February 25, 2004  




Famous When Dead Vol. 3
Kenny Dope (2 mix CDs)
Broken Social Scene (reissue)
Federico Aubele
Shadow Huntaz
Cyann & Ben (domestic)
Luomo (domestic)


Will Oldham
Susanna & the Magical Orchestra
Papa M (early works)
Air (CD single)
Pass Into Silence
The Decemberists


MAR Sun 7 Mon 8 Tues 9 Wed 10 Thurs 11 Fri 12 Sat 13


Michael Mayer
Miss Kittin
Bogdan Raczynski
DJ Rephlex Records
plus special guests

VOLUME: 99 N. 13th Street (at Wythe)
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

9 p.m. to 4 a.m. (18 + with ID )
$15 advance/$18 at the door
Tickets available in store at Other Music
Or on-line through TICKETWEB







Now Soon Someday


After spending the bulk of 2003 on tour supporting a vast array of hot bands -- from Prefuse 73 and Four Tet to the Rapture and Out Hud -- the always electro-centric Beans releases his new EP on Warp Records. "Now Soon Someday" moves further away from his former sparring partners (Anti-Pop Consortium) and into a solid and steadily escalating inter-Borough solo ride. Beats are sparser than before, leaving room for the rapper to recite his rhymes, get loose, and do his own unique thang... with conviction. Seeing him live is a futurist time warp, taking you back to the days when hip hop was solely about the beats and prose, but with an advanced construction and delivery.

"Now Soon Someday" highlights his tightening skills and dark humor with six new tracks plus two Prefuse 73 remixes and one from El-P (the originals pulled from his first solo release). More tweaked than your new cell phone's ring tone, angular and analogue but still warped as a warm record and as chunky as Legos. At times it's like Beans is rapping over Kraftwerk or Neu!, but kinda better, though. Believe me it works! Recommended. [DG]







Volume 3 / Various Artists

"Inside the Freak Box" Spektrum
"Faux Obsolete" John Tejada & Arian Leviste

Playhouse had a killer year so they are going to grovel and rub our faces in it by releasing their underground hit 12"s all on one CD. So many jams from one label this year, I almost forgot they were all Playhouse releases. "International Snootleg", "You're So Just Just", "Easy Lee" (such a hit we almost can't stand to hear it anymore) as well as Isolee's mutated electro disco "Can't Sleep All Night" and Spektrum's "Inside the Freakbox". Playhouse always has a way with releasing avant-garde music for the dancefloor. All the cutup sickness of the Perlon label with an effective dash of dark FUNK. Tracks 1-5 explore all the sick, dark funk you expect from this label, and current as ever. Tracks 6-11 get into the deep, warm dark house. Besides the soundfiles offered, make sure you listen to "International Snootleg" on the "Shaffelfieber 2" review and "You're So Just Just" on the Rework album review since they are also hot tracks offered on this compilation... Recommended. [SM]










"Space Dust" Galactic Force Band

Roller Boogie '80s

"Just a Touch of Love" & "Watching You" Slave

Yes! Yes! Yes! I've been looking forward to these for a long time. Most people know Kenny Dope for being one half of the seminal NYC house production duo Masters at Work. But before he started producing house, he was producing hip hop, and making a name for himself in NYC during the '80s and early-'90s as one of the city's top hip hop deejays. He also has an immense knowledge and collection of original soul and funk breakbeats and '80s disco records. For the past few years I'd always walk into record stores and occasionally hear a clerk pumping one of Kenny Dope's original breakbeat tapes, but they were pretty few and far between. Now he's finally blessed us with limited copies of these amazing mixes. On "Breakbeats" Kenny is cutting up doubles of every seminal NYC breakbeat, and throwing lots of b-boy sound collages in to bridge the mixes together. On "Roller Disco" he's doing the same thing with '80s disco funk (think Mary Jane Girls, "Bounce, Rock, Skate"). I doubt we'll get these collections again so if you love the Cut Chemist/Shadow "Brainfreeze" series, Stones Throw, or have even a passing interest in NYC DJ Hip hop culture, you must pick these up! Magnificent! [DH]







Feel Good Lost
(Arts & Crafts)

"Passport Radio"
"I Slept With Bonhomme at the CBC"

Two years before "You Forgot It in People" blew the minds of most discerning rock fans, Broken Social Scene made a much quieter debut - an altogether different kind of an affair than what any one of us would have expected based on that one album alone. Lacking both meaty guitar hooks and bombastic, catchy sing-along melodies, "Feel Good Lost" is almost completely devoid of two of the key ingredients that defined their 2003 breakthrough.

Recently re-released on Arts & Crafts, what you get here though is a strong singular dose of the band's other vital element, post-rock atmosphere, and lots of it. At the time of this recording, Broken Social Scene was solely steered by Do Make Say Think's Kevin Drew (who also played in K.C. Accidental) and indie rocker Brendan Canning, and though there are plenty of guest contributors including Stars' Evan Cranley, it's clearly the duo that's in control.

Recorded on an 8-track, the production is subtle as circular guitar and bass melodies rub against shimmering pads of nice electronic pulses. Occasional piano, string and subtle brass textures add a bit of tension to the overall ambience. The mood is dark and lulling, yet very warm as abstract musical phrases slowly shift and build. With the exception of a few tracks, their debut is made up of predominantly instrumental songs with plenty of subtle melodies bubbling underneath the surface. Unlike "You Forgot It in People", "Feel Good Lost" isn't instantly accessible, but spend a quiet evening with this one sipping wine while watching the snow fall outside your window, and you won't be able to deny its melancholic beauty. Fans of post-rock, 4AD's esoteric era, and electronic music's more recent flirtations with shoegazing will not be disappointed. [GH]







(Rune Grammofon)

"Monitor Batik"
"Airtight Golem"

Norway's always-incredible Rune Grammofon label starts off the year 2004 in fine form with the debut album from a Danish trio called Skyphone. The best recent point of reference for this group is another Scandinavian trio that seamlessly blends acoustic and electronic elements: Tape. While Tape has a more direct approach to song structure, Skyphone's loose, almost dreamlike compositions still retain a strong sense of melody and form. A lot of bands like this tend to go overboard with their arrangements, but the members of Skyphone never allow too many things to happen at once. There must be a million different sounds and samples spread throughout "Fabula," not one of which is ever lost or buried in the mix.

Skyphone probably have more in common with Phonophani than with anyone else on Rune Grammofon, but the extensive use of acoustic guitar and the influence of dub and minimal techno in their incredibly subtle, sometimes almost inaudible beats set them pretty far apart. Fans of Boards Of Canada and Kompakt's Pop Ambient Series will most certainly dig this incredibly beautiful, understated, and mature record. Perfect late night headphone listening, or for closing your eyes and relaxing on the subway ride home from work. [RH]







Gran Hotel Buenos Aires

"Ante Tus Ojos"
"El Amor de Este Pueblo"

Upon hearing the first few 10" releases from Federico Aubele you could feel a sense that the full-length was going to be fantastic, and it does not disappoint. Produced by Thievery Corporation, "Gran Hotel Buenos Aires" is an ultra-relaxing showcase of the Argentinean's sultry Latin guitar and the smooth undertones of dub, in that classic ESL sound. Aubele is accompanied by a host of female vocalist whose Spanish lullaby lyrics give you an authentic warmth, comforting like a 18yr Scotch or cashmere blanket. In other words, Aubele has created a solid piece of craftsmanship. [JD]







Corrupt Data

"Power Divine"

After much hype, Skam records finally drops the highly anticipated album from the Shadow Huntaz who first released a mind-blowing teaser of a 7" a few months back. Shadow Huntaz is a project that features production and music created by the fabulous Funckarma, and three MCs from three cities around the U.S. -- Breaff, Dream and Non who are from Chicago, Atlanta, and L.A. respectively. Their debut LP, "Corrupt Data" is a fabulous amalgamation of Def Jux style indie hip hop and classic IDM production ala Autechre. Yes, we have all heard it before but this album is done exceptionally well, and can easily be held up there with some of Anti-Pop Consortium's finest moments, as well as El-P's debut, and Aesop Rock's classic "Float." The Shadow Huntaz will probably not get much play in the hip hop circles because it is on the electronic music label SKAM, but headz take note; this record is superb and will truly blow your mind. "Corrupt Data" is a fabulous debut and one that should be given its fair due... even though it probably won't, maybe it's just our little secret. [JS]







  CYANN & Ben
(Locust Music)

"I Can't Pretend Anymore"
"Siren Song"

Finally available domestically via Locust Music! Named after the two founding members, this French quartet shares many of the same aesthetics as M83 (their labelmates on France's Gooom imprint): both brooding and emotive in their own particular way, steering the listener down epic yearning paths of melancholy. Cyann and Ben however, choose a more natural, earthly course; it's like watching time-lapse photography of a seed blossoming into a flower as quiet psychedelic-folk blooms into fragile yet exquisitely placed grandeur. Their music can be spacey and eerie, but never icy or detached. Often using post-rock arrangements and accoutrements like glockenspiel and harmonium, sometimes the group chooses to let slow sweeping drones and scrapes of feedback crest into a dreamy, repetitious vocal harmony, while other times vocalist Cyann's delicately sung melody may solely hover over a simple acoustic guitar accompaniment. It's not often that pop music can be this climatic and at the same time darkly human and delicate. [GH]







The Present Lover

"Talk in a Danger"
"The Present Lover"

It seems that Vladislav Delay has always wanted to make a pop album. From his tracks on the last Electric Ladyland compilation, and his first album under Luomo entitled "Vocalcity," he has shed his clicks and cuts image and was on a mission to make the perfect house record, one that combined the elements of experimental electronics with mainstream house hits like Kylie Minogue. I can tell you that Vladislav Delay sweated over these tracks for months, reproducing, remixing, and rerecording to eventually produce "The Present Lover."

The man has completed his mission, for "The Present Lover" is a superb house album that can be listened to just as easily in the club as it can in the home. It is superbly produced, but still contains elements of his experimental works; there are still elements of electronic dub, glitches and vocal cut-ups. Many have dismissed this album as his bid for commercial success but really it is just another face of this extremely talented multi-faceted artist. Mr. Delay did not "sell-out," this is just his attempt at making the perfect house album, and once again he has given us an incredible listening experience. A must have for fans of Vladislav Delay You will here this everywhere in 2004... from mega-clubs and lounges, to dinner parties and shops. [JS]







Seafarers Music
(Drag City)


In the tradition of his "Ode Music" and "Black/Rich Music" records, the artist formerly known as the Bonnie Prince Palace delivers this lovely four song EP of instrumental gems, clocking in at close to 30 minutes. Written for a documentary about seafarers working the Port of Rotterdam, Will, along with brother Paul and David Bird, has crafted a set of four acoustic mood pieces that convey both the beauty and the loneliness of a hard life at sea. Not another heart-wrenching epic from Oldham, just a serene and beautiful respite from the daily grind of living on land. [JM]







Lists of Lights & Buoys
(Rune Grammafon)


I know it's still a relatively new year, and god how I hate to resort to the overplayed "one of 2004's best," but I'm almost certain that even as I type this, a dozen people have scribbled the name Susanna and the Magical Orchestra on their respective "best of" lists. The debut album from this atmospheric Norwegian duo is that special. Vocalist Susanna Wallumrød and keyboardist Morten Qvenild have created a stunning understated mix of pop, jazz, laptop and minimal electronica that oozes sensuality. Produced by Hedge Sten (Deathprod, Supersilent) and Jaga Jazzist's Andreas Mjøs, space plays as vital of a role as the light electronic flourishes and crisp bits of orchestration lend gentle support for Wallumrød's lilting melodies. It's so personal that you'll keep pushing your headphones closer to your ears.

Opening with Leonard Bernstein's "Who Am I," (made famous by Nina Simone), she elongates almost every other word, stretching syllables past her extended whispers while piano and bell tones cradle her delicate delivery. Another cover follows, the minimal arrangement of Dolly Parton's "Jolene" is so stripped that Wallumrød makes this desperate plea her very own. Tracks like the melancholic "Believer" (which first appeared on the Rune Grammafon compilation "Money Will Ruin Everything"), the sad, dreamy romance of "Sweet Devil," and the lush multi-tracked vocal refrain of "Time" will literally make your arm hairs stand on end. It's all really beautiful, right down to the CD sleeve designed by Kim Hiorthøy. Recommended! [GH]







Of Snowdonia
(Plug Research)

"Snowed In"
"Aim True"

Wunderkid of sorts, Daedelus returns after his stint as one half of Adventure Time with a new solo full-length on Plug Research. "Of Snowdonia" blends his clicky, stuttering rhythms with classical influences (piano, harp, chimes, etc). Ranging from drum-n-bass and subtle hip-hop patterns, to soft and pastoral sound pieces, a few tracks feature vocals (samples I'm assuming, but possibly his own altered voice). Not for the dancefloor or those looking for their next head-nodding trip, it's subdued, and aimed for more intimate listening. [DG]







Hole of Burning Alms
(Drag City)

"Wedding Song No. 3"
"Last Caress"

For the most part, the tracks on this David Pajo retrospective have little to do with his recent exercises in singer-songwriting on the "Papa M Sings" and "Whatever, Mortal" releases and on last year's 5 numbered EPs. Instead, they are predominantly culled from various compilations and singles that came out in the earlier days of his solo career and have a lot more in common with his post-rock work in Slint, Tortoise, and the For Carnation. That means layers of repetitive acoustic and electric guitar parts with bass and drum accompaniment in dark, cinematic arrangements that pre-date similar but more overwrought recordings by Godspeed You Black Emperor and some of the other bands on Canada's Constellation label.

The highlight of the disc is a hushed acoustic rendition of the Misfits classic "Last Caress" layered over a field recording of singing birds. If nothing else, Papa Pajo's fragile delivery of the excessively morbid lyrics ("I killed your baby/raped your mother today") makes the song feel very, very different from the original. "Hole Of Burning Alms" also includes a marathon speed-addled instrumental rendition of "Turn! Turn! Turn!" and a couple of tracks that showcase an interesting but not entirely successful foray into electronic music. If you liked "Whatever, Mortal" and want to get a taste of some of the other musical paths that Pajo has taken in his illustrious career, this is a good place to start. [RH]







Cherry Blossom Girl - CD Single

"Cherry Blossom Girl" Hope Sandoval

After, in my humble opinion, the inconsistent "10,000 Hz" I'm very happy to see Air back at the top of their game with their excellent new full-length "Talkie Walkie." The first single, "Cherry Blossom Girl" happens to be one of my favorite tracks, with its mildly psychedelic, spacey electro-acoustic pop and sweet breathy harmonies. Along with the radio edit, this CD contains a beautifully sparse folk version by Hope Sandoval as well as a future funk treatment from Simian and their mobile disco. Also included is the French band's vocal-less demo of the song. [GH]







They Were Wrong, So We Drowned

"There's Always Room on the Broom"

A strident lack of normal movement in the anima(l) of "They Were Wrong, So We Drowned" could well prove for too agglutinous a confit, or in other words it might be excessively, nigh on wantonly, steeped in its own allegorical fattiness for greater hipster consumption. In particular as this seems now a rather pious realm, and one whose gourmandizing has, by all accounts, tended towards the lean and not-so-mean. All in the name of collegial and succour-prone peristalsis perhaps. But it is ironic then that the singer would outline a desire to be a horse on the first track, and not say an insect or something more in line with cosmopolitan solecism, when we consider as well that the one thing they possess as a band undisputedly is a certain hipster (dark) horse sense.

Of course, the first album from the Liars was a more athletic (work) horse, which, for all intents and purposes, also reached out to the aggregate and honest trendlet-bound needs of that moment. But what could be remarkable about this album is a palpable, if improbable, potential on its part to perform the same. Might be real savvy in other words, or else just about completely mystifying (to some) in its (aforementioned) seeming lack of any responsible organizational standard, even to fit with the (relatively) viable 'tortured bon vivant' meme that it represents. Not a watermark level of organization as can be often ascertained in work by their referenced fiery forbears (more or less Neubaten, Youth, Heat) -- not to mention, more recently, in such febrile avatars of transportive texture as Vibracathedral Orchestra and Sightings, to name just two.

Do (the?) Liars, here and now, demonstrate any grace in what they are doing? Perhaps sensing that the only truly publicly acceptable guess will be "yes, probably" is kind of a bold move. Surely this will oft be the case, and rampant forfeiture to the bluff will arrive too, as any anonymous negative response to the album will come across to proximate peers as simply the MORE obsequious option in/on the face of it; i.e. merely naively inimical susurration expected from those somehow perceiving themselves as not having had relented to a woefully pragmatic deadening of otherwise inherent critical faculties. Resembling a type of inversely journalistic devil's advocacy, a syndrome that has permeated the edgewise majority (I feel) will probably pick up in the record's wake, and, likewise, generally purport to be in the name of a wider, value judgment-wary cause. One that seeks, in any case, to prevent the fomenting of no-fun, zero-sum, baby-bathwater gripe meltdown scenarios, just as may be known to occur at your local record store (certainly not just this one), music magazine, weblog, et al… or at least to keep them in (small-ish) proportion.

In this they might have achieved something. Almost analogous to the films of Harmony Korine (or maybe not), it's really one for the people to decide. If you're interested, you obviously ought to listen for yourself. [DHo]







Calm Like a Millpond

"Sakura Remix"

Pass into Silence has a new EP on Kompakt and the label seems to be stepping out of its mold a bit with this one. The sweet/pop/austere formula that most "Pop Ambient" releases are known for is beginning to stress the "austere" part a little less. The five track EP is mainly built of electric piano, angelic female vocal bits (minimal Enya on track 1) and glacial atmosphere. There is a definite regressive, almost indulgent childlike vibe, track 3 sounding like an electronic soundtrack to a children's storybook. Little Nemo (the boy, not the fish) maybe? What may come across as Kompakt going "light" is saved by the always-impeccable production. The most "aggressive" track is a revisit from the "Pop Ambient 2004" track "Sakura" followed by a blissed-out remix (of "Sakura") that trades its slow moving melody for what seems like a slow, cloud-filled, descending melody accented by distant harps. In the remix, 3 minutes and 30 seconds ends way too soon. [SM]







The Tain

"Part 1"

The Decemberists seem to be taking a temporary detour from their seafaring obsessions. For this EP, Colin Meloy leads his ensemble through 18 non-stop minutes that in theory has as much to do with '70s concept rock as the group's more noted chamber pop sounds. Taking inspiration from Celtic mythology, "The Tain" kicks off with a sludgey, riff-heavy rocker with bombastic organ swells that, only for a second, threatens to lead the ensemble into territory last explored by Iron Butterfly. But Meloy's nasally vocals are much too decipherable, and quite frankly there's far too much accordion for the group to even touch "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," however the Decemberists do plow through some impressive dynamic juxtapositions, rocking out one second and shifting to some sort of swirling carnival-esque instrumentation the next. Meloy's storytelling continues to be top notch and for the first time ever, shares some songwriting and vocal duties with drummer Rachel Blumberg. [GH]




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[JD] J Dennis
[DG] Daniel Givens
[GH] Gerald Hammill
[RH] Rob Hatch-Miller
[DH] Duane Harriott
[DH] Dan Hougland
[JM] Josh Madell
[SM] Scott Mou
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