Monday, November 28, 2005

No "Holiday Blahs" at VMCS

In the lamestream, the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas are pretty sparse as record companies hold onto their big releases in hopes you'll instead snatch up those overpriced box sets (although some of those Rhino comps look tasty). To get a feel, just look at today's Large Hearted Boy's listing of this week's Amazon releases. Pretty sparse and pretty crappy. Luckily, for those of us who could get two shits about the holidays, the independents have craploads of new releases and reissues. Here's just a sample and it's a looooooong post.


SKY SUNLIGHT SAXON - Tyrants in the house. CD $13
Latest offering by this 60's icon and ex front
man for the Seeds. All you can expect and more
from the legend!

Album by the acid folk/psychedelic project of
Craig Williamson from Hamilton, New Zealand
(known also from heavy/stoner rock band
Datura).Sitar-driven, mantraesque songs. Blends
elements of space/folk/blues with sounds from the
Eastern shore for hippiesque psychedelia. Imagine
an exotic incarnation of Ethereal
Counterbalance's Rod Goodway jamming with
Spacemen 3, Holy River Family Band, Saddar Bazaar
and reaching/producing a trancelike
phantasmagoric state... First edition of 320 with
paste-on 4-colour silkscreen print featuring a
psychedelic lapwing, handmade by the SG Art
Department. LP $22



NADJA: Truth Becomes Death CD (ALIEN 058CD) 13.50
"Finally a full-fledged metal release on Alien8 Recordings. Alright, perhaps that's a bit of an exaggeration but the music of Nadja comes pretty damn close. Nadja is an ambient doom metal monster fronted by multi-talented Toronto musician and writer Aidan Baker. The music of Nadja will certainly be name-checked with current rulers of the genre Sunn O))) and with good reason. Having said this, Nadja is different than the bulk of bands operating in the outsider metal movement these days as they employ a much heavier use of ambient aesthetics and influences that help forge their sound."


ARCTIC MONKEYS: I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor 10" (DNO 070EP) 6.50
Vinyl EP version. "One hates drawing comparisons like this, but we gotta say it. This very much feels like how things felt leading up to Franzmania.

FV 030CD

MX-80: We're An American Band CD (FV 030CD) 13.50
"We're An American Band -- MX-80's first studio album in over a decade -- is both hilariously depressing and morosely upbeat. The ground-breaking Bay Area quartet, known for its searing guitar work -- by founder Bruce Anderson -- and deadpan commentary of vocalist Rich Stim, has managed to combine the worst of the digital and analog worlds to create a masterwork that mixes Satan, Howard Hughes and current theories on brain transplants. In a bit of musical cannibalism, We're an American Band, includes samples from the cinematic tapestries of O-Type, the musical side excursion guided by MX founders Dale Sophiea and Anderson. Claimed as an inspiration by many underground stars, MX-80's 30 year career is crowned by this tract on the modern American, living up to its moniker as the 'the most arty Heavy Metal band in the world.'"

MORRICONE, ENNIO: Crime and Dissonance 2CD (IPC 066CD) 18.00
Compiled by Alan Bishop (Sun City Girls/Sublime Frequencies). Liner notes by John Zorn. On Mike Patton's label. Means this is not just another throwaway Italian repackage. "In Crime and Dissonance, Mike Patton has pulled together a rare collection of Morricone tracks that reflect his connection to the Maestro via a shared passion and commitment to the extreme and the experimental. Psychedelic sitars, heavy breathing, screams, screeches, electric guitar feedback... much of Morricone's language here keenly intersects with the abstract metal soundscapes of Patton's own music giving us fresh insights into their deeply powerful and uncompromising aesthetics. Both artists have straddled the pop and experimental worlds throughout their careers, creating a body of work that is honest, authentic, meticulously crafted, imaginative and cathartic. Both artists have also suffered from a measure of misunderstanding. But the music lives on. Like all great music the bizarre miniatures that comprise this remarkable set are still as fresh as the day they were recorded (some thirty to forty years ago) and now through the generosity and vision of a youthful and committed contemporary music master, they reach a new generation of ears to inspire even newer vistas of creativity. It is the responsibility of the few to carry the torch of truth and integrity through the dark ages we find ourselves in and this heroic set of soundtrack rarities shows us that the spirit of freedom is, has been and always will be alive and well. One only has to look for it." -- John Zorn NYC 2005.

K7 021DVD

EINSTURZENDE NEUBAUTEN: Liebeslieder DVD (K7 021DVD) 17.00
"Einsturzende Neubauten was one of the key pioneers of industrial music. Known for their avant-garde methods, Einsturzende Neubauten have used jackhammers, drills, chainsaws, junk metal, tapes and amplified guitar noise and a multitude of found sounds over the past twenty years to make music. Much more than a spectacle of disaster and ruin, Neubauten's great and various noises eroticize de-sensitized and dead zones of contemporary life. Surprisingly, given their extraordinary visual spectacle, Liebeslieder is the first proper Einst�rzende Neubauten documentary. Commissioned by the German WDR TV's architecture division, it charts their beginnings in a hole beneath an Autobahn overpass in Berlin, where guiding spirit Blixa Bargeld and NU Unruh made music by hurtling themselves at its metal walls. It takes you through the early Untergang years, when they picked up momentum -- and members FM Einheit, Alex Hacke and Mark Chung -- through a seemingly perverse celebration of collapse and decline. Using interviews, concert material and often rare film footage, Liebeslieder plots their spreading influence around the world, their blitzes on moribund British and American music scenes, and their outings as teen idols in Tokyo. The documentary also highlights their theatre work with Peter Zadek, Heine M�ller, Japanese Butoh dancers, Erich Wonder and La La La Human Steps. On top of this Liebeslieder includes concert footage from their 1993 tour and, in full, their first ever music videos 'Interim' and 'Blume.' After Einst�rzende Neubauten, everything else is silence." -- Biba Kopf. DVD, region-free, 2-sided for worldwide format access (side A= PAL, side B = NTSC); 100 minutes, stereo.


HAFLER TRIO, THE: A Thirsty Fish 2CD (KP ATF) 21.00
"And so it came to pass...and stayed there, finally. A splendidness of extra-re-releasement: sonically enhanced by an order of magnitude, with a full previously lost quarter of the thing put back where it belongs, and oh, how we laughed! Artwork restored, millions of minions having toiled for years. Yes, miracles performed *every day*! Come on in! The water is wonderful!" Originally released as a 2LP by Touch, then re-issued on one CD (and thus leaving off one side of the music) by Mute, now finally re-released in its original form, as a 2CD set, in the usual Hafler Trio package, with booklet, a poster and a postcard.


CUTLER, IVOR: Life In A Scotch Sitting Room Vol. II CD (CRREV 001CD) 16.00
2002 reissue of this 1978 album release, originally issued on Virgin. "The first release on the Rev-Ola label through Cherry Red. Ivor Cutler... from his early jazz outings to his work with The Beatles, Soft Machine and a host of other luminaries, to his amazing continued output of poetry and stories, to his recordings on Creation, the enigmatic Mr. Cutler has for decades been the secret star of whatever literary vanguard Britain possesses. Life In a Scotch Sitting Room Vol II catches Mr. Cutler in his usual spectacular live performance, at Glasgow's 3rd Eye Centre in the 1970s. Songs, poems, stories and invaluable 'Jungle Tips'... this edition features special additional artwork by Mr. Cutler. A must-have for all lovers of the inimitable 'Glasgow Dreamer.'

Artist: WIRE, THE
Title: #262 December 2005
Label: THE WIRE (UK)
Format: MAG/CD
Price: $8.00
Catalog #: WIRE 262
"On the cover: Lightning Bolt (Alan Licht visits the Rhode Island duo who are reconfiguring US Hardcore with their breakneck drum and bass thrash). Features: Tujiko Noriko (The Japanese electronic musician and film maker's naive charm belies a touch of steel); Kang Tae Hwan (The pioneering Korean sax improvisor recalls the tribulations of blowing free under martial law); Susanne Brokesch (Since moving to Brooklyn, the Austrian artist matches her electronica to the paintings of Paula Brook); Invisible Jukebox: Ray Russell; Vashti Bunyan (Rob Young meets the forgotten 60s pop star turned singer-songwriter now championed by the free folk generation); Ken Hyder (Will Montgomery follows the Scottish percussionist's quest for the link between Improv and shamanic trance); The Primer: Jamaican deejays (Brian Marley toasts the titans of talkover, including I-Roy, U-Roy, Big Youth, Dr Alimantado, Dillinger, Trinity and more.
All copies of the December issue will come complete with an exclusive free 16 track CD, The Wire Tapper 14. The Wire Tapper 14 is the latest volume in The Wire's ongoing series of exclusive new music compilations. The CD will be given away free with every copy of the December issue worldwide and will contain a range of new, rare or exclusive tracks that together will span the spectrum of the kind of new, underground music that gets featured in the magazine each month, from electronic music, avant rock and new jazz, to dub, hiphop, traditional musics and beyond."

And finally, via Aquarius

album cover LADY SOVEREIGN Vertically Challenged (Chocolate Industries) cd + dvd 11.98
As we mentioned in the last list, we just can't get enough Grime. We absolutely dug Dizzee Rascal, Wiley, Virus Syndicate, and even M.I.A. who had a bit of grime going on. But over in the UK, grime is the shit, happening on loads of 12"s, in clubs, and on underground radio stations, but very little of it has made it over here, unfortunately, outside of a few comps. It makes perfect sense that Lady Soveriegn would be the one to follow Dizzee and M.I.A. from undergound hype to next big thing. EVERY time we play this in the store at least one person buys it, and usually half the people in the store come up to see what we're listening to. It's that catchy and funky and fucked up, and totally unlike anything else you've heard -- okay, other than M.I.A. maybe, but Lady Sovereign sounds so much more raw and gritty and weird, maybe like M.I.A.'s snotty, sexy little sister. The grooves are grime for sure, super stuttery and repetitive, with thick swaths of fuzzy synth and huge rolling basslines, but the arrangements are really damaged and complex, with plenty of start and stops, twisty and tangled, the tonguetwisting vocals careening at breakneck speed all over the place, riding a huge synth line, skipping nimbly over a spastic drum break, like a musical version of a Jackie Chan action sequence. Lady Sovereign is ducking and dodging and spitting madly over funky beats and all manner of samples. But no matter how crazy the tunes are, it's all about Lady Sov's flow. The sticker on the front of the disc describes her as "Eminem if he was an 18 year old female from South London" which makes for good copy but isn't entirely accurate. She's got a really unique voice, sometimes squeaky and feminine, but more often a bit scruffy and growly, and it's amazing how many syllables she can spit per minute, dizzying! And she can easily slip into some strange melodic vocalization for a song's chorus before slipping back into her Cockney growly snotty delivery. And her lyrics are really funny, plenty of shit talking of course, but lots of self deprecating references to her slight stature (5'1", hence the title) and her baggy clothes, and lots of other really silly randomness. Although sometimes the delivery is so rapid fire it's hard to catch anything but a word here and there. Hardly matters though, you'lll be too busy bouncing or dancing or whatever you do with these tunes blasting in the background.
Vertically Challenged may be an ep, but it's pretty long, eight tracks, 35 minutes, features a handful of remixes, one from the Beastie Boys' Adrock and one from Ghislain Poiror, and features guest vocal spots from UK grimies Shystie, Frost P., Zuz Rock.
Also includes a DVD with an interview, live footage, all the videos and other goodies.
So though an ep it's definitely all killer and no filler, unlike most hip hop records, and it definitely lays the groundwork for Lady Sovereign to blow up M.I.A. big in the not too distant future. And we're definitely psyched for that. The more GRIME the better, and we'd sure as hell rather hear Lady Sovereign on the radio and on MTV than J-Lo or Madonna or Ashlee Simpson!
MPEG Stream: "Random"
MPEG Stream: "Ch Ching (Cheque 1-2 Remix)"

album cover CHASSE, LOREN Script Lichen (Edition Graphon) 3"cd in petri dish w/lichen 23.00
There's no better way to visually represent the music of Jewelled Antler's Loren Chasse than with the various bits and fragments of nature's detritus, stones, pebbles, sticks, leaves, branches, dust and dirt. This newest release from Chasse goes a step further, encapsulating the disc itself (a little 3" cd) along with a sponge and a piece of lichen gathered from the German countryside in an actual petri dish, all in a sealed medical baggy. Wow. And the music inside is just as meticulously assembled as the packaging. Delicate and crystalline, intricate structures, microscopic movements, gentle reverberations, subtle scrapings, abstract shimmer and barely discernable micromelodies. It's almost impossible to tell which parts are natural ambience, and which parts are Chasse reacting and responding to nature, but that's what makes his work so vital and fascinating and what makes Script Lichen such an engrossing listen. And like the rest of Chasse's work, this is not something you just throw on (although you could), this music requires deep listening, active listening, the act of listening akin to a slow, exploratory wander through a sonic forest, every step causing brambles to shimmer and rub against each other, breezes to send leaves drifting earthward, the crunch of each step, the forest, and the earth around it, shifting slightly, the sonic evidence of such minute movements deftly captured by Chasse and reworked into a subtly different soundworld. So nice.
Each 3" cd comes packaged as we said in a petri dish with a sponge and a piece of lichen, wrapped in a medical baggy, every one with a sticker, and hand numbered. LIMITED TO 250 COPIES!!! We only got 50 and once those are gone this will be out of print and gone for good!

album cover TARANTULA A.D. Book Of Sand (Kemado Records) cd 14.98
Not sure what it was exactly, but something kept us from checking these guys out before now. Ultimately it might have been the band's penchant for dressing up in period costumes for their record covers. Who knows. Whatever it was, we're sure kicking ourselves now, this record is a killer. And it sounds nothing like we would have imagined from the name and the album cover and the label. Yeah, we know, book, cover, book cover. We're sorry. We were wrong. We love this record. Penance? All we can do now is try to convince you all how great it is. And it is. Some impossible hybrid of classical chamber music, post rock and sludge metal. Sort of. Or if you can imagine the Rachels, or maybe Godspeed You Black Emperor in their practice space, and every few minutes when someone opens the door, the sound of Corrupted, who practice right across the hall and leave their door open all the time, comes rushing in. Big riffs battle keening strings, huge pummeling waves of downtuned guitar, segue into near pastoral stretches of moody meandering post rock, or occasional bits of moody psychedelic folks, with lilting vocals and gentle guitars, or long passages of classical guitar, or gorgeously abstract ambient interludes constructed from subtle vocals and Eastern tinged drones but they eventually always return to the RIFF, exploding in a frenzy of guitar versus string section, like a heavy metal Dirty 3 or Apocalyptica jamming with Boris, or... heck we don't know, it's just so perfectly schizophrenic, veering wildly from heaviness to melancholy moodiness and back again over and over and over. Epic and dreamy and heavy and darn near perfect. We love discovering new music, sort of why we do this, but there's definitely a special satisfaction and secret joy in realizing a band you thought sucked actually completely kills! Being wrong never felt so right!
MPEG Stream: "The Century Trilogy I: Conquest"
MPEG Stream: "Who Took Berlin (Part I)"


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