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     April 7 , 2004  




Modest Mouse
Konk (Compilation)

Kitsune Midnight (Various)


Cloud One (Reissue)
Story of P & P Records DVD
Carla Bozulich

APR Sun 11 Mon 12 Tues 13 Wed 14 Thurs 15 Fri 16 Sat 17


One time only screening & Q/A with the band!
Three Films:
The Sublime Frequencies Archive
The Air in a Roomful of Weirdos
The Pesky Suitor (Claire Danes film debut w/SCG soundtrack)

Anthology Film Archives:
32 2nd Ave (at 2nd St.) NY, NY
Monday, April 12 - 8 p.m.
Advance Tickets $10 (At Anthology & Other Music) / $12 Day of Show







Something Borrowed, Something Blue

"Fixed Elections"
"White Out"

The timing couldn't have been better for this album to come out. These days, "digi-dub" conjures up the sound of dark and heavy-lidded, surface-noise filled beatscapes. Don't get me wrong, I still love Pole, Rhythm and Sound, Kit Clayton et al., but I'm not excited about the prospect of hearing just another version of the aforementioned artists.

Deadbeat's new album, his second on Stefan Betke's Scape label, IS a solid member of the "digi-dub" family, but it manages to stand on its own, deftly avoiding falling into digital dub cliché. For one thing, the album is not another track-to-track exploration of the same theme over and over. From the first note the album opens up slowly and evolves, slowly introducing shifts in rhythm and melody that follow alternately open and song-like structures. Killer warm bass is woven into directed ambient moments that progress into nicely developed songs. Good old-fashioned quality "songwriting" that's well sequenced to create an "album" feel. (It sounds like I'm grasping, but I'm not, trust me.)

This album also successfully uses its dub roots as a launch pad instead of an anchor. In other words, it takes its dub inspiration and moves away from it to become something else enjoyable in its own right rather than sounding like a looped tribute album. Sounds easy, but as I hinted at in the "timing" comment earlier, these days that counts for a lot. I've been recommending this album left and right as a downright solid new electronic album. It might not change your worldview, but you'll definite play this one over and over. [SM]







Good News For People Who Love Bad News

"Float On"
"The World at Large"

It's been four years since Modest Mouse released their last album and at times the band's future seemed uncertain. With various line-up changes, rumored court battles, substance abuse, and problems with their record label, it was a VH-1 special in the making. Well, it's 2004 and Isaac Brock and company have regrouped with original guitarist Dan Gallucci, and new drummer Benjamin Weikel. Good News For People Who Love Bad News is a record that has all of the classic sounds that we have grown to love while also branching out and adding new elements. On the track "The World At Large," the group goes completely acoustic with whistles, acoustic guitar, percussion, timpani, and mellotron... Modest Mouse Unplugged anyone?! And while the instrumentation on the track is stripped bare it still retains that Modest Mouse sound, just more mature.

On the breakout single "Float On," the band conjures up a pop track that recalls the Talking Heads, Pixies, and Built To Spill all in one with a chorus that will stick in your head for days. (The song was featured in the hit TV show The OC.) This track could propel them to that next level, whatever that may be, but don't be scared. The album is classic Modest Mouse with tracks that are full of discordant guitars, rhythmic drumming, rolling basslines and Brock's trademark vocals. It is just slightly more mature, and for a group that has been through all of the drama and then some, it is good to see them come out the other side with a vitality that is not seen in even new bands these days. Modest Mouse, you have done it again. [JS]







$10.99 LP


It's All Around You
(Thrill Jockey)

"It's All Around You"

It's All Around You, the fifth album in Tortoise's 11-year career, is a sprawling, epic statement to something. (I'll explain that in a moment.) Everything you've come to know and expect from them is still here: vibraphone lines, shimmering guitars, cascades of digital warmth and trickery, and attention to the beat. Possibly a soundtrack to an imaginary film… you may have heard that one before, but it applies here too, if not more than ever. The title track which opens the album sounds big. Think cinematic, as in the "The Matrix" or introspective, as in the next Sofia Coppola film.

The second track, "The Lithium Stiffs" begins with soft, warm waves of ethereal melancholy. Digitized "aaahhh's" from a human voice, a first for Tortoise, are triggered over a propulsive shifting rhythm-scape before gradually giving way to a slow rising piano march up into the clouds. In contrast, "Dot/Eye" punches open with a searing delayed guitar loop over spinning drums and rapid-fire fills. Sci-fi shards of sound mix with an alternating assortment of dubbed instrumentation, radio frequencies pulled out of space, and cyber belches that create a deep paranoid vortex.

"On The Chin" sounds like the Tortoise of old - their reflective, directionless contemplation is, however, accented with more electronics. Throughout, melody plays tug of war to create a tried and true display of tension. Sonically it's very ambitious and it's also very precise. But occasionally I wonder what the purpose of all this precision, direction and detail is, sometimes less would be more.

That said, Tortoise pull in a lot of different ideas and still sound comfortable and detached. Light electronica ala Morr Music, Aphex Twin/Lee Perry freakery, Can/Neu! scales, 21st century futurism, moodiness and optimism all play a part in sculpting the multiple dimensions of this album. [GA]







Here Comes Love


Superpitcher's endless stream of minimal, neo-club pop hits ("Heroin," "Yesterday," various Speicher releases, the cover of Eno's "Baby's on Fire" on Total 4) has affirmed Aksel Schaufler's status as Kompakt's new wave/pop techno enfante terrible'. His consistency as a producer has also made his album one of the most anticipated Kompakt releases since M. Mayer's yet-to-be/may-not-be(?) released LP.

Ok, there are two parts to this story... First, this is not a collection of typical Superpitcher techno/electro crossover club jams. Stop thinking that's what this is. It is not. Sorry. There are about THREE tracks that follow the typical Superpitcher sound and they are characteristically deep, sexy new-wave infused yet sophisticated Kompakt minimal house accented by Schaufler's vocals.

Fine. Ok. The rest of the album leans toward a surprisingly loungey, measured, mildly French pop(!) infused electronic pop feel. Imagine a gentler, slow, loop-generated Notwist/Static (atmospheric, spoken German boy vocals, subtly romantic) without the electronic shifts and breakdowns. They don't climb, they aren't dance tracks, they basically start, loop on, pause, start again and then the track ends. They just f- l- o- w. Upon first listen, these tracks might disappoint you; tried and true Kompakt fans will scratch their heads in confusion. Don't stop reading yet.

I lied. There's a third part to the story. After hearing the album through a second time it becomes apparent that Here Comes Love flows quite well. Even the awkward cover of "Fever" has its place within the body of the whole album. The tracks that at first seemed to loop on without direction now seemed to float on by, slowly building a pleasant atmosphere. The album makes one last visit to deep pop house territory with "Lovers Rock" and after one last track vaporizes into the ethereal "Even Angels."

So it seems that Superpitcher has decided to make an actual "album" (a theme in my reviews this week), and well, it works. It's just not the album we expected him to make. It's not for the DJs. This is an album to enjoy before or after listening to the DJs. I guess you can't blame him for making an album for himself. And I guess to find out if you'll dig this, you'll have to listen yourself. [SM]







The Sound of Konk
(Soul Jazz)

"Baby Dee"
"Your Life"

This new collection of reissued material by Konk, released on Soul Jazz, is another piece to the '80s NYC puzzle that the label seems intent on creating. Konk were an eight-piece band/collective (percussion, drums/drum machines, bass, trumpet, sax, bata drums, guitar, graffiti writers, and occasional vocals) that included members who also played in Sonic Youth and Jean Michel Basquiat's band Gray. In their early stages they shared the same manager as ESG, Liquid Liquid, Bush Tetras and Glenn Branca, and they were also one of the first groups released on Sleeping Bag (co-run by Arthur Russell).

The Sound of Konk showcases their brand of danceable, loft party influenced art-funk. Combining the Afro-Latin dance grooves also appropriated by Kid Creole and Rip Rig & Panic, the African electro of Afrika Bambaataa, the call-and-response and ever-present party atmosphere of Fela, the looping/shifting percussion of Arthur Russell, and the funk of Material or Trouble Funk, with a late night listening to Larry Levan mixes… you get the picture.

At times Konk sung in Spanish and English, or energetically chanted their words creating a cross-cultural poly-rhythmic groove, a soundtrack to the Lower East Side parties that they attended faithfully. They included acapellas and different isolated sections or breaks from their songs for DJs to use while mixing. They're more danceable than most "post-punk" bands of their time and it's more "post-disco" and worldly. All the attention is focused on getting you to move and groove, and not with the dry minimalism or white noise-funk which some of their contemporaries leaned towards.

The Sound of Konk
gathers the EPs and 12" singles released throughout the '80s. Konk were a great, yet under-appreciated party band that has gained cult status with house aficionados and early-'80s enthusiasts, and this collection, finally, proves why. Recommended. [DG]






Victory Park
(Carrot Top)

"New Parade"

These days, a new Antietam album feels like a rare occurrence, almost the rock equivalent of Halley's comet. It's not that the trio has been absent from the music world, the members have certainly kept busy with various projects and the same line-up plays on Tara Key's two solo albums, but from the very first track, you forget that almost 10 years have past since the band's last proper album Rope-a-Dope.

In late 2002, Tara Key, Tim Harris and Josh Madell (who incidentally is a co-owner of Other Music) assembled in an old beach house for most of the recording. With Tara Jane O'Neil engineering the tape console, Victory Park is far from overcooked mirroring the band's eclectic, electric sounds. It's immediately apparent, from the southern-fried rock groove of album opener "New Parade" to the Byrds-y guitars in track two, "Attract Mode." (Key's vocal melody in the former is anthemic with a trumpet solo that seems to be announcing the band's return.)

Key has always been seen as Antietam's MVP, her guitar guiding every song, from folky passages to effect-laden sonic blasts of noise, but always delivered with an emotional wallop to the ears and head. And when she belts it out, you almost forget what decade you're in - during the proto-punk rocker "Stowaway" she sings with the poetic venom of Patti Smith.

But co-founder (and her husband) Harris deserves equal credit, knowing when to play a fluid bassline underneath Key's distorted power chord strums, or to instinctively hang on a low note and give her the space to deliver a fierce guitar solo. His breathy baritone works especially well against her often-mystical vocal melodies, especially in the spacey "Skying." Harris' cello also shapes one of Victory Park's most introspective moments, "Chronicle of a Gift Horse" - a moody, cinematic instrumental that features a guest appearance from Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan.

Through their band history, which spans nearly 20 years, Antietam have always been considered one of rock's best kept secrets. Victory Park reaffirms this. In these days of skinny ties and big music marketing budgets, it's assuring to see an old favorite alive and well making the best music of their lives. [GH]









Atmosphere Strut

"Atmosphere Strut"
"Disco Juice"

(P & P Records)

How life affirming is this classic disco album from '75? I know of at least seven people who had their perspective on dance music forever changed by this record. How influential is this little known cult dance favorite? If you want to know what blueprint the current wave of nouveau disco producers (Metro Area, Chicken Lips, Danny Wang) use to get their sound from, this record is as good a place as any to start.

Atmosphere Strut was the brainchild of prolific New York producer Patrick Adams and ubiquitous NYC record mogul Peter Brown. Adams was a successful hired hand producer of the early '70s, and when he met up with Brown, they set up a label that gave Adams complete creative control over his product. The result was this Moog-heavy deep disco classic.

With titles like "Spaced Out," "Dust to Dust" and "Atmosphere Strut," you can gather that this wasn't disco meant to be played at 2 a.m. at '54'. This was sleazy, after hours funk meant to be heard in dark, dimly lit clubs. Yet there was nothing trashy about this music. It was elegant, and there wasn't standard four-on-the-floor fare either. Atmosphere Strut was released during the height of the hustle dance craze, so most of it was more shuffley in nature (think "If I Can't Have You" and "More Than a Woman," rather than "Stayin' Alive" and "Get Down Tonight"). Lyrics were about "flying high" and "gettin' spaced out" all held together by a minimal groove and swooping moog synths.

Though the record sold well on the East Coast, it didn't really get major distribution, so the album had been a sought after holy grail by many dance music aficionados for years. This is a most welcome reissue and if you are a fan of any good soul music, I can't think of a better record to recommend this year. If you were already a fan, now you can put away that worn out vinyl. Essential!

By the way, if you are at all intrigued by the story of P & P Records and New York urban dance music history, check out The Story of P & P DVD, where Brown and Adams give extensive interviews about the history of the label and NYC's early hip hop and dance scenes. [DH]







The Incomplete Triangle

"Metal on a Gun"

Lansing-Dreiden: an arts collective, design company, video animation house, corporate agitator, and yes, a pretty talented rock band too. Concrete information on these guys is hard to come by, but I know that they've been keeping pretty busy the last few years, with gallery installations, design work, and this deep and original album. Entirely self-recorded, produced, and released, the band's debut album The Incomplete Triangle is now being re-released to a wider audience on Kemado Records. Much of the record brings to mind classic '80s British bands like Echo and the Bunnymen or Simple Minds. Melodic layers of synthesizer intertwine with harsh, buzz-saw guitars and staccato rhythms. Add to this the soaring and dreamy (yet lyrically obtuse) vocals, and you start to get the idea. Where others might be dragged down by such influences, Lansing-Dreiden is fortified by their fearless love of Britpop and new wave, and have created a satisfying album that stands on its own merits. [JM]







Winged Life

"A Hush"
"Whipping Boy"

A year or so ago, Shearwater won me over with their second full-length, Everybody Makes Mistakes. While the Austin, TX band employed a pump organ, vibraphone and a clarinet alongside the regular instrumentation of a stand-up bass, piano and guitar, I wouldn't have been surprised to see "Silence" listed in the liner notes as a contributing musician's name. The group displayed the amazing gift of restraint; their album was beautifully quiet throughout, filled with sad country-tinged songs that showed more originality and soul than almost any other current band attempting to incorporate Americana into their 'thang.'

Led by Okkervil River's Jonathan Meiburg and Will Sheff, Shearwater certainly evolved their songcraft for their third full-length, and it feels like a natural progression. Opening with "A Hush," Meiburg's whispered melody is reminiscent of Mark Hollis as it sits atop the vibrato chimes of a guitar. It's not the only time during Winged Life that Shearwater will channel Talk Talk's Laughing Stock (check out "Sealed"), but it's just one subtle facet of many.

Recorded and mixed by Centro-matic's Matt Pence in his Texas studio, spacious production frequently takes the place of the band's previous use of silence. Songs often begin with one or two instruments, and then new layers are slowly added. "My Good Deed" fits nicely between Nick Drake and Colin Blunstone as sad, guitar driven folk is finally lifted by the swells of an organ and a bright glockenspiel melody.

While Meiburg and Sheff trade lead vocal duties, Winged Life shares a common theme, the hope for redemption; and the healing salve usually comes by way of a nostalgic memory of a simpler time. This is reflected in songs like "Wedding Bells are Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine" or "The World in 1984" where Meiburg reminisces about teenage thoughts of escape while riding in a car with his mother. ("She says, 'what do you think you're gonna do with your life?' And I say, 'You've got to teach me to drive.'")

As flawless as Everybody Makes Mistakes was, Shearwater's new album feels even that more realized. The electric piano driven "(I've Got A) Right to Cry" offers a wistful slice of pop with a chorus that seems born from Emitt Rhodes, while "A Makeover" transforms itself into a bar-rocker complete with dueling guitars. The banjo led "Whipping Boy" takes on the surprisingly spacey vibe of a Radiohead song. It's not that Shearwater have completely reinvented themselves; only now the group's bittersweet melancholy has truly become multi-faceted and steeped in deeper emotion. [GH]







Rat Relocation Program/Met Life Volume 6
(Locust Music)

"Rat Relocation"

Matmos are the latest artists to contribute two tracks to the Met Life series of found sounds and responses. According to the liner-notes, an unwanted street rat took up residence in Drew and Martin's apartment and began eating their food and chewing holes in their clothing. The duo purchased a non-lethal humane trap and after several days, finally caught the pesky rodent. Matmos have based their contribution around the recording made during the short time of the animal's incarceration, the first track being 14 unedited minutes. Track two is where things get interesting and even more creepy. Matmos create an epic response that bounces between manipulated samples of rat screeches, metallic scrapes and skittering, with drill 'n' bass stabs, and a reoccurring Krautrock groove. Drew and Martin also assure us in the liner notes that the next day, the unharmed rat was set free in a "wealthy suburban neighborhood." [GH]







I'm Going to Stop Killing

"Outside of Town"
"Remember Me"

"This one's for the tapers" Carla Bozulich declares on the back of her new (mostly) live import CD, and that does put it in a nutshell nicely. A great little record designed for the UK market (but available cheaply here in the US), where her song-by-song remake of Willie Nelson's "Red Headed Stranger" album was never properly released, although it was a minor hit there. The first two tracks are lifted right off that album, including the wonderful duet "Can I Sleep In Your Arms" with Willie himself on vocals and guitar. But the remaining seven tracks are previously unavailable live recordings, mostly from San Francisco shows last year, and this mix of older Bozulich tracks and a couple covers are made all the more moving from the raw and spontaneous live setting. [JM]









Various Artists

"Italian Fireflies" Black Strobe

French record label Kitsune brings us a late-night collection featuring exclusive tracks of dark disco and electronica. Artists include Colder, Zongamin, Cut Copy, Captain Comatose, Black Strobe and many more. (Full review next week.)



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[GA] Geoff Albores
[DG] Daniel Givens
[GH] Gerald Hammill
[DH] Duane Harriott
[JM] Josh Madell
[SM] Scott Mou
[JS] Jeremy Sponder

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