Other Music New Release Update
February 7, 2001

In This Week's Update:

Jan Jelinek
Simon Finn reissue
Fantastic Plastic Machine
Sun City Girls
Jonzun Crew/Planet Patrol reissues
Ilpo Vaisenen
Ilitch reissue
Bobby Callender reissue
Sergej Auto
Henry Flynt reissue
Ultra Living
Studio One Rockers comp.
Francoise Hardy collection
Aeron Bergman
Industry Wannabes and Radio Anomalies
Celebrities at Their Worst Vol. 2.9 "Bitch Bitch Bitch"
Swell Maps collection

Tomoki Kanda

Featured New Releases:

LADYTRON "604" (Emperor Norton) CD $12.99
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There is something universally foreign about Ladytron. Not the
American view of 'foreign' -- the reassuring encounter with an
easily identifiable expected culture which can be compartmentalized
and filed safely away. Instead it's as if they've descended from a
distant land, inherently chic in their matching black outfits, emitting
a music that seems innate to their being (the correlation of image
and sound linked indelibly). Their influences are well-documented
and easily identifiable (Kraftwerk, Telex, Lio, "Travelogue"-era
Human League, etc.), but Ladytron contain late '70s/early '80s
electropop within their unique style of breathtakingly perfect
robotic breathy pop in a seamless way. On "604," their debut
album, Ladytron offer us six of the songs from last year's "Miss
Black And Her Friends", including the semi-hit, Kraftwerk-
rewrite 'He Took Her To A Movie' and a self-conscious song about
shopping, 'Paco.' The new offerings on "604" meet past hopes
in 'Discotrax''s tale of a doomed, yet justifiable relationship
between a boy and a girl that at least looked perfect together.
Even though they're from Liverpool (and to reinforce their
ambiguous 'Euro' stance), they've never played even once in
London, their country's musical capital. Lucky for us rumors are
already starting about a U.S. tour this summer. [MG]

LOW "Things We Lost in The Fire" (Kranky) CD/2xLP $13.99/$15.99
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While they used to inhabit the upper atmosphere, on "Things", Low
are completely grounded. Somehow they've carved their own niche
in music's cave, and now get to stuff it full of things -- straw, dirt,
pianos, strings, drama, a few notes struck from a vibraphone.
"Things" is a denser, more awkward recording than they've
previously placed before us -- Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk's
voices explain more secrets they've been keeping: the
unfortunate thoughts a couple have but never say, expressed
in flightless melodies that creep haltingly along, lumbering,
growing. (Plus there are traces of '70s a.m. radio -- like a more
rustic Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young or the mellower parts of
Fleetwood Mac.) Intensity arcs to the end of the album -- they build
the optimism and throw off their burdens on each successive song,
while the beginning sinks, they start to ascend around tracks 6 &
7, heights attained at tracks 10 & 13. Each pointedly poignant/
depressing song contains a faint flash at the core -- the glint of
persistence amidst loneliness. Of course, they're a band that
believe that optimism shouldn't be kept to themselves, and know
that a more effective example is constructed by showing you its
opposite to begin with. [RE]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=79644180462&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999148701&refer_url=email

JAN JELINEK "Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records" (~scape, Germany) CD $15.99
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In this lethal slim digipak, Jan Jelinek reveals his true identity.
He's recorded at least four singles as Farben, and the brilliant,
overlooked "Personal Rock" album under the pseudonym Gramm.
I mention these because you'll want to own them after hearing
Jelinek's finest work to date. This is a story of Jelinek hunting down
jazz records to loop up for his new record -- hence the title. But
don't worry, this is in no way a "jazzy dub" record (a phrase that
would send most ~scape label fans screaming for the door). It is a
dub record, however, with the echo chamber catching the detritus
as the barely discernable jazz fragments fall away. Because there
really isn't any jazz on this record, just the ghosts of its absence.
'Rock in the Video Age' is a heavily reverbed dub track with a lithe,
fast-moving bassline and a strangely filtered kick drum, while
'Tendency' (the recent single) bristles with impatience as the clunky
percussion tries to keep up with the bassline's powerful undertow.
Though Pole heads up ~scape, and a dub motif runs through the
label's catalog, it does so in a variety of subtle ways -- and nothing
yet on the label sounds like Pole's own dubscapes, which is a
testament to his good 'A&R' work. [TH]

SIMON FINN "Pass The Distance" (Mushroom, UK) CD $14.99
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Relentlessly angular psych-folk circa 1970, that would have made
absolute sense were it part of the non-jazz ESP-Disk catalog. Even
further out than contemporaries Nick Drake, Duncan Browne, and
Jackson C. Frank thanks in no small part to the instrumental
participation of a young David Toop who manages to take the
songs out of mere rhythm and texture and into ghostlier realms.
"Sounding like Tom Rapp on a horror trip, Finn sets out on a
journey of nightmare folk, which knows no appeasement. The
mania shining through is greatly enhanced by the uncanny ability
of multi-instrumentalist Toop to play several different songs
simultaneously, seemingly often not related to the songs the other
two are playing. Guitars appear in the wrong key; song structure
is blissfully ignored. The cover (also by Toop) has it's own share
of subtle fright and is an excellent visual accompaniment to this
soundtrack of assorted willies." -- Marcel Koopman, 'Tapestry Of
Delights'. Somehow, I suspect that David Tibet is a huge fan of
this ultra-collectable, since Current 93 is a truly worthy
descendent of the twisted treasures contained herein. Highest
recommendation! [JG]

LESSER "Gearhound" (Matador, UK) CD $13.99
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Some people tend to associate the distinctive broken beats of San
Franciscan noise technician J. Lesser with his compatriot and
sometimes-collaborator Kid 606. That comparison is widely
misplaced. His first full-length record places him in another
category from the new wave Californian laptop league, of which
he is only an accidental member. First, he takes a meticulous
approach to snapping kick drums in two, and running scarred,
limping breakbeats over guitar feedback. He's not making hardcore
-- in fact, there are only a couple of tracks, 'For Irritant' for
instance, that could fall into that category -- most don't run over
90 beats-per-minute. And that's what makes this record
disorienting. One expects beats as fractured as this to move at
the speed of light, the average electronic hardcore tempo. But
many of those records, were they slowed down, wouldn't stand up
to close inspection. Yet Lesser's narcoleptic programming has a
precision which holds the listener completely captive -- difficult,
but highly enjoyable. [TH]

FANTASTIC PLASTIC MACHINE "Beautiful" (Avex Trax, Japan) CD $31.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/Paragon.rm
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For his third album Tomoyuki Tanaka (aka Fantastic Plastic
Machine) delivers his most straight-up house record to date. Those
who picked up FPM's 'Take Me to the Disco' single from late 1999
could probably hear this one coming, for the rest it may come as a
bit of a surprise. On "Beautiful" Tanaka has moved to replace most
of the funky breaks and chaotic samples that characterized his first
two records with a steady 4/4 house beat. Luckily for us he doesn't
totally abandon his patented cut-and-paste approach and adds a
lush string section on many tracks worthy of some of the classic
'70s disco that he's trying to evoke. But the best tracks here are
ones that go beyond the straight-ahead house/disco formula
including 'Paragon' with its skittering, cut-up Brazilian rhythms
and 'Whistle Song,' a breezy down-tempo number. On 'Love is
Psychedelic', an Isaac Hayes imitator inexplicably recites a poem
over a beefy bass line and a chorus of violins -- weird, but it works.
"Beautiful" may not be the FPM album you expected from Tanaka,
but there's plenty here to savor. Please note that this album will be
released domestically in April, but probably without the deluxe
packaging of this Japanese import. [TC]

SUN CITY GIRLS "Sumatran Electric Chair" (Abduction) CD $13.99
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Improvisations along with field recordings mark the Sun City
Girls' sixth CD (how did I miss number five?) in their 12-CD
"Carnival Folklore Resurrection" series. This one happens to
sound like a more specific tribute to the countries of Indonesia
and Burma (Myanmar). Sounds, songs, and the overlap between.
Traveling through the range of Indo/Burmo musics, from a thumpy
percussion piece to snaky, throbbing mock-blues, to a few
recordings of street scenes which they play very sparsely along
to, on quiet piano or a slithery oboe-like instrument. I like to
perversely think that instead of using some recording from
Jakarta, they just hopped down to the nearest Starbucks (they
are in Seattle, after all!) and rolled tape. Because it's possible:
the hissing of the espresso machine, clanking of cups and sighs
and moaning of the employees populate the aural street documents
-- though the sheep, birds, insects and chickens place it squarely
back in the South Pacific. Airport backdrops with humming guitar
strings, whispered, lilting opaque conversation in other tongues,
the irregularities of birds and insects: it's one of their most
mysterious recordings yet. And that's saying a lot. [RE]

JONZUN CREW "Lost In Space" (Tommy Boy) CD $15.99
PLANET PATROL "Play at Your Own Risk" (Tommy Boy) CD $15.99
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In 1983, when John "Jellybean" Benitez presided over the
turntables at The Funhouse, the records which dominated his
dancefloor were these two electro-funk body-slammers which
inspired generations of beatmakers. These reissues feel like a
lifeline, given the present, sorry state of "neo-electro". Boston's
Michael Johnson was discovered by the infamous Maurice Starr
(the impresario behind New Edition) who was more than aware
that Afrika Bambaataa and his progeny were taking over NYC.
He thus brought Johnson together with Benitez, and in 1982 they
released 'Space is the Place' and "'Pack Jam': instant electro
boogie classics, with simple, tight hooks and pints of vocoder.
Johnson's fame led to a chance encounter with Sun Ra, with whom
he allegedly spent several days and the two are rumored to have
recorded material together, which, sadly, may never see the light
of day. Around the same time, a New York group, Planet Patrol,
released a thunderous summer Jeep jam called 'Play at Your Own
Risk,' which resonates to this day with its chest-caving 808
bassline and robotic breakdancing stops and starts. The electro
era in hip-hop is the vanishing mediator: it had to disappear,
then come under intense criticism in order for our present
fascination with the music to begin. [TH]
Jonzun Crew
Planet Patrol

ILPO VAISANEN "Asuma" (Mego, Austria) CD $16.99
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The second solo work from Vaisanen, 1/2 of the prolific duo Pan
Sonic. Though he seems to have a fascination with rollover dates
(having planned major shows near the new year regularly; this was
supposed to come out on 1-1-2001), does that spill into a
fascination with cycles of nature? No! Actually he's more
interested in the cycling by man-made machines, as expressed in
Hz. "Asuma" (I wish I knew what this Finnish word means) gives us
an aural diagram of a large, modern building. The electrical whine
of fluorescent bulbs, a thwappy airiness of the ventilation
system, a refrigerator's chinked hum, the mechanical groans that
maintenance machinery starts up with, rain drumming on the
stretched metal surfaces of air conditioners. It's not a dull
record by any means, nor is it minimal. Though he uses a lot of
sounds like his contemporaries (and his own other group), this
doesn't mass into huge pools to make a statement; the hums and
whooshes divide and multiply into sections like a building is
divided, from sub-basement to rooftop, by stories. Stately and
magnificent cover art by Mego's artist-in-residence, Tina Frank.

ILITCH "Periodikmindtrouble" (Fractal, France) 2xCD $18.99
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A genuine landmark in French progressive psychedelia, (not to
mention another impossible-to-find title to be checked off that
pesky Nurse With Wound list!) released as conceived in its 2xLP
entirety for the very first time, while adding a veritable orgy of
bonus unreleased archival material to boot! The complete works of
guitarist Thierry Muller recorded between 1974 and 1978 reveals
proto-ambient and electronic excursions to rival the masterpieces
of Ash Ra Tempel, Cluster, Terry Riley, Brian Eno, Conrad
Schnitzler, Kraftwerk, Heldon, Philip Glass, etc. In short, a real
must-have: two and one-half hours of stunningly wonderful music!

BOBBY CALLENDER "The Way (First Book of Experiences)" (Akarma, Italy) CD $16.99
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Recorded in 1970, Bobby Callender's "The Way" is a truly puzzling
amalgamation of psych, soul, jazz, Eastern sounds, spoken word
and pop. Callender's distinct falsetto voice hovers above Axelrod-
inspired orchestration that blends with an odd mysticism, creating
a lush, psychedelic whirlwind of gorgeous pop sounds. The album's
initial beauty quickly takes a turn for the surreal, when Callender
begins a head-scratching spoken word segment about the
mysterious "John" that ventures into other worldly places. The
Eastern hippie vibe is particularly prevalent in Callender's
lyrics; he sings "Be a Karma Yogi, Act Selflessly?. Be a Karma
Yogi, Act Not Violently" with the utmost sincerity. Between the
confounding religious themes, perfect pop arrangements and sublime
production, Callender's "The Way" is a masterpiece of soulful
psychedelia. Akarma have also taken the time to put this classic
into a gorgeous cardboard double-gatefold package that looks as
good as it sounds. [PW]

SERGEJ AUTO "Achtung Auto" (Saas Fee, Germany) CD $14.99
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A wonderful collection of modest instrumentals that owes as much
to electronic new-agers (Kitaro, etc.) as it does to the
electropop school of things, and a little to pretty minimalists
such as those from Morr Records (Wunder, Fleischmann). No way
that's his real name, and I doubt that the cover sports his
picture, so who put together these quaint, enveloping baskets of
beats woven from telephone wire, threads of static and every kind
of new-wave keyboard sound you can think of? While it's an
ephemeral bit of fluff, it's superb background music: energetic,
uplifting, and fun without being distracting. One hour. [RE]

HENRY FLYNT "You Are My Everlovin' / Celestial Power" (Recorded) 2xCD $19.99
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Roll over Tony Conrad; tell John Cale the news! Here are two
mesmerizing works of minimalist improvisation, recorded in 1980
and 1981 on Flynt's incredibly deft fiddle. Each forty-plus minute
work is a real tour-de-force in its own right, righteously
repetitious yet continuously evolving and expanding upon itself.
Self-released, this set (subtitled "New American Ethnic Music")
was initially offered exclusively through La Monte Young's MELA
Foundation. "With his extraordinary violin virtuosity, the
originator of Concept Art shows the down-home side of his
hillbilly roots on both these cuts, as well as some dazzling
intonation on 'You Are My Everlovin'." - La Monte Young. Another
piece in the puzzle until Big Daddy decides to share with the rest
of us. Minimalism with a sense of humor? Fancy that! [JG]

ULTRA LIVING "Transgression" (Bubble Core) CD $13.99
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If you meshed post-rock's laid-back, passionless instrumental
approach with a particularly Japanese 'anything goes' mentality,
you'll end up here. True 'fusion' music, if fusion means you fuse
everything together AFTER you break it apart. Jazz, hip-hop beats,
arty looped spoken samples, electric guitar slides, on, on,? They
have the ability to elevate anything into a hook, from duck's
quack to single words. Noteworthy Ornette cover, w/ slide guitar,
and frankly a quite unusual hip-hop track with broken piano
sounds. This Japanese duo have been around the large block we
call this earth, having released a number of 12" on Creation, of all
labels, and remixed some big artists on that label. Usually when an
artist has this little of a focus their work's power is diffused, but
somehow here that becomes all the more captivating.

EXOS "Strength" (Force Inc., Germany) CD $15.99
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Exos first appeared on the now revamped Icelandic Thule label four
years ago with a floor scorching 4/4 hard-techno gem. Exos' sense
of timing and abuse of the echo box made his brand of techno
irresistible?and continues to. "Strength"'s opening track will
immediately convince you that Exos belongs in the same
constellation of techno innovators as Robert Hood, Surgeon, Regis,
and Jeff Mills. Each in their own way, they knew how to take the
otherwise formulaic sound of the Roland 909 kick drum running at
about 135 BPM in 4/4 and make something new. Exos runs compressed
basslines sporadically through a printing press until they're as
thin as newspaper. And Exos' own strength lies in his or her
spatial sense -- the understanding of where to place each hi-hat,
snare and handclap. [TH]

[V/A] "Studio One Rockers (Soul Jazz, UK) CD/LP $19.99/$19.99
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With so many Studio One compilations floating about, why care
about this one? Well, it's got the basics, in early ska, rock
steady, and dancehall styles. The tracks here have a lot of
rhythmic intensity--the bass is so heavy but MOVING, so you feel
like you're riding it as it bounds over houses and gas stations.
You'll recognize many, like Marcia Griffith's 'Feel Like Jumping'.
Each one's the side of a 45, and it's not a matter of 'you should
have these tracks', it's a matter that you at least should have
heard them. The more obscure selections include a sweet, funky
instrumental from Lennie Hibbert, Johnny Osbourne's heartfelt,
insurgent 'Truth and Rights', and the dark and almost eerie 'No,
No, No' by Dawn Penn, who sings as if she's ready to stalk--it's
the sound of a woman losing everything, including her mind, in one
long, steady decline. Book contains a somewhat formal 34-page
interview w/founder and reggae patriarch Coxsone Dodd. The CD
has actually quite a laid-back selection, but then again, all reggae
has that lazy lope -- as seen through that particular haze. 50 min.
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=502632810048&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=502632800048&refer_url=email

FRANCOISE HARDY "The Vogue Years" (BMG, UK) 2xCD $22.99
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The perfect point of entry into her dazzling early (and criminally
out-of-print) catalog! 50 choice tracks from her singles and
albums, 1962-1967, all the hits and then some, and all-French
(none of those distracting diversions into English-language takes
that have plagued past comps!). Plus the package includes an essay
by Bob Stanley of St. Etienne and many fab photos of the low-key
diva herself. If you've never heard her poignant songs and sublime
voice, treat yourself to this one, you deserve it! [JG]

DQE "The Queen of Mean" (Dark Beloved Cloud) CD $10.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/DQEtakit.rm
DQE, a band that have had a number of stylistic incarnations now
shift from their softer, lo-fi country into a mode of stomping,
primal rockabilly. "The Queen of Mean" boosts their power so much
that they could be placed in a one-on-one challenge with Thee
Headcoats and still come out on top; they'd turn Southern Culture
on the Skids into powder. Grace Braun, who's reserving her solo
appellation for her gorgeous old-timey folk music, here becomes
both siren and harpy, valiantly riding the top of the music,
actually falling over it, backwards a number of times (my favorite
moment above), seeming to actually lose control, not just
pretending to. Nineteen songs, including one countryfied Half
Japanese cover ('One Million Kisses') that sounds like it was
meant to be sung this way. [RE]

AERON BERGMAN "The Tale of the Unhappy American" (Tom, Germany) CD  $12.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/BergmanA.rm
Bergman, formerly a collaborator with Lucky Kitchen, branches
onto another label for his conceptual soundwork. Serene electronic
pieces (with an undercurrent of agitation) are interspersed with
quiet recounts of dreamlike or futuristic stories, sometimes told
with sound effects (that are/turn into the electronics). It reminds
me of the sound equivalent to the work of cartoonists Paul Pope
or Joe Chiapetta, only more low-key. [RE]

[V/A] "Industry Wannabes and Radio Anomalies" (Mad Deadly Worldwide) CD $13.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/SuperApp.rm
A collection of recordings so scary the folks at Mad Deadly needed
to put somewhere, so they put 'em here. From songs by the
talentless (Paul Super-Apple's tracks, which sound like Guided By
Voices' discards or M.O.T.O. outtakes), to bible-belt radio pranks
and bizarre PSAs, plus some terrifying, legendary prank calls 'on
behalf of Cambodian Refugees'. I can barely say more -- though
some of these you have to slog through, there are some really
shivering moments of angst, triumph, and pathos within. [RE]

[V/A] "Celebrities At Their Worst Vol. 2.9" (Mad Deadly Worldwide) CD $13.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/Celebs29.rm
Tapes that their subjects I'm sure wished were erased?like
Courtney Love's embarrassing stage banter and answering machine
messages (you could probably fill up a whole CD with her alone), a
number of head-scratching PSAs by celebs, lots of swearing (will
Britney make it to the next one? probably not -- she's not
interesting enough yet), things murmured supposedly off-mic, and a
very nice parody ad made by NBC staffers about how sucky their
network is. Above, Mel Blanc cursing in character. I can't resist
but quote the producers quoting Billy Crystal: "?once again he
sets the pace with a quote that also actually sums up the
experience many people will have with this entire album: 'You'll
laugh and have a good time but it's not fun.'" Enough. [RE]

SWELL MAPS "Sweep the Desert" (Alive) CD/LP $13.99/$8.99
A compilation of mostly 'out' stuff from this group, culled from
all three of their releases (now OOP). There are a few pop tunes
here (incl. the popular 'Midget Submarines'), but it's primarily
instrumentals, like an 8-minute piece or one that's 45 seconds of
buzz. But it's on vinyl too: Hey DJ!
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09508100412&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999148451&refer_url=email


TOMOKI KANDA "Landscape of Smaller's Music" (Crue-l, Japan) CD  $29.99
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Headphones record of the year, hands down. Japanese producer
Tomoki Kanda (known previously for his work with Chocolat, Kahimi
Karie, etc) has produced an organic, electro-ambient masterpiece
in "Smaller's Music" that is lushly appointed while maintaining a
distinctly minimalist sensibility. On 'Safari', crickets and bullfrogs
chirp overtop sultry washes of sound, electronic pulsebeats and
tribal drum thuds. But rather than drift off into "Deep Forest"
country, Kanda drops a very alien-sounding electronic bleep into
the mix; it's a startling contrast to the natural sounds humming
about. On 'String Driven Thing', repetitive melodic elements
seemingly go nowhere, but nonetheless manage to transport
you somewhere quite magical. While 'Golden Weed' wouldn't
sound out of place on Cornelius's "Fantasma", it's on 'Small
Music' where Kanda is most effective. Mimicking 10CC, Kanda
doesn't sing as much as exhale while a gentle but insistent
acoustic guitar nudges forward over a drum beat of patter and
buzz. A RealAudio sample played through computer speakers
can't begin to convey the richness of this record. Play it on the
most expensive stereo system you can afford. [TC]

This week's contribs: Tom Capodanno [TC], Robin Edgerton [RE],
Jeff Gibson [JG], Michael Goodstein [MG], Tim Haslett [TH], Phil
Waldorf [PW].

The Big Picture:

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