Other Music New Release Update
October 29, 2003

In This Week's Update:

Richard Devine
Rhythm & Sound
Victor Gama
The Strokes
British Hustle (Soul Jazz Compilation)
Gustavo Lamas
94 Baker Street (Various Artists)
Relaxed Muscle (Jarvis Cocker)
Martin Siewert / Martin Brandlmayr
Country Got Soul (Various Artists)
Saturday Morning Empires (Various Artists)
Jah Son Invasion (Wackies Compilation)


RICHARD DEVINE "Asect: Dsect" (Schematic) CD $12.99
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It has been almost two years since Richard Devine's brilliant "Aleamapper"
album, and a lot has changed in electronic music. Most of the DSP, Autechre
inspired artists have moved on to things like electronic pop, ambient, and
tech-house. Thank god that Devine didn't; he is one of the few who can make
this genre work and still keep it interesting. Like Autechre, Devine's beats
crunch, synths squeal, and melodies are so complex that they would make the
likes of musique concrete masters such as Stockhausen raise an ear and take
note. "Asect: Dsect" is a dark, dark album. It is the soundtrack to
nightmares; Devine puts his heart into this album and it is black, stone
cold, and evil. The sounds he gets out of his laptop are amazing, and this
insight into his bleak world does not let up until track 13 where he finally
let's the pummeling beats stop, and a lulling underlying melody comes
through, as if to be the light at the end of the tunnel. "Asect: Dsect" is
an amazing journey, and one that any fan of electronic music will enjoy.

RHYTHM & SOUND "With the Artists" (Asphodel) CD $12.99
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RHYTHM & SOUND "The Versions" (Asphodel) CD $12.99
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The superb production team known as Rhythm & Sound, cull eight selections
from their much sought after 10" series. Released as two separate CDs,
"Artists" features the full vocal versions, "Versions" for the dubs. They
create a warm, digital dub world, often visited by contemporaries like Pole
or Basic Channel; dark minimal textures crawl in, out, and through your
speakers. Synth and bass pulses ground you, while a faint reggae bounce
grooves you into bliss. Both versions are of note; the vocal CD features
Love Joys, Cornell Campbell, Paul St. Hilaire (a/k/a Tikiman), among others,
while the companion disc places R&S firmly in the minimal techno and digital
dub arena. Excellent, essential, and ecstatically recommended! [DG]

M83 "Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts" (Gooom) CD $19.99
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M83 "M83" (Gooom) CD $19.99
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Like Air, M83 are a French duo with a fetish for old synthesizers and rich
orchestration, but that's where the similarities end. The aesthetic of
Nicolas Fromageau and Anthony Gonzalez is far more epic, stretching and
layering minor chords of dense, buzzing analog sounds and guitars over drum
machine beats and occasional voices hauntingly manipulated via musique
concrete inspired techniques. Their latest appropriately titled album, "Dead
Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghosts" opens with what sounds like a radio
broadcast from another planet. The hypnotic repetition of a robotic voice
rises from the din of birds and static, and then gives way to a moody theme
carried by the droning chords of an electric guitar and brooding synthetic
strings. Like the tide, waves of sound come crashing in and then quietly
dissipate. Much in the spirit of Alain Goraguer's score to "La Planete
Sauvage," M83 songs are otherworldly yet sensually human at the same time,
while the pastoral nature blended with warm, compressed washes of guitar
drones feels like Boards and Canada making music after stealing Kevin
Shields' stash. First released in 2001, M83's self-titled debut is also made
up of the same elements as "Dead Cities..." but the stripped down production
lends a minimal, more mysterious, and occasionally a slightly post-rock
quality to the arrangements with faint vocal samples and loops (never
cheesy) being applied more liberally. At times, the music gently
deconstructs into nothing more than slight static or hiss; however a few
tracks, like the deceptively titled "Slowly," actually pick up the tempo and
while still atmospheric and moody, move along an electro dance beat. Much in
the same way as BOC, My Bloody Valentine, Mum and Sigur Ros, these two
captivating releases will gently nudge their way into your hazy subconscious
and stay there for weeks to come. [GH]
"Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts"
"Self Titled"

VICTOR GAMA "Pangeia Instrumentos" (Rephlex) CD $17.99
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The first Rephlex release to be completely devoid of electronics, Victor
Gama's "Pangeia Instrumentos" is a beguiling collection of compositions
specifically written for his own handcrafted instruments. Angolan by birth
but of Portuguese origins, Gama has been steadily building an impressive
array of instruments since the early-'90s. Slightly visually reminiscent of
the Swiss-Brazilian instrument builder Walter Smetak's creations in the
'40s, '50s, and '60s, and sonically somewhat related to Harry Partch's more
widely celebrated constructions and compositions, Gama's instruments are
often built for two to four simultaneous performers. Like Partch, Gama's
Pangeia instrumentos were arrived at through a fine craftsman-like approach
to both wood and cast off materials. Where Partch drew on the forms of
ancient Greece for the basis of his compositions, Gama has drawn inspiration
from his own native Angolan folk music traditions, as well as those from
throughout the African diaspora. Often, with handcrafted or homemade
instruments, the compositional framework lacks the brilliance of the
instruments themselves. Gama has admirably avoided that pratfall through the
subtle invocation of everything from Bebey-esque mbira lines to
Afro-Brazilian berimbau sonorities. Gama and his performers are virtuosos on
these outstanding compositions; each piece has a distinctive range and
character. This is mainly pattern music in its most beautiful, lulling
sense, with only the occasional violin to provide dramatic counterpoint.
Highly recommended, and a composer to watch. [MK]

THE STROKES "Room On Fire" (RCA) CD $15.99
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The first clue that the Strokes are here to stay is how much they haven't
changed. It's a point made very clear by the ninth second of the opening
track, as soon as the familiar warbled-distorted strain of singer Julian
Casablancas makes his entrance announcing that "I want to be forgotten." For
the next thirty-three minutes, he'll continue to pine over broken romances,
late nights in bars and, much like the sentiment of "Is This It," be
sincerely sorry but stubbornly resigned to giving up rather than trying. It
would be easy to draw a parallel to the rut he narrates in his songs with
the sameness that "Room On Fire" is to their debut, but it simply isn't the
case. What once suspiciously seemed to be mathematical planning from behind
the scenes, from their messy hair and "Marquee Moon" LP cover fashion sense
to their cheaply produced videos, now feels as genuine as the groups they've
been accused of imitating. This is the sound of the Strokes. There's no
questioning their rock motives, they're as much of a "band" as the greats
before them. It's especially evident in the guitar playing; Albert Hammond
Jr. and Nick Velensi's rhythms and leads are tighter, sharper and razor-edge
precise. Their instinctive angular counter-play in "Reptilia" is urgent,
tense and executed with R-O-C-K dexterity. The Strokes aren't being ironic
though; even when a note-for-note "Sweet Child of Mine" lick comes in during
the second verse of "The End Has No End," it unintentionally resembles a
Greg Hawkes synthesizer lead borrowed from any track off of the Cars'
"Candy-O," not a Slash parody. Aside from better chops and a few new
drumbeats, this is the same Strokes who may or may not have saved rock
music a few years ago. Nonetheless, "Room On Fire" ensures that the band
will be receiving royalty checks for the next three or four decades from
heavy rotation on classic rock stations of the not-so-distant future
sandwiched between "Lust for Life" and "American Girl," and that is a very
good thing. [GH]

[V.A.] "British Hustle" (Soul Jazz) $15.99
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If you are looking for the missing funk links that connected A Certain
Ratio, 23 Skidoo, and all your other British punk-funk faves to Arthur
Russell, Francois K and Larry Levan, then look no further than this comp.
This long overdue compilation starts to tell the story of the
under-acknowledged yet massively influential British funk movement of the
mid-'70s. These bands were very influenced by the American jazz-funk
releases of that time (Donald Byrd, Bobbi Humphrey and Roy Ayers), that were
mostly ignored by both jazz purists and urban radio, but were massively
popular in UK clubs. Bands such as Olympic Runners, Real Thing and Light of
the World added a bit more of an urban urgency to these influences, yet were
a lot more joyous in approach than American R & B bands of that time. These
bands' influences on the punk scene going on at that time can't be ignored.
Where do you think the Slits, Gang of Four and the Pop Group got that bass
and backbeat swing from? With all due respect, I can guarantee that it
wasn't from the Ramones or Patti Smith. After a few listens to the Gonzalez,
Imagination and Atmosfear tracks represented on this comp, it's plain to see
that they didn't have to go far to find the funk to infuse in their sound.
Thank you once again Soul Jazz for schoolin' us once more, and if you still
aren't convinced to pick this up yet, just know that it's the best funk and
dance comp I've heard so far this year. Awesome! [DH]

GUSTAVO LAMAS "Brotes" (Onitor) CD $16.99
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When did we first hear from Gustavo Lamas?? Was it on the first
"Electronische Musik Aus Buenos Aires" compilation on Traum? Man, this guy
goes back, but his tracks still come across as a "new guy's" tracks. By that
I don't meant they sound immature. It's just that his tracks always sound so
untainted, poppy and fresh. No one is doing warm friendly dub techno like
this. It bounces with warm melodies and cold atmospheres that build in a
dense, yet classic techno style with faint bits of house in the basslines.
Some producers are stingy with their "parts," only giving you enough
elements to complete the track. Lamas keeps giving it to you, changing his
melodies constantly, keeping it alive, but so subtle and tasteful, all
you'll do is keep nodding your head. And unlike your typical German house
productions, Lamas is not content with letting the same two beats
alternately loop on and on; he's constantly shifting up and down while
keeping it minimal. Beautiful tracks. In description, Lamas' tracks may seem
like so many other minimal dub/house/techno producers. The truth is, his
tracks stand apart by having all the qualities of new deep techno (dubby,
warm minimal Basic Channel style) mixed with a controlled tropical, yet
still moody beauty that I can only imagine comes from being from Buenos
Aires... like the micro-melodic sophistication of Stewart Walker's
"Stabiles" LP, but with a much warmer sense of melody, and dancier, or...
OK, take the dubby German/tropical dub style often found in early Karaoke
Kalk releases and put it underneath some palm trees, bulging with coconuts,
on the beach, at night, and you're in a REAL GOOD MOOD. Is it starting to
make sense now? Now listen to the soundfiles. Solid album. [SM]

[V.A.] "94 Baker Street" (RPM) CD $17.99
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The new compilation from RPM Records is the answer to all of your psych-pop
prayers. "94 Baker Street," collects a whole album's worth of totally
phenomenal material culled from the vaults of the Beatles' Apple publishing
outlet. The bulk of the collection comes from four bands: Focal Point,
Grapefruit, Misunderstood, and the Iveys (who would later change their name
to Badfinger). Many of the disc's highlights were penned by a young fellow
named George Alexander, who was born Alexander Young and was the eldest
brother of George from the Easybeats and Malcolm and Angus from AC/DC. The
compilation features two tracks from his band Grapefruit's excellent debut
album, "Around," and two unused takes including a version of "Lullaby"
produced by Paul McCartney. Alexander also wrote "Breaking Up A Dream,"
performed here by the Ways And Means, and the soulful "Getting Ready For
Love," which he recorded with his brother George and another member of the
Easybeats and released as a single under the name Paintbox. If that isn't
enough for you, "94 Baker Street" also includes five never-before-heard
tracks that Badfinger recorded back when they were still called the Iveys.
There's an extremely early demo version of "Maybe Tomorrow," which was later
recorded for "Magic Christian Music," and four songs that never made it onto
the Iveys' album of any Badfinger album. Why they never released these early
tracks before is anyone's guess, they combine Beatle-esque harmonies with
Who-ish mod guitar riffing and sound completely amazing. Don't pass this one
up, it's easily the best collection of psych-pop you'll hear this year. Fans
of the Kinks, the Left Banke, the Small Faces, Emitt Rhodes, and of course
the fab four will be in heaven when they hear this. It's fantastic. [RH]

RELAXED MUSCLE "A Heavy Night With" (Rough Trade) CD $22.99
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Side projects are often a mixed bag. They can often times allow an artist to
unleash impulses that would never have survived the checks and balances of
band politics. If you take the glass half full viewpoint however, side
projects offer a certain playfulness and freedom that the pressures of a
successful career can doom to permanent back burner status. In Relaxed
Muscle, Pulp's Jarvis Cocker indulges his guilty pleasures in the form of
cabaret-tinged raunchy rockabilly goth electro. Whoda thunk? Masquerading as
Darren Spooner (that cannot be a coincidence, can it?) dressed in skeleton
drag, (the CD comes with two hilarious videos) accompanied by his real life
Pulp guitarist, Richard Hawley, (known here as J.P. Buckle), Cocker
gallivants through a suite of stripped down, dirty, upbeat, super smart,
hilarious dance/rock jams that have his raw wit and Hawley's precise guitar
smarts written all over them. At its best Relaxed Muscle conjures the best
of Pulp's disco-ier moments stripped of their dandyish gloss and sexed up
for a late night dance party. The stomping crunchy beats, shouted vocals,
and discordant dancibility recall anything from Peaches and Le Tigre to My
Life with the Thrill Kill Kult (and sundry similar early Wax Trax artists)
Depeche Mode, Adam Ant and the Cramps. Super free and super fun. [MC]

(Erstwhile) CD $13.99
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The latest offering from prolific New Jersey based improvised
electroacoustic label Erstwhile pairs two of Vienna's finest improvisers.
Martin Siewart is best known for his extended guitar explorations in groups
such as Efzeg and SSSD, while Martin Brandlmayr utilizes percussion and live
sampling in the electroacoustic power trio Radian who have recorded for Mego
and Thrill Jockey. While the title "Too Beautiful to Burn" may seem a bit
heavy handed the emphasis here is on gradual change. Within the five pieces
contained on the disc we are treated to a wide variety of elements. The duo
combine abstract drone oriented textures and more conventionally musical
elements such as rhythm and melody with a refined ease that makes this disc
both a pleasure to listen to as well as a challenge to comprehend in a
single listen. Both musicians use their respective instrument's natural
acoustic sounds in combination with various sampling and processing
techniques in such a subtle and precise manner that we are often unable to
distinguish the difference between the two. Historically speaking the most
obvious reference point would be AMM, but Siewart and Brandlmayr never skirt
away from overt musicality in the way so many post-AMM improvisers seem to
do. An extremely rewarding excursion in focused listening. Recommended. [KH]

[V.A.] "Country Got Soul" (Casual) CD $22.99
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A fantastic new investigation into the oft-overlooked African American
influence on Caucasian country and western singers of the Deep South in the
late-'60s and early-'70s. That influence had been there since the very
genesis of country music, Frank Hutchison or Darby and Tarlton mutating
black vernacular songs into white old-timey blues in the '20s, or Johnny
Cash appropriating "Rock Island Line" or "I've Got Stripes" from Negro
prison work songs in the '50s. So it really isn't that surprising to see
that the influence of '60s soul and (especially) funk began to creep into
the arrangements of these (mostly) white country soul troubadours. To be
honest, the selections here really emphasize the soul over the country in
the title. Brass sections meet deeply funky backbeats and breaks, with even
the occasional lyric here and there echoing the social protest content of
many a soul and funk song back in the day. Nothing sounds strictly imitative
and there isn't one single bad song in the mix, which should be a welcome
kick in the arse to the increasingly tired and played out soul compilation
genre. [MK]

[V.A.] "Saturday Morning Empires" (Intr.Version) CD $17.99
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Mitchell Akiyama's Montreal based Intr.Version has released a compilation
entitled "Saturday Morning Empires" that gives post-rock a facelift, while
simultaneously injecting a bit of heart into the minimal "clicks and cuts"
scene. Like Akiyama's recent "Temporary Music" album on Raster Noton (which
we love), minimal patterns are created using a skillful mixture of digital
AND acoustic sounds (without simply falling into the "folktronica" category)
that engage the listener as well as enrich the mind. It seems like an
obvious thing to combine minimal electronics, minimal dub, post-rock,
songwriting, a bit of vocals on some of the tracks, even a bit of
Godspeed-style intertwining guitar melodies, but this compilation manages to
combine well-balanced amounts of all the elements. And like all good
compilations, the style of the tracks changes slightly as they explore a
common theme. Last time I heard this done this well was on Fatcat's "Across
Uneven Terrain" compilation. (But this one is of course, more up to date.)
Well known names like Tomas Jirku, M. Akiyama, Loscil, Tim Hecker and Polmo
Polpo share disc-space with Joshua Treble, Vitaminsforyou, aMute and
Chocolate Industries artist Ghislain Poirier. Famous or not, all
contributions shine on this compilation in their ability to move melody
through atmosphere, maybe some song structure here and there (many tracks
use the IDM taboo instrument: the "guitar") while others are just a
building, linear surge of energy. Another thing that comes to mind while
listening to this compilation is the way it almost seems like an "earthy"
Morr Music compilation, i.e. quality melodic, song structured electronic
music, but it's not as overtly shoe-gaze influenced or obsessed with
"electronic" melodies. It's more organic with some similarities to melodic
Krautrockers Neu!, Cluster, and Ash Ra Temple -- check out Polmo Polpo's
"Dreaming (Is Real)." This one will satisfy those new to electronic music as
well as those who are experienced in the whole electronic music scene who
are interested in new and interesting, albeit calm sounds. How often does
that happen? If this sounds good to you, I'm sure you'll get a lot of
mileage out of this one. Recommended. [SM]

[V.A] "Jah Son Invasion" (Wackies) CD $16.99
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Ahh, Wackies, life in the Bronx. What could be sweeter than the beautiful
flowing breeze of the Bullwackies Sound System blasting the jams until the
wee hours of the morní? This comp of 10 tracks recreates or rather outlines
the output of Wackies House of Music. Mostly unknown or previously unearthed
vocals including Sugar Minnott, with a house band that included Sly Dunbar,
Clive Hunt, Robbie Shakespare, Ras Menilik, among others. Basic Channel and
Wackies have continuously given the best of both worlds: reggae and techno.
This one lays out some of the finest bubbling roots rhythms around and is
another winner! Recommended. [DG]

This week's contributors: Matt Connors [MC], Daniel Givens [DG],  Gerald
Hammill [GH], Rob Hatch-Miller [RH], Duane Harriott [DH], Koen Holtcamp
[KH], Michael Klausman [MK], Scott Mou [SM] and Jeremy Sponder [JS].


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