Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fluxion - Bipolar Defekt (Chain Reaction, 2000)

Greek electronic musician Konstantinos Soublis makes difficult techno, and by that I mean its simply too challenging for most fans of the genre. His tracks evolve very slowly and every element is so heavily processed that the origin of each sound has little to do with the result. In fact, he uses so much disorienting reverb that nearly all typical percussion is hidden beneath the dub basslines and raw tones.

Listening to this album is as puzzling as it is fascinating and enjoyable. The slowly undulating ambient dub style is usual for Chain Reaction but his production skills are definitive and unique. I get lost in these tracks, melting into them to the point that I feel a synesthesia. Truly intoxicating stuff.

Get It

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Arthur Russell - World of Echo (Audika, 1986)

Arthur Russell is one of the most fascinating characters in pop history. He grew up in Iowa a classically trained musician, moved to San Francisco to join a Buddhist monastery (where he couldn't devote completely due to his love for a single material possession: his cello), later moved to New York City to make dance music, and finally withdrew from it all to make this intimate avant-garde masterpiece.

World of Echo showcases the man and his cello with minimal electronic effects. Its interesting that Russell was buddhist because of the non-dualistic nature of the relationship between voice and instrument. Here, the voice is cello / cello is voice. It is also significant that the direction of the album feels incredibly natural, a meandering through casual states of contemplation on an electro-acoustic journey. And when this journey is sometimes met by tension, these obstacles are pacifically avoided.

This is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever recorded. Still today, Russell's impact can be felt in all areas of avant-garde, minimal classical, art pop and experimental music. Russell had the voice of an angel and the heart of a bodhisattva. Unfortunately, this genius, much like many of his contemporaries, surrendered to AIDS in 1992, leaving us wondering what additional brilliance could have been.

Get a World of Echo Here

Or: World of Echo - Arthur Russell

Monday, March 28, 2011

Teepee - Morals (Senzei, 2009)

Anybody remember art pop? Well, this guy does and his debut self-released album is throwing me a curve ball. I'm hearing this at a time when I'm obsessed with bizarro world artists like Blank Dogs, Gary War and the more experimental Zola Jesus. Teepee has elements of these artists but succeeds in nailing his own brand of outsider art music.

He melds junk synth drones and simple drum machine spines with heavily processed electric guitar resulting in an immensely washed out hallucinogenic journey. He's not limited to that either. Some tracks are lovely and clean acoustic guitar, others sound like tape experiments and in some you'll even find emotional, americana-esque qualities reminiscent of Kurt Vile. This is a candy store for those opposed to genre boundaries. He offers No wave, new Wave, post-punk, darkwave, shoegaze, synth pop, punk, americana and a little John Cage for good measure.

If you're familiar with Electric Bunnies or Melted Sunglasses, it will make sense to you that he is a member of both outfits. I'm most impressed with the quality recoding for something with such a "lo-fi" feel. And, there is a genuine honesty in his music. No pretense here. This is a diamond in the rough of the current scene. Get it now before all the hipsters are on board. Don't let them ruin this for you!

Get Morals Here

And get the vinyl here

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Belong - Common Era (Kranky, 2011)

New Orleans duo Michael Jones and Turk Dietrich have finally delivered their second full-length in a decade. With their first album, October Language, they impressed me with droning soundscapes all meticulously convoluted as if played through hundreds of warbly tape decks simultaneously.

With this release they've joined the Kranky roster and it is obvious why. Seems as though these two spent the last few years hanging out with Cloudland Canyon and Ulrich Schnauss. This is all krautrock / shoegaze, and its successfully lovely. These tracks are for driving, windows down, feeling as if all is right with the world... if the world preferred hearing everything infinitely processed like I do. Definitely spring mixtape material.

Get Warbly

Or: Common Era - Belong

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Scientist - Dub Landing (Starlight, 1981)

Scientist is the protege of King Tubby and this is the last great dub album of its classical period. Soon after, computer-aided music and dancehall dub killed analog. This album truly showcases his masterful skills of deconstruction and reconstruction.

Recorded at Channel One, mixed by Scientist, produced by Linval Thompson and performed by a band to die for, this is a tasty classic.

Get Some Deep Dub

Or: Dub Landing Volume 1 and 2 - Prince Jammy & Scientist

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lux and Ivy's Favorites

This is a fan-curated series of compilations showcasing bands that heavily influenced The Cramps. Some of the best 50's and 60's swinging pop and rock you'll ever hear. There are thirteen of these that I'm aware of. I just discovered them and its pretty much changing my life. Say Daddy, like, have a party. Yeah. Dig that.

Get them from the WFMU radio archives

Friday, March 18, 2011

Blood Ceremony - S/T (Rise Above, 2008)

This Toronto, Canada band is actually doing something different than most current doom wannabe's. They're incorporating entirely too much flute. Yes, its Jethro Tull worship and I love it. Its complete with over the top Tommy Iommi worship, cute goth chick operatic vocals from a girl who, in between breaths, plays flute and B-3 and sings about smoking black drugs through Satan's bong. I hope she's a witch because she's making the devil sound much cooler than many of her band's counterparts.

Thanks to Rise Above Records for giving us Electric Wizard, Orange Goblin, Witchcraft, Diagonal and now the authentically 70's sounds of Blood Ceremony. Witchrock has never sounded this hot.

Get Some Girly Doom in Your Life

Or: Blood Ceremony - Blood Ceremony

Demdike Stare - Forest of Evil (Modern Love, 2011)

Don't worry. Keep reading. This one is not a black metal review. Although, from the album title and cover, it's surprising that its not.

Demdike Stare is one of the most original sounds I've heard in a long time. Created as an act to produce imaginary horror films, they've separated the wheat from the chaff, and disregarded the current Goblin revivalism. The result is a highly intelligent blend of spooky dark ambient, Basic Channel / Chain Reaction inspired minimal dub techno and a just a tasteful dash of industrial.

DS know how to build lush atmospheres. Jarring, spastic piano stabs give way to horrific ritualistic dark ambience. This blends into a 4/4 Neubauten-fueled metallic percussion track that finishes with a monumentally cinematic synth line.

This is the first of three LP's they released in 2011. All three are available on a compilation called Tryptych.

Get Evil

Or: Demdike Stare

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Grails - Deep Politics (Temporary Residence, 2011)

In Alexander Sokurov's film Russian Ark, we're taken on a magical journey through 300 years of Russian history through the paintings in the Hermitage by one 90 minute camera shot. When listening to Deep Politics I feel like Grails are taking me on a seven continent geographic exploration in a 50 minute album. Amidst the journey we're plunged into the conflicts of various slasher flicks, heist films and spaghetti westerns. Grails have openly cited the influences of Ennio Morricone, Hugo Montenegro, Piero Piccioni, Alan Hawkshaw, and Basil Kirchen. Here they are all represented, resulting in the band's magnum opus.

Seattle-based violinist and composer Timba Harris (Secret Chiefs 3 / Master Musicians of Bukkake) joins the band for this recording, resulting in the best decision in their decade long history. Harris adds a cut and paste sampling technique which uniquely expands the band's seemingly infinite horizons. He also has quite a hand in making this their first utterly cohesive work.

'Future Primitive' slowly opens the gate of a mysterious land. Middle Eastern strings create massive tension and distorted guitar move the piece toward its brilliant climax. 'All the Colors of the Dark' builds an enormous wall of sound, and then falls into a haunting, mid-tempo melody. Hip-hop beats are used in 'Corridors of Power'. 'Daughters of Bilitis' is sculpted around a somber Rhodes with the persistent violins. On the title track, minor key piano, heavy drums and a series of fierce guitar riffs are skillfully presented in what is the album's gorgeous compositional masterpiece and most powerful arrangement.

The album rounds out with the very Prog 'Almost Grew My Hair', which allows Riles to strut his 12-string stuff, 'I Led Three Lives" slowly unleashes a clash of discordant synths and acid-drenched guitars.

'Deep Snow' closes out the album in a subdued, almost peaceful manner. And, much like the end of Doomsayer's Holiday we're given a sedative that slowly eases us into the idea that the end is nigh. Fear is the mind killer. Just accept our fate.

Get the Beautiful End

Or: Deep Politics - Grails

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Stellar Om Source - Mixtape for VICE Nederland

I'm really excited about this amazing mix from Drone star Christelle Gualdi. She's usually drenched in layers of the subconscious and hypnogogic illusions. Here, its a change of pace as she offers up an acid-washed fusion of Techno, Funk and Electro. Past, Present and future dancefloors meld. This is a good time.

It's The Music (Legowelt Remix) - Murphy Jax feat. Mike Dunn
Viens Chez Moi - Alexander Robotnick
Look Within - Transllusion
Have - SO Source
Real Love(James 'Jack Rabbit' Martin Acid Edit) - Masquerade
Detroit Bass - D-House
Mind To Body - Dynarec
Bareknuckle (Nukubus Edit) - Mark du Mosch
I Hate - Omar-S
Infophysix- Dopplereffekt
Sleeping World - Brown Hardware Inc.
Trance Fusion - Mappa Mundi
Purrple Splazsh - Actress
Mirrors - Dam-Funk
Faces in Reflection No. 1 (Instrumental) - George Duke

Get Funky Now

Saturday, March 12, 2011

oOoOO - Mixtape (Actual Pain, 2010)

Mixtape of skating rink bliss. oOoOO's seance conjures 1979-1980 and puts his own bizarre spin on things, adding his own track to other sexy funk jams by Sylvia Striplin, S.O.S. Band, Barbara Mason and, of course, 3-6-Mafia.?!?

This is yet another reminder that Witch House artists refuse to be be pigeon-holed in any way. Get it free at Actual Pain

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Soft Kill - An Open Door (Fast Weapons, 2011)

Awww, there's just not much cuter than a couple Goth kids in love. Toby and Shiloe Grave retired their brutally depressive Blessure Grave project (sadly) and lightened up with Soft Kill. Apparently, the couple describe this record as "an open dialog love letter in song form". Its Death Rock, Post-Punk and New Wave all in one tidy package.

I was initially very disappointed in their decision to retire BG but I'm surprised to call this a fantastic album and I'm relieved with the direction they've chosen.

Get Some Goth Kids Exchanging Vows

Vinyl, t-shirts, etc.

Calla - Scavengers (Young God, 2001)

This Brooklyn via Texas group dropped a bomb on me with their 1999 debut of abstract guitar expressionism and electronic ambience. This sophomore effort is stripped down nicely with folk-influenced guitar, plodding basslines and minimal percussion from the sometimes Bowery Electric drummer.

Subtle, brooding and narcotic melodies from a talented line-up with brilliant co-production from the Young God kingpin himself, Michael Gira. There's even a waltzing cover of the early U2 song 'Promenade', which does justice by the original.

This is pensive, melancholy and strung out Post-rock for fans of Low, Red House Painters and the blues in general.

Get Down and Out

Or: Scavengers - Calla

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto - Vrioon (2002 - Raster-Noton)

Sakamoto's career is essentially 25 years of shock and awe. From his late 70's Yellow Magic Orchestra days with its sculpting influence on techno to his dreamy film scores that we've all grown up with, this man is a titan.

Alva Noto is the alias of Carsten Nicolai, who, alongside Frank Bretschneider and Olaf Bender, began Raster Noton Archiv Für Ton Und Nichtton, a label that showcases hyper-minimal, electro-acoustic and abstract sound.

This collaboration combines Sakamoto's acoustic piano with Nicolai's minimal electronics. The piano is played softly and slowly while experiments in high and low frequency tones are happening amidst scattered non-aggressive glitches. This music is wonderfully cerebral, organic and meditative. Perfect for reflection.

One of my favorite albums.

Get Some Introspection

Or: Vrioon - Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

John Coltrane - Cosmic Music (1967, Coltrane Records)

If you're a die hard Trane fan, this is a must have. Unfortunately, its been out of print for many years so its usually the album that heads haven't heard. Its a very important record because its the first session with the new line-up. McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones had departed due to differences in creative vision and Trane was now joined by his wife, Alice, Rashied Ali, Pharoah Sanders and long-time bassist Jimmy Garrison.

This is possibly the most deeply spiritual album this very spiritual man ever recorded. Love and praise for the universe seemed to flow from his horns like it never had before. His obsession with polyrhythmic drumming had reached new heights and the interplay between dual drummers (Ali was joined by Roy Appleton on this session) freed him to explore the furthest possibilities of sound. The pairing of the Coltranes feels like utter unity and was easily one of the greatest musical connections of all time.

Clocking in at just over 22 minutes, the two tracks 'Manifestations' and 'Reverend King' are fine examples of the immensely focused and dedicated vision this colective had. There are points where the group is so cohesive that it seems they actually do break through to inner space.

Another beautiful aspect of this is the bass clarinet played by Trane on 'Reverend King'. Its comparable to Eric Dolphy's stirring solo version of 'God Bless the Child'.

This is holy material, if you buy into that sort of thing. Music is my salvation and this is praise and worship for me. These forgotten gems truly are cosmic music.

Get Blessed

Sunday, March 6, 2011

David Sylvian and Holger Czukay - Plight and Premonition (1988, Venture)

In 1988, Japan singer / Ambient Pop icon David Sylvian and Krautrock legend / Can bassist Holger Czukay teamed to release Plight and Premonition. These two fifteen minute instrumental tracks explored atmospherics through improvisation. They recorded with everything at their disposal in the Can Studio of Koln, Germany: vibraphone, guitar and tape loops, organ, various keyboards, flute, harmonium, shortwave radio and found sound.

Over the next six months, Czukay dubbed and edited profusely, giving the tracks a filmic, almost visual quality. The icy chimes, flute lines and heavily layered drones conjured a ghostly horror film aesthetic that results in an engaging somnambulistic narrative.

This is an impressive controlled experiment that fits nicely alongside some of the earlier and spookier albums by Eno or Roach. It is is essentially two of my heroes fooling around in the studio inadvertently creating ominous and scary soundscapes. Very nice.

Get It Here

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Caninus - Now the Animals Have a Voice (2004, Wartorn Records)

Yes, this is a grindcore band with pitbulls on vocals. When human members were asked how they recorded, they responded "with a lot of rawhides and doorbells". Apparently, Budgie and Basil were rescued by the human band members just before being euthanized. Have no fear, Caninus' humans are also vegan and obsessive animal lovers. They're approved by PETA and ASPCA. Animal exploitation, you say? Maybe, but so were those Pound Puppies Christmas carol LP's my sister and I used to bark along to.

My dogs also sing along when I play this. Of course, this is cool as it means my dogs obviously enjoy a form of Metal music. I do think they like Grindcore more than me but, hey, its a start.

Get a Rawhide treat Here

Or: Now the Animals Have a Voice - Caninus

Friday, March 4, 2011

Miranda Sex Garden - Suspiria (1993, Mute)

Few bands in the Pop/Rock arena have had the vocal talent as Miranda Sex Garden. Donna McKevitt, Katharine Blake and Kelly McCusker possessed beautiful, anguished and angelic voices. They were supported by drummer Trevor Sharpe and guitarist Ben Golomstock, along with viola, violin, organ and keyboards. MSG had a highly unique style that completely broadsided many listeners at the time.

They were generically lumped into the Goth category. Upon attentive listening, you can actually hear cabaret, folk, experimental, medieval and even film score influences(they perform a rendition of "In Heaven" from Eraserhead).

They were one of the most interesting bands of the 90's that refused to be pigeon-holed and garnered little commercial success even after touring with several chart-topping Brit-pop acts. Unfortunately, Katherine Blake put this project aside to focus on her popular classical act Medaieval Baebes.

This is the crowning achievement of a great band. There are moments with tension worthy of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and feedback worthy of My bloody Valentine.

Get It Here

Or: Suspiria - Miranda Sex Garden

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Forest Swords - Dagger Paths (2010, Olde English Spelling Bee)

Matthew Barnes lives and works in the Wooded and coastal environment of Wirral, just outside of Liverpool, UK. This makes for an interesting canvas as he creates organic pastoral landscapes meshed with grooves inspired by the nearby urban backdrop. His minimal R’n’B influenced beats and psychedelic dub pastiche meld with ghostly melodies from guitar reverb and scattered samples.

This is a phenomenal album that fits alongside Burial, Demdike Stare and Shackleton but one that also pairs with Eno, Morricone, Mogwai or Fennesz. There's even an Aaliyah cover. Keep your eye on this kid.

Get It Here

Or:Dagger Paths - Forest Swords

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Jackie McLean - Destination...Out! (1963, Blue Note)

This is yet another incredible Blue Note date for Jackie McLean with the brilliant trombonist Grachan Moncur, Bobby Hutcherson on vibes, Larry Ridley on bass and vereran drummer Roy Haynes. The "chamber jazz" concept that he and Eric Dolphy had been shooting for at the time is exemplified here. They meshed this chamber jazz with traditional blues, the groove of hard bop and the avant-garde.

A crucial element on this recording is Moncur's writing. His dark and sparse modal compositions are still fascinating half a century later. Three of these four cuts are his. He is truly the muse and shining star here. Its as if McLean is more relaxed with him around. The solos are mellower and not as antsy or piercing as the previous two records.

Also unusual at the time was the way this record started with a ballad and sprang into avant-garde territory on the first side, then eased back into traditional solo-based jazz on the second side. Overall, this is a beautiful and inspiring must have classic.

Get It Here

Or: Destination Out - Jackie McLean