Other Music New Release Update
September 25, 2002

In This Week's Update:

Thomas Brinkmann
Soft Boys
Selection 1 (Trapez compilation)
Laura Cantrell
T. Raumschmiere
Of Montreal


LOW "Trust" (Kranky) CD/LP $13.99/$15.99
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Not being too familiar with Low (except for those "Sunflower" and
"Dinosaur Act" songs), I assumed this would be a quiet and sweet
record -- one listened to in the wee hours, undisturbing to one's
co-inhabitors. This held true up until track eight upon which I was
jolted from the semi-conscious lull that I had been soothed into. The
music is beautiful but those lyrics are intense! This record is sad and
quiet but it is the kind of melancholy that penetrates. Whispers, but
of promises broken or of news you have been avoiding. Themes of
regret, futility, desperation and redemption sort of sneak up amidst
those comforting harmonies and the sparseness is filled with painful
and heart wrenching introspection. Lines like "When we were young/we
wanted to die" and "You never had a chance" resonate heavily with
meaning, provoking the listener to wonder and sympathize. I can see it
becoming one of those records to listen to when, as a well-known rock
misanthrope once lamented, "I miss the comfort of being sad." [NL]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=79644180522&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999184671&refer_url=email

THOMAS BRINKMANN "Row" (Maxernst) CD $15.99
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Yet another reminder that the electronic world doesn't revolve (or
evolve for that matter) without an occasional push by one Thomas
Brinkmann. His latest project, "Row" is a compilation of rare,
unreleased, and reworked material from his MaxErnst catalog,
many which were previously only available on vinyl. The track listing
includes sought-after titles like "Corvette," "N.M.Q.P." and
"Mexico" (from the "Valentino 46" 12in). Also included are classics
like "Ribosom" and "Isch," off an early Oral CDR. Two remixes of
"Max.E.3" and a revisit of "Max.E.4" show Brinkmann's impeccable
ability to perfect the past while pushing towards the infinite
possibilities of the future -- most apparent in the unreleased track
"Toothpaste" which explores the art of tooth-brushing mechanics.
Absolutely the highest level in experimental, repetitious, stripped-down
techno available. [JD]

KAITO "Special Life" (Kompakt) CD/LP $15.99/$16.99
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It would be easy to dismiss this album within the first four bars of
each track. What seems at first to be a disappointing dose of
indulgent minimal trance(!?) slowly but surely becomes quietly
beautiful, solidly rendered arpeggiated synth-techno that harkens
back to the formal beauty of M.Gottsching's "E-2,E-4" and the classic
orchestration of John Hardcastle's "Rainforest". A more up-to-date
description would perhaps be the drive of Gez Varley combined with
the deep lush chord arrangements of Pepe Bradock or Luomo.
Impressive sense of form. Studied, yet sincere. A marriage of
"classic" elements and modern production. [SM]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=71875260362&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=71875260361&refer_url=email

BECK "Sea Change" (DGC) CD $17.99
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Last year there was article in the New York Times that cataloged all
of the songs that were stored on Beck's iPod. The list was daunting,
polymorphous-eclectic and curious in its scope. I remember wishing
that the intellectual benefits of all that intense listening could be
channeled more directly into Beck's own music, rather than his
usually self-consciously 'crazee' demolition derby collision of R&B,
country and funk. This vision of a more fully-realized Beck had just
poked its head out from under all of the posturing and genre mixing
of a couple of his previous efforts, and it now seems to have finally
reached exit-velocity with "Sea Change." Allegedly a break-up record,
Beck's latest is a focused, lush, emotional and sweeping suite of
songs that not only showcases deft songwriting skills, but also his
rich and blearily heartbreaking voice. Dark, sad and seemingly always
on the verge of tears, "Sea Change" sees Beck and his guitar steering
a slow boat crafted of downcast orchestra drifts (consistently
referencing Nick Drake, piano motifs and twinklingly subtle electronics
and harpsichords) into realms of blissful pain and psychedelic
introspection. The relatively stripped down but by no means sparse
songs sway and arch from the soft and jauntily melancholy to
triumphantly earnest. Anthemic longing evokes folk, country and psych
heartbreakers of the '60s and '70s, all the while maintaining the
idiosyncratic 'Beck-ness' that has kept everyone listening through all
of his various incarnations. Beautiful! [MC]

SWAYZAK "Dirty Dancing" (K7) CD $16.99
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The thing I love about Swayzak is their refusal to be pinned down into
any one category, leading every release to be a new exploration. After
last year's revered mixed CD ("Groovetechnology v 1.3") which
included everything from tech-house to electro, it was only suitable
that the duo incorporate the two styles in their latest project. "Dirty
Dancing" has successfully accomplished this merger, taking an
otherwise stagnate state of "electro" to new levels of accomplishment
and acceptance. These songs were produced and later issued to a
handful of vocalist via MP3s and CDRs, who were then allowed to
choose their favorite and create whatever they felt inspired to do. This
honest approach is most apparent in the opening track "Make Up Your
Mind," a smooth minimal-house track on which Clair Dietrich bears her
emotional soul, while tapping into yours. Some of the tracks were
requested by more than one recipient, leading to collaborations like "I
Dance Alone," featuring Detroit's ADULT and Carl Finlow -- a gem that
will pack the dance floors this fall and many seasons to come.
Headgear's "In the Car Crash" (which gives me visions of the movie "Tron")
is a stellar driving house track on the surface, with mysterious electro
undertones and is in one word, brilliant. To balance the pop qualities
contained throughout this record are tracks like "Buffalo Seven" featuring
Klaus Kotai, a dark synth-driven piece about a man with a gun and a
mission (feels like a Depeche Mode cover). There are two instrumental
tracks and a shimmering dubbed-out entry, "Halfway to Yesterday" by
March21, the only rest stop on this otherwise wide-open, infectious journey.
Regardless of what you've been told, this is The Electro Album of the
Year. [JD]

SOFT BOYS "Nextdoorland" (Matador) CD/LP $13.99/$9.99
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Last year, I jumped at a chance to see the newly-reunited Soft
Boys' set in Austin, TX. Too young to have caught them during their
first go around, like many people I discovered the band some five or
so years after their demise by way of Robyn Hitchcock's solo
career and the constant name-checking of "Underwater Moonlight"
from many of my favorite groups of the day. Though it was a treat to
witness the exact line-up of musicians who had created this great
record playing together on stage, frankly their set was lackluster.
(To be fair, this was the Soft Boy's first concert performance in 20
some years and the tour that followed did receive glowing press and
praise.) "Nextdoorland" is, however, a different experience. Beginning
with the nearly instrumental "I Love Lucy," almost all of the classic
elements are present. The angular yet playful jangle of guitars, rich
vocal harmonies, and psychedelic undertones channel Syd Barrett
through the Beatles, while Hitchcock's lyricism is as vague as ever
with plenty of colorful metaphors and witty retort. Two decades and
perhaps a bigger recording budget have dulled their punk pop fangs,
so you're still not going to find any track with the same bite as their
signature rave-up "I Wanna Destroy You." Regardless, the dynamic
Byrds-y interplay between Hitchcock and Kimberley Rew's guitars in
"Unprotected Love" remains a potent brew and I'm sure it's not by
chance that when the group shares songwriting credits ("Strings" and
"I Love Lucy") time almost goes backward. As a whole,
"Nextdoorland" marks a welcome return for the Soft Boys and closes
any remaining gap between the band and Hitchcock's solo career.
(Vinyl pressing includes a free 7" of non-LP material.)  [GH]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=74486105532&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=74486105531&refer_url=email

V.A. "Selection 1" (Trapez) CD $15.99
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Kompakt's sub-label, Trapez is a showcase for deep, deep, tracky
(loop-driven), floating and sensual melodic house. The tracks offered
by artist's such as Scsi-9, Lowfish, Yura Moorush, etc., combine the
minimal drive of the Chain Reaction label with the melodic sense of
Traum or Mille Plateaux's Force Tracks series -- loungey, smart and
sensitive. Trapez manages to keep the so-called "tech-house" sound
fresh and happening. [SM]

LAURA CANTRELL "When the Roses Bloom Again" (Diesel Only) CD $14.99
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In the NYC area, Laura Cantrell is known perhaps as much for her
long-running Saturday afternoon WFMU radio show "Radio Thrift
Shop" as she is for her beautiful neo-traditionalist country singing.
But her 2000 debut album "Not the Trembling Kind" thrust her own
music onto the world's stage, and the acclaim that she received from
American and British press and audiences alike was hard to ignore.
Her new album, "When the Roses Bloom Again," out now on
Brooklyn's Diesel Only label, should only accelerate her trip to the
center of the traditional American music universe. Her distinctive
approach has less harrowing emotional dynamics than Lucinda
Williams, and does not incorporate as much folksy bluegrass
tradition as Gillian Welch. Her sound is closer to Kitty Wells and
her new album is a strong testament to Cantrell's love of classic
songwriting (of any era). Here, tracks learned from Jim & Jesse and
Wells & Pierce blend seamlessly with recent works by a handful of
local writers (including Amy Rigby and Dave Schramm) and several
new Cantrell originals. The inherent contradictions of new
traditionalism or NYC country music are inconsequential in the face
of Cantrell's clear voice and vision. [JM]

T. RAUMSCHMIERE "The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle" (Shitkatapult) CD $15.99
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"..." molds techno-rockism into a physical presence.
T. Raumschmiere is currently on tour blowing soundsystems across
the U.S., clad in Midwestern hipster garb (wifebeater, jeans, tattoos,
facial hair). His tracks tend to have the hard grind of R. Voigt's
"S.R.I.," but here he manages to have more of an industrial Sabbath
feel. Fine application of "rock attitude." It works. You can hear the
pelvises grinding, and the fists pumping. Evil. Sexy. Hottt.
Outstanding. [SM]

MIRROR "Solaris" (Idea) CD $15.99
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Are we circling the water planet in a space station? The
disembodied reverberations of the nature sequence continue to echo.
A meditation of a dwindling comprehension of reality, memory, no...
the delusion of the memory is unfolding. Tones hesitate, recoil, and
then envelop listeners in an alien warm transcendence. Layered and
ever-lingering, the distorted images of the natural collide in soft
sequence. Quiet, subtle, unique atmospheres that utilize piano and
clarinet, whether offered in tribute to Stanislaw Lem, or more likely
Andrei Tarkovsky. This is the first CD offered from what is becoming
a relatively prolific collaboration between Christoph Heemann (HNAS,
Mimir) and Andrew Chalk (Ferial Confine, ORA, Organum, New
Blockaders). Packaged in a miniature LP style jacket with design by
Tom Recchion of LAFMS. [AG]

OF MONTREAL "Aldhils Arboretum" (Kindercore) CD $13.99
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Since their very beginning, Of Montreal have been the most
theatrical in the Elephant 6 Collective's psychedelic stable of
'60s-inspired artists. Their full-length debut, 1997's "Cherry Peel,"
reminded me of what the Beatles might have sounded like had they
taken LSD in 1964 -- whimsical and innocent but still dosed with
surreal imagination. And like the Beatles, Of Montreal quickly
evolved from lo-fi pop to something way more conceptual and
grandiose, embracing an "everything but the kitchen sink aesthetic",
vaudevillian at times, though never sacrificing their saccharin sweet
melodies. The group side-steps this album rock approach for their
latest, "Aldhils Arboretum," delivering a collection of songs that aren't
tied together by concept and just happen to co-exist on the same LP.
As always, Kevin Barnes' see-saw melodies are nothing less than
hummable and his narratives alternate between humorous and
bittersweet utilizing overtly precocious wordplay to paint pictures of his
alcoholic neighbor, long-lost cousins and breakfasts eaten alone.
Though Of Montreal seem to be abandoning the concept album for the
time being, the group's arrangements are as chaotic as ever. Fuzzy
guitars and wheezing keyboards juggle hundreds of tempo, style and
key changes around Beach Boy harmonies and playful sound
accoutrements. Not groundbreaking, still "Aldhils Arboretum" is an
interesting detour for the band and leaves you wondering what they'll
try next. [GH]

This week's contributors: Matt Connors [MC], J Dennis [JD], Andy Giles
[AG], Gerald Hammill [GH], Josh Madell [JM], Scott Mou [SM], and
Nicole Lang [NL].

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