Ba Power, Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba's fourth album (and their first for Glitterbeat Records) is a striking, career-defining record marked by mesmerizing songs, razor-sharp riffs, and full-throttle emotions. Following two years of worldwide touring for the much-heralded Jama Ko (OH 021CD/LP), Bassekou's band, Ngoni Ba, has turned up the volume and dynamics significantly and Bassekou's masterful ngoni playing has achieved a new level of intensity that can only be called: Afro-rock. Distortion and wah-wah and propulsive rhythms now form the defining backbone of his songs and the white-hot vocals of his wife, Amy Sacko, serve more than ever as his passionate and perfect foil. When asked what Ba Power means to him, Bassekou replied, "'Ba,' in Bambara, means 'strong' or 'great' and it also means 'group.' I called the album Ba Power because I think the messages on it are very important and strong, and it is also definitely the album with the toughest sound I've ever made. I want these songs to grab as many people as possible." Ba Power was recorded in November of 2014 at MBK Studios in Bamako, a studio just down the road from the Kouyaté family home in the hills at the edge of the city. Produced by Chris Eckman (Tamikrest, Aziza Brahim), the album began with Ngoni Ba playing together live in a relaxed, intimate space. Features appearances from legendary Songhai blues guitarist Samba Touré on "Fama Magni," soku master Zoumana Tereta on "Fama Magni," vocalist Adama Yalomba "Waati," massively influential composer and trumpeter Jon Hassell on "Ayé Sira Bla," guitarist Chris Brokaw (The Lemonheads) on "Siran Fen" and "Abé Sumaya," and drummer Dave Smith (JuJu, Fofoulah, The Sensational Space Shifters with Robert Plant) on four songs including opener "Siran Fen." Ba Power contains all the swagger, precision, and wide-eyed excitement that the title implies. It is the album on which Bassekou's music engages with the world in unprecedented ways, and the album with which he confirms his status among the 21st century's most relevant musical artists. "I think African music and culture deserve to be spread to the broadest audience possible. That is what I want to accomplish with Ba Power" --Bassekou Kouyaté. Bassekou Kouyaté: lead ngoni; Abou Sissoko: medium ngoni; Mamadou Kouyaté: bass ngoni and backing vocals; Moctar Kouyaté: calebash; Mahamadou Tounkara: yabara, tamani, tamaba; Bina Diabaté: medium ngoni ba; Amy Sacko: lead vocal and backing vocals.
Lost Shadows: In Defence of the Soul - Yanomami Shamanism, Songs, Ritual, 1978
Recordings from 1978 by David Toop of Yanomami ritual songs, shamanistic ceremonies, and rainforest sounds. The voices of spirits and animal familiars, ventriloquial illusions of sound in dark spaces, secret spirit languages, the clap of thunder that links shamanic trance with the sleep language of Finnegans Wake... Out of these passages of the everyday, intensity flares like flames caught by a gust of wind. Skin burns or oozes blood, the wind blows up havoc as the spirits move about. Both double CD and LP include 40-page booklet with text and pictures telling the full story of Toop's fascinating journey in 1978 through the Amazon jungle to meet and record the last Yanomami shamans. CD presented in six-page digipak.
Don't Think I've Forgotten: Cambodia's Lost Rock and Roll
On April 17, 1975, Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge and Cambodian rock and roll was no more. Its star musicians were targeted and killed, record collections were destroyed, clubs were closed, and Western-style music-making, dancing, and clothes were outlawed. The deaths of approximately two million Cambodians and the horrors of the Killing Fields have been well-documented; add to this John Pirozzi's fascinating tale of Cambodia's vibrant pop music scene, beginning in the 1950s and '60s, influenced by France's Johnny Hallyday and Britain's Cliff Richard and the Shadows. The filmmaker has assembled rare archival footage, punctuating it with telling interviews with the few surviving musicians. Cambodian culture has long been synonymous with a love for the arts. Pirozzi's 2014 film Don't Think I've Forgotten pays homage to the country's rock legends who paid for their creativity with their lives. Through the eyes, words, and songs of its popular music stars of the '50s, '60s, and '70s, Don't Think I've Forgotten: Cambodia's Lost Rock and Roll examines and unravels Cambodia's recent tragic past. This soundtrack to Pirozzi's important film, compiled by the director, is very cinematic in nature. The sequencing and newly-remastered audio transport the listener through the rock and roll history of Cambodia in a similar fashion as Pirozzi's documentary film. It is both entertaining and essential to hear so many tracks that are available outside of Cambodia for the very first time. Includes tracks by The Royal University of Fine Arts, Sinn Sisamouth, Chhoun Malay, Huoy Meas, Baksey Cham Krong, Ros Serey Sothea, Pen Ran, Sieng Vannthy, Va Sovy, Drakkar, Pou Vannary, Yol Aularong, and Cheam Chansovannary.
London-based electronic producer Ryan Lee West is notable for making synthesizers sound both human and atmospheric under the moniker Rival Consoles. Shying away from creating all of his sounds on the laptop, he instead molds and shapes his melodies on his Prophet, Moog Voyager, and tape delay, the same gear he uses in his live performances. Fascinated by sound from an early age, West chose to dedicate his time to studying, experimenting with, and producing sound, and graduated from De Montfort University in Leicester, England. One consistent element in his musical journey has been his desire to create a more organic, humanized sound. West often drafts early ideas on piano, violin, and guitar. He has repeatedly performed at locations such as the Tate Modern, where his performance resulted in the Boiler Room inviting him to perform a special audio-visual piece at the Victoria and Albert Museum. This CD combines West's 12" EPs Odyssey (ERATP 052EP, 2013) and Sonne (ERATP 059EP, 2014), both of which sold out within only a few months. Synthesizers make up the core sound of the records, while tracks like "Helios," "Haunt," and "Think Tank" feature West playing live drums and acoustic guitar. West describes his process: "I'm often looking at art in exhibitions and I always think to myself 'why the hell don't I have this much colour in my work?' The answer in part I think is down to synthesis. It is very difficult to create colour without it sounding plastic. Colour in music is both the note combinations and the actual timbre of the sounds. There are lots of instances of very colourful ambient sounds, which I took great care to create for each song, using various methods -- from passing analogue synths through chains of effects to chopping up random sequences of recordings and forming tiny collages." As of this release, Rival Consoles is working on material for his third studio album, which he showcased at SXSW in Austin before embarking on a North American tour with Warp artist Clark and US producer Nosaj Thing. This CD comes in advance of his 2015 appearances at The Great Escape Festival, MUTEK Montréal, and OFF Party Barcelona. It's presented in two-sided, die-cut sleeve that comes in two variations folded inside-out and combines the two original cover illustrations by South London artist Supermundane, with layout and re-packaging by Erased Tapes founder Robert Raths.
On Magnetoception, Joshua Abrams is back exploring new contexts for the guimbri, the three-stringed north African bass lute at the heart of his Eremite recordings Natural Information (2010) and Represencing (2012). The artist's first large-scale work on vinyl, Magnetoception began as a commission by Eremite for Abrams to make a double LP based in extended performances by an ensemble of Abrams, guitarists Emmett Kelly and Jeff Parker, and drummer Hamid Drake. The group recorded the nucleus of Magnetoception live to two-track, circled around vintage Neumanns and a woodstove in a Berwyn, Illinois attic in February 2013. Over the next year at his Chicago studio, Parlor One, Abrams added solo pieces for harp and clarinet, along with Lisa Alvarado's harmonium, Ben Boye's autoharp, and percussion embellishments by Drake. Abrams's compositions are a fascinating nexus of ideas from non-western traditional musics, minimalism, and jazz designed to catalyze his musicians toward a single group-mind organism of sound. On his 2012 album Represencing Abrams presented his music in capsule-length pieces realized by duo and trio groupings drawn from a pool of a dozen musicians. Magnetoception presents one ensemble methodically unfolding his compositions over longer durations. The performances intricately layer rhythm, melody, and drone into sonic textiles of extraordinary expressive breadth, by turns dense or spacious, repetitive or indeterminate, clattering or placid. In addition to his masterful contributions on trap kit, tabla, conga, and frame drums, Hamid Drake acts as a direct link to the visionary music of Don Cherry, one of Abrams's essential artistic models. Magnetoception is the fullest measure yet of Joshua Abrams's sound world. It sounds like no other music being made today. Presented in a heavyweight Stoughton "laserdisc" gatefold sleeve; mastered by Helge Sten at Sten Audio Virus Lab, Oslo, Norway; vinyl cut at Sterling by Steve Fallone and manufactured by RTI. Edition of 875 vinyl copies.
Referring to the silence that returns when 2014's Krómantík EP (MORR 130CD/EP) fades out, Icelandic musician Sóley Stefánsdóttir says, "Your closed eyes slowly start seeing something much deeper and darker," and now that something is here, right in front of us: Ask the Deep is a stunningly dark and deeply personal departure after the minimalist and bleak piano compositions of said EP. Her soft voice leads us deeper and deeper into the shadowy fairytale worlds only hinted at on previous releases such as her 2010 Theater Island EP and 2011's much-praised We Sink (MORR 107CD/LP) debut album. Ask the Deep sees the bespectacled songwriter open Pandora's box -- and close it eventually. At least for now. "Have I danced with the devil?" Sóley asks on album opener "Devil," then crescendos, "Does he still love me?" Once the melodic surges of "Devil" lead to other fairytale soundscapes -- the piano no longer the main character of Sóley's music -- more and more ghosts, both real and imaginary, enter the scene. Inspired by a news story about a man who was buried alive in Brazil, "Ævintyr" marches in circles with tribal beats underneath ethereal swirls, and "One Eyed Lady" is perhaps Sóley's most minimalist lullaby yet, the beatless account of a one-eyed witch who would actually "kill for love," as the song's mantra reverberates into the void. With looped forces of gravity and swerving nods to Philip Glass, "Follow Me Down" is a brooding call to enter the distorted depths, to go beyond the point of no return, to leave the comfort zone. And it's a reminder: we still sink. Amid the flotsam and jetsam, things appear that weren't previously there -- hard-hitting drums set to Beach House vibes ("Dreamers"), a haunted church showdown with the jilted devil ("I Will Never"), even a hint of unlikely, hopeful pop ("Breath"). Taking her listeners on a journey to phantasmal grounds, her sophomore full-length is both more intricate and diverse in how it's written, arranged, and narrated. And it's even more obvious that her voice is crucial in guiding the way to that place where one can live, that safe shore on the other side of the ocean. "You must face your fairytale," Sóley sings. She does, as the music maker, but we are the dreamers of the dreams. Six-panel digipak CD includes folded mini-poster.
Three years after Lauer's 2012 debut, Phillips (RB 004CD/LP), on Running Back, the melody man from the outback of Frankfurt am Main presents Borndom: a 13-track trip through a universe that is specifically his. Lauer is far from a stranger to Permanent Vacation, with singles like Delta Kid (PERMVAC 057EP, 2010) or Donner Lake (PERMVAC 123EP, 2014) heralding things to come; the label and Lauer share a spiritual kinship and ethos. Lauer's music is rooted in pop music and mixed with the reactance and sound aesthetics of punk, while wearing dancing shoes; you'll be hard-pressed to find lots of contemporaries that till a similar field. With a sound signature, a melodic repertoire, and an emotional quality that is immediately recognizable, Lauer's work is highly individualized. Unlike his other adventures in club music (he hardly lets a week go by without a release or a remix for the most critically-acclaimed outfits on this planet, either on his own, under the Hotel Lauer umbrella, or as part of Tuff City Kids), his second album makes the most use of these moments and that specific stylistic palette. Of course, you can find typical high-flying Lauer moments like "Mausback" or "Hump Acid" or the nu-groove-esque desire-dubbed "Pal Oh," but the image of a singer-songwriter with a midi-kit prevails. There are miniatures like "Carpet," the blissful melancholia of the opener "Crewners," the album's title-track that sounds like the lost soundtrack to an '80s sitcom about college nerds, and, maybe most startling, Borndom's vocal features. "ESC With Jasnau" is the proverbial cold-wave mating dance in the neon light, while the two songs with Ela take care of romantic highs and lows. With a sound like something that a band of the past made to be heard in a very distant future, Phillip Lauer's second album sees him at his most matured and endured: Borndom! Double LP includes CD.
With Folio, Touch introduces a new series of bespoke hardback book and CD publications, produced to the highest specifications. This first release, Halfway to White, is a collaboration between singular photographer Joséphine Michel and acclaimed musician and sound artist Mika Vainio. Joséphine Michel's images reframe our perception of the visual by exploring the notion of "sonic photography," as she exposes her subjects according to the resonance of the noise-fields felt at her chosen locations. Michel subtly brings to light the inflections of sound -- its tones and pulsations -- in a setting that has often been considered one of the most silent visual arts. This work is mirrored by Mika Vainio's five original compositions, his recordings poised between an environmental hold and atmosphere, while suggesting an extra-sensory world and a dream-state in parallel to the 33 haunting photographs that make up this ensemble. Sixty-page hardcover book and 60-minute CD bound in a gray linen cover and printed on heavy hi-white paper in an edition of 500 copies. Designed by Jon Wozencroft. Further Folio publications can be expected throughout 2015-2016, including new work from Chris Watson, the world's leading sound recordist and sonic painter, and other artists from the Touch stable.
"The images were shot in New York between 2001 and 2002. It was during the time when we were still in shock from 9.11. The stars and stripes suddenly became visible everywhere in the city. Soon after, the invasion of Afghanistan started. Everybody was living under an indefinable fear -- not knowing what would happen in the future" --Aki Onda. Lost City started as a series of photographs shot by visual artist and composer Aki Onda in New York right after September 11, 2001. A decisively introspective response to a major world event, his pictures were devoid of direct references, but documented his immediate surroundings, focusing on how what happened resonated on a personal micro-level. Since 2005, Onda has been presenting this series as slide projections, which function as a visual score for improvisation, and performing with NYC avant-garde musicians Loren Connors and Alan Licht. The two improvisations on this LP were recorded at Anthology Film Archives in NYC in 2007. Lost City contains the vinyl, a folded 20 x 30 inch poster with the complete photograph series, and an A4 risoprinted booklet containing the accompanying text written by NYC-based curator/writer Niels van Tomme. The record's A-side is a duo piece between Connors and Licht that consists of wandering, buzzing guitar drones with occasional noisy eruptions. It highlights the almost twin-like connection between the longtime collaborators, with telepathic intersecting guitar lines and a sense of unease seeping through. The B-side is Connors's lyrical, atmospheric solo performance, equally sparse and spacious. Limited to 350 copies.
LP version. First reissue of this stunning, dark, mysterious instrumental 1972 work by Wilburn Burchette, mystery of 1970s experimental guitar music. In place of regular songs there are several layers of chord and melody patterns shifted upon each other, performed on a semi-distorted electric guitar with a strong echo effect. A few other instruments may have been used as well, but it's also possible that there are only electric guitars on this album. Even the oscillating buzz of "Transformation" could easily be created with a guitar and a few effect machines. Halfway through the tune the music knocks over into some very bright and jubilant guitar melody structures. The album as a whole has a krautish vibe, due to the repetitive layer-upon-layer structure of the compositions. It has an ethnic folk edge due to the use of Spanish and eastern folk harmonies. Burchette intended to create spiritual music to expands the listener's mind in a positive way, and bring the soul and body into a state of enlightenment. Global folk music surely had an influence on this guitar masterpiece, and even though there are many mood changes, from the obscure lairs of the ancient druids to the light-filled Celtic springtime ceremonies, this record really lifts the spirit and cleanses all stress, anger, and pain from it. Although it was not created in Germany, this album could be a typical experimental and even cosmic release of the krautrock scene from its era. The years from 1970 to 1974 saw quite a few similar releases. The closing track, "Realization," in particular, is a beautiful example of cosmic guitar music as it was produced only in that short period of time. It begins with some whistling fizzling buzz and then changes to a calm and mystical chord structure with strange echoes and spooky howls in the background. "Realization" slowly develops into a maelstrom that drags the listener into a musical black hole. Not as wild and heavy as the early Ash Ra Tempel albums, this piece could easily be a composition of guitar legend Manuel Göttsching. For fans of blues- and folk-based yet utterly freaked-out and dirty echo guitar music and cosmic sounds such as A.R. & Machines, early Tangerine Dream, early Kraftwerk, the aforementioned Ash Ra Tempel, Walter Wegmüller, or Gulââb.
Dave Henson has been producing electronic music on the fringes of any discernible scene since the late '90s, operating outside of the boundaries of good taste and slowly formulating his own very particular sound. Since 2010 he's been recording as Nochexxx, and firing the influence of vintage electro and early bleep techno through an arsenal of barely-working gear to create a sound that's as grubby as Wolf Eyes but with the unmistakable slap of late '80s Detroit. Plot Defender is Henson's third proper album under the Nochexxx moniker, and is his most developed to date, anchored by clattering tape-distorted rhythms and synth squelches that make the TB-303 sound well-mannered. Whether giving the nod to Incunabula on "Between Two Stations" or to the masters Drexciya on "Stinson Fish," Henson's vision is never anything but unique, offering a cracked-glass vision of the last few decades of electronic music and doing so with a very British nod to the camera. Anyone who fell in love with 2014's transmissions from Ekoplekz would do well to investigate. Mastered and cut by Matt Colton at Alchemy. Edition of 500 copies.
LP version. Pressed on 180-gram vinyl. Musique de film imaginé (music for film imagined) is a soundtrack that pays homage to the great European film directors of the late '50s and '60s, such as François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard (to name but two), created by Anton Newcombe on behalf of The Brian Jonestown Massacre for an imaginary French film. Named in tribute to the legendary Rolling Stones guitarist and his influence in introducing Eastern culture and music into the world of western rock and roll, The Brian Jonestown Massacre formed in San Francisco, California in 1990. Two dozen band members and numerous ups and downs later (some of which have been famously sensationalized in the media), the one thing that has always remained consistent for this psychedelic collective is frontman Mr. Anton Alfred Newcombe. The Brian Jonestown Massacre returned to wide acclaim in May of 2014 with their 14th full-length album, Revelation (AUK 030CD/LP), the first of the band's albums to be fully recorded and produced at Newcombe's recording studio in Berlin. Also recorded in Berlin, Musique de film imaginé features vocals from French chanteuse and multi-instrumentalist SoKo and Italian actress, singer, and director Asia Argento. SoKo is signed to Because Music and her track "We Might Be Dead by Tomorrow" was featured in the viral video "First Kiss," which has garnered over 63 million views; the track debuted at number 9 in the Billboard Hot 100 in 2014. Argento, who has starred in music videos for Marilyn Manson, Placebo, and Tim Burgess, wrote the storyline for A$AP Rocky's 2013 cinematic music video "Phoenix," which has had over 5.5 million hits. Both vocal performances are in French. Newcombe recorded this daring symphonic experience in August 2014 after a successful European tour with The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Newcombe describes the work as "a soundtrack, my own creation, a tribute to great directors and filmmakers [and] to an era that now seems to be behind us. Leaving the smart person to care to imagine that this art could now be in the shadow of its former glory. The interesting thing about this project is that the film does not exist either. Even so, I imagined and I realized its soundtrack... Now it's your turn, you are the listener to imagine the film."
A friend of Aguirre recalls meeting Tim Robertson by chance in a thrift store in Barcelona, while eyeing a dusty Hammond organ: "He was born in Honduras, but moved out of there at a young age to several other countries such as Perú, France, and Norway. His parents were devoted to some religious organization and they were spreading the word all around. The last place they were sent to was Barcelona, hence the reason he was there. He learned to play the keyboards as a kid and performed in church. He told me his life changed after spending some years in Niger and Ethiopia. He returned from that experience totally renewed and decided to somehow capture all the ideas he had during his stay in Africa. He bought an old four-track recorder and started jamming around the simple but complex idea of how church music in space would sound. During the next two years he got obsessed with creating the compositions of the future temples on Saturn and Neptune. He recorded hours and hours of music. In the end, feeling totally frustrated, he decided to throw to the bin all those tapes. Well, not all of them. Happily he kept two as a gift to his parents. Sadly, his parents passed away some years later. While cleaning their apartment he found the tapes and with the passing of time he decided to keep them as a memory of that crazy time. I was really curious about those tapes so I asked him if it would be possible to listen to them. After a couple of minutes I was totally captivated by them. It was so strange. The kind of repetitive music with cheap keyboard presets. So rough, basic, and fragile. It was then I told him that I felt more people had to listen to those recordings. After quite a bit of arguing, he finally accepted. 'At least I'm sharing the word of God with more people,' he said. So 20 years after they were originally recorded I'm proud to share with everyone out there these seven tracks by a man who had a strange vision: compose the perfect soundtrack for the buildings where future space travelers would praise the lord. You can now judge with your own ears if he achieved his goal or failed. Peace!" Recorded in 1993. Remastered from the original tapes by Anders Peterson. Pressed on milky white vinyl. Artwork by Tim Robertson. Layout by Jeroen Wille. Limited to 300 copies.
Copenhagen-based industrial duo Damien Dubrovnik (aka Posh Isolation founders Loke Rahbek and Christian Stadsgaard) follow up 2013's First Burning Attraction (ALT 008LP) with Vegas Fountain. Rahbek and Stadsgaard have continued to be consistently busy as label bosses but even more so as artists, performing more frequently worldwide and building a reputation for their fierce and powerful live show. They have also continued to hone their craft in the studio and found a working rhythm in which their live performance feeds into the studio work and vice versa. 2014's Patterns of Penetration 7" (ALT 701EP) was a teaser for this developing practice, but it arrives here full-force with Vegas Fountain, Damien Dubrovnik's strongest work yet. In the first couple of minutes of opening track "On It's Double," you get a sense that things have moved forward artistically in Rahbek and Stadsgaard's world. The clear production breathes a subtlety into some of the sonics here that perhaps wasn't revealed through the murk on previous records, heightening a tension that at some points breaks and dissolves into something almost melancholic -- evoked by the reflective landscapes of "Interior 2: See Water Glass" and "Interior 3: Matching Window Blinds." The attack remains however, with the punctuating saw-toothed bass notes and screaming tones of "Interior 1: Upper Lip" (considered "problematic" to cut by the mastering engineer), and the finale of the title-track, which has all the drama and explosive euphoria of their live show. Vegas Fountain is co-released by Alter and Posh Isolation.
The Vienna-based trio's second LP following 2013's crushing debut Licht (BLACKEST 016LP), Crack finds Peter Rehberg (Editions Mego), Christina Nemec (comfortzone), and Christian Schachinger crafting a powerful alloy of extreme electroacoustic music, luminous ambience, and the mineral fundaments of rock and black metal. Opener "Spalt" immediately signals a departure from the monolithic doom of Licht, conveying instead a sense of adrenalized movement, of acceleration toward an ever-receding horizon. There is no percussion, yet Nemec's chasmic bass and Rehberg's protean electronics give rise to an unstoppable momentum. Schachinger's highly lyrical, spiraling guitar improvisations nod to Fripp and Göttsching, but Shampoo Boy's vision of the cosmos is more hard-boiled and unforgiving than that of their forefathers. On "Riss," slow, ceremonial down-strokes suggest a return to Licht, with the addition of Rehberg's unintelligible conversation-snippets, machine noise, and nameless natural currents mingling in pernicious hybrid forms that curl and ricochet about the stereo field. Subterranean bass tones, meanwhile, seem to reverberate from an ancient and appalling source. It's typical of Crack's unorthodox Weltanschauung, however, that just when we think the game is up, we are faced not with oblivion but with potential absolution: "Riss"'s closing section is a gravely serene tone-painting. Side B is given in its entirety to the three-part "Bruch," the most potent and pugilistic manifestation of Shampoo Boy's brute psychedelia to date. Part I is a near-gothic assemblage of tortured computer processing, abyssal drones, and stray industrial noise. This gives way to the calm but agonized concrète of part II, sparse, minimalist, dub-damaged. The broiling digital synthesis of part III complements annihilating slow-motion riffage; a thuggish monochord attack that feels almost Stooge-ian -- grungy, swaggering, sewer-savvy -- but doubles back into abstraction. It becomes impossible to distinguish individual instruments, processes, or contributions; the group mind takes over, the third eye is on fire, and the album climaxes in a black flash of negative ecstasy. Epic in scale, complex in mood, and dazzling in technique, Crack is a momentous achievement from three improvising musicians at the height of their powers. A lived-in and emotionally charged work, harrowing but energizing, it is also a sustained achievement of arrangement and post-production remarkable even in light of its makers' pedigree: the harshest and heaviest passages are rendered with a sense of space and richness of detail that is truly otherworldly. Russell Haswell's astute mastering amplifies this, resulting in one a supremely exhilarating and rewarding work.
It is 1960. Rock 'n' roll has just lost a couple of its protagonists during this and the previous year. The time of the great balladeers has just begun but soon will run out, due to the new and exciting beat invasion. In the US mainstream, the tiki culture has reached a certain peak and is about to collapse, but still goes strong, and with it comes the so-called "exotica" music, a crossover between smooth jazz and swing, Latin grooves, and haunting melodies rooted in global folk traditions, plus weird sound effects that often create a spooky jungle or dreamy island beach atmosphere. See palm trees growing out of your speakers; witness monkeys and parrots having fun in your room. eden ahbez (1908-1995) lived a consistent dropout and hippie lifestyle way before the movement was born in the mid '60s. As a poet and composer, he wrote the hit tune "Nature Boy" that gave Nat King Cole his first big success in 1948. On Eden's Island, originally released in 1960, he approaches the field of exotica music from a different point of view, creating an epic concept album about a utopian society living in peace and harmony on an island far away from the modern western world as we know it. Relaxed grooves; easy-listening swing; Latin patterns; peaceful, dreamy, even transcendent vocal melodies; tinges of folk music from around the world; and a whole color palette of mind-expanding sounds, with narrated lyrics and eden ahbez's wood flute. A truly unique effort; highly recommended to exotica aficionados who, for example, love Frank Hunter's 1959 White Goddess album. Psychedelic music before the term was even invented.
Pressed on 180-gram vinyl; housed in Dancing Wayang's customary hand-screenprinted wrap-around sleeve featuring a bold potato-print design by the label's own Anna Tjan. Exclusive liner notes courtesy of Tom Recchion (Smegma, Los Angeles Free Music Society). Dancing Wayang is thrilled to release Bring Us Some Honest Food, a collaboration between Argentine guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Alan Courtis and Brooklyn-based British drummer Aaron Moore. Recorded at London's Fish Factory Studio in 2014, it sees both musicians explore sounds and instruments far beyond their regular guitar and drums setups, utilizing anything from grand piano and balafon to metal lampshades and wooden staircases. Courtis (formerly Anla Courtis) co-founded Argentine power trio Reynols, and has collaborated and performed with Kawabata Makoto, Oren Ambarchi, Lasse Marhaug, and many more; Moore has détourned music most regularly as part of Volcano the Bear, who came to attention in the late 1990s through their imaginative live performances and recorded output. Bring Us Some Honest Food merges and develops the postal collaboration techniques of their previous releases; this is music created in real time, face-to-face in London, then layered and collaged afterward by (digital) post across continents to produce the intricate découpage effect heard here. It is a disorienting experience to listen deeply to this music. These lengthy pieces sound densely structured and composed with the precision of a Glenn Gould tape edit, but with a seat-of-yr-pants improv feel that brings the threat of collapse and chaos. In that sense it echoes krautrock pioneers going crazy with tape and razor blades decades ago, with a similarly kosmische expansiveness, but filtered through a wealth of avant knowledge and praxis. In short, neither salon nor sweat-pit, though informed by both. Bring Us Some Honest Food is all noir and shadow. The slammed piano chords of "Portions of Honesty" are repeated maddeningly, feeling like the shadow of Nosferatu creeping up the stairs. The muted trumpet of "Dishonest Dessert" accrues portentousness over 20 minutes, echoing the ever-more-insistent piano. Throughout the album sounds drift in and out, from foreground to background, cut off, backwards. Vocals are muffled, distorted; recognizable sounds redacted. The listener's ears skitter across the stereo envelope like an extra-wired sentry on guard duty. This is an involving, demanding, rewarding, and immersive album. Chance encounters are mercifully all around us but while all are welcome few are as serendipitous as this bizarre and blessed encounter of Brooklyn and Buenos Aires, and now London.
LP version. Pressed on white vinyl. Walls (Alessio Natalizia and Sam Willis) return with their third and final studio album, Urals. Urals is the conclusion of a three-album cycle that began with their self-titled debut in 2010 (KOMP 082CD/KOM 212LP), and continued in 2011 with Coracle (KOMP 091CD/KOM 245LP). This album is an accumulation of four years of studio exploration, inverting their signature sound into a new, more intense dimension, the duo once again exploring futuristic vistas with their coruscating synth lines, spiraling guitar figures, and howling distortion and noise. Informed by the creation/curation of their burgeoning Ecstatic Recordings imprint that has seen them release music by kindred spirits such as Pye Corner Audio, Axel Willner (The Field), and L/F/D/M, among others, as well as their own individual explorations (Natalizia's caustic, minimal synth workouts as Not Waving, and Willis's lurid, ritualistic techno as Primitive World) Urals pushes the envelope a long way from the template they set out with on tracks such as "Burnt Sienna" or "Hang Four." From the stumbling, off-kilter groove of the title-track to the probing kosmische pulses of "Altai" to the intense, ear-shredding acid of "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" to the sublime synth-scape paean "Radiance," it's clear that Willis and Natalizia are taking leave of the Walls project at the top of their game. Mastered by Sonic Boom (Spacemen 3, Spectrum) at New Atlantis Studios. Limited edition LP pressed on white vinyl.
A double-header from the M-Plant master himself, uniting Robert Hood's two dancefloor personalities (his given name and Floorplan). Following his 2014 celebratory comprehensive compilation M-Print: 20 Years of M-Plant Music (MPM 025CD), "Shaker" immerses you in those late-night moments when Hood graces the decks. It's pulsating and hypnotic; stripped back to the essentials. The beats, the groove, the perfectly placed vocal snippet -- nothing is superfluous here. Hood's Floorplan touch is all over "Ritual." A shuffling Chi-town flavor, trademark hi-hats, and a beast of a bassline underlie the track, with elegant synths that build to dizzying heights.
LP version. This album, originally released in 1972, can be put in the field of so-called "library music," records made for use in movies and TV productions, commercials, and for similar purposes to enhance the tension of the atmosphere in very dramatic scenes or accompany the more mellow and relaxed moments with lush harmony carpets. And of all these library albums, this is one of the most sought-after by collectors around the world due to the musical quality of its content. And so we sit back, relax, close our eyes and get ready for the movie that only exists in our imagination. Stringtronics take us on a journey from the dark city gorges of any North American metropolis, where steaming hot, funky, and jazzy rhythms amalgamate and are clothed in a veil of lush string arrangements, to the banks of the river Seine, where painters draw portraits of tourists and people sit in the sun, relaxing to the typical chanson melodies full of melancholy and joy. In there is a tinge of the 1950s exotica music here and there, alongside Latin grooves and some rock elements shining through in the soundscape. It is fantastic but not easy to categorize -- it could appeal to fans of US movie soundtracks from the early '70s and late '60s created by folks like George Clinton, but also to those who enjoy the early works of such electronic pop pioneers as Wendy Carlos, and to space-age pop aficionados. It is all here, and the participating musicians paint their melody-and-rhythm patterns with an enormous feeling for depth and emotion.
Rrose (Sandwell District, Eaux, Stroboscopic Artefacts) has found her own niche in the American techno underground. Her hypnotic tracks incorporate ideas from ambient and minimalist music as prominently as they do the history of dance music, operating in the same fruitful cross-section between techno and the abstract as many other Further Records releases. Rrose's debt to experimental music has never been more obvious than on September 20, 2012, when he performed legendary composer and electronic/computer music pioneer James Tenney's Having Never Written a Note for Percussion live in Washington, DC. The simple yet colossal piece requires the performer to play one percussive instrument constantly, taking it from the quietest point to the loudest and back again. Done well, it's a fascinating exploration of tone, volume, and decay, and a showcase for drone music's unusually transportive powers. Never Having Written a Note for Percussion has always been a personal favorite of Rrose's. He was inspired to try it out after touring Dupont Undergound, a performance space in a disused trolley tunnel beneath downtown DC, where the possibilities of "seemingly endless and unpredictable reverberations" seemed perfect for Tenney's composition. He made a 32-inch gong played with two mallets the central device of his performance, creating a towering leviathan of sound capable of the softest highs and the deepest lows. It's a vastness that comes across especially well on the live recording of that 2012 performance, a breathtaking 30 minutes that seems daunting at first but moves with a grace as easy as breathing. Rrose's take is almost definitive: not only does he stretch out the piece to 30 minutes beyond its usual eight-to-12-minute duration, but, even more importantly, she offers two versions made in two very different settings. The A-side features a performance recorded in a studio during his practice sessions. Dry and mic'd up close, its almost stuffy quality is the direct opposite of the live version, like it's coming from inside your head, where the live recording on the B-side surrounds you with the booming sound of the gong. Never Having Written a Note for Percussion is a powerful study not only in minimalist composition but the importance of the room and environment that a performance, or just pure sound, takes place in, and a potent example of the kind of experimental tendencies that make Rrose one of techno's more fascinating figures. Mastered by Rashad Becker at Dubplates & Mastering.
Obscurant (incl. Call Super Remix)
180-gram vinyl. In 2011 Gatto Fritto sent International Feel a track called "Acdise #2" by a Japanese artist called Gonno, which International Feel then released as an EP (IFFM 001EP). It became a big tune, played by everyone from James Holden to Todd Terje, Tim Sweeney to Ewan Pearson. As hypnotic and compelling as "Acdise #2," "Obscurant" is slo-mo electronic Steve Reich packed with drama and moments of joy and "A Life With Clarinet" oozes enough emotion to overload your system. Includes a remix of "Obscurant" by Call Super, who turned Gatto Fritto on to "Acdise #2" in 2011.
Inaugural release in the Kasm 10" series, written and produced by The Fear Ratio (Mark Broom and James Ruskin), with artwork for the whole series by Bhatoptics. Enjoy...
Alex Menzies, more commonly known as Alex Smoke, began his techno career in the early 2000s, with years of international performances and DJ sets culminating in a string of heady 12"s for the inimitable R&S label in 2013 and '14. Menzies's techno prowess has always carried with it a keen sense of compositional rigor, with harmonic outlining pads and strings adding emotional depth and weight. A classically trained cellist, Menzies has shifted his attention back to composition, cello, and the piano, collaborating on abstract installation work with visual master Florence To. The second release on Ricardo Donoso's label Kathexis and the first in a two-part series of BBC documentary soundtrack work, Order & Disorder sees Menzies using a sound palette of mostly orchestral instrumentation, including, voice, cello, and prepared piano, as well as electronic sources like the ondes Martenot. Each different cue of electronic and acoustic hybrid miniatures develops throughout the album, each piece carrying with it a profound depth and gravity that is unique and unrivaled in its beauty. For a high-level physics documentary focusing on entropy and information, presented in a strikingly engaging manner, Menzies's score provides a serene take on the slippery concept of energy. Angelic harmony runs in parallel with more unpredictable elements like prepared piano, tape hiss, percussive clicks, and smothered field recordings, truly encapsulating the documentary's themes and our relationship to the world around us -- chaotic, beautiful, but most of all full of wonder and awe. Limited to 300 copies; initial copies on mint-colored vinyl.
Double LP version; pressed on 180-gram vinyl; includes CD. An epic sonic journey crossing classic Kompakt territory, from pop ambient to tuneful techno and house, Val Maira is not just the extended follow-up to Berlin's Dave DK's much-adored 2013 Palmaille 12" (KOM 277EP), but a sonic achievement in its own right; a work as delicate as it is candid, ultimately -- magically -- amounting to so much more than the mere sum of its parts. Named after a valley in the Italian mountains, Val Maira goes beyond admittedly impressive production skills, aiming for deeply personal expressiveness and emotional impact. From the tender dawning of opener "Fade In" to the solid dance chops of enticingly grooving cuts like "Smukke Lyde," "Nueva Cancion," and "Coolette," the album's preoccupation with the mutual dependencies of harmony and discord is quickly revealed; as Dave says, "I've tried to create an interlocking atmosphere of merriment and melancholy for the full duration of an album... I hope that one can hear a little bit of hope in the tracks, like everything's going to be fine... Although you can be incredibly creative thanks to limitless digital means, I think that the biggest challenge lies in creating a link to something human, generating feelings of warmth that reach and move the listener." Dave's meticulous planning and development ("before anything else, I need an idea and a general notion of the development of a track -- just jamming doesn't work well for me") translate into a deeply organic sound, apparent on such tracks as "Halma," "Veira," and "Whitehill," the latter featuring the distinctive vocals of Piper Davis (Stimming). One could describe these tracks as both intimate and sociable at the same time, a rare combination that might also account for the vivid sonic storytelling present in cuts like "Kronsee" or "We Mix At Six," the synesthetic retelling of a delayed party at the beaches of Barcelona, where someone spray-painted the title's vital information on a T-shirt swaying in the summer breeze. Heavily influenced by film soundtracks, drone sounds, and organic noise, Dave DK obviously feels very close to the perpetual atmospheric hum in between sounds, finding hooks in the tiniest nooks and crannies -- and to hear these 11 tracks lovingly intertwining their inspirations while seemingly creating nutrient-rich textures and meaningful melodies out of thin ether remains a riveting experience even after the nth playback.
Eskimo Recordings Presents: The Orange Collection 2CD
Don't Think I've Forgotten: Cambodia's Lost Rock and Roll CD
Blues For Albert Ayler CD
Michigan State University, April 15th 1976 CD
Rutgers University, NJ, April 15th 1969 2CD
Lost Shadows: In Defence of the Soul - Yanomami Shamanism, Songs, Ritual, 1978 2CD
A&R Studios, NYC December 14th 1970 2CD
First Monster Last Monster Always Monster CD
Songs from The Falling CD
United Western Recorders Hollywood LA, October 1 1972 CD
Both/And Club, San Francisco, June 1970 2CD
Spectrum, Philadelphia 23rd May 1988 CD
The Agora, Columbus, Ohio, October 17th 1972 2CD
Bottom Line Cabaret 31.3.74 2CD
Congo Guitars 1952 & 1957 LP
Congo Traditional 1952 & 1957 LP
Halfway to White Book w/CD
Electric Lady Studio, NYC, June 1975 CD
A Self-Taught, Decathlon Hard Rock Musician CD
Try Making Love (Al Kent Version)/Dancing (Roger Thornhill Edit) 12"
Ananda Shankar and his Music LP
Le Monde Fabuleux Des Yamasuki LP
O Mistério dos Quintais LP
Mother Earth's Plantasia LP
Opens the Seven Gates of Transcendental Consciousness LP
Progressive Percussions LP