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   March 15, 2007  
Coming Soon! Other Music steps into the Digital Age with the launch of our new download store! We'll be sending out more details via e-mail; you can sign up to this list by going to digital.othermusic.com. Interested labels, distributors and bands should contact labels@othermusic.com.
Michael Cashmore
Salah Ragab & the Cairo Jazz Band
"Blue" Gene Tyranny
The Eternals
Si, Para Usted (Various Cuban Funk)
Amy Winehouse
Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers
Eccentric Soul: Twinight's Lunar Roation
Kaikhosru Sorabji
Djivan Gasparyan
Selwyn Lissack
Keith Hudson
The Hippy Boys
Moebius & Plank
Moebius, Plank & Neumeir
Otomo Yoshihide


Bernard Parmegiani
Santiago Mutumbajoy

Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music Vol. 4

Mary Weiss
Giant Skyflower Band
Andrew Bird

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






Other Music has two pairs of tickets to give away for this night! To enter, send an email to contest@othermusic.com, and please include your daytime phone number. Winners will be notified this Friday.

: 70 North 6th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
RSVP: casettenight@gmail.com

MAR Sun 18 Mon 19 Tues 20 Wed 21 Thurs 22 Fri 23 Sat 24


Next Tuedsay, Britain's FUJIYA & MIYAGI will be in New York City, performing their infectious Kraut-inspired pop music at the Mercury Lounge. The show is sold out but Other Music has two pairs of tickets to give away for this night, and one of these winners will receive a bonus 10" from the band! To enter, send an email to tickets@othermusic.com, and please include your daytime phone number. Winners will be notified this Friday.

: 217 East Houston Street NYC







Snow Abides

"The Snow Abides"

Following a lovely impressionistic album of minimal guitar music, last year's Sleep England, Michael Cashmore finds his way back to the kind of elegiac piano-led pieces that recall his '90s work with Nature and Organisation and Current 93's now classic Soft Black Stars. Joined by Antony, whose chilling interpretations here of David Tibet's lyrics will make your arm hairs stand on end, The Snow Abides effortlessly fuses together the stylistic touchstones of this dream(y) team into a breathtakingly melancholic, five-song set. The simplistic beauty in Cashmore's piano work is reminiscent of Satie at times. The music literally breathes, expanding with the rich chamber accompaniment of strings and oboe, and then contracting back to the ivory minor-keyed melodies. It's a perfectly spacious and somber soundscape for Antony's voice to wander over, as he follows man's mortal quest, and failure, to touch the face of the creator. Truly a shining moment for every artist involved, fans of Cashmore, Antony and Tibet will find this stunning mini-album essential. [GH]






Egyptian Jazz
(Art Yard)

"Ramadan Is Space"

I've been waiting quite a while for this one. Salah Ragab and his Cairo Jazz Band is the unsung missing link between Dizzy Gillespie and Sun Ra, and this is a long overdue overview of his significant work. A major in his country's army, Ragab was also an aspiring jazz composer and drummer. After getting fired-up from a Randy Weston concert that he attended, he vowed to start the first real Egyptian jazz ensemble. Two years later, Ragab was appointed Chief of the Military Music Departments and set about finding army musicians to form a national band. The arrangements are out of this world, combining traditional Arabic scales and Muslim prayer melodies with large bebop-influenced brass phrasings and rhythms. Sun Ra is also a very obvious comparison, and it was Ragab who invited Ra and the Arkestra to play at the pyramids; they recorded an album together as well. But Ragab's music is un-mistakenly rooted in the traditional music of Egypt.

These are some of the most vibrant sounds that I've heard in ages. Any fan of the aforementioned artists and jazz aficionados in general should pick this up. Highest recommendation and the best reissue of the year so far in my book. [DH]






Out of the Blue Unseen Worlds
(Unseen World)

"For David K"
"Leading a Double Life"

"Blue" Gene Tyranny is a figure who pops up in the most curious of places, either as a member of the pre-Stooges Iggy group, the Prime Movers, corresponding with Fluxus members while still in high school, or else working in collaboration with Laurie Anderson and Robert Ashley on his late-era operas. He's also an astute critic, I can't tell you how many albums he turned me onto back when All Music Guide was still bound and available in bookstores. So it's no surprise that this release of his from 1977 has its feet in a couple of different worlds. It was originally released on the prestigious and irascible downtown label Lovely Music, and it must certainly have been the most pop-oriented release in their storied catalog. We can't even figure out where to file it, Out? Then?? Psych??? Though sounding timeless, just try to find another album in which the AM folk pop stylings of Carole King rest heads comfortably with Poppy Nogood-era Terry Riley. Each of these four long tracks moves about though, from song to rock to minimalism and back, providing a wonderful entry into the world of this most cherubic figure of the American vanguard and modern classical. [AB]






Heavy International

"Remove Ya"
"Beware the Swordbat"

Chicago's own dub trio, the Eternals bring us their most immediate and enjoyable album to date. Heavy International finds vocalist Damon Locks, bass/synth player Wayne Montana, and drummer Tim Mulvenna delivering a steamy, dubby brew that encapsulates many diverse references: Tom Ze, the Specials, This Heat, the Clash, Gang of Four, Adrian Sherwood, and the dubby side of Bauhaus. Their music also embodies the influences of dancehall, soul and hip-hop, while the refreshing appearance of female vocals brings to mind the Slits and Rip, Rig & Panic.

With a minimal but rich musical palette, the trio augment their basic instrumentation with samples and melodica, and create an intentionally warped, thumping world of sound. Similar to Montana and Locks' experiments in dub, rock and punk during their tenure in Trenchmouth, the driving force behind the Eternals also seems to be the political and creatively quirky vocals. Locks has a skanky presence (think in the vein of Harder They Come-era Jimmy Cliff rather than, say, Christina Ricci in Black Snake Moan) that's immediate and undeniable. Although hard to pin down, the Eternals' music is infectious to the ears. They sound exactly like -- if not better than -- their records do live, and their energy level is 200%. If you thought the The Good, The Bad, & The Queen were something new, you need to check the real raw dub sound. The Eternals are as original as all of their influences and certainly better than the other current imitators out there. It's hard to believe they're Chicago's best-kept secret, but hopefully not for long. [DG]






Si, Para Usted: The Funky Beats of Revolutionary Cuba
(Waxing Deep)

"Bacalao Con Pan"
"Y Viva La Felicidad"

One of the more groundbreaking and totally out of the ordinary funk comps we've heard in some time, Si, Para Usted gives a rare taste of the deep, funky side of Cuban music from the early 1970s into the early '80s. Largely unavailable to U.S. markets until now, no doubt due to the United State's absurdly long/futile commercial and cultural embargo, it's a much-needed break from the flood of traditional (though still great) Cuban discs typically released, instead focusing on instances of progression, fusion and invention in Cuban music. There are strong elements of disco, rock and soul (and listen closely for some psych and Brazilian influences!) layered over a traditional Cuban beat, mostly son. The result is unapologetically funky and innovative. Compiler Dan Zacks (of the Cuban radio program and website Waxing Deep) was granted access to the state controlled archives in Cuba where the master tapes had been languishing, making the sound absolutely phenomenal. Zack's liner notes provide brief band bios, as well as an expertly detailed analysis of the socio/political situation behind the music. A completely essential look at a vibrant period in Cuban music history that we've been sheltered from for far too long, and easily one of the reissues of year. [JC]






Back to Black
(Universal / Island)

"You Know I'm No Good"

If you were a Brit, you would already be knee-deep in Amy Winehouse, whose excellent sophomore release Back to Black reached number one on the UK charts and whose legendary out-of-control partying has led some to call her the female Pete Doherty. But better you don't get sidetracked by the gossip, because the record easily stands above all the tabloid-talk. A sly take on '50s and '60s girl-groups and R&B, Winehouse's assured, soulful vocals and raw lyrics, combined with excellent production from both Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson (who brought in the Dap Kings band for much of the tracking) makes for an irresistible album that relishes in the great Motown sound without becoming a slave to it or a hollow parody. Turns out the Limeys were right on this one, Amy Winehouse, rules. [JM]






With the Gosdin Brothers

"Tried So Hard"
"So You Say You"

Gene Clark made quite a few incredible albums--including the first three albums by the Byrds -- and his oft-reissued 1967 solo debut is among the best of them. Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers came out almost simultaneously with Younger Than Yesterday, the first post-Clark Byrds LP. Clark's album was a commercial failure but with time it has come to be considered one of the great California country-rock albums. The members of Clark's backing band had been the core of the Hillmen, one of the pioneering acts on the Bakersfield scene. Fellow Byrd Chris Hillman had been playing in bands with Vern and Rex Gosdin since the early 60s; later on he and Gram Parsons would form the Flying Burrito Brothers. Also in Clark's band were Clarence White of Nashville West, Muleskinner and the Kentucky Colonels (himself a member of the Byrds from 1968-73) and legendary banjo player Doug Dillard; talk about an all-star lineup! Some of Clark's very best songs, most notably the track "Tried So Hard," are on this record. It's a stone cold classic. [RH]






Eccentric Soul: Twinight's Lunar Roation
(Numero Group)

"Be My Lady"
"The Devastator"

The Numero Group brings us another installment of their inspiring Eccentric Soul series: a double-CD featuring the complete output of Chicago-based Twinight Records. The side project of an independent promotions company whose clients included Chess, Stax and Motown, the label utilized its radio contacts to get their singles played on local airwaves, usually during the late night hours when most listeners were in bed. This isn't, however, a sleepy compilation of quiet storm soul, but rather an upbeat collection of rocking and bopping Chicago soul at its most inspired and hungry. With the exception of Syl Johnson, none of the other bands, vocal groups and solo singers would produce a hit. Nonetheless, you can definitely hear the reflections of chart toppers like Curtis Mayfield, Al Green, the Temptations and the Four Tops, as well as plenty of blues-themed doo-wop and R&B swagger, not to mention a fair share of heart-aching male and female vocalists. Forty tracks in all (with extensive liner-notes), the Numero Group continues to introduce a new generation of listeners to a wealth of great, long-forgotten music. [DG]






100 Transcendtal Studies for Piano

"No. 4 Study"
"No. 14 Study"

We've often reviewed solo piano or piano centric albums here at Other Music, but they've generally tended to be in a minimalist vein and frequently stamped with the influence of composers of quietude, such as Satie or Morton Feldman. However, there is something to be said at times for a maximalist approach as well, and perhaps no other composer in history executed that tendency better than Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (1892-1988), a man whom I've seen referred to more than once as the "Anti-Feldman".

Sorabji, called a "one-man musical apocalypse" by composer and critic Kyle Gann, largely stood outside the current of trends in twentieth-century composition. He was born in Essex, England to a Zoroastrian Parsi father and Spanish mother. Largely self-taught as a composer, he wrote a staggering 11,000 pages of music in his lifetime, most of it for solo piano, and frequently of extraordinary length, with certain pieces taking anywhere from four to eight hours to perform. The twenty-five "Transcendental Studies" included on this CD are but the first quarter in a piece that is a total of seven hours in duration. The virtuosic technical demands called for in his music basically ensured that they weren't to be heard in public or on disc for the majority of Sorabji's lifetime. Being a somewhat eccentric and exacting character, Sorabji ceased to allow the performance of his work from the 1930s until the late 1970s, with the idea being that if it wasn't done right he didn't want it done at all. He lived in the English countryside in near total isolation, plugging away page by page at scores even he could no longer perform, while writing highly erudite, and frequently vituperative, articles for a handful of obscure mid-twentieth century music journals. Luckily for the composer, in the '70s and '80s, a young generation of pianists rediscovered his work and dedicated themselves to the nearly super-human task of playing the unplayable.

The twenty-five "Transcendental Studies" performed here by the incredible pianist Fredrik Ullen are possibly the best and most easily digestible introduction to Sorabji's work. Generally clocking in at somewhere between one and three minutes, each piece essentially operates as a microcosm of Sorabji's vast sound world. Much has been made of Sorabji's music being nearly unplayable, of pieces that seem to require ten hands to play, of extraordinarily rapid passages comprised of a thousand notes a minute, of inexplicable juxtapositions and extreme contrapuntal density. Although it is complex, it is far from unlistenable, with virtually none of the academic dryness one associates with Serial composition or various other twentieth century compositional dead ends. Conlon Nancarrow and Cecil Taylor both come to mind as references while listening, but mostly in the way that the interior logic and fluidity of their work isn't all that hard to grasp when your mind becomes open to it. In truth, it's actually not all that difficult to begin the process of absorption of Sorabji's pieces because his music has an ever-present Oriental melodic sense that seems to act as a portal to understanding. It's a difficult music to describe for sure, and I've seen some writers forced to liken it to mushroom trips, arabesques, and magic carpets. But sitting here listening to the infinite patterns and limitless expressive combinations Sorabji conjures while unknown vistas unfold in my mind's eye, it's not hard to see why. [MK]






Heavenly Duduk
(World Network)

"Siro Husher"
"Menag Jamport Em"

This collection of beautifully mournful Armenian folk music features the virtuosic duduk playing of Djivan Gasparyan. The duduk, a double-reed shepherd's oboe, is perhaps the instrument most associated with Armenian music, and Gasparyan has been presenting it to international audiences since the early '80s. The duduk's warm, mellifluous tone and limited range -- the instrument plays only one octave -- are well-suited to the unadorned and introspective melodies heard here mostly in solo pieces. He is accompanied occasionally by drums and singing, but there is an ever-present drone throughout played on bass duduk, which provides a constant, subtly shifting low tone by means of a truly unbelievable circular breathing technique. Gasparyan and his group present a repertoire of liturgical songs, love songs, laments, dances, and poetic texts set to music that reflect the secular, religious, and historical aspects of Armenian music. Strikingly minimal at times, yet evincing great emotional depth, Heavenly Duduk is a beautiful outing from one of Armenia's great masters. [CC]






Friendship Next of Kin

"Friendship Next of Kin"
"Facets of the Univers"

South African drummer turned sculpture, Selwyn Lissack's one and only album as a bandleader came out on BYG offshoot Goody Records. A limited pressing at the time of its 1969 release, this is the first legitimate reissue of a rare gem, and the first release on a new label started by the venerable New York institution, the Downtown Music Gallery. Lissack grew up in Cape Town and began as a bop and Township jazz drummer. He was heavily influenced by this music but became frustrated by Apartheid laws that kept him from playing with black musicians. He longed to live in a more open and lucrative climate, but as visa problems kept him from relocating to New York he was forced to settle in London. Not necessarily a bad thing, as he soon found himself in the good company of fellow South Africans Chris McGregor and Henry Miller, as well as John McLaughlin, Mike Osbourne and Joe Harriott, among many other notables.

Though Lissack has cited Philly Joe Jones and Roy Haynes as major influences, Friendship Next of Kin has little to do with London and South African jazz of the time, and is closer linked to the freer expanses of Sunny Murray, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Julius Hemphill and Albert Ayler, not to mention the fiercer moments of Brotherhood of Breath. The first version of "Friendship Next of Kin" begins with a swirl of horns as Lissack jumps right in with colorful drum splashes, all slowly building in fire and intensity. Various solos compete and/or retreat from the fore while the rapid-changing drum phrasing pulls you in one direction as quickly as it pushes you to another. On "Facets of the Univers," an odd spoken-word poem is carried over a sparse sheet of flutes, bells and light percussion that seems to have more to do with contemporary classical than free jazz. The song also makes for an interesting intersection between the first and second version of the title track. This is one of the heavier albums of the time and a very welcome piece of the European improv puzzle. [GA]





Nu Skin Up


Brand: Reggae Instrumental Dub
(Pressure Sounds)

"National Anthem"

Nuh Skin Up
(Pressure Sounds)

"Ire Ire"

It blows our collective minds to think how blessed we are in this age of reissues to continually have treasures come back to light. The case of mysterious reggae producer Keith Hudson is a prime example. We simply cannot get enough of this man and his vision of Jamaican music. Informed by American rock and its diabolical underbelly, the man continually showed a dark sound in stark contrast to the sunny-ness one usually associates with the genre. Not surprisingly, such a malefic insight didn't always play well to the populace, and his work had greatly fallen by the wayside. The start of the renaissance began with his Pick A Dub on Blood & Fire, which is a stone-cold classic dub set. As if it wasn't enough, Basic Replay then reissued both Playing It Cool and Flesh of My Skin, Blood of My Blood. We soon after had a collection of his earliest singles, The Hudson Affair, come back around. Late last year, an early album, Entering the Dragon, was bolstered by an insane amount of b-sides. And now we have the return of two other dub workouts from the man known as "The Dark Prince of Reggae."

Pressure Sounds originally released Brand over a decade ago, but it quickly slipped out of print due to some licensing squabbles. That cleared, they do us yet another solid and also reissue another dub showcase from 1979, Nuh Skin Up. Both of these albums are in the same vein as Pick A Dub, austere workouts focused on guitar, bass, and drums, with nary a wacky (or stoned) sound effect in sight. Instead, these are tough cuts, slyly revealing the interplay between all components. Needless to say, these are crucial collections, furthering our portrait of the man, while also keeping his mystery wholly intact. [AB]







Reggae with the Hippy Boys
(Trojan Fan Club)

"This Is It"
"Cat Nip"

Here's a little Jamaican music lesson: the featured band here were first known as the Gaylads (backing Max Romeo and working under the direction of producer Sonia Pottinger), before turning into the Hippy Boys. Lee Perry would eventually adopt them as his Upsetters, and soon after Bob Marley would steal them to be his Wailers. Did you follow all that? Okay, this great collection from Trojan's Fan Club series is a perfect primer featuring these excellent players who were literally the backbone of late-'60s reggae music. This compilation includes their full-length Reggae with the Hippy Boys, and tacks on a heaping dose of bonus material (25 tracks in all), with their bouncy, rubbery sound captured in all its re-mastered brilliance.

During the time of their ever-changing band name, the Hippy Boys established the shifting sound of Jamaica, moving the island from rock steady to a more elastic, energetic style known as reggae. Top-notch rhythms from top-notch players in their creative prime, there's more of a pure instrumental groove here than an effects-driven pub band. This would also be the soundtrack for the mod movement that swept across UK, turning English lads on to the Jamaican version of US soul. If you've heard Lee Perry produced albums like Return to Django or The Good, the Bad, and the Upsetters, you've definitely experienced the Hippy Boys. Includes informative liner-notes that fully outline the tasty tales of name changes and producer rivalry. [DG]



Rastakraut Pasta


Zero Set


Rastakraut Pasta
(Captain Trip)

"Rastakraut Pasta"

Zero Set
(Captain Trip)

"Pitch Control"

Captain Trip releases an excellent and limited (1000 copies each) special edition reissue of two of the best of the post-Cluster titles, digitally re-mastered and packaged beautifully in mini glossy LP-style sleeves. Rastakraut Pasta may be the goofiest and most fun-filled Krautrock release out there, but it's an organic, dubby and truly engaging work. Originally released in 1980, this was the first of several "solo" collaborations between Cluster's Dieter Moebius and that group's legendary producer, Conny Plank, who individually and together were largely responsible, (along with sometime collaborator Brian Eno and a handful of others on their scene), for "inventing" ambient music and electronica. But far from cool machine-music, the album pulses with squishy, bubbling life, fat basslines and echoey percussion.

In 1982 the duo returned to Plank's studio along with Guru Guru's drummer/keyboardist Mani Neumeier. The resulting Zero Set is a polyrhythmic swirl of percussion and synthesizer, overlayed with industrial grind, world-music inspired chants and a bevy of other sounds. With echoes of Can, Kraftwerk, and so much more, Zero Set is a dense and complex album, one of the most cohesive and mesmerizing projects from these true innovators, and that says a lot. Both albums are Krautrock classics and longtime Other Music staples, and these may be the definitive CD editions, ideal for dedicated fans and newcomers alike. [JM]






Multiple Otomo

"Records II"
"Prepared Guitar"

We already knew that Japan's Otomo Yoshihide has many, many faces: from his improv-noise rock group Ground Zero, to his more recent New Jazz Orchestra, and countless other projects and soundtrack works. This CD/DVD set highlights Yoshihide as the solo artist, where the pieces are devoid of any recognizable structure or melody, and in which we are delivered a concentrated dose of his sound experimentations. Over the course of the 18-track CD, the avant-garde musician and his arsenal of turntables, contact mics, prepared guitar, and tone generators take us through extreme blasts of turntable feedback and high electronic frequencies that would cause a dog to howl even at low-volume. In quieter contrast, during "Violin Bow with Handmade Needle," the ghostly static from a faint radio broadcast cuts through a haunting low rumble.

Though Monochrome Otomo features a diverse audio sampling from Yoshihide, the DVD, titled Multiple Otomo, is even more varied and shows the artist at work. (If a disclaimer had run at the beginning of the video stating, "No phonographs were harmed in the making of this film," they'd be lying.) Here we witness rubber bands stretched across turntables being struck by the edge of a record and randomly plucked by a balled-up piece of tinfoil; springs attached to stylus arms being sawed by violin bows while the needle bounces off washers which are scattered on the record platter; and Yoshihide coaxing skronks from his guitar as he scrapes a horseshoe magnet over the pick-ups. The video production, itself, is completely captivating with the videographers (Masako Tanaka, Michelle Silva, and Tim Digulla) using extreme close-ups, quick cuts, and various visual effects to complement and augment Yoshihide's turntable terrorism. [GH]






Chants Magnetiques


It's frustrating that the monstrous oeuvre of French electroacoustic composer Bernard Parmegiani continually flits in and out of print on the INA-GRM imprint, considering his thorny and organic works inform much of 21st century music, from Autechre and Aphex Twin to Mego folks and Black Dice. That said, French imprint Fractal continues to unearth wholly unknown works from the man. Their Jazzex disc from a decade ago showcased an entirely new side to the man, one seemingly indebted to Frank Zappa, while their latest, Chants Magnetiques, is of a piece with his indisputable masterpieces "Da Natura Sonorum" and "Le Chant du Monde." Exceedingly scarce and basically unknown to our ears until now, this rare work of tape music is one dark and tumultous electroacoustic journey. These 10 untitled tracks put the man back on top of a heap of folks like MEV, Dockstader, Schnitzler, Edgar Varese, and Nurse with Wound. [AB]






Yage Pinta: Psychedelic Shaman Songs of Santiago Mutumbajoy

Track One
Track Four

The cassette tape recordings that would eventually become this album were made by famed anthropologist Michael Taussig, over the course of numerous trips to Colombia, where he lived and traveled with Putumayo shaman and healer, Santiago Mutumbajoy. It was the late '70s and Taussig was conducting the fieldwork that would form the basis of his groundbreaking book, Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wildman: A Study in Terror and Healing, and listening to these recordings, the book's title couldn't be more appropriate. This is not a record of music, per se (or pleasure, for that matter), but rather a tenuous encapsulation of an experience that is by turns hypnotic, disorienting, and absolutely terrifying.

According to Taussig's liners, both shaman and subject consume a preparation of Yage (known these days as Ayahuasca), but this powerful hallucinogen alone is not enough -- it is the singing that fully brings the healer and subject into the realms of the spirits. Backed by the insistent rustle of shaken leaves, Mutumbajoy's chanting is hypnotic and easy to get lost in -- at times providing a meditative, aural focal point and at others a rhythmic, driving force. It's easy to see how a voice like this -- compassionate, resonant and persistent -- would be an important ritual support during an experience as potentially volatile as a Yage trip. This recording leaves as much of the visceral intensity that a cassette tape is capable of capturing intact; one senses the movements of the shaman through the room, the recorder is occasionally bumped, and on one track you can actually hear Taussig vomiting. In any case, time seems to function in a different way here, and every time I put this disc on I'm surprised at how quickly it seems to end, despite the fact that it's almost 80 minutes long. A deep, transporting listen, no Yage required. [CC]






The Voyage of Icarus

"Voyage of the Icarus"
"Not Enough"

The basic tenets of hippiedom have a close connection to those of Christianity. Love thy neighbor, peace be with you, etc. Add an acoustic guitar, a Catholic church and a bunch of teenagers singing in the balcony and you've got 10:15 Sunday mass. You've also got the "Real People" aesthetic of Silmaril, a little known band out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin who, in 1973 and 1974, recorded an album called The Voyage of Icarus that combined religion, psychedelic folk and, a mythologic cosmology. Made up of friends who met at a Catholic youth retreat, Silmaril's sound is more the pastoral side of Peter, Paul and Mary than, say, Syd Barrett, despite naming themselves after a fictional sacred stone thought up by JRR Tolkien. Performing fantastical songs and psalms, The Voyage of Icarus is led by the acoustic guitar, and modest, pleasant voice of founder Matthew Peregrine, with the occasional and somewhat shrill soprano of Sharon Larke.

The trill of a mandolin (reminiscent of the intro to "Maggie Mae") sets off the first track, "Poustinia," while "Windbridge" is a flower child ode to seeing the light. Peregrine gets serious on "Not Enough," a dark look at death and the freedom it can bring from sin and pain. Apparently during this time, Peregrine was wrestling with his faith and burgeoning homosexuality. Faith seemed to have the upper hand though, as Silmaril embraced their Catholicism "holy" and completely by recording "Holy Holy," the Eucharistic prayer blessing the bread and wine, and "Lamb of God," the hymn conducted before communion is served. Even a spoken word of "Revelation 13:11:18" is featured. It's no John 3:16 but it is a colorful, biblical account of Satan and false idolatry. Long before today's straight-edgers were asking "WWJD?," Silmaril was praising the Lord in all his glory. The band broke up at the end of the '70s, when Peregrine ultimately strayed from his faith and formed a gay cowboy band. Sadly, he passed away at the age of 41 of an AIDs-related illness. [CCa]




CDx2 w/ Book


Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music Volume 4

We are very pleased to finally have the fourth volume of Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music gracing our store shelves again, as this incendiary installment of this Folkways collection -- issued on John Fahey's Revenant imprint -- has been long out of print. Who could have predicted that, some seven years after we first covered this release, folk music would be experiencing such a revival? Here's what we had to say when we first ran the review back in 2000:

It's almost fifty years since Folkways released the three volumes of Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music, and thousands of words have been written about the thousands of lives it supposedly changed. But even the thunderous publicity given the 1997 CD reissue didn't reveal that we were only given three-quarters of the story. The original three volumes were colored green, red and blue, which, in Smith's highly personal alchemical system, were meant to symbolize water, fire, and air. Smith intended to complete the series with a fourth volume, colored yellow and symbolizing earth. He assembled a track list and began work on his notes, but the release was derailed by an argument with a Folkways representative, who insisted that he include a Delmore Brothers song celebrating the reelection of FDR. Now Revenant has reverentially stepped in and released the 28 items on Smith's list, on 2 CDs tucked into a beautiful 96 page hardcover book featuring essays and descriptions by Ed Sanders, Greil Marcus, John Fahey, John Cohen, and Dick Spottswood. Nothing can replace Smith's lost notes, though, so the correlations he intended to make between his selections will remain a mystery. And, ironically, the excitement which Smith's efforts first engendered might even make this volume a bit superfluous for some collectors, as other reissues have rendered the works of performers such as the Carter Family, Uncle Dave Macon, Leadbelly, Robert Johnson, and others considerably less esoteric than they once were. Nevertheless, there are rarities here, by the likes of the Arthur Smith Trio, Sister Clara Hudmon, Al Hopkins and His Buckle Busters, and more, and every selection is worth owning. Dark, haunting, an elegant work of American backyard surrealism, this set comes as close as anything probably ever will to completing a seminal work of recorded popular music. [AL]







Dangerous Game

"You're Never Gonna"

This is the much talked about comeback album from the Shangri-Las' Mary Weiss, and for a change it was done RIGHT (in comparison, put on Chubby Checker's new record... enough said). Backed by the incomparable Reigning Sound, with Lonnie Youngblood on the sax, this record is pretty much all you might hope for. A legendary artist doing what she does best, belting out some great songs backed by a great rock and roll band.






Blood of Sunworm
(Soft Abuse)

"Time Won't Sing"

Yet another smoked-out, freaked-out and fascinating album from Greg Donaldson of the Skygreen Leopards et al. Supposedly created with the expressed purpose of fully exploring "bummer-psych," Giant Skyflower Band takes their dope and their sitar down a long and winding road on this hallucinatory debut disc.






Armchair Apocrypha
(Fat Possum)


On his Fat Possum debut, and the follow-up to his much-heralded 2005 release The Mysterious Production of Eggs, Andrew Bird again brings the goods, and maybe even ups the ante, with a lush yet understated album of lovely, restrained pop music. Charming, moving and beautiful.
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[GA] Geoff Albores
[AB] Adrian Burkholder
[CCa] Carol Candeloro
[CC] Che Chen
[JC] Jo Colagiacomi
[DG] Daniel Givens
[GH] Gerald Hammill
[DH] Duane Harriott
[AL] Andrew Leigh
[RH] Rob Hatch-Miller
[MK] Michael Klausman
[JM] Josh Madell

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