Maritime Tatami
(Dark Entries)

Dark Entries inaugurates its Editions reissue series of 12"s aimed for the dance floor with Victrola's "Maritime Tatami/ A Game of Despair," hands down one of the best and most sought after minimal synth singles of the 1980s. The sole release from this Italian duo, both tracks here are extended darkwave epics that expertly translate all the dreariness and existential yearning of the genre through drum machines and synthesizers. "Maratime Tatami" -- a track some of you may remember from its inclusion on Mutazione, Strut's excellent survey of Italian new wave from last year -- is the undeniable hit here. Dark, brooding and propulsive, the song is built around a driving, whip-crack rhythm and swirling, crystalline synths that lay the foundation for some of the most lazily executed but perfectly melancholy vocal deliveries of the era. "Maratime Tatami" is a downer for sure, but the intricate interplay between the analog gear and the almost spatial quality of its arrangement manages to keep the track moving across its eight minutes.

"A Game of Despair" on the B-side is slightly more subdued, yet just as effective with its bleak, cyclical guitar riff and chiming synths amidst a percolating bass rhythm that melts into a gorgeous instrumental breakdown. Both cuts here are truly stunning and stand out as the high-water mark of the minimal synth genre. If you've picked up past reissues from Dark Entries or Minimal Wave or have even a slight interest in dark minimal pop or rhythmic analog synth music, this is an absolute must have. I can't recommend this record enough. [CPa]

$11.99 12"


BIG BEN TRIBE
Tarzan Loves the Summer Nights
(Dark Entries)

Next up in the Editions series is another excellent rarity from Italy, Big Ben Tribe's "Tarzan Loves the Summer Nights." Recorded in 1983, this single is pure Italo disco gold with a thick, funky bassline, dreamy synth melodies, steamy female vocals, and a jungle-call breakdown that keeps things interesting over the song's seven minutes. The flipside is an instrumental version of "Tarzan..." that dubs-out the track into mistier territory with reverb-laden synth lines and extended breakdowns. This is a hazy, slow burning jam -- a total essential release for all you Italo heads and Balearic beat fans out there. [CPa]

$11.99 12"


LÈ TRAVO
Erring and Errant
(Dark Entries)

The brainchild of Belgian musician Patrick Bollen, Lè Travo released two ambitious gothic-tinged post-punk records in the mid 1980s -- a Luc Van Acker-produced EP and the mini-LP Erring & Errant. Using the fairly standard setup of guitar, bass, live drums, and synthesizers for this kind of project of the era, Bollen introduced nascent sampling technology into the mix, creating loops from a prepared upright piano which adds some interesting textures to his sound palette here. Taking inspiration from the French coldwave scene, UK goth rock, and the swelling languidness of 4AD bands like Clan of Xymox or Cocteau Twins, Lè Travo blends chiming guitars, slinky bass lines, and dreamy sonic arrangements for his deep, accented vocals to soar over.

This is one of the stronger obscurities of this ilk that I've heard in a while -- you can tell that Bollen was really trying to push his sound into his own, personal direction rather than falling into the typical Joy Division rip-off trap that so many bands of this era did. It's great to hear an artist, instead, try to take his influences elsewhere as Lè Travo does on some of the strongest tracks here ("Something New," "Caterwaul," the Death in June-like dirge "Hips," and the gorgeous instrumental "Amarcord"). Another fantastic release from Dark Entries for all you fans of the artier edges of dark dance out there. [CPa]

$15.99 LP

also available

WIRE
Issue #361 March 2014
(Wire Magazine)

The March 2014 issue of Wire features South London sonic mutator Actress as the cover story. Also inside: more Jandek this month as David Keenan continues to explore this enigmatic Corwood Industries recluse; Invisible Jukebox with long string composer Ellen Fullman; The Primer featuring avant-jazz soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy; plus Gnod, Carla Bozulich on Billie Holiday, William Basinski, and more.

$10.00 MG


COM TRUISE
Wave 1
(Ghostly International)

Seth Haley returns for the first new material under his Com Truise alias since 2012's In Decay, and the seven tracks on Wave 1 pick the tempos up quite a bit from the more chilled-out grooves of its predecessor. He's still flexing the bass-heavy synthwave vibes he's made a name creating, but there's a deeper exploration of stuttering, freaky future R&B here, shown most prominently on "Declination," which features the heavily processed blue-eyed soul vocals of Joel Ford. Longtime fans will find much to love, but there's also a lot of new ground covered to potentially lure in new converts to his cause.

$9.99 12"


DAN ZIMMERMAN
Dreams of Earth
(Sounds Familyre)

New Jersey by way of Portland-based painter/crooner/all around Renaissance man Dan Zimmerman is back with eleven sultry serenades on his fourth solo endeavor, Dreams of Earth. Channeling the twangy guitar sounds of early Chris Isaac and the raw yet poetic delivery of Nick Cave and Stuart A. Staples of the Tindersticks -- all with a quirky up-tempo twist -- these songs are sure to demand a repeat listen.

$13.99 CD


THE CARIBBEAN
Moon Sickness
(Hometapes)

This Washington, DC-based trio's sixth album (and fourth release on the Hometapes label) floats along with light and dreamlike tunes that combine rich percussion, swirling keyboards, jangly guitars and crisp vocals. For fans of the Sea and Cake, Death Cab for Cutie, Grandaddy and other melodic indie pop acts.

$13.99 CD

now available on vinyl

GLENN BRANCA
Lesson No. 1
(Superior Viaduct)

Superior Viaduct reissues Glenn Branca's groundbreaking 1980 debut, Lesson No. 1, as a double vinyl set.  Along with Rhys Chatham, Branca helped to give birth to rock minimalism by marrying a compositional style similar to La Monte Young's with the popular new wave sound of the early '80s. The first LP includes the phenomenal title track, which was one of the highlights on the first volume of the New York Noise compilation series, along with the original b-side, "Dissonance." A recording of a longer piece called "Bad Smells" comes as a bonus single-sided 12", which features Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore dueling with three other electric guitar players. This is powerful, overwhelming music in which you can completely lose yourself. Both as a "serious" composer and as a popular musician, Branca was light years ahead of his time and his musical legacy remains unparalleled to this day. [RH]

$19.99 LPx2


BOBBY CHARLES
Bobby Charles
(Light in the Attic)

The now departed Bobby Charles is the oft-forgotten middleman in the 1970s white-boy blues game. Charles' 1972 self-titled debut was preceded by Boz Scaggs' 1969 sophomore album, which had the distinction of being recorded at Muscle Shoals in Alabama, distributed by Atlantic, and quickly forgotten about by the public at large. After Charles, there was Dennis Wilson's more commercially successful Pacific Ocean Blue from '77, a remarkable record that successfully molded Wilson's chief concerns (love, the ocean, rock and roll) with the sounds of black America: blues, funk, and soul. But Charles was a more natural fit in the world of black music than either of them, being an ethnic Cajun born in Louisiana; despite his whiteness, Charles retained enough swamp in his blood and tackle in his voice to convince the casual listener that they were hearing a black man (he was famously signed to Chess records after a "phone audition" for Leonard Chess, who supposedly didn't realize he was white). He cut a string of singles for Chess and various other Southern regional labels throughout the '50s, none of which were met with much success, though several of his tracks subsequently stormed the charts for other artists, including Bill Haley's version of "See You Later, Alligator," and Fats Domino's classic take on "Walking to New Orleans." 

But all racial distinctions disappear when "Street People" kicks in, all snaky electric guitars and boggy bass line, while Charles celebrates his "hangin' out, got a little change buddy" street philosophy. Co-produced by Rick Danko and featuring much of the Band as well as Dr. John and David Sanborn, the musicianship throughout the record is beyond reproach, especially on the honky-tonking "I'm That Way," and the slippery, sedate swing of "Tennessee Blues," smoothing out a lot of the rawness of 1960s American soul with washed-out organs and gorgeous piano, and adding some of the typical country adornments like pedal steel and slide guitar as frosting for songs about wanting "to be in a good place now." A lot of Charles' songs grasp for a future of idyll and idleness -- he just can't wait to sit on his stoop and watch the pretty girls go by, and consequently, the record feels a little out of time considering the fact that the Vietnam War was raging in the background. Charles' desire for peace, not change, kept his music from seeming consequential, but his earnest and honest songs continue to be a balm for blistery times. [MS]

$23.99 LP

now available on cd

PYE CORNER AUDIO
Black Mill Tapes Volume 1-4
(Type Records)
 

Finally, all four volumes of Pye Corner Audio’s Black Mill Tapes series are collected on this 45-track, 3CD set. Those already acquainted with the sounds of the Head Technician will find themselves in familiar territory, but the foggy, brimstone-scented synthetics and pulsating electronic rhythm excursions simultaneously pack a harder punch and a more spectral ethereality. This is essentially the PCA sound at its most distilled and concentrated, a perfect entry point for neophytes and a splendid continuation for the committed heads. Fans of the darker, more haunted strains of synthwave and knackered analog science will find much to love in this one concise parcel of retro-futurist doom.

$24.99 CDx3

back in print

WILLIAM BASINSKI
A Red Score in Tile
(2062)

A Red Score in Tile is a William Basinski composition originally created all the way back in 1979, and then released in a very limited LP edition by Christoph Heeman and Andrew Chalks' Three Poplars label back in 2003 -- not too long, in fact, after we were first made aware of the man's singular genius. In all honesty, this is one of the most fragile and delicate beauties we've heard from Basinski, very well equaling, if not surpassing the classic Disintegration Loops Volume 1. Prone to silence modulated by the entrancing wavering of the tape and the barest piano chord accompaniment, A Red Score in Tile remains utterly diffuse yet highly captivating throughout, holding time at bay as only the best of Basinski's pieces can. [MK]

$15.99 CD


WILLIAM BASINSKI
Variations: A Movement in Chrome Primitive
(2062)

Back in 2004, the same year now lauded composer William Basinski completed his massive four disc cycle of The Disintegration Loops, Basinski also realized another long-dormant project, Variations: A Movement in Chrome Primitive. Like the Loops -- as well as Raster-Noton's 2CD set, The River -- these recordings too were first laid to tape in the early-'80s, but remained dormant until the 21st century. For this project, Basinski's approach most mirrors the music-as-cellular-process that Eno extrapolated on with his Ambient series. Clusters of piano keys ring out, or rather, bubble up as if from some primordial state, permutating into more diaphanous tones that are hard to get a bearing on over the course of its two discs and eight variations. Drawing on Basinski's melodic and harmonic training to convey a great depth, it's stark and emotionally moving in a way few ambient discs are. Due to the nature of the recording process, the fidelity really is 'primitive,' but it accentuates the mood of the piece, in much the same way that the crumbling dioxide of Disintegration Loops highlighted the elegiac music. Hiss, dropout, distortion all play a part here, acting like ghosts in the machine. [RB]

$24.99 CDx2

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