Other Music New Release Update
August 6, 2003

In This Week's Update:

Joe Gibbs (Soul Jazz compilation)
Glen Velez (Reissue)
Ricardo Villalobos (Mix CD)
The Coral
Chicken Lips (Mix CD)
Britta Phillips & Dean Wareham (Sonic Boom remix EP)
Cool As Ice (Compilation of New Order productions)
Apparat Organ Quartet
Radioactive Man
Senor Coconut

Just In:

Ride (BBC sessions)


JOE GIBBS "Productions" (Soul Jazz) CD $15.99
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This new release from Soul Jazz is a fantastic collection showcasing
productions overseen by Joe Gibbs. After establishing a TV repair
shop/record store on Kingston's famed Orange Street during the mid-'60s, he
then opened a two-track studio in the back, choosing the young and spry
Lee Perry to be the house producer. By 1967, Gibbs had established the
Amalgamated label, Niney the Observer took over Perry's position, and over
the next few years the studio would churn out over a hundred singles. But it
wasn't until the mid-to-late-'70s that Gibbs reached his creative peak, and
it was during this time when he set up a production team with Errol
Thompson known as the Mighty Two. This compilation focuses on this era, the
late-'70s rockers period leading into the '80s and the birth of the digital
age that would give way to dancehall. Gibbs was a major player on the
reggae scene bringing together a wide array of singers (Junior Murvin,
Dennis Brown), vocal groups (the Mighty Diamonds, Culture), musicians (Sly
and Robbie, Ansel Collins, Tommy McCook) and toasters (Trinity, Althea) to
great effect. "Productions" covers a great selection of joyful, spirited,
and rocking rhythms, including the classics "Two Sevens Clash" and "See
them a Come" as well as Jamaican rarities and classic dub cuts.
Recommended! [DG/GH]

GLEN VELEZ "Internal Combustion" (Schematic) CD $13.99
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A surprising release, Schematic has brought back into print the second solo
record by virtuoso frame drummer Glen Velez, probably one of the most
respected of living percussionists. Active since the late-'60s, he spent a
considerable amount of time performing in Steve Reich's ensembles and a
personage no less than John Cage wrote a piece expressly for Velez.
Beginning in the mid-'80s he began releasing solo recordings noted for
their trance inducing preciseness. I can only imagine that this is what drew
the folks at Schematic to Velez's music. Autechere and Phoenecia are
supposedly huge fans, so you can be sure this isn't going to be anything
like your average college guy drum circle. There is a remarkable variety to
the songs and the patterns literally pop out of the speakers with a
physical presence. Among the eight instruments listed are four frame drums
from Northern Spain, Afghanistan, Morocco, Ireland, and an Egyptian
tambourine. The percussive rhythms created with frame drums, adorned with
small to large cymbals, or with varied diameters, can create a hypnotizing
staccato, polyrhythmic trance, and with the addition of dual voice and
percussion, an organic flange can form waves of overtones and unimaginable
bass. (Layne Redmond provides additional drumming and voice on two
16-minute tracks.) This record is hailed by the likes of Aphex Twin and
Squarepusher as a holy grail of sorts. If you're into digging deeper into
rhythm creators, people like Hamza El-Din, Hamid Drake, Milford Graves or
like the percussive aspects of groups like Black Dice and Animal
Collective, this is among the types of albums that offer inspiration.
Endlessly nuanced and highly recommended. [DG/MK]

RICARDO VILLALOBOS "Taka Taka In the Mix" (Cocoon) CD $16.99
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If you are unfamiliar with Ricardo Villalobos, you soon won't be. "Taka
Taka " is a mix, the precursor to the Chilean's proper album due out next
month, and it's all about house. Villalobos has teamed with Frankfurter
label Cocoon to showcase his renown DJ skills that South America and
Germany have been treated to in previous years and I have to say, I haven't
heard a house mix of this quality in a looooong time. It begins with
Akufen/Herbert-like IDM, shifts into tech-house and descends with smooth,
melodic 4/4 funk. The best part about "Taka Taka" is that it is compiled of
many artists you've probably never heard of (I haven't), lending a helping
hand to the unknown and those DJs seeking the hottest new ish. Eighty-five
percent of these twenty-two 12"s were released in 2003. He even manages to
sneak in his previously unreleased "Dexter," definitely one of the album's
highlights. You can put this on today or five years from now and it will
stand the test of time -- it's really that good. Some artists you do know
include Dimbiman, Daniel Bell, Errorsmith and Luciano. Others you might not
that make strong contributions: Cabanne, Claro Intelecto, Mathew Jonson,
Baeks, and Vainqueur. Make sure to check this one out. [JD]

THE CORAL "Magic and Medicine" (Deltasonic UK) CD $25.99
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I really enjoyed the Coral's debut, but the band's schizophrenic style
changes -- often within the same song -- made it hard for me to stomach
listening to the album from start to end. A year later, the band's second
full-length "Magic and Medicine" shows that they're older and wiser. Once
again produced by Lightning Seed and fellow Liverpulian Ian Broudie (who
also turned the knobs on Echo and the Bunnymen's first few albums), the
Coral are still young psych-pop troubadours taking many stylistic detours
along the way, but this time they temper their ambitious travels into
something far less jarring. Tracks like the Doors-y "In the Forest" and the
splendid pop of "Don't Think You're the First" are melodically reminiscent
of the early Bunnymen's psychedelic fascinations minus the influence of
British punk, with singer James Skelly letting out a mystical croon very  
similar to that of Ian McCulloch. The group subtly moves through West Coast
summer of love folk-rock ("Careless Hands"), Dylan's electric era ("Talkin'
Gypsy Market Blues"), and ends with "Confessions of A.D.D.D.", where
Teardrop Explodes meets Syd Barrett. Equally impressive is the
musicianship, which paired with strong song-craft, is why an album that
respectfully celebrates so many music elements of the past can still be
this good. I think the overall consensus is going to be mixed, but I'm far
more impressed with this young combo's sophomore release. [GH]

CHICKEN LIPS "Body Music" (NRK) CD $16.99
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The boys from Bizarre Inc., who had success in the British dance scene of
the early '90s, have returned as Chicken Lips. It is no wonder then that on
the first few tracks of this mix album they find cuts (or have remixed
them) which recombine the Pink Floyd pastorality of that era's "Little
Fluffy Clouds" with the unlikely decadent punch of earlier Frankie
Knuckles. Well, the tradition goes back further I guess, Larry Levan
purportedly closed out each night at Paradise with Manuel Gottsching's
'E2-E4,' a Krautrock (!) classic space jam. The heart of the mix brings
together a more pugnacious focus, reminiscent of '80s Prelude records, and
some lysergically playful chops and dubs of original disco. Often melodic
and musical enough (check the Kelley Polar Quartet track) to warrant
armchair listening, they also include fellow champs such as Metro Area's
Environ administration, Danny Wang, Freaks, and Captain Rapp (produced by
Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis)! [DHo]

BRITTA PHILLIPS & DEAN WAREHAM "Sonic Souvenirs" (Jetset) CD $6.99
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What in heaven's name would inspire Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips to
issue a six track remix album of their recent 11 track album of dream-pop
("L'Avventura"), which itself is basically a side-project for their
bread-and-butter band Luna? The answer is of course Mr. Sonic Boom, of the
legendary Spacemen 3, E.A.R., etc. He has been let loose with the master
tapes, and I can think of more than a few groups that would give their
first royalty check for a check-up with that rock royalty. Anyway, rather
than re-invent these simple, lovely pop songs, Mr. Boom has meticulously
tweaked them adding flourishes, filtering source tracks, and subtly
re-shaping textures to his liking. And while the resulting record is only a
few steps away from the original, it was a trip worth taking. He lovingly
draws the psychedelia and magic out of these simple tunes, and creates
something fresh without destroying the foundation. If you loved the
originals, this album will be full of surprising twists and wonderfully
disorienting re-imaginings, and if you are a fan of Sonic Boom, Dean
Wareham, or trippy, hazy pop in general, this will be a summer tonic much
to your liking. [JM]

PROCESS "Spectra" (Traum) CD $16.99
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Process has been slowly evolving from a grainy, subterranean click house
sound, to a Brinkmann-esque pop meister, to his current style, reminiscent
of digital jazzists Metamatics/Norken. On "Spectra," the 4/4 beat still
reigns, but the funk is less Teutonic, and more about having a shimmering,
minimal jazz/disco feel. Track five, "Fiction" has a Crane A.K. meets
Farben feel, all warm and jazzy with a hint of clickiness. Often the
shimmer has a digital disco feel a'la Metro Area without going too vintage
("Tread Lightly"). Despite having similarities to the aforementioned
artists, Spectra's strength lies in its melodic development; nice
bassline/melody transitions that keep the track alive. Bright, yet deep and
warm. Good house for around the house. [SM]

[V.A.] "Cool As Ice: The Be Music Productions" (LTM) $15.99
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Between 1982 and 1985, the individual members of New Order produced and
re-mixed a slew of bands and artists, always using the production tag Be
Music. A majority of the songs in this collection were recorded during the
group's most creative era -- roughly between the release of "Blue Monday"
and "Low Life," -- and predominantly released on the Factory and Factory
Benelux labels. The 12 tracks on "Cool As Ice" are focused on Be
Music's dance productions and include the necessary club classics like
Section 25's electro pulse driven "Looking From a Hilltop," Quando Quango's
funky "Love Tempo," and 52nd Street's "Cool As Ice."  (The latter is more
than a stylistic nod to NYC's then burgeoning dance scene; "Cool As Ice"
would go on to be re-mixed by Madonna's ex-boyfriend 'Jellybean' Benitez.) As
far as dance chart successes, Bernard Sumner (who often worked in tandem
with A Certain Ratio's Donald 'Dojo' Johnson) seems to have his hand on the
most, however many of the collection's memorable tracks come from the other
members. Thick Pigeon's "Babcock + Wilcox," produced by Steve Morris and
Gillian Gilbert, doesn't exactly qualify as death disco, but its dissonance
and warbled organ is haunting. Peter Hook lays a Moroder-esque gloss on
Nyam Nyam's "Face/Hate," which also includes his signature, heavy-handed
bass guitar lead. Listening to the various productions, you can also pick out
similar sounds and techniques that the band themselves would employ.
Paul Haig's "The Only Truth" could connect the dots between New Order's
"Temptation," "Confusion" and their "Low Life" album, as electro beats
thump against jangly guitars and melodic synth string melodies. Also included is
Marcel King's "Reach for Love" (which the Happy Monday's Shawn Ryder
would later proclaim as his favorite Factory release), and the Hook produced
Be Music theme. Clocking in at over 74-minutes, "Cool As Ice" stands as a
necessary compilation for those wishing to explore Manchester's very
important contribution to dance music, an amazing and often overlooked
facet of one of the '80s' most influential bands. [GH]

APPARAT ORGAN QUARTET "Romantika" (Duophonic) CD $9.99
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Until this EP came out, eager ear-to-the-grounders had to listen to my
feeble excuse that Apparat Organ Quartet was only available on an obscure
compilation called "Nart Nibbles"(!!??). So, I was left to wonder, "Why
does every interesting academic-type in NY, and Jim Thirlwell suddenly want
this band's music so much?"  Well, it seems that the almighty PBS recently
aired a special on Icelandic musicians, with a special focus on AOQ's
employment, and salvaging, of vintage keyboards. The title track comes
across as Stereolab meets Trans Am's "Futureworld" complete with bits of
vocoder-vocals, rocking keyboard powerchords (instead of guitars), "real
drum" sounding drum machine, and looping, Moog-y noodle melodies. Despite
using "vintage" keyboards and having the odd laser sound here and there, it
doesn't sound so kitschy/retro. The sounds are crisp, driving and
optimistic, not dusty, retro or melancholic. On "Macht Parat..." they come
across as a '60s psych band's keyboard and rhythm section (dig those crazy  
tambourines!) tackling an outtake from Kraftwerk's "Computer World" LP.
(See "Home Computer" or "Pocket Calculator".) Here come those keyboard
riffs again! I can see hippies in the crowd doing that
grab-the-nose/sink-into-the water dance move. Groooooovy. Finally we are
rewarded with a bubblier, less aggressive, and I assume, earlier version of
"Romantika" entitled "Romantika Premix". Now, if we could only get a hold
of their full album on Thule... [SM]

RADIOACTIVE MAN "Booby Trap" (RGC) CD $22.99
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New long player from Keith Tenniswood, the man that is one of the Two Lone
Swordsman, and a great DJ to boot. Excellent old-skool electro grooves, of
the original Detroit variety. Mellower than his last album, the tracks take
their sweet time unfolding, exploring rhythm and texture for deep nuance.
This one has stacks of analogue synth and vintage drum-machine loops with
tinny hi-hat and handclap snare, and Tenniswood is confident enough to hold
off until the last possible moment before he lets fly with the beat. Nice
on the dancefloor, nice on a late-night drive, and quite nice at home on
the headphones. [JM]

SENOR COCONUT "Fiesta Songs" (Emperor Norton) CD $14.99
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No one does electro-Latinized covers of well-known hits like Atom Hart
(Senor Coconut's other stage name.) Well, I guess no one else does
electro/Latin covers AT ALL (officially), but regardless, the point is this
guy takes a crazy, wouldn't-it-be-funny-if concept, makes it a reality, and
polishes it to the next level. I mean, come on, "Smoke on the Water"?? How
perfect of a choice is this? And like he showed us on his collection of
Kraftwerk covers way back when, he translates the sounds so well, it almost
makes you think that the originals may be covers of HIS versions! The
applications are endless, a small housewarming, to your best friend's
wedding. This is music designed to make you smile, and it works. [SM]


RIDE "Waves" (BBC) $18.99
Compilation of five Ride sessions recorded for the BBC between 1990 and

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


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