Other Music New Release Update
August 9, 2000

In This Week's Update:

De La Soul
Barbara Manning singles comp. reissue
Mark Kozelek
"Schoolhouse Funk" comp. reissue
David Tudor
Sun Ra "Heliocentric Worlds 2" reissue
John Butcher & Phil Durrant
Pauline Oliveros
C-Schulz & Hajsch
Charles Hilton Brown afro-rock reissue
Bennink, Chadbourne & Kondo
Isotope 217
Dan the Automator reissue
Mellow EP

Laika domestic

Featured New Releases:

DE LA SOUL "Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump" (Tommy Boy)
CD/2xLP  $15.99/$17.99
For a fifth album, "Art Official Intelligence" is a strangely calculated,
yet completely understandable move on De La Soul's part. As their fan
base ages and erodes, to jump-start a trilogy of releases, they've let
fly an album that is, conceptually, a history of themselves told to a new
audience. It's like they're introducing De La Soul (and what they stand
for) all over again to their children, but in their children's own rawer,
sharper language. Built for these times, it's not urgent, it's not abstract,
and the guest list is prime: Redman, Busta Rhymes, Beastie Boys,
Xzibit, even Chaka Khan. Like a Tom Petty album for the hip-hop nation,
each and every track here could be a single in its own right. They produced
it themselves, and there's less sampling technology at the fore -- the album
sounds live, vibrant, even earthy, the approach a little like that of Slum
Village. They've given up trying to blow your mind with new styles, but
while they keep their musical cleverness under a basket, their lyrical
abilities still have freedom. No gangsta posturing, no overt political
maneuvering, just steadfast music-making. A bonus track is available
on the Tommy Boy Web site. [DH/RE]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=01699813611&refer_url=email

BARBARA MANNING "Under One Roof: Singles and Oddities" (Innerstate)
CD  $13.99
Barbara Manning's always been a slow songwriter, but the best kind of slow.
She's like the friend you have who rarely talks, but when he or she does,
makes every word count. As does Manning with both words and notes,
especially during the first six years of her career. This collection is her
best CD, with nothing diluted and a broad range of genre exercises. More
than half the songs are covers (Young Marble Giants, Lefty Frizzell,
Marianne Faithfull, more), but are some of the most transcendent covers
ever. Her version of Wings' 'Don't Let It Bring You Down' rests on
psychedelic overdubs, her sister's harmonies and a recorder line that leads
you through the song gently but unflinchingly. Cliched lyrics (McCartney's,
not hers) notwithstanding, it can bring me to tears every time I hear it.
(This is the only 7" record I've bought two copies of -- I was afraid I'd
wear it out!) Manning's style is to write (or cover) a pop song, and make
it odd with fluttery guitar noises, weird tape effects, or plastic organs.
With country touches, gentle reverb that draws out the sounds -- like a
friend of mine would say, she uses one brick from Phil Spector's famous
'wall of sound' -- and an overriding wistful combo of angst and anger. One
of the most solid recommendations I can personally make. [RE]

MARK KOZELEK "Rock N Roll Singer" (Badman) CD $11.99
Mark Kozelek has been one of the great American songwriters for the past
ten or so years, releasing classic upon classic with his band the Red House
Painters. "Rock n Roll Singer" is his first solo release, folding four covers
and three originals into a mini-album. Kozelek's versions of AC/DC's
'Rock n' Roll Singer', 'Around and Around' and 'Bad Boy Boogie' are
completely unrecognizable as covers, instead they have a full RHP spirit
and sound. Much like Cat Power's "Covers", Kozelek can breathe new life
into an unlikely song, repossessing it as his own. His crooning voice and
intricate guitar melodies take the lead here, and every original and cover
is a pure work of beauty. Kozelek is simply one of the great ones, his
moody, melancholy pop basically perfection. [PW]

[V/A] "Schoolhouse Funk" (Cali-Tex) CD $13.99
A long-standing American tradition: The vanity record. Here, more
specifically (and more fun), the high school band album. How many times
have you thumbed by albums from a marching band or choir in $1 record bins?
Well, there's a whole subculture of high school and college band collectors
out there, one of whom is DJ Shadow. He's put together his favorite funk,
funky jazz and soul tracks from a seemingly vast collection of ultra-amateur
LPs, mostly from jazz bands and talent shows. Some are in the
'we can't sing but we have heart' camp a la the classic elementary school
recording "Ghetto Reality" on Folkways. Others are more adept, if less
creative; all are recorded pretty badly. There are songs here that are good
'cause they're good, good 'cause they're bad, and lots in between. Out of
21 tracks, most are wild instrumentals (including one stunning, completely
out-of-tune funky jam), but there are a few soul vocalists -- amazing
ringers (a flailing Carolyn Milas does quite a Marva Whitney impression). I
don't know why Cali-Tex didn't list who most of the bands were, though!
Do they think all those alumni went on to be lawyers? [RE]

DAVID TUDOR "Microphone" (Cramps, Italy) CD $16.99
Critical reissue of 1973 electronic pieces from avant-garde piano giant
Tudor, best known for his collaborative work with Karlheinz Stockhausen,
John Cage, and Morton Feldman. In these two lengthy non-piano works,
he explores the soul of the microphone as electronic machinery, as an
instrument through which particles move and collide to produce sound.
What distinguishes this work from those of his electroacoustic and musique
concrete contemporaries is that the end result is reductive rather than
expansive; a highly personal journey through the primordial ooze that
precedes the explosive chaos of life itself. 66 minutes running time. [JG]

SUN RA "The Heliocentric Worlds Of Sun Ra Volume 2"
(ESP-Disk/Calibre, Netherlands) CD $14.99

Recorded in November 1965, the second Sun Ra studio session for ESP was
a percussive tour-de-force, as thematically absorbed in its own way as
"Strange Strings". "It is Sun Ra who is the real star of this volume.
Sometimes simultaneously with piano, he also plays Clavioline, a French
post-war proto synthesizer, heard on some of Sun Ra's albums between 1963
and 1969. His answer to the restrictions of the monophonic instrument, not
allowing chords, is: play either melodic, or...as fast as possible! Besides
that, Sun Ra also plays some soaring tuned bongos throughout this record,
presumably with sticks. Relying on his skills as a pianist, he lays down
some of the tightest melodic and rhythmical structures you are likely to
hear on bongos, sometimes resembling the wild attack of a Cecil Taylor, but
without the broad chords and the sonic resonance of a piano. 'Volume 2' has
lot of interesting percussive moments, using all kinds of 'assorted'
instruments, mainly attributed to Roger Blank, Pat Patrick, John Gilmore,
Marshall Allen and Robert Cummings. This record shows that by the end of
1965, Sun Ra had fully absorbed the quiet chamber music-like textures into
pieces which also feature spontaneous full ensemble outbursts, solo pieces
and half modern European/half African all-percussive textures."--Rembo
Takken, from his liner notes. Quintessential Ra, it just doesn't get any
better than this! [JG]

JOHN BUTCHER & PHIL DURRANT "Requests and Antisongs" (Erstwhile) CD $13.99
John Butcher and Phil Durrant are among the most forward-thinking
improvisers working today who are testing new possibilities in improvised
music through the incorporation of live electronics. On "Requests and
Antisongs," the duo's second album, Durrant performs electronic
manipulations of Butcher's trademark saxophone spattering in real time.
What results is a wonderfully alien and surreal world of electroacoustic
sound, ranging from the harsh and abrasive to quiet and delicate. This is a
perfectly-realized coming-together of free jazz and abstract electronica
and one of the freshest things to tickle my ears this year. Superb. [TP]

PAULINE OLIVEROS "Primordial Lift" (Table of the Elements) CD $14.99
Electronics pioneer and musical adventuress Ms. Oliveros, for more than
thirty years has been exploring not the outer reaches of music, but
rather the inner ones. She continues to delve into the sounds of
meditation, and anyone who's participated in any of her workshops knows she
works a certain seriousness and physicality into a practice that could be
considered new age flakiness; to her, sound itself is a clarifying catalyst
for the mind and the body. Joined here by Tony Conrad, David Grubbs, Anne
Bourne, Scott Olson, and Alexandria Gelencser, together they merge
stratified stretches of drones wisping off into brain-freeze squeakiness,
developing rhythms like breath (especially the bellows pulses of Oliveros'
accordion and Grubbs' harmonium), and never getting dull. This live
recording is similar to the Deep Listening performances she's been doing
for the past few years, only with different instruments. This may be her
best recording ever (!), the strings, reeds, and electronics scorching a
path through the space of a room for 45 minutes. [RE]

C-SCHULZ & HAJSCH "S/T" (Sonig, Germany) CD/LP $12.99/$10.99
Ghostly, intangibly beautiful, this heralds a new, surprising direction for
music from Cologne. Evoking the films of Tarkovsky or Bergman in its spare
intensity, this disc consists of gentle drifts of sound with bobbing
signposts: the scratch of bricks, fire's crackle, rubbing glass, murmuring
voices, the tiny, thin pulse of a synth like a life-support machine. Warm,
delicate vibrations permeate the recording, lighting a path through its
windswept soundscape. They create a kind of completely subtle mindfuck,
that by the time an actual acoustic guitar, piano, and accordion show up
near the end, it's like coming across a mailbox in the desert -- familiar,
yet freakily displaced. Three years in the making and not a beat to be
found, C-Schulz and Hajsch created their tracks with the help of field
recordings and playing by Jeph Jerman, Harald 'Sack' Ziegler, Monika
Westphal, and many more (on everything from tuba to window shades).
It's close to the recent work of Fennesz, only more acoustic, conjuring an
immense, all-encompassing gravity out of seemingly nothing. [RE]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999136041&refer_url=email

CHARLES HILTON BROWN "Owed To Myself" (Schema, Italy) CD/LP $16.99/$15.99
In the early '70s, while touring England, American soul artist Charles
Hilton Brown (real name = A. Rutherford?) heard Dudu Pukwana's great
Afro-Rock band Assagai -- and his world was changed. "Owed to Myself"
has the stamp of Assagai, if not all over it, at least on it. (Mysteriously,
they're co-credited with arrangements.) Four of the eight tracks (his
originals) are great, tight funky Afro-Rock with a strong conga presence
and huge horn sections. The remaining four are soul covers, ('Ain't No
Sunshine', 'Love Train', etc.), but Brown phrases them differently, and
leaps into either breaks halfway in, whether funky and percussive, or lofty
vocal excursions like a wail and a scream a la James Brown. Bolstered by a
10-piece backing band, this record presents an unusual African/Soul/Funk
hybrid -- it's unsurprising that it had been much sought-after (and
*impossible* to find) on LP. [RE]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=801834412907&refer_url=email

PELT "Rob's Choice" (VHF) CD $13.99
Recorded live in New Orleans and Austin 1998, this was originally slated to
be released on CDR, but the powers that be at VHF decided that the
performances were too good not to unleash upon the masses (well, 500 of
the masses anyway). And right they were too, for this is a modern dronefest
of the highest order. Strings of varying persuasions accompany a gurgling
Lowrey tube organ with guest saxophone and time-lag accumulator provided
by Tom Carter (Charalambides). A wonderful compliment to the recent
Vibracathedral Orchestra album. [JG]

(Golden Years, UK) 2xCD $32.99

A virtual free-improv free-for-all as this trio pull out all the stops in
concert in Rotterdam 1980, creating just about as much noise and chaos as
three human beings can muster. A rarefied hybrid of Spike Jones and Albert
Ayler, "Jazz Bunker" distinguishes itself through its singular tunnelvision
into the madcap and absurd, exploiting familiar musical themes along its
merry way. Over 90 minutes of unhindered tomfoolery, and the chops to pull
it all off in style. [JG]

ISOTOPE 217 "Who Stole the I Walkman" (Thrill Jockey) CD/LP $13.99/$8.99
For Isotope's third album, they mix live recordings via the 'studio as an
instrument' approach more fluidly and prominently than before. Filtered
percussion and beats mesh with special electronic soundscapes: distorted
weighty textures, gurgles, bleeps, twitches. Drum kits, hand drums,
xylophones, rhythm guitar and bass are all featured. "Who Stole the I
Walkman" has ideas crammed in so tight they're sitting on each other's
laps, making for a busy, full sound that moves from electro and free jazz
electronics to drone and tone explorations. Recognizably along the
'Chicago' axis (Tortoise, Chicago Underground) melodically and
structurally, but with a few silly surprises. [GA]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=79037700801&refer_url=email

DAN THE AUTOMATOR "A Much Better Tomorrow" (75 Ark) CD $9.99
This, The Automator's first EP, laid out his hip-hop techniques and
philosophy: use everything you've got, and use it in ways no one else
does. Which, of course, led to the groundbreaking work he did as Dr.
Octagon with Kool Keith. This reissue has been remastered and is
bolstered by six tracks from the original Dr. Octagon sessions. [RE]

SHELLAC "1000 Hurts" (Touch and Go) CD/LP $14.99/$14.99
As a political gesture not-quite-akin to the recent lawsuit brought by 28
states against a portion of the music industry, Shellac include a copy of
their CD in every LP you buy (in order to make a point about how cheap it
is to manufacture CDs vs. what they cost the consumer). Musically, they're
on the same track as before, with that propulsive bass that's been a
cornerstone of cock rock (and it's still such) since around 1989, matched
by explosive tandem blasts of sound from the drums, and violent imagery.
There's a little more melody here, clearer vocals, and, as usual, it's
amazingly well-recorded. More chunking and smashing, though not quite as
much as before. [RE]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=03617209111&refer_url=email

MELLOW "The Morning After Paintdrops EP" (Atmospheriques, France)
CD EP  $9.99

A four-song EP (plus a video) from Mellow that is both exciting and a bit of
a disappointment. The bad news is that there are no new tracks here, just
remixes and alternate versions of songs from their brilliant debut album
which spotlighted their Air-meets-Beatles brand of French electronica. The
good news is that the new versions are quite good, cleaning up some of
the murkiness which dampened (just slighty) the originals a bit. The bonus
Quicktime video is a Roman Coppola-directed clip for the song "Another Mellow
Winter" (also included as an audio track) which we'd probably never get to
see otherwise. Now that Roman's directed Mellow and Sofia's worked with Air,
can a Francis Ford short-film on Phoenix be far behind? [TC]

Restock (now available domestically):

LAIKA "Good Looking Blues" (Too Pure/Beggar's Banquet) CD $14.99
Laika, on their newest CD, work the blues into a 21st-century mold, but
polishing that core of angst and poverty and complaint into a sultry,
contemporary urbanity. While their lyrics are inspired by voodoo culture
(filtered-through Zora Neale Hurston), Margaret Fiedler's soft, lilting
voice nearly whispers, rolls them out smooth. Trip-hoppier than ever, "Good
Looking Blues" is intricately crafted, with weird sounds -- distant horns,
prepared piano, fusion-y flute, turntable scratches and bass clarinet
merged with a jazz sheen. Slinky and fine, it's a record that sounds clear
and digital in proper structure, but analog musty and smoky in overriding
character -- the difference between using one's actual hand to move keys
and turn vinyl instead of just clicking a mouse. [RE]

This week's scribes: Geoff Albores [GA], Tom Capodanno [TC], Robin Edgerton
[RE], Jeff Gibson [JG], Duane Harriott [DH], Tom Pratt [TP], Phil Waldorf

Thanks for reading.
-all of us at Other Music

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New York, NY 10003