February 23, 2006  




Congotronics 2
Arctic Monkeys
Supersilent (DVD)
B. Fleischmann
Sun City Girls
Vince Martin
Jimmy Edgar
Howling Hex
Kiki (Boogybytes Vol. 1 Mix CD)
Luiz Bonfá
Man Man


Compounds & Elements (Various)
Maximo Park
Make Up
Run the Road 2 (Various)


Diane Cluck
Gérard Manset


FEB/MAR Sun 26 Mon 27 Tues 28 Wed 01 Thurs 02 Fri 03 Sat 04

The Duke Spirit

London's Duke Spirit are coming to Brooklyn next week, performing with Ted Leo & the Pharmacists. Other Music has one pair of tickets to give away to this sold out show! You can enter by e-mailing contest@othermusic.com. The winner will be notified by noon on Monday, February 27th. Leave a daytime phone number where you can be reached.

THE HOOK: 18 Commerce St. Redhook, Brooklyn
Thursday, March 2nd

FEB/MAR Sun 26 Mon 27 Tues 28 Wed 01 Thurs 02 Fri 03 Sat 04


New York City will be treated to a very rare appearance from Michael Rother, the co-founder of Neu! and Harmonia, and a purveyor of music which would come to be known as Krautrock. This legend will be backed by Benjamin Curtis of Secret Machines and drummer Josh Klinghoffer, known for his work with Beck, PJ Harvey and John Frusciante. Other Music has two pairs of tickets to give away to this special night. You can enter by e-mailing tickets@othermusic.com. The winners will be notified by noon on Monday, February 27th. Leave a daytime phone number where you can be reached.

Saturday , March 4th
$20 Adv/$25 Door - Tickets available @ Other Music








Congotronics 2 - Buzz 'n' Rumble from the Urb 'n' Jungle
(Crammed Discs)

"Le Laboureur" Masanka Sankayi feat. Kabongo Tshisensa
"Kabuangoyi" Kasai Allstars feat. Muambuyi

The follow-up to last year's massively popular Konono N°1 album sheds a whole lot more light on the vibrant music scene that's sprung up in the city of Kinshasa and the surrounding region in the Congo. Congotronics 2 features the aforementioned band, as well as six other incredible groups who perform traditional African music using makeshift amplification devices that give their instruments an awesomely fuzzy tone. The parallels between this stuff and Western music are almost definitely coincidental, but they're hard to miss. It's pretty shocking that the soaring and repetitive ending of Basokin's song "Mulume" was created by a bunch of musicians who have never heard a Popol Vuh record. Almost all of the tracks on the disc were recorded live and an accompanying DVD includes high-quality video footage of nearly all of the performances that are captured on the CD. Unless you're a veteran of the Kinshasa party scene, you really don't want to miss this. I hate to throw around the word "essential" but...I gotta. You absolutely have to watch this thing. Convince a friend to buy it and then borrow the DVD if you must. As far as the CD goes, well, it's even better than the Konono N°1 album. And that's a rather massive endorsement. [RH]





On Sale


$13.99 LP


Whatever People Say I Am That's What I'm Not

"Perhaps Vampires Is a Bit Strong but..."
"Riot Van"
"When the Sun Goes Down"

We all know about the Arctic Monkeys' quick rise to stardom. To think that they sold over 118,000 records on the first day of release in their native homeland, with the average age of band members being a mere 19. Some have written this album off as just for the kids but with sales like that, other people besides kids must be buying. Whether it translates here in America remains to be seen...

Singer Alex Turner has great songwriting talent that, I feel, can definitely be compared to Pete Doherty. His tales of pub life, girls, street fights, and pressure from the outside world are told as miniature stories, not unlike Doherty, but the comparison stops there. Arctic Monkeys tracks are polished, danceable, and ultimately fun rock songs and, well...they translate amazing live. This, in my opinion, is their key to success. Arctic Monkeys are a GREAT live band; so good that prior to seeing them, I really wanted to dismiss the group as another "next big thing" without the songs or live prowess to back it up. I was wrong. They blew me away, and believe me, I go to a lot of shows. What was it? They just rocked, and tracks like "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" and "Dancing Shoes" had the crowd, both young and old, pogo-ing, head-nodding and smiling away. And at this point, they had only released one single!

After this, I was caught up in Arctic Monkeys mania and wanted to run out and get myself one of those "Alex Turner Is God" buttons that I see people wearing. Suffice to say, I didn't buy that pin but I did come across another single and ultimately their debut album. Does it live up to all the fuss? Yes! It's a great pop record filled with tracks that are instantly memorable, songs that you will hum all day long, and choruses that you will not soon forget. Are they the next Oasis or the new Babyshambles? No, they are just Arctic Monkeys, a band that stumbled upon instant stardom. Do they deserve it? Rightfully so. Whatever People Say is a great debut album, and 2006 is already their year. [JS]







(Rune Grammofon)

Supersilent's number 7 sees the Norwegian quartet--Arve Henriksen (trumpet, electronics), Helge Sten ("audio virus"), Ståle Storløkken (keyboards) and Jarle Vespestad (drums)--captured on dual layer DVD in beautiful 16 mm black and white by multimedia artist, and fellow Norwegian, Kim Hiorthøy. Although a DVD, 7 is best approached as a CD with visuals, as there are no menus, boring extras or flashy graphics, with focus on the live sound (audiophiles can choose between Dolby Digital and DTS) and the cinematic quality of the three-camera footage.

Filmed at Parkteatret, Oslo in August, 2004, the performance itself is often downright stunning. As with most of Supersilent's output, this generous 109-minute set largely defies categorization (the comparison to the Miles Davis band of the early-'70s might be the most accurate) as the free-flowing foursome fuses ambient passages with modal jazz and progressive rock with surges of noise and Eastern melodies. A deeply moving and physical experience from the most lethal improv combo of the present. No overdubs, just pure, raw energy. [AK]

Note: This version is a Region 0 NTSC DVD, specifically for North American audiences.






Destroyer's Rubies

"Painter in Your Pocket"
"European Oils"

I don't typically listen to too much stuff like this. In general, I view most of what I consider this world to be, indie singer-songwriter stuff (with its attendant amorphous, revolving band shtick), from something like an askance angle, at best. I was aware, however, of this character encroaching into my admittedly haughty purview. This Mr. Bejar. The records of his that my friends put out, before he was on Merge, were intriguing. Then I heard the synth one, and a part of the reworking of that one, with Frog Eyes. Each one was getting closer to, well, destroying me.

Then I of course totally fell for this one. From what I have read, he has syncretized a fair amount of previous approaches, including those which touch upon indie rock convention, also those which don't necessarily. Of this latter development I might say that whatever an American might perceive about Canadian culture being more directly associative with that of European culture, that perception certainly comes into play here. Ergo impressing that the life that these songs seems to be products of is not even possible to eke out, much of anywhere here. There's simply too much of an overt Alice in Wonderland f**king with dimension and proportion going on. One that anyone comparable from the States, especially somebody with such a prodigious flair with prosody, would be terrified to engage in. I'm not gonna name names. It seems those tactics are regarded as smoke and mirrors anyhow. A sign of art-hackery. "You have to rock after all" etc.

But what he's done here is constructed a watertight, musical galleon…and punched it right out into space. The only thing near it now is that Belle and Sebastian. Another band I never liked until now! What is going on? [DHo]







$15.99 LP


Humbucking Coil
(Morr Music)

"First Times"
"From To"

Curiously named after the Humbucker, a noise-canceling guitar pickup made famous in the classic Gibson Les Paul, the new B. Fleischmann album is neither a proper guitar record, nor is it completely free of the gloriously noisy hum that pulses through much of Mr. Fleischmann's past projects. Really, the title may be the main surprise here, as Fleischmann whips up his patented concoction of lazy, melodic electronica-pop hybrid. Blending relaxed rhythm loops with live drumming, sequenced keyboard washes with organic guitar melodies, and buzzing soundscapes with saxophone, bells, handclaps, and the occasional vocals (by Christof Kurzmann), there are elements of slow-rock icons like Codeine and Low, or seminal electro-pop progenitors Kraftwerk, and much of the album seems to be constructed as a songwriter would. Even the instrumentals build like pop songs, with simple keyboard driven verses leading to choruses and bridges and back to the verse, regardless of more modern sonic embellishments. B. Fleischmann, and the Morr Music label in general, may no longer be surprising us with their serene experiments, but B. Fleischmann has only become more assured and steady-handed, and regardless of innovation this is a fine addition to that catalog. [JM]







Static from the Outside Set

"Summer Dream (Amherst 2004)"

Saying that this is a weird one from the SCG's mountain of archival tapes is like saying a black hole is dark. An old-school radio collage (think Ken Nordine or Henry Jacobs) made for the "On the Wire" Radio Lancashire show, it bursts at the seams with Sun City touchstones. Voiced by a dead Mexican film star, it mixes old tapes of the band with spoken-word interludes. Think of those hallucinatory cut-ups enacted for the Sublime Frequencies label and you're a quarter of the way there on this odd trip. Tons of conspiracy talk abounds, about America post-9/11 as well as human cannibalism and sacrifice to ancient powers. For added cruelty, the Girls also whip out some truly heinous covers of "Gimme the Wine" and "Gently Johnny" that'll make you dig out your buried copy of Midnight Cowboys from Ipanema. You do have that one still, don't you? [AB]







If the Jasmine Don't Get You...The Bay Breeze Will
(Rev Ola)

"Snow Shadows"

Perhaps best known for his collaboration with Fred Neil on Elektra's Tear Down the Walls, Vince Martin was at the epicenter of the Greenwich Village folk movement. Stepping out on his own, Martin created If the Jasmine Don't Get You…Then The Bay Breeze Will (1969), a sort of paean to Miami's Coconut Grove, and a defining moment in folk-rock. "The Grove," as it was known, was the great folk scene outpost where a host of luminaries came down to get loose. David Crosby, John Sebastian, and most notably Freddy Neil himself went to South Florida for the tropical weather and breezy lifestyle.

The title track, at nearly 15 minutes, sets up a billowy groove where one definitely comes to the realization that Vince and band are "feeling it." Raga riffs run rampant and the bass line emulates the sound of jasmine blossoms falling. The album is off-the-cuff and was knocked out over the course of a few hours by members of Dylan's Blonde on Blonde band, no less. "Summerwind" levels all the love songs of the period and sounds remarkably fresh today. Depravity and indignation are themes that seem to resurface, where Martin's tenor voice even sings,"…my shadow has gone lame." But make no mistake, this album is warm and sunny and may be responsible for ushering in "marina rock." Unbutton your shirt and take off your shoes.

Nowadays, it's not unusual to find Vince at the Brooklyn bar Daddy's, talking about Karen Dalton or how he jammed in the nude with Stephen Stills. He is available for performance. This reissue comes in a timely fashion, giving the extra push sorely needed to wait out these last days of winter. [JR]










Color Strip

"Of the Silent Variety"

The next generation of IDM continues, Mantronix being the new influence. Jimmy Edgar's full-length debut, Color Strip, is a sharp, bouncing and snapping collection of new school electro. Following his Warp EPs Bounce, Make, Model (two of the best from that record are included here) and Access Rhythm, along with releases on Merck, Audio.nl, and Poker Flat, Edgar continues to be a name to watch--think early Nightmares on Wax and Latin Rascals meets Carl Craig, Metro Area, or Luke Vibert's ode to the old school. Updating the sound of today to mirror that of the '80s, his brand of beats are still meaty under all the digital sheen, bridging the gap between hip-hop and techno, a la Man Parrish, Art of Noise, Afrika Bambaataa, etc. The overall feel is more melodic than tracky in a very Detroit sort of way, the vocoder vocals being the only hint than Edgar is still a youngster. If imitation is the highest form of flattery, there are many winks and nods on here to the ones who came before. Though not strictly imitative, Edgar brings a nice energy and imagination to the table and, thanks to Warp, we'll watch him grow. Fans of releases on Ghostly International or Output, as well as any of the other above mentioned artists, will find something to their liking. [DG]








(Drag City)

"Catalytic Convert"
"Imaginary Saints"

Neil Michael Hagerty (a former member of two of the best rock 'n' roll bands of our time, Pussy Galore and Royal Trux) released three extremely limited LPs during 2003-04 which disappeared before they reached most of your favorite retail outlets. For your convenience, Drag City has packaged them onto one CD (well, three-fourths of the tracks at least) and it's another testament to the fact that Hagerty is impossible to pin down and an incredibly inventive songwriter. With no song longer than 2:45 and many of them under two minutes, 1-2-3 is very much a peek into a sketchbook of Neil's takes on basement blues, cracked psychedelia, and country rock, and somehow the whole thing is permeated by the outer space experimentalism that characterized the more adventurous Royal Trux albums. Always straddling the fence between traditional rock music and its outer spheres, only Hagerty can pull off African highlife ("Catalytic Convert") and a cover of William Truckaway's "Breakaway" back to back and make it work. Stay gold, Neil, and keep them coming. [AK]







Boogybytes Volume 1
(Bpitch Control)

"Verse 2 the Chorus" Donal Tierney
"Vergissmeinicht" Gabriel Ananda

Bpitch kicks off their new Boogybytes series with a mix from one of the label's all-stars. Appearing shirtless and caught in some sort of windblown-zombie pose on the cover, Kiki's selection is pretty linear and fairly innocuous but his DJ and production skills make this clubby mix downright enjoyable, seamlessly blending between poppy electro-house, disco-noire and modern dark trance of the non-Ibiza variety. The Finnish producer often peppers the cuts with additional layers of music and vocals, so technically there are a total of 25 songs represented within these 16 tracks. Kiki's deep, whispered voice from Sasse's "Losing Touch" comes in over the Marc Houle remix of Slam's "Kill the Pain," and floats into the start of "Stoppage Time" by Guy Gerber, which contains another Kiki vocal lifted from "The End of the World." Other highlights include the cold electro of Fred Giannelli's "Distant Gratification," Fairmount's "Gazebo" (which features parts of Kiki and Silversurfer's "Wasp" and Ellen Allien's "Your Body Is My Body") and the heady, gliding bass propelled "Metroland" from Misc. [GH]









"Birds Fly by Flapping Their Wings"

Geir Jenssen is one of the unknowing fathers of ambient techno. In the early-'90s, this Norwegian producer paved the way for those to come by going back to the compositional traditions of Jon Hassell and Brian Eno, using environmental sounds along with electronic and acoustic backings, while also venturing into more dancefloor oriented arenas under various guises. For his latest as Biosphere, Jenssen incorporates modal jazz structures into his minimal yet rich arrangements with amazing results. On "Birds Fly by Flapping Their Wings," rhythms come out of nowhere through the ambient sounds (insects, wind, rain, water, and ice), and subtly burst into a driving brushed drum and plucked bass melody, with synthesizers expanding the atmosphere. It's engaging to say the least, as loops build, shift, swirl, and then fade away, reminding me all at once of Harold Budd, Cluster, and Jan Jelinek's work with Triosk. Minimal and cold, mysterious but not scary, Dropsonde is filled with beautiful distilled washes of loops reminiscent of 808 State, Carl Craig, or a Nordic Theo Parrish. Crisp and stark, this is mood music for winter nights. Apparently Jenssen lives 500 miles from the Arctic Circle, so just picture life there and you have an idea of the feelings that this record conjures. Recommended listening. [DG]








Le Roi De La Bossa Nova

"Bonfá Nova"
"Dor Que Faz Doer"

Watching the previews at Film Forum the other night, there suddenly flashed a coming attraction for Marcel Camus' Black Orpheus. In it, a guitar 'speaks' about the romance, passion, and dark mystery that the movie contains. It doesn't state it explicitly in the credits, but that guitar speaks via the magical fingers of Luiz Bonfá. You can see these wondrous devices stretched across six frets on the cover of this 1962 recording (coupled here with an EP from '63). While we highly recommend checking out his Solo in Rio 1959 on Smithsonian (which features the themes he improvised for Black Orpheus recordings), this session finds him cutting 16 tunes in Paris with a backing band. Soft, supple, perfectly balanced, it's just a joy to hear as Bonfá moves like a master. Easily the equal of his more well-known peers like Tom Jobim and Joao Gilberto. [AB]








Sound Mirrors
(Ninja Tune)

"Man in a Garage"
"True Skool"

Over the course of their 20-plus-year career, Coldcut have been a part of, or just plain invented, countless musical and audio/visual innovations--from their early experiments with cut-up sampling and abstract instrumental hip-hop productions to DJing Northern Soul sets on then pirate radio station KISS FM. Whether it's founding Ninja Tunes, one of the UK's premier beathead labels, to creating visual software for VJing, they've been around the block. Coldcut's new album seems to fuse all these experiences into one set. It's kind of a "something for everyone" approach; and surprisingly, for the most part it works, featuring an admittedly confusing-on-paper guest appearance list that includes Amiri Baraka, Annette Peacock, Saul Williams and Robert Owens!?! The album starts off with "Man in a Garage," which places John Matthias' dark, yearning vocals over a shattered, glitchy breakbeat track, which makes me think of Timbaland and Radiohead…or something thereof. From there, we get into bouncy, super infectious Bangra dancehall territory with Roots Manuva, as well as some shifty disco jams, spoken word "soundscraps", and hands-in-the-air hip-hop-rock rawkus with Mike Ladd and Jon Spencer. There's obvious attention paid to the overall tone of the album as it moves freely from dark, sinister tracks to euphoric club jams to melancholic introspection, and back again. While I wouldn't blame anyone for criticizing their catch-all approach to Sound Mirrors, I still think that in the end it all somehow make sense. [GA]








Encre A Kora
(Intr Version)

"Dogma, Africana & Math Folk One"

Now that the current music scene has fully embraced folk again, we are hearing its organic instrumentation being utilized with varying degrees of effects and experimentations. One of the most intriguing examples is this EP from Encre, which is essentially a solo project by Yann Tambour, a Frenchman who uses cello, guitar, piano, violin and harpsichord to form a three-part suite called "Dogma, Africana & Math Folk." A perfect title for this trio of songs, which clock in at about 15-minutes, the fusion of the Kora (a West African instrument) with more "indie" and classical textures is a nice alteration of the usual math rock formula, lending an ethnic twist. Here, vocals are used as texture; yelps and sighs are added to the mix, heightening the emotion and bringing to mind the global alt-folk of Animal Collective. Tambour played and sampled the various instruments and then sequenced them into this tightly woven composition. A new element is added to each section: the first track features a female voice, the second adds a male vocal, and in track three, the melody is slowed down as the Kora is brought to the forefront. At times similar to Colleen, the Earlies, Town & Country, Polmo Polpo, or Efterklang, Encre A Kora is my minimal jam of the week. (Comes in handmade screen-printed packaging.) [DG]








Six Demon Bag
(Ace Fu)

"Tunneling Through the Guy"
"Van Helsing Boombox"

Like a nightmare ride on a carousel, where demon-possessed children with glowing eyes sing along to the carnival music as you hold on for your dear life, Man Man's sophomore album is all the more dizzying than their debut. That's not to imply that The Man in a Blue Turban With a Face was any less intense, but with the addition of a few new members (with names like Les Mizzle and Pow Pow), these Waits/Beefheart-inspired art-rockers' arrangements are more ambitious than before, albeit still gritty thanks to the gravel-voiced Honus Honus. Six Demon Bag plays like a soundtrack to a whiskey-n-acid fueled night spent stumbling around the red light district of a former Eastern-bloc nation. You finally settle into a dark booth of a dusty cabaret and roll your last cigarette while watching a makeshift band of gypsies, punks and town-folk romp through a rollicking performance of sing-a-longs, with street theater provided by two harlots scrapping with the barkeep. [GH]








Compounds & Elements
(All Saints)

"Sleepless" Marconi Union

A fantastic sampler from the All Saints label at a super-low price, featuring an uncompromising selection of songs spanning the label's 15-year history. Eighteen-tracks in all, includes Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Andy Partridge, John Cale, Jon Hassell, Vacabou, Djivan Gasparyan and more.








Missing Songs

"Trial and Error"

Following a whirlwind year of world tours, Mercury Prize nominations and releasing indie hits like "Apply Some Pressure" and "Graffiti," Warp's favorite rockers deliver this 12-track CD featuring B-sides and non-album tracks (including a short cover of John Lennon's "Isolation"), plus a couple of demo recordings tagged on at the end. Not essential, but as far as odds and sods releases go, Missing Songs is better than most and a must for Maximo Park fans.










Untouchable Sound
(Sea Note)

"The Prophet"

Yet another live recording that documents the ferocious intensity of Make Up, Ian Svenonius' post-Nation of Ulysses rock 'n' roll minstrel show. Recorded at the Black Cat in Washington DC in 2000, Untouchable Sound showcases the band in one of its later incarnations, opting for a fuller Love/Nuggets-inspired sound over the earlier punk rock gospel sermons. Featuring just enough trademark yelping and call and response from Svenonius, as the band powers through all your favorites ("They Live By Night", "Born on the Floor", "White Belts", etc.), this is guaranteed to please.








Run the Road 2

"World Is Crazy" Crazy Titch

As far as prime grime goes, last year's Run the Road compilation featured a who's who selection of artists making sounds in the UK's housing projects, featuring the new and the brand new--names like Dizzee Rascal, the Streets, Roll Deep and Lady Sovereign. The second volume gives proof that the scene is still vital, focusing as much and even more so on the intelligent and mind-blowing wordplay as the crunchy production. Featuring 16 tracks and a DVD, familiar artists like Kano and No Lay return along with fresh MCs and producers including rapper Klashnekoff, DaVinChe, Mizz Beats, Sway, JME (one of Roll Deep's newest members) and Low Deep.









"Boris Character"

Pink is the newest album by high-concept/excellent results, stoner-rock masters BORIS. Touted as their ultimate, most realized album to date, Pink shows Boris kickin' out the jams in every way that they know how. Everything from massively floating drone-rock (the opening track is so Melvins Bloody Valentine) to driving, high-octane Blue Cheer riff-rock full of unexpected shifts and of course, monolithic, thundering, seething sloth-metal. As far as definitive Boris albums, we all know how great Absolutego and Akuma No Uta are, as well as their more 'experimental' releases with Keiji Haino and Merzbow. Boris have already proven themselves capable of sounding absolutely classic and new at the same time, while exploring all types of ground within reason. Wearing their influences on their sleeve while taking it altogether somewhere else, how many other bands can sound like a tank, racing up Mt. Everest on one album (Absolutego), then sound like a Japanese Blue Cheer meets Motorhead (Akuma No Uta), and then do a track with Merzbow of nothing but analog hiss and massively humming amps that still rules on another? The thing about Pink is its cohesive variety, unfaltering energy and overall generosity. This one will reward the faithful with heaping doses of rumbling, thick, bad-ass, balls-out ROCK with massive texture (drone/noise sections are embedded WITHIN the songs) while it wins over some newcomers with its absolutely pure, yet new rock spirit. Oh yeah, as usual, the dope packaging continues to expand the expectations of metalheads everywhere. Thanks Boris. [SM]







Countless Times

"Love Me If Ye Do"

One thing that has always struck me about Diane Cluck's music is her capacity to pull intense emotions from her bare-boned performances: usually just her voice and guitar, and not much more. Sure, there are many that have come before her that use these same primitive tools, but very few are successful in creating music that's equally haunting, passionate and, more importantly, so genuine. While we were lucky enough to hear her music early on, when she dropped off copies of her homemade Oh Vanille for us to sell as a consignment, it was immediately apparent that hers was a voice that would break free from the chains of New York's insular anti-folk scene. Devendra Banhart was already proclaiming her to be his favorite songwriter out of NYC, and we couldn't keep her album in stock, receiving orders almost daily from all around the world.

Released on CocoRosie's Voodoo-EROS imprint, Countless Times is her fifth full-length, and the mass-produced album art indicates that Cluck is standing at a well-deserved crossroad. One thing that I hoped for, and Countless Times confirms, is that the folksinger wouldn't opt for a bigger studio to gloss over the wonderfully raw edges of her music. She once again has recorded her new album at home; Cluck uses the sound of the room around her to emphasize the intimacy of her songs, as if you are a neighbor walking by her open door, and secretly peering in to watch your neighbor singing to herself in her living room. You can hear the occasional sound of a passing car or truck; yet she continues playing, uninterrupted by the background noise. When her fingers squeak on the fretboard, it bounces off the walls, as do her beautifully affected vocal melodies. While it's absolutely stark, I can't imagine hearing her music presented any other way. When Diane sings, she bares her soul. [GH]







La Mort D'orion
(EMI France)

"La Mort D'orion"
"Vivent Les Hommes"

When I first heard Gérard Manset's La Mort D'orion (1970) a couple of months back, I was shocked we hadn't carried nor written it up before; after all, this reissue was released all the way back in 1996. But I've googled and googled and it seems like we aren't the only ones to have overlooked its brilliance, for although a longtime huge cult hit in France it has yet to have made any sort of an impact in the States.

Manset appears to be a pretty mysterious and enigmatic figure with an ambiguous relationship to stardom. Radio France's English language website has a succinct biography of him that paints a picture somewhat similar to that of Scott Walker's. A writer of intensely brooding and challenging music who nevertheless has achieved periodic massive popular success, Manset has frequently simply abandoned it for years at a time to pursue other interests, including traveling, painting, and writing novels.

Manset, a self proclaimed "lifelong rebel and eternal failure," released his debut album in May of '68, just as the students were manning the ramparts. But it wasn't until La Mort D'orion was released two years later that he really began to enter the public's consciousness. It is a thrillingly ambitious concept album of orchestral psych for which the self-taught Manset wrote all the music, lyrics, and arrangements. The opening title track alone runs nearly 25 minutes long, and it has an epic sweep that seems to encompass and distill all the finest French modernism has to offer, from Mallarme and Nerval in its literary pretensions to the sonic advancements in studio sound pioneered by the likes of Pierre Schaffer and Pierre Henry. Moments of seemingly normal French chanson give way to subtle and psychologically disorienting manipulations of orchestral trappings; at other times he'll simply eschew trap drums for booming timpani to provide the rhythmic propulsion. The results are very dark, very beautiful, and quite unlike anything you'd expect from French popular music. And while I do think it will certainly appeal to fans of Histoire de Melody Nelson or the recent Jean-Claude Vannier reissue, it must be emphasized that there is next to no kitsch appeal to this release. La Mort D'orion is a serious work that probably deserves to be approached as such. [MK]




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[GA] Geoff Albores
[AB] Adrian Burkholder
[DG] Daniel Givens
[GH] Gerald Hammill
[RH] Rob Hatch-Miller
[DHo] Dan Hougland
[AK] Andreas Knutsen
[JM] Josh Madell
[SM] Scott Mou
[JR] Jeremy Rendina
[JS] Jeremy Sponder

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