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   October 29, 2009  
Broadcast & the Focus Group
Five Years of Hyperdub (Various)
The Dutchess & the Duke
Zanzibara Volume 5 (Various)
Matias Aguayo
Hudson Mohawke
Devendra Banhart
Mulatu Astatke
Scott Seskind (Download Only)
Fire in My Bones (Various)
Dock Boggs LP
Gastonia Gallop (Various)
Woven Bones 12"

Phill Niblock
Mordant Music
Spatial Disco (Various)

The Swell Season
Neon Indian

Group Bombino
Group Doueh

All of this week's new arrivals.

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OCT Sun 25 Mon 26 Tues 27 Wed 28 Thurs 29 Fri 30 Sat 31

Just in! Mute Records has just given us a pair of tickets to give away to see New York City's loudest band, A Place to Bury Strangers who will be playing TONIGHT at the Bowery Ballroom, supporting their great new album Exploding Head. Enter right away by emailing contest@othermusic.com, and make sure to leave your phone number so we can reach you. Oh yeah...earplugs will be available!

BOWERY BALLROOM: 6 Delancey Street NYC

NOV Sun 01 Mon 02 Tues 03 Wed 04 Thurs 05 Fri 06 Sat 07

Next Wednesday, Lisbon's Buraka Som Sistema will be bringing their funky, modern kuduro sounds to (Le) Poisson Rouge, and this will no doubt be one helluva dance party! Opening the show will be Maluca and DJ Geko Jones (Que Bajo?!). Other Music is giving away two pairs of tickets to the night, and you can enter by emailing giveaway@othermusic.com. We'll notify the two winners on Friday, October 30th.

(LE) POISSON ROUGE: 158 Bleeker Street NYC
NOV Sun 08 Mon 09 Tues 10 Wed 11 Thurs 12 Fri 13 Sat 14

Motown had one, so did Stax. Three soul-deep acts and one smoking hot band to back them up. The triple-header of R&B: the soul revue. Numero Group is reviving this onetime mainstay of theaters, gymnasiums and VFW halls with their Eccentric Soul Revue, which will be hitting the East Coast in November and coming through New York for two special nights, featuring the totally explosive Syl Johnson, the silky smooth Notations, the man with the voice like Domino sugar, Renaldo Domino, and special guest Missy Dee, backed by JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound. We've got one pair of tickets to give away to each of the shows (one winner for each night), so enter by emailing tickets@othermusic.com, and make sure to list which show you'd like to enter see.


MUSIC HALL OF WILLIAMSBURG: 66 North Sixth Street Williamsburg, Brooklyn







$12.99 LP


$9.99 MP3


Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age

"The Be Colony"
"One Million Years Ago"

One of Broadcast's charms has always been their ability to successfully instill a technological context into their music which is simultaneously both retro and forward-looking; the UK group's early records fused a strong 1960s pop context centered around bands like the United States of America and the Silver Apples, with allusions to drum-break-centric dance music culture -- tellingly, Broadcast was one of the first pop/rock-oriented acts on influential electronic label Warp, and in America they released and album on hip-hop label Tommy Boy. The same can easily be said of their peers on the roster of the always intriguing Ghost Box label, which specializes in similarly contexed psychedelia; the folks on Ghost Box, however, have tended to focus more on the underappreciated pop aspects of master sound collagists the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and the French musique concrete school.

It makes perfect sense, then, that for this new release Broadcast have worked in collaboration with Ghost Box founder and flagship act the Focus Group. Not only do they share similar musical aesthetics, but their visual mindsets have been in synch from the get-go as well -- Julian House, the man behind the Focus Group, has also done the sleeve art for all of Broadcast's albums and EPs over the years. On Broadcast and the Focus Group Investigate the Witch Cults, they create a wonderfully dense and dizzying sound environment where singer Trish Keenan's lucid dream vocals and James Cargill's keyboard and guitar melodies are new ingredients in House's Ghost Box of sampladelic tricks. Each contribution is treated with equal importance -- while Keenan's vocals manage to sneak out what could be considered a pop tune here and there, she mainly sings lullabies into the sonic ether, like a moth drawn to a multicolored flame; her voice gets cut up, looped, and multi-tracked amongst nature samples, jazz drum fills, tribal séances, flutes, alarm clock bells, and plenty of the wonky, slightly antiquated electronics that we've come to love from both groups. This is without a doubt the most directly psychedelic, disorienting release yet applied to the Broadcast name, and also has the pleasure of being one of the most wholly satisfying Ghost Box-related releases as well. This is a challenging record, to be sure, but it's beautifully so, and all the better for it. Records like this one are the reason Broadcast remain one of my personal favorite contemporary groups, and its autumn release couldn't be more perfectly timed. Highest recommendation! [IQ]

Order CD by Texting "omcdbroadcastinvestigate" to 767825
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$17.99 MP3


5: Five Years of Hyperdub

"Aidy's Girl's a Computer" Darkstar
"Kaliko" Zomby

Celebrating their fifth year as the premier dubstep label, Hyperdub releases this two-CD set of classics and exclusive new tracks from their excellent stable of electronic producers. Disc one features 16 new offerings from heavyweights like Burial, Cooly G, Darkstar, Flying Lotus, Ikonika, Joker & Ginz, King Midas Sound, Kode9 & the Spaceape, Mala, Martyn, and Zomby, while the second CD contains catalogue favorites, including several tracks that have only been available on limited vinyl until now. A fantastic primer to a young label with a great track record! [DG]

Order CD by Texting "omcdvarious5" to 767825






(Hardly Art)


I know the year isn't over yet, but I'm pretty sure that I've found my favorite record of 2009, and I've been getting constant double takes from the people that I've told this to. I guess it's because I'm a rocker and people just expect certain things, and that pretty much sums up much of the reaction to the Dutchess and the Duke as well. Last year's She's the Dutchess, He's the Duke was an about-face on the lifetimes they'd both spent in sweaty, beer-soaked basement shows as veterans of Seattle's garage scene, but it was also one of the best records of 2008. Now they're back with an even more ambitious sophomore album.

Expanding upon their core instrumentation of acoustic guitars and minimal percussion with Bay Area producer Greg Ashley (formerly of the Gris Gris and a handful of great solo records), on Sunset / Sunrise, the duo flesh out the sound, most noticeably on the re-recording of both songs from last year's 7" single on HoZac, at times including electric guitar and many other unexpected little flourishes that show Ashley to be one of the most thoughtful and talented producers working with real rock music today. Lyrically it is a dark record, but as the title suggests those themes are tempered with honest longing and hope for better times. Whether reflecting on the death of a friend or the anxiety and wonder of being an expectant parent, there is a sense of defiant positivity to offset the brutal events that real life can throw at you. Of course, all of that being wrapped up in songs that refuse to leave your head is essential, and Jesse Lortz (the Duke) and Kimberly Morrison (the Dutchess) deliver those in spades. With a mid-'60s pop songcraft seemingly ingrained in their DNA, the overall sound is akin to Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra with the downer vibes of Jackson C. Frank thrown into the mix, and it all adds up to the best half-an-hour or so of music I've heard this year. [DMa]

Order CD by Texting "omcddutchesssunrise" to 767825






$3.99 MP3


Opiate Sun EP
(Caldo Verde)

"Losing Streak"
"Morning Light"

Pioneering British experimental rock musician Justin Broadrick (Final, Napalm Death, Godflesh) is a big believer in the slow, unbearable heaviness of being. The last time we heard from his main squeeze project Jesu, it was from the other side of an epic 45-minute, one-song-long full-length, aptly titled Infinity. Most Jesu tracks tend to crawl across the finish line around the seven or eight minute mark, bleeding every drop from one particular riff or texture. By building his pieces off of one fuzzed-out riff or kick drum tattoo, Broadrick is able to create surprisingly effective minimal sludge out of relatively few moving pieces. He keeps his instrumentation spry, with the payoff being a maneuverability that eludes most heavy rock outfits.

The remarkable thing is that the songs on Opiate Sun never sound as worn out as the characters in them. As opening track "Losing Streak" establishes the tone for the next bloody-eared twenty-five minutes, it also maps out the exact confines of Broadrick's borders. It begins with the sound of a hot amplifier, churning and anxious, then tears at itself until Broadrick howls at the moon, "We try to find you/but we'll never see your face again." The drums are pushed back into the mix, sounding like they were recorded on another planet entirely, which places the traditionally rhythmic instrument in a different context; instead of propelling the song forward, the faint drums allow the rumbling guitars to exercise their hypnotic ebbs and flows.

The hot amplifier intro precedes every song, and politely informs you that the next noise you hear will probably be thunderous. Right down to the lyrical content, the title track will remind some listeners of Control-era Pedro the Lion, or those damn-your-hearing bits of Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation. But despite a sugary croon and a knack for finely-crafted melodic amp overload, Broadrick has dodged the emo, alternative and shoegaze labels by slowing down the pulse and mysteriously inverting your traditional guitar-drums-bass lineup, unleashing something weightier and more serious lurking beneath every lick. Opiate Sun is an arresting listen because Broadrick manipulates pace to such an excruciatingly patient degree that he manages to build suspense in between every note. [MS]

Order CD by Texting "omcdjesuopiate" to 767825






Zanzibara 5: Hot in Dar
(Buda Musique)

"Taxi Driver" Mlimani Park Orchestra
"Visa Vimenichosa" Mlimani Park Orchestra

Afro Jam of the Week! Buda Musique continues its wonderful Zanzibara series, following in the footsteps of its long-running and successful Ethiopiques releases, and focusing on important scenes or artists from specific times in Zanzibaran music history. Volume five focuses on 1970s dance bands of Tanzania, and quite simply, it's gorgeous. Cut from a similar cloth as Congolese soukous/kwassa kwassa music, with intricate and melodic guitar work, kicking horns, and skittering but somewhat relaxed percussion grooves, these ten tracks offer up biting social commentary of a rather domestic order amidst such gorgeous melodies. Many of the highlights (on a record of nothing but!) come from Dar International Orchestre; "Rufani Ya Kifo (Appeal Against Death)" features a robust saxophone rising high above the intertwining guitars, while "Uzuri Wa Asili (Natural Beauty)" starts off with a jumpy funk groove that shifts down about halfway through into a loping bounce with a great organ riff once the vocals kick in. My personal favorite, though, is Mlimani Park Orchestra's "Taxi Driver," which tells the tale of a man's rebuttal against a lover who accuses him of cruising for ladies and chauffeuring his mistresses around town over a popping groove with lightly psychedelic and jazzy undertones. This record is all killer, no filler, and in my opinion is the best in the series thus far. The booklet is packed with info about all of the artists involved, and best of all, includes lyric translations from the native Swahili into both French and English. I can't think of a better title than the one given to this set already: Hot in Dar! So, so good. [IQ]

Order CD by Texting "omcdvariouszanzibara" to 767825






$12.99 MP3


Ay Ay Ay

"Menta Latte"
"Ay Ay Ay"

Long ago Mathias Agayo was the Closer Musik vocalist, and he heads further astray here with Ay Ay Ay, his second solo album on Kompakt, exploring a more funky and tropical take on his trademarked Chilean/German acid house sound. It seems the fun yet nasty flavor of underground pop icons like M.I.A. and even post-Animal Collective-isms have made their way into the psyche of Aguayo. And guess what? It works! I heard varying reports before I had a chance to listen to this album, and someone snarled that El Guincho was creeping in here, but that seems to be missing a key point; Agayo is an innovator and originator of this poppy tropical techno sound. This album definitely has more percussion, group vocal (all Aguayo's) and that festive/tropical meets overall pop feel, but as one of the funkiest Kompakt artists around, he manages to make it work. The dirty decadence is still there; it's just moved from a dark, after-hours club to a sandy beach with some shades on. If you've heard his recent Kompakt and Soul Jazz releases, you will know what I'm talking about!! [SM]

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$19.99 LPx2+MP3


$9.99 MP3



"Tell Me What You Want from Me" feat: Dam-Funk

Over the past few years, we've seen a new crew of electronic beat producers marching in and picking up the torch first carried by J-Dilla, Prefuse 73, and Madlib, all the while pushing the genre even further out. This year's posterboy, Hudson Mohawke (a/k/a Ross Birchard) has just released his debut full-length on Warp, Butter being a day-glo and neon psychedelic journey into sound and color. At the age of 15, Birchard was a finalist in the worldwide DMC competition for turntablists and producers, and since then he's established a unique scene in Glasgow, bringing the beat patterns he loves from the US back to his homeland. With youthful enthusiasm, using the spastic digital sounds of his PlayStation to create beats, Birchard's style is a loving mix of "Close (to the Edit)"/"Beat Box"-era Art of Noise fused with the chunky rhythms of Teddy Riley's New Jack Swing. Mostly instrumental with a few vocals from Olivier Daysoul and another disciple of the dissonant funk, Dam-Funk, pastoral moments of loopy strings, chopped up vox, and a heaping amount of digital bleeps, pulses and sonic smears fill the atmosphere to create something fresh, at times purposefully goofy, yet always funky, mostly in a quite unexpected way. Less serious or spiritual than label mate Flying Lotus, Birchard's beats feel more like Willy Wonka taffy. A refreshing entry into the main arena of producers on the rise, and at such a young age, he's guaranteed to be one to watch in the years to come. He hasn't made a flawless classic yet, but he's well on his way. For those wondering what happened to trip-hop, it's still around, just renamed wonky, and for good reason. Recommended for those that like their dreams electric. [DG]

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What Will Be
(Warner Bros)

"Can't Help but Smiling"
"16 & Valencia Roxy Music"

Banhart's gone to the Bunny, and doubtless folks are pondering whether the beard will stay weird. On the surface, the answer is yes: his major label debut sports typical esoteric titles, hand-lettering, quirky album art, and shout outs to the mainstays of his freaky-deak crew and dear departed orishas -- St. MJ of Neverland (is "Rats" an electric boogie answer song to "Ben"?). Yet after he sings an ode to "Angelika" en español, Devendra Banhart comes closest to the center of pop we have had occasion to hear -- the appropriately generically named "Baby," sure to go over well with surf music sweethearts -- followed immediately by what sounds like the runt off one of the turn-of-the-seventies auteur-rock LPs that made Mo Ostin's sonic tent in Burbank the place to be for such now-revered misfits as Zappa, Randy Newman, and Neil Young ("Goin Back"). Should you think "All my thoughts are hairs on a wild, wild boar" is migh-T deep, disfruta lo, but these ears will stick with the experimentation and dark ascension of Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon. One might think a collabo with Paul Butler -- from Blighty's great A Band of Bees -- would yield less shimmy.

Of course, if anyone's earned the right to kick back in some Wal-Mart sweats and drift down ye olde Mainstream it's the Gilded Negro. Yet mercifully, after almost putting one to sleep upon the sea of austerity and trendily heading to the disco with "16th & Valencia Roxy Music," your boy bounces back with the glorious canticle "Maria Lionza" and the lovely "Meet Me at Lookout Point" invoking my favorite room at the Airplane Mansion. And it is clear that, although they've made the famed "WB" logo as inconspicuous as possible throughout, Banhart's latest is groomed to aim for those hallowed halls of his sonic forebears, co-signed by Ol' Blue Eyes. Next time 'round -- if he regains something to set him back on the edge -- he might could pull it off. [KCH]

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New York Addis London: The Story of Ethio Jazz 1965 to 1975

"Yekermo Sew"
"Asiyo Belema" feat: Frank Holder

Standard wisdom would say that 2005 was the breakout year for Ethiopian jazzman and composer Mulatu Astatke, when his music was prominently featured in Jim Jarmusch's film Broken Flowers, or else 1998, the year that Volume 4 of the Ethiopiques CD reissue series documenting his compositions was released to wide acclaim. But 2009 truly is the year of Mulatu Astatke. First, he dropped his astounding collaboration with UK group Heliocentrics, as part of Strut's Inspiration Information series (which we have to say generally hasn't had enough of the former) that will surely be topping some year-end lists. And now Strut has gone one better and compiled a heady mix of the man's recordings from early on in his career. While there is a fair amount of overlap between this and the Ethiopiques collection, even if you have that one (and love it like we do), the other tracks still make it well worth your while. [AB]

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$9.99 MP3


Selected Works
(Yoga Records)

Preview Songs on Other Music's Download Store

Almost totally unheralded singer-songwriter Scott Seskind gets the Yoga Records reissue treatment, and I couldn't be happier. About a year ago I pulled Seskind's sole vinyl release out of the used bin of a Boulder record store, and with its almost Wallace Berman-esque cover art, could immediately suspect it was something special. The first listen didn't dispel that notion one bit; here was an impressively captivating and moving collection of four-tracked bedroom folk of the highest order, with an out-of-time vibe that didn't really snyc with its 1984 recording date. Definitely on the loner-ish end of the folk spectrum, with some aspects of the album harkening back to Skip Spence's iconic Oar, while other moments revealed the urgency of the '80s lo-fi revolution. But most importantly, the songs were just really, really great and managed to remain haunting long past their leaving.

Here, I thought, is an album that needs to be heard by more people, NOW. I asked around amongst some record collecting friends and discovered it was pretty highly rated by a small circle of people in the know, and that it had even managed to garner a mention in the Acid Archives despite its late recording date, and most excitingly that there was talk that the digital reissue label Yoga had managed to track Seskind down and secure the rights his LP, and an even more obscure cassette-only release that I believe was recorded around the same time. So here we have it, the best songs from Seskind's eponymous LP coupled with choice cuts off of his cassette, the latter of which are also excellent if somewhat sketchier and less desolate than what turned up on record, though I particularly love the seemingly Joe Brainard-inspired track "I Remember," which movingly chronicles the exploits of Seskind and one of his best friends. Easily one of the best albums I've heard all year, and I really hope this release garners the listeners it deserves. As far as I can tell, Seskind isn't involved in music much any longer, having seemingly put his attention towards documentary filmmaking and photography, while also working in the health care industry. Only available as a Download. [MK]






Fire in My Bones
(Tompkins Square)

"Jesus' Blood" Golden Stars of Greenwood
"I Got a Telephone..." Amazing Farmer Singers of Chicago
"Go Devil Go" Madam Ira Mae Littlejohn

This latest Tompkins Square release takes a dizzyingly large swath of African American sacred music as its subject, drawing on nearly 65 years of regional styles and traditions all but overshadowed in the public consciousness by the enduring popularity of the gospel vocal group and the solo singer.

Producer Mike McGonigal (of Yeti and Chemical Imbalance magazines, and sometime Mississippi Records producer) originally planned for Fire in My Bones to trace the musical evolution of the Pentecostal (also called Holiness or Sanctified) black church -- embodied by the charismatic members of the ecstatic Church of God in Christ -- into the post-war years. 1944 was an obvious starting place, as it marked the first releases of the superstar evangelist and electric guitar pioneer Rev. Utah Smith. Indeed, Smith and a number of his oft-anthologized followers (in spirit if not in affiliation) are represented herein -- Rev. Lonnie Farris, Sister O.M. Terrill, Rev. Anderson Johnson -- but McGonigal found this route too limiting. And thank goodness, as Fire in My Bones ends up offering a staggering, occasionally disorienting, but richly rewarding view of a massive diversity of black religious music, churned out by all manner of the faithful, with all manner of instrumentation, from D.C. to Los Angeles and various locales in between.

In addition to the early Holiness guitar-evangelists, some familiar names make fine contributions, highlights include: Sister Rosetta Tharpe's erstwhile partner Marie Knight's "Does Jesus Care;" Bishop Perry Tillis' "Some Sweet Day;" the peerless -- and recently deceased -- Snooks Eaglin's "Down by the Riverside." Abner Jay delivers a remarkably straight but no less powerful "My Testimony." Madame Ira Mae Littlejohn's frenzied (and ubiquitous) "Go Devil Go" (1947) turns up here, as does Willie Mae Williams' heart-wrenching "Where the Sun Never Goes Down" (1949) -- taken together they offer interesting evidence of how older acoustic traditions subsisted for a time alongside the increasingly electrifying urban sound of black vernacular music, both sacred and secular.

The set includes a number of field recordings by George Mitchell (celebrated blues-woman Precious Bryant; the Georgia Fife and Drum Band), as well as by Harry Oster (Mosely and Maxey, prisoners at Louisiana's Angola State Penitentiary), Bill Ferris (Fannie Bell Chapman and the ineffably wonderful multi-instrumentalist Napolion [sic] Strickland), and Guy and Candie Carawan (Laura Rivers of Johns Island, South Carolina, with an unaccompanied home recording originally issued on a Folkways LP). It features sides from many utterly obscure family groups, originally released on regional "vanity" labels. Its pendulum swings from old-fashioned congregational lining hymns to newfangled "sanctified soul" numbers which fans of the Numero Group's Good God! A Gospel Funk Hymnal will appreciate.

Add to this some stunning rarities, and it's clear Fire in My Bones is fairly essential: the chilling, plaintive testimony of Brother and Sister W.B. Grate's two-part "Power Is in the Heart of Man;" D.C.'s street-corner evangelist Flora Molton and her Truth Band's "I Heard It Through the True Vine;" criminally under-recorded, under-recognized casket-maker and guitar-slayer (and cousin of Rev. Cleophus Robinson) Boyd Rivers's "Fire Shed in My Bones;" and Georgia pianist Brother Theotis Taylor's "Swing Low," one of his four rare and deeply affecting sides. The list indeed goes on, but since we've already devolved into list-making, suffice it to say if you're even remotely a devotee of African American sacred music, you'll not be disappointed by Fire in My Bones. [NS]

Order CD by Texting "omcdvariousfire" to 767825






Legendary Singer and Banjo Player
(Smithsonian Folkways)

A few years back I heard esteemed critic Greil Marcus refer to Dock Boggs as the white Robert Johnson. While I found the comment somewhat unsettling at first, over time I have come to understand the striking comparison. Fans hail both players as legends and definitive masters of their respective instruments; both musicians evoke spine-chilling emotion from traditional ballads; they both recorded seminal, genre-defining works as young men, Boggs at age 29 in 1927 and Johnson in 1936. And both men's genius was largely unrecognized by the general public during their primes, with Johnson dying just a couple of years after his recording career began, and Boggs' ascent cut off by the Great Depression. (Boggs toiled most of his life in coalmines, dying in 1971.) Furthermore, Harry Smith anthologized both musicians in his anthropological cross section of Americana.

Dock Boggs played a singular blend of Southern Appalachian folk and country blues, with an unusual "up-picking" technique. There is an overwhelming gospel influence present in Boggs' recordings, adding to their fervor and inspiration. And unlike many folk-revival recording artists, Boggs somehow conjures the virtuosity displayed in his early recordings on his 1960s artifacts. His voice sounds clean and clear, unencumbered by age, accompanied by a crisp banjo. And songs like "Oh Death" and "New Prisoner's Song" take on added meaning later in his life, and he sings them with startling conviction.

Monk reissued his early recordings earlier this year, and they didn't sit around for long (Revenant reissued those in the nineties and they fetch a mighty sum now).  However, these recordings sit in a different yet equally reverent place on our shelves; distributed by the venerable Runt, this is the first of three vinyl reissues of recordings that Boggs made for Folkways during the early to mid 60s, replicated like the original LP, right down to the information booklet. One of the quintessential outsiders in American folk music, consider this required listening. [BCa]

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Gastonia Gallop: Cotton Mill Songs
(Old Hat)

"Cotton Mill Colic" David McCarn
"When You Go a Courtin'" George Wade & Francum Braswell

For their second volume of North Carolina country roots music, Old Hat Records sets their narrow sights on the mill towns of Gaston County, NC. Last year's In the Pines started the series, and it was a spectacular cataloguing of old-timey country ballads. Gastonia Gallop is another feather in Old Hat's old hat, a beautiful CD treatment with the highest standards of vintage photo reproduction and liner notes, complete with historical anecdotes annotating these murder ballads and work songs, adding an air of authenticity to this distant hard time music. No unions, no medical care, no land, and not much work, this collection of 24 hard living, hard drinking and hard fighting songs is testament to a time that country music today wishes it could sing about. Recorded between 1927 through 1931, these are the hillbilly blues that were left behind, picked up and dusted off, out of antiquity and into your living room. [BCa]

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Minus Touch EP
(Zoo Music)

With a quick string of 7" singles in all the right places (HoZac, Sweet Rot, Needless), recent Austin, Texas immigrants Woven Bones have made people sit up and take notice, and this four-song 12" will only add to and expand that excitement. No doubt there are plenty of common/obvious signifiers here: JAMC feedback and fuzzed-out guitars, simple garage stylings and caveman beats, but you'll have a hard time viewing that as negative when they're all wrapped up in such effortlessly catchy songs. Seriously, these songs are probably the best yet from a band that has yet to make a misstep. Bring on the full-length! [DMa]

Order LP by Texting "omlpwovenminus" to 767825






Touch Strings


At work now for over four decades, minimalist composer Phill Niblock hardly needs an introduction, as a solid cornerstone of modern composition who has over the years crafted a series of compositions that show a gradual evolution to his unstudied and yet still principled approach. Ever exploring the complex interactions of layered, long-form tones and drones, Niblock has maintained a particularly fruitful relationship with the Touch label since the dawn of the new century, one that has resulted in three increasingly immersive and staggering collections of his work. Touch Strings represents the man's fourth collection for the label, and while it doesn't necessarily add any new wrinkles to Niblock's oeuvre, it continues his peerless succession of beautiful and subtly detailed releases.

As one would probably guess from the title, Touch Strings collects a series of compositions all written for stringed instruments. While this presents an obvious ideological theme, Niblock manages to explore distinctly different terrain throughout the two hours of music presented here. "Stosspeng," which takes up the whole of disc one, traffics in neatly understated guitar and bass, conjuring a gently undulating (and mildly menacing) sea of sound that's surprisingly delicate. "Poure," which opens the second disc, stands in stark contrast. Crafted from sweeping cello lines, this one aims for a more distinct cacophony, developing into a billowing din of hums that threatens to overtake the listener. Best of all, however, is "One Large Rose," a live quartet performance that eschews Niblock's normal production approach in favor of the immediacy of four players in a room. Their presence gives the piece a remarkable depth and vitality, as they amass tones that energetically bring Niblock's latest series of works to a graceful conclusion. [MC]

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(Mordant Music)

"You Are a Door"
"Belgian Blues"

A sick new album from the GM label head known as Baron Mordant, whose Mordant Music is producing another dubstep sub-genre all his own. I initially wanted to call it cavestep but finally settled on the more-fitting throbstep (I loved his last compilation, featuring Mordant alongside Shackleton and Vindicatrix, btw). This guy's production isn't satisfied with following the rules, yet the sound is so basic and so essential, at times reminiscent of a dubstep Monoton or Mark Stewart mix. That basically translates as spacious, subterranean layers, pulses and buried vocals all dubbed-out and moody (deep, yet almost aggressive), dimly lit but with a sense of openness. There is a lot more of a vocal element than expected on this album, far more than on Picking O'er the Bones, but the approach fluctuates between the aforementioned dubstep Monoton feel, a dubbed-out spoken vocal feel, and a more subterranean, unshakeable Underworld-meets-Loop feel. Listen to track three "In Truth Is Wine" to get what I'm talking about! Great stuff!! [SM]

Order CD by Texting "omcdmordantsymptoms" to 767825






Spatial Disco

"Funky Bass" Arpadys
"Exotic Guide" Spatial & Co.

The trippy, spaced-out Eurodisco of the '70s French studio groups Voyage and Arpadys has long been a staple in the crates of all of your fave long-haired DJs for quite some time. "Point Zero" and "I Love You Dancer" were huge dance tunes that were favorites of Larry Levan and David Mancuso and have gotten re-edit and dancefloor shine from current DJ heroes like Rub-N-Tug, DJ Harvey and Danny Wang. Both of these bands were basically studio-assembled groups headed up by Sauveur Mallia. In addition, he created the groups Spatial & Co and Disco & Co, who recorded instrumental disco library music that was never commercially released to the public. This album collects the musical highlights from all four projects, and it's a doozy! All 14 cuts are instrumental, laser-lighted sleazy tunes that inspired visions of handlebar moustaches, Italian suits and purring, gyrating princesses bathed in kaleidoscopic diffused light. Hey, if you're gonna title your tracks "Cold Coke," "Future Vision" and "Electric Maneges," I expect nothing less. All of the prerequisite pumpin' congas and porn-tastic bass lines are here in spades, but there's a nice variety of different sounds and influences that pervade throughout. Tracks like "Space People" and "Future Vision" have a distinct Vangelis/Goblinesque feel to them and "Bass Power" reminds me of the UK jazzy Brit-funk of A Certain Ratio and Freeez. Throw in the aforementioned instrumental versions of their biggest hits and you have yourself a fine soundtrack to a naughty night of your own discretion. TIP!! [DH]

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Strict Joy

The Swell Season took an unusual path to fame, and to love, when Glen Hansard (of the Frames) and Markéta Irglová starred in the indie smash Once, and then won an Oscar for the theme to that movie. They also became a real-life couple, and if their soundtrack to the film read like the story of their falling in love, the duo's second album is the story of their relationship falling apart. And it's even better for it, with some of the most heartfelt and thoughtful folk-pop you will hear this year.

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What We All Come to Need
(Southern Lord)

Pelican confounded many of their longtime fans with City of Echoes, their 2007 full-length on Hydra Head that seemed to be aiming for a pop crossover. The move to Southern Lord, however, heralds a bit of a return to form, though this complicated band can never truly be pinned down. But these songs pound and sprawl and generally deliver a knockout punch that should please old fans of the group, and those of their new label.

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Psychic Chasms

Despite the push-button rhythms, the cheap synth sounds and dive-bombing videogame effects, Neon Indian's debut album has a remarkable amount of soul. Alan Polomo shamelessly gravitates to ill-advised 1980's nostalgia, but these tracks pulse with real emotion (and songwriting), and the production comes wrapped in a delirious low-fi haze that is utterly embracing.

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Guitars from Agadez 2
(Sublime Frequencies)


"This is the music of rebellion," asserts Hisham Mayet in the liner notes of the second volume of Group Bombino's Guitars from Agadez. The combination of traditional Tuareg folk music, western pop, and unhinged psychedelic guitar makes for some of the most refreshing sounds we've heard of late. The group is fronted by Agadez's newest guitar hero, Omara Mochtar (a/k/a Bombino), who plays both acoustic and electric, straddling the traditional sound of his youth with the electric sensibilities of today. In fact, the first half of the disc highlights "dry guitar," which displays Bombino's skill at the acoustic while the latter half is fully plugged in, assaulting and distorted. Members of Group Bombino include artists from Group Inerane, as the musicians in Agadez share resources with each other, including equipment, players, songs, and a deep political conviction. United in their uprising against the government of Niger (which sells uranium to foreign companies for undisclosed sums of money while a majority of its citizens live in poverty), the music of the Tuareg in Agadez thrives on the righteous battle for equal distribution of wealth which keeps the songs fresh and vital in their resistance. As far as I'm concerned, this release is as essential as they come. [BCa]

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Treeg Salaam
(Sublime Frequencies)

"Ragsa Jaguar"
"Nabi El Mohamed"

Earlier this year, we had the limited LP pressing of Group Doueh's follow-up to their stunning debut, Guitar Music from the Western Sahara, in stock for about a minute, but thankfully Sublime Frequencies has just re-released Treeg Salaam as a CD with a lot more copies to go around. Treeg Salaam is just as ear-bending as its predecessor, the first four tracks are ecstatic and trance-inducing, fueled by frantic beats, call-and response vocals and of course Salmou Doueh Baamar's virtuosic, phased-out guitar work. The disc ends with what is probably the most unexpected performance that the Western world has heard from Group Doueh, a 20-minute-long drone-based excursion that pretty much stops time in its tracks.

Order CD by Texting "omcdgrouptreeg" to 767825
  All of this week's new arrivals.

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[AB] Adrian Burkeholder
[BCa] Brian Cassidy
[MC] Michael Crumsho
[DG] Daniel Givens
[DH] Duane Harriott
[KCH] Kandia Crazy Horse
[IQ] Mikey IQ Jones
[MK] Michael Klausman
[DMa] Dave Martin
[SM] Scott Mou
[NS] Nathan Salsburg
[MS] Michael Stasiak

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