four tet, "pause"
Calling music like this "electronica" is a massive underestimation of what kind of work must go into a release like this. Of course, I hate that term anyway, so there you go. Four Tet, started as an off-shoot project for Kieran Hebden when he wasn't working on Fridge, is an interesting mix of programmed beats and sampled live instruments, often looped, to create soundscapes that can appeal to a great variety of listeners. Where other releases by bands who use these techniques come off sounding derivative, and often over work the concept (Manitoba is a perfect example, though Dan Snaith of Manitoba reportedly contributed to/helped inspire parts of "Pause"), Hebden seems to know just where to go with these tracks. The beats aren't the same canned beats you hear on many releases, and occasionally there are live drums, sampled though they are. In fact, it is the use of samples of live instruments that make this release so compelling. Strings, guitar, piano, and percussion certainly sound better in this mix than synth lines and beeps and whistles. I wish more artists in the genre would use this approach. "Parks" is where it all came together for me, with horns, vibes, and backwards guitar grounded by a driving, stuttering beat. Never mind the obligatory kids in the playground sound sample every band seems to want to use these days (see gybe!, tortoise, trans am, etc.). A few tracks, like the intriguing "Leila Came Round and We Watched A Video," are simple, beautiful, priceless. It's like the first time someone smiled at you: you felt warm inside, and you just wanted it to happen again, but you knew from now on it would never be the same. Music that provokes this level of visceral response, if possible, is the only kind of music I would like to listen to. Failing that, I will be sure to have Four Tet around always. This record affected me in a way I didn't expect. Hopefully it will have the same affect on you. "Pause" is out in the UK now, and will be released on these shores next month. You know what you have to do. - Rob Devlin
XHOL, "CARAVAN/MOTHERFUCKERS LIVE"
Every once in a not so great while David Tibet of Current 93 and Steven Stapleton of Nurse With Wound join their respective Durtro and United Dairies labels as United Durtro for collaborations and to reissue the forgotten or nearly impossible to obtain work of late '60s/early '70s 'Krautrock' bands they admire. Sand were the first to receive such treatment and now fellow Germanic collective Xhol (pronounced 'soul', aka Soul Caravan and Xhol Caravan) are next with two nicely recorded, previously unreleased live performances. Disc 1 is entitled "Freedom Opera" from 1968 and disc 2 is a Frankfurt WDR radio set from 1969, both discs somewhat annoyingly indexed as one 57 minute track. The tapestry of sound includes vocals, electric guitar, bass guitar, organ, saxophones, flute and drums. First and foremost Xhol are a rock and roll band with a soul center, but they also take in a number of other styles, and this is no exaggeration: psychedelic, freeform jazz and noise, rhythm and blues, progressive, '60s pop and rock and even a bit of funk. But vocalist James Rhodes defines it best mid disc 1 simply as "black music". Long, meandering solos and instrumental excursions wander on and off the path of hippie bliss as Rhodes belts out the blues rather nicely or recites timely poetry. Loose covers of Vanilla Fudge's "Poems" and Donovan's "Season of the Witch" (which was also covered by Vanilla Fudge) are among the six originals on disc 1. Disc 2 comes with no tracklisting and I think I know why. It seems to be one long, often spontaneous instrumental jam by just four members, for whatever reason - bass, tenor sax, organ and drums - it's just as good and at times reminiscent of recent live explorations I've witnessed by The Legendary Pink Dots. After hearing Xhol, for the first time might I add, I really have to wonder why I haven't seen their name mentioned before in the annals of late '60s rock. As a special treat for c93, NWW and Christoph Heemann fans, a third limited edition disc entitled "Hot Buttered Xhol" showcases superb Xhol 'covers' by each, c93's "Memories" being particularly mesmerizing. The packaging is also fantastic with a 12 page insert, beautifully covered up by Stapleton, that contains an on-stage photo of the band, show posters and liner notes, all in German unfortunately save for Stapleton, Tibet and Heemann's virgin Xhol experiences. Good job guys! Through the magic of shiny polycarbonate discs, "Motherfuckers Live" is like an amber encrusted insect preserved for all eternity to admire. - Mark Weddle
Vert, "9 types of ambiguity"
With the latest offerings, Vert (and Mouse on Mars on their Sonig label) have proven to be masters of their own kind. The disc opens with "Blindsight," where animated and robotic beats that envoke pure digital charm. Melodies and rhythms are moving, physically and blissfully. From there, it gets into the quirky and raw - theremin-esque noises with reverb-soaked samples and voice clips, with a constant click & pop feel. Some of the third track, "Codfish Dada" has a scratchy-jazzy feel, like typical Sonig-esque squishy squigly noises throughout but still maintaining nice composition & form. Some of the sounds on this album remind me of more of what was on their 12", Mooremooseicforme, which I thought were possibly from some of the same sampling/sessions that much of Mouse on Mars' recent stuff has been from. Some tracks, "Somewhere Between Here and Last Week", for example, feature improvised antique organ sounds with dusty blip sounds throughout. I picture funny little clown-men playing jazz music for a mass in a dusty and crumbling old church. But then they break into something like a digital hardcore take on dub. Screeching synths and morphing, building waves of noise ... some trip-hop atari music to just lie back and close your eyes. Then the strings kick in, and it's truly beautiful, quirkiness or not. As the disc comes to close, a slow fuzz build-up turns to nice pensive piano turns into a sonic wall of organs that force the listener's eyes to jet open after being harshly broken from the moods that the music had previously set up. It fades out, and the closer, "Scope/Lifetime", seems to tie in the whole of the album - remaining inconsistent within it's boundaries. Seriously, the quirkiness and diversity in this album are really something that few others know quite how to do. - Daniel McKernan
Andre Estermann, "Balloon"
You're drifting back in the timeline of electronic music... past glitch, through drill n' bass, left at Braindance, back to a more optimistic time where Black Dog was 3 people, and naive melodies on top of percussion with little or no processing could still be talked about as being non-derivative. If you enjoy that classic "IDM" sound, Estermann delivers. His style isn't the most original on the block, but historically he's also been one of the artists who do it best.
A few of the tracks have little snippets of digital processing (the final track, "Menca", among them) but for the most part the CD consists of a very clean, likely almost exclusively hardware-based, sound. It has an abundance of out-of-vogue lushness and "cute" melodies contrasting with upbeat "hard" tweaked hip-hop percussion. Decent progression, too, as the genre goes. Definitely chilled afternoon music, along similar lines as Michael Fakesch or Funkstorung, but with better tunes and minus the Autechre-worshiping. Stops short of being totally cheesy, and nothing your brain can't handle!
Four of these tracks (by my count) out of the twelve have been released on the Inzec and Musik aus Strom labels, although scattered over 3 vinyl releases. This is the first CD release by Estermann as well as the first CD release on the "sellwell" label, and we thank him profusely for not releasing every song he's ever done. Quality control is always good for the wallet as well as street cred. Weird slot-loading milky plastic CD case with orange trigger/ejector doohickey completes the package, if you're into that sort of thing. - Andrew Shrock
Zorn, "The City's Collapsing (but not tonight)"
"How gerrmann!" me and my friend said to ourselves (in nasal "Deiter" voice) when confronted with this album. It seems like a good chunk of the decent electronic music is sourced in one of several cities in the country, one of which is Berlin - Enter the Lux Nigra label and Michael (_not_ John, thankfully) Zorn. From his music, one can easily draw kraut connections to the Din, Morr Music, or Chain Reaction labels, or comparisons to Arovane or Monolake. Pretty wicked stuff with a stew of influences, including house, IDM, and dub.
Building up from where his last 12" left off, mid to high BPM heavy Thomas Brinkmann-esque 4/4 beats with dub and house gestures form the basis of Michael Zorn's composition. But these are no stripped-down skeletal tracks a la Pole or Farben - he has no fear of "filling in the gaps" to create full, busy songs. This guy actually wants to take these tracks somewhere! Repetative, lush synthesized melodies sit side by side with heavily groovy bass drum percussion without either becoming annoying or overbearing. Songs evolve satisfyingly in a matter of minutes, not (as it seems) hours as is common in the area of dub-influenced techno, creating an album which will find applications on the dancefloor as well as in the living room. Fascinating, a multifaceted release which will gain prestige with age. It connects nicely with his recent "Eckermann" 7" on highly collectable City Centre Offices label (also a proud .de imprint). Already craps on a number of the current crop of "laptop" producers from a great height. - Andrew Shrock
"SU POLLARD DECONSTRUCTIONS, A TRIBUTE CD-R"
The VVMCPS virus spreads its tentacles across the seas, or at least a few ponds, and into the memories of those who dare to deconstruct the crap novelty minor pop abortions of a comedy cleaning woman. Su Pollard, who played the dotty chalet mopper in the Great British holiday camp 'comedy' horrorshow 'Hi-De-Hi' has been responsible for filling the mouldy old singles boxes of many a charity shop. She is now anonymously employed as a cleaner for All Tomorrow's Parties, or so the rumour I just started has it.
Meanwhile, in complete avoidance of that event a kid from Manchester invited lots of folks to have a go at Su via his website in tribute to The Lady in Big Glasses Herself. There this entire thing can be downloaded in MP3 format but if you can't be bothered waiting he'll flog you a CD-R for the price of a pint.
The Pollard is put through a glitch grinder with ding dong bells on the opening cut from d-503 who sound like they've been immersed in The Magic Sound of Fenn O'Berg, which is no bad thing. Next up Jim Kirby tries to get into Su's knickers with a crackled up 'Starting Together'. You know exactly what this bit of V/Vm remouldy doughness is going to do, skipping on the word 'faults' right on cue. Happily not that much of this ends up sounding like a tribute to V/Vm, but Notphik could be Jim trying it on again after Su's ditched ham forever, and is an attempt more likely to get a quick one round the back of the chalet. Jansky Noise breaks the rules a bit by noise butchering the theme to 'Hi-De-Hi' which is not strictly speaking a Su Pollard opus. Amongst all the other relative unknowns Binary Being deserves a special mention for cobbling together a chirpy and bright happy piano pop sample feast that La Pollard herself might actually be able to spoil with a bit of cheap karaoke if she was slipped double bad acid at Sonar and if the Being was daft enough to let her, which thankfully he's not. The Resurrexit track should keep all fucked up noise heads happy as a skinhead on glue, whilst Cho'Pin displays a slightly more refined approach to noise construction, reducing Su to a decelerating haunted graveyard ghost flutter that can't go on. If you only download one track, however, go for the gloomy loop mutations that morph into hilarious manic gibberish sing-glitch pile up from Bess Keloid, someone who's happy to wear a Nurse with Wound influence on his sleeve and probably in other less visible places too... - Graeme Rowland
melvins, "gluey porch treatments" & "colossus of destiny
Since signing to Mike Patton's label Ipecac, The Melvins have gone high concept, releasing a trilogy of albums with a unifying concept. With 'Gluey Porch Treatments' they've gone back to their beginnings and re-released their 1986 record with the garage demos for the record appended as bonus tracks to the album proper. This brings playing time for the album from 38 minutes to a little over an hour, but it doesn't come out as gratuitous, rather as a nice gesture for those interested in how the songs originally started out and how they changed into the final album versions. Some changes are drastic, full blown songs reduced to just a couple of riffs to segue between songs, or used as intros to other songs, other songs expanded into longer tracks, some of the demo intro riffs made into their own songs. The sound quality of the demo material is at times poor, especially in the drum sounds and the sometimes tinny mix, but it's not unlistenable. At times the guitar riffing recalls a more punkish Black Sabbath while Buzz's vocals are often shouted out murkily from under the weight of the music's punk attitude, this is proto-grunge from before grunge was a recognized 'genre' of rock music. The album's liner notes are an essay by Buzz which comes off as a kind of Tom-Waits-story-with-no-point about the scene and how the band has gotten to where they have, and leaves you feeling like you've just heard an old road story about way back when they were starting out.
Colossus of Destiny, on the other hand, is The Melvins newest release, an hour-long track of a live performance in 1998. The sound quality is excellent, and the album is, even by Melvins standards, wierd. The Melvins have been known to try to mess with conceptions of how things should be, even in live sets, by playing the same song twice in a row, or by playing the same note for 15 minutes (in response to a critic who complained that their live show was like that.) Happily, this live track is nothing like that, although it is just as challenging. The record starts off with feedback and oscillating buzzing sounds bouncing from nowhere, with snatches of people saying unintelligble phrases just off the edge of hearing, like a TV at low volume in the next room. At times, the wierd beeps and blips and distorted clangs meld into one another to make a strange combination of noise not unlike Nurse With Wounds' noise-soundscapes -- think 'Homotopy for Marie' with a TV on.
At times claustrophobically noisy and sometimes sparsely ambient, the length of the recording is ultimately it's greatest asset, bludgeoning the listener with it's intentional confusion, a relentless miasma of pulsing ambient noise, ending with a punishing mix of guitars and feedback.
- Dave Piniella
The 7th CD from this ambient/electronic/space music collective is impressive and shows yet again how easily this group can create stunning visual imagery through their often-improvised electronic synthscapes. SPACECRAFT's evocative and deep-listening music conjures some really filmic essences, from a peaceful celestial orbit to the physical and tactile space of the Mother Earth herself. For example, the rustic guitar of 'Anima-Machina' evokes images of a dusty western scene--complete with quaint ghost towns and tumbleweeds. Yet, later, in the same track, sequenced percolations resonate with a similar vibe to prime TANGERINE DREAM, and bring to mind visions of free flight. This type of journey is what SPACECRAFT excel at, and listeners are able to join in, albeit in the comfort of their own personal space. In fact, this music was created for the Cybersphere Planetarium in Tennessee, and I can only imagine the visions the patrons had during the performance, especially as this music stands so well on it's own. Gorgeous sounds that certainly warrant further investigation by fans of anyone from ENO to soundtracks to Projekt to STEVE ROACH. (Space For Music)
contact: http://www.spaceformusic.com - Todd Zachritz
We know that sometimes these CDs are somewhat challenging to find, which is why we have a community section which can be used to obtain nearly everything available on this site.
Subject: the music on your site
I've been visiting your site this morning, and really like the music selection you've got streaming. Who is it?
There's a few different streaming stations in the radio section, all of which should have a window which tells you the artist and song title you're listening to as well as which album it's from.
Subject: brainwashed is a beautiful thing
just wanted to let you know this. thanks for putting together such an excellent site, esp. all the CV and related stuff.
Subject: Boyd Rice and Fiends "Registered Three"???
Hi Ive been looking everywhere for this single (on Neroz records), and have had no luck finding it.
The only place that had it was Middle Pillar, and they were sold out and didn't know if they would be getting more.
Could you tell me some other stores preferrably in the US, which have copies of this release?
Try looking at Boyd's website, which isn't hosted by us any more, www.longlivedeath.com.
Subject: song question
I am very interested in obtaining the actual songs to several of the
country song lyrics page. I am particulary interested in Her teeth were
staine but her heart was pure and I miss you baby, But my aim's gettin'
better. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Who know's I may have
something you are looking for. I have tons of music
those are heavily guarded secrets
Subject: NWW recommendations
I only have 3 NWW albums, but it looks like they're a little more
interesting than C93, DIJ, COIL and SOL.
Here's my problem: it's really hard to find WORLDSERPENT stuff here in
Portugal, and the only way to get it it's by ordering it, and it is
impossible to know how it sounds just by looking to the cover. And there's
another thing: from what I have seen in NWW's website, some songs are in a
couple of different albums.
So, if you wouldn't mind passing some of your knowledge to me, maybe you
could advise me what NWW records to buy
Well, of course they're more interesting than the bands you mentioned... Every album is different! There's hardly a "particular" sound. Just go through the website and sound samples and when in doubt, try one of the compilations.
Subject: no subject
I need a favor. this may be hard, but knowing you it won't be. can you make a list of top 20 cd's for bands like Godspeed and Low. stuff in that vein.
Bjorn Again, The Fucking Champs, Peaches, Storm and Stress, Gonzales, Hefner, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, The White Stripes, Royal Trux, Mira Calix, Bobby Conn, Bitch Magnet, Lords of Acid, Queen of Japan, Whitehouse, Blectum from Blechdom, Pole, and Richard Devine. Those oughtta keep you busy for a little while. Don't forget to report back to us!