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This Week's Free Song Download
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LA noise punks HEALTH, whose eponymous debut from 2007 would be reworked by bands and producers and released as DISCO a year later, are bitten by the remix bug again. Their new album, DISCO 2, finds every song off of their second full-length (last year's Get Color) being transformed from howling, percussive anti-pop romps into spacey, synth-fueled excursions by electro-minded contemporaries like Crystal Castles, Tobacco, Salem, Javelin, Nite Jewel, and many more. DISCO 2 also includes this new song, "USA Boys," which we're offering as a free download this week, a great, shimmering, slow-burner recorded in Trent Reznor's studio and mixed by the one and only Alan Moulder.
This Week's Featured Downloads
Jack Rose With D. Charles Speer & The Helix
Ragged and Right
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It's hard for me to imagine a musician as tailored to my tastes as Jack Rose was, with one foot planted firmly in the American folk music tradition and the other ankle deep in the mud and mystery of experimentation. Recorded during the summer of 2008, a year-and-half before Rose's untimely passing, Ragged and Right has a little bit of both sides of Rose's oeuvre behind it: a neo-traditionalist country record, reminiscent of Link Wray's great Three Track Shack sessions (recordings Rose and Speer acknowledge directly both in tone and selection via a cover of Vernon Wray's "Prison Song" and a take of "In the Pines" that's reminiscent of Link's version) played live in the studio with that slightly sentimental / slightly drunk hazy retrospect all lovers of great classic country feel from time to time.
D. Charles Speer, a/k/a Dave Shuford of No-Neck Blues Band, meets Rose somewhere in the ampersand in "Country & Western." I won't say this album is a masterpiece of country revival and the resurrection of all that was ragged and right about that music in days gone by, but when a note wants hitting on this record, it's hit -- the rest of the time the band wanders around the neighborhood taking in the sights (and sounds). And there are sounds to behold aplenty. D. Charles Speer's associates, the Helix, all know just where to go, and none of them make a habit of getting there too early or too late. Rose plays an electric guitar the way those of you who are familiar with his work may have always hoped he would in this context. Sure it's a little short, but it's a recording that has the rare distinction of being wholly satisfying. What more can you ask for?
Milky Disco III: To the Stars
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For a few years now, Lo Recordings' annual Milky Disco compilation series has been a reliable gauge on all things cosmic, arpeggiated, shiny, funky and slowburnin'. Each one is lovingly curated by the label's own Jon Tye, whose selection always features the crème de la crème of producers in the underground "nu-disco" scene. Not surprisingly, the third installment is another winner as all 12 tracks are stellar, but this time around there are also some fresh new sounds creeping into the mix: NYC-based Oneohtrix Point Never's slow-rising "Astral Project T.I.N.A." is a gorgeous Kevin Shields-esque ambient piece while the UK's Brassica offer up fantastic slo-mo electro-house with "Made Up My Mind," which features weary female lead vocals. Of course, familiar names like Black Devil Disco Club and In Flagranti make strong appearances too and there's also a bonus mp3 mix from Tye tagged on to the end of the download highlighting tracks from this edition as well as some additional exclusive cuts.
Black Devil Disco Club
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The strange, vampiric disco created by Black Devil Disco Club seems to come from another universe where night is day and time is inverted. The Black Devil project was actually the brainchild of mysterious French library music producer Bernard Fevre some 32 years ago, however, the insanely dark, yet highly danceable dubbed-out ethno-disco never found an audience at the time and he disappeared into obscurity -- that is until 2006, when Luke Vibert re-released the EP and soon after came a Morgan Geist-produced tribute 12-inch. With Fevre suddenly being hailed as a major influence to the sound of up-and-coming leftfield disco producers, he reappeared and began making music again that sonically picked up where he left off. Here we find Fevre presenting six re-workings off of his 2008-released Eight Oh Eight. While his cavernous Afro-percussion trademark is still present, on tracks like "Free Girls Dub" and "Never No Dub," slight traces of techno-influenced bass lines creep into the mix, making the music a little more current sounding. I always get excited when a new Black Devil record is released because I always know I'll be inspired and this one is certainly no different.
Graduation and Other New Country and Blues Music
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The secret history of minimalism continues to expand with the excavation of Henry Flynt's Graduation and Other New Country and Blues Music. Much minimal music has a trance-inducing effect; a composer like Riley, Reich or Young would borrow liberally from countries whose music had a tradition of using sound to induce trance states. Referencing Ghana, Morocco, or India gave those composers' music an exotic sheen. Henry Flynt instead delved deep into the music of possibly the most exotic country of all -- America -- to find his inspiration in truck driver culture and the commercial country radio of the sixties and seventies: George Jones, Merle Haggard, Del Reeves are his muses. Where Terry Riley evoked mescaline and psylocybin, Flynt's is all caffeine and amphetamines. He realized that there isn't anything more trance-inducing than the painted stripes of the highway from 80 mph, or any place more hallucinatory than a Waffle House along I-75 at 3 a.m. This document reveals is nothing less than Flynt's vision of cosmic cowboy boogie. The first track is a "hillbilly" response to Pandit Pran Nath that wouldn't sound out of place on Mayo
Thompson's Corky's Dept to His Father. The second track could be "Poppy Nogood" transposed to guitar, fiddle and drum. Much of the music is country raga -- ringing steel guitars, electric fiddles, a beautiful 20-minute foray of pastoral oscillating guitar revery. Flynt even explores what I guess could be called avant-garde country disco, replete with breakbeats and a steady backbeat. Baffling...