Other Music Update
February 16, 2000

In This Week's Update :

Magic Carpathians
Les Maledictus Sound reissue
Pan American
Pataphonie reissue
Lee Hazlewood reissue
Split Series CD (from Fat Cat's 12"s)
Crispy Ambulance reissue and live CDs
Jake Mandell
Burnt Friedman and the Nu Dub Players
Matthew Shipp/Mat Maneri
The Letter E
Taj Mahal Travellers
Angola in the '60s
Roger Doyle's "Babel" magnum opus
Current 93
Arcana book (edited by Zorn)
Kwartet Warszawska Jesionka
Two Muslimgauze titles
Boss Hog

Featured New Releases :

MAGIC CARPATHIANS PROJECT "Ethnocore" (Fly Music, Poland) CD $13.99
Here it is, my hands-down absolute favorite record released in 1999! I've
waited nearly two months for us to have enough copies in stock (shipping is
slow out of Poland) to write about in our update. Now that we have plenty,
I'm finding that words fail me. I suppose it's sort of appropriate in a way
because "Ethnocore" is one of those records that demands total immersion,
shuts down all conscious thought. Psychedelic? Free improvisation?
Progressive folk? Mantric chant? World beat? It's all here in true
schizophrenic glory. Faust, Magical Power Mako, Brigitte Fontaine, and Taj
Mahal Travellers all spring to mind as parameters. Clocking in at over 67
minutes, this album is so complete in scope and vision that it's kinda
scary. The group rose out of the ashes of prog-psych masters Atman, whose
catalog we stock; who are well-worth further investigation. Higher than
highest recommendation! [JG]

LES MALEDICTUS SOUND "s/t" (Mucho Gusto, Canada) CD $13.99
"Some of the most screaming exotica-psych I've ever heard in my
life"--Jello Biafra. And for once I must heartily agree with Monsieur Dead
Kennedy. The brainchild of Jean-Pierre Massiera, former guitarist for
French pop star Claude Francois, Les Maledictus Sound assembled in Nice and
recorded this single album in 1968. Soon after, Massiera moved to Quebec
where the album was released on a small local label, Canusa. Why all the
fuss? Imagine the instrumental elan of Gainsbourg's "Histoire De Melody
Nelson" fused with the experimental Popp-electronics of Pierre Henry's
"Psyche Rock" but _pre-dating_ them both--and you're only partially there.
Knowing pop-cultural and classical references ricochet throughout these
wild acid-soaked instrumentals, putting recent kitschy lounge excursions to
utter and absolute shame. Lovingly assembled to include all the artwork
involved in subsequent obscure reissues of the album and adding a lengthy
excerpt from Massiera's even more experimental '70s album "L'etrange
Monsieur Whinster" (metal guitars collide with African tribal chants!). The
original liner notes began with the following manifesto: "This record is
not for sale. It's a gift. In an uncommon fashion in this day and age,
Maledictus Sound offers you something for free. Hence assuring their goal
to extract Art from business. That is to say, making personal music
statements without the typical commercial regard. This will allow you to
judge freely the record, to smash it to pieces if you dislike it, without
any monetary regrets. The genre of this record is unidentifiable, its
composition is a collaboration of Classical and Modern Artists in
association with Session Musicians towards a common goal, the research of
sound."--Jean-Pierre Massiera. Or, as the reissue tray-card states:
"Attention, Freak Out Total..." Highest recommendation. [JG]

PAN AMERICAN "360 Business 360 Bypass" (Kranky) CD/LP $12.99/$13.99
Mark Nelson stepped away from his duo Labradford in 1998 with Pan
American, a solo project, which marries lonely, arid acoustic and pedal
guitar to minor-key melodies and traces of roots-dub (the gentle prodding
of echo and reverb). On this new, six-track release, he rearranges the spatial
aesthetic ever so slightly, employing plaintive, sorrowful vocals from
Low's Mimi Parker on "Steel Stars", the jewel that opens this record. Under
the tutelage of sometime Tortoise member Casey Rice, Nelson manages to
evoke a sense of immense weight and gravity which turns itself inside-out
like a rolled sock, opening again into vast empty spaces. The pace is
glacial, but the majesty and subtlety here is extraordinary, lifting it far
above the veritable deluge of so-called 'post-rock'. This marks an epochal
turn for contemporary, independent guitar and electronic music. [TH]
LP  /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999124031&refer_url=email

PATAPHONIE "Le Matin Blanc" (Gazul, France) CD $19.99
One of the great lost bridges between prog-psych, free-jazz and what would
eventually become known as Rock In Opposition, Pataphonie began in 1972
espousing a credo which translates roughly as: "No purpose, no ambition;
except, ultimate luxury, to be unclassified..." Their earliest efforts were
compiled into a singular construct of experimental improvisations by the
legendary Pole label (see Nurse With Wound list, etc.) This, their only
fully-realized studio effort, was recorded in July 1978 and neatly
summarized four and a half years of touring. Tempered by a shared passion
for contemporary composers like Bartok, Satie, and Ravel, "Le Matin Blanc"
reveals a band at the very height of its powers, possessing the deft wit of
Plastic People Of The Universe, the intricacy of Henry Cow, the ambitious
versatility of Soft Machine and the sheer intensity of Magma. As a bonus,
this reissue adds four staggering live tracks (over 37 min.) recorded in
May, 1980. 74 minutes. Highest recommendation. [JG]

LEE HAZLEWOOD "13" (Smells Like) CD/LP $13.99/$9.99
While it was always known that Lee Hazlewood's music was full of soul, his
funk side was kept under wraps, to himself, until it was finally revealed
in 1972, on "13", also his thirteenth solo LP. Lyrically, he's as brilliant
as ever, singing songs of desperation and sadness, with deadpan, sometimes
downright hilarious lines and phrases. With lush, layered horns, funky
basslines, smoking guitar licks, and Hazlewood's crooning vocals, "13" is
the definition of 'lost pop classic.' One of the biggest reissues of the
year, this symphonic pop masterwork is totally essential for anyone
remotely interested in Hazlewood's music or complex pop from the early
'70s. [PW]
LP  /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999123061&refer_url=email

[V/A] "Split Series 1-8" (Fat Cat, UK) CD $13.99
The Split 12" series on Fat Cat records, so far, has an interesting
history. Fat Cat originally asked David Howell, editor of the excellent
zine _Obsessive Eye_ to select artists for the 12"s. Howell wanted to draw
explicit connections between noise and beats, so he invited those artists
whose work crosse genres, whose concern is not bounded by either the
dancefloor or the world of bleeding ears. At number eight in the series,
they ran into a snag. A prank was pulled
where someone sent in a DAT pretending it was Pole -- and Fat Cat
(obviously?) liked it enough to put it out. But when Stefan Betke let them
know it wasn't him and he wasn't happy about it, they had to pull the run.
Even though Fat Cat uses "vs." to on the singles (as in "Bannlust vs.
Chasm"), the artists here don't remix each other. Each track keeps a beat
in one way or another, from variations of burbling rhythm (James Plotkin,
Req) to Merzbow's lengthy, hurtling noise track (which Fat Cat says was
"too ferocious" to cut to vinyl). Janek Schaefer and V/VM's tracks of shaped,
melodic static stand out. Also with Third Eye Foundation, Ad Vanz V. Gescom,
Foehn, more. These artists' noise makes the whole body happy. [RE]

CRISPY AMBULANCE "The Plateau Phase/Live on a Hot August Night/Sexus"
(Les Temps Modernes, UK) CD $19.99
CRISPY AMBULANCE "Fin" (Les Temps Modernes, UK) CD $19.99

Crispy Ambulance vocalist Alan Hempsall's mournful howl so closely
resembled the voice of Joy Division's Ian Curtis that he was even called
upon to fill in when Curtis had once fallen too ill to perform. But to say
that Crispy Ambulance were a mere shadow of their labelmates would overlook
the band's uniqueness. Formed in the late seventies (playing Hawkwind and
Magazine covers!), Crispy Ambulance's work was produced in part by Factory
Records luminary Martin Hannett and his assistant Chris Nagle. "The Plateau
Phase", which collects three previous releases, shows the darkly
psychedelic/experimental side of the Manchester/Factory Records sound,
dominated by snare-obsessed rhythms upon which the songs hang. On "Live on
a Hot August Night" the group's keen sense of restraint was demonstrated in
the way they contrasted long, slow drifting works with powerful, arresting
versions of their own songs. The live compilation (w/3 studio tracks) from
1981-82, goes one step further, honing their sound to clear points, moving
farther away from Joy Division's murkiness (plus it includes a Throbbing
Gristle cover). Crispy Ambulance inhabited the smoky, twisty hallway
linking the first Pink Floyd album, '70s Brit Punk, and Martin Hannett's
rhythm-heavy productions (i.e. ESG). Limited reissues, now may be the only
time we have them. [JZ]
"Plateau Phase"

PINBACK "s/t" (Ace-Fu) CD $12.99
Pinback is Rob Crow (Heavy Vegetable, Optiganally Yours, Physics, etc.) and
two members of Three Mile Pilot. Poppy, subtle, and gorgeous, these low-key
songs have a unique structure: though mostly vocal duets, they're not done
in simple harmony or call-and-response. Instead, Pinback tends to run two
complimentary songs in parallel -- even if one-half might just be syllables.
Circular songwriting makes certain songs close in on the form of a round,
but they never actually get there. The poppier bits are like the best of
Optiganally Yours, Zach's singing is very McCartney (Wings-era), and within
the parallel singing and guitarwork are pockets of scratching, robot
voices, other odd sounds, sparkling like geodes in the rock matrix. The
drums follow and respond to the vocals, rather than propelling them along.
Quite lovely. [RE]

JAKE MANDELL "Quondam Current" (Mille Plateaux, Germany) CD/LP $14.99/$13.99
Minneapolis' IDM hero Jake Mandell first came to prominence with his
innovative "Parallel Processes" record for the Worm Interface label, which
bore the imprint of early New Order and late Autechre. On his debut for
Mille Plateaux, Mandell has taken a hard left turn into 4/4 kick-drum
techno. This 'Mandell for the dancefloor' will come as a shock to fans, but
he pulls it off with dexterity. In other words, he doesn't sacrifice analog
tinkering and tweaking for accessibility. 'Tectonic Shifting' really does
suggest dirt moving, with de-tuned acid sounds riding a sharpened 909 kick.
Elsewhere, Mandell shoots rubber bands over a molten bassline...this album
makes it clear that Mandell possesses a definite ability to move between
electronic abstraction and floorslamming techniques with the flick of a
switch. [TH]
LP  /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=71875044361&refer_url=email

BURNT FRIEDMAN & THE NU DUB PLAYERS "Just Landed" (~scape, Germany) CD/LP $14.99/$15.99
"Just Landed" is where the organic approach of Burnt Friedman (sometimes
known as Nonplace Urban Field) meets Studio One techniques in a rootsy dub
album that confounds definition. In a decisive break from the Pole
aesthetic, Burnt Friedman and his group perform on regular
instruments: guitar, mouth-harp, strings, drums. Thus, the clinical
crackle-and-pop sound is absent, replaced by the roots-dub elements,
especially on 'I Shot the Fashion Victim', which combines garbled vox with
floor-shaking basslines and off-kilter guitar work. The melodies used link
"Just Landed" to practitioners like Augustus Pablo, too. Recorded in New
Zealand and mastered in Berlin, this is 'world music' in the sense that it
culls disparate elements from corners of the earth, bringing them together
in delirious harmony. [TH]
LP  /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=71875271046&refer_url=email

MATTHEW SHIPP & MAT MANERI "Gravitational Systems" (Hatology, Austria) CD $18.99
Matthew Shipp, paired here with violinist Mat Maneri, expands the
definition of avant-jazz not through ferocity, but by incorporating a sense
of delicacy and beauty in technique. Maneri's plucking, scraping, and
bowing offers contrast, owing as much to jazz as to microtonal music. Their
finest moments here take place quiet, spacious sections, where their
ability to communicate with one another is most obvious, including
beautiful, melancholy reworkings of 'Greensleeves' and Coltrane's 'Naima'.
Creating an emotional, and most importantly, original sound, Shipp and
Maneri are redefining personal boundaries on this wonderful album of duets.

THE LETTER E "EP" (Tiger Style) CD $8.99
An instrumental tribute by Curtis Harvey (Rex) and Sean Meadows (June of
44) to a now-infamous loft space that incubated their music. From the
beautifully-written liner notes: "The Letter E represents much more than a
collaboration between the artists and musicians that converged in a
building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn -- otherwise known as 127 South 8th
Street. It is a testament of space, of a building that embraces our
different talents and sensibilities and that reshaped our lives." As the
story goes, in 1997 (when this was recorded) this live/work space burned to
the ground. The Letter E communicates how important shelter is to us
all -- and how the loss of possessions and work can force people to
reinterpret their existence. I took a walk last week and stood in front of
what was once 127 South 8th St. and hoped that, in time, my building
(nearby) might hold that same creativity as that one did. Reminiscent of
last year's Pullman record, with the added sorrow of a loss and the dignity
of survival despite misfortune. [LR]

TAJ MAHAL TRAVELLERS "Live Stockholm July, 1971" (Drone Syndicate, Sweden) 2xCD $26.99
Early trio recording by perhaps the most highly revered Japanese
psychedelic outfit ever, essentially one two-hour-long improvisation spread
over two CDs. Prepared strings, vocal chants, electronics and overtones
galore hover through and beyond souls living and past in as fine an example
of cosmic exploration as could possibly be imagined. Step aboard, you might
never come back! Edition of 1000 copies. [JG]

[V/A] "Angola 60's: 1956-1970" (Buda Musique, France) CD $14.99
Buda Musique's newest series (we have the first now, three others will
follow in a month or two) documenting urban African music turns south, to
Angola. While not as much of an eye-opener as the mind-blowing
"Ethiopiques" series, this nonetheless captures the sounds of different
ethnic regions within Angola, their effects on each other, and the way that
the Portuguese and Cuban influences were absorbed into urban Angolan
culture. Some songs focus on close polyphonic harmonies, tapping rhythms
and ringy, simple guitar melodies; others have cascades of creaky percussion
and huge choruses; still others anchor on the accordion. It starts to get really
interesting around track nine, when the frenzy slows, turning to fabulous
intimate, small-scale recordings that you can't tell if are Latin or
African in origin. By the end of the disk, they've brought in the electric
guitars, jumping up, incorporating more Western chord progressions and
swinging funk rock, especially on the classic, screaming 'Muzangola' by Vum
Vum. Can't wait for the rest! [RE]

ROGER DOYLE "Babel" (Silverdoor, Ireland) 5xCD Box $59.99
Doyle has long been Ireland's foremost exponent of musique concrete and
experimental composition. His late '70s/early '80s work under the moniker
Operating Theatre is somewhat legendary, with releases on Steven
Stapleton's United Dairies label. This astonishing set marks the
culmination of his most ambitious work to date, recorded over a nineteen
year span of time. "'Babel' is a large-scale musical structure making use
of many technologies and music languages, with each piece of music being
thought of as a 'room' or place within an enormous tower city. In the main
section are 3 CDs where each track corresponds to a virtual architecture.
The pieces are divided into two kinds: aural representations of actual
spaces (e.g. The Dressing Room, The Stairwell, Mr. Brady's Room), and
internalised dream spaces (e.g. The Room of Rhetoric, Mall Fountain, the
Spirit Levels, the Mansard childhood memory room). Listeners can navigate
their way differently through this CD building at each hearing if they so
wish. The instrumental solos in some of these 'chamber musics' evolved in
collaboration with the musicians and would not have been possible without
the unique approach and talent of each performer. As a Babel 'supplement'
are the two CDs of KBBL -- the Tower's fictitious radio station. Each of its
four 'shows' has its own style and atmosphere. Collaborating with DJs, actors,
writers and singers, KBBL is made to sound like a real radio station with
ads, traffic reports, phone-ins etc. There are also 'live' circus and
nightclub recordings associated with KBBL in this supplement and in the
main section. Other than these connections, and others not mentioned, Babel
celebrates language (a slight variation on the Biblical morality tale) and
musical expression in all its variety."--Roger Doyle. Caveat: the two KBBL
CDs were previously released in somewhat altered form via World Serpent in
the mid-90's (hence the qualification here as "supplements") and are, at
times, extremely silly and somewhat grating, despite some fantastic
moments. Reward: the first 3 CDs alone are works of true genius that
combine the finest elements of, say, Pierre Henry and Nurse With Wound and
are easily worth the high price of admission! [JG]

AROVANE "Atol Scrap" (Din, Germany) CD $14.99
After a handful of singles of varying sizes, Arovane (real name = Uwe Zahn)
emerges on CD -- here, smoothing out the rougher edges of his singles,
making a pliant, placid record. "Atol Scrap" has a lightness similar to Richard
D. James' work (think "Girl/Boy" -- in fact, using a lot of the same sounds) in
a more predictable configuration. Arovane's pretty, lilting melodies twinkle
warmly, chords wrap around and through spaces: a loose, regular net
of Christmas lights in sound. He adds a small amount of delay to his
electronics, though not enough to provide that extra echo effect of dub.
The reverb hollows out the sounds, just as adding resonance to a xylophone
makes it a vibraphone. A second CD is due in the spring, too. [RE]

CURRENT 93 "I Have A Special Plan For This World" (Durtro, UK) CD $14.99
Spoken text readings set against their patented backdrop of chilling
existentialism. Toss this one on when you truly want to bum out your
friends! "The first release of new material by Current 93 since their 'Soft
Black Stars' album follows on from their album with Thomas Ligotti, 'In A
Foreign Land, In A Foreign Town'. This 22-minute mini-album has the world's
greatest living writer of strange stories, Thomas Ligotti, join the very
voice of very silence, Current 93. With vocals by David Tibet...recorded
and engineered by long time Current 93 and Nurse With Wound collaborators
Colin Potter and Christoph Heeman."--Durtro Records. [JG]

[V/A, JOHN ZORN, ED.] "Arcana" (Granary Books) BK $24.95
Windows are made in the wall of the musician's mind with these: What do you
do differently? Why do you do what you do? How do you do what you do? What
is it that you do? John Zorn asked all his musician/composer friends these
questions -- or, rather, they answered them without being asked. A series of
personal essays, philosophies, and methods from notable creative and
iconoclastic types make up "Arcana": Bill Frisell, Fred Frith, Gerry
Hemingway, Eyvind Kang, Ikue Mori, John Oswald, Mike Patton, Marc Ribot,
David Shea, Lois V. Vierk, and many more. In the best piece of all, koto
player Miya Masaoka interviews a Zen Buddhist minister about music,
religion, and everything else. The artists drift into technical details
often, but not overpoweringly. Just as these musicians structure their
music differently, these essays don't always follow traditional rules for
written communication. Ultimately, it's a reminder of how important music
is -- not just to these musicians, who need it like oxygen, but to us, their
appreciators, too. I would have loved to hear an accompanying CD, though.

KWARTET WARSZAWSKA JESIONKA "Hak W Smaku" (Obuh, Poland) CD $14.99
The sort of stuff that really makes my week! I knew absolutely nothing
about this Polish quartet apart from their equally fab debut release.
"Improvised music is a child of the times in which everything in art is
allowed. A simplistic understanding of this notion results in a feverish,
chaotic, splashy eclecticism. But those who accept this challenge in its
most radical form create improvised music, which attains its own order:
that of an intimate ritual."--Rafal Ksiezyk, from his liner notes. This one
magic hour of free-flowing atonal spacey improv brings to mind classics by
MEV, Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Faust, AMM, hell, even the Art Ensemble Of
Chicago. But, to my knowledge, none of those vaunted groups ever released a
CD in a screened digipak secured by a bolt through its center. Eastern
European innovation, where will it all end? [JG]

MUSLIMGAUZE "Untitled" (Klanggalerie, Austria) CD $12.99
Newly unearthed tracks recorded in 1993, ground zero for Bryn Jones' middle
period that brought forth classics like "Betrayal", "Veiled Sisters", and
"Blue Mosque". By this time, his wondrous formula for rhythmic minimalism
and found voices had reached a level of near-unconscious perfection, its
flow seamless and organic. 75+ minutes of bliss, including two tracks
previously available on an insanely-limited 7" picture disc on the
Syntactic label. Limited edition of 1000 copies. Highest recommendation.

MUSLIMGAUZE "Sufiq" (Soleilmoon) CD $7.99
Nine tracks in 26 minutes, recorded in 1997. Another example of his later
fast-paced and more aggressive style at certain times bordering on drum and
bass, and at others skirting the cusp of noise. Unsettlingly melodic at
points, disrupted by maddening drop-outs and resolved via blasts of
elektro, "Sufiq" could have served well as a promotional sampler for
contemporaneous releases "Tandoori Dog", "Jaal Ab Dullah", and
"Izlamophobia". And yet, it stands quite nicely on its own, thank you. [JG]

BOSS HOG "Whiteout" (In the Red) CD/LP $12.99/$8.99
While Boss Hog are basically doing the same thing they've always
done -- assaulting the blues --  their records are progressively and
incrementally getting cleaner and cleaner, one album at a time. This one
throws in a few gospel phrases, and sends the whole thing through a warren
of live rock and hip-hop beats. Jon Spencer sneers along, Cristina Martinez
multiplies her plain vocals to give them more depth, and they often play
off of each other with overlapping trade-ups or echoing of phrases. Other
tracks go herky-jerky, wail snidely, beats like a car re-starting, guitars
snarling and more keyboards than usual. Martinez naked on the cover, as
usual. Okay, mostly naked. [RE]
LP  /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999124071&refer_url=email

This week's newsletter: Robin Edgerton [RE], Jeff Gibson [JG], Tim Haslett
[TH], Lyndon Roeller [LH].

Thanks for reading.

-all of us at Other Music

15 E. 4th Street
New York, NY  10003