Saturday, April 01, 2006

Blatant Consumerist Advocacy

New shit from AQ:

album cover BISHOP, SIR RICHARD Fingering The Devil (Latitudes) cd 13.98
The newest in the frustratingly limited Latitudes series. Former contributors have included the Grails, Shit & Shine, Will Whitmore, Ginnungagap and Ariel Pink (don't bother asking, they are all long gone). Here we have the Sun City Girls' Sir Alan Bishop, in his solo guitar Improvika mode. Very much in the spirit of the current American Primitive / neo Appalchia sound, exploring similar territory as Jack Rose, Stephen Basho-Jungans, Charlie Schmidt and of course John Fahey, but on these improvised tracks, Bishop injects a healthy dose of flamenco which is sort of surprising. Not that Bishop isn't well versed in various musics of the world, he most definitely is as any number of SCG records will attest to, but it still sounds a little surprising in this context, but the result is truly gorgeous. Moody and emotional, dark and dense, dreamy and lyrical. Just Bishop and a steel string guitar unfurling dense tangles of intricate fingerpicking, as well as slow contemplative melodies, all rich with Spanish flavor. Occasionally Bishop goes for an Eastern raga like vibe instead, and ends up sounding closer to UK guitarist James Blackshaw or Rose at his most drone-y. So so lovely indeed!
Comes packaged in a super intricate hand screened die cut fold over sleeve with a full color insert. The cover has a breathtaking silver foil stamped embossed frontpiece and each copy is hand stamped and numbered. Limited to 1000 copies worldwide, 500 of which made it to the United States, about 50 of which made it here. So you know what that means!

album cover PENTAGRAM First Daze Here Too (Relapse) 2cd 14.98
It's a time of joy, and a time of doom. That's because in the space of just the past month or two we've gotten not one but now two awesome, unearthed releases of previously lost early '70s underground heaviness from a bunch of longhaired DC-area Blue Cheer fans who, if they'd only managed to get a record deal back then, might have gotten huge and now be known as the American Black Sabbath. Well they really are the American Black Sabbath anyway, but not as many people know it. We're talking about the legendary original lineup of Pentagram, and their even more obscure evil twin Bedemon.
Two lists back, we were freaking out over the long awaited release of that Bedemon album, upon which sometime Pentagram guitarist Randy Palmer's home recorded hymns of doom finally saw the light of day. We're still freaking out about it (just got more in, it's relisted this list), but now our frenzy is doubled. Yes, that amazing release wasn't enough, now here's First Daze Here Too, the follow-up to First Daze Here (natch) the AQ fave 2002 release that compiled a bunch of rare '70s era Pentagram recordings that were otherwise unavailable except perhaps with sub-par sound to rabid tape-traders. First Daze Here astounded us, being one of the best '70s heavy rock albums that never was we'd ever heard. Great songs, restored to sound better than fans has ever heard 'em. Incredibly, Relapse has now put together a solid -second- collection of unreleased vintage Penta-tracks from '72-'76. So many classics in their original form: "When The Screams Come", "Wheel Of Fortune", "Virgin Death", "Target", "Nightmare Gown", "Much Too Young To Know", an alternate version of "Be Forwarned", and more -- even their heavy take on the Stones' "Under My Thumb"! Sound quality varies, from tracks recorded for professional demo purposes to lower-fi rehearsal tapes, but fans will dig it all... though at 22 tracks total we'll admit that it's not all entirely the equal of the 100 percent killer first First Daze Here. This is more like 90 percent, yet it's not like we'd have wanted them to leave anything off. And in fact, we know that there's still more in the Pentagram vaults, so maybe we can look foward to a third volume someday...
Relapse have pulled out all the stops with this one, which after all these years Pentagram definitely deserve. It's a double disc (though actually we think all of it could have fit on one stuffed to the gills 80 minute cd) handsomely packaged with a huge thick booklet full of prevously unseen, sepia-toned band photos and text by original Pentagram drummer and keeper of the flame Geof O'Keefe, including track-by-track commentary... there's also notes from other former members as well. Doom on!

album cover V/A Not Alone (Jnana / Durtro) 5cd 37.00
Talk of this compilation has been making the rounds for months, and now that it's here we can see why. We can also see why it took so dang long. But it was well worth it. The final product, the lineup, the songs, the packaging, the cause, WOW. The bands are a who's who of indie / avant / alternative rock / folk / electronica / experimental, all over the map. It's dangerously close to being SO eclectic that it's just a mess, but if you approach it as the worlds longest mixtape, made by your coolest friend with the best record collection it all starts to make some sort of skewed sense. But who cares? Look at this lineup:
Angles Of Light, Michael Yonkers, Antony And The Johnsons, Thighpaulsandra, Devendra Banhart, William Basinski, Bevis Frond, Teenage Fanclub, Sundial, Six Organs Of Admittance, Suishou No Fune, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Richard Buckner, Vashti Bunyan, Damon And Naomi, Shock Headed Peters, Isobel Campbell, Dolly Collins, Shirley Collins, Bill Fay, Marissa Nadler, Tom Recchion, Colin Potter, 7 Year Rabbit Cycle, Linda Perhacs, Max Richter, Current 93, Jad Fair, Simon Finn, Edward Ka-Spel, Pearls Before Swine, Nurse With Wound, Jarboe, Charlemagne Palestine, Thurston Moore, Jim O'Rourke, Mirror, Matmos, Alex Nielson & Richard Youngs, Larsen, Faun Fables, James William Hindle, The Hafler Trio, Keiji Haino, Allen Ginsberg, Howie B, Ghost,, Cyclobe, Fursaxa and more more more!
The liner notes make it impossible to tell just which tracks are exclusive or unreleased and which are album tracks, but again it hardly matters in this context. Like borrowing some cool kids Ipod and setting it on shuffle. And of course the most important part of all this, and the whole reason this compilation exists is that all proceeds go to Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) to support their work in fighting HIV / AIDS in Africa.
Packaged in a cool slipcover box, with individually printed cd sleeves, a HUGE book with liner notes from Mark Logan who runs Jnana records as well as information about Medecins Sans Frontieres, as well as track by track notes from each band.


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