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   November 15, 2012  
       
   
     
 
 
FEATURED NEW RELEASES
Pye Corner Audio
Naomi Punk
Holly Herndon
El Perro Del Mar
Jesse Boykins III & Melo-X
The Babies
Sharon Van Etten (Tramp Deluxe)
Clinic
Vessel
William Basinski
Brian Eno
John Cale
Ital Tek
Lightning Bolt
Bush Tetras
 
ALSO AVAILABLE
The Beatles (LP reissues & Box Set)
Animal Collective (10" Single)
Sufjan Stevens
Oneida
Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard
Drop on Down in Florida (CDx2 & BK)
Pictures of Sound (CD & BK)
Philip Glass (CD & DVD)
Nite Jewel (Back in Print on Vinyl)
Holy Other (Available on Vinyl)

Follow us on Facebook: facebook.com/othermusicnyc
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NOV Sun 11 Mon 12 Tues 13 Wed 14 Thurs 15 Fri 16 Sat 17


  WIN SCOTT WALKER LISTENING PARTY PASSES
Other Music has four more pairs of passes to give away to TONIGHT'S exclusive listening party for Scott Walker's forthcoming new record, Bish Bosch (out December 4), at NYC's McKittrick Hotel, the home of Sleep No More! 4AD has promised this to be a unique event -- it's a new Scott Walker album, how could it not be? -- and it all gets underway at 10:30 p.m. To enter for your chance at a pair of these passes stop what you're doing and email contest@othermusic.com right away!

TONIGHT, THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15
MCKITTRICK HOTEL: 530 W 27th St. NYC



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


  HURRICANE SANDY RELIEF CONCERT THIS SUNDAY AT UNION POOL
Our good friends at Union Pool and local business collective From Brooklyn with Love have been very active in organizing fundraisers, relief drives, donation deliveries and volunteer events in order to aid so many in the New York community who have been affected by the devastating storm which swept through the region a few weeks ago. This Sunday, Union Pool will be hosting a relief concert featuring a great line-up of bands: The Monte Vista, Shenandoah & The Night, Jess Williamson, Desert Stars, Sophia Knapp, Field Mouse, Ice Balloons, Free Blood, and Wild Yaks. It all gets under way at 4:30 P.M., with a $20 minimum donation, all money going to the World Cares Center.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 18
UNION POOL: 484 Union Ave. Williamsburg, BKLN
Presented by Union Pool & From Brooklyn with Love

     
 
   
   
 
 
NOV Sun 25 Mon 26 Tues 27 Wed 28 Thurs 29 Fri 30 Sat 01




  WIN TICKETS TO INDIANS AT BOWERY BALLROOM
It's not even been a year since Copenhagen's Indians (a/k/a Soren Lokke Juul) performed their first show, but on the strength of the self-released "Magic" single and much-talked-about live performances touring Europe and North America with the likes of Beirut, Bear in Heaven and Lower Dens, the band has signed to 4AD, with a full-length set for release in early 2013. Indians will be playing a couple of shows in New York City in late November, and we've got two pairs of tickets to catch this up-and-coming artist who will be opening for Other Lives at Bowery Ballroom on Wednesday, November 28. To enter, email giveaway@othermusic.com. Indians recently filmed a gorgeous installment for 4AD's Sessions series and it's not to be missed.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 28
BOWERY BALLROOM: 6 Delancey St. NYC

     
 
   
   
 
 
DEC Sun 25 Mon 26 Tues 27 Wed 28 Thurs 29 Fri 30 Sat 01


  WIN TICKETS TO DINOSAUR JR.
Where did the time go?! Dinosaur Jr.'s You're Living All Over Me has turned 25 years old and J., Lou and Murph will be playing the classic record in full at Terminal 5 on Saturday, December 1, with "very special friends" sitting in and Kurt Vile and the Violators opening. In other words, you don't want to miss this one and we're giving away two pairs of tickets. Email enter@othermusic.com for your chance to win and look for the live Dinosaur album Chocomel Daze, dropping next week.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 1
TERMINAL 5: 610 W. 56th St. NYC

     
 
   
   
   
   
   
       
   

 

 

     
 

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  PYE CORNER AUDIO
Sleep Games
(Ghost Box)

"The Black Mill Video Tape"
"The Mirror Ball Cracked"

Martin Jenkins, the mysterious Head Technician, follows up his double-LP issue of the Black Mills Tapes Volumes 1 & 2, and the digital-only Volume 3, with a brand new album for the esteemed Ghost Box label. Entitled Sleep Games, this is arguably his most concise, focused, and hard-hitting release to date. Those familiar with his blunted, fog-and-brimstone-scented take on warped synth-heavy G-funk will know what they're in for here; his expert blend of Giorgio Moroder and John Carpenter analogue pulsations pump and throb with a sensuality heretofore unexplored on Ghost Box, fusing the otherworldly darkness and pastoral esoterica so embraced by the label with the sweat, heat, and shiver of a darkened dance floor. Bear in mind, though, that those sweats are cold, the heat is feverish, and the shivers are hallucinatory; Jenkins' keyboard melodies warble and flutter like spectral dancing flames, and his productions are soaked in atmospheres that are as thick as those of Andy Stott, but where Stott's productions are caked in mud and a thick bass sludge, Jenkins opts more toward etheriality. That spectralism is anchored throughout by some of his most direct, hard-hitting beats and bass lines, giving even the more brief interlude passages a weight and flow that is seldom achieved with albums of this sort. That's another strongpoint altogether; where many of his peers haunting the same sort of gothic, blackened dancehalls tend to simply pummel and dominate, Pye Corner Audio works in a more subtle fashion, slowly finessing your senses until you've unknowingly fallen victim to his shadowed rapture. I know that I keep saying this every time Ghost Box puts out a new album, but this is easily on of the label's best releases to date, and is a powerful entry point not only into Jenkins' world, but that of the entire Ghost Box universe as well. As with all Ghost Box releases, these are limited and won't last long -- the album is already out of print, and a second pressing of both the CD and vinyl are forthcoming, but if you need this in your life (and trust me on this... you do), don't sleep until you've got a copy of Sleep Games in your hand. This gets my absolute highest recommendation, folks. [IQ]

 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  NAOMI PUNK
The Feeling
(Captured Tracks)

"Voodoo Trust"
"Trashworld"

From my work over at Still Single, evaluating much of the glut of vinyl releases that trickle out of the underground economy, only a few things have become evident with regards to standards in modern music. One of the most important things is figuring out where the local music scenes are thriving as others have flagged, and there's three answers I'd readily give out: the continent of Australia, and the American cities of Austin, TX and Olympia, WA. The latter is nine times out of 10 where the ingenuity of punk rock meets the standards of a relatively egalitarian community. In the past few years the city has spawned Milk Music, Hysterics, Broken Water, Cairo Pythian, Weird TV, Christian Mistress, Bone Sickness, HPP, Gun Outfit, Sex Vid, White Boss, Son Skull ... and they are/were all great, working consistently within one genre or skirting several with a personality missing from most of the things I get to hear. I'm sure there are lousy bands there, but I haven't found very many. There's a paper in that town called NUTS! which chronicles the goings-on of music and art folks, and it paints the city as some sort of utopia. Which, in a way, it is. A six-block, super-twisted utopia that is intractably strange in the way that only a town with the musical/misfit legacy it bears can be. Anyone interested should go and visit.

And with that, you should take notice of Naomi Punk. The Olympia band came to our attention after a handful of DIY shows in town over the summer; soon after, their debut album The Feeling was picked up from its initial pressing on the Couple Skate label for wider release by Brooklyn's Captured Tracks. What a move! This group plays close to a formula that reveals itself to be more of a language between its members, where it in turn has sculpted their ability to play out of the needs the language has bestowed upon them. And if I explain it to you, it's not going to sound like a lofty goal, for the nuances of this language are buried in what seems to be a trick. Much of Naomi Punk's music is slow, with big riffs and well-paced, grand-wingspan style drumming. It is loud and not rendered in the highest fidelity, so much so that you may strain to pick out what they're singing. But there's one element missing from that description: heaviness. There may be some residual "heavy" (like Thrones-style heaviness) in their genetic makeup and musical backgrounds, but there's not a distortion pedal in earshot here. So these big loud riffs get to ring out cleanly and in their plodding, infectious order, the heaviness is mitigated, making all the energy they've expended rain back down on the listener. There's a busted, tweaky synth in there somewhere, a lot of cymbal crashing, and a sick rasp of vocals that sound out in rebellious triumph, but since it's not heavy in a traditional sense, we're forced to instead focus on these things. It feels like a march, at first like a Pixies record at 16 RPM, or Times New Viking imitating the Melvins, until the album's motif fully takes hold. It plays like ocean waves crashing against you, waves that match their intensity with their grandeur. That's the best way to describe how The Feeling has made me feel, and may make you feel, too. This sort of approach may not be able to sustain interest if stretched to career length, but for right now, it works incredibly, better than all but a small handful of new music I've heard in 2012. [DM]

 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  HOLLY HERNDON
Movement
(RVNG Intl.)

"Fade"
"Movement"

Young composer and electronic sound artist Holly Henrdon delivers one of the year's most stunning works of electronic music with Movement, an album that sees her cutting up and sculpting the tones of the human voice into a sharp, digital technological landscape that ably balances more outre, academic structures with the sensual pulsations of club and dance music. On cuts like "Breathe," "Dilato" and "Control And," she utilizes extended techniques trail-blazed by experimental vocalists like Joan La Barbara and Cathy Berberian, and alternates them with cuts like "Fade" and "Movement," which move closer to worlds explored by Cosey Fanni Tutti of Throbbing Gristle and Chris & Cosey -- I'm particularly reminded of TG's classic "Hot on the Heels of Love," but more so her recent, underrated collaboration with Ivan Pavlov on Raster-Noton, Coh Plays Cosey, in which Pavlov sculpted Cosey's voice and cornet playing into similar shapes and rhythms.

The attention to detailed texture is stunning, and it's admirable that Herndon crafted the record with a frequency range that works successfully in both massive, booming multichannel club systems and tinny laptop speakers. Be warned, this is NOT a dance or techno record; while there are a handful of cuts that utilize its contexts into hot, sweaty bangers, the bulk of the album is devoted to a more sedate, spacious, static hypnotism, no less engrossing but more reliant on headspace than footwork. Records of this ilk have been made before -- Joan La Barbara's Voice Is the Original Instrument, Makigami Koichi's Moon Ether, and Henri Chopin's Audio Poems all immediately come to mind -- but it's fantastic to hear such a solid collection of sound poetry that incorporates the primal physicality of contemporary club culture into the studied academia of such work. It's arguably the first crossover sound poetry album, and it comes most highly recommended to more adventurous souls. RVNG scores another point in their excellent discography with this release; let's hope we'll be hearing more from Herndon soon. [IQ]

 
         
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  JESSE BOYKINS III & MELO-X
Zulu Guru
(Ninja Tune)

"I'm New Here"
"The Perfect Blues"

The British-based Ninja Tune label taps into the current rap/soul/spoken word scene bubbling in Brooklyn with Zulu Guru, the collaborative album created by steady shooter MC/producer Melo-X and voice on the rise, singer/songwriter Jesse Boykins III. No stranger to collaborations, Boykins has worked with artists including Machinedrum, Theophilus London, Zodiac, and Full Crate, gaining a devoted underground following over the last few years and being championed by tastemakers like Gilles Peterson and many others. Though this is not the first time these two talents have worked together, it's the duo's first full-length, and really shows their collective strengths and vision. They represent a side of the current soul scene that has established itself with a mindset more focused on releasing forward-thinking innovative music than courting labels, developing direct channels to the fans and often giving away great music for free on the web. But the duo has embraced the challenge of their first proper album, creating a cosmic soul journey that swirls with an urban sensuality and touches the inner spirit. The overall vibe here is more focused on the future projections of soul music than rehashing the past, though it's always aware of the value of musicality and songwriting. From the opening track, "I'm New Here," which seems to be a slight nod to Gil Scott-Heron's last release, the album blends a variety of voices that speak, rap, and sing, combining the lineages Scott-Heron worked within in fresh ways. Musically the production is a rich mix of electronic and organic tapestries that feels like a fusion of Sa-Ra, Jamie xx, Jneiro Jarel, and Foreign Exchange. They incorporate elements of hip-hop, soul, poetry, African, West Indian, and Latin music in a silky smooth sound universe that floats along like a trip through the Milky Way, utilizing a grouping of fresh, likeminded up-n-coming guests. There is an overall honesty that radiates throughout, giving the album an authenticity and richness lacking from many contemporary soul artists, and this is definitely the current sound of the soul underground. For fans of alternative R&B like Frank Ocean, Robert Glasper, the Weeknd, or Georgia Anne Muldrow, the two brains behind Zulu Guru are names you should know. One of the best new independent soul albums released this year. [DG]

 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  EL PERRO DEL MAR
Pale Fire
(The Control Group)

"Pale Fire"
"Love Confusion"

Pale Fire follows the gradual evolution that Swedish chanteuse Sarah Assbring has made from frail bedroom pop to something more soulful, even downright danceable. It's an evolution for sure, as her music has always had rhythm and soul lurking in the background, almost a classic '60s union of pop and soul in a more modern context, but this is by far the most fully realized version of her ambitions, blending in quiet disco and house moods and recalling the likeminded bedroom-dance-pop of Everything but the Girl's later recordings, or even Sade. With production and songwriting help from Rasmus Hågg, who worked on 2009's Love Is Not Pop, and also Swedish deep house producer Bobby Bell, the results are an album of swaying beauty, dubby and deep at times, but always in the service of Assbring's quiet pop aspirations. [JM]

 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  THE BABIES
Our House on the Hill
(Woodsist)

"Alligator"
"Moonlight Mile"

The Babies are a Brooklyn supergroup of sorts, a collaboration between Cassie Ramone of the Vivian Girls and Kevin Morby of Woods. They started out as a low-pressure side-project playing house parties and having fun writing songs in a new environment, but following their self-titled debut as the Babies, the band has taken on a life of its own, touring the world and building a nice buzz amongst indie-pop and slacker-pop fans. This group's sophomore full-length, Our House on the Hill, was recorded in L.A. with the help of producer Rob Barbato (the Fall, Darker My Love, and Cass McCombs) and is now out on Woodsist. Both of the founding members' influences shine through on this one, from Cassie's honeyed '60s girl-group vocals ("Baby," "See the Country") to Kevin's guitar-plucking folk ("Moonlight Mile," "Wandering"), plus a healthy dose of boy-girl alternating vocals ("Slow Walking," "Chase It to the Grave"). There are some nice slower songs shimmering with lyrics of contemplation and melancholy along with the rockers, and also the occasional addition of cello and horns, making for a great album-long ride. The Babies are growing up and mean serious business. [ACo]

 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  SHARON VAN ETTEN
Tramp Deluxe Edition
(Jagjaguwar)

Preview Songs on Other Music's Download Store

While these days it seems like most stars fall from the sky and float on gilded wings into earbuds around the globe, Sharon Van Etten has built a career the old-fashioned way: first murmuring her quiet confessions onto tape alone in her room, and slowly building her chops and her confidence over a series of increasingly complex, satisfying, and high-profile releases. Released in early 2012, Van Etten's third album, Tramp (produced by the National's Aaron Dessner and featuring NYC indie pop elite like Beirut's Zach Condon, Bryce Dessner, Julianna Barwick, and the Walkmen's Matt Barrick), lived up to its high expectations and more, earning universal acclaim from critics and fans alike. As we wrote when we first reviewed the record, "Van Etten's songs are so intensely personal, singing of trust betrayed and love unrealized with such a deep well of emotion that she can stop you dead in your tracks." Now comes the deluxe edition of Tramp, and while many re-releases of this type can be met with a fair degree of skepticism from listeners -- Vanity project? A money move from the label to eek out a few more dollars? -- Jagjaguwar's expanded version is pretty damn necessary for any fan. The original album is amended with intimate demo versions of every track and an unreleased bonus cut ("Tell Me"), plus liner notes about every song culled from the singer/songwriter's journals, and new artwork featuring a self-portrait. Sharon Van Etten has succeeded making timeless music that goes against fashion and instead aims straight for the heart, and Tramp is indeed her moment, sure to be found on countless Best of the Year lists that are just around the corner. [GH/JM]

Download version of the expanded album includes the demos and bonus track but does not come with liner notes.

 
         
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  CLINIC
Free Reign
(Domino)

"See Saw"
"King Kong"

Seven studio albums and two singles comps in, and Clinic proves to possess a resilience that few bands at their stage can muster. There's very little live drumming on Free Reign, and an almost jazz-like detour into abstractions that much of the rest of their catalog has never had to face. But face it here they do, and it suits them well. There are constants about their sound that will not change: grinding organs, simple choruses (there's a track on here that gets by on a single note), reverb, and Ade Blackburn's hissing vocals. But nearly everything else has gone slack, from the stickpin straight drumming to the late '60s high street electric sparks. And yet Clinic seems to thrive in this environment, giving Blackburn and co. the chance to stretch these tracks out until they expire on their own, sounding drunken and debauched, vicious and louche, the very sibilance of their drum tones and rhythmic devices carrying the possibility of danger. It's a pretty bold step to take after finding the script again on their past two albums, and it's a gamble that works well, particularly if you're looking for evidence that all these bands sound the same. Imagine Crystal Stilts cocked on absinthe and writhing on the floor, and you'll better understand the sort of sick thrills emanating from this go-round. Highly recommended! [DM]

 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  VESSEL
Order of Noise
(Tri Angle)

Preview Songs on Other Music's Download Store

Tri Angle is at it again. From the dark corners of the Earth this label continues to pull artists fully formed from their color bulb-lit bedrooms and into the light of day (or at least the blackness of night). The newest project is called Vessel, the album Order of Noise, and the vibe is a bit less spooky, more groovy, yet still existing on the darker side of the moon. Like the work of Ital/Mi Ami or Hype Williams, Vessel reminds us that elements (sounds, machines, and tempos) usually associated with house and techno were also the backbone of cold wave, industrial, avant-garde, and goth. Vessel mixes these ingredients together across the album, but it's all covered in a shroud of muslin. By only working with a few elements in each piece, the record easily, simply, and nicely moves from groove to spook and back, yet keeps you engaged throughout. This may be too raw for the button-down techno crowd, but there are similarities between Vessel and artists on Modern Love or Blackest Ever Black, exploring deconstruction and minimalism, while still being danceable. Fans of John Carpenter, Hieroglyphic Being, Sun Araw, or any of the above mentioned, as well as followers of the Tri Angle label in general, should find something here to get them through the night. One of the better dance-not-dance releases around. [DG]

 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  WILLIAM BASINSKI
The Distintegration Loops Box Set
(Temporary Residence)

William Basinski's epic, four-volume work The Disintegration Loops carries with it a heavy reputation. Basinski discovered something both disheartening yet mesmerizing was taking place one autumn day in 2001, as he attempted to archive tape loops of orchestra swells and arpeggios that he had recorded during the early 1980s. He watched in horror and shock as the sound recorded on the tape's oxide literally crumbled off of the reels as they spun across the tape heads, leaving huge blank spaces both in the music and on the actual tape itself. The sound of this disintegration, he noticed, was actually quite lovely, as harmonics and overtones began to slowly fade and flicker away. It has become one of the most pure and genuine examples of process music ever released, where Basinski simply pressed the play button on his reel-to-reel and let the machinery do all of the work.

This music took on an even greater significance, though, as New York City soon after fell victim to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. In the large coffee table book that accompanies this lovely box set, Baskinski describes the way the music documented here became an obsession; he and his friends listened to the loops on repeat for days on end, and as they watched the towers fall from the roof of his Brooklyn apartment, the loops played as a soundtrack to their shock, horror, and disbelief. They set up a video camera on the roof and recorded the last hour of daylight on September 11, 2001, and Basinski later synched that footage to the first piece you hear on The Disintegration Loops. A DVD of that film is also included in this box, which contains all four of the original volumes of the piece, newly remastered on CD, as well as a fifth disc which features live orchestral performances of "dlp 1.1," recorded at both New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art on 9/11/11, the tenth anniversary of the attacks, and of an earlier orchestral interpretation recorded during the 2008 Venice Biennale.

More importantly, all of the music contained here has been released on LP for the first, and what is said to be the only time. Each of the four volumes is pressed on double vinyl in gatefold sleeves replicating the original CD art, and the live orchestral performances are included on a single LP in a sleeve adorned with photos of the NYC Met performance. The coffee table book features touching recollections by Basinski and his partner, painter James Elaine, as well as tributes and recollections by Antony Hegarty, David Tibet of Current 93, Ronen Givony of the Wordless Music Series (who was responsible for staging the NYC orchestral performance), and Michael Shulan, Creative Director of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

That last name is particularly relevant. Shulan felt The Disintegration Loops an important and necessary inclusion into the 9/11 Museum, and the work has taken on a cultural weight that at times seems almost unbearable to have to carry; looking beyond the gravitas of what occurred on that day and the weeks that followed, the piece is a tribute more to the resilience and acceptance of decay and destruction, and of the human spirit's strength in moving forward and carrying on, than to the actual destruction itself. The Disintegration Loops is quintessential ambient music; while it CAN indeed be relegated by dismissive listeners as a background environmental bed, the more attention paid to its spectral textures and melancholic majesty, the deeper a person can find oneself in a state of meditative calm. I personally have used this music as an emotional balm during difficult times, and its process can now be shown as an antecedent to such heavy-hitting records by the likes of Leyland Kirby/The Caretaker, Indignant Senility's similarly engrossing Plays Wagner, and to preceding works like Gavin Bryars' "The Sinking of the Titanic" and "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet," all of which utilize "found" material or music repurposed into new meanings and atmospheres via haunted recontextualizations. This is a gorgeous tribute to one of the 21st century's defining creative documents, one which not only documents what could be seen by many to be the end of an era in New York City, but also points toward a future we are still mapping out and working through. Despite its mammoth weight in both content and price, its essentiality cannot be overstated. [IQ]


 
         
   
   
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  BRIAN ENO
Lux
(Warp)

"Lux 1"
"Lux 3"

This is Brian Eno's first solo album in a good long time, and a pretty great one at that -- but still, I'm not sure there is a ton I can say about this beautiful ambient piece beyond this: it will soothe you. Four tracks that blur together across the 75-minute run time, Lux was recorded for an art instillation, and while it's easy to see how this music could transform a white room, it might be best consumed in headphones. Shifting synth tones, gently played piano notes, and aching string drones crisscross in endlessly evolving patterns, evoking slo-mo scenes of nature's quiet evolution and drift, and simultaneously putting the world at bay for an hour or so. Eno invented ambient music, and he still does it better than just about anyone. [JM]

 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  JOHN CALE
Shifty Adventures In Nookie Wood
(Domino)

"Face to the Sky"
"I Wanna Talk 2 U"

It's remarkable that at nearly 70 years of age, John Cale still shows the same restless desire to present his music in new contexts and genre-blending experiments as he has since the early 1970s. He's never been known to be a man to rest upon his laurels as both experimental figurehead and founding member of the Velvet Underground; over the course of his career, he instead has shifted from dense avant drones to regal chamber pop, from brutal post-punk new wave rock to most recently, squelching funk grooves and shiny pop models. His newest album, Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood, sees him continuing along the path he began with 2003's Hobosapiens; he blends his shadowy noirish songs with thick, pummeling machine beats and programming, taking cues and inspiration from many contemporary pop producers, but never letting go of the unsettling anxiety that has been a trademark of his songwriting for decades. Bear in mind, those looking for another Paris 1919 are going to be disappointed, but honestly, they shouldn't be surprised, as the man has NEVER made another record like that and never will, so stop waiting.

This one is closer to the aforementioned Hobosapiens (in my opinion one of the best albums of the early 2000s, and an underrated high-water mark that saw an old dog embracing new tricks like Pro Tools and sampling technology with the studied experience of a true veteran), but it also reminds me in atmosphere to a more fleshed-out version of 1985's Artificial Intelligence, whose synthesized landscapes mapped similar terrain. Where those albums were thorny tangles of sepia and greyscale unease, Shifty Adventures works in a shiny, almost neon-hued bustle; he blends elements of hip-hop, synth-pop, nervous post-punk, and even a bit of vocoder frippery into some of his catchiest songs in years. Vocally, he's in top form, his rich, gritty baritone carrying both emotional poignancy and commanding authority, and on "December Rains," he even delivers a bit of Auto-Tuned Kanye-baiting, showing the youngsters that he admires what they're doing, but that he can still hack it just as easily as the new jacks. It's at times astonishing how weird and unsettling it is to hear him in this context, but to listeners familiar with the arc of his career, it makes perfect sense -- the man gives further proof here why he remains one of the coolest, most weird songwriters of his generation; at this point in his life, with the achievements he's racked up, he can pretty much create whatever kind of album he damn well pleases at this point. That he still manages to make it as catchy, inviting, and consistent as this is quite surprising. It certainly won't be to everyone's taste, and it's not without its flaws, but this is one of my favorite albums of 2012, and its sense of playful pop absurdity is something from which many talents 40 years his junior could stand to study. When your grandpa is rocking the Auto-Tune with more flavor than you are, you've got some work to do, kids. [IQ]

 
         
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  ITAL TEK
Nebula Dance
(Planet Mu)

"Nebula Dance"
"Glokk"

Electronic producer Alan Myson a/k/a Ital Tek presents his most distinct and richly textured album for Planet Mu. Myson's third full-length for the label is a journey into new territory for the producer; where his previous records were structured in a dark hip-hop/dubstep framework, filled with a clunky bass and beats formula, Nebula Dance pushes the tempos into the 160 bpm range, and the overall feel is more fluid, slippery, and at times transcendent. As on Kuedo's sleeper hit from last year, Severant, Ital Tek has been paying attention to the rhythms coming out of Chicago's footwork scene, as well as honing his own melodic synth skills. But where Kuedo (Jamie Teasdale formerly of Vex'd) reinvented himself with a refreshing Vangelis-meets-footwork atmosphere, Ital Tek doesn't dismiss his former sonic stylings; what's impressive is how he combines elements of his past with a more current sound palette and matured sense of programming. It feels like he's reaching beyond his established comfort zone, and is inspired to create a new fusion that bridges various styles into a sophisticated and accomplished whole. His textures are also of note; deep and emotive chords ripple on top of a stuttering bed of precise microtone percussion. Myson doesn't so much replace the dark atmospheres of his previous albums, as he shifts the mood to a more floating and expansive experience, still rich with tension and personality.

Overall Nebula Dance is more concerned with melody and movement than a big bass line or volcanic beat drop. Most footwork is built around an abrasive vocal or archaic arcade game sound, but here Myson removes that element from the equation, letting his swirling programming and cascading synths take center stage. This is an impressive outing, the focus on display is pure precision, and Nebula Dance is a stand out when sitting next to his previous albums. This is the one to start with if you don't know the name. One of the best footwork fusion/post-dubstep releases I've heard coming from the UK this year. [DG]

 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  LIGHTNING BOLT
Oblivian Hunter
(Load)

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Providence's Lightning Bolt have become the duo to beat in the decade and change since they lurched forward in woolen costumes with mics sewn into masks. Most of their sound-alikes have given up, seemingly out of exhaustion. Few, if any, can keep up with the stamina and inventiveness that the Brians (Chippendale and Gibson) have poured into the mold of a bass-drums duo, or the volume, or moreover the ability to sound new and reinvented across every release, yet still retain the spastic core of rugby scrum prog-violence that has defined their style and approach. Oblivion Hunter may be viewed as an EP by some, as it consists of tracks recorded at the same time as their last full-length, 2009's Earthly Delights, but they work well as a set, seven songs of blistering ferocity and brain-twisting obstacle clearance, one of their meatiest outings since Ride the Skies. Anyone curious about the Lightning Bolt sound will get enough of it here to fell a horse, and those of you who are already fans will find little if anything to be disappointed in. [DM]

 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  BUSH TETRAS
Happy
(ROIR)

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Happy is not a new Bush Tetras album, though it's never been available before, and while it is a vintage recording, if you know the group mostly from their 1980 post-punk classic single "Too Many Creeps," or their '83 ROIR cassette, the sound of this one might surprise you at times. The story of this iconic NYC band has many twists and turns; forming out of the late-'70s no wave scene, their early funk-influenced punk found a home with the 99 Records downtown post-punk bands like ESG and Liquid Liquid. But while the group's original run was over by the mid-'80s, they were reunited a decade later, and, somewhat improbably, signed to Mercury/Polydor. Happy was recorded in 1998 with Don Fleming producing (Sonic Youth, Teenage Fanclub, Screaming Trees, etc.), and between the late-'90s alternative rock norms, the major label ambitions, and Fleming's muscular production, this album finds the band sounding more powerful and downright rockin' than they ever have. From the start, Pat Place's defining guitar work growls and stomps, owing as much to Soundgarden as it does to the Contortions (with whom she played in the late-'70s), and in this context, Cynthia Sley's vocals take on a gutsy edge that evokes hard rock as much as it does punk. This is still the Bush Tetras you know, with interesting percussion overdubs and snaky grooves throughout, and Place and Sley are both in great form, and many of these songs have remained in the band's live sets to this day. The record was never released, mostly due to stupid business rather than any artistic questions -- if you recall, in '98 the label was bought by multinational alcohol and soft drink giant Seagram, who promptly laid off most of the A&R staff, and after 15 years with these tapes bouncing around between various entities, ROIR was finally allowed to buy back the masters, and Happy is finally smiling at the world. [JM]

 
         
   
   
   
   
   
       
   
 
 


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  THE BEATLES
LP Box Set, Individual LP Reissues, Past Masters LP
(Capitol)

Many, many Beatles fans have been anxiously waiting for the re-mastered stereo LP reissues of this legendary band's catalog and they're finally here, each album pressed on 180 gram vinyl. While every record can be purchased individually, the holy grail is undoubtedly the limited edition 14-LP Box Set, containing all of the fab four's studio albums, Past Masters featuring singles, B-sides and non-album tracks, and a 252-page book about the making of each record. We've currently got all of the albums (including the 2LP Past Masters set) and the 22-pound vinyl box in stock at the shop and on our web store. So come by and pick up your favorite Beatles LP (is it possible to have just one?) or take that big splurge, for a loved one or yourself.

     
 
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  ANIMAL COLLECTIVE
Applesauce/Crimson
(Domino)

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Limited 10-inch single from Animal Collective, featuring Centipede Hz's "Applesauce" on the A-side, no doubt a fan-favorite and about as hook-filled as the group gets in their singular universe. On the flip, the non-album cut "Crimson" has been making its way into AC's live sets, and plays like a journey on foot through a psychedelic rain-forest, Avey Tare singing atop tropical synth sounds, swelling bass and steady clattering percussion.
 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  SUFJAN STEVENS
Silver & Gold Box Set
(Asthamtic Kitty)

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No one makes Christmas music quite like Sufjan Stevens, who balances reverence and sincerity for holiday traditions with the quirky, familial indie-chamber-pop that we've come to love from the songwriter. Following up his first five volume installment of Songs for Christmas from 2006, here Sufjan and friends like the National's Aaron and Bryce Dessner, Arcade Fire's Reed Parry, and various members of the Castanets and Danielson Famile offer close to three hours of holiday music. Included are standards and classics such as "Silent Night," "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," "Joy to the World," "Jingle Bells" and "Auld Lang Syne," new originals like folk-stomper "Lumberjack Christmas/No One Can Save You from Christmas Past," shambolic lo-fi sing-alongs "Dinga-ling-a-ring-a-ling" and "I Am Santa's Helper," and the oddball fun of "Mr. Frosty Man," not to mention a clunky electronic-fueled non-Christmas bonus cover of Prince's "Alphabet Street." Gift box includes five CD EPs, festive stickers, temporary tattoos, a DIY ornament, a fold-out poster, song lyrics and chord charts, essays and liner notes.

 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  ONEIDA
A List of the Burning Mountains
(Jagjaguwar)

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Brand new album from Brooklyn's mighty, noisy purveyors of space rock, A List of the Burning Mountains is made up of two epic, sidelong tracks coming in at 19-plus minutes each. It's some of the darkest, farthest reaches of experimental psychedelia that we've heard from the group yet, which is saying a lot. In other words, recommended!

 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  VARIOUS ARTISTS
Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard
(Tompkins Square)

Work, play, pray the life cycle of the rural America that created our greatest generation of country music, 1923 to 1936. These volumes survey songs of labor and occupation, hardship and loss, dance tunes, comic numbers, and novelties that provided distraction and fun, and the hymns and sacred pieces that reached beyond the raw material of daily existence for something enduring. Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard features 19 previously un-reissued sides and is largely drawn from the collection of the late Don Wahle of Louisville, Kentucky. A hillbilly 78 collector for many years, his records were hours away from the dump when producer (and occasional Other Music Update contributor) Nathan Salsburg recovered them. Compiled and annotated by Salsburg with accompanying essays by Sarah Bryan (editor of The Old Time Herald), Amanda Petrusich (New York Times, author of It Still Moves), and John Jeremiah Sullivan (Southern editor of the Paris Review, author of Blood Horses and the essay collection Pulphead).

 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  VARIOUS ARTISTS
Drop on Down in Florida
(Dust-to-Digital)

Culled from four years of field recordings during 1977 through 1981 by the Florida Folklife Program, the original 27-track release of Drop on Down in Florida was intended to preserve and showcase African American traditions for a public audience, namely focusing on blues and sacred traditions. Now expanded by Dust-to-Digital, there's over 80 minutes of music here on two CDs, plus a 224-page hardback book that contains the original liner notes, new essays, annotations and 60 images. Beautifully done, as always.

 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  VARIOUS ARTISTS
Pictures of Sound
(Dust-to-Digital)

Patrick Feaster has inventoried countless hours of historic sound recordings with a mission: to bring them back to life. Utilizing modern technology, Feaster restores "pictures of sound" that date as far back to the Middle Ages in an attempt to make sense of what sound meant then and what historical sound means now. Highlights in this collection include the world's oldest known "sound recordings" as well as audio from the oldest gramophone records available anywhere today. The CD is packaged in a 144-page hardback book with 164 full-color images and gold-foil stamping on the cover and spine. No one does it better than Dust-to-Digital.

 
         
   
   

 

 

     
 

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  PHILIP GLASS
Einstein on the Beach - Highlights
(Orange Mountain)

Celebrating the recent revival of Einstein on the Beach at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Glass' own Orange Mountain Music has released a recording of various live performances of the work from 1984 at the same venue. Produced by Kurt Munkacsi and featuring the Philip Glass Ensemble, the disc also comes with The Changing Image of Opera, a Chris A. Verges documentary of the 1984 production of Einstein on the Beach, now available on DVD for the first time. NTSC all region format.

 
         
   
       
   

 

 

     
 


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NITE JEWEL
Good Evening - Expanded Edition
(Secretly Canadian)

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Out of print on vinyl for a few years now, this expanded reissue of Nite Jewel's Good Evening includes two bonus cuts, a cover of Can forebear Inner Space's "The Kamera Song" and a DaM-FunK remix of original track "What Did He Say." The updated packaging also includes Gonzalez's art, poetry and lyrics from the time period. Here's an excerpt from Scott Mou's Update review of Good Evening which ran back in 2009:

Bedroom disco princess Nite Jewel's (a/k/a Ramona Gonzalez) Good Evening includes songs featured on her self-released My CD and her Italians Do It Better 12-inch, plus three new tunes and a cover of Roxy Music's "Lover" to round it all out. All the tracks are remixed and remastered by Jay Rajeck to bring out the vocals, beats and bass. What results is more club-friendly but it doesn't lose any of the atmosphere, which we had described in an earlier review as, "Calling Out of Context-era Arthur Russell eating opium with a black rubber-bangled Madonna and Mark Hollis, all huddled in the corner while the 4-track tape is rolling." New tracks like "Universal Mind," with choral/aria background vocals, nail the ethereal, breakup, '80s radio vibe. "Chimera" features a sweet marching-in-place beat and she really hits the Kate Bush notes in a nice way, particularly on the "EEEee's." This time around, I also noticed that "Weak for Me" has an infectious (DeBarge) "Rhythm of the Night"-thing running through it, that is if it were submerged in warm cough syrup. Again, that's a compliment! What can we say, we're still lovin' what she's doin'. Without trying, Nite Jewel pretty much nails what seems to be a trend these days: marrying pop with an underground sound, BUT, without sounding like a pandering, watered-down sell-out! Oh, snap! [SM]

 
         
   
       
   

 

 

     
 

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  HOLY OTHER
Held
(Tri Angle)

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Though Tri Angle Records has been a little quiet in recent months, the new full-length from Manchester-based producer Holy Other picks up where the label left us (and where Holy Other left us after his 2011 EP). Like most of what we've heard from Tri Angle, Held is another haunting listening experience, and all the noir elements are here again, only they feel more elegant, sensual, intimate, less forbidding and more inviting. R&B referenced vocals are chopped, snipped, screwed, looped and smeared into delicate whispers of emotions. Small sounds and melodic passages move at a snail's pace, crawling and burrowing into your subconscious, much like the earworms of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Yet here the sonic earworms create a soundtrack for freeze frame images of foggy abandoned city streets, the departing whispers of lovers in the early a.m., or magic hour drives into the sunset. His lock grooves create a hypnotic, almost drone atmosphere that feels open and wide, but extremely intimate as well. The producer, known only by his pseudonym and reclusive due to his "shyness," uses his sounds to create quiet worlds both human and alien, devoid of blood, yet still with a heartbeat. He continues to deconstruct and re-imagine the affection of lovelorn R&B, resulting in moody pieces that are not too dissimilar to the music backing the Weeknd's pleas or Clams Casino's syrupy and melodic instrumentals. Imagine the eeriness of Leyland Kirby/Caretaker, the emotive textures of How to Dress Well or Balam Acab (minus the falsetto cooing, and up-pitched crooning), or even the dirgy, druggy, dubby terrain of electronic groove minimalist Andy Stott, and you can begin to enter the ghost world known as Holy Other. His tracks are both familiar and completely foreign, in the best possible way, seemingly bare yet deep and rich in their abstraction. This comes just in time for the descending spirits that color the current season and is music that will fit nicely in your ghost-in-the-love-machine playlist. [DG]

 
         
   
       
   
         
 
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THIS WEEK'S CONTRIBUTORS

[ACo] Anastasia Cohen
[DG] Daniel Givens
[GH] Gerald Hammill
[IQ] Mikey IQ Jones
[JM] Josh Madell
[DM] Doug Mosurock
[SM] Scott Mou


THANKS FOR READING
- all of us at Other Music

 
         
   
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