March 19, 2015

in this week's update


Tobias Jesso Jr.
Odeya Nini
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma
Terence Fixmer
Twin Shadow
Francis the Great
Kayla Guthrie
Spiritual Jazz 6: Vocals (Various)
Charles Mingus (Two LP Reissues)
Moggi (Piero Umiliani)
Modest Mouse
King Khan & BBQ Show




Connie Converse
Max Richter


Marc Barreca


  Damon & Naomi





Andy Summers Q&As:
Friday at Village East Cinema (following 7:25 p.m. showing)
Saturday at AMC Empire 25  (following 7:20 p.m. showing)

Can't Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police follows Andy Summers' journey from his early days in the psychedelic '60s music scene, when he played with the Animals, to chance encounters with drummer Stewart Copeland and bassist Sting, which led to the formation of the punk trio, the Police. The film, distributed in North America by Cinema Libre Studio, is launching in New York City, starting with AMC Empire 25 and Village East Cinema on March 20th, before heading to Los Angeles on April 3rd, with San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, Chicago and Boston to follow. Follow the film on Facebook or visit the official website. Other Music is giving away a pair of passes to a screening, with the winner choosing 7:25 p.m. this Friday at Cinema Village, or 7:20 p.m. on Saturday at AMC Empire 25 -- Andy Summers will be present at both of these showings for a Q&A. Email for your chance to win.



West Park Presbyterian Church: 165 W. 86th St. NYC

Not to be missed! The Bunker presents Demdike Stare, performing a new live score to Benjamin Christensen's 1922 silent Swedish/Danish film, Haxan (English title: Witchcraft Through the Ages). Opening the night, Brooklyn-based techno artist Rrose will be playing James Tenney's solo gong piece, Never Having Written a Note for Percussion. We're giving away a pair of passes to this special sit-down event at the West Park Presbyterian Church! Email for your chance to win.



Madison Square Garden: Four Pennsylvania Plaza, NYC

Mercury Prize winning British trio Alt-J are performing at New York City's legendary Madison Square Garden on Monday, March 30, supporting their recently released sophomore album, This Is All Yours. Local favorites Phantogram are opening the show and Other Music has a pair of tickets to give away to this big night. Email for your chance to win.

this week's update

(True Panther)

What a find -- what a stellar debut by 29-year-old Tobias Jesso Jr., a Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter born at the wrong time, indebted to an era that only places in memories and photographs. Right at the altar of Harry Nilsson, Emitt Rhodes, Paul McCartney, early Todd Rundgren, and Randy Newman, and maybe in the presence of Liam Hayes/Plush (the last guy to really kill it in the same mode, circa his 1998 album More You Becomes You), sits Jesso, at his piano, by a big candle burned down to a puddle, mostly using only his voice against the keys, and just enough arrangement to flesh out this set of 12 beautiful, evocative songs.

There are so many records like this from the early '70s from which Goon cops its vibe, so many people who went out West to ply their trade at this sort of simple, common mode of expression, going door to door to try to make it because the Brill Building went bust. Jesso synthesizes the sadness of that era, the sensitivity of soft rock and balladeers worming their way into America's heart, in a way that feels right to the point where it's uncanny, like you're discovering some reissue that should've been a hit in its time. Even the back-story here fits the narrative, this much-hyped album coming out of a period of loss and dejection in LA, where the Canadian-born musician moved a few years back to make his name, only to be chewed up by that fabled city. Jesso eventually hooked up with JR White, formerly of Girls, who produced the record, with some help from various members of the Los Angeles in-crowd of the moment, and suddenly Jesso is a budding star and a young prince of the scene.

Every song here feels familiar; the world has a different weight on its shoulders now, every bit as unbearable as in the era when this sort of music was everywhere, and we all need help in propping it enough for us to live. Records like Goon provide that strength, by letting us know that someone else feels the same way. That's way more important than you might give such a notion credit for, and it's why you need to have this one in your life. [DM]

$12.99 CD ON SALE
$19.99 LP

Vougheauxyice (Voice)

Odeya Nini is an LA-based performance artist, composer, and meditation instructor whose recent works for solo unaccompanied voice have helped re-shape the landscape of modern sound art. Nini's palette includes traditional Yemenite music as well as the loose, interpretive style of many Hindustani singers, with notes that boom out, linger, waver, or slowly fade. But what's most striking about her approach is the utilization of different rooms and spaces, which accentuate certain facets of her range. Vougheauxyice collects a number of pieces recorded in unconventional places; "Tunnel" was tracked in one, and finds the singer's meditative performance texturally altered as well as flooded with natural reverb. "Everyday Cantor" was recorded and multi-tracked in a shower, and "Cyclicality" finds the singer layering soft vocal drones to a texturally dense effect not unlike Werner Durand or Dickie Landry's pieces for saxophone. The album is truly immersive, with Nini showcasing many different modes over the course of eight tracks. "Tapestry of Synonyms" is a great collage of nature snippets, which brings to mind Graham Lambkin's recent collaboration with Moniek Darge, and "Dalai" is a mind-numbing, high-frequency vocal workout approaching noise. A totally solid disc and one of the best 'vocal-only' releases of recent memory, we are excited to have this one on the shelves. [RN]

$9.99 CD

A Year with 13 Moons
(Mexican Summer)

Any musician referencing Rainer Werner Fassbinder touches a soft spot with this reviewer. Named after a 1978 film by the late German director, A Year with 13 Moons is a sometimes-affectionate but always fierce examination of devastating heartbreak and spiritual atonement, not unlike Fassbinder's melodramatic tale of lost love after suicide. Drone veteran Jefre Cantu-Ledesma carefully balances blasts of shimmering noise with melodic punctuations, delivering one of the most ambitious records of his 10-year-long recording career. Mostly documented during a residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the eminent multi-instrumentalist works his way through a battalion of modular synths, guitars, drum machines, and concrète sources.

Cantu-Ledesma ends up with a series of concise yet abstract musical episodes, which are both emotionally probing and exceedingly visual, the intensity peaking through some of the record's most kaleidoscopic episodes. These include nine-minute-long opener "The Last Time I Saw Your Face," an almost-symphonic exploration of blissful shoegaze noise and atmospheric pop, and "Disappear," with clean Durutti Column-esque guitar loops. At other times he gracefully explores discordant tape experiments ("Early Autumn") or fuzzy melancholia ("Pale Flower"). A Year with 13 Moons is a record of painful yet cathartic introspection, its heartfelt musical motifs finding inspiration in Fassbinder's always-masterful, mirror-like filmic structures, without ever becoming a straightforward translation of the former's mostly cinematic concerns. Impressive! [NVT]

$22.99 LP

Depth Charged

Having released five albums and more than 30 EPs since his debut in 1999, French producer Terence Fixmer has firmly established himself as one of the top names in techno, while holding tight to his underground esthetic. His latest album, Depth Charged, takes his deeply psychedelic productions to new heights, building upon the sounds established in previous releases for labels like Prologue and Electric Deluxe. Tracks like "Fleeting Beauty," "Pallid Light" and "Beyond" bring to mind the heady 4 a.m. stylings of Rrose, Mike Parker, or Dadub, keeping things 100 percent weird and 100 percent danceable throughout. During its less dance-oriented moments, Depth Charged brings to mind Consumed-era Plastikman, though Fixmer's sound maintains a certain harshness from his EBM and industrial days that takes the ambience to an entirely different place. There's a weighty darkness throughout these 10 tracks, but the expert crafting of production and composition makes for a highly engaging listen, sure to end up high on the list for techno full-lengths of 2015. [CW]

$17.99 CD
$24.99 2LP

(Warner Bros)

Twin Shadow's third full-length is a powerful, bold pop album that continues George Lewis Jr.'s steady march towards the mainstream, pushing guitars to the periphery, amping up the hooks, as well as the drama and the booming 1980s production flourishes. The band jumped from 4AD to Warner Bros. for this one, and that's no doubt a symptom of Lewis' ambition; Eclipse buffs out all of the rough edges from his songs, crafting a sort of muscular arena rock that is held together by Lewis' soulful vocals -- all ironclad riffs and bold primary colors. None of this will be a surprise to longtime fans, it's really just a refinement of Twin Shadow's sound, and at its best, these tracks are undeniable. At its worst, they are perhaps a bit boring, but music this studied is not meant to challenge -- for better or worse, Eclipse goes down easy. [JM]

$13.99 CD

Ravissante Baby
(Hot Casa)

A seriously insane archival discovery, hailed as one of the greatest and most psychedelic Afro-funk records of all time, Francis the Great's deliciously obscure 12" is the product of French and Cameroonian musicians meeting for a session in Paris, 1977. Arranged by the vocalist's mother, the LP features both "Francis" and another mysterious character singing, who it turns out was actually a seven-year-old boy! This has all the makings of a Kuti, Lijadu or Onyeabor production, with tons of great funky African rhythms interlocking with fluid guitar playing, percussion, programmed synth, and heady bass. These two long tracks feature two distinctly different rhythmic motifs, with "Look Up into the Sky" chugging to a phased-out Afrobeat pace, and "Ravissante Baby" laying into a groove of mellowed synth and spoken poetry. Un-freaking-believably fresh sounding, and despite obvious influence, this is unlike pretty much anything else from this era. Vinyl is limited and perfect to play out for the warm months approaching. [RN]

$25.99 LP

Ruff Kutz

Coming from New York's hip-hop/dub underground, this re-release of Spectre's obscure 1998 Ruff Kutz mixtape, originally issued on merely 100 cassette copies, delivers "some ill shit to smear in your ears," to quote the intro. Documenting red-eyed, late-night New York City sessions, this collection of sketches -- mostly consisting of pared-down bass lines, drum loops, and deep dub effects -- is a must for fans of abstract and experimental beats. Best consumed in one hazy sitting, this is deliciously smoked-out, esoteric, and trippy stuff. Spectre exclusively collects unreleased tracks and edits from the historical Brooklyn-based WordSound label, with a roster of producers operating under the now-derelict "ilbient" sound, featuring tracks by the likes of Dubadelic, Sensational, Kevin "The Bug" Martin, Professor Shehab a/k/a Psycho Priest, and Slotek. Even after all those years, Ruff Kutz serves as an enticing snapshot of a once vibrant and prolific underground scene and comes with deadpan, pitched-down spoken word intros, giving it the feel of a seriously ill, weed-infused radio-session. Kudos to the great folks of PAN for making this momentous document widely available with such supreme audio fidelity! [NVT]

$28.99 2LP

(Mixed Media)

New on the excellent Mixed Media imprint! Kayla Guthrie is a visual artist and musician living in New York. Her first vinyl release, Blue, collects four long tracks spanning the years 2008-2015. Culled from raw, live-recorded material, with heady overdubbed vocals and an intense personal focus, Guthrie's songs mine the same moody and unflinching territory as later Nico, the twisted Italo beats of Saada Bonaire, and the plain-spoken descriptive language of Farah or Leslie Winer. Guthrie practiced many variations of the tunes heard here, exclusively in art galleries vs. concert venues, stating that this type of context "gave the songs weight, as if the performance was supposed to mean something more than a bar gig." And Guthrie's delivery is straightforward, showing no sign of pretension, with her voice layered firmly atop oozing synths and motorik drum machines amidst plenty of weird atmosphere. There's even a cover of Garbage's "#1 Crush," which takes the song to a whole new level and is totally cool in my book. Recommended for fans of dark pop, avant electronics, and strange poetic lyricism. [RN]

$18.99 LP

Spiritual Jazz 6: Vocals

Jazzman Records' digging and vibing continues by way of their sixth volume chronicling the expansive world of spiritual jazz. The 14 tracks collected here date from 1960 to 1986 and include a few obvious but undeniably great landmark examples of vocal and spiritual jazz, as well as many lesser-known yet no less enjoyable selections. Beginning with Max Roach and then-wife Abbey Lincoln's rage-filled "Tears for Johannesburg," we then move through years and temperament with pieces from Pharoah Sanders, Charles Mingus, Clifford Jordan, Eddie Gale, and Gary Bartz. There are lots of ensembles and larger groups who bring the collective energy and impulses of the music and lyrics to full force. With all the strains of jazz that have developed through the years, the esoteric, vocal-based, spiritual-minded, politically progressive vibes of this all-but-lost art form have conjured many an emotional response and much deep thought. This is an excellent primer for those looking for music to enlighten, awaken, and sustain you. [DG]

$13.99 CD ON SALE
$27.99 2LP

Black Saint & the Sinner Lady
(Superior Viaduct)

Charles Mingus is perhaps the best-known bassist in jazz history, and not without reason. Mingus supported everyone from Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, and Miles Davis, to more avant-garde names like Eric Dolphy. But it's as a composer and bandleader that he made his biggest impact, and as is their usual M.O., Superior Viaduct has given us two of the best and most coveted Mingus albums, reissued and remastered, in a beautiful package to boot.

First up is Mingus' self-described magnum opus, and probably the greatest achievement ever in jazz orchestration: Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. The suite provided an updated, avant take on the Ellington style of composition, with a large ensemble of brass, woodwinds, swirling rhythms and gorgeous flamenco guitar exploring circular, recurring themes of this six-part ballet. Amidst the carefully composed details, there are moments of free chaos, beautiful melodicism, and a tinge of exotica, and this is an album we are confident in saying every music lover needs to spend some time with. Mingus brings together ambitious classical composition, gritty blues forms, and much more in this undisputed masterpiece. [CW]

$23.99 LP

Mingus Plays Piano
(Superior Viaduct)

Superior Viaduct's second Mingus reissue shows a more introspective side of the composer with Mingus Plays Piano. One of his most straightforwardly beautiful recordings, there is a meditative calm found in Mingus' piano work, touching on shades of Debussy, Satie, Bill Evans, and Duke Ellington. There's no showboating, and not an ounce of amateurism considering Mingus was primarily known as a bassist. Making its way through standards, original compositions, and the blues, Mingus Plays Piano is a true document of the man's inherent musical genius, and a crucial LP for anyone wishing to dig a little deeper into his discography. [CW]

$23.99 LP

Tra Scienza e Fantascienza

A much-needed reprint of this highly sought-after sound library LP by Italian soundtrack composer Piero Umiliani. Recorded in 1976 at Rome's Sound Workshop and released under the alias "Moggi," Tra Scienza e Fantascienza stands as a unique artifact of the era, bridging elements of synth-based kosmische (think Conrad Schnitzler's more accessible beat-driven moments) and proto-techno (think of this as a cousin of Charanjit Singh's Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat, another album similarly hard to pigeonhole but very easy to enjoy) with experimental flourishes, and even jazzy bits (upright bass is used on a number of tracks).

Umiliani or someone at Sound Workshop seemed to have a fascination with tape delay -- who can blame them? -- and it defines the album's spaced-out, hallucinatory atmosphere. "Danza Galattica" is all lunar bounce, a delayed keyboard line over an octave bass line, striking the perfect balance of simplicity and restraint. It could be an outtake from Cluster's Zuckerzeit. In fact, Zuckerzeit is a good reference in general. Certainly, things are generally less reductive than Roedelius and Moebius' telepathic jam sessions -- and certainly sound library composers were happy to indulge in more "wacky," "goofy" ideas -- but there is a shared palette and perhaps a general sensibility in analog. The aforementioned jazzy bits, more typical of sound library music, include the tense drive of the fantastic "Officina Stellare," the sequencer-plus-jazz drumming of "Automa," and the wacky "Gadget." Other highlights include the manic Moog textures of "Jingle N.1," the sandpaper percussions of "Soft Key" and the space-age motif "Cowboy Spaziale." Even among the shelves and shelves of sound library nuggets to be found -- and Umiliani is responsible for a good deal himself -- Tra Scienza e Fantascienza stands out. The overall effect is as the label bio puts it, "diverse yet homogeneous," seductive, reductive, and hypnotic. Which is to say, essential listening. [AGe]

$26.99 LP

Strangers to Ourselves

Purchase Strangers to Ourselves from Other Music and get a free limited Modest Mouse 7", while supplies last.

More than 20 years into a career that has seen Modest Mouse move from lonely and volatile indie stalwarts to major label "alternative" stars, the birth of the band's tenth album has been a long time coming. The fitful eight-year gestation period for Strangers to Ourselves brought rumors of myriad collaborators and producers, but in the end, we get a pretty straightforward Modest Mouse album, not their most arresting, and there are a few duds here, but still enjoyable front to back. The band still clicks most easily when they are delivering some bombast, but there is a lot of nuance to these arrangements: lovely strings, subtle mallet percussion, and quiet acoustic finger picking, along with herky-jerky rhythms, crunching guitars, and Isaac Brock's powerfully angsty vocals. For a while it's been easy to speculate that the group's new album would be pushing more boundaries than this final product does, but that's not meant as a slight -- it's an enjoyable record that delivers for the fans. [JM]

$14.99 CD
$27.99 LP

Bad News Boys
(In the Red)

King Khan and Mark "BBQ" Sultan return after a six-year recording hiatus to deliver another solid set of soul, doo-wop, and punk-influenced garage rock. Simple, insistently catchy hooks, strong melodies and sweet yet gravelly vocal harmonies have kept their economical sound a winning formula over the years, and record openers "Alone Again" and "Illuminations" find the duo playing to their strengths. Mid-album track "D.F.O." and closer "Zen Machines" break up an otherwise consistently paced set with blasts of noisy punk energy. Though certainly not a revelatory effort, Bad News Boys is nonetheless a solid record from one of the strongest and most entertaining groups of the 2000s garage rock boom. [BB]

$14.99 CD

also available

Maze of Woods
(Temporary Residence)

The second LP from this collaborative project of Explosion in the Sky's Mark Smith and Eluvium's Matthew Cooper continues to exploit the two players' core strengths -- Smith's spindly guitar explorations, Cooper's aching laptop dreamscapes -- yet adds more rhythm to the mix, and fleshes out the dubby blend of electronic landscapes and live instrumentation. Piano and bell tones mix with phantom vocal chorus, orchestral flourish, radio static and guitar feedback. Where their debut was more of an ambient affair, here Inventions do not shy away from beats, but they come and go like dust on the wind, and the duo are sure to subvert anything that comes on too clean or direct. Haunting and lovely from end to end.

$11.99 CD ON SALE
$16.99 LP

Little Neon Limelight
(Rough Trade)

This Kentuckiana quartet draws on classic country as well as loose-limbed indie rock to find their rootsy sound, and the results, on their second full-length, come off like a nice update on the Band's soulful churn. Best known for their beautifully raw four-part harmonies, Houndmouth capture some of their barnstorming live show here, giving each of the four singer-songwriters who make up the group room to emote, and then usually raising the roof come the chorus. They have songwriting chops, but moreover Houndmouth can boogie with the best of them, and fans of Ryan Adams and the like should definitely give this a spin.

$13.99 CD
$19.99 LP

back in print

How Sad, How Lovely
(Squirrel Thing)

This gorgeous, mysterious archival set of home recordings by idiosyncratic folk chanteuse Elizabeth "Connie" Converse is finally back in print. Converse was an NYC resident who recorded these 17 songs, all originals, throughout the 1950s in her Greenwich Village apartment. Heard by but a seldom few, by the early '60s Connie grew despondent, moved to Ann Arbor, MI, wrote goodbye notes to her loved ones, and packed up her Volkswagen and just... disappeared. She hasn't been seen or heard from since, and that same sense of haunting mystery does hover around these recordings.

Converse was witty, intelligent, and talented -- these songs, while obviously tied with a certain degree to the Greenwich folk sound, rises above such time stamping. These tunes could easily fit anywhere from Busby Berkeley musicals to slowly shifting Hawaiian beaches; in fact, one of the things I love about this record is the way the melodies do sound almost Hawaiian or tropical at times, while simultaneously evoking a landlocked anxiousness and melancholy, like a Polynesian snowed in at an Appalachian lodge. Silly as it may sound, there's no denying one thing -- we're extremely fortunate to be able to hear these songs, and here's hoping that Converse finds some of the recognition and fanfare that eluded her those years ago. You'd be hard pressed to find a more lovely, intimate, and bewitching album. Three cheers to you, Connie, wherever you may be. [IQ]

$14.99 CD
$19.99 LP

The Blue Notebooks
(Deutsche Grammophon)

Max Richter is the reigning classical composer of the indie music world. Much like Eno's ambient work, Richter seems to be interested in making deliciously meditative, solitary, vaguely classical sounds packaged in pop music-sized bites. 2004's brilliant The Blue Notebooks sees Richter putting Kafka's words to quaint transitive new-age compositions that primarily use the piano as a springboard for tasteful strings and subtle modern electronic flourishes. A landmark work that remains highly recommended.

$18.99 CD

back in stock

(Palace of Lights)

A while back we reviewed an amazing collection of music that RVNG Intl. compiled which featured the late-'70s and early-'80s work by Pacific Northwest-based composer K. Leimer, who adeptly created an amazing array of concise post Eno/Hassell ambient soundscapes. In addition to releasing his own music, the label he ran, Palace of Lights, also put out records from a handful of like-minded individuals and projects. I've found almost all of it to be more than worthwhile, but outside of Leimer's own work it's Marc Barreca's Twilight album, released in 1980, that has resonated the most for me. Needless to say we were more than excited to jump at the chance to offer ORIGINAL SEALED COPIES of this beautiful record. While Twilight shares many affinities with Leimer's albums (Barreca was part of his studio group, and also played in his Savant project, also soon to be reissued by RVNG I believe), Cluster, Roedelius, Woo, as well as the aforementioned Brian Eno, it still maintains its own singular vision, where mostly shorter works limn some weird zone in which avant-garde new age music meets abstract minimal synth-pop excursions. It's almost crazy how timely this still sounds! Grab these up as they're super cheap and won't be around for long. [MK]

Note: As with almost any record that has remained sealed in storage for thirty years, some of these copies will have some slight dish warp, but provided you have the tone arm of your turntable weighted correctly it should not have any effect whatsoever on its ability to play.

$12.99 LP

available on vinyl


The Sad Hits keep on coming. Since the breakup of Galaxie 500 nearly a quarter century ago, Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang have quietly built up a well-nigh unassailable catalogue of beautifully melancholy sounds. Fortune, the duo's eighth studio album, is another worthy addition, filled with intimate performances, aching vocal harmonies and an evocative atmosphere. The record serves as a soundtrack to a lovely short film Yang made recently (you can check that out here), but these 11 tracks stand up fine all by themselves. The duo has collaborated with other musicians in the past (perhaps most extensively with Ghost/Boris guitar master Michio Kurihara), but they keep things stripped down and simple on Fortune, relying on Krukowski's sensitive percussion and acoustic guitar and Yang's twinkling keyboard accents and unmistakable bass lines for sonic color. Clocking in at just under 30 minutes, the album may seem a bit on the slim side, but it's the kind of collection that rewards repeat listening, drawing you in with its elegiac ambiance. Longtime fans will love it -- and new fans will love it, too. [TW]

$16.99 LP
$10.99 CD

also recommended

Live Knots

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$27.99 2LP

Summer Mix
(Death of Rave)

$27.99 2LP

Soft Connections
(Captured Tracks)

$11.99 CD ON SALE
$16.99 LP

Always Offended

$25.99 LP

(Subliminal Sounds)

$31.99 LP

Death Is Unity with God
(Modern Love)

$25.99 2LP

the big picture