SAGAN, "UNSEEN FORCES"
In addition to being the first non-Matmos release to surface on Martin Schmidt and Drew Daniel's Vague Terrain label, Unseen Forces is also the debut release for the San Francisco audiovisual supergroup Sagan. While an increasing number of electronic and experimental artists are defining themselves as "audiovisual," Sagan is one of the few I've encountered that have released the visual component of their work simultaneously to the audio component, thereby assuring that an audience, beyond those who see a live performance, will be able to experience their work in a proper context. The group is comprised of electronic heavyweights J. Lesser, Blevin Blectum, Jon Leidecker (AKA Wobbly) and video artist Ryan Junell. It's an ambitious project that pays homage to the late Carl Sagan, popular scientist, astronomer, and the turtlenecked host of the seminal PBS series Cosmos. In way of tribute to this looming hero of nerds, Sagan the group offers an hour-long excursion into the far-flung realms of the universe, eschewing the kind of glitched-up laptop pranks we might have expected from these three, in favor of an unexpectedly cosmic amalgam of analogue synthesizers, field recordings and sample-driven electronica. The three musicians throw everything including the kitchen sink into these twelve tracks, but somehow distill and process their many inputs into a cohesive work that cannot be easily compared to anything that has come before. The press notes try to make the case for a comparison to 70s kosmische rockers Hawkwind and Vangelis, and while those influences are certainly present, it's a misleading way to characterize the sounds on Unseen Forces. In the span of seven minutes, Sagan travel from windswept ambient spacescapes to crunchy rhythms and squelching computer glitches; from a Gyorgi Ligeti choir of ghostly voices to sudden blasts of heavy metal guitar; from shuddering, synth-heavy science-class filmstrips to a jungle full of screeching monkeys and cawing birds; from Middle Eastern breaks to digitally-obliterated gabbercore trance and subtle atmospheric passages of tinkling piano. It may sound like a recipe for short-attention-span dilettantism or plunderphonia, but it's actually remarkably focused, and remains very much on the theme of science and that essential awe and wonder inherent in the infinite possibilities of the universe. As entertaining as the music can be at times, it works even better in context with the 40-minute video included on the DVD. In a series of silly-to-brilliant Viewmaster slide sketches, video artist Ryan Junell illuminates important scientific disoveries. In one of the opening sketches, a vivid illustration of the Big Bang is performed in front of audience by a group of flashlight-wielding astronomy enthusiasts in a dark room. In the next sketch, M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel of Matmos reenact Pausianus' discovery of air as a substance, doubling as a gay pick-up scene in an ice cream parlor. I learned about the contentious partnership of early astronomers Tyco Brahe and Johannes Kepler in a very funny sketch involving quiche and a gold-plated nose. In another memorable sketch, Lesser and Blectum portray Pierre and Marie Curie, discovering radiation as well as their love for each other. The DVD also includes six hours of MP3 audio, documenting Sagan's live performances. I'm very impressed by the amount of work put into this package, and the artists' genuine love and reverence for Carl Sagan and his beloved scientific method is definitely contagious. It very nearly qualifies as educational material, on a par with Charles and Ray Eames' The Powers of Ten, or anything that is genuinely able to make learning fun. - Jonathan Dean
american music club, "love songs for patriots"
American Music Club triumphantly return after ten years of absence. For anybody not in-the-know, AMC is much more than Mark Eitzel's piercing lyrics and bleeding vocals: it's Vudi's chaotic guitar, Danny Pearson's three-string bass and simultaneous percussive playing acrobatics, Tim Mooney's shuffling rhtyhms, and Bruce Kaphan's pedal steel and piano (replaced this time around with lap steel by Vudi and piano by new member Marc Capelle). While Eitzel has recorded and performed solo for the last ten years, the perfectly paired sounds of the group with his voicethe disorder, discomfort, and awe-inspiring beautyhas been sadly missed. These are sounds of a group which has been such a large influence to so criminally few people. With 1991's Everclear, AMC perhaps recorded their first perfect album, flawless and intense, (conincidentally released at the time I discovered hard liquor!). They upped the stakes with 1993's Mercury, a bold album of their brand of slow yet raw tunes where the group experimented with new ways of composing and recording, all of which fit into a perfect mix. Of course, for their Warner Bros. bosses, it wasn't enough, and I'm sure the pressure was on for them to have a "hit single." 1994's San Francisco was probably their most sonically digestible album, primed for pop radio, but it didn't feel like everybody was quite on board. In retrospect, it's no surprise Eitzel was probably frustrated, called it a day, fired everybody, and went solo. Love Songs for Patriots opens with Eitzel's voice front stage center, with the familiar sound of AMC's past blasting through like an unstoppable train that's exploded in a tunnel as the smoke and fire move through, ready to come out the other end, faster and hotter. The gentle songs like "Another Morning," "Love Is," and especially "Myopic Books" are excellent breathers: sweet, gentle, sandwiched in between the rough and loud songs, and echo fan favorites like "Last Harbor" and "Jenny." Content-wise, Eitzel's lyrics are as brilliant as they have ever been, with new stories about love and god, almost entirely void of rhyme scheme, and requiring intense group therapy for any listener who's actually paying attention. It's for his lyrics alone that make AMC and Eitzel a terrible band to listen to in the car, as a driver needs to be paying attention to the road, not the male stripper with underwear full of George Washingtons, the star of the brilliant tune "Patriot's Heart," or Mark's mom who likes Manhattans, which he says "taste like mouthwash." (Even Kathleen makes her way onto this record!) Like Coil once were encouraging "deep listening" to delicately layered instrumental music, American Music Club is "deep listening" for lyrical content, super soaked in emotion with obscure references to reitred pop icons, the bible, and idealized Americana. Eitzel is equal parts drama and comedy and only with AMC do I feel he's truly meeting his match at the same time, all the time. I look forward to their upcoming tour and hope this isn't just a one-off reunion, as AMC is one of the most influential bands to my own musical taste evolution and maturation. - Jon Whitney
VIRGIN PRUNES, "...IF I DIE, I DIE"
Though it was never recognized as such in its own time, the Virgin Prunes' 1982 debut ...If I Die, I Die truly represented a creative apex of gothic rock. Retrospectively, it's difficult to think of another album that more effectively channeled the decadent perversity, outlandish freakiness and theatrical melodrama that characterized the movement, while avoiding the pitfalls of overwrought self-parody and puerility. Even other more widely acknowledged classics of gothic post-punk, such as Bauhaus' In the Flat Field, can't match the intensity and single-mindedness of ...If I Die, I Die. The album was produced by Colin Newman of Wire, who seems to have allowed the Prunes' own flamboyant aesthetic to shine through strongly, even while skillfully streamlining their sound and reigning in some of the band's more experimental tendencies. But Newman knew a good thing when he heard it, highlighting the fascinating interplay of the band's three vocalistsGavin, Guggi and Dave-idwhose menacing voices intertwine and overlap to frequently hair-raising effect. Virgin Prunes' penchant for tribal jackhammer percussion, gloomy bass melodies and spidery guitar figures are in full evidence on the album, and are given a substantial boost by the fine remastering job on this Mute reissue. The packaging has also been given a makeover, with new cover art showing the band in their full costumed glory, and a lyric booklet with further photographic evidence of the Prunes' peculiar style, a combination of glam cover-models and pagan wood-nymphs. The album is loaded with terrifically intense performances to match the band's baroque aesthetic, most notably in the snarling triple-vocal assaults of classics like "Sweethome Under White Clouds" and "Baby Turns Blue." Newman's unorthodox production is positively teeming with atmospheric touches on tracks like "Bau-Dachong," named in the Prunes' invented language of Bo-Prune. Jagged guitar chords and violent drumming propels songs like "Walls of Jericho" into a bleak, claustrophobic atmosphere, even as the singalong chorus pushes the song into poppy territory. Most tracks walk a fine line between dissonance and focus, but occasionally, as on "Caucasian Walk," the band digresses into unhinged chaos. "Ballad of the Man" seemed like the most embarassingly dated of the album's songs, until I realized that it was actually a brutal style-parody of Bruce Springsteen, inverting the Boss' working-class hero mythology to spin a satirical tale about a bank robber. The Prunes' save the weirdest material for the end of the album, with the bizarre "Chance of a Lifetime" and "Yeo," both utilizing reverb and phasing to eerie psychedelic effect, and the latter an inexplicable sequence of vocal intonations and piano melodies being played in a rainstorm. ...If I Die, I Die might not be the most adventurous album of the Virgin Prunes' career, but its certainly the most focused, and a remarkably fierce statement of artistic integrity. - Jonathan Dean
Keith Fullerton Whitman, "SchÖner Flußengel"
There's something new churning inside the supernatural bones of these songs. The world of instrumental evolution and ultra-processed sound is ripe with abrasiveness and cosmic dust. While most of what Keith Fullerton Whitman releases under his own name is numinous and hazy, there's an extra dose of the dark and unfathomable on Schöner Flußengel. Bits and pieces of Antithesis remain on this record; the album moves via the progression of obvious instrumentation and recognizable musical elements. The record floats, however, in a way that its predecessor did not. Whitman's melodic movements are seemingly circular and they build a labyrinthine structure that lacks no amount of intimidation. "Lixus (Version Analogique)" opens the album with the ghastly moan of cymbals scratching against each other, but the cymbals give way suddenly to a guitar melody that will be repeated later in the album. Light percussion highlights this oddly looped melody until strange sounds begin to shine over it and place it within the context of something far greater than itself. The guitar falls away into an abyss of heavy and subtle percussive elements and whale-like echoes. Immediately following this thematic opening is a giant hole in the space-time continuum. It's as though a massive star collapsed in on itself right in the middle of this record and left a record of its nature. The massive and meandering "Bewusstseinserweiternd Tonaufnahme (Einer & Zweiter Teile)" is a confounding piece of recording. Like a mammoth and unmovable monument dedicated to the ruinous gods of the ancient world, it towers over the rest of Schöner Flußengel and establishes the tone that comes to dominate the record. At various points in this song I'm quite sure that it is the moan of devilish monks I'm hearing reverberate through the morbidly decorated architecture of an unholy church. The dark, all-consuming sound continues up and until "Lixus (Version Numerique)" and the closing "Weiter." The guitar theme from the opening track returns and is now complimented by a host of obscene sounds and starry shrieks. Distortion stumbles back and forth, bleating and honking in short bursts and adding a fullness that was missing from "Lixus (Version Analogique)." Instead of fading into nothingness, however, the wave of guitar and alien gasps resolves itself into a stunning display or synthetic orchestras and rhythmic, digital crashes. A piano or modified organ sound (sometimes even sounding like a strange guitar) rotates through a series of patterns, both percussive and melodic in nature, which creates a beautiful stream of artificial chamber music. Slowly the baroque style of the piece transforms into a seemingly live performance inside an imagined temple with its roof open to the terrifying vacancy above. The bizarre and grotesquely hypnotic qualities it harbors provide a mysterious aura around it that makes repeated listens necessary and the record more enjoyable each time through. - Lucas Schleicher
For this band to adopt the name Landing seems like a dash of irony. There is nothing grounded about this band, nothing the least bit indicative that they are or are about to touch the Earth and accept the rules and mechanics that govern it. Their sound is one of the sublime, the surreal, more akin to the forces that invisibly hold things aloft and floating than the submission to gravity. "Fluency of Colors" initiates the album's upward motion, each note slipping over another and flickering darkly like a dying bulb burning after images into memory. The music envelops, and what at first seems so delicate and vaporous begins to obscure everything else. Sphere is an album of meditation, of contemplative thought, using the hypnotic, patient bloom of the band's music to instigate a sense of calm and focus. Along the course of the album, there are three instrumental interludes, each titled "Gravitational." These interludes are the moment of greatest upheaval and dissonance on the album, points where the urge to escape the pull results in stress and tension. The three pieces gradually build from the chilly wind-scape of the first to the creaking buzz of the third. These pieces serve as weights or counterpoints to the soaring jags the compromise the proper songs. "Solstice" shimmers brightly while a stinging updraft of guitar sears through the temperate atmosphere. The intensity of the guitar's ascent is almost jarring in contrast to the lightness of the back drop, however the contrast heightens the perception of each element individually until ultimately they coalesce together perfectly. The very titles of the songs hint at a connection with perception, connection with the sights, sounds, and smells of the world around you. This thread of connection stretches itself between each song and binds together the album's experience, linking it to a greater application of sense and feeling. Sphere would make an excellent album for sinking into thought, escaping the white noise of the mind. - Michael Patrick Brady
CARTER TUTTI, "CABAL"
Though Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti have released a cartload of albums since 1981 under their familiar Chris & Cosey banner, Cabal is actually the debut album under their new guise of Carter Tutti. This sudden switch from their sweetly alliterative Christian names to their decidedly more turgid surnames also signals a slight change of musical strategy. The music on Cabal is more abstract than past efforts, which were largely beat-driven and contained definite songs. Cabal is still very much recognizable as being the work of Chris and Cosey, with its deep technoid beat constructions and the breathy sexuality of Cosey's vocals, but there is a growing de-emphasis on song structure, and a clear move towards more amorphous and ambient soundscapes. Appropriate to its title, the album seems to exist in a nebulous subterranean chamber, the musicians swimming lithe and eel-like in some kind of amniotic fluid, sending electrical pulses back and forth in wordless communication. I was immediately reminded of other aquatically fixated techno, such as that of the now-defunct Drexciya, or some of The Orb's more cohesive efforts. But Carter Tutti's brand of techno is deep and druggy, shivering and sexual, finding its shape along the surfaces of the female body. The musicians seem to be equating the secret intrigue of the title with the labial folds or the dark recesses of the vagina, rising and falling with the rhythms of sexual congress. Dreamlike reverberations are sent careening into the deep echo chamber of each dubby bass rumble. Each track seems to melt into the next, forming one long continuous shape, kept in constant motion by relentless snaking beat constructions. Each track is thoroughly drenched in this muted, soft-edged aquatic atmosphere, the occasional blasts of horn blowing bubbles in the murky depths. Much of the album is suitably hypnotic, and the nebulous, undefined quality of many of the tracks helps to create this trancelike atmosphere. As the album progresses towards its conclusion, the tracks become ever more deeper, the frequencies lowering, providing a true test of a sound system's ability to handle rumbling, subterranean bass. The production is top-notch throughout, with each element crisply rendered and coasting across the stereo channels, providing an immersive psychedelic environment that never failed to be complete engaging, sinking into lower and lower depths of hidden underwater chambers. My favorite moment came on "Passing," when the sudden sad intonations of a droning harmonica provided an indescribably beautiful counterpoint to the heaving bass rumbles and Cosey's manipulated vocal cooing. Cabal is quite possibly the sexiest album I've heard all year. - Jonathan Dean
The Frames, "Burn The Maps"
Anything that can remotely resemble widespread commercial success escaped the Frames for most of their career when their last album, Set List, broke into the Top Ten in their native Ireland. Almost a year later, it was released on these shores as the first album in a new deal with Anti, garnering the band more attention in America as a band to watch intently. Their newest album was released in Ireland several weeks ago, and Anti will release it in the US and Europe in February. Until then, rabid fans can order through select dealers linked on the band's website to absorb the finest work in the band's decade-plus lifespan, as well as their most coordinated and complete effort to date. Glen Hansard has grown by leaps and bounds as a songwriter in recent years, and the arrangements have slowly become more direct and openly ferocious than before, switching energy level on a dime and going full tilt before slowing for nigh-breathtaking moments of solemnity. In that regard he's found his voice two-fold, as subject matter turns from an argument that spawned a fight ("Happy") to relationship issues ("Fake," Finally"). At every turn, Hansard bears the potential to unleash into full-voiced howl, but he contains it for just the right moment each time, and sometimes opts for the more respectful and pretty falsetto. Meanwhile, the ensemble is beset with fine musicians who create an ebb and flow even in the hastiest of tempos, the highlight of which is the dissolution of "Dream Awake," where the drums approach the essence of breakbeat, the bass thumps with flurry, and guitar bends soar over it all until the violin takes its lead and betters it. To couple this with words like "For every time I came home screaming and got sent away with no warmth at all" creates the complete package that holds together under any scrutiny. The recording is the most faithful to the vibrant live shows the Frames are reknowned for, courtesy of new member Rob Bochnik and former member David Odlum, and the proper settings like Electrical Audio and Black Box Studios. Altogether, this set pulls back the curtain on their recorded output, revealing the Frames as the most vital band to come out of Ireland in twenty years at least, and maybe the most poetic that ever came from hence. It might just be their time, finally, to get the recognition they so richly deserve. - Rob Devlin
Climax Golden Twins, "Highly Bred and Sweetly Tempered"
North East Indie
Atmospheric tones have always been the trademark of Climax Golden Twins, and on their latest release the group, who make little effort to identify themselves beyond their collective name, moves into the more intimate side of their range. Maybe scoring the feature film Session Nine had an affect on the band, as the film features one character listening to old recordings of psychological evaluations; these songs are created around acoustic guitars primarily and interwoven with sampled recordings from over sixty years ago. These samples can be gloriously simple, from a conversation to narrative storytelling, or a father talking to a child, and when paired with the Twins music and manipulation they take on a whole new life beyond their quaint beginnings. Even though the music is quieter and sweeter than other releases, there's still an undercurrent of darkness, or maybe just a twinge of mortality here and there. Ominous feelings appear on select songs, like the voice at the end of "Every Word in the Bible" or the child's voice on "Billy McGee McGaw," but these sometimes seem unintentionally so, and the music just seems to fit wherever and whatever happens. Occasionally, though, like on "Little Noreen," the music sets the scenario, and in these cases it's almost always a sinister undertone. Sparseness is a key element all over, with songs not extending into grandiose affairs or snarls of noise, just speaking their minds with as little words as possible. The album's second track is the keynote speaker in that regard: called "Upright," the song is a very simple melody played on an upright piano with brushed cymbals, the very "trick of singularity" as Shakespeare put it. There's little vocals besides the scratchy recordings, but when there are ("Solid Gold Microphone," for instance) they fit perfectly, and it's as though it's a cover of a golden oldie just discovered in grandma's collection, brought forth and updated for the new ears of today. Maybe that's the key: using technology of today to make songs that could fit somewhere lost in time; and that's always seemed to be this group's specialty, never as fully realized until now. - Rob Devlin
SLOWLY MINUTE, "TOMORROW WORLD"
The first thing that drew me to Japanese solo artist Takahiro Chiba (aka Slowly Minute) and his first official North American release was the connection with Adam Pierce (Mice Parade) and his NYC-based Bubble Core label. Being somewhat familiar with Pierce's unique approach to blending rhythms and music of diverse cultures, I was expecting something equally intriguing and exciting from Slowly Minute by association. Although not as high energy as Mice Parade, I was quite surprised and definitely not disappointed. Tomorrow World's near-raw mix of generic synth sounds, harp samples, hiccupping Roland TR-707 beats, acoustic guitar and piano add a certain charm to its lush yet strong compositions of weaving melodies and quirky arrangements. I'd been listening to this disc almost exclusively on headphones during daily commuting, so even the finest of details were apparent from the get-go. From the polyrhythmic programming and looping guitars and weaving keyboard of opener "The Song of the Sun in Autumn's Holiday," Chiba sets a very relaxing and uplifting tone which carries throughout most of the disc. The repetitive guitar arpeggiation and jazzy ride cymbal motif of "Minutes Made!" lays down the foundation for bursts of low-end synth squelches, distorted guitars and tom-tom rolls to play over and gradually shift into a more straight-ahead number. The gorgeous "Little Bird" quickly became my favorite; its Brazilian-flavored nylon string guitar and upright bass set to odd yet playful machine beats and dense piano/keyboard/harp arrangements. With its multiple melodic lines and feel changes, it's amazing that Chiba managed to piece it all together without it sounding cluttered. "It's the Girl Who Goes to Do Some Shopping" turns on a dime from its techo-esque rhythmic keyboard intro to sampled drum fills to fast-forwarded tape chirpings and dance beats. Although Chiba relies heavily on the generic keyboard and drum machine sounds without much altering, what impresses me most about Tomorrow World is his ability to make the simple compositions sound complex and vice versa. Having recently formed The Lopops as a guitarist, I'm anxious to hear this undeniably talented musician in a group setting or perhaps on a future Mice Parade recording. - Gord Fynes
Rogue Wave, "Out of the Shadow"
Every once in a while an album comes along that is so unfortunately ignored that it deserves reissue on a bigger label with more clout, hopefully widening the band's audience for future mayhem on albums to come. Such is the case with Rogue Wave, whose line-up on their tender debut was a mere shadow of their current roster, but the songs are phenomenal nonetheless, giving indie pop a real shot in the arm with clever songwriting and warm sometimes playful arrangements. Zach Rogue recorded the album mostly on his own with a few friends over two years ago, then released it on his own Responsive Recordings label after forming a band to perform the songs in public. As it turns out, the live band performs the songs with more depth and vocabulary, attracting them attention as a well-versed and dynamic live act. The next album, then, will show the true face of the band that is Rogue Wave, but for now the stunning debut will have to do. Every song on it is a perfect pop moment, with great melodies, harmonies, and the kind of magic that former tour mates the Shins or others have had for one or two songs. None of them lasts over five minutes, and many are three and under, keeping the whole experience short and quaint. Rogue, who changed his last name from Schwartz, obviously has a knack for quirky sounds and sweet lyrics, though he also had a lot of questions in his head when these songs were recorded, as every song has a bit of a hope or question in it. It's the little touches that make it perfect: birds chirping, or faded harmonica, or layered vocals and backwards recording. Even the song titles have that little twist of a sense of humor piled in with earnest emotion ("Nourishment Nation," "Kicking the Heart Out"). It's an album recorded by a man who had no home and wasn't sure what was coming next, but he had to get the noises out of his head. Rogue Wave in this form was a tour de force even before other members entered the mix, so there's no telling what they'll come up with next. Hopefully, with just enough luck, Shadow won't be an act too hard for them to follow. - Rob Devlin
TRIOSK, "MOMENT RETURNS"
After making an international name for themselves as part of last year's collaboration with Jan Jelinek on his 1+3+1 disc, Australian jazzers Triosk are now set to release their first full-length recording. Drawing on as much of the electronic elements as jazz in both composition and instrumentation, the ten tracks on Moment Returns vary from subtle glitch and pinging soundscapes, intricate and swinging grooves with dark, warm overtones and the shimmering beauty of classic piano trio ballads. The static scratch and pop of a record stuck at the end of its groove acts as a metronomic click track on "Chronosynclastic Infundibula" while drummer Laurence Pike and bassist Ben 'Donny' Waples lock into freeform rolls and trills that support pianist Adrian Klumpes' anguished lines which become taut and gradually relax into some great classical explorations. The heavy-handed Rhodes progressions of "Two; Twelve" are driven by a broken-up, slinky groove which tends to tastefully "hide the one" without becoming too pretentious. Being a sucker for a great Rhodes performance, this track also stood out for me as a catchy composition for its great dialogue as the players communicate through their instruments. The sensitive treatment of the ballad "Re-Ignite" brought on gooseflesh and a near-swelling of tears due to its hauntingly beautiful bass progression swaddled in rich piano chords. The secret weapon on this track is Pike's brushed sizzle cymbal which resonates throughout. For a group of twenty-somethings, the maturity of musicianship is shown here by their ability to underplay at just the right time. The lengthy "I Am a Beautiful and Unique Snowflake" swells from subtle ballad to clanging unison eighth notes that compartmentalize its chord progressions. This track would not be out of place in accompanying a silent movie where the steam engine approaches the damsel in distress tied to the tracks as the villain strokes his mustache. Based on the strong compositions and fine musicianship throughout Moment Returns, it's safe to say that there'll be a lot more heard from Triosk and its group members in the years to come. - Gord Fynes
"Song of the Silent Land"
Elegant packaging and artwork adorn Constellation's label compilation, Song of the Silent Land, an album sold originally as a tour CD produced for and sold on a 2004 European tour featuring a few of Constellation's lineup. Now, though, it is widely available to us colonials in the New World. Inside the carefully wrought artwork, the CD features fourteen rare and unreleased songs by the roster of the label and then some. I am uncertain what the Silent Land in the title is, but if you take in the big picture, here is what you get geopolitically: a defiantly Canadian label creating a compilation for a European audience. All of this amounts in America to a not quite palatable offering from a country whom we consider our slow cousin to the north intended for a continent whose countries are quite a bit more worldly and refined than America these days (if you can judge a country by its current administration, that is). Perhaps it is the reactionary and reckless American brashness in me, but I would still not hesitate to dump this album off the side of the nearest tall ship into the murky depths of Boston harbor. I would even throw some tea overboard along with the CD, just for old time's sake. The songs on this compilation sound largely like throw-away material, dredged from the dregs of each artist's sound bank. Consumers will not doubt be tempted to purchase the album on the basis of Constellation all-stars like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Exhaust, A Silver Mt. Zion, and Do Make Say Think. Unfortunately, these bands provide some of the biggest disappointments. Godspeed's uninspired live recording of "Outro" might be hampered by the imprecision of the, well, live recording of it, or it might just be a substandard composition. The sound is warbly, ill-mixed, and not up to the angelic and anthemic standards of the band's studio persona. Nor does it approximate the live experience of seeing the band perform. A Silver Mt. Zion offer a wall of noise with some strings operating underneath it all, though at an almost indiscernible level. Le Fly Pan Am in collaboration with Tim Hecker and Christof Migone execute one of the more pleasing songs for the compilation: the perhaps haughtily titled "Tres Tres 'Avant'" is a bouncy and nearly danceable number with about three of four different aural levels of interesting sounds going on simultaneously. Some of the more obscure artists here might catch the ear of the more attentive listener. 1-Speed Bike, Frankie Sparo, and HangedUp all seem to threaten songs of quality, but punctuated by the flotsam around them, it can be a little deceptive and hard to tell. - Joshua David Mann
We know that our music picks may be somewhat challenging to find, which is why we have a community section which can be used to obtain nearly everything available on this site.
WEEK OF OCTOBER 10 - OCTOBER 16
American Music Club - Love Songs for Patriots CD (Cooking Vinyl, UK/Merge, US)
AM/PM - The Ends II 12" (Dreck, UK)
AM/PM - The Ends I & II CD (Dreck, UK)
Aqueduct - Pistols at Dawn CD (Barsuk, US)
Afrika Bambaataa - Dark Matter: Moving at the Speed of Light CD (Tommy Boy, US)
Frank Black Francis - Frank Black Francis CD (spinART, US)
Breakestra - Don't Need a Dance 12" (Ubiquity, US)
Brpobr - Brpobr CD (aRtonal, Austria)
Richard Buckner - Dents and Shells CD (Merge, US)
Caduceus - Factory Sounds Vol. 1 12" (Zero G Sounds, US)
Calexico - World Drifts In DVD (1/4 Stick/Touch & Go, US)
Camper Van Beethoven - New Roman Times CD (Vanguard, US)
* Can - Ege Bamyasi hybrid SACD [remastered reissue] (Spoon/Mute, UK)
* Can - Tago Mago hybrid SACD [remastered reissue] (Spoon/Mute, UK)
* Can - Monster Movie hybrid SACD [remastered reissue] (Spoon/Mute, UK)
* Can - Soundtracks hybrid SACD [remastered reissue] (Spoon/Mute, UK)
* The Dears - No Cities Left CD (Bella Union, UK)
Destructo Swarmbots - The Mountain CDEP (Public Guilt, US)
Die Warzau - Convenience CD (Pulseblack, US)
Dosh - Pure Trash CD/LP (Anticon, US)
The Faint - I Disappear CDEP (Saddle Creek, US)
Finesse & Runway - Finesse & Runway CD (Schematic, US)
Frog Eyes - The Folded Palm CD (Absolutely Kosher, US)
Gold Chains & Sue Cie - When The World Was Our Friend CD/2xLP (Kitty Yo, Germany/Kill Rock Stars, US)
Hanzel und Gretyl - Scheissmessiah CD (Metropolis, US)
Hexstatic - Master View CD+DVD (Ninja Tune, UK)
Hocico - Wrack & Ruin CD/2xCD/2xLP (Out of Line, Germany)
* Kalima - Night Time Shadows CD [remastered reissue with bonus tracks] (LTM, UK)
Machine Drum - Bidnezz CD/2xLP (Merck, US)
* Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs 3xCD [reissue] (Domino, UK)
* Magnetic Fields - The Charm of the Highway Strip CD [reissue] (Domino, UK)
* Magnetic Fields - Wayward Bus/Plastic Trees CD [reissue] (Domino, UK)
* Magnetic Fields - House of Tomorrow CD [reissue] (Domino, UK)
* Magnetic Fields - Holiday CD [reissue] (Domino, UK)
Massive Attack - Danny The Dog soundtrack CD (Virgin, UK)
McEnroe - Working In The Factory/Party People 12" (Vertical Form, UK)
Ministry - Early Trax CD [remastered collection of early singles with additional unreleased material] (RykoDisc, US)
Ministry - Side Trax CD [remastered collection of Ministry side-projects including PTP, 1000 Homo DJs, Pailhead & Acid Horse] (RykoDisc, US)
My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult - The Kult Kollection DVD (RykoDisc, US)
My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult - Diamonds & Daggerz CD (RykoDisc, US)
My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult - The Be(a)st of TKK CD (RykoDisc, US)
Clive Palmer (of the Incredible String Band) - All Roads Lead to Land CD (Dicristina, US)
Panzer AG - This Is My Battlefield CD (Metropolis, US)
Photophob - Your Majesty Machine CD (Hive, US)
Pig Destroyer - Terrifier CD (Relapse, US)
Pinback - Summer in Abaddon CD/LP (Touch & Go, US)
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - The Doldrums CD (Paw-Tracks/Carpark, US)
Platinum Pied Pipers - Stay With Me 12" (Ubiquity, US)
Point of Grace - I Choose You CD (Touch and Go, US)
* Revolting Cocks - Big Sexy Land CD [remastered reissue with bonus tracks] (RykoDisc, US)
* Revolting Cocks - You Goddamned Son of a Bitch 2xCD [remastered reissue with bonus tracks] (RykoDisc, US)
* Revolting Cocks - Beers Steers & Queers CD [remastered reissue with bonus tracks] (RykoDisc, US)
Robokoneko - Shades of Genki CDR [ltd to 211 copies] (Piehead, Canada)
Savath & Savalas - Mañana 12"/CDEP (Warp, UK)
Seabound - No Sleep Demon V2.0 CD (Metropolis, US)
Shapeshifter - Reticulum Flux CD (Schematic, US)
Shitmat - Full English Breakfest Vol. 5 12" (Planet µ, UK)
Shitmat - Full English Breakfest CD (Planet µ, UK)
Subtle - A New White CD/LP (Lex/Warp, US)
Théodore - A summer she has never been, a winter she fears CD/LP (Lo Recordings, UK)
Toob - The Miscreant 12" (Lo Recordings, UK)
Triosk - Moment Returns CD/LP (Leaf, UK)
TUK - Proud Princess of a Brand New City CD ((K-RAA-K)3, The Netherlands)
TV On The Radio - New Health Rock 7"/CDEP (Touch & Go, US)
The Vanishing - Still Lifes Are Failing CD (Fatal, Germany)
Various - Be Strong 12" (Shockout/Tigerbeat6, US)
Various - Beatservice Jukebox: The Best of Beatservice 2xCD/DVD (Beatservice, Norway)
Various - Disco Undead CD/2xLP (Device Electronic Entertainment, UK)
Various - Everything is Green CD (Toytronic, UK)
Various - Matador At Fifteen 2xCD+DVD (Matador, US)
Various - Projekt Holiday Single 1 CDEP (Projekt, US)
Various - This Place is Dreaming CD ((K-RAA-K)3, The Netherlands)
Velvet Acid Christ - Between the Eyes, Vol. 3 CD (Metropolis, US)
vidnaObmana - Legacy CD (Release/Relapse, US)
This is simply this week's highlights from the NEW RELEASES provided by Greg and Feedback Monitor. For a more detailed schedule stretching into the future, please check out the page, since release dates can and will often change.