June 26, 2014

special announcement


SATURDAY, JUNE 28: IIII (feat. Hisham Akira Bharoocha, Ryan Sawyer, Brian Chase, Ben Vida + more) & Highlife + DJ Brian Degraw

Every Saturday Afternoon through August 30
Union Pool: 484 Union Ave. Brooklyn
Facebook Event Invite | Free Admission

Other Music is thrilled to be co-presenting this FREE weekly party this year with Union Pool, which takes place every Saturday afternoon through August 30th in the iconic Brooklyn bar's big backyard. This weekend's another big one, with live performances from IIII whose line-up includes Brian Chase of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Hisham Akira Bharoocha of Soft Circle and Boredoms, Ryan Sawyer (Lonewolf) and Ben Vida, plus Highlife and DJ Brian Degraw. Next weekend, July 5, WidowspeakZachary Cale and DJ Gerald Hammill (178 Product, Other Music) will be playing, and then on July 12, The Men, Survival, Mercury Rising and DJ Misery Creep. As always, every party will be complete with brunch options from El Diablo Tacos and drink specials that will include offerings from Brooklyn Brewery, Jameson Black Barrel, & Kelvin Natural Slush Co. More upcoming acts are listed on the Facebook event page with more bands to be announced soon.


SUNDAY, JUNE 29 -  7 to 9PM

Other Music: 15 E. 4th St. New York, NY
Facebook Event Page

You are invited to the opening reception for Yusuke Okada, this Sunday evening at Other Music from 7 to 9 p.m. This Brooklyn-by-way-of-Japan musician, cartoonist, and artist’s twisted characters have graced the covers of records by Nude Beach, Suspicious Beasts, Golden Clouds, Blotto and countless others. Okada recently partook in the Baby Harvester (a Babycastles / Slice Harvester collaboration) installation at Clocktower Gallery and has permanent works on display at Jimmy’s Diner in Brooklyn. He also recently exhibited a solo show at Culture Espresso in Midtown to promote his excellent graphic short, Shadows. Other Music will have several of his new works (15 classic album cover interpretations) displayed at our store through July 27, along with original drawings, prints and an exclusive zine for sale.



Ace Hotel New York: 20 W. 29th St. NYC

Other Music's summer Monday residency returns to New York City's Ace Hotel and goes through to the end of August! During those months, you'll find a different member of our staff DJing their favorite records and countless varieties of music inside the gorgeous lobby bar every Monday evening from 8 p.m. to midnight, and we hope you'll come and join us as we shake off these dog days that are finally here. So mark your calendar: Other Music's Summer DJ Residency at Ace Hotel, every Monday in June, July and August. Here's the upcoming schedule with more DJs to be announced soon.

June 30 – Amanda Colbenson
July 7 – Ning Nong
July 14 – Ryan Naideau
July 21 – Andreas Knutsen
July 28 – Clay Wilson


in this week's update


Invisible Familiars (7" on Other Music)
A Sunny Day in Glasgow
White Hex
DJ Sprinkles
Donato Dozzy
Marc Barreca
Peter Garland
Andrew Bird
Bill Orcutt
Steve Gunn & Mike Cooper


Philip John Lewin
Strand of Oaks
Folkal Point
Thomas Ankersmit
Fhloston Paradigm (a/k/a King Britt)
The Moles


Sufjan Stevens - Enjoy Your Rabbit




Music Hall of Williamsburg: 66 N. 6th St. Brooklyn

Next Thursday, July 3, synth-pop icons Vince Clarke of Erasure and British producer and Mute Records founder Daniel Miller are DJ-ing a one-off night in Brooklyn at Music Hall of Williamsburg and Other Music is giving away a pair of tickets! Email for your chance to win!



Baby's All Right: 146 Broadway, Brooklyn

This weekend, Dub Thompson and Ought embark on a huge national tour together that will pull through New York City on Friday, July 11, when the two bands perform at Baby's All Right. Art rock and post-punk fans won't want to miss this one! Other Music is giving away a pair of tickets, and to enter for your chance to win, email

this week's update

Clever Devil b/w Digger's Invitation
(Other Music Recording Co. )

Other Music Recording Co. is thrilled to release this new single from Invisible Familiars! The band is led by Jared Samuel, a New York City-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has long made his living playing music, supporting a variety of NYC artists (most recently the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger and Cibo Matto). His talent, however, extends far beyond his work as a sideman, and when the time came for him to make an album of his own, he enlisted producer Michael Leonhart (Steely Dan/Yoko Ono), along with a group of friends and notable guest musicians, to bring his own music to full fruition. "Clever Devil" is all at once snaky and vivid, with Samuel's acoustic guitar and mysterious, breathy melodies accented by little bursts of electronics and a guest spot from Stuart Bogie (Antibalas) on saxophone. The song provides a sneak-peek into the world of an extremely gifted musician, just starting to come into his own as a songwriter, armed with a kaleidoscopic vision, and a deft touch.

The group will be throwing an official release party at Brooklyn's Baby's All Right on Saturday, July 5, with good friends Andra, Cold Fronts, and the Due Diligence also performing -- check out the Facebook invite here. The band will also be playing Thursday, July 31 in Greenpoint, Brooklyn at Manhattan Inn. Details on Invisible Familiars' debut album will be announced in the coming weeks, along with additional tour dates.

$5.99 7"

Sea When Absent

For as much as the word shoegaze is exhausted and misused these days, it's as apt of a descriptor for A Sunny Day in Glasgow as when it was first coined for My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Ride, et al. While it seems that most of the current bands who've been lumped in with the recent revival are either paying homage to the early-'90s "scene that celebrates itself" or ripping a page or two directly out of the playbook, ASDIG's music has always existed on its own terms, as if they would have been crafting the same kind noisy, warped pop whether or not Loveless had ever been released. Case in point: the recording technique of 2009's sprawling Ashes Grammar had more in common with methods used by Alvin Lucier than Kevin Shields. Needless to say, hearing a new Sunny Day album is a welcomed surprise, given the myriad line-up shifts over the past several years and the long distance email exchanges and file trades that took place between the members in New York, Philadelphia, and Sydney, Australia where band leader Ben Daniels is now a permanent resident. That Sea When Absent is so great, their best album to date in fact, makes this a triumph.

Working with an outside producer for the first time, Jeff Ziegler (War on Drugs, Kurt Vile) doesn't exactly sharpen the soft-focus pummel of the band's earlier efforts, but every instrument, sound and vocal melody is given a sense of purpose. In many ways, it emphasizes the sort of collage approach that the group takes in music making, as songs twist and turn in unexpected ways, with sheets of reverbed guitars humming and swirling atop steady drumming, pulsing beats, and swooshes of electronics. Tracks like the ethereal slowburn of "Crushin'" or the cascading "The Things They Do to Me" bring to mind a little Treasure-era Cocteau Twins, especially in the majestic yearn of Jen Goma and Annie Frederickson's vocal melodies, but there's nothing backward looking about this album. Perhaps the group's biggest strength has always been how the band can bury all of their pop elements in dense atmospherics and abstract, blurred arrangements, and yet rarely be off-putting; it's probably the closest trait that they share with My Bloody Valentine, while not really sounding like them. (The bliss that ASDIG conjures is far too, well, sunny for starters.) A Sunny Day in Glasgow has been one of those best-kept-secret kind of bands for far too long, but with Sea When Absent you can tell the tide's about to turn. This is a breakthrough if I've ever heard one. [GH]

$12.99 CD
$15.99 LP

Gold Nights

The Melbourne duo of Jimi Kritzler and Tara Green released their first White Hex EP, Heat, in 2012, which came to my attention through Silent Servant and some Tropic of Cancer DJ mixes. At the time their sound was not far from Tropic of Cancer, or even Kritzler's Slug Guts project: verbed-out goth vocals over a drum machine with some simple but effective guitar melodies. To me, Tara Green had something more believable to her singing that was missing in similar groups, and Kritzler's songwriting always had that rhythmic drive which really kept me coming back. With Gold Nights though, White Hex has abandoned that formula and traded sparseness for heavy production. Admittedly, I wouldn't have thought that would be a good exchange, but they certainly pulled off something great here.

"It's Only a Game" opens the record with a spacious guitar line and throbbing 4x4 kick, and quickly a synth line appears, but when the chorus hits, it's like we're in some alternate universe version of something off Slug Guts' Playin' in Time with the Deadbeat. "Sisters" could easily have been a lost Cocteau Twins song, while elsewhere, "United Colors of KL" flirts with a druggy Detroit techno vibe, its shuffling hats and phased-out snare drums providing a nice break in the mood. From track to track it's clear that White Hex's original DNA is all over this thing, but they've really created something special here. For me, this is where pop music should be at, and there's an astounding attention to detail, and an ever-changing mood throughout. There are no throwaway songs, there's nothing "fun" just for the sake of it; this is real music, real emotion, and a precise balance of past and present. [CW]

$11.99 CD ON SALE

Midtown 120 Blues

For Terre Thaemlitz (a/k/a DJ Sprinkles), deep house music isn't a mode of celebration, but rather presents a conduit for suffering. Deconstructing the presupposed universality of the genre, and what she terms its "greeting card bullshit" vibes proclaiming togetherness and euphoria, Thaemlitz opens up a space where an intelligent, somewhat oppositional discourse on deep house merges with the smooth surfaces of its glittering musical magnificence.

On Midtown 120 Blues, Thaemlitz allows a number of creative contradictions to come to the fore. Among the most apparent of these ambiguities is the conception of deep house as a decisively inauthentic musical force (synthetic, sampled, fluid), which gets positioned against culturally determined ideas about the blues as a truly authentic artistic expression (genuine, original, rigid). The record further explores this skeptical attitude towards the concept of authenticity in ingenious ways, for instance through the sound of vinyl crackling and popping that accompanies "Grand Central, Pt. II (72 hrs. by Rail from Missouri)" on this CD-only release. The vinyl crackle becomes the pivotal last minute of this softly flowing track that delicately engages anger, violence, and pain, associated with the daily realities of many queer minorities.

The blues, therefore, is simultaneously heartfelt, and is to be found in the historical narrative Thaemlitz constructs around her music. As the roots of the DJ Sprinkles moniker can be traced back to midtown Manhattan's hidden transgender clubs, where she was DJing in the late 1980s and early '90s, Thaemlitz's chronicle should be read through a hyper-specific sociocultural framework. Midtown 120 Blues forcefully positions deep house into one of its original, mostly forgotten contexts: "sexual and gender crises, transgendered sex work, [...] drug and alcohol addiction," as the spoken word intro of the record states. As such, the album becomes a profound meditation on loss and subjectivity, exploring the ways in which deep house became disentangled, and often aggressively uprooted from its marginalized origins. Yet along with this critical and crucial engagement with the widespread mythology of house music, there is also joy to be found in the sheer innovativeness and richly detailed sounds of its grooves.

With Midtown 120 Blues, Terre Thaemlitz has crafted a true classic, as well as one of the genre's intellectually and musically most stimulating statements. Originally released in 2009 on Mule Musiq, this 2014 special edition on Thaemlitz's own Comatonse label presents the album in its original uncompressed hi fidelity audio, as well as in a neat archival vinyl pouch with double-sided insert card and a foldout newsprint poster. If all of this doesn't send you running to the store immediately, be advised that Other Music is currently the only US retailer carrying this most essential of DJ Sprinkles gems. Get it while you can! [NVT]

$24.99 CD


While this year has seen Donato Dozzy receiving numerous accolades for his driving, psychedelic take on club techno, let's not forget that he's also a true master of deep and emotional ambient music. Donato's first album, originally released in 2010 on the impeccable Further Records, is case study in eerie, emotional, swirling melodies and spacious 808 beats, creating an intensely dreamy take on the '90s idea of "chill out" music. Further's CD version presents the seven pieces in a mix format, with two tracks clocking in at just under 30 minutes each.

Opening with sparse 808 toms and a floating ambience, 12 minutes later the space gives way to a more constructed piece of deep techno, though this isn't really club music. Panning, shuffled hi-hats and polyrhythms are in abundance here, one for the couch trippers and headphone listeners rather than dancers. "K3" is probably the most straightforward of the batch, with a simple but effective bass line over a 4/4 kick and backbeat claps, while still retaining the swirling ambience of its predecessors. The record's second half drops the pace back down to a slow chug and hints at some of the ambience and vibe of last year's Voices from the Lake album. "K6" is easily one of my favorite 808 tracks of all time, transforming the well-known machine into some kind of futuristic tribal drum ensemble with its constant yet shifting groove. With the album closer, Dozzy gives us a touch of his classic 303 acid gurgles, just enough to pull your attention after an hour of floating ambience, and then suddenly we're hit with the most warped and off-kilter bass line of the entire record.

It's easy to see why K is a cult classic after a good listen, and I'm so happy that Further has chosen to reissue the album now. Part of what makes Donato's music so special is his range, both in sonic palate and in emotional ideas. He's not just a deep techno guy, and this is definitely one of his best productions to prove that point. [CW]

$15.99 CD ON SALE

(Palace of Lights)

A few weeks 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 pretty much 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.

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. [MK]

$11.99 LP

Matachin Dances
(Cold Blue)

Probably one of our all-time best selling modern classical releases was Peter Garland's Love Songs CD, released on Tzadik nearly ten years ago. One of the highlights of that disc was a series of related pieces called "Matachin Dances," originally recorded for the premier, pioneering post-minimal label, Cold Blue. We have managed to score some ORIGINAL SEALED COPIES of the long out-of-print original Cold Blue 10", which was Garland's debut release. Scored for two violins and a gourd rattle (played by the composer himself), it shows the influence of the field work Garland did throughout the '70s with indigenous communities in New Mexico and Northern Mexico, with folk melodies being refracted through a minimalist sensibility. Similar to another post-minimalist composer that deals with place, John Luther Adams, there's a very definite and specific sense of landscape encapsulated in the wonderfully dry lyricism of these pieces that mirrors the arid environment from which they were inspired. Garland remains one of the most enigmatic, and most compulsively listenable, American composers going, and this is an absolutely essential release that will not remain in the store long. [MK]

$13.99 10"

Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of...

Andrew Bird has been tackling Handsome Family songs since 2003, performing them both on stage and on record. What began as a single try with "Don't Be Scared" on one of his early watersheds, Weather Systems, has transformed into an entire opus of Handsome Family covers, one of which happens to be a remastered version of his first stab. Albuquerque-via-Chicago-based folkmasters Rennie and Brett Sparks have been writing beautiful and haunting Americana pieces for over two decades, and Bird puts a personal spin on them that maintains both the duo's country charm and his own distinct style. On these recordings, Bird continues to drift from the complex pop that dominated his music through much of the 2000s, and actually returns to the acoustic crudeness of his first two records with the Bowl of Fire. While Hands of Glory, his longtime co-workers, do accompany him on a variety of tracks here, the overarching emphasis is on Bird's robust, soulful voice and warm guitar. Fans of both Bird and the Handsome Family should not miss this one; it's an understated classic. [MM]

$11.99 CD ON SALE

Solo Acoustic Volume 10
(Vin du Select Qualitite)

It's been two decades since Bill Orcutt was part of Harry Pussy, Miami's most bracing, uncompromising ensemble of noisemakers. After taking almost 15 years away from music following the demise of HP, he returned in 2009 -- with the fantastic A New Way to Pay Old Debts (Editions Mego) -- and has been melting minds ever since. Now, however, instead of simply assaulting listeners, his music has tended to deconstruct various American folk traditions going back to the 19th century, as on A History of Every One (Editions Mego), an album of covers that might sound appealing to your grand folks ("Moon River," "When You Wish Upon a Star") until they realize he's interpreted them in a wonderfully open, abstract way.

His newest release, Volume 10 in Vin de Select Qualitite's excellent series focusing on solo guitarists, has been described as "the blues as abstract," and in many ways that tells you all you need to know. Orcutt pursues an expansive kind of country-blues guitar that could be linked to countless others -- a few that come to mind: John Fahey, Bert Jansch, Jack Rose, Steffen Basho-Junghans, Peter Walker -- not to mention a healthy dose of free-jazz exploration. He doesn't so much fingerpick as he bends, snaps, and pulls strings in gestural ways, finding new expressions in these acoustic blues formations. It's a brambly sound, Orcutt's is. If Terrence Malick's vision of discovering the New World employed the pastoral bliss of Wagner's Das Rheingold, Orcutt's vision flows like a rocky stream, not so much mellifluous as a flow interrupted -- rocks here, a dam there, the trampling of feet, and to these ears, warfare. "History and Repetition" simultaneously evokes a cascading brook and a shoot out; disjunctive torrents of notes (imagine Sonny Sharrock trying to convey a boxing match on an acoustic guitar) battle it out with phrases from the blues idiom.

If an intimation of meditation exists here, so does a sense of combustion. So does elegy. A plaintive, searching, melancholy tone defines this record. Would Orcutt's guitar playing please folk-blues purists? Geez, who knows, I doubt it. Is authenticity an issue here? Is his approach too conceptual? No. And No. Orcutt strikes a balance between honoring a tradition and yet being irreverent in just the right way. Alternating passages of tranquility with passages of glottal bursts, it's no wonder he's the guitarist for the ageing fan of noise music. It's an expansive vision of the American tradition, and in Orcutt's hands, it's one that's been battered and bruised but still contains enormous amounts of beauty. [AGe]

$18.99 LP

Frkwys Vol. 11 - Cantos de Lisboa
(RVNG Intl.)

Whenever I'm asked about my favorite labels, or stuff I'm most excited about, RVNG always manages to pop itself into the conversation. Be it the label proper, or its FRKWYS series, there's an impeccable quality to everything Matt Werth puts his seal of approval on. Obviously the eleventh FRKWYS volume is no different, featuring the guitars of Mike Cooper and Steve Gunn. Recorded by the pair in Portugal, Cantos de Lisboa takes influence from the local style Fado, a genre with a basis in mournful music and lyrics and a very distinct structure. With Gunn and Cooper's shared backgrounds in blues and folk playing, particularly the album's slide work pairs beautifully with the local stylings and keeps the mood from ever slipping too far into overtly "mournful" or "accurate" territories. It's a truly unique sound that these two create, echoing Fahey and classic Americana tropes or even the abstractness of Derek Bailey at times, while still keeping the vibe of sweaty summer evenings in Portugal. This is bound to soundtrack a good few summer evenings for me, and like all the other FRKWYS records, I'm sure it will stick around long after the season has passed. [CW]

$11.99 CD ON SALE
$18.99 LP

Am I Really Here All Alone?
(Big Pink)

What we have here is a fairly obscure, but totally, totally wonderful, privately released folk album from 1973. Philip John Lewin hails from Cortland, NY, but emigrated to Canada around the time this LP was made. He's been there so long he's even got a page on the Museum of Canadian Music website. You can also check a great interview with the man from a few years ago over at Jack D. Fleischer's (who you might know from the Donnie & Joe and Lewis liner notes) Out of the Bubbling Dusk blog.

Recorded on a two-track tape machine and privately issued by the artist, it features a charming lo-fi sensibility that is very affecting in its shambolic-ness. He has very personal sense of delivery that reminds me a bit of Ed Askew, in that he uses his life's story to sort of constantly take a different track to these perfect instances of tape-hiss laden revelations and clarity. It's a kind of loner folk that doesn't seem forlorn, full of loose and ragged acoustic guitars and distant-sounding piano. There's a handful of perfect tracks on here, not least of which is the incredible travelogue "Back Home to You," which I swear I must have played fity times in a row the first time I heard it. Highly recommended. [MK]

$19.99 CD

(Dead Oceans)

Timothy Showalter stares off into the distance on the front cover of Strand of Oaks' latest album, bare armed, with a dark silky mane and flowing beard, the arched hand of a woman, accented by painted nails and jewelry, laying against his shoulder. It's an epic, emotional, maybe slightly arrogant portrait that somehow encapsulates the intimate, emotional stadium rock that Strand of Oaks delivers here on their fourth full-length -- their first for Dead Oceans. From humble beginnings in small-town Indiana, and an acoustic sound on the early records that was folky and spare, Showalter has morphed into a dynamic frontman, leading a rocking band, and drawing on a wide swath of '80s big rock archetypes. There are acoustic folk elements throughout, but only in the way Springsteen or Mellencamp approach the homespun genre -- muscular and strutting. There are also big guitars, high-flying solos (including a distinctive J. Mascis shredathon), soaring keyboards, and lyrics both broad and personal, about aimless youth, missed opportunities, and passions both lost and found. Like War on Drugs, or My Morning Jacket before them, Strand of Oaks seem to be stepping away from their roots in indie and folk to make bigger, broader, and no doubt better music that draws on the power and the polish of classic rock, without ever fully turning their backs on the personal emotion of underground music. Hooky and slick, HEAL is still raw and real, and if you like your indie rock with the polish and pomp of the big boys, definitely give this a spin. [JM]

$11.99 CD ON SALE

Folkal Point
(Big Pink)

Reissue of the sole release from Folkal Point, a UK folk band whose LP from 1972 remains one of the rarest and most sought after of the era. It's an exceedingly lovely album, the work of four obviously gifted teenagers, most of all singer Cherie Musialik, whose gorgeous, nearly heart breakingly pure singing is of a level with the best of Jacqui McShee, Vashti Bunyan, or Tia Blake. Comprised mostly of folk standards, their delicate and gently lolling arrangements cause these songs to come to you anew due to how well they envelop familiar tunes in their own point of view. A total no brainer for fans of the above, as well as Trees, Shide & Acorn, Trader Horne, Ithaca, etc. [MK]

$19.99 CD

Figueroa Terrace

A frequent collaborator of drone master Phil Niblock and an avid live performer, Dutch-born musician and installation artist Thomas Ankersmit's Figueroa Terrace is only the third full release in a several decades spanning career. After dedicating himself to exploring sustained sounds on the saxophone, Ankersmit gradually started incorporating modular synths into his live sets before switching to electronic music altogether. As the Serge modular synth is his preferred instrument, the acclaimed experimentalist was invited by the CalArts electronic music studios in LA to perform and record new music on their recently restored "Black Serge" system -- CalArts being the place were the original synth was developed in the early 1970s. The outcome is this excellent new release on Touch, which exposes these electronic sounds as detailed and complex, yet also spontaneous and raw.

Ankersmit impressively approaches the instrument as a "construction toy," playing out all of its glitches, internal feedback, and distortions. After a fast, rapidly moving opening sequence full of uncontrollable static noise, he carefully constructs a convincing sound environment in which the most detailed, murmuring resonances spurt in and out of focus, while slowly building to a rollercoaster of thrilling, exciting hums. Over the course of its carefully constructed 36 minutes, Figueroa Terrace convinces wholeheartedly as a piece of vibrant experimental music. Far removed from academic approaches to the instrument, Ankersmit's is visceral but precise, allowing the Serge's physicality and vitality to become fully accentuated in the process. As a piece of violent, breathing, and organic sound design, this is as close to musical perfection as it gets. [NVT]

$15.99 CD

The Phoenix

King Britt's music career stretches back to the early '90s, first as Digable Planets' live DJ (Silkworm), then as half of the Ovum label with Josh Wink, and of course, his Sylk130 project, which may or may not be his most remembered. Always a fan of soundtracks and crate digging, Sylk130's 2001 debut was an imaginary film score featuring a handpicked cast of musicians and vocalists who helped flesh out the movie playing in Britt's head. Now some 13 years later, his debut full-length for Hyperdub is once again a record inspired by film music, with Britt perfecting the formula under his new alias, Fhloston Paradigm (a take on The Fifth Element's Fhloston Paradise). In contrast to Sylk130's blaxploitation-inspired, neo-funk grooves, The Phoenix is vintage hardware-created sci-fi music for the current era, playing like a soundtrack that moves between more developed pieces and music that feels almost incidental. Utilizing his analogue gear to its fullest, the resulting album blends ambient, techno and R&B, where melodies, rhythms and textures spin and dazzle, shuffle and drive, and lull and emote in a lengthy display of skill and imagination.

In interviews Britt has said he watched a lot of Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Man Who Fell to Earth with the volume turned down while creating new sound design for those retro-futurist images playing on the screen. Sure, this formula is nothing new, especially among today's crop of electronic producers, yet Britt's fusion of techno rhythms and cosmic-minded soul with his deep sound design is a much-needed change of pace to the dry and brittle or light-as-air vibe of some of his contemporaries. From hip-hop to broken beat and techno to jazz, Britt has been through many fades and phases of dance music, yet somehow within the hour-long playtime of The Phoenix, he brings all of those elements into a new frame of reference. While the album is split between vocals and instrumentals, the singing never seems to be forced or intrusive, and it all melds into the mise-en-scenè, becoming another element in the overall picture as opposed to the focal point. I have to admit that I didn't expect to like this record as much as I do, yet it's one of the best examples of how science fiction and dance music can be interwoven and connect with the head and the body that I've heard since maybe Kuedo's Servant or Flying Lotus' Cosmogramma. [DG]

$14.99 CD

(Sub Pop)

clipping.'s somewhat self-titled second full-length, CLPPNG, offers a minimalistic approach to the tidal wave of industrial rap that seems to be taking over of late. It's avant-garde noise-hop a la Death Grips, generally distilled to rapid-fire rhyming and one distorted backing sound. That sound, for the album's opening track, is the screech of painful feedback, but has various manifestations throughout the record. On "Get Up," it's the inherently repulsive sound of an alarm clock, thawed and expanded into compelling (dare I say, melodic?) beeps as featured guest Mariel Jacoda busts out an infectious hook in between scatterbrained verses from the trio's frontman Daveed Diggs. Diggs is joined throughout the record by an excellent, and probably mostly unfamiliar, group of guest rappers and singers, including Cocc Pistol Cree, King T, Gangsta Boo, and Guce, adding some gripping elements to the already far-out music. On "Work Work," Cocc Pistol Cree's Azealia-esque sassy confidence over a more traditionally hip-hop beat centers the outlandish quality of the album, which actually works quite well for them.

It seems as though clipping. need not venture so far into the unknown when the tastes of familiarity that they divulge are quite well constructed. On "Tonight," for example, the eerie synths and verse-chorus song structure all work harmoniously to make one of the highlights on the record, while "Taking Off," on the other hand, focuses so heavily on one trembling bass beat that the inventive becomes slightly unsettling. When looking at the album as a whole, it's much better than a good deal of the hip-hop that seems to spew out of nowhere without an ounce of originality -- this is refreshing and complex. After listening to a track on repeat for an hour, grasping Diggs' lyricism becomes a tad easier, and it's surely rewarding. It's quite exciting to know that this LA trio will be contributing a new perspective on an arguably narrow-minded genre, but time will certainly serve them well. I cannot wait for what this group has in store next, and hearing this rough-edged, sharp starting point is something I highly recommend. [MM]

$13.99 CD
$23.99 LPx2


From Sydney to London to New York City, the trajectory of Richard Davies' inaugural project the Moles spanned the first years of the 1990s in a cavalcade of pop styles and approaches, and Flashbacks and Dream Sequences captures them all: their first album Untune the Sky, its markedly different follow-up Instinct, and all the 7"s and EPs. Across 35 tracks, Davies and his various formations of the Moles sprint through Flying Nun-style melodic majesties, hissing black leather pop, Beatles psych regalia, alien blues (yeah, that's a cover of Freddie King's "Goin' Down") and enough offshoots and combinations of the above that your head may spin completely around, trying to determine just when and how someone managed to have a finger on this many pulses in such a brief window of time. This is the kind of collection that makes fans, and your best chance to get a handle on what this unique and wonderful group was laying down in its heyday. [DM]

$18.99 2CD


Post-Moles and pre-solo career/disappearance into law school, Richard Davies started the duo of Cardinal, alongside one-time orchestral-pop wunderkind Eric Matthews. This short-lived project produced a single full-length in 1995, reissued here with a pallet of demo and bonus tracks that doubles its runtime. Beloved by many in their day, Cardinal is the kind of record that exists out of time for the '90s or most other eras, like a perfectly reasonable and careful alternate-dimension edition of Sebadoh, able to get its ideas out with crystalline perfection and exact emotional modulation. Davies' and Matthews' vocals play so well off one another, and the slowly building arrangements and difficult writing styles of the principles merge together so well, from the Brill Building to the Wrecking Crew to you. The extra material on this edition presents a looser and more freewheeling side to Cardinal's cautious steps. Reunited in recent years, the group released a second LP on Fire in 2012, entitled Hymns, and have promised more material and live performances to come. Still, if you want to see where it all began, and hear a record truly like none other of its time, by all means, have at this one. [DM]

$15.99 CD

now available on vinyl

Enjoy Your Rabbit
(Asthmatic Kitty)

Sufjan Stevens' Enjoy Your Rabbit (from 2001) is finally out on vinyl, featuring 14 electronic instrumental tracks -- one for each sign of the Chinese Zodiac, plus two more! All of the second discs are clear, but the first disc is either translucent red, blue, green, or solid white. Free Sufjan-penned fortune cookies with in-store purchase while supplies last.

$16.99 LP

the big picture