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february 19, 2015

in this week's update

FEATURED NEW RELEASES

Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza
Damon and Naomi
Ro Maron (New Beat Comp.)
A Place to Bury Strangers
B.C. Gilbert & G. Lewis
S. Carey
J.D. Emmanuel
 
Imaginational Anthem Vol. 7
Jeff Cowell
Alan Watts
Thin Lizzy (2 LP Reissues)
Bunny Lion
 

ALSO AVAILABLE

  José Gonzaléz
Phosphorescent

announcement

ARIEL PINK TICKET GIVE-AWAY

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 25

Terminal 5: 610 W. 56th St. NYC

Ariel Pink returns to New York City on Wednesday, February 25, performing at Terminal 5 in support of his latest demented pop album, pom pom, with Jack Name opening! Other Music is giving away a pair of tickets and for your chance to win, email enter@othermusic.com.

 

this week's update

GRUPPO DI IMPROVVISAZIONE NUOVA CONSONANZE
Eroina
(Holidays)

Despite its glorious rediscovery in the 1990s, maestro Ennio Morricone's seminal band of like-minded, avant-garde musicians, Gruppo de Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, or simply the Group, remains an underexplored field of intersecting sonic experimentation. In many ways, they represent the missing link between avant-garde trailblazers such as John Cage and Pierre Henry, and the machine-like grooves of CAN at the height of their powers. Consisting of spiraling electronic digressions, scrunching horns, pounding pianos motifs, funky drums, and evocative tape experiments, Eroina presents a highly unique and most exciting, psychedelic enterprise: a series of 12 improvisations, each inspired by the effects of a different drug. Only the masterfully skilled musicians of Gruppo can convincingly pull off such juvenile concept, and this 1971 release, filled with adventurous musical innovation and joyous experimentalism, presents yet another key moment of their sheer improvisational brilliance. Here's to hoping that we continue to see a steady stream of rereleases mining this creative group's eclectic, yet always rigorous musical achievements! Don't overthink this one: it's limited to 350 copies only. [NVT]

$27.99 LP


DAMON AND NAOMI
Fortune
(20/20/20)

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]

$10.99 CD

RO MARON
Collected #1
(Musique Pour La Danse)

Belgium, mid-to-late 1980s. Originating from the industrial rubble left behind by the early pioneering work of EBM bands such as Front 242 and the Neon Judgement, bored DJs in one of Europe's most abundant postwar welfare-states started playing 45 RPM dance records at 33 RPM, subsequently pitching them up to 8. (According to well-known legend, A Split Second's 1986 synth smasher "Flesh" was the first track to get such treatment by legendary Ancienne Belgique DJ Dikke Ronny ("Fat Ronny"). Recent research by Belgian filmmaker Jozef Devillé, however, "uncovered" an incredibly potent "popcorn" scene, well hidden between the Belgian endive fields throughout the 1970s, where DJs used to play obscure US soul records at the "wrong" speed.) The result was a sound resolutely off and slightly disorienting -- deeply danceable yet excruciatingly slow. Soon it was to be dubbed new beat, a genre that would push industrial's reductiveness, as well as the aggressiveness of its cold synth washes, into decisively debilitating, mass-produced terrain. New beat, far removed from its initial underground origins, truly became a pop cultural storm, an all-encompassing, nation-wide hypnosis of unprecedented mass euphoria.

Rembert De Smet a/k/a Ro Maron, one of the genre's most pivotal producers, is the subject of this well-deserved retrospective by the newly established Musique Pour La Danse label. Collecting a significant amount of the music he produced between 1988 and '91, there's simply too much material presented across these two discs, making it a somewhat daunting listening experience. But taken in at the right dose (a few tracks at a time, or, even better: as part of a mix!), this is simply bracing, intoxicating stuff. Tracks like Zsa Zsa La Boum's "Something Scary" or Miss Nude's "Taste My Acid Fruit" (quirky aliases and slightly regressive song titles freely included) impress with decisively slow rhythms, doom-ridden atmospheres, and dazzling explorations of the Roland TB-303. The lyrics typically consist of signature deadpan repetitions of single phrases reflecting chemical mischief, such as "gimme some acid" or the even more demented "brain killer -- brain killer, some sort of pleasure area in the brain." Although the second disc can be disappointing at times, featuring some dreadful mishaps evoking Enya's greatest hits, it also presents exciting proto Euro-house curiosities, such as the deliciously swampy sax and deep bass escapade of Sleepwalker's "All Jazz."

Conclusively, it would be a mistake to view Ro Maron as the next great, uncovered star of the electronic music wunderground. He simply signifies an important part of new beat's short-lived yet irreplaceable legacy, a genre that soon afterwards would prove to be a major influence on the UK's breakbeat hardcore scene. Notwithstanding its often idiosyncratic weirdness, it was an at all times popular and commercially motivated enterprise -- the sound of late 1980s Western European ennui. Wading through the abundance of material presented on Collected requires an adventurous mindset, but if you're in for some puzzle-work it offers a quite satisfying engagement with a locally embedded musical revolution. Now...shut up and dance! [NVT]

$19.99 2CD
$29.99 2LP+CD


A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS
Transfixiation
(Dead Oceans)

A Place to Bury Strangers have returned with the excellent Transfixiation, filled with the NYC trio's unrelenting, ear-piercing rock-outs. Opening with the deceptively stripped-back "Supermaster," Oliver Ackermann channels a bit of Alan Vega's detached swagger atop a steady propulsive bass, mechanical drumming, and tightly wound skronks of guitar which finally begin to loosen during the last 30 seconds, and then never recoil again throughout the album's remaining 35 minutes. The feedback-drenched "Straight" which follows plays like a Psychocandy-era Jesus Mary Chain after gobbling up a fist full of dirty speed and joining a motorcycle gang. It almost feels funny calling all this distortion and disarray APTBS' comfort zone, yet it's just that; even so it does not work to their disadvantage.

It's a sound that this trio has been perfecting since their 2007 debut album, but longtime fans will find some new elements here, such as a little psych-pop shimmering underneath the screeching warped guitars of "What We Don't See," or the doom-laden centerpiece "Deeper." Yet if any of their four albums capture the unbridled fury of their live show (earplugs highly recommended) it's this one, and cuts like "Love High," "I'm So Clean" and "We've Come So Far" show A Place to Bury Strangers to be as sex-driven and death-focused as ever, while incorporating hints of Joy Division, Suicide and JAMC into their noisy, barely controlled chaos. Sure, there are plenty of other bands out their listing these same references on their respective CVs, but very few can mold these influences into something that's thrillingly their own. [MM]

$11.99 CD ON SALE
$15.99 LTD LP

B.C. GILBERT & G. LEWIS
3R4
(Superior Viaduct)

After producing three of the best records of the post-punk era (circa 1977-'79), Wire took a break, allowing the members space to pursue a number of solo and collaborative projects. Guitarist Bruce Gilbert and bassist/vocalist Graham Lewis wasted no time in exploring their more experimental impulses and teamed up to self-release four LPs as Dome. Lesser known, however, are a handful of one-off projects they executed for the 4AD imprint in its first few years of existence. Thanks to Superior Viaduct, two of the best of these are now faithfully replicated.

While one of Wire's strengths was the economy with which they presented their ideas, these experimental recordings prove that Gilbert and Lewis were just as adept at compositions that slowly develop over long durations. 1980's 3R4 finds the duo leaning heavily towards the abstract, but not without reference to their past. Each side of the LP begins with a one-minute piece named "Barge Calm," during which persistent lo-fi rhythms recall "Kluba Cupol," a highlight from the 4AD 12" they released earlier that year as Cupol. The remainder of each side consists of a longer, more abstract work in which they subtly cover a lot of ground. Side 2's "R" is particularly effective at building tension through reduction. While many would use a 20-minute block to add elements and reach some sort of crescendo, Gilbert and Lewis take the opposite approach. The piece begins with rhythmic interplay between pulsing bass loops and accenting guitar jabs, but these elements are soon removed, revealing a haunting drone punctuated by the occasional clank of distant percussion. This subtractive process renders the music closer to sculpture than rock music. It's as if they have revisited the idea of a "song," as last heard on Wire's 1979 LP 154, only to audibly reject the formula and explore the atmospherics of the room itself. [NN]

$19.99 LP


B.C. GILBERT & G. LEWIS
Ends with the Sea
(Superior Viaduct)

Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis' two-track 4AD 7" from 1981 is a more song-based affair, both sides featuring vocals from Lewis. However, its palette retains similarities to their more experimental work. These two records complement each other and show Gilbert and Lewis to be masters of the abstract and the short song. Going back to the Velvet Underground, it seems that those with a keen understanding of the experimental world have made the best rock music. And it's precisely these avant-garde tendencies, as evidenced by Gilbert and Lewis' extracurricular work during the early '80s, which helped set Wire apart from the post-punk pack. [NN]

$10.99 7"

S. CAREY
Supermoon EP
(Jagjaguwar)

When he is not busy lending his drum and piano talents to Bon Iver, Sean Carey keeps active with his own solo career, and his new EP, Supermoon, shows the multi-talented musician at his most beguiling. Six tracks, including four re-workings of songs from 2010's All We Grow and last year's Range of Light, are presented with the most minimal of means, leaving nothing but atmospheric piano and opulent strings to complement his longing, hushed vocal delivery. The two new compositions offered here, the title track and a cover of Radiohead's "Bullet Proof...I Wish I Was," follow the same skeletal trajectory, with Carey's beautifully haunting melodies perfectly encapsulating the contemplative qualities and indisputable forces of nature that linger in his music. For listeners who are familiar with his previous work, not to mention that of Bon Iver's, Supermoon will be a much-welcomed addition. For those who are not, Supermoon may not be the best entry point, but it's a solid introduction just the same. [HW]

$12.99 12" EP


JD EMMANUEL
Echoes from Ancient Caves
(Black Sweat)

In the wake of Light in the Attic's monumental 2013 compilation, I Am the Center, the private press new age revival moment that we are currently inhabiting has thoroughly rewarded ambient fanatics, seekers of the pleasant mellow and esoteric, and the kosmische-fueled spiritual warriors, making legends out of unsung heroes and gurus who were unfairly listed on the same cultural blacklist as Yanni and Andreas Vollenweider. Carving out his own legacy (somewhat retroactively) amongst the titans of private press new age -- from Iasos to Laraaji, Woo to Ariel Kalma -- is Center alumni JD Emmanuel.

Originally released in 1981 under the name Daniel Emmanuel, Echoes from Ancient Caves is situated on the earlier end of the Texas native's career arc -- a year before the release of his landmark Wizards LP, which opened up Emmanuel to a new generation of fans thanks in part to such co-signers as Lieven Martens (Dolphins into the Future) and Douglas McGowan (Yoga Records). Sonically indebted to the minimalism of Terry Riley and Steve Reich, the hallmark of Emmanuel's sound is a cloud of hypnotic, beatific analog synthesizers emboldened by a deep spiritual tranquility. Those enamored by any of the aforementioned in this blurb shall find themselves overtaken by this release, as well as fans of Gigi Masin, Laurie Spiegel or Roedelius. Overall, Echoes is a wonderful listening experience -- a fantastic introduction to the music and ideas of Emmanuel and another document to help establish his legacy as a pioneer of independent American ambient music. [IJ]

$25.99 LP


VARIOUS ARTISTS
Imaginational Anthem Vol. 7
(Tompkins Square)

A new entry in Tompkins Square's Imaginational Anthem series is always a welcome thing. Since 2004, these compilations have provided valuable overviews of the American Primitive/Guitar Soli/Takoma School/Post-Fahey/Whatever-You-Want-To-Call-It scene, introducing listeners to such six-string talents as William Tyler, Daniel Bachman, Cian Nugent and many others. There hasn't been a bad one in the bunch and Vol. 7 doesn't break the streak. Compiled by young guitarist Hayden Pedigo (whose own 2014 LP, Five Steps, is well worth hunting down), it's pretty much all top-notch stuff. Chuck Johnson's chilling "On a Slow Passing Through a Ghost Town" kicks things off in fine fashion, every note perfectly placed. Kyle Fosburgh's 12-string reverie "The Great American Wilderness" conjures up the celestial tones of Robbie Basho. Norberto Lobo's disquieting and strangely beautiful "Enchiridion" brings a new sound to the table altogether. There's really not a dull track to be found and the whole comp flows splendidly from beginning to end. Essential. [TW]

$14.99 CD


JEFF COWELL
Lucky Strikes and Liquid Gold
(Numero Group)

An amazing uncovering of a private-press masterpiece, Jeff Cowell's Lucky Strikes and Liquid Gold is a lost relic of the rural Michigan country-rock canon -- the small original pressing was assembled by hand in a DIY edition of maybe 100, and distributed at performances during the mid 1970s. Impossibly rare, Numero's reissue is a major public service for lovers of weary back-roads rock and the twangy cosmic country of Gram Parsons, John Phillips and Roger Morris. "Jake Lake" utilizes a bouncy country waltz with a quirky rhyming scheme, and has shiny slide guitar licks all over. Later, "We All Know" is a contemplative, plain-sung love song, with a cadence reminiscent of the Band at their loosest. But the whole thing gets revved up towards the end with heavy jammer "Not Down This Low," featuring a Muswell Hillbillies barroom refrain and a sing-along chorus. It all makes for a perfect record for any season or road trip, with great playing, mellow vocals, and memorable tunes. A+! [RN]

$16.99 LP


ALAN WATTS
This Is It
(Numero Group)

Widely speculated to be the first American psychedelic record, British ex-pat philosopher and counterculture sage Alan Watt's This Is It, from 1962, has been collecting dust for quite some time now -- fortunately receiving the proper reissue treatment from Numero. Watts, the West's most preeminent exporter of Zen philosophy in the '60s, constructed This Is It under the pretense of a 'spontaneous musical happening'. A 'happening' summarizes it nicely, sounding more like a field recording of a real moment of raw, humane transcendence than a fried guitar solo and a drum circle. Although Watts' piece is an incredibly difficult record to describe or place, it serves as an effective, maybe more disruptive complement to Eden Ahbez or Pharoah Sanders. Regardless of its relative indecipherability, This Is It is a profound, peerless piece of borderless spiritual explosion that must be experienced to be believed. [IJ]

$16.99 LP


THIN LIZZY
Shades of a Blue Orphanage
(Light in the Attic)

If you're me, the Thin Lizzy resurgence kicked off in 1999 or so, when some guys at the local record store started talking about their LPs in reverent terms. Most of us knew them from the radio incessantly playing "The Boys Are Back in Town" or occasionally "Jailbreak," songs which in turn are small miracles, as they came some years into the Irish rock juggernaut's career, after they'd been dismissed from Decca (London in the States) and passed onto Vertigo. Discovering this band late was (and still remains) a clutch move, as each of their dozen studio records -- even the tail end, when they'd tried everything -- hold their own treasures to discover, particularly the early records, as they struggled to find their footing, and changed their sound to match. That confidence you hear in their best-known songs took six albums, relentless touring around the globe, and all the difficulties you'd anticipate with shifting lineups and typical band problems, to solidify. Throughout it all, however, Thin Lizzy stayed true to some constants (the sincerity of Irish folk music, particularly in how Phil Lynott could deliver it -- a curiosity towards heavier rock but with pop/melodic aspirations that consistently set the group on its own path) that make any of their records worth hearing.

What you find in the earlier efforts, then, is a willingness to put themselves out there. Thin Lizzy's pre-Vertigo releases -- the 1971 s/t debut, reissued on Light in the Attic a year or so back, 1972's Shades of a Blue Orphanage and 1973's Vagabonds of the Western World -- showcase that restless nature, capturing a band that hadn't sorted out all its moving parts, but made compelling rock music all the same. Shades, never released domestically until now, plays as the most idiosyncratic Lizzy album ever made. It starts out with "The Rise and Demise of the Funky Nomadic Tribes," an extended prog-groove workout with long pauses, rigorous rhythmic leads care of Eric Bell, and a drum solo to close things out, with the accidental charm of a record skipping in all the right places, and drifts into "Buffalo Gal," one of the saddest and most sentimental songs Phil Lynott ever wrote, tying with the LP's drifting title track (because "Whiskey in the Jar" was a traditional folk tune, these ones win by default).

The proto-metal workouts from the first record surface again in "Call the Police" and "Baby Face," and there's even some Wizzard-esque glam/'50s callbacks in "I Don't Want to Forget How to Jive," but if anything, Shades is where the group perfected their tough, hopeful balladry, the sort of thing that Bob Seger got famous from, and may have actually developed in tandem with Phil and the gang, whom he'd tour with in the States not long after this album was released. Some bristle at the way Shades refuses to hold together, but all the seeds Thin Lizzy would later sow are sprouting here, and to strong effect. And for you collectors of minutiae, Clodagh Simonds from Mellow Candle plays harpsichord and mellotron across the record. [DM]

$25.99 LP


THIN LIZZY
Vagabonds of the Western World
(Light in the Attic)

Vagabonds remains the most confident and consistent of Thin Lizzy's first three albums and initial trio lineup. Songs like "Slow Blues" and the boogie of the title track and opener "Mama Nature Said" come as little surprise, except in how heavily they're executed. Here the ballads get tougher ("Little Girl in Bloom" in particular ... such a powerful and tender song, particularly with Gary Moore's contributions and the deployment of the EBow). Their most directly rockin' track at the time (called -- no duh -- "The Rocker") foreshadows the power they'd generate just a few years later, and I'm a sucker for the weird narrative of "The Hero and the Madman," the most theatrical song they'd written to date. It wouldn't be long before Moore briefly edged out Bell on lead guitar, and would soon go on to weave dreams of his own, as the legendary dual guitar lineup of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson would take over for 1974's Nightlife, and remain in place for the band's most successful run.

The great thing about Thin Lizzy is that there's no wrong way to approach their music, no unfavorable points of entry. Their recorded history is one of the most fluid in '70s rock, constantly in a state of refinement but never losing focus of what helped them to stand apart. If you can hang with these two, and are new to the band, a great many more surprises lie in store. Welcome. [DM]

$25.99 LP


BUNNY LION
Red
(Fantasy Memory)

Originally released on Starlight Records in 1979, Bunny Lion's Red is an enigmatic piece of reggae history. The album spans 10 tracks of rhythms produced by cult hero Linval Thompson, coupled with a hungry, spirited performance by mysterious emcee Bunny Lion -- later revealed to be a nascent Puddy Roots of Killamanjaro Sound System in his debut performance. Re-released by Captured Tracks subsidiary Fantasy Memory (who were also behind Saada Bonaire's recent reissue treatment), Red is a heavy hybrid of dub and proto-dancehall that warrants endless listens -- fans of Thompson, Mikey Dread, or the Wackies crew will especially be pleased. Liner notes come with an interview with Thompson and Puddy, a nice touch that you don't often see with reggae reissues. [IJ]

$14.99 CD
$17.99 LP

also available

JOSÉ GONZALÉZ
Vestiges & Claws
(Mute)

While José Gonzaléz has been keeping busy with his band Junip, it's been more than seven years since the Swedish singer-songwriter released his last proper solo album. His latest, Vestiges and Claws, isn't as much of a departure from the intimate, timeless folk of his earlier records, but it does mark a nice, subtle evolution. From Gonzaléz's intricately picked classical guitar to the gorgeous, melancholic yearn in his voice, all of his hallmarks remain, yet Vestiges also feels a bit denser and more visceral, with soft percussion accenting many of the tracks and enhancing the meditative qualities of these songs.

$13.99 CD ON SALE


PHOSPHORESCENT
Live at the Music Hall
(Dead Oceans)

Recorded over the course of four sold-out nights at Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg back in 2013, this triple-LP captures Matthew Houck and his six-piece band in all their glory as they blaze through a career-spanning performance. Featuring longtime favorites like "South (of America)," "Dead Heart," "Los Angeles," "Nothing Was Stolen (Love Me Foolishly)," more recent faves like "Terror in the Canyons (The Wounded Master)," "Song for Zula," and "Ride On/Right On," as well as a three-song solo set from Houck, Live at the Music Hall is a must for any fan of Phosphorescent.

$27.99 3LP ON SALE

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