Friday, 28 December 2018

VA - Exploratory Music from Portugal (2001)

Style: Lo-Fi, Experimental, Abstract, Free Improvisation, Avantgarde
Format: CD
Label: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Wire Magazine

Tracklist:
North
01.   Telectu - Data #2
02.   David Maranha - Circunscrita #13
03.   Carlos Zíngaro - Out Of Balance
04.   Nuno Rebelo Floating - Liquid Gravity
05.   Manuel Mota - The Human (For Rudolph Grey)
06.   Emanuel Dimas de Melo Pimenta - Small Electroacoustic Piece #6
07.   Carlos Bechegas - Distorted Voice
West
08.   Maria João / Mário Laginha - Em Tão Pouco Tempo Escureceu Tanto
09.   Carlos Barretto - Vaiações Em Lã
East
10.   Pedro Carneiro - ...E Todo Eu Me Alevanto E Todo Eu Ardo... Part 1b
11.   António Pinho Vargas - 3rd Movement From "Três Versos De Caeiro"
12.   Luis Tinoco - Forgotten Places (Movement III)
South
13.   Pangeia Instrumentos - Journey With No Return
14.   Lula Pena - Rosa
15.   Mariza - Barco Negro
16.   Danças Ocultas - Neia
17.   Gaiteiros De Lisboa - Leva Leva
18.   Megafone - Aleluia
19.   Balla - Lânguido
20.   Rodrigo Leão - Pasión

Monday, 24 December 2018

GoGo Penguin ‎– A Humdrum Star (2018)

Style: Contemporary Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Blue Note

Tracklist:
1.   Prayer
2.   Raven
3.   Bardo
4.   A Hundred Moons
5.   Strid
6.   Transient State
7.   Return To Text
8.   Reactor
9.   Window

Credits:
Double Bass – Nick Blacka
Drums – Rob Turner
Piano – Chris Illingworth
Producer, Recorded By, Mixed By – Brendan Williams, Joseph Reiser

Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people."
-Carl Sagan 
GoGo Penguin's snappy-yet-offbeat name is a pretty good indicator of their personality—partly inspired by an actual penguin statue that lurked in the corner of their rehearsal space in the early days—but it seems the chameleon is turning out to be their true spirit animal after all. Their amorphous musical DNA has woven jazz, chamber/classical, techno, trance and myriad other things from the start. Meanwhile the trio's evolution has always been a series of gradual but unmistakable steps: there's a feel in there that's always recognizable as their own, while each recording manages to both refine and redefine what they're all about. 
The latter half of GGP's trademark "acoustic electronica" makes a noticeable shift to the fore on A Humdrum Star. Everything is still played on analog instruments, and any alterations to the sounds (a pickup or two for the piano, objects draped across drums and cymbals) are handled live in real time. Nonetheless these judicious tweaks go a long way toward expanding their soundscape this time around. Album number four finds the trio sounding more spacey, more picturesque, simply more vast than ever before. That's partly a function of Chris Illingworth's piano getting a lush dose of reverb from time to time, but more so because the compositions become downright cinematic. 
The production is evocative and even sharply futuristic, melding organic rhythms and dramatic atmospheres with hints of something indefinably alien. Rob Turner's frisky Elvin Jones-on-a-bender breakbeats keep the boilers stoked like mad, still leaving breathing space aplenty for lovely oases like the tribal "A Hundred Moons." Nick Blacka nimbly co-leads the affair with warm double- bass thrums and odd-textured arco fuzz; Illingworth's crystalline notes can settle into earthy groove chording, weave themselves into flighty lines or simply float and revolve like dust motes in sunlight.

The band's chemistry was already impressive when this lineup debuted on V2.0 (Gondwana, 2014), but the years in between have brought them to a sizzling combustion point. The three sound effortlessly smooth even when hopskotching through the staggered five-over-four of "Transient State," for instance, or chugging through the brain-twisting "Reactor" in what feels like three different time signatures at once. With music so rhythmically dynamic they don't simply play in synch, but they don't quite go against each other either—the friction of their three-way counterpoint is the kind that only pushes them all to more adventuresome heights as it goes. GGP certainly has the defining qualities of a jazz group, but also so much more that they've become a complete breed apart. We're witnessing another electrifying leap forward and there's nothing humdrum here in the least.
Geno Thackara  / All About Jazz

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Kitchens Of Distinction ‎– Strange Free World (1990)

Style: Ethereal, Indie Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: One Little Indian

Tracklist:
01.   Railwayed
02.   Quick As Rainbows
03.   Hypnogogic
04.   He Holds Her, He Needs Her
05.   Polaroids
06.   Gorgeous Love
07.   Aspray
08.   Drive That Fast
09.   Within The Daze Of Passion
10.   Under The Sky, Inside The Sea

Credits:
Producer, Engineer – Hugh Jones
Written-By, Performer – Kitchens Of Distinction

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Pete Shelley ‎– Heaven & The Sea (1986)

Style: Synth-pop
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Mercury, Instant Records, Vertigo

Tracklist:
01.   Waiting For Love
02.   On Your Own
03.   They're Coming For You
04.   I Surrender
05.   Life Without Reason
06.   Need A Minit
07.   Never Again
08.   My Dreams
09.   Blue Eyes
10.   You Can't Take That Away
11.   No Moon...

Credits:
Producer – Stephen Hague
Songwriter – Pete Shelley

Pete Shelley ‎– XL·1 (1983)

Style: Synth-pop, New Wave
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Island Records, Arista, Genetic Records

Tracklist:
01.   Telephone Operator
02.   If You Ask Me (I Won't Say No)
03.   What Was Heaven?
04.   You Know Better Than I Know
05.   Twilight
06.   (Millions Of People) No One Like You
07.   Many A Time
08.   I Just Wanna Touch
09.   You And I
10.   XL1
Bonus Tracks
11.   If You Ask Me / No One Like You (Dub)
12.   Telephone Operator / Many A Time (Dub)

Credits:
Producer – Martin Rushent, Pete Shelley
Written-By – Pete Shelley

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Pete Shelley ‎– Homosapien (1981)

Style: New Wave, Synth-pop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Island Records, Polystar, Western Songs

Tracklist:
01.   Homosapien
02.   Yesterday's Not Here
03.   I Generate A Feeling
04.   Keats Song
05.   Qu'est-Ce Que C'est Que Ça
06.   I Don't Know What It Is
07.   Guess I Must Have Been In Love With Myself
08.   Pusher Man
09.   Just One Of Those Affairs
10.   It's Hard Enough Knowing
11.   It's Hard Enough Knowing (Part 2)

Extra Tracks:
12.   Witness The Change / Maxine
13.   In Love With Somebody Else
14.   Homosapien (Dub)
15.   Witness The Change / I Don't Know What It Is (Dub Version)
16.   Love In Vain

Homosapien was a super-sad event upon its release in 1981. Buzzcocks fans were aware that the songs were originally intended for the band's fourth LP (even though some, such as the underground hit title track, had been composed before the band began) -- a new work that was set to continue the intriguing, strange, yet powerful and incredible direction the group had taken on side two of late-1979's A Different Kind of Tension, and its three (final) singles recorded in 1980. However, as Shelley settled into London's Genetic studios with producer Martin Rushent to demo these tunes, something unexpected happened. Shelley and Rushent fell in love with the cheesier, one-man-and-a-boop-beep-boop drum machine demos in a time when electro-pop disco was taking over. Tired of the group's sorry financial state, Shelley abruptly disbanded the band via an insensitive lawyers' letter mailed to his bandmates. Homosapien's release followed a few months later, before his fans' shock had dissipated. It can now be listened to in a different light than the inconsolably sad emotions that originally surrounded it. Despite the utterly ridiculous, aforementioned "drum" sound, it's the one Shelley solo effort worth investigating. Unlike XL1 and Heaven and the Sea, the wry, lovelorn pop songwriting inspiration is still with him. But more importantly, this is the only attempt by Shelley to retain the compressed, tight, hard production and vocals of his band work, despite the new genre and the predominance of a 12-string acoustic in favor of the old buzzsaw. More dance-pop than rock, Homosapien still straddles both fences enough to interest lovers of both genres. [Note: Five bonus tracks from XL1 are tacked on the Razor & Tie reissue, where the two Homosapien B-sides, "Keats' Song" and "Maxine," would have made more sense.]
Jack Rabid / AllMusic

Neneh Cherry ‎– Raw Like Sushi (1988)

Style: Pop Rap, Hip Hop
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Virgin, Circa

Tracklist:
01.   Buffalo Stance
02.   Manchild
03.   Kisses On The Wind
04.   Inner City Mamma
05.   The Next Generation
06.   Love Ghetto
07.   Heart
08.   Phoney Ladies
09.   Outré Risqué Locomotive
10.   So Here I Come
11.   My Bitch
12.   Heart (It's A Demo)
13.   Buffalo Stance (Sukka Mix)
14.   Manchild (The Oldschool Mix)

Credits:
Produced and mixed by:
Bomb The Bass, Mark Saunders, Booga Bear & The Bubble Bunch, Bryan New, The Dynamik Duo & DJ Mushroom.

These days Neneh Cherry seems as happy to be known for her cooking as for her music. But back in 1989 she took the world by storm when she served up Raw Like Sushi, an intercontinental melting pot of rap, soul and pop influences that yielded hit singles Buffalo Stance, Manchild and Kisses On The Wind. 
Born in Sweden to a highly bohemian family (musician father and stepfather, artist mother) and gaining an impressive pre-fame musical pedigree (rubbing shoulders with such reggae royalty as Bim Sherman in Adrian Sherwood's New Age Steppers) Neneh's feisty femininity breathed life into late 80s chart scene. Though other successes would follow – most notably international smash 7 Seconds with Youssou N'dour – she would never recreate the impact of her debut. 
Much of that impact can be attributed to starting the album with the biggest tunes. Buffalo Stance, with its undulating synths, ''You go girl!'' sentiments and killer hooks is every bit the floor-filler it was ten years ago. The offbeat, ambient ballad Manchild (co-written with Massive Attack's 3D) showcases Cherry's maternal side, while the Cuban-tinged Kisses On The Wind's autobiographical words give an intriguing insight into a young girl who wanted to be remembered for more than just her incredible looks. 
The quality does dip a little once we get past the hits, with lots of sub-Prince keyboard funk and mocked up party FX. The straight rap tunes have dated the most, but Neneh's lyrics are a hoot - slamming together pop culture and pop psychology with endearing results. Compared to the raunch of today's charts, her attitudes are unusually tame (''My body is clean but my mind is bad'', ''he wasn’t impressed cause I wouldn't get undressed'') valuing love, monogamy and genuineness above all else. Other plusses include a nice nod to her reggae past on duet My Bitch - when Gilly G breaks into the first verse of Leroy Smart's Happiness Is My Desire - and some stripped down remixes of the singles which give the album a closing lift. Frontloaded it may be, yet most of Raw Like Sushi still sounds fresh.
Angus Taylor / BBC Review

The Ballistic Brothers V The Eccentric Afro's ‎– Volume 2 (1994)

Style: Future Jazz, Downtempo
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: On Delancey Street

Tracklist:
1.   Delancey Street... The Theme
2.   Unhooked And Lost
3.   Save The Children
4.   Jam Jah
5.   Divine Fact (Blacker 2)
6.   Goodvibes... Goodnight
7.   Anti-Gun Movement
8.   "Blacker" 94 E Q
9.   "Blacker" The Marden Hill Sweet Green Jam Mix

Credits:
Engineer – Daddy Mark
Producer – Ashley, David, Deisel, Rocky, Uschi

Monday, 17 December 2018

Lhasa ‎– La Llorona (1997)

Style: Neofolk
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Tôt Ou Tard, Audiogram

Tracklist:
01.   De Cara A La Pared
02.   Le Celestina
03.   El Desierto
04.   Por Eso Me Quedo
05.   El Payande
06.   Los Peces
07.   Floricanto
08.   Desdeñosa
09.   El Pájaro
10.   Mi Vanidad
11.   El Árbol Del Olvido

Credits
Accordion, Banjo, Bass, Guitar, Producer, Saw – Yves Desrosiers
Bass, Double Bass  – Mario Légaré
Drums, Programmed By, Sampler – François Lalonde
Percussion – François Lalonde, Yves Desrosiers
Lyrics By, Music By – Lhasa De Sela, Yves Desrosiers
Vocals, Artwork By – Lhasa De Sela

Lhasa’s debut album, “La Llorona,” is an album steeped in Mexican folk flavor mixed with eastern European gypsy spice. A landscape of classical acoustic guitars carry the weight of the majority of compositions, though it is not void of the oompah of upright bass and accordions to really give it that distinct traditional and folksy sound. Violins, wind instruments, pianos, and percussion are there, but most of those are there to add to Lhasa’s rich and powerful vocals, which happen to be presented all in Spanish on this recording. 
“La Llorona” finds Lhasa to be an impassioned and forceful vocal performer. Her later albums are much more laid back in delivery, perhaps due to comfort with her unique style. She hasn’t yet developed her smoky and smooth timbre, but instead sounds more energetic and throaty, though no less enchanting. This album is much more upbeat than later releases, yet for being a debut, it is still surprisingly unsafe in musical composition and lyrical content. Lhasa lays it all on the line. 
The first track, “De Cara a la Pared” sounds like it should have been on her second album, with its sorrowful violin and equally sorrowful vocals. This is definitely a stand-out track, and seems fitting as the first to get the listener hooked. The next two songs “La Celestina” and “El Desierto” are intense in regards to Lhasa’s vocal zeal, almost sounding like she’s about to crack on the latter. 
“Por Eso Me Quedo” just may be the most soulful and gorgeous track on the album, featuring an instantly memorable melodic waltz coupled with heartfelt lyrics. The song “Floricanto” is a quirky and bouncy delight of accordion, tubas, dueling guitars, and snappy snare drum; I really enjoy Lhasa’s layered vocal acrobatics here. And while the second half of “La Llorona” is superb, the last handful of songs tend not to stand out as much as the closer. “El Arbol del Olvido” is an aural masterpiece, and while I’m really not certain what instruments are creating its depressing drone, it’s certainly intriguing. I suspect it is multiple or layered bass chords, with a saw played toward the end. It sounds kind of creepy, but the addition of Lhasa’s throaty voice in light reverb makes it enchanting. 
For those who don’t know, Lhasa lost her life to breast cancer on January 1st of 2010, 13 years after “La Llorona” was released, and only 37 years into her existence. And while this may be tragic to her family and friends and fans, anybody can still get to know her a little bit, just by pressing play.
Madapaka / sputnik music

Friday, 14 December 2018

Anderson .Paak ‎– Oxnard (2018)

Genre: Hip Hop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Aftermath Entertainment, OBE, 12Tone Music

Tracklist:
01.   The Chase
02.   Headlow
03.   Tints
04.   Who R U?
05.   6 Summers
06.   Saviers Road
07.   Smile/Petty
08.   Mansa Musa
09.   Brother's Keeper
10.   Anywhere
11.   Trippy
12.   Cheers
13.   Sweet Chick
14.   Left To Right

With its languid pace and sunstruck mix of hedonism and tragedy, Los Angeles has always had a powerful and enduring relationship with funk music. The onset of G-funk in the ‘90s channeled the whining synthesizer experiments of Zapp and Parliament Funkadelic into something sepulchral and nihilistic and, in doing so, defined parameters for L.A. Funk. And now, you can hear Parliament-by-way-of-Dr. Dre in the music of Thundercat, Dâm-Funk, Terrace Martin, and Dre’s own Aftermath Records artist, Anderson Paak. 
On Oxnard, Paak’s follow-up to his 2016 breakthrough Malibu, the rapping, singing, and drumming polymath approaches funk from a rap perspective. When Paak allows himself to be instinctive and loose, Oxnard blends these influences with a comforting ease. Cloaked in natty threads and a horndog ladies-man persona, he favors bubbling bass, silky textures, and sunset timbres, forever somewhere between Snoop Dogg’s “G’z Up, Hoes Down” and Bootsy Collins’ “I’d Rather Be With You.” In that richly instrumented, sometimes misogynistic, and sexually debauched space, Paak has enough leeway to showcase his versatility as a vocalist. 
In the best possible way, Paak has a voice like ’80s R&B singer El DeBarge after a pack of cigarettes. Though Paak doesn’t have DeBarge’s piercing falsetto, his pitched-up, suggestive rasp is apt for a self-styled lothario. Throughout Oxnard, he exalts blowjobs and carps about a “petty bitch” and, on “Sweet Chick,” has sex with a skater who “watches anime while [he’s] laying dick.” Even his vaguely political song, “6 Summers,” opens with artless wish-casting: “Trump’s got a love child/And I hope that bitch is buckwild/[...] I hope she kiss señoritas and black gals.” Individually, his moments of hetero-masculine bluster are mostly passable—”Sweet Chick” is particularly enjoyable—but, in aggregate, they seem like a sock stuffed down the front of his jeans.
Torii MacAdams / Pitchfork

Japan ‎– Tin Drum (1981) (2003 Remastered)

Style: New Wave, Synth-pop
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Virgin, The Town Huse

Tracklist:
1-1 The Art Of Parties
1-2 Talking Drum
1-3 Ghosts
1-4 Canton
1-5 Still Life In Mobile Homes
1-6 Visions Of China
1-7 Sons Of Pioneers
1-8 Cantonese Boy

Bonus Disc
2-1 The Art Of Parties (Single Version)
2-2 Life Without Buildings
2-3 The Art Of Parties (Live)
2-4 Ghosts (Single Version)

Despite taking its title from a German novel ('twas ever thus with the literary references for singer, David Sylvian), Tin Drum remains Japan's most Eastern-influenced album. It's all there in the song titles of course. This, their final effort, showed the band really becoming what they'd always wanted to be all through their career: An art-rock band, with aspirations towards the musicianly end of what pop could aspire to (and, aptly, a huge fanbase in their spiritual home of the Orient). Ironically as the band disintegrated (mainly due to Sylvian's urge to strike out alone) following this release,they finally shook off the sub-Roxy Music/glam goth associations that had hampered them in earlier years. 
One of the reasons that Tin Drum broke the band out of their image straightjacket (for which they were in no small part responsible, due to their propensity for make up and fey tailoring) was the departure of guitarist, Rob Dean, after the previous album, Gentlemen Take Polaroids. Moving away from the rockist trappings of six-strings, and hanging out with The Yellow Magic Orchestra's Ryuichi Sakamoto had shown the band the light. With Richard Barbieri's spectral keyboards taking the high ground, aided by the almost fusionist tones of Mick Karn's fretless bass and Steve Jansen's masterfully polyrhythmic drums, Tin Drum is, in places wonderfully minimalist and exotically esoteric. 
On top of this Sylvian's voice had matured beyond the aforementioned Ferry-lite comparisons. His mournful deep-throated trills suited songs that explored lost love (Ghosts) and the fascination with all things Eastern (the amazingly deft Visions Of China, Canton and Cantonese Boy). As with fellow so-called new romantics, Duran Duran, these boys almost straddled the line marked 'muso', yet avoided crassness with the simple application of taste. Tin Drum has no flashy waste or needless bombast, just evocative skill that remains fresh to this day.
Chris Jones / BBC Review

Japan ‎– Gentlemen Take Polaroids (1980) (2006 Remastered)

Style: New Wave, Synth-pop
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Caroline Blue Plate, Virgin

Tracklist:
01.   Gentlemen Take Polaroids
02.   Swing
03.   Burning Bridges
04.   My New Career
05.   Methods Of Dance
06.   Ain't That Peculiar
07.   Nightporter
08.   Taking Islands In Africa
09.   The Experience Of Swimming
10.   The Width Of A Room
11.   Taking Islands In Africa (Steve Nye Remix)

After making two albums in the vein of typical post-punk and one synthpop/post-punk crossover, Japan successfully created their own and unique music. Comparing Gentlemen Take Polaroids to other artists of the same time is quite hard, because I've failed to hear anything remotely resembling this. While having sung in a punk-ish David Bowie style on previous records (except for Quiet Life), frontman and singer David Sylvian swapped his earlier singing voice to baritone, making the music sound more mature than ever. Growing up and becoming more mature applies to the music as well. Average song length is longer, greater instrumental diversity, and the lyrics are deeper and better than ever before. Even though David was only 22 at the time of recording and despite being in the music business for merily 3 years, he is very confident and targeted. Knowing his musical capabilities, and acting as band's sole song writer, David knows exactly what kind of music he wants to create. 
Kicking the album off with the strong title track, it's easy to point out how he has progressed in just over a year. Guitars no longer rely on power chords, but rather play in the background, with quirky synths and interesting fretless bass becoming more apparent. The title track is a dynamic masterpiece alternating between the experimental, free-floating middle parts, and the casual pop chorus found throughout the song. As for as diversity goes, it might actually alienate some listeners. At times, you can draw paralells between the works of minimalist artists like Brian Eno. Burning Bridges is by far the strangest track on the album, refraining from the likes of rock almost completely, but instead focusing on creating a strange atmosphere, utilizing a wide variety of synths and recording techniques. An important element to the album's quirkyness is bassist Mick Karn's fretless bass playing. It's often played in a way that almost sounds anti-catchy. The basslines are for the most part independent, and they give off a totally freaky, psychedelic vibe. However, it perfectly fits the music because of its strangeness. 
Furthermore, David has enough brain to lay off with the whacky sound, and instead deliver some very pretty ballads. Both Methods of Dance and Nightporter stand out as top notch tracks. Both are seven minutes in length, and don't fail to impress the listener in any way. Methods of Dance follow the title track's song structure, with similar elements such as the synth. However, it is much more melodic, with David singing in a much more passionate way and sharing the chorus with a female background vocalist. Nightporter on the other hand sticks out from the other songs completely. It doesn't contain any bass or drums, only vocals, piano, synth and additional woodwind and string instruments. Nightporter is the ultimate "looking out of the window while it's raining outside" song, reeking with sadness, but also beauty.  
In short, this album is strange, but good. Recommending it to everyone would be a pretty crazy thing to do, because it might be a bit hard to swallow for some listeners. Nonetheless, the album's strange sound shrouds the real element behind it: the grace. In every song, you always find moments that you can savour. If you like broadening your horizons, this album is perfect for you. Approach with an open mind.
smaugman / sputnik music

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Talking Heads – Remain In Light (1980)

Style: New Wave, Art Rock, Funk
Format: CD, Vinyl, Digital
Label: Sire

Tracklist:
A1.   Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)
A2.   Crosseyed And Painless
A3.   The Great Curve
B1.   Once In A Lifetime
B2.   Houses In Motion
B3.   Seen And Not Seen
B4.   Listening Wind
B5.   The Overload

Credits:
Drums – Chris Frantz
Guitar – Adrian Belew, David Byrne, Jerry Harrison
Bass – Brian Eno, David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth
Keyboards – Brian Eno, Chris Frantz, David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth
Percussion – Brian Eno, Chris Frantz, David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Jose Rossy, Robert Palmer, Tina Weymouth
Voice – Brian Eno, David Byrne, Nona Hendryx
Producer – Brian Eno

By now, most people know that nerds are cool. I recently realized that my nerdiest relative, the uncle who went to MIT, gave me my favorite album, Remain in Light by the Talking Heads, (a pretty nerdy group of folks in their own right). I don't remember exactly when he gave it to me, but I think it was probably Christmas, seventh grade. That would make the year 1985 and me 12. I was on the verge of great things, and his gift of the Talking Heads' Remain in Light definitely did its part to push me over the top. Within a year I would have a punk rock mullet, pick up a guitar, start smoking pot, and start worrying about not getting laid. I got to know the album front to back, and even though the album was five years old, as they vaulted to stardom with the inclusion of "Burning Down the House" on the Revenge of the Nerds soundtrack, I was able to cop the ultimate music snob attitude: the I-like-their-older-stuff-better attitude. Life was good and I began my charade of cool and being a few steps ahead of the masses that continues to this day.
Remain in Light pulled me in for the first time with its unfamiliar rhythms and art-rock sensibilities. I pored over the lyric sheet when I first received the album, and the perfection of their post-modern inscrutability continues to be a source of pleasure. Possibly even more important was David Byrne. I'm no idolater and I eschew celebrity, but David Byrne was an object of rare obsession for a moment in late eighth grade. My status as a celebrity slut skyrocketed to its peak when I bought a poster from the hottest girl in my class. I never would have had the guts to talk to her then, and still wouldn't today, but the prospect of acquiring a centerpiece for my shrine thawed out my normally frozen larynx. I even went so far as experimenting with the slicked back hairstyle David rocked in the poster, but my rapidly lengthening locks were not particularly cooperative, and soon after I graduated to "accidental" dreadlocks.
My musical interests became even more tangled, and my fascination with David Byrne and the Talking Heads faded. I had just been introduced to the sophistication of jazz. The intensity of metal beckoned. My excitement about hip-hop came to a head with Public Enemy, NWA, and all members of the Native Tongues family. At the same time, I was swept up in the local punk scene, playing in some bands and partying with the rest. And there was always classic rock on the upstate radio stations. But at 17, when packing for a move, I dusted off my Talking Heads tapes and records, bringing them back into rotation. But before long, I was distracted once again.
After a long lull during my bicycle racing obsessed college years, Remain in Light was periodically brought back into rotation for one reason or another. Most recently, it was the rising popularity of dance rock bands like the Rapture. The Talking Heads did that, and did it without resorting to the synth-heavy tactics favored by their new wave peers and most of today's resurgents. A couple of years ago, I was introduced to a great new band, Los Amigos Invisibles, signed to David Byrne's Luakabop label. Before that, it was Z-Trip and Radar's set at the Transmission Theater for San Francisco's now-seminal scratchaholic party, the Future Primitive Soundsessions, where they juggled "Once in a Lifetime" to great effect.
But the real reason the album has endured despite the constant assault of incessant influxes of fresh blood into my musical world is that it's really fucking good. It's moody without being whiny. Danceable, but musically sophisticated. Remain in Light is the Talking Heads' finest work; the peak before the plateau. It is sandwiched between two live albums, followed by solo projects from all members and only a few more studio albums.
Remain in Light's awesomeness was made possible by the formidable talent of the band and the amazing cast of collaborators. Years later, when I entered an "experimental" phase and developed a love for Adrian Belew, I realized he was responsible for many of the guitar solos on Remain in Light. As I read more about some of my favorite artists, many of them cited Brian Eno as an important influence. Wouldn't you know it, he was there too! Much later, as I explored music from '70s and that funky pop masquerading as jazz found on CTI, Kudu, and other now defunct great record labels, who should be playing percussion in Weather Report but Jose Rossy, also the percussionist for Remain in Light. After settling on hip-hop as my preferred genre, I can return to Remain in Light and David Byrne's post-modern rap about facts, truth and reality at the end of "Crosseyed and Painless". And now, as I explore the music of sub-Saharan Africa from the West African funk of Fela to Antibalas' and Tony Allen's reinterpretations of the same to soukous, Remain in Light stands as an early example of the same explorations by American artists.
The longevity of Remain in Light makes it an essential album for me. No matter how much I neglect it, it always comes back. It's not my first album; that honor goes to Men at Work and their smash debut Business as Usual. It's not my current favorite; that changes at least once a week. But Remain in Light's eclectic musical intellectualism suits me well, and I will continue to come back to it for as long my ears continue to function. 
Luke Stiles / Popmatters

Sunday, 9 December 2018

The Congos ‎– Heart Of The Congo Man (1977)

Style: Roots Reggae
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Black Art,  VP Records

Tracklist:
A1.   Fisherman
A2.   Congoman
A3.   Open Up The Gate
A4.   Children Crying
A5.   La La Bam-Bam
B1.   Can't Come In
B2.   Sodom & Gomorrow
B3.   The Wrong Thing
B4.   Ark Of Covenant
B5.   Solid Foundation

Credits:
Bass – Boris Gardiner, W. Wright
Drums – Michael Richards, Sly Dunbar
Guitar – Ernest Ranglin
Organ – Winston Wright
Percussion – Brother Joe, Scully
Piano – Keith Sterling
Rhythm Guitar – Robert "Billy" Johnson
Producer – The Congos
Mixed By – Lee "Scratch" Perry, The Scientist

Thursday, 6 December 2018

The Dolphin Brothers ‎– Catch The Fall (1988)

Style: Synth-pop
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Caroline Blue Plate, Virgin

Tracklist:
1. Catch The Fall
2. Shining
3. Second Sight
4. Love That You Need
5. Real Life, Real Answers
6. Host To The Holy
7. My Winter
8.  Pushing The River

Credits:
Steve Jansen - Percussion, Drums, Keyboards, Vocals
Richard Barbieri - Keyboards, Programming
Robert Bell - Bass
Danny Thompson - Bass, Acoustic Bass
Matthew Seligman - Bass Guitar
Carrie Booth - Piano
Clive Bell - Crumhorn, Khen, Thai Flute
Phil Palmer - Acoustic & Electric Guitars
David Rhodes - Acoustic & Electric Guitars
Martin Ditcham - Percussion
Katie Kissoon - Background Vocals
P.P. Arnold - Background Vocals
Suzanne Murphy - Background Vocals


Dalis Car ‎– The Waking Hour (1984)

Style: New Wave, Avantgarde, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Virgin, Paradox Records, Beggars Banquet

Tracklist:
1.   Dalis Car
2.   His Box
3.   Cornwall Stone
4.   Artemis
5.   Create And Melt
6.   Moonlife
7.   The Judgement Is The Mirror

Credits:
Words written and performed by Peter Murphy
Rhythms constructed by Vincent Lawford
All other instruments played by Mick Karn

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Ursula Rucker ‎– Silver Or Lead (2003)

Style: Downtempo, Future Jazz, Trip Hop, Spoken Word
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Studio !K7, Hostess Entertainment Unlimited

Tracklist:
01.   Damned If I Do
02.   Soon
03.   What A Woman Must Do
04.   Untitled Flow
05.   Lonely Can Be Sweet
06.   Time
07.   Q & A
08.   Release
09.   This
10.   I/We
11.   Return To Innocence Lost

Ursula Rucker's 2001 debut album Supa Sista wasn't all it could have been. Yes, the verbals kicked and sure, some of the beats rocked, but the sparse, metallic atmospheres and raw, uncompromising nature of the poetics left many feeling cold and even a little alienated. 
Given Rucker's status as the urban wordsmith of choice for super-melodic acts like Japan's Silent Poets, Germany's Jazzanova, UK's 4 Hero and local Phillie heroes King Britt and The Roots, this austerity came as something of a surprise. 
Thankfully, Silver Or Lead addresses these issues head on. Instead of hiring a new set of beatmakers, Rucker has commendably re-recruited the same coterie of friends and associates that graced her first outing, commissioning tunes that better compliment her sassy attitude, melody and streetwise head-funk. 
A showcase of new and unreleased tracks as well as a retrospective of some of her finest moments (most of which have only been previously released on other peoples fulllengths), Silver Or Lead is a more mature and less inhibited record. 
Cuts like "Time", her philosophical team up with 4 Hero grooves, and the highly personal "Return To Innocence Lost" (which deals with the violent death of her brother) are included here, alongside a continuous flow of swirling soul and melodious thunk supplied by the likes of Rob Yancey, Jazzanova, King Britt, Mysterium and Lil Louie Vega. 
Within these streams and rivers of sound which take us through Afro-latino, hypnotic hip hop and deep drum & bass, verbal blow after verbal blow is rained upon us as Rucker invests the English language with a rhythm and power all of her own. 
There's a Septemeber 11 critique on "Release", self-reflection on "Lonely Can Be Sweet", poetic brutality on "What a Woman Must Do" and slavery tales on "Soon". Throughout, Rucker's velvety voice manages to both mollify and add a sinister dimension to the harshness of her subject matter. 
With her follow up, she has thus created a finely balanced document which is melodic enough to make the hips swing and thought-provoking enough to demand repeated listening.
Jack Smith / BBC Review

Saturday, 1 December 2018

The KLF ‎– Chill Out (1991)

Style: Downtempo, Ambient
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Wax Trax! Records, KLF Communications

Tracklist:
01.   Brownsville Turnaround On The Tex-Mex Border
02.   Pulling Out Of Ricardo And The Dusk Is Falling Fast
03.   Six Hours To Louisiana, Black Coffee Going Cold
04.   Dream Time In Lake Jackson
05.   Madrugada Eterna
06.   Justified And Ancient Seems A Long Time Age
07.   Elvis On The Radio, Steel Guitar In My Soul
08.   3AM Somewhere Out Of Beaumont
09.   Wichita Lineman Was A Song I Once Heard
10.   Trancentral Lost In My Mind
11.   The Lights Of Baton Rouge Pass By
12.   A Melody From A Past Life Keeps Pulling Me Back
13.   Rock Radio Into The Nineties And Beyond
14.   Alone Again With The Dawn Coming Up

The truth has always been stranger than the fiction that surrounds Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty. Whether throwing money into the crowd at a Chipping Norton rave back in 1989, machine-gunning the audience with blanks at the Brit Awards and turning up with a dead sheep at the after-party, or, as the K Foundation, handing out lager to London’s homeless on Christmas Eve or burning a million quid in the name of art, experimentation and risk-taking have never held any fear for them. 
Following their success as The Timelords with ‘Doctorin’ The Tardis’ in 1987, they wrote the rules of how to have a number one the easy way in ‘The Manual’, then rewrote the rules as the KLF through hits such as ‘What Time Is Love?’, ‘3AM Eternal’ and the Tammy Wynette crooned ‘Justified And Ancient’. The duo didn’t just send shockwaves through popular music, they knocked the whole institution down and rebuilt it in their own image.  
Their ‘Chill Out’ album in 1990 was no different in the way it redefined and reshaped music, albeit in a quieter and more subtle way. Apparently recorded in one live take (“We’d get near the end and make a mistake, so we’d have to go all the way back to the beginning and set it all up again,” Cauty told Record Collector in 1991) they laid down an artistic blueprint that has formed a source of inspiration and imitation for many since. 
Following on from Cauty’s drifting ‘Space’ album (apparently recorded as The Orb’s first album, Alex Paterson’s contributions were later removed when Cauty decided to focus on working with Drummond), ‘Chill Out’ carried on the ambient theme, but this was a more focussed work, a concept album. Essentially a collage of samples and original synth parts, the concept is based on a journey through the Deep South of the US with track titles plotting the route along the Gulf Coast from ‘Brownsville Turnaround On The Tex-Mex Border’ through to ‘The Lights Of Baton Rouge Pass Me By’.  
Rather than being inspired by personal experience, the journey was an imaginary one. “I’ve never been to those places,” Drummond revealed to X Magazine in 1991. “I don’t know what those places are like, but in my head, I can imagine those sounds coming from those places, just looking at the map.”  
The sounds of a train rolling past and chattering insects mingle with steel guitar and basic ambient chords to set the tone before samples of chanting throat-singers and bleating sheep make their way into the mix. The tracks drift from one to the next, in what has become typical ambient fashion, as different places are passed en route and the steel guitar playing of Graham Lee becomes the focus. ‘Elvis On The Radio, Steel Guitar In My Soul’ adds to this Elvis Presley’s ‘In The Ghetto’, wafting in and out of the mix as the train rolls through again.  
Other well-known samples can also be found emerging through the rich audio soup. The strum of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’ fades in and out on ‘3AM Somewhere Out Of Beaumont’ before ‘A Melody From A Past Life Keeps Calling Me Back’ sees the seemingly incongruous 808 State’s ‘Pacific State’ and Acker Bilk’s ‘Stranger On The Shore’ eased naturally alongside each other.  
The album also contains some of the building blocks for Cauty and Drummond’s future works. The chorus of ‘Justified And Ancient’ makes a few appearances and the triumphant chords used on both ‘It’s Grim Up North’ (a future top ten hit under the duo’s JAMs moniker) and ‘Last Train To Trancentral’ drench ‘Wichita Lineman Was A Song I Once Heard’ in euphoria, with the help of a ranting evangelist.  
The album’s rich depth of layered sounds and samples set the yardstick for contemporaries such as The Orb, whose seminal ‘Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld’ stands shoulder to shoulder with ‘Chill Out’, and formed a huge progression forward from Brian Eno’s original minimal ambience. This was mellow music that could at times demand centre-stage as well as calming and complimenting its immediate environment. 
Ronnie McPherson of Izu says, “‘Chill Out’ was directly and hugely responsible for making The Orb possible, and in turn The Orb fathered pretty much everything ‘ambient’ from 1991 onwards, so in that respect it was massively influential. The music it influenced has been an influence on me.” Thor Sideb0ard, who runs the Highpoint Lowlife label, agrees. “I don’t believe the ‘Chill Out’ album had that much reach or influence beyond the UK, but the people they did influence in turn greatly shaped and moulded the ambient soundscape.”  
The KLF’s art-inspired exploits sometimes drag attention away from the music but they did contribute a unique legacy to electronic, cut ‘n’ paste, sample-based composition. The influence of ‘Chill Out’ can still be heard in some of today’s leftfield electronica, a huge achievement for an album that sold well but didn’t chart, is just 44 minutes long and, according to Drummond, took a mere two days to put together in Cauty’s squat-based Trancentral studio in South London.  
“It made the electronic album viable and the dance producer was then allowed to indulge more,” Doug Hart of Chamber believes. “Kraftwerk were always the dons of course but KLF added madness and pop culture to mix. It really was the catalyst for a lot of amazing work through the 90’s by others.” While Ruaridh Law of The Marcia Blaine School For Girls simply states, “One: the KLF are the greatest band of all time. Two: ‘Chill Out’ may be one of the greatest albums of all time (certainly top ten). Three: anyone who disagrees with either of the above is dead inside.”  
The year after the release of ‘Chill Out’, the KLF were the biggest selling singles act in the world and the following year they announced their retirement from the music industry. With Drummond and Cauty both now immersed in the art world, the KLF’s musical legacy may have been deleted at their own request but, above and beyond the heavily marketed chill out explosion of a few years ago, today’s down-tempo scene would be markedly different without it. A spectacular cultural bootprint on the face of popular music that will continue to survive down the years.
Ian Roullier / Clash Music 

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Joe Armon-Jones & Maxwell Owin ‎– Idiom (2017)

Style: Future Jazz, House
Format: Vinyl
Label: YAM Recordings

Tracklist:
1.   SE Discotheque
2.   Idiom (Guitar – Oscar Jerome)
3.   Mind's Eye
4.   Tanner's Tango (Tenor Saxophone – Nubya Garcia)
5.   Easy Now
6.   Midnite Oil (Sparkzzz)

Credits:
Bass – Maxwell Owin
Drums – Jake Long
Keyboards – Joe Armon-Jones
Producer – Maxwell Owin

I’ve always thought that the music scene in London is the best in the world. The city is a melting pot of cultures, sounds and artistic creativity. Keyboard extraordinaire Joe Armon-Jones and the immensely gifted producer and overall nicest guy you’ll ever meet Maxwell Owin team up on what may be the project of the year. Incredibly crisp and groovy production from Maxwell is accompanied by incredible keys from Joe throughout, who plays the instrument so masterfully it’s often hard to keep up with his genius. Jake Long brings the drumming alive on this album, Oscar Jerome provides his talents on guitar, and South London’s jazz queen Nubya Garcia steals the show on ‘Tanners Tango’ with her mesmerising tenor saxophone performance. 
But for me it’s tracks like SE Discotheque and Easy Now which really hit my heart with infectious futuristic break-beat grooves, 2 Step rhythms and gorgeous melodies which will be the sounds of the dance floor in the near future. 
Idiom EP should and hopefully will be a landmark album for the London’s music scene as it embodies everything music should represent. Passion, groove, collaboration, unity and love. If only it were longer! 
So my hat goes of to the whole team behind this project. My admiration for what you do for music and art has never been higher and we’ll meet again. 
Please make sure you go support this project. Buy the digital album via Bandcamp, or if you live in London, make sure you head down to YAM Records and buy a physical copy if they haven’t sold out yet.
Martin Boev / In Search Of Media

VA ‎– Studio One Ironsides (Original Classic Recordings 1963-1979) (2013)

Style: Rocksteady, Ska, Roots Reggae, Dub
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Soul Jazz Records

Tracklist:
01.   Fabian Cooke - Mother And Child
02.   Marcia Griffiths - Mark My Word
03.   Freddie McGregor - I Man A Rasta
04.   Prince Jazzbo - Natty Ting A Ling
05.   The Paragons - Danger In Your Eyes
06.   Drum Bago & The Rebel Group - Reggae (Version)
07.   Don Drummond - Nanny's Corner
08.   The Stingers - Rasta Don't Stop No One
09.   Lone Ranger - Three Mile Skank
10.   The Soul Sister - Another Night
11.   Freddie McGregor - Come Now Sister
12.   Dennis Alcapone - Joe Frazier [Round Two]
13.   The Soul Brothers - Soho
14.   Alton Ellis - Can I Change My Mind
15.   Johnny Osbourne - Jealousy, Heartache And Pain
16.   The Gladiators - Bongo Red
17.   Pablove Black - Jamrec Dub
18.   Cornel Campbell0 - I'm Still Waiting

Falar em 'poço sem fundo' já perde impacto e Faz-se lugar-comum. Que 'há sempre mais um disco made in Kingston por ouvir' também foi chão que deu uvas. Momento, por isso, de chamar os boys pelos nomes. Segundo fontes próximas de Lee Perry, a lei jamaicana prevê, desde os anos 60, que quem não entre em estúdio com o expresso fim de gravar um disco por trimestre, receberá, de imediato, voz de prisão, e, uma vez aí despojado dos seus pertences (sound system, microfone, caixote de acetatos de 7 polegadas, gira-discos e, por vezes, roupa), será privado de qualquer forma de comunicação e obrigado a consumir — sob apertada vigilância — um charuto cubano por dia. Isto explicaria a sonora tosse nos seus registos do fim dos anos 80 e o voluntário exílio do produtor na Suíça. Já elementos do antigo entourage de Clement Coxsone Dodd (que pediram anonimato) asseveram que um parágrafo secreto da mesma lei garante aos cumpridores daquele procedimento chorudo desconto no IRS. Na ausência (conhecida) de rituais masoquistas na ilha próxima do suspeito Haiti, isso explicaria que a Jamaica continue a rebentar pelas costuras, sem quebra visível de produção musical. Por exemplo, que história vem a ser esta, agora, de 'Ironsides'? Música produzida por fãs da série policial com Raymond Burr on wheels? Reggae de metais e de 'blindagem estética' (o cocktail de crueza e sofisticação) mais à vista? Ou a resposta ao repto patronal: 'quando fores almoçar, hás de pensar, aí, num conceito, que a gente, da parte da tarde, compõe, para ver se se consegue livrar do que ainda para aqui há'? 
Que se saiba, e tendo esta cena reeditorial lugar em Londres, pende para a última hipótese o novo projecto de island digging da (imbatível, nesta matéria) Soul Jazz. Só que se esconde algo de mais sério (historicamente, até) sob o singular título. Porque a música remete para o período de maior pujança criativa do mestre da Studio One. O qual ditou um quadro de sobreprodução, cujo efeito perverso residiu na incapacidade de absorção das rádios locais, do que Clement se defendeu com a criação de editoras fictícias como a Iron Side. Numa palavra, dir-se-á que esta dúzia e meia de pepitas de ouro reitera o desejo de querer ser outra coisa que, então, se apoderou do hegemónico roots reggae. Só ouvindo se ficará com a noção desta insigne série de giant leaps for mankind. Por incrível que pareça, é quando paira a suspeita de que 'chove no molhado' que surge aquela que talvez seja a mais fresca, empolgante e inventiva obra de 'amantes da causa'. Que comece em Fabian Cooke e termine em Condi Campbell, será o menos. O 'problema' está naquilo a que ambos servem de bookends: Marcia Griffiths e uma obra-prima de frescura melódica, rítmica e vocal em qualquer género de música; Freddie McGregor a agitar a 'bandeira da revolução a cavalo de um baixo substancial de pasmar; Prince Jazzbo a abrir o livro rockers e, também ele, dando largas à arte de bem jock em toda a sela; The Paragons em aula magistral sobre a longevidade do roots reggae, Drum Bago & The Rebel Group mostrando como um só exemplo de dub futurista pode levar alguém, do outro lado do oceano, a abrir uma casa como a On-U Sound; The Stingers em vertiginoso rock steady instrumental com forte aroma a jazz local; Lone Ranger plantando future roots; The Soul Sister extraindo toda a riqueza soul de um pós-lovers rock, e por aí fora. Como dizia Clapton, à saí-da dos Cream, 'let it rain'.
 Ricardo Saló / Expresso (2013)