Other Music New Release Update
December 20, 2000

In This Week's Update:

Tom Ze '70s reissues
King Funk reissue comp.
Ake Hodell 3xCD retrospective
Plus One
Vapors reissue
Kiki & Herb's Xmas extravaganza
Archer Prewitt
Janek Schaefer
Lorraine Bowen
Always reissue

Yeti magazine with CD
Cimarron Weekend
Beer Frame

Featured New Releases:

TOM ZE "Serie Dois Momentos 14: Se O Caso E Chorar/Todos Os Olhos" (Serie Dois Momentos, Brazil) CD $17.99
TOM ZE "Serie Dois Momentos 15: Estudando O Samba/Correio Da Estacao Do Bras" (Serie Dois Momentos, Brazil) CD $17.99

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My favorite quote from Tom Ze, the clown prince of Tropicalia, is
about his first experience of hearing a floor sander: "The sound
was so beautiful", he said, "it brought tears to the eye." Sure,
maybe that's an exaggeration or just wishful thinking, but it also
perfectly represents Ze's outsider's approach to pop music, a
Brazilian whose exceptional creativity is rivaled perhaps only
by Os Mutantes. While his early work was more in line with
contemporaries Veloso and Ben, the '70s is when Ze really
stretched out. Ze's pop songs from this period are constructed on
an unstable bedrock of a multitude of sounds: blenders, radios,
a 'chainsawtery', the 'polisherscope', typewriters, tape recorders
triggered by doorbells, and more, with complexly worded political
metaphors and drawers full of Brazilian percussion. Of course, all
these elements have a historical precedent -- after all, on one of
the most traditional Brazilian instruments, you make sound by
rubbing a stick with a wet rag! Drawing on traditional song and
samba for melody, his odd ditties are formed by pensively quiet
rhythms, playful call-and-response, subtle funkiness, and an
inherent instability. His sense of jest makes his songs, and the
sounds within them, border on performance art (an excellent
example of this integration: during a 1999 live show, he sung a
politically pointed song while audibly pulling apart the jacket he
wore, piece by piece). Vol. 14 in this series reissues his 1972
and 1973 albums, and Vol. 15 contains those from 1975 and 1978.
I've been waiting years for these, and am head-over-heels happy
they're here. 1973's "Todos Os Olhos" I can only compare to the
contemporaneous raw experiments by Yoko Ono (only she didn't have
as excellent a sense of rhythm!), and many of the punchiest,
strangest songs from "Estudando O Samba" (1975) were placed onto
Ze's "Best of" album from Luaka Bop, now (according to the label),
out of print. With the complete albums, you get Ze's whole range --
not just the peculiarities, but also traditional fusions (like
samba with bells and electric piano or a slow, '50s-style song of
bassoon, piano, and guitar), and approaches (a track made of
rhythms that builds as Ze speaks into a song). I rarely throw
around the word 'essential', but if you like Tropicalia at all,
that word couldn't be better applied here. [RE]
Vol. 14
Vol. 15

[V/A] "King Funk" (BGP, UK) CD $20.99
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King Records has never been considered much of a funk factory.
Sure, it had James Brown for two glorious periods in the '50s
and '60s, and that's plenty funky indeed, but otherwise the glory
period for King (and subsidiaries such as Federal) was early
rock 'n' soul, from Bill Doggett to Hank Ballard to Little Willie
John (all still shamefully underrepresented on CD). In what might
have seemed a perverse gesture, BGP has gone to the vaults and
dug up 24 tracks from what's generally seen as the label's period
of decline, the late '60s - early '70s. But oh, what a floor-burner
it is. The Godfather, although not here by name, is all over the
place behind the scenes, including both sides of the super-rare
Sons Of Funk single (really the JBs), and career-reviving singles
by old pals Ballard and Doggett (John was already dead). The
Coasters cover their own 'Love Potion No. 9' (there's also the
original 'Down Home Girl'). Soul sisters are in the house, with
two by Gloria Walker and three take-no-prisoners screamers by
the hellacious Marie Queenie Lyons (including an intense cover
of John's 'Fever'). And on and on, sharp, hard, soulful, and super-
rare (as the liner notes keep annoyingly reminding us, by
endlessly quoting current British collector prices for the
original vinyl). Another worthy chance to look over the
overlooked. Where will it end? [PN]

AKE HODELL "Verbal Brainwash & Other Works" (Fylkingen, Sweden) 3xCD  $24.99
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"Verbal Brainwash" collects text-sound works by the late Swedish
composer/sound poet/playwright/novelist Ake Hodell. Covering 1963
to 1977, this showcases the three distinct forms of text-sound-
composition Hodell worked in. Hodell's work on this disc is
particularly unique because of its critique of the military & uses
of military force. Having flown in test missions in World War II,
and in a serious plane accident in 1940, Hodell often criticized
the military in his political themes as well as using the
overwhelming theme of the immediacy of death (This is most notable
on 'Structures III,' a 1967 piece which begins with a burst of
machine gun fire and ends with a gigantic explosion, and 'USS
Pacific Ocean,' a drama about a nuclear submarine gone AWOL and
its final crash.). Disc 1 deals primarily with the simple forms
of text-sound composition. On these pieces, words are broken down
into their constituted sounds and mixed with sentences, sentence
fragments and environmental sounds to create short pieces. Disc
two, "Purgatory/Electric Buddha," concentrates on extended
electronic/voice works realized in the early '70s. The pieces on
this disc are reminiscent of some of the contemporaneous works of
Luc Ferrari ("Presque Rien", "Danses Organiques") if Ferrari
hadn't been led by his loins into the realm of nubile French girls
and instead found solace in the myths of worlds beyond death. (The
four pieces on disc 2 were previously featured on Hodell's Alga
Marghen LP although some appeared in (much) shorter form there.)
Disc three is probably the most enigmatic. Subtitled "Spirits of
Ecstasy," this disc concentrates on vocal and electronic dramas
(primarily in English) regarding relevant political topics at the
time. Most notable are 'Where is Eldridge Cleaver?' and 'Mr. Smith
in Rhodesia,' the latter originally banned for its political
sentiment and usage of British schoolboys without their parental
consent. The overall quality, maintained over three discs, is
shockingly good, with very little filler. [MG]

PLUS ONE "Bare Necessities" (Defocus, UK) CD $16.99
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A mysterious new release on the DeFocus label, with not much
information, just "written by +one" and "produced by Plaid". And
just one listen makes one wonder if this is Plaid under another
name! All of the Plaid trademarks are here: playful melodic
synths, the innocent but funky rhythms, and the melodies are
pretty much taken straight off of "Mbuki Mvuki"-era Plaid
recordings. And the artwork--straight out of Warp records design
studios right down to the track layout and font choice (compare it
to Plaid's "Trainer"). Even the track titles ("Arabesk", "Yip", "Helix").
And last but not least we must question the mysterious duo's
association with Clair of DeFocus -- who used to be at Clear records,
Plaid's former label. Enough speculation aside -- it's still a beautiful
disc that more than holds its own next to their recorded output and
that of their peers (early Aphex Twin, Black Dog, etc.). [JS]

VAPORS "New Clear Days" (Captain Mod, UK) CD $19.99
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First of all, you know at least one song off of this album -- back
in the early '80s, you couldn't escape 'Turning Japanese', a
thickly veiled anthem about loneliness and masturbation. But
forget that song, even though their catchiest, because it's not
representative of most of the Vapors' work. Landing squarely
between new wave and punk, their sound had more in common
with the Buzzcocks (with a little less urgency) and the Jam (but
less mod style), and even a bit of the Feelie's tragic jitters and
the Clash's politix. The Vapors' best tunes are found here, songs
about girls who don't know what they want, songs about the world
going to hell, songs about how nihilism is found in the spaces
between the commercials, songs about the bleakness of British
life. Most of all, they had a deft hand in letting layers of angst
surface and then sink again. [RE]

BELL "Numbers" (Satellite, UK) CD/LP $18.99/$18.99
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Drawing from the history of electro, from the rigid funk of
Mantronix (or, for that matter, Man Parrish) to early Detroit
house sounds, Londoners Dan Crouch and Adrian Stephens have
avoided two pitfalls of the electro sound: one, making it sound
like a period piece, and two, the tendency of electro to slip into
silly kitsch. Though a serious record, it's nowhere near ponderous
(no Dead or Alive pomp here). They somehow conjure up a postively
Germanic single-mindedness and concentration on the beat, the
beat, the beat, padding it with vocodered syllables and sharp
kicks from the drum machine. Sure, they use '80s keyboards, patter
and squished bloops, yet their patterns have edges that are
serrated, irregular. A 'fun' record for those whose sense of humor
most resembles that of an android -- dry, dry, dry. [RE]
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KIKI & HERB "Do You Hear What We Hear?" (People Die) CD $14.99
Time Cafe has long been a downtown hot spot, but the lines
spilling out the door of the Manhattan restaurant (just around the
corner from OM) mean only one thing these days: Kiki and Herb are
in the house. These NYC cabaret sensations have been packing them
into Time's Fez club five times a week all this month with their new
Christmas spectacular "Jesus Wept". On "Do You Hear..." you'll
find flamboyant, over-the-top, and often hilarious send-ups of
popular hits and traditional favorites. Kiki shreds Belle & Sebastian's
'Fox in the Snow', Radiohead's 'Creep', Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen
Spirit', and Geraldine Fibbers' 'Lillybelle' while desecrating holiday
classics like 'Frosty the Snowman' and 'What Child is This'. Pianist
Herb is at his best when he just starts screaming. Wild. [TC]

V/VM "The Green Door" (V/VM, UK) CD $8.99
RealAudio http:///ramgen/othermusic/allnight.rm
Equally absurd and brilliant, V/VM's "The Green Door" is, like
their last, "Sick Love", one of the most outlandish albums of
covers ever to be released. V/VM destroy and recreate hits from
Michael Jackson, Chris DeBurgh, Wham, Falco, Lionel Richie and a
host of others. Shamelessly pillaging the earnest work of highly
popular musicians, V/VM construct madness armed with just a
distortion pedal and some speed-shifting. When the deconstruction
ventures into near oblivion, V/VM's prove their adeptness goes
beyond just humor--they can take almost any sound source and
create something oddly musical with it. From subtle tinkering to
total annihilation, V/VM inject a confounding magic into some of
pop music's worst (or best!) offenders. As an added bonus, V/VM
include one of their maddening "Pig" tracks, hands down the most
terrifying field recording ever heard. V/VM's total disregard for
copyright is somewhere between a loud political statement and
an ingenious prank, and with this confounding release they have
crafted it into a form of 'party mix'. 22 tracks (70+ minutes) to
addle your mind like an egg. [PW]

ARCHER PREWITT "Gerroa Songs" (Carrot Top) CD $10.99
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For Prewitt's third album, he eschews the vacuum-packed, highly-
produced studio sound of '70s AM radio pop for one more in tune
with its surroundings. I've always found that music recorded in
Australia and New Zealand, no matter what its production sound, to
be especially reflective of its recording environment (anything
from Dunedin is perfectly illustrative of this). Prewitt's album,
recorded in a seaside house in Australia, has a hyper-awareness of
its physical location: he takes every part of a room's material
resonance into account, you can almost hear wood, plaster, peeling
paint, and even the air. It's a spartan, jagged approach, one
which is almost a regressive step for Prewitt's music -- it's as
if he's discharged so much energy that his physical space has to
provide it, and whatever force ends up being channeled on "Gerroa
Songs" is either inanimate or sleepwalking. What's funny is, once
he was back in Chicago, he added some lovely string sections to
some of the songs. These spring to life, lilting and turning on an
Elliot Smith/John Lennon axis, that, while not basking in the glow
of any kind of originality, certainly brings a smile to these
lips. [RE]

BISK "Moonstruck Parade" (Quatermass, Belgium) CD $15.99
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While I've found Bisk's previous releases so mindblowingly dull
that I couldn't even describe them to you, I'm happy to say
that "Moonstruck Parade," Naohiro Fujikawa's new album, plunges
those hotheaded judgments of mine into a bucket of icy cold
lemonade. Founded on chaos, Fujikawa sprinkles samples of tons of
different types of music (mostly jazz, EZ-listening, videogame
music and hip-hop) in clattering, shuddering multicolored
sequences. Perfect examples? Fragments of Billie Holiday torqued
into Pac-Man electronics and other naive electronic patterns or
turntable scratch with classical Spanish guitar and particles of
spaghetti western music and modernist blips: courageous meldings
of beat and sound that don't always 'work' (flip into a groove,
sound particularly catchy), but that do make those synapses fire.
The beats barely hold together, that have that awkwardness of
construction like turntablists get when they're working up to the
beat, only Fujikawa's don't even fall together with the same kind
of funky frequency. 52 minutes of work that's both perplexing and
engaging, and especially good in small, digestable doses. [RE]

JANEK SCHAEFER "Above Buildings" (Splinter Series, UK) CD $14.99
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Schaefer's last record used his imaginatively conceived and
constructed mutant, three-arm turntable. But here he eschews the
construction glee for a piece of fascinating textural density.
Manipulating field recordings (okay, and some vinyl), this work,
in eight parts spread over an hour, is like the sound _in between_
all the sounds we consciously hear, only amplified and messed
with. Dominating the proceedings are sequences of ephemeral,
almost three-dimensional rustic, spastic buzzings -- the flaws in
every fluorescent tube you've ever heard cracking and humming. He
works on a massive scale, filling even the tiniest of speakers
with drones and malfunctions, rushing water, raging electrical
arcs. Once in a while a conscious sound penetrates the torrents, a
close-miked piano wire making like a church bell, or overtones of
slot machines. Ambitious, revealing, and terribly, abstractly
impressive. [RE]

KANDIS "1996-99" (Karaoke Kalk, Germany) CD $16.99
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Jens Massel is Kandis, and is also Senking (whom we also have a
new CD from this week). A collection of his EPs under this name,
this CD has the warmth and scope that you'd expect from the label
(and one shared with Wunder, Donna Regina, and Hausmeister). But
a better comparison at the moment would be to Curd Duca's "Easy
Listening" series, because this work by Kandis evokes the exotic
spaces of Martin Denny records, a calm amidst chitter, with a
faint soundspace backdrop of old vinyl. A very abstract record, it
also has the feel of an office from either the '50s or the '80s --
rhythms are like either the typing pool or banks of printers and
telephones. Thrumming, ringing and bubbling in analog and digital
modes, within Kandis' music are dancefloor beats, boxed, kept, and
happy. [RE]

LORRAINE BOWEN EXPERIENCE "Bossy Nova" (Sequin Skirt) CD $16.99
"Bossy Nova" is the third album from Lorraine Bowen, the self-
proclaimed queen of "suburban exotica". This is breezy bossa-
flavored Casio-pop from an English kitchen with a good sense of
humor. Includes a newly recorded version of her signature song
"Crumble" (about her famous apple crumble recipe) as sung by a
classical singer from Bombay. Naughty and nice. [TC]

ALWAYS "Thames Valley Leather Club" (El/Cherry Red) CD $16.99
Reissue of the long out-of-print 1988 El Records album by Kevin
Wright who now records for Le Grand Magistery as Mr. Wright.
Strongly reminiscent of Orange Juice, Josef K and Felt. [TC]


YETI "Issue 1" MG with 20-track CD $7.95
A new publication edited by former Chemical Imbalance chief Mike
McGonigal (now an Amazon.com editor). The first issue is a 226-
page perfect-bound behemoth packed with interesting articles and
photos on underground art, music, and culture. Musical feature
stories include Harry Smith; Califone; Mego's Pita, Fennesz &
Bauer; the original funky divas; Terry Riley, Destroy All Monsters,
L'Altra, and Trad Gras Och Stenar. Plus there's an insider's view
of rehab, the secret history of the Oak Ridge Tennessee nuclear
facility, and excerpts of a novel in progress by Jana Martin. If that
alone weren't worth eight dollars, you also get a 20-track CD
featuring rare and unreleased cuts by Stereolab, Elliott Smith,
Califone, Nobukazu Takemura, Chessie, Turn On, Mice Parade,
and many others. [TC]

CIMARRON WEEKEND "Issue #0007" MG $2.50
The heads-in-Chief at CW HQ would probably scoff at praise this
ejaculatory, but friends, I'm here to tell ya', the last issue of
Cimarron Weekend -- published in '99 -- singlehandedly restored my
faith in the possibilities of pop cultural criticism. It was
better than any record I bought the entire year, and it's likely
I'll be saying the same about this blessed new issue in a couple
weeks. Items like the Cat Power to do list and the Fushitsusha
review from last issue have become the stuff of legend. And I say
the Low Down Dirty D.A.W.G.'s interview from this issue will be
soon. You probably don't know what I'm talking about. I'll be more
specific: CW #0007 features an outtake from Jim Derogatis' recent
Lester Bangs biography (and wait 'til you see the accompanying
photo), an exhaustive survey of the whole Gizmos/Gulcher scene in
late '70s Bloomington that's as sophomorically right-on as the
Gizmos themselves, the aforementioned D.A.W.G.s piece, and Thee
Only Record Review Section Worth Reading. Period. Cameron Crowe
made an oft-quoted statement that his last film "Almost Famous",
was a "love letter to rock n' roll", or some shit. Well, if love
is about getting wasted with Joe Don Baker while listening to
Black Oak Arkansas, then the folks at Cimarron Weekend have
written the sweetest love letter of all. [MH]

BEER FRAME "The Journal of Inconspicuous Consumption, Issue #10" MG  $2.50
Paul Lukas's always entertaining Beer Frame returns after a
sustained absence with a cover story on the beauty of single-
serve salt packets and other individually-wrapped condiments.
Cleverly-written product reviews include Keebler Rainbow Vanilla
Wafers, Kellogg's Three-Point Pops cereal, and Kleenex Tissues
for Men (?!). [TC]

This week's scribes: Tom Capodanno [TC], Robin Edgerton [RE],
Michael Goodstein [MG], Matt Hanks [MH], Penelope Namiki [PN],
Phil Waldorf [PW].

Next week we'll have that annual ritual, everyone's top 10 records
as picked by our burgeoning staff.

Thanks for reading.
-all of us at Other Music

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