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Fourtet/Hella [split] – [Ache Records]

Ache is putting out a series of split 7-inchers, calling it the “Divorce” series (split = divorce, get it?). Here it’s Fourtet, a solo project by Kieran Hebden, on one side, giving us a slow instrumental full of blippy keyboards and random drumming. On the other side, the duo known as Hella bring us their usual spazzy madness; chaotic keyboards and samples atop some pretty incredible drumming. I think Ache’s idea with each of these splits is to bring together two artists who aren’t normally linked, but who work in similar fashion. These two tracks aren’t particularly similar sounding, but both feature keyboards/samples and live drumming. A cool release.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on December 30, 2005 at 10:54 pm
  • Filed as 7-inch,A Library
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  • Dr. Ragtime – “Buckdancer’s Choice ” – [Sacred Harp Library]

    A Rose by any other name (Jack) would sound as sweet. With more pluck and swagger and a fellow Pelt banjo carpetbagger (Mike Gangloff) the title track feels like a strut around the chicken coup without stepping in any poop. Steel strings smiling chicken wire.

    The mood darkens and drops about six feet on the flip side…the good doctor is dispatched alone to cover “Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground.” Taking a bluesy scalpel to slide and slice up his guitar, this thing moves with the slow purpose of a drop of sweat down Harry Stanton’s back in “Paris, Texas.” Blind Willie Johnson is turning in his grave, only so’s he can get an ear as close to the sound as is post-humously possible.

    Two done the right way, for pickers and sinners alike.

    Also this is the firstborn for a fine new label too, with a package near as purty as the sound purveyed therein.

  • Reviewed by Thurston Hunger on December 30, 2005 at 10:43 pm
  • Filed as 7-inch,A Library
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  • [coll] N?o Wave Revisited – [Man Recordings] – (45 rpm)

    This is a follow up to the excellent Nao Wave: Brazilian Post Punk 1982-1988 collection that we added to the library earlier this year (A/CD). It is also released by Germany’s Man Recordings.

    On this EP four tracks from the Nao Wave compilation are remixed and reworked by four European electronic artists: The Glimmers (Belgium), Munk (German), Tim ‘Love? Lee (England), and Marco (German).

    The artists take what they want from these songs, editing them with an eye on the dance floor. The resulting sound is familiar and strange, retro and futuristic at the same time. Thanks to Man for finding these recordings and showing that they are still relevant.

    –Hunter Gatherer

  • Reviewed by Hunter Gatherer on December 30, 2005 at 9:52 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,International
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  • Mono – “Under the Pipal Tree ” – [Tzadik]

    Japanese quartet (3M,1F) plays ferocious crescendo guitar rock, in the style of Mogwai and GYBE. Several long tracks stretch out, build up and crash down. Mono will play at one gorgeous level for a while, kick it up another level, and then another. Echoing guitar/bass patterns intertwine and grow. Drumming is huge and perfect. Melancholy mood reinforced by guest on cello. I’ve read that people are often seen crying during Mono’s live sets. Think of how it feels to remember good times with a lost loved one; here is your soundtrack, all instrumental, blissful and sad at the same time. A beautiful recording!

  • Reviewed by Max Level on December 28, 2005 at 10:25 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Antennas Erupt – “Magical Energy ” – [S-S Records]

    Crazy skronkadelic material from this Sacramento quartet with an unusual sax/sax/cello/drums lineup. Even though the music is completely wacky –imagine a circus parade led by a rainbow-colored clown jalopy towing a dumpster full of sax-playing chimpanzees– it’s easy to hear what good players these guys are; they’re as comfortable with the tightly arranged sections as they are with the freaky free jazz parts. While the saxes dominate, the cello pops up now and then to remind us it’s there. I like the drummer a lot, he’s loose but kicks plenty of butt. Tracks are mostly in the 4 to 6 minute range. The final track (B3) is 11 minutes long, including a silly sax line repeated for 3 or 4 minutes at the end, and afterward there’s about a minute of silence before the run-out groove. I read on the label’s website that this group broke up in late 2004. If so, this limited (500 copies) edition LP is a fine way to go out. Glad we got one.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on December 28, 2005 at 10:18 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,Jazz
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  • Mummies, the – “Death By Unga Bunga!! ” – [Estrus Records]

    A collection of greatest hits and rarities by local trash-rock legends, destroyers of countless rock clubs and pizza parlors in the late ’80s – mid ’90s. Theirs was a majestic garage sound, blending the sneering ’60s fuzz-rock of The Seeds and The Music Machine with rockabilly guitar stomp and pure punk chaos. They also managed to slip some Sam The Sham-style humor into their 2-minute masterpieces. There’s a menacing Iggy vibe at the beginning of Track 6, and Track 19 (Mummies classic “Planet of the Apes”) is not only hilarious but also rocks like nobody’s business. Consistently awful sound quality adds to the fun. What are you waiting for? Slap this sucker on!

  • Reviewed by Max Level on December 28, 2005 at 10:16 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Leprechaun Catering – Kumquats and Lychees – [Heresee & Ehse] – (33 rpm)

    Baltimore’s Leprechaun Catering is comprised of Jason Willett, Tom Boram and a shitload of electronic devices. And they live together! Just like The Monkees! This album was released in early 2004. Only 300 were made, but we managed to get one.

    The album starts out with a semi-normal funky guitar rhythm. A synth joins in, and before long everything is dismantled. Electrons are ripped from their atoms like wings from a fly. The nuclei that remain are pulverized into quarks. Inside the quarks are multidimensional vibrating superstrings. The question becomes How does one mic subatomic particles?

    The music is cacophonous in a humorous, good way. Synthesized sounds and samples are looped and set against each other. Then the whole thing is left alone to work itself out. It’s the electronic music version of intelligent design. If the music thing doesn’t work out, these guys could make a fortune selling cell phone ring tones.

    Inside the album is a lyrics sheet, even though there is no language on this (except for a few words at the end of the Kumquat side). Feel free to declaim the lyrics in a loud voice as you play this, but make sure the microphone is off.

    Scientists believe that in approximately 20,000 years humans will have evolved the ability to understand and appreciate this music. It will be several tens of millennia more before humans have the physical capability of dancing to it.

    –Hunter Gatherer

  • Reviewed by Hunter Gatherer on December 28, 2005 at 6:30 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,A Library
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  • Brunn, Benjamin – Music Under Pin – [Bine Music] – (33 rpm)

    Released in June 2005 by prolific electronic musician and trained civil engineer Benjamin Brunn, this is one of at least three releases from him this year. The album has 4 new tracks on side A and on the other side 4 tracks from his previous album Konig und Drache remixed by friends and labelmates Move D, Scanner, Thomas Touzimsky, and Wendt.

    Mr. Brunn is definitely of the ‘less is more? school of music. The songs slowly build by adding electronic squiggles and beats that fill in various frequency ranges. It sounds deceptively simple. A little glitchy and not very dancy, the music is sort of like being bathed in warm radiation that raises your cognitive abilities as well as leaves you with a nice tan.

    The remixes on side B are busier than the tracks on side A but retain the warm feel. Tarmac gets a nice groove going. Cool Ist Hier is my favorite track because of its shimmering beauty.

    This is our first Binemusic addition to the library. I hope that we can add more soon.

    –Hunter Gatherer

  • Reviewed by Hunter Gatherer on December 28, 2005 at 6:28 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,A Library
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  • Theus, Fats – Black Out – [CTI Records] – (33 rpm)

    This is the first release by tenor sax player Fats Theus. Originally released in 1970 on Creed Taylor‘s CTI label, this album was quite hard to find until it was re-released in 2000. Mr. Taylor also produced this album.

    Session players include Grant Green, who plays some excellent guitar, Hilton Felton and Clarence Palmer on organ, Jimmy Lewis and Chuck Rainey on bass, Idris Muhammad on drums, and Eddie Moore, who plays a saw solo(!) on Bed Of Nails.

    This album is all about soul-jazz. It’s heavily blues and soul influenced. If Booker T and the M.G.s went to jazz camp every summer in their youth, this is what they might have come up with.

    The various players have opted for a smooth and mellow sound rather than cutting loose. The over all feeling is restrained and even respectful, sort of like music played when a talk show breaks for commercial. I found myself wishing that they would throw down at least a little.

    All instrumental.

    –Hunter Gatherer

  • Reviewed by Hunter Gatherer on December 28, 2005 at 6:26 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,Jazz
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  • Bey, Faruq Z. W/Northwoods – “Rwanda ” – [Qbico]

    Gorgeous, earthy, unhurried Mother Africa jazz here, deep and dark, mysterious yet reassuring. Sax/flute master Bey leads a superb group of like-minded story-tellers; together they bring forth a kind of ancient knowledge I can’t begin to understand. Long journeys unfold before us? our guides are bass, drums, saxes, flutes, bass clarinet, and vibraphone/marimba. Along the way we meet shenhai, zola phone, and bone guitar. Night comes in and spirits visit and we are at peace.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on December 28, 2005 at 4:40 am
  • Filed as 12-inch,Jazz
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  • Fragments – “S/T ” – [Self Release]

    Reviewing a self-released advance promo CD here. One of those “which library should it go in’” releases. I opted for the jazz section, since all three players bring solid jazz credentials, but the pieces herein might be better described as chamber-jazz-post-improv-modern-composition hybrids. Scott Hill is on clarinets and soprano sax, the up-and-coming Roberta Piket is on piano, and Eric Clark plays violin. It’s interesting how similar the tonal ranges of these particular instruments can be; sometimes for example it sounds like the clarinet is poking its head up when it’s actually the violin, and vice versa, and things like that. There is also a guest contributing flute and piccolo. Track 1 is a strong leadoff, with clarinet and violin lines merging and diverging, and Piket pounding out a dense Cecil Taylor-style racket. The final track is tricky: it’s listed as 8 minutes, but the CD time-counter shows nearly 17 minutes. It’s actually 8 minutes of music, then 40 seconds of silence, then a hidden 8 minute track. Fragments (the group) puts together outstanding music -intelligent, not easily classifiable.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on December 28, 2005 at 4:39 am
  • Filed as CD,Jazz
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  • Rogers, Lee – Sock Some Love Power To Me – [Soul-Tay-Shus Recordings] – (33 rpm)

    Lee Rogers (1939-1990) is a soul singer from Detroit who never strayed far from his gospel roots. (Don’t confuse him with KSFO morning man Lee Rodgers.) Soul-Tay-Shus Records (part of Tuff City Records) has re-released 14 of his tracks that were originally released on 45s.

    The majority of his career is covered in this compilation. The earliest tracks ’64-’66 were released on D-Town records. Later releases (’66-’69) came out on Wheelsville and Premium Stuff. On the back of this release I indicated the labels, date, and which side the track was on as best I could find out.

    Proud of his roots as a gospel singer, Mr. Rogers said in an interview that the only difference between the singing he did in church and the singing he does on his records is that he wears a more expensive suit when he sings on his records.

    These songs have a much rougher production than the tracks of a certain other Detroit-based label, and the sound is much more authentic as a result. On some of the D-Town singles, the instrumentals were recorded ahead of time and when Mr. Rogers would come in from touring he would record the vocal tracks separately. The instrumental track would be played over the loud speakers (no headphones in Detroit?), which would bleed through the mic as he sang. It gives these tracks a muddy sound, particularly noticeable at the end of You’re the Cream of the Crop (A4). These tracks clearly weren’t recorded with posterity in mind.

    The highest charting single here is I Want You To Have Everything, which hit #16 in Jan ’65 on the R&B chart. This is the slickest track on the album. I prefer the more raw sounding Love For A Love (A3) and How Are You Fixed For Love (B1) and in particular the horns on ‘I’m A Practical Guy (A1). All tracks are short; the longest one is 3:02.

    –Hunter Gatherer

  • Reviewed by Hunter Gatherer on December 27, 2005 at 4:12 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,Soul
  • 1 comment
  • Prince Far I – Silver & Gold: 1973-1979 – [Blood and Fire]

    Prince Far I, a.k.a. Prince Cry Cry, a.k.a The Voice of Thunder, a.k.a. Michael James William, is an important roots reggae figure who has worked as a bouncer, security guard, car sprayer, and DJ.

    Around 1970 he got a chance to record when someone didn’t show up, so they let him be on the record. From that chance start, he became a singer/preacher who would sing about religion, war, oppression in Jamaica, and cricket. His murder in 1983 cut short a career that was going strong.

    This collection by Blood and Fire, a reggae re-issue label (that was co-founded by Simply Red‘s Mick Hucknall) of his career conveniently brings together 19 of his tracks ranging from scarce as hens teeth to impossible to find. Released in October 2005, a majority of the tracks are from his label, Cry Tuff.

    Prince Far I has a wonderful gravelly voice, and he doesn’t use it to exactly sing or exactly toast. It’s more like the rantings of a prophet or maybe a proto-rap. Some lines are punctuated with a heia or a yeeah. Listen to his voice and you can hear its influence on hip hop. Some songs are followed by a ‘Version? which is a dubbish version of the previous track.

    The Slickers‘s Johnny Too Bad shows up here as Johnny Got Worse (1). And Dawn Penn‘s You Don’t Love Me (No No No) shows up here as Yes Yes Yes‘sung by Errol Holt‘with the lyrics You don’t love Jah.

    –Hunter Gatherer

  • Reviewed by Hunter Gatherer on December 26, 2005 at 8:49 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Wolfe, Julia – “String Quartets, the ” – [Cantaloupe Music]

    When she’s not busy running the Bang On A Can music festival/organization, Ms. Wolfe composes for orchestras, chamber ensembles, brass groups, etc. She claims influences ranging from “the old masters” to Steve Reich to Led Zeppelin to the car horns and construction sounds of her home base New York City. Here are three compositions, each played by a different string quartet. Track 1, originally commissioned for Kronos, has a dark, abrasive motif throughout. Track 2 is less percussive; to my ears it has a sort of boat-on-the-water feel to it – leaning first one way and then the other. Track 3 is the most interesting; it has more contrast between darkness and light, and is more highly developed. It comes back down to earth with a full minute of quiet afterglow. Everything here is modern, strange, and good.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on December 25, 2005 at 8:41 am
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Harris, Eddie – “Electrifying Eddie Harris, the ” – [4 Men with Beards]

    Tenor saxman Harris (1934-1996) and his classic 1966 Atlantic instrumental date, reissued in 2001 by 4 Men With Beards/Rhino. “Electrifying” refers to his pioneering use of electronic devices to enhance the sound of his instrument. But the enhancement is fairly subtle by today’s standards; just a thickening of the tone, no wah wahs and crap like that. That came later. Here the band is funky, in that familiar ’60s soul/jazz/groove/cowbell-boppin’ way, on “Sham Time” and the hit “Listen Here”. The two “Theme” tracks are slow and pretty. “Spanish Bull” is a stab at Coltrane’s new modalism. Harris produced a handful of popular things in about a 10-year stretch and didn’t do a whole lot afterward. So what? This record is cool and it’s good to have it back.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on December 25, 2005 at 8:40 am
  • Filed as 12-inch,Jazz
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  • Larval – “Obedience ” – [Cuneiform Records]

    Guitarist Bill Brovold writes the material and leads this ensemble, the lineup of the band varying somewhat from time to time. This CD features five large chunks of tense instrumental music. A chamber-type approach, I guess, in that the compositions have a calculated feel to them. Nobody really cuts loose. The malevolence suggested by track titles such as “Something Terrible is About to Happen” and “When Bullet Meets Flesh” becomes real before our ears. Guitars, violins, cellos, and saxes play hypnotic, repetitive lines that don’t develop much over the course of a composition; when they appear, it’s to smolder for a while, sometimes flaring up into something hotter, until other lines eventually move in and take over. Disturbing and quite effective.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on December 25, 2005 at 8:38 am
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Orchid – “S/T ” – [Hand Held Heart]

    This little gem with the blank black labels contains five perfect blasts of concentrated hardcore, ranging from :55 to 2:30, and not one second of downtime. Shred, blister, and annihilate are words that come to my mind when trying to describe Orchid’s instrumental approach. Minimal lyrics describe everyday situations and abuses. The words are emotion-packed, and only the most tormented yelling will do to get the point across. This music is in some ways insane, but there is something so beautiful and pure about it.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on December 25, 2005 at 8:37 am
  • Filed as 7-inch,A Library
  • 1 comment
  • Earthmonkey – “Audiosapien ” – [Beta-Lactam Ring Records]

    Deep, trippy excursions from Nurse With Wound alumnus Peat Bog. As Earthmonkey, he brings forth long, semi-droning, meticulously-assembled sound constructions. Intriguing textures are combined, phased, echoed, and looped; musical patterns repeat hypnotically; an occasional jazzy sax or wah wah guitar drops in. Also in the mix are children’s voices, backwards stuff, Middle Eastern hand percussion, harmonica, drum machine, throat singers, a million mysterious sonic fragments of who knows what… Assisting with this magnificent madness is NWW colleague Steven Stapleton, and possibly a few other folks as well. Among the tracks are 14 and 18 minute pieces.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on December 25, 2005 at 8:35 am
  • Filed as 12-inch,A Library
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  • T.V. Pow – “Being Nice Is Funny ” – [Staalplaat]

    Limited release CD in Staalplaat’s Mort Aux Vaches series- live Amsterdam radio performances, which have brought us Zoviet France, Flying Saucer Attack, Muslimgauze, and others. This installment (instaalment?) features experimental Chicago trio TV Pow recorded in 1999, working with an inventory that includes static noises, computers, turntables, home-made electronics, field recordings, glitches, and blips. Semi-musical drones are used but sparingly, and occasionally we hear far-off voices. On headphones, a subtle adventure and well worth the trip. This CD’s glitchy minimalism may cause your listeners to think you’ve gone off the air, so don’t wait too long to come back. Tracks all run together.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on December 25, 2005 at 8:34 am
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Fields, Scott – “Mamet ” – [Delmark]

    Five longish pieces of jazz-based improv from three well-known Chicago-area mercenaries. Weapons of choice are electric guitar, contrabass, and all manner of percussion. Not much melody and not much rhythm found here; the techniques are mostly along the lines of tapping, scraping, and rattling, with the leader’s guitar ideas (sometimes baby-gentle, sometimes angry and harsh) leading the charge. Occasionally the three players come together and assemble something solid, mostly they are sketching things out for one another, each player seemingly reluctant to step too far out front. Scenes from five of David Mamet’s plays are hereby set to music- the moods, actions, and emotions of the characters interpreted by the musicians. Somewhat scary adventures here; the 21 minute Track 4 (“The Woods”) is outstanding.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on December 25, 2005 at 8:33 am
  • Filed as CD,Jazz
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