Congos, The – “Feast” – [Kingston Sounds]

aarbor   1/26/2011   12-inch, Reggae

The Congos are best known for their masterpiece Heart Of The Congos, which they recorded with Lee “Scratch” Perry in 1977. Since the release of that collection they have put out very few albums, most of them lacking the brilliance, the beauty and the quality of the debut set. Despite using the name The Congos these albums weren’t recorded by the original trio Watty Burnett, Roydel Johnson (a/k/a Congo Ashanti Roy) and Cedric Myton, but rather solo efforts from the latter.

Their 2006 album called Cock Mouth Kill Cock — which is a Jamaican proverb that essentially means: “watch what you say, it could be your undoing was released in Europe as FEAST it contains the fruits of sessions conducted between Cedric Myton and vintage producer Bunny “Striker” Lee. These are new songs voiced by Cedric “Congo” Myton over original recordings of classic reggae riddims from the seventies and early eighties, like Johnny Clarke’s “Crazy Baldhead”, “Satta Massa Ganna”, the original “Stalag”, Alton Ellis’ “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” and others. This set recalls the spirit captured by the Heart Of The Congos set. Vocally Cedric Myton is joined by the late Brent Dowe (a member of the Melodians) for a powerful set of harmonized vocal statements with a strong Rasta message. Cedric Myton’s inimitable falsetto shines bright. This is classic roots reggae with an impressive all star lineup of backing musicians. AArbor

Senor Coconut – “Yellow Fever” – [Nacional Records]

aarbor   1/12/2011   CD, International

Yellow Fever is Uwe Schmidt???s (a/k/a Atom Heart, ATOM TM etc.) tribute to Japan???s Yellow Magic Orchestra. He???s upgraded to a full sized big band instead of just samplers and computer gear. Accompanying him are various artists including vocalist Argenis Brito, Deelite’s DJ Towa Tei, Mouse On Mars, and YMO’s Ryuchi Sakamoto. Essentially he???s transmogrphying the work of Yellow Magic Orchestra into classic Latin style pop songs. Atom Heart???s aim is ???to invent a super eclectic style of music??? and as usual, his cosmic sense of humor is a key part of the mix. Play, laugh, dance! AArbor

Ahmad, Raashan – “Push, The” – [Om Records]

aarbor   1/5/2011   CD, Hip Hop

Raashan Ahmad is from Trenton, NJ ??? he???s known as the MC for the Crown City Rockers. Here???s what he has to say about this album which is his first solo album: ???I have been in a live band for the last 8 years and have learned so much about different rhythms, genres, methods, and musicality??? But this album is a return to basics, that good ol’ boom bap, the beats and rhymes. I needed to get in touch with the other side of me, the side of me who loved Run DMC, BDP and the 808 machine. It was where I started as an M.C. and I needed to touch that again. As an M.C. in Crown City Rockers I try to be as varied as the music that we create. My writing is for myself as well as an audience as diverse as our crew. It is a challenge that I love; one that pushes me out of my comfort zone and inspires me to improve my talent. Without the skills I acquired from being in a group with such talented musicians I never could have made a solo album that is, in a word, selfish. This is a non-collaborative effort born out of my own fears, insecurities, observations, triumphs and tragedies. It is therapy over beats.???
Raashan???s little son sings on track 11. AArbor
Don???t Miss: tracks 8, 13
Language on Tracks: 2, 5, 7, 10 12

Die Antwoord – “$O$” – [Cherry Tree Records]

aarbor   1/5/2011   CD, Hip Hop

Die Antwoord (which means the Answer) is a hip hop group from Capetown, South African. The three members are: Ninja, Yo-Landi Vi$$er and DJ Hi-Tek

Die Antwoord performs music which incorporates many Zef elements and references. Zef is a South African counter-culture movement. They describe Zef as ???modern, trashy and out of date discarded cultural and style elements.??? Zef is, you’re poor but you’re fancy. You’re poor but you’re sexy, you’ve got style.”

The word “Zef” is a contraction of the name of the Ford Zephyr, a car that was popular worldwide from the 1950s to the 1970s. In South Africa, these cars at that time were more often than not owned by working-class people especially from the then-upcoming East and West Rand areas of Johannesburg (due to gold mining activity and the rising price of gold after it was de-coupled from a fixed US Dollar price of USD30 per fine ounce) and when Ford was seen as a high-quality product to aspire to as a car to own. The most distinctive and well-known feature of these cars were their horns that made a peculiar and amusing “A-hooo-haahhhhh” sound.
The music is fun, it???s sung in English, Africaans and Xhosa ??? (Morris Minor says ??? and I agree) ???don???t miss their online videos to get the full sense of this band.???

FCC Language on all tracks.

Russell, Gene – “Talk to My Lady” – [Black Jazz]

aarbor   1/5/2011   CD, Jazz

Originally released in 1972 this is funky jazz from pianist Gene Russell who was the head of the Black Jazz label. Tracks 1, 2 and 6 are original Gene Russell tracks (and definitely worth playing 2 is my favorite), the others are covers. AArbor

Singh, Charanjit – “Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat” – [Bombay Connection]

aarbor   1/5/2011   CD, International

Charanjit Singh is a veteran of countless Bollywood soundtrack orchestras in the Hindi film industry of the 1960s and ???70s. Singh would turn up at sessions with the latest new synthesiser, acquired at great expense from London or Singapore. He was not, however, widely regarded among his country folk as someone “pushing things forward”. His band, the Charanjit Singh Orchestra, made their rupees touring weddings, performing the hits of the day, and even though he played on many popular Bollywood recordings, Charanjit Singh was never a household name.

In 1982, though, Singh did something unusual. Inspired by the sound of disco imports from the west making waves among Bombay’s hipster cognoscenti, he went into the studio with some new kit ??? a Roland Jupiter-8 keyboard, a Roland TR-808 drum machine and a Roland TB-303 ??? and decided to make a record that combined western dance music with the droning ragas of Indian classical music. Recorded in two days, Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat garnered some interest, excerpts finding their way on to national radio, but it was a commercial flop and was soon forgotten.

In 2002, record collector Edo Bouman came across Ten Ragas in a a shop in Delhi. “Back at my hotel I played it on my portable player, and I was blown away. It sounded like acid house, or like an ultra-minimal Kraftwerk.” But it was the date on the record that shocked Bouman. Released 1982, it predated the first acid house record. AArbor

Sounds of Siam, The [coll] – [Soundway Records]

aarbor   1/5/2011   CD, International

This collection is an outstanding fusion of Thai folk with western funk and rock. It???s the result of years of crate digging in Bangkok???s Chinatown by UK DJ and producer Chris Menist. Luk-thung (“country song”) was the music of the poor, its wavering ??? often female ??? voices tell tales of hard work and heartache over beats borrowed from James Brown or the Stones, and Bollywood-tinged arrangements. A very cool example is track 9. For a taste of Molam, from the Laotian north, try Sodsri Rungsang, (track 16) wailing over a blues bass line, fiddle drone and twanging surf guitar. Don???t miss track 12 which has a wonderful Jumpin??? Jack Flash riff. A standout! AArbor

California Funk: Rare Funk 45s From The Golden State [coll] – [Jazzman]

aarbor   1/5/2011   CD, Soul

KFJC owns others in this series: Midwest Funk, Texas Funk, Carolina Funk, and this one is as good or better than the others. The compilers Malcolm Catto and Gerald ???Jazzman??? Short examine what happened to the independent ensembles who gigged during Sly and the Family Stone???s Bay-area renaissance. It tells the stories of musicians who worked alongside LA???s Charles Wright and the Watt???s 103rd Street Rhythm Bands. Along with pictures and stories about the artists you???ve got thunderous drums, fuzzy wah-wah, fat basslines, blistering horns and exhortations akin to James Brown and his many disciples. No filler here all tracks are worthy! AArbor

Last Kind Words [coll] – [Mississippi Records]

aarbor   10/14/2009   12-inch, Country

Old weird Americana from Mississippi Records. Deep, lost, or long buried blues and gospel records from the old days — creaky 78s that creep deep into the soul. Just as amazing as all the other releases from this label. These guys know how to collect and present the best of the most obscure. Don’t miss! AArbor

Slavic Soul Party – “Taketron” – [Barbes]

aarbor   10/14/2009   CD, International

Brash and strong as slivovitz this is danceable Balkan-flavored pop from a new NYC band. They mix the “messed-up” rhythms of the Balkans with gypsy music, funk and jazz. This is “heart and feet music” rather than “head music” according to one of the band members. There are great horns and hip-grinding grooves. Actually there’s a bit of gypsy, a bit of Eastern European, some Mexican, some Asian and jazz and even some soul. It’s NYC “neighborhood music” a little bit of this and a bit of that. Well worth playing! AArbor

the Nostalgia 77 Octet “Seven’s & Eight’s” [Tru Thoughts] (CD)

aarbor   4/26/2006   Jazz

This is the first recording of Ben Lamdin’s Nostalgia 77 Octet at the Jazz Cafe. According to Ben (Nostalgia 77) himself, they were still learning to play together when this recording was made – it was their 2nd ever public performance. Nostalgia 77 started making rather sombre, dark jazzy bedroom recordings on his first Tru Thoughts release: “Songs for My Funeral”. His 2nd release “The Garden” shows free jazz influences integrated into his sound. Melding his hip hop production skills with live jazz musicians takes his work to a whole new place that he seems to be enjoying. 4 of these tracks are from “The Garden” alongside 2 covers: “Down Another Road” by Graham Collier and “Watusa” by Sun Ra. The Nostalgia77 Octet looks to the future with conviction and at the same time refuses to throw away the past. AArbor

Hauschka – “Prepared Piano, the ” – [Karaoke Kalk]

aarbor   4/5/2006   12-inch, A Library

Volker Bertelmann is Hauschka. His is a “kinder, gentler” prepared piano than John Cage’s, more akin to Henry Cowell’s. Cowell apparently picked the strings of his piano like a zither while Cage clamped bolts and screws in between the strings along with little pieces of plastic, perhaps some chewing gum and bailing wire too. Hauschka apparently clamps wedges of leather, felt or rubber between the strings and he prepares the hammers with aluminum foil or rough film. The resulting sound is minimalistic, instrumental “haiku” and a nice respite for the ears.
2 Stones + Ginko Tree are Gamelan-like. Kreuzung brings Bartok to mind. Twins, Long Walk, Morning, + La Seine sound like Debussy or Ravel, Fernpunkt could be Satie. AArbor

Mr. Bambu – “Discombobulation Ep, the ” – [Organik]

aarbor   4/5/2006   12-inch, A Library

Mike Colby is Mr. Bambu a denizen of Gainesville, FL where he and Brazilio Jaxxson founded the Organik recordings label. Discombobulation was their 1st EP. It’s 4 tracks of downtempoish, playful beats. Nasty moog basslines do battle in deep space with legions of crusty samples and battalions of heavily-armed drums. He uses simple sound materials that evolve – a bit slowly for my taste. I found myself upping the speed on the A side – although 45 is a bit fast. Crabcake Delight has a moog bassline w/ a funky drum loop and a cool bassoon sample.
If you like myspace check out Bambu’s birthday cake (he’s in the picture too). AArbor

Mochipet – “Uzumaki ” – [Component Records]

aarbor   4/5/2006   A Library, CD

Mochipet’s music has been described “as potent as licking a page of micro-dots”. Luscious acoustic samples set in a framework of inverted, complex beats. Soundscapes of frenetic sliced’n’diced breaks that can be both soothing and unsettling (but mostly unsettling). Think Squarepusher and Venetian Snares dueling banjos. This album has elements of moodiness and absurdity. Track 1: Uzumaki sounds like Bartok w/ Japanese vocals. Track 2: Labha isTaiko-like sw/ grandfather clock parts then becomes dark skittery. Track 3: Dosa sounds like vibrating musical farts which evolve into a piano riff w/ skittery beats, banjo + a clangy bell. It includes remixes by Otto Von Schirach (Polka Electronic Death Country- it’s big spooky fun) and Xyn (Dobro) and a rework (by Mochipet) of Codec’s ISM. AArbor

Toy – “Toy ” – [Small Town Supersound]

aarbor   4/5/2006   A Library, CD

Toy is an electronic duo: UK composer Alisdair Stirling and Norwegian producer Jorgen Traeen. They allegedly met in the music department at Hamley’s toyshop. If the Radiophonic Workshop teamed up with the Yellow Magic Orchestra to produce themes for kids TV programs, they’d probably sound like this. Think infectious pop, elevator music with beats and grooves. The soundtrack to a dayglo, battery powered plastic world of robots, spaceships and drumming rabbits. Lopsided rhythms trundle away underneath shiny, synthetic melodies. They even sample Sparky’s Magic Piano on track 2 which is called Don’t Be as in “Don’t be surprised”. Tracks 6 + 9 are reminiscent of Tipsy. Track 7 brings Kraftwerk to mind. AArbor

Jumbonics – “Super-baxophone Ep ” – [Tru Thoughts]

aarbor   4/5/2006   12-inch, A Library

The duo of Rob Mac and Matt Smooth is Jumbonics. Jumbonics is a reference to the vintage 60s Italian Jem Jumbo organ a distinctive part of their sound. It’s kind of a collision of old and new with a ‘neo-beatnik stance’ (especially the tracks: “The World is Upside Down” + “Burn Dee” which have wordless vocals). Think hip hop roots with drum and vintage keys. A jazzy funk-fuelled tribute to the world’s discarded, outdated and unwanted electronic devices. AArbor

Schwartz, Damian – “Arena En Los Zapatos ” – [Apnea Records]

aarbor   3/29/2006   12-inch, A Library

Dami’n Schwartz first came in contact with techno and electronic music at age 15. Now in his early 20’s he likes to develop multiple musical concepts often using surprise, jazz, harmony and melody as elements in his solo productions. Jazz seems to be a prominent influence in his DJ sets. These 4 tracks are warm, friendly and very listenable, so do! AArbor

Balde, Daby – “Introducing Daby Balde ” – [World Music Network]

aarbor   3/29/2006   CD, International

This series is all about introducing up and coming African musicians to the rest of the world. Daby Balde is a former cab driver who was born into a noble family who didn’t support his musical interests. He’s from the Casamance region in southern Senegal. The southern Senegal sound is different from that of Dakar, it’s almost griot-like. Balde’s voice is slightly gruff but powerful in a very human way. The backing instrumentals are quite wonderful. AArbor

Blaktroniks – “This Is Your Drug on Brains ” – [Reflective Records]

aarbor   3/29/2006   12-inch, A Library

Blaktronics is supposedly the branch of Physics that deals with the behavior of free blaktrons. The sound here has been described as “a sound that shifts and grows, morphs and innovates, transforms on the edge of your ears, on the tip of your tongue. A sound that seizes the past and hurtles it toward the future, blurring the boundaries of genres and moving bodies. Music that uses technology without ever sounding used.” Good copywriting but is it true? Listen and judge for yourself! AArbor

Zorn, John – “Bar Kokhba Sextet ” – [Tzadik]

aarbor   3/29/2006   CD, Jazz

3 sets (+ 3 CDs) of John Zorn’s Masada Songbook as tackled by the Bar Kokhba Sextet: who are the Masada String Trio (Mark Feldman – violin, Erik Friedlander – cello, Greg Cohen -bass, Plus Marc Ribot on guitar, Joey Baron on drums and Cyro Baptista on percussion. The Masada Songbook is a collection of hundreds of jazz pieces based on Jewish scales. The sound combines modern free jazz, more traditional jazz, ethnic flavors, hints of classical music and psychedelic space rock (think Ozric Tentacles). There are multiple takes of some of the pieces. Dig in, find your favorites and enjoy -there’s something for everyone here! AArbor

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