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Masaoka / Chen / Grusel / Nagai – “Masaoka / Chen / Grusel / Nagai” – [Resipiscent Records]

humana   4/3/2010   A Library, CD

Miya Masaoka on koto, electronics; Audrey Chen on cello, vox; Hans Grusel on electronics; Kenta Nagai on shamisen, vox, hichiriki. This is the recording of the first union of this quartet on Sept. 11, 2009 during the 11th High Zero Festival in Baltimore, MD. Seeing as the purpose of the festival is to foster new collaborations in order to create improvised new music, this CD is like a taste of being there. Each talented musician brings to the mix his and her own magic to create the unique soundscapes contained on these tracks. Expand your mind and partake!

Split EP [coll] – [Mount Saint Mountain]

humana   4/2/2010   12-inch, A Library

Forget the caffeine–just play this EP to wake up your senses. Thee Oh Sees offer rocking guitar, drums, and rah-rah vocals, especially on Track 1. The Intelligence is more of a thrash rock sound, with Track 2 as a standout bookending a low-fi, frenetic brew of guitars with bubbling cauldron sounds. The male vocals are appealing; if only I knew what they were saying…

Jardine – “Look In The Window” – [Lion Productions]

humana   3/29/2010   A Library, CD

For a very short time in 1969 a band existed in Birmingham, England, named ???Jardine??? (the French word for garden, which suited the Flower Power psychedelic earthiness of the sound to a T). Recorded in June of 1969 but unearthed 40 years later, these songs represent a slice of 60s life: odes to girlfriends, experiments with chord progressions, gentle, ballad-like harmonizations, cool, psyche guitar/flute rockouts. This is indeed a gem. Be sure to read the liner notes.

Archie Bronson Outfit – “Coconut” – [Domino]

humana   3/28/2010   A Library, CD

This is the third release from this UK trio whose sound is hard to pin down, but since I have to, I???ll call it gritty rock with a weird intensity and provocative lyrics. The mood ranges from intense, frenetic, noisy rockouts, to mellow, more upbeat songs that feature percussion versus guitars. Perhaps that???s the strength of this band: you???re always on the edge wondering what you???re going to get.

Butcher, John – “Resonant Spaces” – [Confront]

humana   3/27/2010   A Library, CD

John Butcher is a living example of how music and science go together hand in glove. This English physicist-turned-musician shows us what he can do with sound from various saxophones within the context of different environments such as mausoleums, ice houses, sea caves, water reservoirs, oil tanks, and outdoor ancient stone circles located throughout Scotland. Be sure to peruse the liner notes as you take in the minimal, haunting sounds/melodies created within this fascinating space-time continuum.

Love of Diagrams – “Nowhere Forever” – [Unstable Ape]

humana   3/21/2010   A Library, CD

More great music from Australians: This trio of Antonia Sellbach on bass guitar and vocals, Luke Horton on guitar and vocals, and Monika Fikerte on drums works well together crafting garage-pop-with-an-edge songs that have very subtle phases and are quite clever in they way they progress through them. The interplay of guitars and drums is skilled and listenable. Enjoy!

Dirtbag – “Home Recordings” – [Self -released]

humana   3/20/2010   A Library, CD

Known to us as the bass player for Beaches, Gill Tucker here brings to us music recorded in her bedroom. A nice mix of upbeat, hazy garage bordering on pop with some great guitar work (listen for the wah-wah and sometimes Eastern sound). A fantastic DIY offering.

Golden Triangle – “Golden Triangle” – [Mexican Summer]

humana   3/19/2010   12-inch, A Library

There is nothing to distinguish one song from another on this album, but each of these songs is great in and of itself. This 6-piece band out of Brooklyn rocks and gets you moving in an energetic, garage pop way, with the girls??? voices in counterpoint to the boys??? in a way that is strikingly reminiscent of the B52s. Give it a whirl.

Chinese Restaurants, The – “River of Shit” – [S.S. Records]

humana   3/18/2010   7-inch, A Library

Garage is the word for this release from the New York trio. ???River of Shit??? contains a large portion of Obama???s Inaugural speech accompanied by guitar and drums and essentially breaking apart and disintegrating toward the end. Both songs on Side B have male vocals set to a haze of guitar music. Check it out.

Beaches – “In a While/halve” – [Sky Was White, The]

humana   3/18/2010   A Library, CD

This is a fabulous little taste-tester to whet our appetites for more from Beaches, the five-piece band of women from Australia who graced our pit last week. Side A is a drifty piece of psychedlic rock with some vocal humming, and Side B has a more intense garage feel, also with some vocal humming. Each musician adds her personal mark to the magical mix of guitars, bass, and drums.

Jacuzzi Boys – “No Seasons” – [Fdr]

humana   3/15/2010   12-inch, A Library

The Jacuzzi Boys prove that the Florida sunshine can grow some fine garage musicians in addition to refreshing navel oranges. Fantastic, upbeat tracks give the boys a chance to show off great guitar moves and rhythmic drums (listen for the wood block on ???Fruits???). Nice to add to our library a full-length since those 7-inch predecessors just weren???t enough!

Magik Markers / Sic Alps [coll] – [Yik Yak]

humana   3/14/2010   12-inch, A Library

I lost track of time listening to this EP, so my track times may be wrong. Just get lost yourself in the psychedelia brought to you by the Magik Markers, complete with wah-wah guitar and hazy vocals on all but the last track. Then flip the record to partake of the rock noise weirdness that makes Sic Alps what it is, and San Francisco proud to be hometown to such a band. Male vocals on all, but Track 3 harks back to a Beatles sound. It is, indeed, ???The Greatest.???

Mess Folk – “Something I Remember” – [HoZac Records]

humana   3/12/2010   7-inch, A Library

True garage madness exemplified perfectly in ???If I Don???t Get Out??? (of solitary), with screaming lyrics from Philip Tarr, guitar, bass, and drums all indicating what happens ???after months of cabin fever???. Side A has one peppy number (???Something I Remember???) and one downer (???Give Me a Gun???). All worthy of a listen.

Aarktica – In Sea Remixes [coll] – [Silber Records]

humana   3/8/2010   A Library, CD

It???s nice to revisit this music by Jon DeRosa through the aural lens of the likes of Planar, Keith Canisius, Mason Jones, Slicnaton, Al Qaeda, Ramses III, Thisquietarmy, Landing, Remora, Declining Winter, Yellow6, and others. Whether they add violin (12), vocals (1, 7, 12,), or beats (6, 7, 8, 11 13), these remix artists take the ambient beauty and change it up nicely.

Carta – “Index of Birds, an” – [Silber Records]

humana   3/7/2010   A Library, CD

This is a lovely collection of ambient, shoegazy, and sometimes psychedelic tracks. Many are instrumental, although strong male and female voices arise out of the ether with solemn lyrics. Guitars, cello, percussion, keyboards, and programming evoke mellow and melancholy images of nature. No actual bird sounds, except you can imagine them on 7 and in 12. Really pretty and right up the alley of many.

Robair, Gino – “I, Norton an Opera In Real-time” – [Rastascan Records]

humana   3/6/2010   A Library, CD

Creativity abounds in this opera dealing with the final moments of Emperor Joshua Norton???s life. Composer/improvisor/percussionist extraordinaire Robair writes: ???This CD represents only one of an infinite number of possible realizations??? of this opera. Read the liner notes and sit back and take in the drone of ebow piano, sustained gong, electroacoustic improv, playback of processed sound, recombinant spoken word, saw, and other instruments as you imagine the life of Emperor Norton flashing before his eyes.

Miss Massive Snowflake – “Songs About Music” – [North Pole Records]

humana   3/3/2010   A Library, CD

Seriously, this is like a great book that you can???t put down. Putting this on makes you HAVE to listen to the next song, and the next…until you???re out of songs, completely jazzed but still wanting more..Shane de Leon???s clear voice delivers political, smart lyrics set to fine accompaniment by bass, bells, percussion, sax, and trumpet, all mixing together to create an intoxicating rock, jazzy, psyche sound. IT???S AWESOME!!! Listen!

June, Sarah – “In Black Robes” – [Silber Records]

humana   2/27/2010   A Library, CD

Sure the songs she writes are filled with themes of death, loneliness, and sadness, but Sarah Rose sings like an angel (a baby angel) and plays guitar with fantastic musicianship. The songs may be simple, but their lyrics are fascinating (4 is a sweet, sad love song, while 2, 5, and 6 deal with death, which June sees as ???home???), and her versatility as a guitarist is admirable (alternating between folk, jazz, and blues). This is a must-play for The Suicide Watch, as well as for many others who will appreciate this talented musician.

White, Ralph – “Navasota River Devil Squirrel” – [Self Released]

humana   2/26/2010   A Library, CD

Folk: Ralph White???s voice with its Texas twang offers simple lyrics, and his musicianship on banjo, fiddle, button accordion, and kalimba fill these tracks with a down-home flavor not to be missed. Some of the fiddle tunes make you want to step lively, and there???s nothing like skillful banjo picking to lift your spirits. Tracks 2 and 6 are instrumentals.

Sons of Alpha Centauri / A Death Cinematic – Split Release [Simple Box Construction]

humana   2/26/2010   A Library, CD

Sons of Alpha Centauri: ???A Death Cinematic??? CD Simple Box Construction (2009)
This is a fabulous split CD of long songs.?? Sons of Alpha Centauri is a ???dark instrumental riff rock band??? hailing from Swale, UK.?? Track 1 is ambient and atmospheric in the first two parts, with powerful heartbeat drums; part 3 is a rock composition, very psychedelic in nature; part 4 is a radio transmission with sirens and electronics used to great effect, like listening to the breathing of a respirator.?? A Death Cinematic is a one-man U.S. band creating magic from a guitar, amp, and effects that he mixes to create a unique improvisation characterized by reverb and feedback.?? This will appeal to many.

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