Other Music New Release Update
December 6, 2000

In This Week's Update:

Aesop Rock
Barbara Morgenstern
Antony & the Johnsons single
Rufus Harley
Masayuki Takayanagi
Rob Ellis
The Inuit of Greenland
Wechsel Garland
Muslimgauze remixing others
Ultra Chicks Vol. 2

Featured New Releases:

AESOP ROCK "Float" (Mush) CD/LP $13.99/$13.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/AesopR2.rm
Consider the title track as declaration of existence. "I float.
Everybody around me is busy drowning but I float." Even before
getting over, survival is a difficult enough proposition in hip-
hop, as flavor-of-the-month status spins on the proverbial fucking
dime -- embraced or discarded across all strata, whether superstar
or underground. In this case, Aesop Rock has created an
extraordinary work of downtown science, one that maintains its
intensity throughout, for 70 minutes. Largely self-produced,
elliptical, loping beats thud with a minimalist sensibility,
fleshed out with uncommon bits of sound at once menacing and
funky. There are no easy signifiers of hip-hop sentimentality. On
the mic, this kid raps circles around your ears -- pausing only
briefly to let you catch up before pushing forward with a
controlled and literary verbal attack as dense and surreal as the
New York City streets where hip-hop (and Aesop Rock) was born.
Like the 4th chapter in the reinvention-of-the-artform (following
Organized Konfusion's "Stress: The Extinction Agenda", Company
Flow's "Funcrusher Plus", and Anti-Pop Consortium's "Tragic
Epilogue") "Float" reveals itself as a text that requires several
listens to understand. Ultimately, however, and at the risk of
hyperbole, it's the best album to come out this year. As the
Beatnuts would say, 'Props over here.' [KC]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=66340512021&refer_url=email

BARBARA MORGENSTERN "Fjorden" (Monika, Germany) CD $15.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/Bmorgen2.rm
Morgenstern's an odd mix -- a reclusive networker. Like her first
album, she recorded this one alone. But unlike it, here she got
some high-profile electronic artists to mix/produce some of the
tracks: Robert Lippok (to rococo rot), Thomas Fehlmann, and Pole,
who does five of the twelve here. "Fjorden" mixes her stiff
Deutsch vocals with smooth, pretty trip-hop beats, her calm voice
singed by the purposeful electronic flaws and odd samples in the
music. She captures odd sounds in her net -- cello draughts, a fly
buzzing through a room, electric guitars that blast like
gridlocked trucks -- and flows them seamlessly into the pop. It
adds an air of unpredictability, but never shockingly so. Moody
and fused, 'orchestrations' -- banks of synth -- keep the flow,
and her voice drops languidly at the end of each phrase. Despite
this giving the whole CD a jaded, dazed quality, the whole never
lags. Despite some chill she embraces intimacy, and unlike some
contemporaries, she's not a fan of melodrama. [RE]

ANTONY AND THE JOHNSONS "I Fell In Love With A Dead Boy" (Durtro, UK)  CD  $9.99
Exclusive to Other Music (for the next week or so anyway). In
which the gothic cabaret angel follows his exquisite debut album
with a selection exploring otherworldly romance. Rounding out the
set are devastating cover versions of David Lynch and Angelo
Badalamenti's "Mysteries Of Love" and Current 93's "Soft Black
Stars", a frequent encore favorite. Gorgeous sound and ever-lush
arrangements bring the Johnsons into the rarefied company of the
Bad Seeds in my book. Sting like scorpion and never let go! [JG]

STARS "Nightsongs" (Le Grand Magistery) CD $12.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/OnPeakHi.rm
'Long live the Soft Revolution' proclaim Stars in suitably small
print near the bottom of the liner notes for their debut
album "Nightsongs". It's an appropriate rallying cry for the band
(and other like-minded artists) who emphasize melody over
machismo. Torquil Campbell and Chris Seligman (the Toronto-bred,
Brooklyn-based core of Stars) enlisted the help of more than a
dozen musicians and vocalists to flesh out "Nightsongs" somewhat-
clubby takes on Euro-style electropop. The formula works best on
tracks like the beautiful 'On Peak Hill' and the bass-driven 'My
Radio (FM Mix)' which have a little more oomph than others: like
the piano ballad 'Tonight' where soft unfortunately turns to mush.
But their cover of the Smiths' 'This Charming Man' is surprisingly
good, with its clever loop of the original Johnny Marr guitar riff
over a paper-thin hip-hop beat. Though too soft for their own good
at times, Stars still provide a rather pleasing pop experience. [TC]

RUFUS HARLEY "Pied Piper of Jazz" (Label M) CD $11.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/BagpipeB.rm
Finally, some respect for Rufus Harley, jazz's first and, I think,
still only bagpiper! Yeah, you read right, though he also plays
sax and flute. This long-overdue reissue features nine tracks from
the first two of the four albums he cut for Atlantic between 1965-
70, plus guest shots with Herbie Mann and Sonny Stitt. And he
wasn't no novelty act, neither. Think Roland Kirk, only the
bagpipes enable Harley to make as much sound with one instrument
as Kirk did with three. Featuring originals as well as soul-jazz
treatments of Broadway standards and traditional 'pipe tunes, this
isn't as out as you might think, but it's always rock-solid.
Harley's is a hard, heavy sound that never descends to the joke
level, because the man has got some _chops_. A true living spirit,
he was world fusion avant la lettre, a "What's My Line" winner who
offers fire, heart, and even his own recipe for longevity (an
alternative daily highland fling). Buy it, love it, and pray for a
Volume 2, including his full-scale funk-freak take on '8 Miles
High'. [PN]

MASAYUKI TAKAYANAGI "Cool Jojo" (Three Blind Mice, Japan) CD  $31.99
When he was not shredding all preconceived notions of free
improvisation with his Sonny Sharrock-meets-Albert Ayler
collective, New Direction Unit, guitar legend 'Jojo' Takayanagi
moonlighted in a quartet called Second Concept. As recorded in
1979 and exploring the boundaries of cool as established by Lennie
Tristano and Lee Konitz (whose compositions here augment his own),
Takayanagi is unleashed in astounding eruptions of melodic
command, worlds apart from his more celebrated work. Or is it
really? "An abstract painting of a painter who cannot sketch well
is nonsense. It's the same thing in jazz. I find no value in the
free jazz of a musician that doesn't swing in 4 beat and plays a
dreary in-code ad lib. Avant-garde music or Free Form does not
exist without a respect for the classic, and thus, it turned out
to be a special album reflecting Jojo's sincerity."--Takeshi 'Tee'
Fuji, producer. Includes four bonus alternate takes, deluxe
hardbound book-like packaging and "extended resolution CD"
sound. [JG]

ROB ELLIS "Music for the Home" (Leaf, UK) CD $16.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/rellis2.rm
Ellis, a current collaborator with PJ Harvey, reveals subtle
wonders in his solo recordings from 1994 to 1999. And they're not
at all what one might expect from Leaf, one of the best electronic
music labels in the UK. Ellis' fondnesses, or what appear to be
his fondnesses, are solidly in the Varese ('Poeme Electronique')
or Ligeti ('Poeme Symphonique f. 100 Metronome') school of
pensive, nearly trapped compositions of complete control
masquerading as chance. His tangling of modern classical musics
are all about inconsistency, various kinds: in texture, rhythm,
motion. Ellis uses keyboard instruments: open piano strings,
twinkling glockenspiel, veiled accordion, harpsichord that
trickles like a drippy faucet, vibrating organ notes held so long
and clearly they sound open and flute-like, a typewriter, and
maybe a pipe organ in there, somewhere. He then stretches and
squishes these together and apart like a big sticky popcorn ball,
or like Terry Riley's minimalism sped up 10 times. Each track
leaves unfinished, open-ended, he'll build escalating
oscillations, tinkly whirrings, drawn-out sirens, and cut them
where you least expect it. A fascinating, raw work, one that
should appeal to electronic music fans and 20th-century
classicists alike. [RE]

INKBLOT "The Language Game" (Tomlab, Germany) CD $12.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/asifther.rm
Inkblot is the project of a 22-year-old wunderkind Jeremy Ballard
who produces these gorgeous melodies live, a mad scientist in his
lab running from sampler, to keyboards, to bass, to guitar, and
back again. Tight, playful snares hold down the rhythm while
bubbling, gurgling electronics unexpectedly pop up here and there,
piano in a minor key floats throughout, slowly pulling you in until
these songs are permanently stuck in your head and you walk
around all day humming these beautiful obscure tunes. Think of a
combination of to rococo rot and B. Fleischmann or Mouse on Mars
and Steve Reich. A beautiful edition to any collection and a must for
fans of releases on the Morr or Sonig labels. Lo-fi electronic music
of the highest quality. [JS]

V-TWIN "Free the Twin" (Domino, UK) CD $9.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/Vtwin2.rm
A ridiculously cheap price for a full-length import CD. Ten songs
and 45 minutes of all of V-Twins' singles (admittedly three are
remixes, but still!). V-Twin are like the more rok Belle and
Sebastian--intricate arrangements, flights into different forms of
music (esp. jazz, big Britrock, and EZ instrumentals), even those
Glaswegian neighbors B&S contribute (anonymously), as does Brit
jazz musician Bill Wells. Wobbly soft Velvet Underground (Warhol-
era) touches, a big collective mentality, held together, I think,
by one person. I wanted to include samples of about six of the ten
tracks above, instead stuck to two. That's how good this is. Keep
your ear on them for the future, too. [RE]

THE INUIT "Fifty-five Historical Recordings" (Sub Rosa, Belgium) CD  $15.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/inuit2.rm
The liner notes to this claim it's the first CD consisting of the
music from that little-visited northern isle, Greenland. As a bit
of an inuit music aficionado, I can say I can't think of another,
though it's possible there's some long-gone LP or 78 extant.
What's fascinating to me is, though this is music if the Inuit,
the Greenlanders obviously diverged from the North Americans at
some point, musically, and have more in common in the particular
patterns of their chants with, say, Lakotans. The songs here have
an element of pantomime, or exaggerated expression to the singing -
- they obviously act out songs with facial gestures and grimaces,
so much so that it changes the voice, decaying it into variegated
howls, pleads and yawns. Recorded by various visitors between 1905
(!) and 1984, this gives the history of changing songs as much as
it does the range. The earliest recording here documents a singer
born in 1840! Most songs are very short (55 of them fit on a 76-
minute disc) and are accompanied by various sticklike percussive
instruments, the murmurs, chatter and sometimes even participation
of the audience (I love it when the songs terminate in fits of
giggling). A unique, and completely haunting document. [RE]

PHILIP "Icicles + Spike Sculptures" (Pet Cancer) CD-R $12.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/philip4.rm
Philip's last CDR was reviewed a few months ago, and is the
typical path for these new digital bedroom artists, already here's
a new one. Dry raps/songs tweaked with spastic koo-koo beats
from lo-tech digital crap, 35 minutes, he's like Beck (if Beck wasn't
so controlled/contrived), merged with a bit of the modern
psychedelia that the Shimmy-disc label, _long ago_, was
particularly good at. Twanging strings, flexitone wobbliness,
chaos that sways from one direction to another: a ship piloted by
a drunk captain. Moments of melancholy sit in the middle of
crying's disarray. Slippery, also fixed. Okay, just plain weird in
places. [RE]

WECHSEL GARLAND "s/t" (Morr, Germany) CD/LP $14.99/$12.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/wGarlan.rm
Garland also goes by Wunder (and put out a pretty electronic CD a
few years ago on Karaoke Kalk), but his real name is Jorg Follert.
Unlike the Wunder-work or any other music on Morr for that matter,
Follert forswears ticky beats and samples to concentrate on an
expanse of rhythmic melodies. With flute, somewhat kitschy synth,
electric piano, and other breathy, bell-like sounds, his patterns
work in and out of grooves, mellow and slanted. Like tiny medleys
all on their own, his 'songs' rest close to the watercolor washes
of new-ager Kitaro (only slower, no sweep) or the music for babies
by Raymond Scott (but remarkably, edgeless)? and even closer to
the most current work from Nobukazu Takemura and Susumu Yokota.
Precious and perfect for your local daycare facility. [RE]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999144451&refer_url=email

MUSLIMGAUZE "Abu-Dis Remixes" (D.O.R., UK) 2xCD $21.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/JamJarr.rm
Yet another collection of music from the late Bryn Jones, but one
in a different, and later, mode. The UK label Law and Auder was
accumulating tracks from Jones for a release of his remixes of
others, when he passed away, it still wasn't finished, yet had
already swelled to fill two CDs. His name is nowhere more
appropriate than in the remix context, where his work shrouds that
of others, his huge tabla-fied beats and stompings and twinklings,
segmented Persian vocals like nothing more than a layer of Muslim
gauze. And here, he works with notables: Luke Vibert, Talvin Singh
(already a tabla-head), Bill Laswell, plus a number of other
dub/electronic collaborators. On two tracks in particular he
reverts to a straight-up drum'n'bass set of rhythms (obviously
older ones), but on the whole, he works smoother, less typically
and by no means fitting nicely within a genre--he even keeps the
soul in Spooncurve's vocal track as he adds swarms of squeaking
insects. His polemic, though still omnipresent, seems muted,
softening somewhat. I do strongly believe that Jones' political
agenda got in the way of a lot of peoples' ability to appreciate
his music/him finding a larger audience. Which is too bad, because
here, as on many of his recordings, his brilliance is so obvious. [RE]


[VA] "Ultra Chicks Vol. 2 / Lolita Ya-Ya" (Ultra Chicks) CD  $13.99
Volume 2 of this extremely popular series documenting lesser-known
female French and French-Canadian singers from the 1960s has
finally been re-pressed after a one-year absence. Order now as we
don't know how long these will last.

This week's contributors: Tom Capodanno [TC], Kris Chen [KC],
Robin Edgerton [RE], Jeff Gibson [JG], Penelope Namiki [PN],
Jeremy Sponder [JS].

Thanks for reading.
-all of us at Other Music

Other Music NYC
15 E. 4th Street
New York, NY 10003