Other Music New Release Update
April 16, 2003

In This Week's Update:

Ellen Allien
Spiritualized (Complete Works Vol. 1)
Little Brother
Monade (Laetitia from Stereolab)
Terence Fixmer  (Various Artists)
High Llamas (Retrospective)
Ethiopiques 14
Skip Bifferty (Complete collection)
Miami Sound (Soul Jazz Compilation)
Alasdair Roberts
Kid Koala (Book & CD)
Echoes of Africa (Various Artists)
Via Tania
Cause for Applause
Whirlwind Heat

Just In:

Speicher/Extra CD 1 (Michael Mayer Mix on Kompakt)


Spacemen 3 (Alternate Takes and Rarities)
Peven Everett
Serie Noire (Various Artists)


ELLEN ALLIEN "Berlinette"(BPitch) CD $15.99
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Ellen Allien's new album is a refreshingly successful venture into the
often-dodgy world of "danceable songs". The eclectic feel of her
mixes transfers into this new collection of songs. Like the "Weiss
Mix", her tracks blend a neo-melodic sensibility reminiscent of
quality Warp releases, the bass truck funk of ghetto tech, and the
German pop electro textures she is known for. Repeated listens
reveal similarities to Missy Elliot(!) (funked up two-steppy/broken
beats) and Bjork (playful future-melodies and digitized vocalization)
at the same time(!), while still being an unmistakably Bpitch-style
album. Makes sense to me, seeing that she is also a leading female
tastemaker. In "Push", Ellen repeats the lyric "push-push"
referencing the classic disco track while dropping the phrase "kick
ass, kick ass" in a German robo-girl voice. The straight bass
kick/snare beat is often traded in for a funkier, yet still tech-y two
step beat that works. The poppiness on this album is definitely
coming from the pop mutations of Squarepusher/Aphex Twin and
cut-up new pop soul. Definitely a fresher source than the world of
"retro electro pop", and an obviously conscious decision. My favorite
is definitely "Abstract Pictures". The beat progression and the
squelched-out vocals really kick, while the warm drone in the
background climbs upward. This is not the record we expected from
Ellen Allien, but her past releases prove that no one really knows
what to expect from her. With repeated listens we are reminded that
that's what we end up being thankful for... [SM]

SPIRITUALIZED "Complete Works Vol. 1" (Arista) CD $17.99
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When Spacemen 3 finally came crashing down after nearly a decade
of making music to take drugs to, the in-fighting between founding
band members Jason Pierce and Sonic Boom only seemed to
perpetuate the fine rock and roll mythos that dated way back to the
Davies brothers. Not that Pierce and Boom were brothers, certainly
sharing the same November 19th birthday and year could count for
the next best thing. It's here that the first volume of "The Complete
Works" begins. Jason Pierce's introduction with Spiritualized
actually came shortly before Spacemen's official demise, Pierce
using most of the same musicians whom he recorded his album side
of "Recurring" with. This collection of early works kicks off a few
months later with Spiritualized's first single, a cover of the Trogg's
"Anyway That You Want Me." Slightly faster than the original with
fuzzed-out guitars and Pierce's weary sung vocals, the violins
weaving through the song hinted at grander orchestrations to come
and seemed to be a perfect starting point, both then and now.
Volume one covers the halcyon years, from 1990 through to 1993's
"Electric Mainline EP." The seeds of gospel, blues, and symphonies
begin to bloom, but each is far from over-blown; the hazy,
drug-induced hangover of Spacemen's hypnotic drones still hovers
like a cloud of blue smoke. Pierce himself is said to have selected
the 24 tracks of singles, b-sides, and rarities that make up this
two-CD collection. With four versions of "Feel So Sad," this could
be every completist's dream, but truth be told, this is just the
medication that I needed to break my recent re-re-obsession with the
Spacemen. I'm hooked again. (Limited to 15,000 worldwide.) [GH]

LITTLE BROTHER "Listening" (ABB) CD $15.99
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Finally in enough quantity to inform the masses, there is an answer
to the bling-bling. North Carolina's Little Brother have arrived to move
the stagnant state of hip-hop with "The Listening". The trio provides
us with the return of sub-level bass, jazz, soul, and witty, intelligent
lyrics that remind me of the golden-era ('92-'95). Complete with radio
station skits that actually add to the album, "The Listening" falls
somewhere between "Fantastic Vol. 2" (Slum Village with Jay Dee)
and Black Star, with an awareness of the past as compass for the
future. If you ask me to recommend a hip-hop album this year, it will
be this one. [JD]

MONADE "Socialisme Ou Barbarie" (Drag City) CD/LP $13.99/$10.99
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For the past six or so years, Monade has been Laetitia Sadier's
sporadic bedroom project, a chance for her to make some informal
recordings with friends and even fit in her newest instrumental hobby,
the trombone. Pronounced mon-ard, until now there have only been
rare glimpses of her side-project. Monade first appeared in 1996 with
two songs (recorded with Pram's Rosie Cuckston and Matt Eaton)
that shared a split single with M, a/k/a David Pajo. Three years later,
Monade returned with "Cache Cache" (this time recorded with
Lab-members Tim Gane and Mary Hansen), a B-side for a single
that featured a one-time collaboration between Stereolab and Brigitte
Fontaine. Finally, the release of "Socialisme Ou Barbarie" collects
six years of Monade recordings including these three previously
released songs as well as new and unreleased tracks. Like Turn On,
an offshoot for Stereolab members Gane, Anthony Ramsay and the
High Llama's Sean O'Hagan, there's no hiding the fact this is also
"groop" related. But where Turn On orbited around Stereolab's
trademarked space age drones and electronic blips, Monade's
strengths are more straightforward and sweetly melodic. The
instrumentation in each song is sparse and even primitive at times,
but like more recent Stereolab albums, the compositions themselves
twist and turn through various segments while Sadier's unmistakable
and soothing French sung melodies ease us into every detour. If
more developed, a track like "Vol De Jour" -- which uses multiple
layers of vocal and cinematic interplay between a haunted organ and
trembling guitar -- could snuggly fit between any two songs on
"Sound-Dust," but here it nicely exists in its purest form. Completely
drum free, a majority of Monade's songs are gently nudged by guitar
strums, minimal keyboard accompaniment including some
occasional gurgles, and of course, Sadier's velvet soft harmonies.
Many of the tracks might very well be bedroom recordings and are
probably not too far off from what Stereolab demos sound like before
the full band puts their hands on it. Even in Monade's simple state,
there's no denying Sadier's gift of melody, a unique and beautiful
voice that has defined one of the most recognizable and oft imitated
groups of the past decade.  [GH]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=78148402372&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999195831&refer_url=email

BUG "Pressure" (Tigerbeat6) CD $13.99
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I'm glad to see what's brewing with the likes of dj/rupture, DJ Scud,
and the Brooklyn Beats Collective. Effortlessly creating some of the
most-wicked, dancehall and ragga breakbeats around, this full-length
from producer Bug, entitled "Pressure," features various toasters and
vocalists including Daddy Freddy, Roger Robinson, and others.
BOOMBASTIC rhythms abound and have you moving with no effort
instantly. Hard hitting snares, pounding/pulsating bass, swirling
sirens, screeching keyboards jabs, flanging percussion, positive and
inspiration themes sit next to tales of boasting and sexual prowess,
all with that Jamaican/Brooklyn swing. Definitely the best digital
reggae release I've heard, from someone on the outskirts of the
scene, in a long time. Recommended for the 'ard core! [DG]

TERENCE FIXMER "Aktion Mekanik" (Music Man) CD $16.99
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With "Aktion Mekanik," Terrence Fixmer has compiled an amazing
collection of new beat, dark pop and EBM. It seems that these days
everyone is looking for those old, dark dancefloor classics to either
get the party moving or gain inspiration from. "Aktion Mekanik"
contains ultra-rare classics from the well known like The Normal's
"Warm Leatherette", and Nitzer Ebb's "Warszaw Ghetto," to the
lesser known like Snowy Red's "Euroshima/Wardance" and The
Klinik's "Hours and Hours". Also featuring tracks from Crash Course
in Science, No More, Fad Gadget, DAF, The Invincible Limit, Skinny
Puppy, Liasons Dangereuses, Front 242, The Neon Judgment,
Psyche, A Split Second, and a new track by Terrence Fixmer
himself. Sixteen-tracks whose presence can be felt across modern
independent music today, from NY to London to Germany. An
amazing history lesson and a must for anyone that purchased the
"Serie Noire" compilation. Recommended. [JS]

HIGH LLAMAS "Retrospective, Rarities & Instrumentals" (V2) CD $17.99
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It's been awhile since we heard from Sean O'Hagan, and frankly I'm
not sure if this new double CD collection is meant to bridge the gap
to a proper new album release, or officially signal the culmination of a
long and fruitful career. Regardless, it holds a number of gems in its
31 tracks, with a disc of hits for the neophytes and another of rarities
for the collector, thus covering all bases. O'Hagan's sound has
always been heavily influenced by the Brian Wilson/"Sgt. Pepper"
orch-pop perspective. He is an expert arranger and producer, and
was really one of the first to unashamedly reintroduce lush
production to the indie world. The Llamas' songs are meticulously
layered with strings, horns, vocal choruses, synthesizers, etc., and
rather than just filling space, these accoutrements are essential to
the very heart of the tracks. When they really work they breathe
depth and light into the music that is rarely heard in the world of indie
D-I-Y aesthetics. Frankly, however, at times the Llamas songs have
left me a little cold. Every album contains a few stellar singles, but
occasionally they would drag on side two, and it sometimes seemed
that O'Hagan was a more consistent producer than he was a
songwriter. So in many ways, this collection is the ideal starting
point with this band, as it holds many of their finest moments in one
convenient package, spanning a 10-year career that sounds
remarkably focused right from the start. Disc two is all b-sides,
rarities, and one unreleased track, and despite my above comments
about lapses in self-editing, it holds a number of seldom-heard
beauties. From wonderful instrumental bliss to pop numbers that
just fell through the cracks, this one could complete the High Llamas
catalog for you in one fell-swoop, but it will doubtless spend much of
its time by the stereo, not filed with the collection. A nice
compilation overall from one of the more interesting groups of the
'90s, and it has to make you wonder what O'Hagan and co. are up to
in 2003 (and beyond). I hope to hear from them soon. [JM]

[V.A.] "Ethiopiques 14" (Buda Musique) CD $14.99
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The fourteenth release in the excellent and highly recommended
Ethiopiques series is a showcase of the extraordinary talents of
saxophonist Getatchew Mekurya. Known as a legend within the
African music scene, being the featured sax in the Haile Sellassie
Theater Orchestra, and for creating a style that transposed war cries
and military roars into a jazz setting, he often performs in the
traditional military cape and headdress. His improvised playing is a
dizzying and fascinating listening experience. Much like others in the
series, this collection combines eerie Moogs and piano, jangling
percussion, circular guitar melodies and escalating horns into a
unique, engaging, and otherworldly mixture. It's Sun Ra, James
Brown, The Art Ensemble, John Coltrane, and Archie Shepp hanging
out with Fela in Ethiopia. Recommended! [DG]

SKIP BIFFERTY "2 CD / Story of..." (Castle) CD $21.99
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Awesome, awesome, awesome two-CD collection of all of Skip
Bifferty's recordings including 13 BBC sessions tracks (Mr. John
Peel was obviously a big fan), their entire lone record, bonus tracks,
as well as singles by post-Skip Bifferty projects (that are actually
good). Skip Bifferty was an excellent British pop-psych band who,
for all the usual record industry reasons, never quite got the acclaim
and following they rightfully deserved. All the ingredients are here --
amazing production as well as catchy hooks. The most comparable
touchstones would have to be the Tomorrow LP and the Pretty Things
masterpiece "S.F. Sorrow", not to mention a few Kinks and Small
Faces moves thrown in there. If you are even vaguely interested in the
British Nuggets '60s sound you'd do well to pick this up. [MK]

[V.A.] "Miami Sounds" (Soul Jazz) CD $15.99
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Even if you can't continue keeping up with the monthly releases from
Soul Jazz, make sure to get this one anyway. "Miami Sound" is a
collection of soul and funk found throughout that city during the
late-'60s to early-'70s, and doubles as a few of hip-hop's notable
samples. Classic songs from George McCrae ("I Get Lifted"), his
sister Gwen ("90% Of Me Is You"), and Miami's first diva, Helen
Smith ("A Women Will Do Wrong") mingle with the lesser-known to
provide you with a warm weather soundtrack that will have you
slow-dancing and is sure to keep your ass shaking. Go ahead, Bar-B-Q,
I dare you. [JD]

ALASDAIR ROBERTS "Farewell Sorrow" (Drag City) CD $13.99
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The second solo album from Appendix Out's Alasdair Roberts is
another beautiful, understated effort. Like his full-time band, Roberts
uses traditional instruments and more than often, traditional
arrangements to create songs inspired by British Isles folk music,
but his solo outings put more focus on these roots. Like Will
Oldham, who released the first Appendix Out single on his Palace
label, Robert's voice trembles earnestly above sparse
instrumentation -- sometimes accompanied only by a gently picked
acoustic guitar, other times by a full band which includes Appendix
Out members Tom Crossley and Gareth Eggie; but it's always quiet
and restrained. Lyrically, songs at times may hint at the spirit of the
Incredible String Band (Appendix Out covered ISB's "A Very Cellular
Song" on last year's "A Warm and Yeasty Covers" EP) and Pentangle
with Roberts using the tradition of English storytelling to paint images
of fallen kindred on the battlefield, beautiful valleys, and singing a
"lusty chorus" inspired by fine ale, cider and wine to a woman he
loves. [GH]

KID KOALA "Nufonia Must Fall" (Ninja Tune) Book w/CD $22.99
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Turntablist extraordinare, Kid Koala branches out offering a graphic
novel and CD combo, thanks to Ninja Tune. This black and white,
mostly text-less book tells the story of a lonely office girl and an out
of work robot -- a modern day love story, if you will. The CD serves
as the soundtrack to the struggles of a robot finding his voice and
attempting to connect with a compatible partner. Paperback with
over 300 pages. [DG]

[V.A.] "Echoes of Africa" (Wergo) CD $17.99
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"Echoes of Africa" is an inspired selection of commercially recorded
African music produced on 78rpm records between the '30s and '50s.
If you're looking for strictly ethnographic field recordings you won't
find it here. Instead, these tracks explore the innovations in African
popular music that took place after the ready availability of Western
records, sheet music and instruments. One of the surprising results
of these influences are that the songs become simultaneously more
familiar than you'd expect, yet weirder at the same time. This record
is a must have for fans of Yazoo's "Secret Museum of Mankind"
series and anyone who wonders what happened after Jimmie
Rodgers and doo-wop were introduced to African musicians. [MK]

VIA TANIA "Under a Different Sky" (Chocolate Industries) CD $13.99
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Chicago's Chocolate Industries brings us "Under a Different Sky," the
full-length debut from Australia's Tania Bowers as Via Tania. A
whispery fairy tale, recorded, mixed and produced by husband Casey
Rice who gives the album its overall feel of quiet, open, acoustic yet
dubby, and darkness with digital textures. A slew of Chi-town talent
from the post-rock roster contribute including Doug McCombs, John
Herdon, Wayne Montana, Noel Kupersmith, Howe Gelb, along with
Chris Brokaw, and Scott "Prefuse 73" Herren. Tania's breathy
delivery sits somewhere between Edie Brickell and Morcheeba, Nico,
Mia Doi Todd, or The Sundays. A trip-hop/post-rock hybrid, beautiful
at times, with hauntingly tranquil overtones. [DG]

CAUSE FOR APPLAUSE "Cause for Applause" CD $6.99
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Pretty explosive debut EP from a new NYC band most recently seen
opening shows for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Kills (handpicked
by said bands no less), which oughta place them in context. Just
bass, guitar, and drums conjuring many sonic similarities to all yer
favorite punk heroes of yesteryear like the Fall, Richard Hell, and
the Birthday Party to name a few. Super stripped-down rock and roll
with miles of immediacy. This release is exclusive to NYC, so yer
going to have to get here to get what's happening NOW. [MK]

WHIRLWIND HEAT "Do Rabbits Wonder?" (V2) CD $17.99
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For a boy who remembers his roots, one of the distinct advantages
of international superstardom is dragging your friends with you. As
the White Stripes seem uninterested in the classic entourage
scenario, Jack White has launched Third Man Records, a vanity
imprint run through the Stripes corporate parent V2 Records, set
up to release albums by his current favorites. They're Detroit boys as
well, and old friends I'm sure, but Whirlwind Heat seem to owe more
to the Stripes professionally than musically. Jack produced the album
(which was engineered by none other than Brendan Benson, and
mixed with Flaming Lips/Mercury Rev producer Dave Fridman), and
White's straightforward, unornamented and undeniably rocking sound
is always a treat, but this album might disappoint those after the
next wave of Detroit garage-rock. Whirlwind Heat take their name
from a Sonic Youth album cover, their instrumentation inspiration
from Devo (Whirlwind Heat is a three-piece with Moog, bass, drums
and vocals), and their sound is an intense, aggressive mix of
post-punk, new-wave, no-wave, indie-rock and a touch of mayhem.
Screamed or chanted vocals over hurky-jerky rhythms and waves of
oscillations, the music has a primal element that is matched by
stream-of-consciousness lyrics about "dumpster sluts", "trashbag
helmets", and other abstract images of urban decay, sexuality, and
loneliness. [JM]


[V.A.] "Speicher/Extra CD 1" (Kompakt) CD $15.99
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Michael Mayer Mix!!! Full review in next week's update.


SPACEMEN 3 "Forged Prescriptions" (Space Man) CD $19.99
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"Perfect Prescription," to make a lame play on words, was a sick
record. "Forged Prescriptions," hyped by Sonic Boom for years now
and finally here, is arguably that much more sick. The sonic aspects
of specific psychedelic import only granted greater prominence, even
as both feature (and honestly as ever with Spacemen 3) the same
songs. "Perfect" is thus recast as streamlined in this one's wake. I
mean it was streamlined but "Forged" is possibly as good as the
subsequent "Playing With Fire," considered by most to be their best
(though some prefer "Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs To").
Regardless, for the acolyte or the novice, this is absolutely prime
Spacemen 3. Check it out.  [DHo]

PEVEN EVERETT "Studio Confessions" (ABB) CD $15.99
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The first signing to hip-hop label ABB's new soul imprint is Chicago's
very own Peven Everett who spent years singing and playing trumpet
for House producer, Roy Davis Jr., the late jazz vocalist, Betty
Carter, as well as releasing several CD-Rs of original material with
homemade covers. This album falls in line with the digital bump of
Spacek, Jay-D, or a more refined D'Angelo -- minimal yet funky, but
never over bearing or in your face. Lyrics are thoughtful and used to
pull you into his great improvisational scat. Most if not all
instruments -- keyboards, bass and drums -- are played by Everett.
A strong over-ground debut for an underground favorite. [DG]

[V.A.] "Serie Noire/Dark Pop and New Beat" (Eskimo) CD $21.99
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The "Serie Noire/Dark Pop and New Beat" compilation is a well-
mixed collection of gems from the early-'80s dance underground
when "electronic music was still made in a special kind of splendid
isolation, far away from the mainstream. Shying away from disco's
all too obvious hedonism (sound familiar?) or industrial's blatant body
politics, underground dance from the early-'80s excelled in creating
music that perfectly encapsulated both feelings of tension and
release." It's all true: amazing tracks from bands like Grauzone, A
Split Second, Kissing the Pink, Section 25 (plus a well camouflaged
Metro Area track slipped in), etc. Combine the anxiety of Suicide
and/or Joy Division with the undeniable sexual nature of Chris and
Cosey or dark Chicago House. You won't know what to do first: start
a band, start DJing, or get on e-Bay(!) Another reference point could
be: Somewhere in between the underground disco of Playgroup's DJ
Kicks compilation and the foundation-laying synth-punk of Andrew
Weatherall's "Nine O'Clock Drop" compilation, but "Serie Noire"
manages to outclass them BOTH in track selection AND in the mix.
The tracks are nasty, sleazy, sexy and above all, real. Recommended. [SM]

This week's contributors: J Dennis [JD], Daniel Givens [DG], Gerald
Hammill [GH], Dan Hougland [DHo], Michael Klausman [MK], Josh
Madell [JM], Scott Mou [SM], and Jeremy Sponder [JS].


Thanks to everyone who recently joined us for a fun night with Yo La
Tengo in celebrating the release of their new album. You can check
out some pictures from the evening on the Other Music website by
going to: //yltparty.html


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