Other Music New Release Update
May 14, 2003

In This Week's Update:

Benjamin Biolay
Nobukazu Takemura
Nice up the Dance (Soul Jazz Compilation)
Push Button Objects
Folksongs for the Afterlife
Flowers in the Wildwood (Women in Early Country Music)
Burnt Sugar
Waves Volume 2 (Various Artists)
Merzbow (Remixes)
Roscoe Holcomb (Smithsonian Folkways Compilation)
Velvet Tinmine Volumes 1 & 2 (Various Artists)
Max Neuhaus
Russen Disko (Various Artists)
The Gossip
Ragazza Pop (Various Artists)


BENJAMIN BIOLAY "Negatif" (Virgin/France) CD $18.99
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Benjamin Biolay's first release, a lush and nostalgia-laden concept
album that traced the mythology of the Kennedy family through the
rose colored glasses of nostalgic French pop and distanced romantic
torch stylings went mostly unnoticed in the U.S. His newly released,
second full-length effort, "Negatif," a complex and assured arabesque
of mixed genres, dark narratives and country convocations may
garner little more domestic acclaim (most likely due to its French
lyrics) but the musical evolution it represents and the utter style it
conjures is not to be ignored. Biolay's fascination with American pop
and musical cultures mixes assuredly with his effortless internalized
homages to French antecedents (Gainsbourg, Brel, Montand, etc.),
and comes out the other side with something both completely new
and suffused with history. From the opening Massive Attack inspired
electronic and piano driven dirge of the title track to the startling
reinvention of a Jimmy Rodgers/Carter family sample on "Little
Darlin'", Biolay anchors his musical archeology with the lush
conversational tones of his breathy voice, and propels it with
folk/country guitar weavings. While soft duets with his wife Chiara
Mostroianni (daughter of Marcello and Catherine Deneuve) will surely
recall Gainsbourg and Birkin, countless tracks of countrified
European brooding and electronic naval gazing meanderings will
leave you swooning and wishing you could speak French. [MC]

NOBUKAZU TAKEMURA "Songbook" (Bubblecore) CD $12.99
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Remember about a month ago when I mentioned Takemura and how
his prolific behavior had led to two albums in as many months? Well,
he hasn't let up, and I should probably just go ahead and tell you that
there will be a reissue of "Funfair" this summer, the wonderful album
under his Child's View moniker. This sequence of events is quite
appropriate considering his latest, "Songbook" is a return to warm
instrumentation and voice. Acoustic guitar, pianos, trumpet, live
jazzy drums, and child-like vocals in the form of French, Japanese or
broken-English depending, all converge to create what I feel is
Takemura's best work to date. Contrast seems to be the theme
especially on songs like "From the Ocean of Forest" where the
acapella meets the clarinet, but never actually finds the drone organ.
A lot of call and response. Overall, a playful carnival feel is being
balanced by the pop-sensibility found on pieces like "Turutiksbinbon
(Fr ver)", which sounds like a nod to Stereolab.  And you can't
overlook the Bjork type vocal on "Uruu," eerie and amazing. This is a
great album and an absolute must for any fan of our Decadanse
section. The clay miniatures on the cover do indeed indicate the
direction of this story. [JD]

E*ROCK "Conscious" (Audio Dregs) CD $ 12.99
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E*rock, brother of E*vax, has been spending most of his time covering
vanguard melodic IDM artists in his magazine "Thumbzine", and
doing trademark child-like cover designs for his own Audio Dregs
label. With "Conscious," we get to hear a little bit of his audio
perspective. While some of the Audio Dregs stuff can be a bit raw
(i.e. DimDim ), E*rock's tracks are more in the contemplative, playful
and melodic side of things... The feel is similar to the playful/naive
sound of Karaoke Kalk, with occasional cold beat excursions. Lots of
toy piano sounds, synthesized flute, chirps and syllable samples
flow through faux-acoustic drum pads, and melodic feedback. There's
a slight similarity to Marumari, except the toy instrument quality
makes the music much more down-to-earth. There's also more of a
loyalty to hip-hop in the tempo, and the way the beats creep and
bounce contrast nicely with the sweet melodic bits... Music that's
raw, childlike and playful: just like his drawings. [SM]

[V.A.] "Nice Up the Dance" (Soul Jazz) CD/LP $15.99/$17.99
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Hip Hop + Reggae + R&B or Reggae + R&B + Hip Hop. Any way
you look at the equation the outcome's the same: Dancehall, body
music. Soul Jazz continues their series of the finest in Caribbean
rhythms with "Nice Up the Dance," a collection of tunes that
illustrates the blending of these genres. From Kingston and
Trentchtown, JA, to Queens and Brooklyn, NYC, the combination of
the two cultures has been a continuously growing generations music
and sense of identity, post-Bob Marley. Here we get artist like Tenor
Saw, Cutty Ranks, Sean Paul, Chaka Demus and Pliers, Dawn
Penn, and Shaggy, singing, toasting, and rapping atop the digital
rhythmic productions of the last 20 years. Rhythms that sit proudly
on the line. The sound clashes presented here are the rough, raw,
jerky, slick, and bouncy, tracks that continue to inspire hip-hop
producers around the world from Missy Elliot and Busta to DJ Vadim
and Roots Manuva. [DG]
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LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=502632800074&refer_url=email

PUSH BUTTON OBJECTS "Ghetto Blaster" (Chocolate Industries) CD $13.99
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If you've been keeping score then you already have the Autechre,
Beans, Prefuse 73, DJ Krush, and TES albums, Push Button Objects
is next. The second full-length from Miami based producer Edgar
Farinas as Push Button Objects, entitled "Ghetto Blaster," is a
voyage through the tunnel of hip hop. Combining the scratching
expertise of DJ Craze along with an array of unnamed yet
recognizable lyricists (Aesop Rock, Mr. Lif, Vast Aire, Del, and
Anti-con) help PBO dig into the core. Tight up-rock rhythms that
catapult the listener into the digital ghetto heights of various new
school beat bangers. Equal parts vocal and instr, with added guitar
by Juan Montoya throughout. Released on Chocolate Industries.

FOLKSONGS FOR THE AFTERLIFE "Put Danger Back in Your Life"
(Hidden Agenda) CD $13.99

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Folksongs for the Afterlife is a Brooklyn based pop band whose
music neatly sidesteps the clique of influences that define the
various local scenes that have been grabbing headlines of late.
Neither snarling '70s post-punk, nor cool '80s electro-attitude, the
band has managed to straddle those trendy decades with a beautiful
set of originals that seem to owe a debt to '90s Britpop shoe-gazers,
add a dash of '60s girl-group pop, and a large dose of personality and
originality. The group has two substantial tricks to up their collective
sleeve here: the lush, shimmering vocals of Caroline Schutz, who
delivers melancholy and longing with such beauty and restraint that it
is hard not to be sucked into her universe, and the multi-layered and
compelling production of her main collaborator, Chris Sizemore.
Restrained, un-crowded layers of guitar, organ, electric piano,
percussion and subtle samples percolate below Schutz's dreamy,
intimate melodies, and draw the listener in ever closer. This young
band effortlessly drops both buzzing, up-tempo pop and hazy
melancholia, and they have created a great album that comes on
with little fanfare, and yet delivers far more than expected. A beautiful
and satisfying new album that succeeds royally on its own terms.

ANDEREGG "Anomia" (Apestaartje) CD $12.99
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With the laptop/minimal/clicks and cuts market flooded with
copycats it's hard to come by a modern-minimal electronic record
that makes you "feel" something rather than just see what the artist
is trying to do. Anderegg's second full-length CD, "Anomia" (look it
up) succeeds by consistently using his palette of sounds to emote
an actual range of emotions. The layers of British "shoe-gazer" rock,
the skitter of Oval, contemplative Mouse on Mars, even the mood of
early Palace (all "classics") can easily be assumed as being
influences, but in the end, this album earns the term "music". All
sounds seem to function in a melodic way, the range and variety is
there, but there are no extraneous sounds, no "noise for effect". Each
element is cared for, and directed to various ends, each song
actually communicating beyond texture, volume, sound and silence.
Recommended. [SM]

[V.A.] "Flowers in the Wildwood - Women in Early Country Music"
(Trikont) CD $14.99

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The Trikont label has just put out another great collection of old time
music and a perfect compliment to their "Black and White Hillbilly
Music," American Yodeling" and "Prayers from Hell," releases. The
latest, "Flowers in the Wildwood," compiles over 70 minutes of
Great Depression era recordings of hillbilly, spirituals, bluegrass and
mountain music from pioneering women of the time. Staple
performers like the Carter Family, Coon Creek Girls and the Chuck
Wagon Gang are featured next more obscure tracks by artists like
Fred and Gertrude Gossett (one of the first recorded male/female
duets with guitar accompaniment), Wanda and Ruth Neal, and a
sacred spiritual from Atlanta's Wisdom Sisters. When listening to
this collection it's impossible not to be struck by the history lesson
here. Mostly written by men who projected their ideals (and society's)
alongside reoccurring themes of the death of lovers and lost paradise,
there's also a glint of hope, longing and a promise of afterlife as well
as a few risque' moments. I'm sure some eyebrows raised when Lulu
Belle, in wishing to be single again, calls her husband a prude for
making her "sew a button on his flannel undersuit." Throughout the
collection, the vocals are breathtaking and it's hard to believe that
many of these performances were once considered contemporary.
The DeZurik Sisters mix of birdcalls and animal sounds with their
yodeling is otherworldly and magical. There's also plenty of
competent guitar and fiddle playing from women like Patsy Montana,
Maybelle Carter, Samantha Bumgarner that went on to inspire a
future generation of female instrumentalists in country music. The
time period represented here was certainly a transitional, if not
radical era for rural women. The extensive liner notes (with
contributions from the Handsome Family's Rennie Sparks, Bill C.
Malone, and an interview with Carolyn DeZurik) paint a fantastic
picture of women who were taking cues from radio and other mass
media as well as inspiration from female performers in blues and
jazz music. Sixty or more years later, I can't think of any other
music that can stir the soul quite the same way as these songs.

BURNT SUGAR "The Rites" (Trugoid) CD $16.99
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The structured improvisation of Greg Tate's ensemble Burnt Sugar is
a thing of beauty to be witnessed in person. Utilizing a crew of NYC's
top underground players numbering no less than 10, the conductor
(either GT or the amazingly fluid Butch Morris) creates a hybird of
jazz, rock, spoken word, classical, and hip-hop. It's unlike anything
I've heard before, separately yes, but as a free flowing living
experience, no. The fourth self-release from this group, The Rites, is
another example of the influence of Igor Stravinsky. I first
experienced Stavinsky's work through the interpretations offered by
Alice Coltrane, turning already moving classical compositions into
free jazz spiritual experiences. This to me is a logical progression.
The eight pieces collected here form a sweeping movement based on
Stravinsky's "Le Sacre Du Printemps." Fifteen musicans, under the
conducting wand of Butch Morris, generate a hypnotic, soulful, and
moving journey. Part psychedelic rock, with four guitarist soaring
through the atmosphere, then the ensemble effortlessly move closer
into classical territory with violin, cello, double bass, and voices,
hauntingly pulling the listener into the spell being conjured. If you're
in NYC, definitely check them out live. Though good and solid, this
release is only a taste of what they are capable of. Recommended.

[V.A.] "Crydamoure Presents Waves 2" (Source) CD $16.99
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Guy-Manuel (a/k/a the other dude in Daft Punk) and Eric Chedeville
have been running Crydamoure for a five or six years or so. This label
specializes in putting out pumping modern Eurodisco, which I mean
in the most literal sense of the word. The tracks, which are often
produced by Guy and Eric under pseudonyms, mainly consist of a
classic disco riff being sampled, looped and filtered to the beat of a
mind-numbingly four-on the-floor thump... and don't you just love it.
That said, the tunes are great over the top fun and they were created
with the sole purpose of keepin' the party going... plain and simple.
This album collects the second... er, wave of singles released in the
last two years. If you heard the first collection, not that much has
changed. These tracks do seem to have a slight electro new wave
tinge to them, because of the addition of synth tones to the mix, and
I wouldn't be surprised if the electroclashers recognize a few of these
joints. All in all, good slick fun that would satisfy anybody who has
been following the Parisian neo-disco sound for awhile. Their party
doesn't seem to be close to ending. [DH]

WIRE "Send" (Pink Flag) CD $14.99
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This is it, the new full-length from one of your heroes, the legendary,
supremely influential, and often-brilliant Wire. Their first new album in
13 years, twice that since their incendiary debut "Pink Flag" was
originally released... Where does 2003 find one of the original (post)
punk innovators? Before I answer that, some notes for the avid
shopper -- this is not exactly an all-new album. Six of these tracks
are in fact compiled from the recent "Read and Burn" EPs (three each
from Parts 1 and 2), plus one more which is an alternate unedited,
extended version of a track from EP 2. That means that if you have
already picked up those releases, you can expect four all new tracks,
plus an alternate version. OK then. If you were lucky enough to catch
one of the incendiary reunion shows these geezers have played in
the last several years, you know that they have not lost an ounce of
venom in the last couple of decades. This record is full of the taught,
intense, claustrophobic sounds that first made you first fall in love
with Wire, delivered in rapid-fire succession with barely a pause for
air. Dense, layered guitar, powerhouse one-two drumming and
hissing snakebite vocals aim for the throat and rarely miss. The band
is not afraid of warmth and melody, but they always couch it in
aggression and raw fury. I'm left wondering sometimes if Wire is
building on their own self-constructed foundation, or in fact drawing
inspiration from those whom they themselves have influenced lo
these decades gone by... but it's really a moot point. "Send" is a
strong new album from a band of originators that, whether or not you
like it, seem to be returning to creativity long past their appointed
bedtime. They have delivered perhaps their best effort since the '70s,
and from a band this good, that's saying something. Worth a listen,
and then some. [JM]

MERZBOW "Ikebana Remixes" (Important) CD $15.99
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If you're not a fan of noise, then the name Merzbow alone might be a
little intimidating. This might be a good place to start if you're into
electronic music but haven't yet taken the plunge into the darker
territory of Masami Akita and the like. "Ikebana" isn't exactly a remix
album per se, but everything on it is built from source material on
Merzbow's "Amlux" record. The two-disc set is a veritable who's-who
of contemporary electronic music with tracks from Mouse on Mars,
Bola, Alec Empire, Chicks On Speed, Negativland, and many more.
Some of the music (like the tracks from Hrvatski and Lasse Marhaug
of Jazzkammer) stays true to Merzbow's dissonant style, while other
tracks (from Kim Hiorthoy, DJ/rupture, etc.) are downright listenable.
There's a good variety of stuff on here that spans most of the
electronic music spectrum, and a bunch of exclusive tracks from
some of the most popular artists in the genre. Check it out. [RH]

ROSCOE HOLCOMB "An Untamed Sense of Control" (Smithsonian Folkways) CD $15.99
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Brilliant new collection of vintage performances from the man who
practically embodied the "high lonesome sound". This is Folkways'
second compact disc release solely devoted to Holcomb and it is
every bit as revelatory as the first. Simply put, Holcomb was one of
the finest traditional musicians to ever pick up a guitar or banjo. In his
liner notes, John Cohen (famed photographer, musician, and
musicologist) discusses how he was struck by the radical-ness of
Holcomb's music, a characteristic not normally associated with so
called old-timey music. This radical-ness stems from what seems to
be a certain quality of absolute truth in his songs, purely unadorned
and undoubtedly as real as it gets. The cut of Roscoe Holcomb's
voice and the way he adapted a traditional repertoire to his own self
mythology, knowingly or not, makes just about everything else under
the sun seem like mere pretension. Includes stunning versions of
"Swanno Mountain", "Barbara Allen", "Man of Constant Sorrow", and
23 other old time classics. [MK]

LEXAUNCULPT "Blurring of Trees" (Planet-Mu) CD $13.99
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You'll need headphones to truly appreciate the delicate micro-waves
of influence that travel beneath the frantic rhythms creating the
groove. And you'll need a tissue when you experience the epic
orchestration shimmering through distortion. Lexaunculpt's beautiful
creation for Planet-Mu, "The Blurring of Trees," feels like a
space-capade complete with cosmic dust storms. You travel through
tranquil pockets of melody, an unexpectedly encounter offbeat
collisions, misdirection, and buried conversations. A fine IDM effort.

[V.A.] "Velvet Tinmine" (RPM) CD $18.99
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Here it is folks, your official summer party record for 2003. "The
Velvet Tinmine" is a collection of some of the best one-hit-wonders
that never bothered to hit. Bubblegum isn't even a fair description for
this music. This stuff instantly melts in your mouth. It's more like
musical cotton candy. Some 30 years after the fact, it seems
radically criminal that the 45s churned out by the bands on this
compilation were so commercially and critically unsuccessful.
Highlights include a young Nick Lowe's giddy homage to the Bay
City Rollers (recorded as the Tartan Horde), the Andrew Loog
Oldham produced "Va Va Voom" by Brett Smiley, prepubescent
heartthrob Ricky Wilde's "I Wanna Go To A Disco," and Stavely
Makepeace's anthemic instrumental "Slippery Rock 70s." Who am I
kidding, this whole CD is one big highlight from start to finish. The
couple of tracks that aren't totally brilliant are still so damn fun that
only a major curmudgeon wouldn't enjoy them. Check out the liner
notes for a classic photo of the band IronVirgin (who provide the
opening "Rebels Rule"), their lead singer clad in a leather jumpsuit
and a gigantic codpiece with a "No Entry" sign. I can't recommend
this collection enough. Let's get the party going! [RH]

[V.A.] "Velvet Tinmine Volume 2" (RPM) CD $15.99
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Volume two of the "Velvet Tinmine" series takes its title from a
late-60s children's television program whose theme kicks off the
record. The music on this collection is still sugary and
unquestionably British, but unlike its predecessor it's made up of
songs from TV shows, films, and advertisements. I can't say that it's
as immediately captivating as the earlier set, but there's still some
really, really great music on this one, including Elton John's cover of
"Spirit In The Sky," CCS's instrumental flute-jam version of "Whole
Lotta Love" (used for a time as the theme song on "Top Of The
Pops"), and the Matchmakers' "Thank You Baby" (one of the few
tracks that would have fit just as well on the earlier compilation).
Another album's worth of forgotten treasures that I'm sure will be a
welcome addition to anyone's collection. [RH]]

MAX NEUHAUS "Fontana Mix Feed" (Alga Marghen) CD $15.99
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Alga Marghem should be commended for putting together this
amazing collection of interpretations of John Cage's "Fontana Mix"
recorded live by the underrated sound artist/composer and performer
Max Neuhaus at various colleges and institutions during 1967 and
1968. Using strictly feedback as source material, Neuhaus achieves
a sense of precision and focus in these six recordings, which is
extremely rare in such beautifully, ear splitting music. While the
palette may be fairly familiar to anyone who has spent even a small
chunk of time listening to noise, modern composition or various other
sub-genres of experimental music, it's Neuhaus' restrained, almost
Zen-like interpretation of Cage's score that makes these recordings
stand out as some of the most engaging realizations of Cage's work
currently available. One can almost feel Neuhaus' eyes intently
focusing on the score as he masterfully transforms slowly rising
tones into screaming feedback. Recommended for fans of new pure
sonic experimentalists such as Toshimaru Nakamura or Sachiko M.

[V.A.] "Russen Disko - Hits" (Trikont) CD $14.99
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We've been getting a lot of requests for "Russendisko" over the past
few months; it's finally here! Four years ago, Russian emigre DJs
Yury Gurzhy and Vladmir Kaminer (who is also a best selling author
in Germany) began hosting a bi-monthly party in a Berlin bar calling
it Russendisko. A night born out of the two's passion of music, the
DJs spin records of bands from all over the former Soviet Union which
is inclusive to a wide variety of "non-pop" styles -- from punk to ska to
folk to alternative rock. The 16 "Hits" on the  "Russendisko"
compilation definitely gives a great glimpse at what is surely an
evening filled with lots of drinking, smoking, dancing and debauchery
with tracks coming from former Soviet bloc and ex-pat bands. Though
obviously inspired by Western music, it's definitely not a Western
byproduct. You can hear traditional influences making fresh music
with many bands earnestly cramming a variety of styles into one
song. The horn flavored Leprikonsi's "Chicks Don't Fall in Love With
Me" moves through Russian urban folk, punk, and ends in an accordion
driven disco frenzy. Los Angeles by way of Siberia's Red Elvises
contribute a surfy rave-up with "Cosmonaut Petrov," while Moscow
ska-punk veterans Distemper feature a biting brass section that was
originally formed to play at funerals. Rot-Front (featuring L.
Soybelman) give Kraftwerk's "The Robots" a revamping ala' Senor
Coconut, except here it moves along an oom-pah bass, with lots of
accordion and clarinet flavoring. Getting a little tired of the same-old
in rock music? [GH]

THE GOSSIP "Arkansas Heat" (Kill Rock Stars) $13.99
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On their second proper album, the Gossip are still stompin' with the
most killer voice on Kill Rock Stars -- taming and teasing the monster
sound, swagger erupting from just a single guitar and drum kit. If
screamin' and hollerin' won't save you, give in to these dirty blues-y
ballads and be saved. [JO]

[V.A.] "Ragazza Pop" (S.H.A.D.O.) CD/LP $14.99/$15.99
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Italian pop label S.H.A.D.O. Records kicks off their new division,
Ragazza Pop, with a compilation sharing the same name. Their first
release is a tribute to international flavored female pop music with a
global cast of artists performing originals and some covers of
underground classics. Ladybug Transistor contribute a wonderfully
vintage '60s girl pop sounding  "Her Words Hang in the Air" which
segues perfectly into Moe Tucker's version of Goffin-King penned
Shirelle's track "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow." Indie poppers like
the Four Corners, Aislers Set and Mirah appear next to international
artists including April March, Valvola, Noonday Underground, and
Three Berry Icecream. Altogether, 21 new and previously released
tracks of cool female sung nouveau pop, disco and garage rockers
will surely get your summer party started. [GH]
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This week's contributors: Matt Connors [MC], J Dennis [JD], Daniel
Givens [DG], Gerald Hammill [GH], Duane Harriot [DH], Rob
Hatch-Miller [RH], Kean Holtkamp [KH], Michael Klausman [MK],
Josh Madell [JM], Scott Mou [SM], and Jennifer Orozco [JO].


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