Other Music New Release Update
February 27, 2003

In This Week's Update:

In This Week's Update:

William Basinski
A Band of Bees
The Music


Fischerspooner ("LTD #1" Domestic)
Notwist ("Neon Golden" finally Domestic)
Witnesses EP


WILLIAM BASINSKI "River" (Raster Noton) CD $14.99    
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/cd2.rm
Another beautiful and mysterious release from Mr. Basinski, this
recording, from the early-'80s, is made up of his experiments with
shortwave radio. Selecting fragments of bits of muzak, beginnings
and endings, etc., which he slowed down and looped, and then
mixed to cassette from an old reel to reel, the addition of shortwave
static echoes throughout. These methods, when described here, may
seem random and (in explanation) lose the organic quality of the
music. So let me say this; I feel like we have heard these sounds
subliminally, all our lives, traveling out in the everyday, while we slept.
Basinski has arranged them, in this order which is now recognizable
to us. Hypnotic, yes, but also awakening in its direct connection to
emotion. This music is both overwhelming and comforting. Those who
missed out on the tremendously moving "Melancholia," make it up to
themselves with "The River." If by 'ambient' we are referring to an
atmosphere, an unconsciousness, but an awareness of sound,
something we can identify if not name, then I believe Basinski to be
the current master of ambient musics. He will be performing at
Sideshow Gallery in Williamsburg on March 12th, an appearance not
to be missed!!! [NL]

MAJESTICONS "Beauty Party" (Big Dada) CD $14.99
For the second installment of the "Infesticons" trilogy, Mike Ladd
presents the Majesticons' "Beauty Party." This is irony at its finest,
much like the releases by the Neptunes as N*E*R*D (the original
studio version) or Missy E's "Under Construction." Mike makes it
bounce from the inside out, positioned as a commentary on
contemporary urban culture, the bling-bling, and the gloss 'n' floss
attitude that's been running rampant among hip-hop rappers, singers,
and producers for the last few years. Enlisting the talents of El-P,
Vast-aire, Murs, Yazeed, L.I.F.E Long, and Leeza Jessie Petterson,
along with dozens of talented undiscovered voices, he literally flips
the script. Tracks seem tailor made for Hot '97, with lyrics about
platinum, making dough, keeping it "Gangsta," and everything ghetto
fabulous, all with a twist. Take it serious, or take it as a concept
album, a rap parody, either way it's all good. Recommended! [DG]

A BAND OF BEES "Sushine Hit Me" (Astralwerks) CD $16.99
Probably one of my favorite new releases of recent months, A Band
of Bees' debut full-length is everything I'd want from a pop record.
Playful, charming and full of lots of unexpected changes and lazy
vocal harmonies, this duo from the UK's Isle of Wight carries the
vintage vibe throughout, even when modern electronics come into
play. The kick-off track, "Punchbag" has a lo-fidelity
High Llamas/Stereolab feel and kind of stumbles along in its happy,
sunburned daze with a simple, arpeggiated electric piano circling over
falsetto harmonies and some melodic horn fills. From here, the Bees
move around with druggy vocals, occasional medium funk and Latin
beats, fuzzed guitars, and organ burps that could have been produced
by Sean O'Hagan. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The reggae
styling of "No Trophy" is so authentic that it's hard to believe that it
was even recorded in 2002, let alone, not even in Jamaica. And then
when the band breaks into a fairly faithful cover of Os Mutantes'
classic "A Minha Menina," it seems equally as natural. There's plenty
of '60s-era styling and certainly a nod or two to Brian Wilson, but the
duo's creativity and flawless blend of sounds keeps this from being yet
another bland throwback. I can't wait for the summer; I'll be taking this
with me to the beach. [GH]

TOSCA "Delhi9" (G Stone) CD $17.99
While Richard Dorfmeister is most well known for his collaborations
with Peter Kruder (K&D), his works as Tosca along-side fellow
Austrian Rupert Huber will no doubt begin to catch notice as the duo's
latest release; a double CD entitled "Delhi9" showcases the group's
wide influence and diversity.  CD1 is a mixture of upbeat, downtempo
grooves, full of lush instrumentation and vocals courtesy of familiar
feline Anna Clementi, Viennese new wave legend Graf Hadik, Earl
Zinger and MC Tweed who simply kills the digi-dubbed "Gute Laune".  
In fact, the dub vibrations can be felt throughout CD1 and carry over
onto CD2, a 12 track, ultra-minimal offering of piano compositions
based on Rupert Huber's "12 Easy to Play Piano Pieces". Reworked,
repeated, rearranged and layered with effects through the mixing
hands of Dorfmeister, CD2 is in one word, relaxing, making "Dehli9" a
fabulous, working combination of the straightforward and the
experimental. [JD]

ALVA NOTO / RYUICHI SAKAMOTO "Vrioon" (Raster Noton) CD $14.99
Equal parts Noto's cold and dry minimalism and the simple yet lyrical
romanticism of Sakamoto's piano work, "Vrioon" is a carefully crafted
series of miniatures. Though each track consists of a different
combination of the same basic ingredients the duo let each idea
unwind so gradually that it never feels confining. Sakamoto's piano
slowly phrases its way through brittle framework of Noto's static and
pulse letting each note linger just long enough to let us anticipate the
next one. While Noto and Sakamoto compliment each other well on
these six tracks it's when the rhythms subside and the piano is left to
flutter alone that the album's true beauty shines through. An elegant
release, this is Noto's most rewarding collaborative project yet. [KH]

PULSEPROGRAMMING "Tulsa for One Second" (Aesthetics) CD $13.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/dontswel.rm
For their second full-length, the collective Pulseprogramming invite you
into their home. Full of warm melodies, whispering breathy vocals, and
digital pop, clicks, and yes, pulses, it's instantly reminiscent of Morr
Music, Boards of Canada, Casino vs. Japan and Telefon Tel Aviv.
(TTA's Charles Cooper mixed the album). Predominately male vocals
and the occasional sweetly haunting voice of L'Altra's Lindsay
Anderson (she is also featured on the latest TTA EP) give "Tulsa for
One Second" a bedroom lullaby quality, like a lover whispering in your
ear right before you begin to dream. This is a beautiful ambient
soul/electronic pop record. Vocal tracks are broken up by great
instrumental moments that echo their previous work. The collective
includes two poets/musicians, a videographer, whose work can be
seen in Nike commericals and their live shows, along with a graphic
designer who constructed the innovative packaging. Highly
recommended, especially for those of us wanting something warm
and shimmering, getting ready to bask in the approaching summer
sun. This may just tide you over. The best thing I've heard from
Chicago in a while!!! [DG]

MOMUS "Oskar Tennis Champion" (American Patchwork) CD $13.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/isitbeca.rm
By my imprecise count, this is the seventeenth full-length by Scottish-
born international jet-setter Nick Currie, aka Momus. As such, there
will be few surprises for longtime fans. Momus continues to pursue
the cabaret-concrete, analogue-baroque stylings of his recent Le
Grand Magistery label releases. Combining a love for lounge music,
Japanese pop, French cabaret, music concrete and modern laptop
explorations with Currie's usual lyrical wit and perversity, "Oskar
Tennis Champion" is an enjoyable addition to his plump catalog. The
one real surprise here is the addition of a remixer and collaborator on
these tracks, although it is somewhat difficult to discern exactly what
effect the tweaking of 22-year-old John Talaga, of Fashion Flesh and
the Super Madrigal Brothers, has had on this new creation from such
a distinctive voice in pop music. [JM]

MURS "End of the Beginning" (Def Jux) CD $14.99
The latest release from the Def Jux camp comes from Murs of Living
Legend fame, with "The Beginning of the End". Production comes
courtesy of labelmates RJD2, Blockhead, and El-P, along with
Sunspot Jonz, Shock G, and Mr. Dibbs, this is one for the "heads."
Pure underground hip-hop, beats rhymes, and life. Vocally assisted
by Aesop Rock, Humpty Hump, and again, El-P. Not my favorite from
the label, but solid none the less. [DG]

ALPINESTARS "White Noise" (Astralwerks) CD $16 .99
I remember when a friend I worked with brought the first Alpinestars
album to the office. It wasn't groundbreaking, but the Manchester duo
utilized almost all of the elements that first turned me on to electronic
music -- from their New Order-like detachment to the cold synth tones
of Kraftwerk. Add to this some really catchy songs, they couldn't even
qualify as a guilty pleasure; "B.A.S.I.C." was one of those records that
got put into heavy rotation on our office stereo. Their newest album
"White Noise" is full of all those elements but now embraces a wider
range of influences and sounds. Opening with "Snow Patrol (Part 1),"
the band goes right for the jugular with an infectious techno-pop vibe
complete with icy vocals and mid-'90s keyboard styling, while the
house beats and staccato disco strum of a guitar of "NuSex City" is also
aimed straight at the dancefloor. The band utilizes vocoders and lots
of analog synth pulses in "White Noise," but like their last record,
catchy pop songwriting keeps their latest LP from being pulled under
the weight of its influences. "Burning Up" begins with a guitar sample
that could have been played by Bernard Sumner but New Order
comparisons go by the wayside once a warmer vocal melody comes in.
Placebo's Brian Molko even steps up to the mic for a guest appearance
during "Carbon Kid," one of the band's more guitar-heavy moments. I
also don't think it's a coincidence that many of Alpinestars' tracks are
named after songs and album titles by artists ranging from the Damned to
Fennesz to Madonna; but the duo keeps it light and fun without getting
cheeky. A very enjoyable follow-up to "B.A.S.I.C.," fans of Air, Zero 7
and Phoenix as well as connoisseurs of older, classic synth pop will
definitely dig "White Noise." [GH]

KOPERNIK "Kopernik" (Eastern Development) CD $12.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/manmytha.rm
Scott Heron takes a little time away from his many aliases to focus on
his new label, Eastern Development, with Kopernik, essentially a duo,
releasing their self-titled debut. Echoing the symphonic work of
Godspeed yet with digital production, upright Bass, various strings,
French horn, piano, and airbrushed guitar is the instrumentation. The
mood is mainly tranquil, slightly neo-classical, and a little edgy and
dark, with subtle movements within each piece, but not cluttered with
beats or drums so the treated strings become the focus. Keep your
eyes open for more engaging releases from this expanding and
increasingly diverse new label. Recommended! [DG]

DAEDELUS "Household EP" (Eastern Development) CD $8.99
The second of the new releases from Eastern Development comes
from a name to watch: Daedelus. The illustration on the cover says it
all, boy in his bedroom infront of a monitor surrounded by electronics,
records, acoustic instruments and little forest creatures creating his
masterpiece, arms stretched as if he's conducting a symphony.
Sighting influences as vast as Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, and
Prefuse 73 makes this "Household EP" an interesting listen. Beat
boxing holds the rhythm while orchestral strings swell and piano
tickles fade atop, and then moves into electro-influenced programming
and digital distortion. Daedelus is a new voice within the IDM scene,
moving from lap top/digital cut up beats, to post-rock atmospheres,
on to imaginary soundtrack interludes. Other releases find him being
remixed by Madlib and Anti-pop. Both the 12" and CD include a
Prefuse 73 remix.  [DG]

THE MUSIC "The Music" (Capitol) $10.99
These four lads from Leeds are barely in their twenties yet they
are crafting some anthemic hard rock gems with a singer who's
high voice is drenched in reverb and literally hovers over rhythmic,
effect heavy guitar riffs. But behind the Music you can't help but hear
a lot of different ghosts: Jane's Addiction minus the excessive glam
dribble and with a drummer who pounds along to a programmed dance
beat. There's definitely a '70s arena rock vibe running underneath with
some bluesy guitar jams and trippy breaks, but also with an awareness
of baggy Brit-pop circa 1990. (What if Plant and Page joined the
Happy Mondays?) Regardless, judging from the hype, this very well
could mark another transition for rock following 2001's Strokes and
White Stripes invasion. (CD includes previously unreleased live
concert footage and music video for their single "Take the Long Road
and Walk It.") [GH]


FISCHERSPOONER "LTD #1" (Capitol) CD $16.99
(Fischerspooner's debut album finally sees a proper release on
Capitol! This limited edition pressing includes a Junkie XL mix of
"Emerge," and a bonus DVD featuring all of their videos, photography
and artwork as well as a preview to the Fischerspooner documentary.)
Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner are but two of the troupe of
dancers, DJs (including NY electro-fiend John Selway), and even an
attendant. Their (anti) aesthetic manifesto concludes:
"Fischerspooner is a reflective portrait of entertainment itself: admiring
in public what is considered frivolous in private." Their hyper self-
reflexivity goes so deep into infotainment kitsch as to reveal the
ghostly photographic negative that lies beneath. What can be seen
there is that Fischerspooner predict and perform a listener's/viewer's
cynicism in advance, freeing the audience up to plunge into
unconstrained pleasure. And the pleasure is intense. Electro-funk
never sounded so clean, so cold, so warm and so hard. This is music
that will always be both ahead and behind its time. The term
"classical" is normally reserved for 19th century European composers.
But it is records such as Fischerspooner's debut album that will come
to inherit that term. [TH]

NOTWIST "Neon Golden" (Domino) CD $11.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/Pilot.rm
Finally available domestically, and with three bonus tracks, the
Notwist's "Neon Golden" was one of Other Music's top-selling albums
of last year, and a chart-topper on many best-of lists as well.
Somewhat similar to their 1998 album "Shrink," the production on
"Neon Golden" is a seamless and incredibly satisfying blend of live
instrumentation and modern sequencing technique, wrapping sad,
tender melodies in churning guitars, subtle, dubby drum programming,
bass, strings, bubbling electronics, woodwinds and even banjo.
Marcus Acher's lonely poems of train-rails and missed connections
blend seamlessly with the spare yet rich tracks -- sending us out on
the long trip alone, but not without a friend back home. "Neon Golden"
is a wonderful record, with appeal for fans of melodic indie-pop as well
as those hungering for cutting-edge, inventive production. Hopefully
this re-release on the excellent Domino US label, as well as the
German group's upcoming American tour, will help them achieve
widespread success here as they have in their native Europe. [JM]

THE WITNESSES "The Witnesses" (Witnesses) CD $5.99
The Witnesses are garnering high praise all over NYC and in national
publications for their blend of rock, blues and soul -- and rightfully so.
Featuring former members of the Mooney Suzuki, their furious live
show and gritty sex appeal push the city's obsession with garage rock
back to the late 60's. Their debut EP is full of Stones-y riffs and the
rowdy soul of rock-and-roll.

This week's contributors: J Dennis [JD], Daniel Givens [DG], Gerald
Hammill [GH], Tim Haslett [TH], Kean Holtkamp [KH], Nicole Lang
[NL], and Josh Madell [JM].  


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