January 21, 2004  




Cyann & Ben
Roy Ayers (unreleased recordings)
Jason Molina
Michael Mayer (Fabric 13)
Franz Ferdinand
Lou Reed, John Cale & Nico (Live)

Aluminum Group

Belle & Sebastian (DVD)
Camera Obscura
Metal Urbain
Sun Ra (DVD)
Dizzee Rascal (domestic)
TV on the Radio (available on vinyl)

Ellen Allien "Berlinette"
M83 "Dead Cities, Red Seas..."
JAN Sun 25 Mon 26 Tues 27 Wed 28 Thurs 29 Fri 30 Sat 31


JIMMY EDGAR "Access Rhythm" Release Party
w/ Other Music Guest DJs: Duane & Scott (Casio)

APT: 419 W. 13th Street NY, NY
9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
(Featuring Ciroc Vodka from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.)

Other Music is proud to present a DJ set by Jimmy Edgar. A 19-year-old wunderkid from Detroit, Edgar has been DJing with legends like Derrick May since the age of 15, and has recorded for respected electronic labels like Isophlux and Merck. "Access Rhythm," his brand new EP on Warp Records, is an amalgamation of Neptunes inspired hip hop beats and classic Detroit techno.







Heron King Blues
(Thrill Jockey)

"Trick Bird"
"Heron King Blues"

The music of Califone and the group's leader Tim Rutili has been somewhat of an acid-drenched, blues-soaked continuum since surfacing in the early-'90s with Red Red Meat, Rutili's previous outfit. As such, there are few surprises on "Heron King Blues", the wonderful new full-length now out on Thrill Jockey, just a sublime refinement of the vein they have been mining for years, creating dense, soulful music that morphs shape effortlessly and overtakes the listener like a hazy fever-dream.

There have always been two sides to the group's music, one centered on Rutili's gravel-voiced blues mumble and hypnotic melodies, the other a more psychedelic improvised approach with a daring and original band effortlessly layering pump organ, skittering percussion, warped guitars, piano, strings and disorienting loops into seamless swampy grooves. "Heron King Blues" fully reconciles the two approaches throughout, as if "The Night Tripper" sat down to jam with Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit circa 1968, and the results are intoxicating. Califone is a band at the peak of their prowess, and "Heron King Blues" is as deep and satisfying an album as you are likely to hear this year. [JM]








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

France's Gooom label is on a winning streak. Last year was the first time most of us in this country discovered M83's otherworldly synthscapes and warm guitar washes by way of their second album "Dead Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghosts." A few weeks later I checked out a Gooom CD sampler with a nice selection of songs and artists, particularly track four, Cyann and Ben's "Siren Song." Like watching time-lapse photography of a seed blossoming into a flower, quiet psychedelic-folk bloomed into fragile, yet exquisitely placed, grandeur.

Named after the two founding members, this French quartet shares many of the same aesthetics as their labelmates M83: both brooding and emotive in their own particular way, steering the listener down epic paths of melancholy and yearning. Cyann and Ben however, choose a more natural, earthly course, trading stratospheric layers of sampled voices, electronics and guitar fuzz for acoustic guitars, understated human vocal melodies and patiently orchestrated restraint.

Their quiet folk 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]








Virgin Ubiquity

"Green & Gold
"I Did It in Seattle"

Internationally known as the funky vibes man, Godfather of sweet, sensual, soul and dancefloor friendly jazz, Roy Ayers opens his personal vaults to BBE for what's to become a series of previously unreleased compilations. Nurtured in sunny California, under the wings of Bobby Hutcherson who lived down the street from the young Ayers, and given his first set of vibraphone mallets by Lionel Hampton, throughout the past four decades Ayers has been a name to mention. He's played with everyone one from Fela Kuti to Rick James, Whitney Houston to Erykah Badu, name checked by Gilles Peterson, Questlove, 4Hero, and Metro Area, sampled around the world from DJ Krush to 2-PAC.

"Virgin Ubiquity" is a slow burning groove, bubbling with percussion, warm electronic piano, and of course vibraphone. This collection picks up where his R&B-funk-disco fusion experiments leave off. Ever hear classics like "Everybody Loves the Sunshine", "Searching", or "Red, Gold and Green?" With this collection you get the soft male and female vocal duets, the pro-black, self-empowering lyrics, the rhythmic shuffle that would later become the foundation of hip-hop, acid jazz, and neo soul.

His influence is remarkable and talents as a producer, arranger, and player are undeniable. So set up your disco ball in front of the fireplace, get yourself a dark, warm drink, grab you certain someone, and groove the night away. Recommended for the lovers in the house. [DG]







Pyramid Electric, Co.
(Secretly Canadian)

"Long Desert Train'"
"Division St. Girl"

On "Pyramid Electric Co," Jason Molina takes a dark turn away from the big classic rock sound of last year's Songs: Ohia full-length. Packaged as a digital/analog friendly CD/LP set, the album showcases Molina's voice and songwriting with little else to get in the way. Everything on here is sad and slow, with some really outstanding solo electric guitar playing on three of the seven tracks. Fans of Bonnie Prince Billy will most definitely be into this disc's stark, stripped-down approach. [RH]







Fabric 13

"Run Into Flowers" M83 & Benoit Villeuve
"Love Me" Le Dust Sucker

Michael Mayer has created a beatmatched "Back to Mine/Another Late Night" style "listener's/taster's choice mix" that trades his driving abstract momentum for contrasting blends that allow for full appreciation of the nuances of each individual track. There is a decidedly friendly and soft song-style techno (not necessarily all with vocals) throughout most of this mix. Inviting melodies move through H. Voss' "I Think About You (rmx)" into R. Davis' "Bring Me Closer" cresting with Westbam and Nena's(!) "Oldschool, Baby", full of disarmingly festive, yet still minimal, club piano melodies!

Track 5: Wruhme and Wighnomy's "Killerteppich" into T.Schaeben's "Busted" is where Mayer begins to lay into his abstract funk a bit, but the mix suddenly eases down to Villalobos' "Easy Lee" which clears the palette for my favorite part of the mix...

From there, Magnet's "Abendstern" climbs infinitely into space, full of small beautiful details, becomes Superpitcher's "Mushroom" and blossoms into Jackson's remix of M83's "Run into Flowers."(This track will put a lump in your throat.) This section is full of contrast and detail that underscores Mayer's statement that "Fabric 13" is not a "clubset" and that he prefers mix CDs to "be intimate" and "to tell a story." (Although describing a DJ mix as one that "tells a story" might sound cliche', Mayer does NOT delve into pacifier/glowstick territory.)

Finally, after a short, two-song detour into more killer funk (Le Dust Sucker's "Love Me" is a bit SICK), Mayer frames the mix with a re-visitation of H. Voss' "I Think About You", this time, with the original version. An infinite variety of tracks, arranged primarily for appreciation (melody driven, rather than beat driven) as opposed to moving the dancefloor. Another facet of one of the best. [SM]







Secret Wars

"Caesar's Column"
"The Last Act, Every Time"

Honestly, it's hard to keep up with Oneida: seven years and roughly seven albums, several split 7-inches, and a couple of EPs, and the last release, "Each One Teach One" was a double CD/LP! After a well-deserved laudation by mainstream press, last year's twofold psychedelic sonic assault is a hard thing to follow up. References to German pre and pro-gressive bands like Neu! and Can still hold (though not as much La Dusseldorf/Neu! analog synths this go 'round), especially on the gong inflicted "Caesar's Column." Percussion prevails on this song, with some of the most innovative rock drums I've heard in awhile. Even the vocals provide rhythm at points in a whirlwind of circuitous basslines and frigid keyboard drones and tones. Other songs float from headphones needed territory to crank it up jams. The best are the extreme ends: from the spastic and loud "$50 Tea" to the folk oddity "The Last Act, Every Time" - British Folk done the Onedia way: eerily beautiful guitar plucking shrouded by keyboard fuzz with a hint of sinister distortion that threatens to turn the song into heavier rock territory. Keep it up boys, and we'll try to pace ourselves. [LG]







Take Me Out

"Take Me Out"

Franz Ferdinand will be huge; they have everything that you would want from a band today. Their songs are filled with jagged guitars, great vocals, dancey rhythms, and the catchiest songwriting that I have heard since "Is This It". "Take Me Out" is their second single, and upon first listen the first minute could be a lost Strokes song, but once you pass that one minute mark the song shifts with a jagged guitar solo and a funky post-punk rhythm that would make the Rapture jealous. You cannot help wanting to get up out of your chair and dance. This is the sound-of-now and I assure you that you need it! This single (which is already #2 on the UK charts) contains two non-album B-sides and they are stellar... and speaking of the LP, it too is truly amazing. [JS]







Le Bataclan '72

"Waiting for the Man"
"Black Angels Death Song"

A heretofore previously unknown -- to me at least, and probably a lot of other folks as well -- reunion concert featuring three-fifths of the classic Velvet Underground line up, recorded at a theater in Paris in January of 1972 for French television (unfortunately no DVD). For fans of V.U., this is certainly a cause for a moment of celebration, right up there with the release of the Quine tapes a couple of years ago.

Cale, Reed, and Nico presented 14 songs, including a number of V.U. classics, as well as choice selections from each of their solo debuts. The night was an unplugged set, all the tracks were performed acoustically with Cale occasionally providing piano and viola accompaniment, as well as a couple of songs featuring Nico's harmonium playing. The sound in the theater is slightly cavernous but doesn't in anyway detract from the intimacy of the performances.

The highlights are certainly the songs from the V.U. back catalog: an even starker "Black Angels Death Song" than the one on their first album, a "Waiting for the Man" delivered as if Reed had just scored some quaaludes, "All Tomorrow's Parties" as a British folk song, and a version of "Heroin" that is easily one of the best I've ever heard -- just Reed's voice and guitar with Cale's viola playing drones he must have learned from his days alongside Tony Conrad.

This was apparently the final time that all three of the most dynamic personalities in the Velvet Underground would appear together on one stage. [MK]







Fans Only

Indie-pop fans: It doesn't get much better than this. With their first-ever DVD, Belle & Sebastian proffer an audio-visual scrapbook of their essential early years, prior to signing with Rough Trade last year. The track listing features 16 songs, including all of the band's video clips (most directed by bandmembers or friends, such as Stuart David's wife, Karn), plus various live recordings (e.g. Stevie Jackson singing "Like a Rhinestone Cowboy" outside, through a megaphone, at the infamous Bowlie Weekender in '99), TV show appearances (e.g. Isobel Campbell singing Serge Gainsbourg's "Poupee de Cire, Poupee de Son" for the French), etc.

Classic clips include B&S's first-ever video, directed by Isobel -- a raw "Dylan in the Movies," which segues nicely into live footage of the songs from the infamous unaired episode of Sessions at West 54th -- plus the fuzzy, black-and-white "Is It Wicked Not to Care," the '70s campy "Jonathan David," and "The Wrong Girl," featuring a cameo by Norman Blake as Stevie's dad (!). You also won't want to miss "Lazy Line Painter Jane," which marries video and live footage that features the spunky Monica Queen, the latter filmed in the church studio where the band was recording at the time.

Another stellar moment occurs during a hilarious interview on a Brazilian talk show, where the portly host makes Stevie sing Jorge Ben's "A Minha Menina" in Portuguese, poking fun at his accent, and teases Chris Geddes for being a vegetarian (he concludes wee Chris might as well be celibate too).

But at nearly two hours, Fans Only offers much, much more. Also here are interview snippets with each member, outtakes of unreleased songs, and lots of unscripted footage. The ample "extras" include an alternate version of "Jonathan David," three live recordings from the Bowlie Weekender, Stevie singing the Beach Boys' "Darlin'" at Cochaella in '02, a press conference for Fold Your Hands, and a discography. As their dyed-in-the-lambs wool fans know, B&S never does anything half-assed, and this action-packed DVD is certainly no exception. [LV]







Underachievers Please Try Harder

"Keep It Clean"
"Let Me Go Home"

Most avid Belle & Sebastian fans are already in the know about this fairly new Glaswegian ensemble. Not only did B&S drummer Richard Colburn guest on an earlier single, Stuart Murdoch's name was listed in the production credits of Camera Obscura's first album. (He also receives a photo credit on this new album.) If Glasgow didn't have such a varied cross-section of bands -- Arab Strap, Mogwai, Future Pilot A.K.A., Pastels, Teenage Fanclub, etc., etc., etc. -- I'd probably blame it on the drinking water.

The similarities between Camera Obscura and B&S are undeniable, but where Murdoch and company are now taking a more direct, self-assured approach with their recent "Dear Catastrophe Waitress" LP, Camera Obscura delicately lean on the charmingly fey sounds more reminiscent of "If You're Feeling Sinister." That's not an assessment on the quality of music however. The 7-piece ensemble's orchestrated arrangements are more traditional than Belle & Sebastian's, but both bands share an affinity for gentle, twee pop offset by almost vitriolic but often witty lyrics. ("I should be suspended from my class/I don't know my elbow from my arse.")

With a majority of tracks sung by the crystalline voiced Tracyanne Campbell -- to my knowledge not related to Isobel -- a large percentage of the songs pay tribute to early-'60s English girl singers like Petula Clark and Sandie Shaw, with a few country-tinged ballads reminiscent of a lovelorn Skeeter Davis, and some strummy folk pop gems interspersed between. Fans of Field Mice, Trembling Blue Stars, Gentle Waves, Essex Green, and of course the obvious, check this album out. There's nothing underachieving about Camera Obscura. [GH]







Anarchy in Paris!

"Paris Maquis"
"Lady Coca Cola"

Metal Urbain's "Paris Maquis/Cle de Contact" single has the unique position in history as Rough Trade 001. In the late-'70s, though, that wasn't enough to propel them to, say Joy Division status. Most people in their native Paris, put off by Metal Urbain's mixing of '77 punk with custom-built drum machines making skeletal electronic sounds, ignored the story of a band who caught a break and got lost in the litany of new bands of the time. Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music", Brian Eno's sonics, Velvet Underground, Suicide, The Vaselines, Big Black, Jesus and Mary Chain - those bands from the past and relative present (influenced from and by this band) give some idea of where Metal Urbain was coming from: experimental, psychedelic, punk rock noise.

What set them apart were shockingly political lyrics sung in French through various electronic distortions. On "Lady Coca Cola" singer Clode Panik delivers each line with a punk as influenced by beat poet urgency amongst a guitar maelstrom, synthesized psychedelics, and a hardly palpitating rhythm. And for most of us, who only understand the title and the same line of the chorus, current front man and founding synth manipulator breathily chants Alan Vega-style on the English version, "Sweet Marilyn."

All is not Suicide-esque, though - "Fugue for a Darkening Island" drones and repeats with a disturbing German language sound sample in the background. And "Little Girl of Love" is an unapologetic three chord punk song with primitive programmed beats and an odd jangle that sounds eerily like the beginning of Shannon's "Let the Music Play." A decidedly Cramps vibe - as produced by someone posing as John Cale. It's good to know something good is coming from revivalism - pre, post, or what have you. Recommended. [LG]







Cry of Jazz

In 1956, a jazz DJ in Chicago named Edward O. Bland began following Sun Ra and his Arkestra around the city, filming the band in performance for what would become this visual essay called "The Cry of Jazz." The film is based around a discussion that takes place in an after hours jazz spot, someone's apartment renamed the "Parkwood Jazz Club."

Within the gathering of mixed race and gender, young enthusiasts and musicians, the question "what is jazz" is posed to the group. Over the next 35-minutes one of the musicians begins to explain what jazz is, who created it, the conditions it was born out of, and why jazz as an art form is dead, destined only to repeat itself. Using the Arkestra to illustrate his point, they, in musical form, reinforce and show examples being explained by the narrator -- from the sound of New Orleans swing to the interesting polar differences of jazz being played by black and white musicians (although the Arkestra plays both roles).

Though Sun Ra and his crew (lots of footage of a young John Gilmore) are photographed beautifully, their images are slightly obscured, cast in shadows, as not to show their recognizable faces for fear of being fined by the Musicians Union for working without pay. This is the only known footage of Sun Ra during his stint in Chicago, and features "Demon's Lullaby", "A Call for All Demons", "Urnack" among other favorites from his "Sound of Joy" period.

This is the film that Sonny Sharrock, when asked to play with Ra, was made to watch. Ra never gave him a proper audition, yet made him sit in a room watching this film, while he rehearsed his Arkestra in the other. The topics, issues, and point of view are strong and startling clear for the time period, and some valid points are made throughout. Ra was the focal point and inspiration for the film, but when asked years later about Bland's thesis, he only commented, "He was wrong." You decide for yourself. Thought provoking, immediate, and recommended! [DG]







Boy in da Corner

"I Luv U"
"Fix Up Look Sharp"

Remember when everybody was talking 'bout The Streets, or when Ms. Dynamite was the latest rage. Dizzee Rascal's "Boy in Da Corner" is the latest to emerge from the UK two-step/ultra digital hip-hop scene. Being stabbed at an UK festival may have solidified his hardcore status but he's no 50 Cent. This is the oddest record I've heard in a while, weird as hell, but I kinda like it. (I also liked both the Streets and Ms. Dy as well, but they did take time).

This is like hearing a Neptunes or Swizz Beatz production for the first time, or Busta Rhymes' solo records, but 10 times freakier. Arcade game/digital sounds swirl, bounce, snap, and stretch around the background, while Mr. Rascal, rides the rhythm like he's doing gymnastics -- think Southern Crunk with a heavy British accent. Deep bass tones fill the sparse, slightly dancehall speed tracks, or they create an energetic distorted pulse to the frantic rhythms, sometimes like Autechre or Funkstroung, but danceable.

Dropping the "lad in his flat, smoking fags and taking the piss" that made the Streets so enjoyable, this is the current sound from hip hop side of Black Britain, with the usual lyrical fare of girls and street tales, parties, etc. The UK garage/two-step/hip-hop fusion scene is HUGE is England, but outside of Europe it's hard for groups to break through. Dizzee Rascal has the speed, attitude, humor, and skills to keep the UK in the game, and possibly get them over. If you love the Bug record, Miami bass, Busta Rhymes, Roots Manuva, dancehall, or even 50 cent, check this out. [DG]







The Devil Isn't Red

"The Devil Isn't Red
"Hello Great Architects of the Universe"

If you are not familiar with Hella then let me introduce you. Hella is a two-man band that makes some of the most ferocious music around today. With only Zach Hill on the drums and Spencer Seim on the guitar, they deliver a full-on assault that you would swear was coming from five people. Live they are a sight with Zach's arms flailing around his basic kit proving that he is the best drummer in indie rock today. (He has been the hired gun on many a major label record… but don't tell anyone!) His partner in crime, Spencer pulls out fingertaps and insane jazz licks, wringing sounds out of his guitar that seems nearly impossible. Slightly more ferocious and in your face than their debut "Hold Your Horse Is," their second album, "The Devil Isn't Red" is definitely closer to their live assault. If you are a fan of Lightning Bolt, their Load Records brethren, and Bulb Records, you need this. Long awaited... and well worth it. [JS]







Don't Stop EP
(Troubleman Unlimited)

"Don't Stop"

So I honestly don't believe in originality anymore in this post-to-the-nth-power-modern age of ours, for the mere inherent fact that everything has a reference point. Yet, I do have faith in artists and idealists attempting to be *more* creative than the next. In San Francisco circa 2004, creativity reigns supreme and actually, the frequently glossed-over SF scene has been productively superior to any other locale for many years now, championing the punk-funk-in-thing along with the now-sound-discordant-cacophony with artists like Erase Errata, Numbers, Coachwhips, Pink & Brown, and Tussle.

Tussle delivers on point from their diverse and divergent pallet of influences ranging from Neu!, Liquid Liquid, and ESG, to contemporary cohorts !!! (chk-chk-chk). Psychedelic movement is illustrated by delay and reverb commotion woven with EFX fandangle action conjuring ghosts of '60s/'70s Kraut-masters. The drone and even the primitive tech feel is all driven by the warm groove provided by the driving basslines successfully delivering the signature dance-feel. The track "Eye Contact" was previously available only on the "Eye Contact" 12". Remixes are by Soft Pink Truth and Stuart Argabright of Death Comet Crew/Ike Yard (Factory Records). [MT]







$8.99 LP

Young Liars EP
(Touch & Go)

"Young Liars"

You ever hear a record that blows you away, something you never knew that reminds of all your favorite things? Strange yet familiar sounding natural, wondering how you ever got along without it? A little gem that you want to keep to yourself, yet think that the world should hear. In 25 minutes, that's what TV On the Radio did to me. Instantly I loved it, like hearing an old favorite song that reminds you of innocent childhood, yet possessing the dark knowledge that being an adult brings. This trio from Brooklyn are a thing of beauty. Hard to pin down but kinda like Eno and his vocalists: Byrne, Bowie, and Gabriel. Vocals, guitars, drum programming, bass, and synth atmosphere create a moody pop, soul, gospel, hybrid. Includes a bonus cover of the Pixies' "Mister Grieves". What if Depeche Mode backed Al Green, Tricky produced Peter Gabriel, Seal fronted Radiohead? One of the best new bands around. Recommended! (Now available on vinyl!) [DG]






More Happyness
(Wishing Tree)


The Aluminum Group's "Happyness" sequel is a sweet slice of catchy sophisto-pop. With production help from John McEntire, and guests like Doug McCombs and Sam Prekop, the Navin brothers croon their way through smart pop songs which balance AM radio nostalgia with modern electronics flourishes.
(Full Review Next Week)








"Abstract Pictures"

Ellen Allien's new album is a refreshingly successful venture into the often-dodgy world of "danceable songs". The eclectic feel of her mixes transfers into this new collection of songs. Like the "Weiss Mix", her tracks blend a neo-melodic sensibility reminiscent of quality Warp releases, the bass truck funk of ghetto tech, and the German pop electro textures she is known for. [SM]







Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts


M83 songs are otherworldly and epic, yet sensually human at the same time, stretching and layering minor chords of dense, buzzing analog sounds and warm washes of guitar over drum machine beats and occasional voices hauntingly manipulated via musique concrete inspired techniques. [GH]




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[LG] Lisa Garrett
[DG] Daniel Givens
[GH] Gerald Hammill
[RH] Rob Hatch-Miller
[MK] Michael Klausman
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[SM] Scott Mou
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