Monday, 29 October 2018

Ohio Players ‎– Pleasure (1972)

Style: Funk
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Westbound Records ‎Tracklist

A1.   Pleasure
A2.   Laid It
A3.   Pride And Vanity
A4.   Walt's First Trip
B1.   Varee Is Love
B2.   Walked Away From You
B3.   Paint Me
B4.   Funky Worm
B5.   Our Love Has Died

Credits:
Arranged By, Producer – Ohio Players
Engineer – Arlen Smith
Mastered By – HC
Written-By – Ohio Players

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Lucrecia Dalt ‎– Syzygy (2013)

Style: Experimental, Ambient
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Human Ear Music

Tracklist:
1.   Glosolalia
2.   Inframince
3.   Soliloquios
4.   Vitti
5.   Levedad
6.   Volavérunt
7.   Edgewise
8.   Murmur
9.   Mirage

Upon introducing her Guest Mix, “en medio,” Lucrecia Dalt left a number of clues concerning the role of film in her music. Through describing its placement in the mix and the impact certain classics had on her third album, Syzygy, she explained that “these movies became the external shifter elements, the vectors of disorientation, guides to other moods.” As opposed to subjective depictions of scenes or images that the Colombian musician may have found affecting, their association had more to do with subtle characteristics, calculated movements, and the camera’s direction, all of which pointed Dalt toward a modified space, a new way of seeing. Her technique allowed for realigning compositional objectives while investigating the environmental adjustments that effected the sound quality — Syzygy was recorded in Dalt’s Barcelona apartment, which was so close to the metro line that she was forced to work at 04:30 AM to avoid outside interference. The resulting tracks expose a range of textures and emotions, a consequence of interrupted sleep patterns and an intriguing approach to the films that influenced the musical arrangements 
Dalt isn’t alone in reflecting cinematic experiences within her music; a recent example came from Commotus affiliate Julia Holter, who based Loud City Song on an appreciation of Vincente Minelli’s 1958 musical, Gigi. Both musicians are renowned for their home recordings, and they share a great deal stylistically — it just happens to be a coincidence that they are releasing film-influenced material within weeks of each other. Following an announcement that they would also be sharing a stage on the European leg of Holter’s tour, it seemed as though their connection may extend beyond artistic collaboration and taste, perhaps beckoning for the consideration of additional similarities in recorded output. But by emphasizing the differences that exist in their relationship with film, the further apart they begin to appear and the more distinct Dalt’s methods become. 
Where Holter loosely interpreted a particular production, she was also influenced by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette’s novel, on which the film was based. Her interest came grounded in the story’s narrative and the manner in which each character was projected into their surroundings. With Syzygy, Dalt is inspired by the non-linear, in reversing processes, of finding a way into every conversation and investigating the messages within. The technique implicates a balance of control where the musician permits moving imagery to infiltrate her creative spectrum and pursue its own refracted course. This leads to deeply intensified responses, an inter-splicing of language that’s set on a unique trajectory — Dalt melds Spanish, English, and Catalan in a fusion impinged upon by personal anxieties and a deep-seated literary enthusiasm, where numerous pieces of writing by Benjamin, Weber, Calvino, Duchamp, and Peter J. Carroll run through her aesthetic strategy as well as the multilingual lyric sheet. 
Syzygy feels more like a meshing of affiliations, a disclosure of how dialogue scraps and seemingly unrelated philosophical observation have stirring significance. Where musician’s such as Holter channel that directly into their music (in a gorgeous rendition, “Maxim’s I” takes a scene straight from Gigi’s plot), Dalt manipulates the setup, either by turning the sound off and watching for hidden expressions, looping clips back and forth, or even displacing the discourse entirely. This leads to avid transformation on a song such as “Vitti,” which she indicated was a dedication to the actress, Monica Vitti, for her role in Deserto Rosso. The track opens with keys that swirl and skip between Dalt’s breathy vocals before the bass strings sink in, dragging the track into an eerie realm that demonstrates a departure from the haunted sheen of Commotus and into an environment that exudes both passion and mystery. During the film, Vitti’s character, Giuliana, comes to terms with drastic alterations in her day-to-day life (director Michelangelo Antonioni mirrored this adjustment in his first color production to explore the possibilities of new equipment, which enabled him to capture the “ultimate moving painting”). As a listener, it’s troublesome trying to pinpoint the root of Dalt’s influence (personal crisis? socio-economic change?), but there is a key moment when Giuliana is narrating a story to her son and describes the following landscape: a deserted beach where nature’s colors were so lovely, where there was no sound and the rocks resembled flesh. A lone, singing voice then pours over Antonioni’s pristine abandon; it’s a marvelous moment of clarity that’s surely responsible for breaking “Vitti” into separate halves. 
Instead of pursuing a film’s linear narrative by musical interpretation, then, Dalt allowed messages and sentiments to tap into her sound, where they bled through into reality: sleepless nights, integrated memory recall, and a corrosive disconnect with her instruments of choice. These experiences occurred in a personal space — standing on a noisy balcony and listening to Felix Kubin’s “Der Bleiche Beobachter,” a distant recollection of driving between Colombia and Ecuador, laying down tracks in her apartment as opposed to in a recording studio, coaxing out a tender quality that floods across the album. “My routine changes completely,” Dalt said in discussing her involvement with work and its ramifications in daily life, “dreams and thoughts become louder and more intense, conversations more enjoyable and graspable, ordinary walks become remarkable I’m able to materialize what besets consciousness, self-estrangement rises, as does my affectation.”

That’s why the album’s influences remain so striking. The philosophers and writers referenced throughout the three-page press release are there for a reason, which became apparent in the video for “Inframince”. Like the films she had explored, theoretical snippets and thought experiments leak into Dalt’s method. “Inframince” creeps very slowly into a singular melody as the singer whispers behind a backdrop of crackling condensation and delicate strings before the song builds into some dicey climax — there are traces of a voice left behind, but the uncertainty that drenches it is still perceptible no matter how one wishes to cast their glance. Dalt has taken Duchamp’s idea of the infrathin, of an undefinable difference that occurs in a fractional amount of time, and expressed it via her own intricate compositions, where key sequences fade in and out of each other, where an indescribable static nests beneath the music and refuses to shift. 
The album is an incarnation of such notions as they resounded in Dalt’s sleep-deprived state, unfolding across a scene from Sans Soleil with the sound off, or better yet, with an overlay of fractured synths and a metro electric field replacing the dialogue as it all takes on some new, contorted form. These moments come to life while flowing within the music; “Volaverunt,” for instance, is a particularly spirited offering and also the main offender in dealing humidity associations. The reverb clings to Dalt’s hushed vocals as she spills about mirages, fear, and the future — the track then slams into a split-second of fury, cutting into some wild, echoic haze. Mid-whisper, the throbbing bass strings reel the tune back at a quicker pace and force a complete reexamination of everything that vanished away beforehand — it couldn’t be further from the frantic prickle of “Glosolalia” in terms of structure and fragility; however, each piece bears a precise resemblance because of how beautifully the album is assembled. 
Syzygy is sewn tightly together with short interludes, fragments of ideas that bridge every track in a fashion that’s not necessarily comfortable, but that suits the stark thrill it induces. Each bares its own mark of intent; “Edgewise” is this reviewer’s favorite, as it carries the swampish funk of the previous track and laces it with simmering vocal vestige — Dalt’s voice is at its calmest before some shrill frequency peaks into “Murmur,” a jagged, flustering miniature that opens out into the album’s final, glorious surge. As an experiment that pulls on so many independent threads, from the secrets kept in Johan’s diary to a recollection of theories about variations in rationality, its context is bound up in the physical space Dalt chose to record in as well as the inspiring practices she brought to her approach. Syzygy is a delightful emergence, a torn and ruptured shard of apprehensions, desires, shadows, and passions, all of which cause an unsettling series of sparks that are as harsh and shrouded as they are warm and enrapturing. Dalt might have stripped her sound down to the bone here, but the remaining components make for a wondrously rich configuration, albeit a rather disturbing one.
Birkuit / Tiny Mix Tapes

Friday, 26 October 2018

Carlos Maria Trindade / Nuno Canavarro ‎– Mr. Wollogallu (1991)

Style: Abstract, Experimental, Ambient
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Polygram, União Lisboa

Tracklist:
CMT
01.   The Truth
02.   Guiar
03.   Mecanismos De Corda
04.   Plan
05.   X.Pect
06.   Em Bou-saada
07.   West
NC
08.   Blu Terra
09.   S. Louise
10.   Ven 5
11.   Segredos M.
12.   Aelux
13.   Antica/Burun

Demand for the weird, wonderful and fabulously obscure has become so acute among record collectors that mythical lost albums now turn up on our shelves with a suspicious frequency. Mr. Wollogallu, freshly reissued by Barcelona label Urpa i Musell, ticks most of the boxes for this type of release—scarcity, exclusivity and a small but rabid fan base ready to talk up the record’s significance on Discogs. Better still, the album comes with a compelling lightning-in-a-bottle backstory: Carlos Maria Trindade and Nuno Canavarro were staples of the 1980s Portuguese rock scene who came together in 1990 to record this, their only collaboration. 
And the music? Mr. Wollogallu doesn’t necessarily deliver the lightbulb-popping feeling of revelation that many Anglo-American listeners seek in reissues of, say, 1970s Brazilian electronic music or Japanese ambient sounds. In fact, its combination of globally disparate instruments—everything from an Okinawa flute to an African mbira—with vintage electronic production techniques fits squarely into the “Fourth World” aesthetic that Jon Hassell pioneered in the early ’80s on celebrated albums like Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics. 
Luckily, Trindade and Canavarro also share Hassell’s compositional and melodic gifts. The chord patterns on many of the album’s 13 songs toy with the listeners’ feelings like kittens and string, plunging us from light into dark (as on “Guiar,” where an overly jaunty guitar riff takes a swift, melancholic tumble) or teasing the light at the end of an emotional tunnel. At times, notably on “Ven 5” and “Segredos M.,” these changes have a wonderfully dramatic feel, reminiscent of the most accomplished soundtrack music.

Dig a little deeper, and it is Mr. Wollogallu’s subtle textures that linger. Aside from the solo piano piece “West,” each song is packed with distinct, contrasting elements. Opener “The Truth,” for example, uses marimba, strings, vibraphone, trombone, organ, vocal samples and Okinawa flute to evoke a serene excursion to—where, exactly? The song feels geographically baffling in the most rewarding way, like waking up jet-lagged and clueless in a new country. Mia Brown, a friend of the duo who was present during the album’s recording process, says in the reissue’s sleeve notes that mixing Mr. Wollogallu was a painstaking procedure, and you can hear that care in the music’s warm and perfectly balanced timbre. 
Allied to this are a series of brilliant production touches that trigger a faint, lingering unease, preventing Mr. Wollogallu from becoming too self-satisfied. “Plan” features a haunting vocal effect, somewhere between a wistful sigh and a dying gasp of air, that floats around half-hidden in the song’s latter stages; “Aelux” marries a proto-Air organ melody to an unsettling vocal collage. Recording the album at their own pace, away from record company constraints, Trindade and Canavarro experimented with techniques such as sound “resampling,” “tape cutting” and “computer-controlled event reversing”—yielding the alien organ tones that introduce “S. Louise,” or the way “Em Bou-Saada” dissolves into an entirely new song in its closing moment, like a sonic mirage. 
Ultimately, Mr. Wollogallu’s faults mean it's not quite a classic, lost or otherwise—the seven-minute “Blu Terra” is an atmosphere looking for a melody, and “West” is far too straight-laced to take off. But the record’s haunting grace is such that it’s easy to understand why a group of devoted listeners remain fixed on its charms, nearly three decades on.
Ben Cardew / Pitchfork

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Momus ‎– Tender Pervert (1988)

Style: Acoustic, Synth-pop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Creation Records, Rough Trade, Mercury

Tracklist:
01.   The Angels Are Voyeurs
02.   Love On Ice
03.   I Was A Maoist Intellectual
04.   The Homosexual
05.   Bishonen
06.   Right Hand Heart
07.   A Complete History Of Sexual Jealousy (Parts 17 - 24)
08.   Ice King
09.   In The Sanatorium
10.   The Charm Of Innocence
11.   The Angels Are Voyeurs (Reprise)

Tender Pervert is the first great Momus album, thanks to a newfound affinity for synth-pop and songcraft, not to mention his sudden discovery of irony. It's hard to say which is more important to the overall effect. The lush, electro-acoustic arrangements provide a platform for Momus' increasing production acumen, and the rambling song-poems of albums past are either condensed into melodic, verse-chorus structures, or held together by focused storytelling (as with the Yukio Mishima-influenced epic "Bishonen"). What's more, the wry humor hinted at on The Poison Boyfriend blossoms into a signature worldview here, complete with a nasty, cold-blooded edge in which Momus takes obvious pleasure. Paradoxically, when he's writing with a bit of ironic distance, Momus seems freed up to discuss more personal matters, perhaps because he's not trying so excruciatingly hard to present himself as thoughtful. A few stories are appropriated, but regardless of the source, they all seem to have more emotional resonance for their author; as such, it's the first time he's really found the humanity of his subjects, instead of simply using them to illustrate ideas. Overseen by a god who gets his kicks watching humanity inflict pain on itself, the characters on Tender Pervert live confusing, duplicitous lives, putting up a front to deal with the world's expectations while carefully hiding their true selves and goals. Yet no matter how dark their desires might get, they're quite often sympathetic, imbued with charm and elegance by Momus' faux-New Romantic backing tracks. And that's to say nothing of the singer's own lyrical wit, which flourishes on "I Was a Maoist Intellectual," "The Homosexual," and "A Complete History of Sexual Jealousy, Parts 17-24" in particular. All in all, Tender Pervert is easily one of Momus' most impressive albums, striking just the right balance between his earlier and later work.
Steve Huey / AllMusic

Monday, 22 October 2018

Bauhaus ‎– Burning From The Inside (1983) (1988 editon)

Style: Acoustic, Goth Rock, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Virgin, Beggars Banquet

Tracklist:
01.   She's In Parties
02.   Antonin Artaud
03.   Wasp
04.   King Volcano
05.   Who Killed Mr. Moonlight?
06.   Slice Of Life
07.   Honeymoon Croon
08.   Kingdom's Coming
09.   Burning From The Inside
10.   Hope
11.   Lagartija Nick
12.   Here's The Dub
13.   Departure
14.   The Sanity Assassin

Credits:
Bass – David Jay
Drums – Kevin Haskins
Guitar – Daniel Ash
Producer – Bauhaus
Vocals – Peter Murphy
Words By, Music By – Bauhaus
Mastered By – Ian Gillespie

It’s not remembered much, but in the early eighties Bauhaus were one of the bands signed in the USA by A&M Records as part of a surprisingly vibrant effort from that label when it came to any number of then-new UK acts. Then again, signing the Police and seeing them become superstars probably didn’t hurt, so there was a reason everyone from the Human League to Squeeze to Simple Minds to Joe Jackson found an American home there. Bauhaus never broke through, though, but by the time its various members had found Stateside success on their own in the late eighties, whether via Love and Rockets or Peter Murphy’s solo career, it meant inevitable re-releases -- which means my first memory of Burning From The Inside, the final of the four studio albums that marked the band’s original run, was of a staggered, divided photo of a brightly lit but still ominous, wintry landscape encased in an American A&M-logo-marked CD longbox. Not perhaps what the group originally figured when it came to visual impact. 
The thing about Burning From The Inside, turning thirty years old this month, is that there is no one thing -- it’s an album title that lives up to itself, a sound of a tight unit fragmenting, where the centre stopped holding. One factor was uncontrollable: Murphy ended up suffering a bout of pneumonia that required extensive care at the time of the album’s recording, meaning both his performances and overall input were drastically reduced. The impact played out in various ways: the album’s lead-off track and one single, 'She’s In Parties', is disruptive enough to start with, Daniel Ash’s guitar playing one of his darkest, extreme blasts and smears, violent and queasily choppy. But the promotional video for the song tries to present the band as a unit even while Murphy gets in plenty of the glamour shots while the rest of the group sometimes literally stand around doing nothing. At one point the camera cuts away to show David J, Ash and Kevin Haskins doing a kind of kid’s game in the background. It all may be thoroughly intentional, but it’s hard not to read things as shifting rapidly. Before the album had even been released, the group made the decision to break-up following two last London shows a few weeks beforehand, leaving Burning behind as one last full-length sprawl of sound as an unintentional shroud. 
But at the same time it’s such a compelling sprawl at its best, a case for fragmentation as beauty, where an alternate band path where the group never broke up would have it seen more as a new, rich chapter in an already varied act’s still unfolding history, taking the sense of multiple impulses that had played out on earlier full-lengths and singles and finding even more directions to explore. J’s particular fascination with the doom-heavy crawl of classic Jamaican dub production from the seventies was always evident from the start of the band -- there’s a reason why 'Bela Lugosi’s Dead' could have been one hell of a King Tubby production, going further in the course of ten minutes what the Clash never quite achieved throughout their own existence. The world of film and that powerful, fluid but anchoring bass recombine again on 'She’s In Parties', the lyrics serving an extended cinematic metaphor rather than a specific tribute, with the extended coda playing with every trick in the book -- backwards guitar, melodica, deep as hell echo, fragmented snippets of singing. It’s no rewrite, but its own vibrant, darkly playful construction. It also helps underscore the no-less-compelling work of Haskins as a drummer, as keen to rework his straightforward performances through production as to blast away, a further indication of how involved he was in the overall sound and composition as much as the rest of the band.

As for Ash’s musicianship, the delicate precision he’d started unveiling on acoustic guitar a couple of albums beforehand started coming completely to the fore. 'King Volcano', which could almost be Dead Can Dance suddenly emerging out of nowhere were it not for Murphy’s unmistakable voice leading a sea shanty singalong, rotates around such a sweet, still alien guitar part while Haskins’s percussion seems even more like something from a long past century, future shock transformed into ghosts emerging into a new light. If you played it at Mumford and Sons or the Lumineers they wouldn’t get it -- then again, they don’t deserve to. But the surprises and twists continue to emerge: one song, 'Wasp', is named after a synthesizer and barely lasts half a minute of a redone wisp of a melody; another, 'Honeymoon Croon', lets Haskins fully bust out the rolling glam-rock beat that he and so many other contemporaries used in the early eighties, not unexpected from them but rarely sounding so pummelling. 
'Antonin Artaud' struts, twists and settles into a lyrical coda of “Those Indians wank on his bones,” which might be enough to make most go “Oh please” and tune out. Then again, Artaud himself might well sympathize with such a choice of words -- and when the final minute and a half begins, a tight as hell tempo and arrangement shift on the part of the band that gets crazier and more intense as it goes, you suddenly realize that the epic roar of Drive Like Jehu (or just about any band on the similarly San Diego-based Gravity label) a decade later had deep roots indeed. Allegedly Bauhaus did a version of this song live around this time that went on for something like half an hour -- and rather than being surprising it still almost seems too short. As it happens, though, the longest song on the album, the title track, is indeed just as long as 'Bela Lugosi’s Dead', only with an opposite feeling, like the sense of an experiment finally concluded. In place of the nervous, quick pace and slow ratcheting up of musical and lyrical tension on that debut, 'Burning from the Inside' starts only with Ash’s electric guitar in a steady loop of a riff, Murphy lyric revolving around a key line, “And now I don’t see you anymore.” When J and Haskins step into the arrangement at various points, it’s a stop-start chug, a kind of forcing a way through a song via staccato moments. 
This sense of conclusion and other routes can be heard in the full emergence of J and Ash both as lead vocalists -- the latter already had a few releases out with the Tones On Tail name -- as Murphy’s illness meant time to work on their own and, quite literally, more songs to sing, in whole or in part. Whatever ill feelings that might have caused in terms of a larger group effort, their showcase moments are just that, and their two key load vocals capture them to a T. J’s 'Who Killed Mr. Moonlight' locks into the sense of a cinematic 1940s dark bar room jazz and hushed folk music that defined much of his later work, piano and distorted organ forming the lead instrument, Ash’s saxophone adding even more twisted sorrow to already crushed lyrics: “All our dreams are melted down... all our stories burnt... someone shot nostalgia in the back.” When J. plaintively sings towards the end of the song “Extracting wasps from stings in flight,” the arresting image is a simple reversal but feels all the more loaded.

As for Ash, he fully goes to town with a fragile, piercing beauty on the tune immediately following 'Who Killed Mr. Moonlight', 'Slice of Life', the T. Rex connection that the band had from its days of covering 'Telegram Sam' suddenly taking on a new life. But this was Bolan if he had been a slinky purr underpinning quick piercing anger rather than mutating into a strutting star machine, Ash initially singing over and again “What’s the difference” with a feeling of calm resignation backed by his own wordless sung sighs. When the chorus kicks in, swiftly but clearly repeated, you can almost hear him tear across the guitar strings with his fingers more than simply play. He then concludes an extended break on the chorus with the call “And the problem expands inside your HEAD!,” a blistering accusation potentially directed both outwardly and internally. So much of what not only Tones on Tail but also Love and Rockets would later extrapolate musically fully came to the fore here, on songs like 'Real Life', 'An American Dream' and more, but here it sounds like it’s bursting out even while leaving a gentle, calm touch. 
At the same time, when Murphy is the one singing lead over these musical combinations, the results suggest other ways forward that might have happened but simply couldn’t after this. 'Kingdom’s Coming' has another stellar, sweet Ash acoustic start, dramatic initially then suddenly flowing, while J’s piano adds to the arrangement, a ruined hint of a sonata. Following a clearly heard sigh that sounds completely resigned rather than romantic, Murphy sounds distant, literally looking heavenward perhaps as the title is delivered, then suddenly dragged and focused back into the final thirty seconds, broodily pronouncing as the others whisper/sing around him, a literalized opposition that might not actually be conflict but doesn’t seem like love. 
Yet for all the twists and turns there’s still 'Hope'. Literally: the last song on the album, and for nearly a decade and a half the last song Bauhaus ever did in most of the public eye. If 'Hope' had actually been the end of the Bauhaus story then that might have been a little happier for all concerned, even if that meant never seeing either of the two reunion phases or enjoying the half-completed clutch of tracks that made up the band’s actual last album Go Away White in 2008. ('Endless Summer Of The Damned', at the least, is a keeper from that one.) But 'Hope' would have been a real valediction and hail-and-farewell, if not necessarily on the band’s full terms.

With Murphy disappearing in echoed expulsions of words on the title track right before it, 'Hope' is again an Ash number in many ways, but different yet again from the earlier efforts, sweet guitar that could have been courtesy of the Byrds or Gram Parsons almost, J’s apparently fretless bass sounded similarly yearning, like throwing open a window to escape from everything gone before. The only words to the song, repeated several times, lock into that feeling perfectly -- “Cause your mornings will be brighter/Break the line, tear up rules/Make the most of a million times no” -- and they’re sung by several voices at once, no actual lead vocal as such. It’s a pep-up-your-spirits number after trawling through depths that somehow avoids treacle, it’s the least obvious thing one might think of when the name Bauhaus is invoked, and it’s precisely that fact that makes it the most appropriate way for such a band, always bigger than its stereotype, to step away.
John Doran / The Quietus

Bauhaus ‎– Mask (1981)

Style: Alternative Rock, Glam, Goth Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Virgin, Beggars Banquet, 4AD, Polygram

Tracklist:
A1.   Hair Of The Dog
A2.   Passion Of Lovers
A3.   Of Lillies And Remains
A4.   Dancing
A5.   Hollow Hills
B1.   Kick In The Eye 2
B2.   In Fear Of Fear
B3.   Muscle In Plastic
B4.   The Man With The X-Ray Eyes
B5.   Mask

Credits:
Performer – Daniel Ash, David Jay, Kevin Haskins, Peter Murphy
Lyrics By, Music By, Producer – Bauhaus
Mastered By – Arun Chakraverty
Photography By – Sheila Rock

Managing the sometimes hard-to-negotiate trick of expanding their sound while retaining all the qualities which got them attention to begin with, on Mask the members of Bauhaus consciously stretched themselves into newer areas of music and performance, resulting in an album that was arguably even better than the band's almost flawless debut. More familiar sides of the band were apparent from the get-go; opening number "Hair of the Dog," one of the band's best songs, starts with a double-tracked squalling guitar solo before turning into a stomping, surging flow, carefully paced by sudden silences and equally sudden returns to the music, while Murphy details cases of mental addictions in pithy phrases. The energy wasn't all just explosive angst and despair, though; the one-two punches of "Kick in the Eye" and "In Fear of Fear" have as much hip-shaking groove and upbeat swing to them as portentous gloom (Ash's sax skronk on the latter, as well as on the similarly sharp "Dancing," is a particularly nice touch). Elsewhere, numerous flashes of the band's quirky sense of humor -- something often missed by both fanatical followers and negative critics both -- make an appearance; perhaps most amusing is the dry spoken-word lyric beginning "Of Lillies and Remains," as David J details a goofily grotesque situation as much Edward Gorey as Edgar Allen Poe. Add to that three of the most dramatic things the band ever recorded -- the charging, keyboard-accompanied "The Passion of Lovers," the slow, dark fairy-tale-gone-wrong "Hollow Hills," and the wracked, trudging title track, where the sudden appearance of an acoustic guitar turns a great song into a near-perfect blend of ugliness and sheer beauty -- and the end result was a perfect trouncing of the sophomore-slump myth.
Ned Raggett / AllMusic

Bauhaus ‎– In The Flat Field (1980)

Style: New Wave, Goth Rock, Post-Punk
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: 4AD, Virgin, Beggars Banquet

Tracklist:
A1.   Double Dare
A2.   In The Flat Field
A3.   A God In An Alcove
A4.   Dive
A5.   The Spy In The Cab
B1.   Small Talk Stinks
B2.   St. Vitus Dance
B3.   Stigmata Martyr
B4.   Nerves

Credits:
Bauhaus Are – Daniel Ash, David Jay, Kevin Haskins, Peter Murphy
Producer – Bauhaus
Written-By – Bauhaus

So you just got your dirty little hands on Bauhaus' debut album" Well, let me tell you something, prepare you ears for an awe inspiring musical ride. In it's short 38 minute running time, it scans over so many different emotions and musical directions. You will be amazed at the intensity of the vocals, the dissonance of the guitar and the truely awkward tendencies of the bass. It''s quirky, It's scary, It's Intense, It's Bauhaus, and at first listen, you may be thinking, "What have I gotten myself into"". The only answer to that my friend is, one hell of a trip through the blackest alleyways of a desolated and long forgotten town that is crumbling underneath the brilliance of this album. Does that make sense" No. But neither does this album... 
The album starts out with some real odd bass playing. They often utilize this, so get use to it. Wasting no time they jump into a popping bassline driven by powerful drums and insanely dramatic vocals. Peter Murphy pushes his voice to the limits on this LP showing that he has little to know restraints in his voice. Always he is pushing the songs into the depths of despair and agony with just sheer emotional power. It's really something to listen to. The opener is a fantastic track, displaying only a fraction of what the band is capable of though. The guitar plays it safe in the opener compared to other tracks. Take "Stigmata Martyr" for an example. At one point in the song, when Peter Murphy, I believe is either singing in toungues or in reverse, the guitar is doing something out of this world. It kind of sounds like demented birds chirping out of rhythm. I don't know really how to describe it. It paints such a vivid picture in the listener's mind though, as does every song. It seems to me as the album progresses, so does the strangeness of the music. The song "Small Talk Stinks" brings up memories of past Beatles' songs, or maybe even The Olivia Tremor Control. The track "St. Vitus Dance" (no, it's not Sabbath) features probably the strangest bass tone and accompanying bass line I've ever heard. The lyrics are equally unothodox as machines and dancing are often referenced. Possibly the most strange part of the song is the vocals. Towards the end, Peter just shrieks like an ape to the music, driving the song into pure musical insanity. Definately a highlight from the album. The atmoshere present in this album is also fantastic. The raw production of the music makes the tracks scratch out at the infinitely black chasm of sounds swirling around your frail mind so much more intense and enjoyable. Nothing is candy-coated on this album. The lyrics, the music and the atmosphere are all as painful as can be, each instruments bubbles out of the mix sometimes causing needless distortion to question you sanity. But that's most likely normal after sitting through this mess. 
Despair and depression are often expressed through music. But, not often is it displayed so effortlessly and effective like in this album. Maybe it's the lyrics that drive such emotions through the inpenetrable music. They really are something special. The lyrics in the title track are extremely well put together. So abnormal, they effectively create the feeling of misguided anger out of boredom or depression. To me, the lyrics depict a painfully boring and monotonous place in which the vocalist inhabited during themaking of the music. It seems plausible. Regardless of the dark intentions of some tracks on the album, a few songs maintain a mildly positive and fun atmosphere. "Dive" especially does this. The song really reminds me of Joy Division's "Interzone" because of the upbeat riffage and low tone of the vocals. Murphy's singing often reminds me of Ian Curtis, but in a very good way. Possibly the darkest and most powerful song here is "God In An Alcove". The vocals are layered and extremely present throughout the track. Despite the song's intense attributes, it remains incredibly catchy. After hearing the song enough you will find yourself yelling along with "Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Alcove!" I find it hard not to.  
This album is very unique. It is extremely intense, one of the most musically intense albums I've ever heard, really. Dark and diverse songs are all brought to life by Murphy's shiver enducing shrieks and breathtakingly vivd lyrics. The music creates such a strong atmosphere of hate, sadness, horror and dense imagery that will be stuck in your mind for hours even after you've stopped listening to it. The music may come off to some as being overbearingly dramatic at times. Take the begginning of "God in an Alcove" or the finale of the album at the end of "Nerves". These peices of music are actualy quite terrifiying.  
After reading all of this, you may be skeptical of popping this disc into you stereo. That's perfectly normal. The album is rediculously intense and may scare off unexpected listeners. But, because you read this, you should have mentally prepared yourself for the onslaught of shrieks, cries, quirky basslines, awkwardness, riffs, emotion and just pure brutality and honesty. Very strange music I know, but you should be fine. It may seem a little a bit exxagerated, and maybe it is. But all I know is, this album demands reapect and needs to be heard by all fans of great music. Also this album recquires "NERVES LIKE NYLON, NERVES LIKE STEEL!!!", just to make it through to the end, maintaining your sanity.
Justin Woodmancy  / sputnik music

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Steven Brown ‎– Half Out (1991)

Style: Modern Classical, Experimental, Synth-pop, Minimal
Formay: CD, Vinyl
Label: Les Disques Du Crépuscule, Materiali Sonori, LTM

Tracklist:
1.   Decade
2.   A Quoi Ça Sert L'amour
3.   San Francisco
4.   The Thrill Has Gone
5.   Moaning Low
6.   In The Still Of The Night
7.   Voodo
8.   Out Of My Body
9.   Violorganni

Credits:
Bass, Drum Programming – Nikolas Klau
Guitar – Chris Haskett
Keyboards – Ivan Georgiev
Synthesizer – Drem Bruinsma
Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Harmonica – Luc Van Lieshout
Voice, Saxophone, Clarinet, Tape – Steven Brown
Mixed By – Gilles Martin
Producer – Nikolas Klau, Steven Brown


"His reeds recall the keening of John Surman or Jan Garbarek, his ravishingly simple grand piano the spaciousness of Satie. But when he plugs it in, his sequencer kicks like a burro. Brown is also a closet romantic. He has a penchant for lyrics that resemble automatic writing, and his gravity counterbalances Reininger's wackiness in Tuxedomoon. His fuck-off-and-die sublime brass/electro on Miles in Moskow, which blows both Lalo Schifrin and the Davis himself out of the water, is actually a Whitmanesque rumination on love. In fact, the entire CD (check his blowsy, cross-dressed cover of Billie Holliday's Moaning Low) seems to be an Imagist celebration of male-male romance"  The Wire (08/2005)
LTM Recordings
  
Not to minimize the great work that the LTM label has done dusting off the extensive back catalogs of labels like Factory and Les Disques du Crepuscule, but when I hear something like this Steven Brown album, it makes me wonder if their time and energy might be better spent on more worthwhile archival projects. 
Brown was, of course, a member of cult avant-garde band Tuxedomoon, the San Francisco collective that pulled up stakes and moved to Belgium in the mid-1980s. Last year LTM reissued a couple of albums by fellow Tuxedomoon alumnus Blaine L. Reininger, and it's actually a little weird how similar Brown and Reininger's solo material sounds, especially considering how little it resembles their work in Tuxedomoon. For their solo projects, both artists developed a distinctly MOR style of urbane, jazzy pop music with literate, world-weary lyrics. Luckily, Blaine L. Reininger's albums were saved by his prodigious talent on strings and his use of neo-baroque chamber quartet orchestrations. Steven Brown has no such saving grace however, and 1991's Half Out, his third solo album, suffers from "adult contemporary" blandness and an annoyingly overcomplicated production style. Each track is filled out with loads of superfluous compositional elements: keyboards, horns, emulators, synthesizers, strings, drum programming, accordion, guitars and backup vocals. It's all a bit exhausting, making relatively minimal tracks like the point-counterpoint "Violorganni" (a duet with Reininger) a welcome respite. For the majority of the album (and the four extraneous bonus tracks), Brown's music seems over-calculated and pseudo-sophisticated, from the tiresome opening monologue ("I've got a million things to say but I forgot. I could write a book but I lost my pen."), to the ill-advised Cole Porter cover ("In the Still of the Night"). In an effort to prove how intellectual and literate he is, Brown name drops Jean Cocteau, randomly breaks into French and Italian, and spins some incomprehensible yarn involving "Willy Loman with his Flemish Reader's Digest." Frankly, it's all a bit pompous, a collection of empty artistic gestures that don't seem terribly substantive. I seriously doubt I'll be giving Half Out another spin any time in the near future.
Brainwashed

Fire! ‎– The Hands (2018)

Style: Free Jazz, Jazz-Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Rune Gramnofon

Tracklist:
1.   The Hands
2.   When Her Lips Collapsed
3.   Touches Me With The Tips Of Wonder
4.   Washing Your Heart In Filth
5.   Up And Down
6.   To Shave The Leaves. In Red. In Black
7.   I Guard Her To Rest. Declaring Silence

Credits:
Producer – Andreas Werliin, Fire!
Drums, Percussion, Effects – Andreas Werliin
Electric Bass, Double Bass – Johan Berthling
Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Bass Saxophone, Electronics – Mats Gustafsson

There are reasons to consider the 2018 release of The Hands as an important one for Fire! It was in 2008 that saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, bassist Johan Berthling and drummer Andreas Werlin first came together as a trio with the idea of a fresh approach to improvised music. Given the groups that the three were in at the time—Gustafsson in The Thing and others, Werlin in Wildbirds and Peacedrums, and Berthling in Angles—it was all too easy for Fire! to be branded as a supergroup, something that the group name, complete with that exclamation mark, did nothing to contradict. Their first album, You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago (Rune Grammofon, 2009) did not dispel such talk either; if anything, its mix of jazz and post-rock encouraged it. 
Despite the crispness of the trio's music, driven along by Berthling's bass, Fire! recordings have often not featured the trio alone, opting instead for collaborations with guest artists, including such luminaries as Jim O'Rourke and Oren Ambarchi on their second and third albums. In addition, from 2012 onwards there has been the added complication of the Fire! Orchestra, a star-studded ensemble of up to thirty players that was built around the trio, which has issued four albums to date and remains active. The upshot of all that activity is that The Hands is the first album for some years by the core trio Fire! 
The good news is that the album's seven tracks, recorded in May 2017, in Sickla, Stockholm, display all the qualities that led many listeners to love the trio back in 2009. Right from the start of the opening title track, the music is propelled by a very unjazzlike bass riff that owes more to heavy rock. When Gustafsson's sax enters the fray, it seems as if electric guitar could be just as appropriate. All of which is reminiscent of Cream bassist Jack Bruce's oft-repeated comment, "Cream was basically a free jazz trio with Eric [Clapton] playing the Ornette Coleman part without knowing it. We just didn't tell him he was Ornette Coleman." Well, Gustafsson isn't Ornette but at times he could pass for 1968 Clapton... and it is such blurring of boundaries by Fire! that is at the root of their popularity. As in any successful trio, be it jazz, rock or whatever, all three players are essential ingredients that fit together as a unified whole, each dependent on the other two. 
Together the seven tracks here total under thirty-seven minutes, the dark, heavy, nine-minute "To Shave the Leaves, in Red, in Black" being the only one to exceed five minutes. With Gustafsson deploying various saxophones plus electronics, Berthling on bass guitar or double bass, and Werlin employing feedback as well as percussion, there is plenty of scope to vary the soundscape as well as the mood and tempo, so the three are never close to getting into a rut. Along the way there are surprises too, including occasional sound samples such as the muffled voice that opens "When Her Lips Collapsed." The biggest surprise is saved until last; the closing track, "I Guard Her to Rest, Declaring Silence," is a slow-burning, brooding piece taken at a stately pace, allowing every note to be savoured. It is a terrific way to end a great album. Fire's best album yet? It would be almost impossible to argue otherwise...
John Eyles / All About Jazz

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Bronski Beat ‎– The Age Of Consent (1984)

Style: Synth-pop, Disco
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Forbidden Fruit, London records, Metronome

Tracklist:
01.   Why?
02.   It Ain't Necessarily So
03.   Screaming
04.   No More War
05.   Love And Money
06.   Smalltown Boy
07.   Heatwave
08.   Junk
09.   Need A Man Blues
10.   I Feel Love / Johnny Remember Me
11.   Smalltown Boy (Full 12" Version)
12.   Why? (Full 12" Version)

Credits:
Alto Saxophone, Soloist – Cris Cioe
Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet, Soloist – Arno Hecht
Trombone – Bob Funk
Trumpet – Hollywood Paul
Cello – Beverly Lauridsen, Jesse Levy, Mark Shuman
Choir – The Pink Singers
Congas – John Folarin
Horns – Uptown Horns
Keyboards, Percussion – Larry, Bronski
Music By – Bronski Beat
Vocals, Words By – Jimmy
Producer – Mike Thorne

To watch Britain’s music program “Top of the Pops” in 1984 was to witness masculinity wipe off the last of the spit and sawdust. You had blond, black-gloved geeks like Nik Kershaw and Howard Jones, bouffy matriarchs Queen and Ozzy Osbourne, white-teethed go-go boys Wham!, leathered-up imps Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and slinky queen Boy George—not a donkey jacket between them. When Bronski Beat made their “TOTP” debut on June 7, 1984, they were radical because they looked so normal—behold 22-year-old singer Jimmy Somerville’s green polo shirt and severe army-issue haircut. The last thing anyone would have expected from Somerville’s cartoon good-boy face was a diva-strength lament for runaway gay youth. Add in Steve Bronski and Larry Steinbachek’s HI-NRG rhythms and desperately forlorn keyboard motif, and their debut single “Smalltown Boy” was kissed with the melancholy transcendence of its disco forebears: Sylvester in suburbia. It was perfect. 
Somerville looked awkward on that “TOTP” appearance, singing live and holding his arms stiff until a tentative boogie during the reprise. But when Bronski returned to perform their second single “Why?” that September, they knew what to do. Most acts still lip-synched on “TOTP,” so this time Somerville focused on performing, rather than sustaining his fierce cri de coeur about pride in the face of a hate crime. With the camera at crotch height, he seduced viewers at home and pointed saucily down the lens, perhaps emboldened by the band’s discovery of the BBC’s alleged basement glory hole toilets, which Bronski claimed to have visited whenever they played “TOTP.” The moment hasn’t been memorialized the same way as Bowie’s iconic visit on the show 12 years earlier, but it had to be a “Starman” revelation for at least a few hundred closeted British kids who couldn’t relate to the more outlandish subversions of masculinity rampaging elsewhere on the show. 
British pop had never been queerer. In January 1984, Frankie’s “Relax” had been yanked off air by a BBC Radio 1 DJ who suddenly realized what it was about. Receptive fans yearning for signals in the dark were wise to the implications of the Smiths’ “Hand in Glove,” released a year earlier. But there had never been a band as plainspoken about their sexuality and its political ramifications as Bronski Beat, which SPIN deemed “perhaps the first real gay group in the history of pop.” 
By age 23, Jimmy Somerville had been born three times: In Ruchill, Glasgow, to parents who were actually quite understanding about their son’s sexuality, given the era; in a local club called Shuffles, dancing alone to Donna Summer’s A Love Trilogy as a 15-year-old, a pilgrimage that made him so nervous he vomited on the bus there, and in 1979, when, fed up of Scotland’s limited gay scene, he bought a one-way ticket to London. He sold sex around Piccadilly Station and joined LGBTQ advocacy groups where he met fellow Glaswegian Steve Bronski and Hackney’s Larry Steinbachek, all working-class gay men. In 1982, they participated in the London Lesbian and Gay Youth Video Project’s documentary about Londoners’ perceptions of homosexuality. Framed Youth: Revenge of the Teenage Perverts needed a soundtrack, but as the group couldn’t afford licensing fees, Somerville recorded a short piece about how society’s judgement, his desire, and confusion made him want to scream. He never actually screams on the raw, mumbled track—which sounds almost like a Gavin Bryars piece—but it unlocked something inside him, and his new friends suggested that they should give this music thing a go. 
Named as a riff on Roxy Music, Bronski Beat played their first gig at the gay benefit September in the Pink in fall 1983, and performed just eight more times before being signed by London Records in 1984. Producer Trevor Horn and journalist Paul Morley’s Zang Tuum Tumb had also offered them the treatment that Frankie Goes to Hollywood got when Bronski said no. “Morley’s idea was to have us wear and market t-shirts that basically said that we were gay, because they’d have words like ‘QUEER’ or ‘POOF’ printed on them,” said Somerville, who was uninterested in controversy or reductiveness. For Bronski Beat, singing candidly about their sexuality wasn’t a means of provocation, but drawing attention to the still-very-real oppression that pervaded public life under Margaret Thatcher’s government. They valued activism over agitprop, and knew that the personal was political, qualities that made their first two singles their most urgent and enduring. 
”Smalltown Boy” remains a perfect song. It is nimble and crushing, forlorn and relieved, frail yet determined. In just a few lines, Somerville sketches the plight of the young queer kid in suburbia, beaten up by bullies but refusing to cry in front of them; concerned about how his mother will respond to his disappearance, but certain that he has to save himself first. Steinbachek and Bronski briefly slow the tempo, trapping the listener in the sense of purgatory that Somerville distills, but then add a hand-slapped congo that hits like a rush of adrenaline as a new life comes into view. Although Somerville’s liberation is palpable, he’s not interested in happy endings: The song ends with him repeating the line about leaving in the morning “with everything you own in a little black case,” acknowledging the thousands of young people who would make the very same journey. The inner groove of the 12-inch was etched with the number of the London Gay Switchboard. 
If “Smalltown Boy” is about running away, then “Why?” is about firmly standing your ground. It’s Bronski Beat’s response to the proposed Police and Criminal Evidence Bill of 1984, the “sus law” that would give police enhanced powers to apprehend anyone they deemed to be disturbing the peace. Young black men were arrested simply for driving cars (to name just one absurd example), and gay men for embracing in public. Somerville casts the gaze that he would later wield on “TOTP” in two directions, at the perpetrators of hate crimes and criminalization and his lover and brothers in arms. The two sides meet, for a second, in a single glorious line: “Never feel guilty, never give in,” he purrs, a lustful celebration of defiance and desire. Bold horns mirror his raunchy delivery, a whirlwind of ricocheting marimba channeling his exhilaration. But nothing in Steinbachek and Bronski’s arsenal is any match for Somerville’s piercing scream, which demands “WHY?” as if sheer force could elicit the answer. Although he was a natural falsetto, you can hear every nerve clenched in the service of his protest. 
According to the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill, Britain’s outdated consent laws, and the impending Section 28 legislation (which forbid the so-called “promotion” of homosexuality in schools), the simple act of loving in public made gay men into potential aggressors. So Somerville turned his voice into a weapon, a weedy Scottish boy’s superpower that made him seem 100-feet tall. He’s said that his only vocal training was singing along to Donna Summer and Sylvester records. Apparently, this was strong enough to turn a short redhead from Glasgow into a bona fide diva, who recognized the transgressive potential of reclaiming this style from the female singers who made gay culture unthreatening to the mainstream. Not that it stopped Bronski Beat from crashing it, too: “Why?” peaked at Number 6 in the UK, and “Smalltown Boy” at Number 3. 
Given Somerville’s vocal distinction, it’s strange that Bronski Beat’s subsequent debut, The Age of Consent, lacks more of their trailblazing belters. It’s a strange, small record, its curious choice of covers and influences, and sledgehammer politics, speaking to either an unrealized concept that lingers just out of reach, or a hasty race to capitalize on their singles. There’s nothing else like “Smalltown Boy” or “Why?” here; the closest to their personal tumult is “Screaming,” a finished version of Somerville’s song for Revenge of the Teenage Perverts. It’s gloomy and art-damaged, primal therapy rather than pop statement, and stretches the limits of Bronski and Steinbachek’s innovation as producers. 
Britain’s queer activists of the 1980s recognized that their fight had to be intersectional, understanding the common oppression between their community and people of color under the sus laws, and Thatcher’s determination to villainize LGBTQ people and striking miners alike. Bronski Beat were standard-bearers for these causes, speaking out in interviews, performing at benefits, and listing international ages of consent in their record’s liner notes to show how backwards Britain was. But they were far less successful at putting them into song on the rest of the album, where they seemed to forget the personal intimacy that gave their singles such insurrectionist stake, opting instead for some surprisingly bland sloganeering. 
The shadowy, muted “No More War” lacks all the defiance of “Why?” and meekly requests an end to conflict—which one is unclear—by asking “please,” a word that has no place in a protest song. The production of “Junk” is overly dramatic compared to its obvious message linking drugs, television, and processed food, and sounds sillier still when a sample of an American dog food commercial pipes in, promising “beefy bits and bits of egg.” There’s more aggression in “Love and Money,” assets that Somerville ties directly to pain and exploitation. Again, it’s fiercely simple, but Steinbachek and Bronski’s sultry backing makes the allure of these toxic quantities plain, and Somerville’s experiences with sex as currency for survival darken its hue. 
More subversive are Bronski Beat’s songs about desire, each delivered in a distinct feminine mode. “Ain’t Necessarily So” is a cover of the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess song about doubting the bible—the implication here obviously being its statements on homosexuality—reinterpreted as a slice of sophisticated percolation more akin to fellow 1984 breakout star Sade than gritty British synth-pop. “Heatwave” finds Somerville playing at being Peggy Lee (another of his childhood obsessions), updating “Fever” as a steamy come-on fit for the beaches of Fire Island or Venice. It sounds a million miles from London’s dank clubs and Glasgow’s damp streets, a sheer fantasy that makes Somerville an agent of lust, rejecting yearning diva worship with its nose pressed up against the glass. 
The Age of Consent ends with Somerville’s ultimate act of centering gay desire, with covers of Donna Summer’s “Need a Man Blues” and “I Feel Love.” A year earlier, Summer, a born-again Christian, had allegedly denounced her mammoth gay fanbase at a gig in Atlantic City. She would dispute this, but the damage was already done, and gay fans rejected her right back. Bronski Beat got flack for doing these songs, but described their covers as an act of reclamation, a two-fingers-up at a star who seemed to think she could sanitize her own legacy. The symbolism, however, is stronger than the covers themselves. 
Two copper-bottomed bangers aside, perhaps that’s also true of Bronski Beat. The Age of Consent was released in the UK on October 15, 1984, and would be their only album to feature the original line-up. An unexplained fallout led Somerville to leave the band in early 1985 and form the Communards with Richard Coles. We can lament the missed opportunity for them to develop their sound together: Steinbachek and Bronski becoming more sophisticated producers, Somerville coming into his power as a vocalist and spokesman alongside his formative allies. But despite the roughness of their debut, they more than fulfilled their function. Bronski Beat formed to play a benefit, raising money for LGBTQ charities’ defense costs. Over the original trio’s year in the public eye, they gave queer kids who were alienated by society and extroverts alike their own subtle form of armor.
Laura Snapes / Pitchfork

Double ‎– Blue (1985)

Style: Synth-pop
Format: CDVinylCass.
Label: Because Music

Tracklist:
1.   Woman Of The World
2.   I Know A Place
3.   The Captain Of Her Heart
4.   Your Prayer Takes Me Off
5.   Rangoon Moon
6.   Urban Nomads
7.   Love Is A Plane
8.   Tomorrow

Credits:
Bass (Fretless) – Thomas Jordi
Saxophone, Flute – Christian Ostermeier
Soloist, Trombone – Bob Morgan
Vocals – Liz McComb
Arranger, Composer, Keyboards, Performer, Piano – Felix Haug
Producer – Double

Coming out of several Zurich-based experimental rock bands, including a very early stint with Yello, Kurt Maloo and Felix Haug's Double finally released their debut in 1986, after several years of recording and releasing 12" singles. Blue would have been a local matter if not for the single "Captain of Her Heart," a smooth piece of jazz-pop with a strong piano riff, wailing alto saxisms, and Maloo's off-the-cuff delivery. Fans of that song expecting more of the same pseudo-sophistication may be disappointed to find the rest of the tracks on Blue to be yet another collection of sub-Roxy Music impressions. Pre-"Captain" single "Rangoon Moon" has a little something going for it, as an interesting footnote of a song, but most will find their hits appearance on numerous '80s anthologies to be more than enough. Too laid-back to be taken seriously.
Ted Mills / AllMusic

Tetris ‎– Tetris (2001)

Style: Acid Jazz, DowntempoTracklist
Format: CD
Label: Pork Recordings, Only Records

Tracklist:
1.   I've Said
2.   Bye-Bye Baby
3.   White Russian
4.   Morning Glory
5.   Mellow
6.   Two Hours
7.   Recordsman
8.   Crenalin
9.   Nocturne M.T.

Credits:
Engineer, Computer – Michail "Dyadya Misha" Gural'nik
Performer – Dima Rubezhov, Vlad Lozinski, Pasha Hotin
Producer – Dima Rubezhov, Tetris

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Nona Hendryx & Gary Lucas ‎– The World Of Captain Beefheart (2017)

Style: Alternative Rock, Avantgarde, Blues Rock, Experimental
Format: CD
Label: Knitting Factory Records

Tracklist:
01.   Sun Zoom Spark
02.   My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains
03.   Sure 'Nuff 'N Yes
04.   I'm Glad
05.   The Smithsonian Institute Blues (Or The Big Dig)
06.   Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles
07.   Suction Prints
08.   Sugar 'N Spikes
09.   When Big Joan Sets Up
10.   Too Much Time
11.   When It Blows Its Stacks
12.   Tropical Hot Dog Night

Credits:
Backing Vocals – Keith Fluitt, Kiki Hawkins
Drums – Richard Dworkin
Guitar – Gary Lucas
Keyboards – Jordan Shapiro
Songwriter – Don Van Vliet
Vocals – Nona Hendryx
Producer – Gary Lucas, Jesse Krakow

David Lewiston ‎– Kingdom Of The Sun (Peru's Inca Heritage) (1969)

Style: Folk, World, & Country
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Nonesuch

Tracklist:
A1.   Adios, Pueblo De Ayacucho
A2.   Mauca Zapotoyke
A3.   Carrito Pasajerito
A4.   Panpipe Ensemble
A5.   Wachaca
A6.   Carnaval Ayacuchano
B1.   Toccto Pachape
B2.   Flute Solo From Apurimac
B3.   Yawlina
B4.   Suqullay Yamanyawy
B5.   Pandillero
B6.   Torallay Toro
B7.   Procession At Pisac

Credits:
Coordinator – Teresa Sterne
Mastered By – Bob Ludwig
Music By – Peruvian Folk Music
Recorded By, Photography By, Liner Notes – David Lewiston

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

The Limiñanas ‎– Shadow People (2018)

Style: Experimental, Psychedelic Rock, Garage Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Because Music

Tracklist:
01.   Ouverture
02.   Le Premier Jour
03.   Istanbul Is Sleepy
04.   Shadow People
05.   Dimanche
06.   The Gift
07.   Motorizzati Marie
08.   Pink Flamingos
09.   Trois Bancs
10.   De La Part Des Copains

Credits:
Electric Guitar, Mellotron – Anton Newcombe
Drums, Percussion – Marie Limiñana
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Guitar, Organ (Farfisa), Bass, Stylophone, Keyboards (Micro Korg), Bass (Morocan Bass), Bouzouki – Lionel Limiñana
Producer – Anton Newcombe, Lionel Limiñana

Following the swanky cool of the E.P Istanbul is Sleepy by a few months, the new album from French veterans of 60s garage beat and psychedelia, The Limiñanas, peddles a similar groove-enriched strain of psych-rock that sounds contemporary, while cribbing the best of their influences. 
Musical couch-surfer, Anton Newcombe has been collaborating with the band in recent times. This has had the effect of synthesising the relative strengths of each of the artists. A coterie of friends indeed. Also, since Malamore, The Limiñanas have shifted a little more into the trance aspects of psych-pop, whilst sheltering behind vocals inspired by the detached cool of Serge Gainsbourg, the great French master of pop erotica. The voice on tracks such as ‘Dimanche’ has a rhythmic drive and poetic meter. It doesn’t even matter what the [mostly] French lyrics reveal because the voice, as an instrument, caresses the mood so effortlessly. It matters not from where the breeze emanates. The guitars layer the sound with looping melodica and percussion, a gently assuaging sound that manages to incorporate the sound of police sirens on ‘De La Part Des Copains’, as if this is no longer an intrusion but shares a comforting affinity with urban life. The mood is nonchalant, a kind of ambulatory effervescence that doesn’t share the darkness of much of the psychedelic oeuvre. 
The ‘Ouverture’ sets the pace, a kind of Mozartian scene setting for much of what is to follow, themes that will recur – guitars, sitars, tambourines, distant broadcasts – a panoply of 60s garage sound updated with great enthusiasm for the easy swagger. ‘Le Premier Jour’ is sexy as hell, and surely is the godchild of later era Serge. Whatever the fuck it translates to, the vocals are the sensorial equivalent of a tropical massage. Beautiful stuff. ‘Istanbul is Sleepy’ males a re-appearance from the EP of 2017, and why not, it’s psych-pop masterwork. 
‘Shadow People’ is predominantly the female vocal of Guest, Emmanuelle Seigner which is a simple tune executed beyond its station. Deceptively engaging. ‘Trios Bancs’ is quite possibly the most accomplished track, setting a trance much like Moon Duo without the vortex of freaky guitar. Here the Interplay between the Limiñanas is so hot, it’s little wonder the album cover is drenched in sunburnt orange.
Rob Taylor  / Soundblab