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This Week's Free Song Download
Flight Of The Demoiselles
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Free song download of "Flight of the Demoiselles," the first single from Blacklist's forthcoming new album, Midnight of the Century, on Wierd Records. Mixed by Ed Buller (Suede, Pulp), Blacklist are a much-needed anomaly in NYC's music scene, channeling the music ghosts of groups like the Comsat Angels, Bolshoi and Chameleons with their chiming guitars and dark, romantic melodies. Backed with a non-album B-side, "Daybreak," available, for $1.11.
This Week's Featured Downloads
The Proper Sex LP
The Social Registry
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A side-project from Lizzi Bougatsos of Gang Gang Dance and Growing's Sadie Laska (here the duo is credited as Mr. Egglesby and Lil' Pickle), I.U.D. delivers a dark percussive outing that's a shambolic blend of early industrial greats like Einstürzende Neubauten and Malaria!, the unhinged experimental rock of Boredoms and Harry Pussy, and some black metal atmospherics. Truly freaked-out sounds that will appeal to fans of either woman's full-time gig, or any of the above.
The Langley Schools Music Project
Innocence and Despair
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We're proud to welcome Hoboken's one and only Bar/None Records to our download store, and the legendary indie label is hand-selecting some of their favorite releases for the site. Their Langley Schools Music Project reissue is one of OM's top selling CDS of all time and could have even be called a sensation with both staff and customers alike when it first hit our shelves. Here's what we wrote back in 2001, when this one-of-a-kind musical discovery was re-released for the whole world to hear:
In 1976, Hans Fenger was hired into the Langley School District as a music teacher. New to the task, he was impressed by the Schulwerk method of Austrian composer Carl Orff, which involves making music with a variety of easy-to-learn, mostly percussive instruments. But Orff's methods usually apply to students self-composing, or following a quite different repertoire than the one the Langley students found most compelling. They, with the encouragement of Fenger, picked out their favorite songs to render in the Orff style, (one dominated by xylophones and drums, for a gamelan-like sound). Beach Boys (6 songs) and Wings (2) were particular favorites, but Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie, The Carpenters, Neil Diamond and more are also given the treatment. Sixty angel voices singing pop songs with their own sense of phrasing and tuning, set to a not-always-steady beat? The results are devastating, ethereal and funny, but most of all, mystifying. Hits you in the gut where you didn't even realize -- their renditions can make you tremble with amazement.
Surround Him with Love feat: Robyn Hitchcock
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Burnside Project's Richard Jankovich has been cranking out remixes under his Pocket guise for a few years now, and here we find him prolifically upping his profile with this new series of singles, each one a collaboration with a different artist. The first installment, "Surround Him with Love," features none other than Robyn Hitchcock, whose instantly identifiable voice gets layered over loops of synths and guitar and a pulsing beat -- not the kind of sounds you'd normally expect to hear behind the legendary Soft Boys singer, but it's a pretty cool combo. Indie-electro poppers Somnambulants contribute a remix that puts a little more crunch on the drum machine while wrapping the song in a dreamy haze, but most surprising is hearing Hitchcock's lyrical surrealisms (e.g. the repeated mantra of "reptile brain") dubbed-out and floating over a space disco reworking from KKS. Five tracks in all, also includes "Let Her Close Her Eyes" which features musician/comedienne Shonali Bhowmik (Tigers and Monkeys). Look for future singles which will be debuting on Other Music Digital, and will include contributions from a diverse range of guests, including Craig Wedren (Shudder to Think), Mark Burgess (The Chameleons), Yuki Chikudate (Asobi Sesku), Danny Seim (Menomena), Sal Principato (Liquid Liquid), and more.
The Spring Story
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Spring Records -- and its subsidiaries Event and Posse -- was a pretty successful independent soul label that operated out of NYC from about 1968 to '92 or so. Although you may have never heard of the company itself, you're probably already familiar with names like Millie Jackson, Fatback Band or Joe Simon. Spanning different decades and styles of the time, this collection provides a nice, solid overview of some forgotten gems -- be it gritty ballads, proto-disco, funk or boogie. The comp contains some of the biggest hits from the aforementioned, but there are also a slew of rare, barely heard tracks that any burgeoning soul aficionado would be excited to have. You like cheatin soul? Well, it doesn't get much more cold-hearted than Phillip Mitchell's break-laden ode to infidelity, "If We Get Caught, I Don't Know You." There's also a gorgeous cover of the ultimate cheaters anthem, "If Loving You Is Wrong," by Millie Jackson, and Joe Simon's classic "Drowning in the Sea of Love." There's some northern soul represented by Mayberry Movement's frank ode to post-breakup jealousy, "I Can See Him Loving You," as well as a great Motown medley courtesy of Little Eva of "Locomotion" fame. There's a little something for everyone on this great collection; all in all, an amazing document of one of the most solid soul labels of the '70s and '80s.
The Fatback Band
Keep On Steppin'
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Formed in 1970 in New York City, the Fatback Band was the brainchild of noted session drummer Bill Curtis. Curtis basically wanted to create a NYC take on the "fatback" sound of New Orleans, which essentially means the Meters with a horn session. By the time of this 1974 recording, the Fatback Band had garnered quite a loyal local crowd and acquired a few funkin' call-and-response R&B hits. Inspired by the burgeoning discotheque scene and the success of artists like BT Express, Kool & the Gang and Bohannon, Keep On Steppin' was a front-to-back house party dance record. From the low-slung minimal grooves of the title track to the original hip-hop party break, "Wicky-Wacky," this is funk of the highest order, and while it's definitely a lot looser and not as bright as the aforementioned bands, it's still as infectious. Keep On Steppin' was pretty successful at the time of its release, but it's been a beat diggers favorite for years, and everyone from A Tribe Called Quest to Terrence Trent D'Arby and Madonna have borrowed a few infectious riffs from this underground classic.
As Seen Through Windows
Arts & Crafts
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The second album from Montreal's Bell Orchestre, whose members include Arcade Fire's Sarah Neufeld and Richard Parry. Far more impressionistic than any of the Fire's music, or the Arts & Crafts roster for that matter, this six-piece ensemble's instrumentation and arrangements are classically based, and with John McEntire sitting in the producer's chair, calling this chamber post-rock wouldn't be too far of a stretch, but that only paints half the picture. Cinematic in scope, As Seen Through Windows moves from gorgeously haunting ethereal atmospherics to raucous, abstract jazzy romps (and everything in between), the pieces uber-melodic yet shimmering with electricity, as if the strings, horns and percussion were recorded with the VU needles hovering in the red. Some of the most vibrant instrumental music that we've heard in a while.
The Omni Recording Company
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Recorded in 1978 but shelved because of its dark and adult content, electronic music genius Bruce Haack's Haackula has been begging for a proper release ever since. A watered down, edited version was released in 1981 (as Bite) but it hardly tells the entire story of this album. While he is primarily known for his quirky synthesizer works for children, Haackula is an entirely different deal. Some of the playfulness remains but the overall mood is serious and spooky, with Haack cursing and expressing his frustration with society over an electronic backing that comes across as a twisted electro version of Kraftwerk. Kinda like he got fed up with educating the kiddies and playing nice, and let all his discontent and dark secrets out in one fell swoop. Completely mind-melting and political psychedelic electronics that sound as if they just arrived from the future. In addition, there's a track he did with Russell Simmons (!) in 1982 ("Party Machine") and "Icarus," an amazing 32-minute soundscape from 1979. Highly recommended.
Round Black Ghosts 2
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I guess it makes sense that Scape would end up pushing the dubstep movement forward. Back in the opening years of the new millennium, the label showed the electronica-loving masses that they didn't have to be afraid of the humble bassline, so it seems almost inevitable that they would end up exploring the dubstep genre somewhere down the line. Their German heritage, however, is what makes their choices interesting, and what sets these compilations apart from the tedious throng of boring mixes that overpopulate the shelves right now. Choosing to focus on the Berlin-influenced variants in the genre (the sound pioneered by 2562, Martyn and Peverelist), the label has given the compilation a ready and apt focus and a platform for people to discover this electronic-heavy almost dancefloor-primed splinter of the dubstep movement. The basslines are still present and correct but the low production values of some earlier dubstep are refined in favor of crisp, rolling electronic beats and lovingly EQ-ed synth pads.
Kicking the record off is genre classic "Circling" from Peverelist & Appleblim, and while this might have been played half to death, now it's a good sign of the kind of caliber Scape have commanded from the artists involved. Elsewhere, dubstep pioneer Zed Bias drops one of his finest cuts in a long time with the dark and heavy "The Cauldron," a track that perfectly blends the flickering neon of London nightlife with the cold machine-noise of central Europe. Dutch producer and scene legend Martyn pops up with his now well-known "Vancouver" and shows why there's so much buzz around his name at the moment. With the tempered atmosphere of a young DJ Shadow (yes, I went there), he manages to add a gloomy cinematic element to what is basically a woozy house track, giving us some of the most original sounds we've heard in the genre so far. Californian hip-hop deconstructionist and 'wonky' stalwart Flying Lotus drops in with a remix of Martyn's equally essential "Natural Selection" and shows that even the Americans can get in on the act at this point, holding his own perfectly well around dubstep gods Kode9 and Ramadanman. Kode9's 'funky' variant, "Den of Drums," is another dancefloor masterpiece that shows the genre isn't just for hooded teenagers nodding their heads under a cloud of yellow smoke. If you buy one dubstep compilation this year, this would be a safe bet -- sure a lot of the tracks have been around on wax for a while, but that doesn't impact upon their ear-pummeling goodness. Awesome.