Other Music New Release Update
January 17, 2001

In This Week's Update:

Maher Shalal Hash Baz
Pan Sonic
Disco not Disco comp.
Matthew Shipp
Bill Wells Trio
Pierre Berthet
Vivian Girls
Eastanburia (Yoshimi, Ackermann, Nuss, etc.)
Ecstasy of St. Teresa reissue
Bum Cello
Howling Wolf Orchestra
Stephen Malkmus single
Bip-Hop Generation V.1
Pizzicato Five
Faust live

Featured New Releases:

MAHER SHALAL HASH BAZ "Souvenir de Mauve" (Majikick, Japan) CD  $18.99
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They bill it as their new 'single', but the only thing that keeps this
10-track, 60-minute CD from being an album is their own billing.
MSHB keep their ineptitude as inspiration (much as, say, Nihilist
Spasm Band does), but once they start playing, their songs are
cohesive, melodic, tangible and precious, even as they're made
from tuneless singing, off-key trumpet, and drums that seem
compact but loosen and fall apart in places. Imagine Burt
Bacharach trying to use calm, poised preschoolers in his
arrangements. Or '60s beat rock as if practiced by Buddhist
monks. About half of it documents one of Tori Kudo's solo piano
performances, with one track, aptly titled 'The Day My Piano
Came', of aimless, naive noodling. Footing is regained with a
24-minute piano jazz number that meanders while staying in
a subconscious rhythm, as if guided by an underground river.
Please take a look at http://noise.as/interviews/kudo/kudo2.html
for a completely enigmatic yet also wonderfully revelatory
interview with Kudo. [RE]

PAN SONIC "Aaltopiiri" (Mute) CD $15.99
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By now the methods of 'clicks and cuts' artists have informed the
culture of electronic composition to the point that now any kid with
a laptop and a mixing board can make records. So how are Pan Sonic
different? Much like their handmade machinery, there's a painstaking
construction to their music. Minute layers of ghostly static reverberate
and echo within subterranean frequencies, while a single pitch is
suspended, bent, and twisted back into its original wavelength. Pan
Sonic's version of minimalism is not simply a default to a mere absence
of sound. Rather, the framework built around their empty spaces
allows sound to coalesce and vibrate. Underscored by a faint but
detectable pulse, it's as if "Aaltopiiri" stands as the soundtrack to
the body: from the crackling energy of the brain, to the twitching of
muscles and nerve endings, to systematic blood flow. In other words,
their machine music is surprisingly warm and human. [KC]

[V/A] "Disco Not Disco" (Strut, UK) CD $16.99
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My newfound fondness for disco is due in no small part to the
numerous recent and excellent disco reissue comps. Dimitri From
Paris' "Disco Forever," Larry Levan's 1979 mix "Paradise Garage"
and Nuphonic's excellent "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life" all have
their attributes, but Joey Negro and Sean P. have outdone them
with "Disco Not Disco." The 11-track jam-master reads like a search
for 'Rare Late Disco 12"' on Ebay. Strut ignites a long blast of
avant-boogie, from the mighty Liquid Liquid to the early years of
Bill Laswell's Material, and further and further outward. Strut went
to Pluto to get Yoko Ono's (!) frigid funk re-edit of 'Walking On Thin
Ice,' which initiates the disc with a freeze-frame flange and dense
vocal mix, Ono's singing both trembly and forcefully stark. In other
highlights, Ian Dury and Sly & Robbie kick 'Spasticus Autisticus,'
certainly the only funk recorded for the U.N. Year of the Disabled.
The psych-dub-disco trek ends with Steve Miller's 'Macho City,' a
16- minute magnumbing opus that regularly set the night off for
DJ Jesus, Larry Levan. "Disco Not Disco" is a natural follow-up to
ESG, Liquid Liquid, or the Paradise Garage comp, and is a must for
anyone interested in cut-up dub-out funk. Get down. (the triple
12" vinyl version will arrive soon.) [DD]

MATTHEW SHIPP "New Orbit" (Thirsty Ear) CD $14.99
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From the first keystrokes of Matthew Shipp's "New Orbit," it's
obvious that this pianist is going somewhere very different.
Joined by longtime collaborator William Parker on bass, Gerald
Cleaver on drums and Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet, this
recording is spacious and dark, unlike anything else in Shipp's
burgeoning catalog. In fact, Shipp has recorded an album that is
completely unique in the whole spectrum of avant-garde jazz.
Shipp's careful composition on "New Orbit" is closer to the work
of composer Erik Satie than his avant-jazz peers, particularly
unaccompanied, each note ringing beautifully alone. Anyone
familiar with Shipp's work is certainly aware of Parker's masterful
technique, and here he plays what might be the sweetest melody
of his career, bowing the bass on the gorgeous 'Orbit 3'. Smith is
a newcomer to Shipp's group and his contribution is massive,
even as it is understated; he emotes through his trumpet's hollow
blasts and subtle echoes. Easily the pinnacle (thus far) in Shipp's
career, "New Orbit" is an unparalleled work that shines throughout
with originality and emotion. [PW]

BILL WELLS TRIO "Incorrect Practice" (Geographic, UK) CD/LP  $12.99/$13.99
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More of an EP (19 min.) than an album, still this is the debut for
Wells' trio. It's lovely to hear jazz by musicians who are open-
minded to all sorts of sounds but also know exactly what they
want (the Octet vs. Future Pilot AKA album was even more like
this, a novelly blended set of jazz and sampling). The trio
consists of Wells (piano), Robert Henderson (trumpet), and
Stevie Jackson (harmonica/guitar, also in Belle and Sebastian).
Wells isn't breaking new ground here, instead, he and his
musicians view parts of the past as through a kaleidoscope,
picking pieces here and there and mirroring/multiplying them
in the music. A few reference points would be the melodic jazz
of Gary McFarland, the mellow palatability of Burt Bacharach,
and the repetitions and rhythms from instrumental minimalists
like Reich and Riley. Overall, a contemplative, creative record
that, unusually, really lives up to its own inspirations. [RE]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=505501990052&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=505501990051&refer_url=email

PIERRE BERTHET "Two Continuum Pieces" (Sub Rosa, Belgium) CD  $15.99
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Belgian Berthet's second album is a flappingly physical affair. His
current work is an extension of some of his collaborations -- the
next point from the jerry-rigged tube and pipe instruments he did
with Frederic LeJunter and the bare rhythmic equivalent to Arnold
Dreyblatt (Berthet's the percussionist of the Orchestra of Excited
Strings). Another comparison would be fluxus artist Joe Jones (will
someone reissue Jones' work?please?), and, like him, Berthet builds
his sound making machines from motors, springs, tanks, tubular
drums, and miscellaneous other detritus. If you sped up Dreyblatt's
work and took out the notes, you're good for grasping Berthet's
constructions. Hollow, quick rhythms find overtones, go in and out
of phase, and more or less pummel you (lightly) into a lovely zone of
beat bliss. It's been done before, sure, but this version is particularly
nice. Two long, ever changing pieces, 47 min. total. [RE]

THE VIVIAN GIRLS "s/t" (Radio One, Australia) CD $11.99
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Although they've been hailed as the next Birthday Party, the most
that the Vivian Girls share with their fellow Australian residents is a
fondness for big hair and attitude. Armed with an array of synths
and a Weimar aesthetic, this, their debut album, is very impressive
indeed. With their churning basslines and pounding drums, the
Vivian Girls manage to sound like "Pornography"-era Cure combined
with the frantic flurries of Gravity bands Clikatat Ikatowi and The
Rapture. These elements make for songs that have incredibly melodic
hooks and energy to spare. If you found the recent fellow Factory
records-influenced Mahogany album to be too mellow, this may yet
be the album for you. Now if only the Vivian Girls could make their way
over to the States? I suspect they more than live up to their enormous
buzz. [JZ]

METABOLISMUS "Sprie?wartsdrall" (Amish) CD $10.99
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A prog band that formed at the nadir of prog's coolness -- the
mid-'80s, and they've been dedicated to developing that sound
since. With countless records since then, yet this is the second to
see a U.S. release. Why would prog captivate a band? Because
progressive rock offers possibilities for sounds, is more of an
inclusive rather than exclusive. Their records have contained radical
switches of style, and barely sound the same from release to
release (of the handful that I've heard, that is?). This one is
serious and cold, and falls into long groovy jams resting on odd
sounds, percussion and keyboard; they seem to me much as
Stereolab, only tougher, more experimental and broadminded.
There's unexpected switching, looping rhythmic escapism, also
variety in layers and layers of material -- as if they'd taken
sounds from every one of the last 40 years and laminated them
into a thick mass with bubbles and pockets of air here and
there. Average all those years out and it still sounds like classic
'70s prog, though they eschew the electric guitar jam for spacey
keyboard patterns and connective arches of static. This 11-piece
group's music, too, acts like an homage to the studio and not only
its modern capabilities (electronics) but techniques from the past,
too. [RE]

PASCALS "s/t" (Disques du Soleil, France) CD $16.99
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Though they initially formed in order to perform the music of Pascal
Comelade, this 16-piece ensemble has since moved on to their own
compositions, though with his music as the starting point (sort of
inescapably, because they use a similarly large and strange array
of more rarely-used music-making devices). They're no second-rate
imitation, and, in fact, the size of the group makes it possible for
them to make a different sound and statement. Pianicas, melodicas
and accordions lead, the acid burn of the reeds tinged with a fragile
sweetness, and there's an inescapable Eastern-European quality
to many tracks, even as some follow traditional Japanese scales/
melodies. There are ukeleles and autoharp, beyond the violins
and cellos a stiff singing saw arcs over a number of songs, and
(literally!) bells and whistles abound. Five of the fourteen songs
have vocals, sung in Japanese, cute but very untrained. They
even wrote their own words for Henry Mancini's 'Moon River',
for which their arrangements are spectacular and unusually dense.
As I think of some of Comelade's methods as Eno-derived (he uses
the Oblique Strategies sometimes), then Pascals are Eno's artistic
grandchildren. [RE]

EASTANBURIA "s/t" (Japan Overseas, Japan) LP $21.99
A conglomerate group made from three Boredoms (Yoshimi, ATR,
O.G. Hayashi), one No Neck Blues Band member (David Nuss),
his wife (Rita Ackermann), and a few others. Centerless, driving
percussive detached music in the nontradition of '60s improv
work a la Angus MacLise, Amon Duul, etc. A little more flailing
and varied than Boredoms' own concise empowerment, with
more howling and chanting, and the only instruments are
drums plus grantang (bamboo xylophone), sitar, and Casio.
Pressed into a fancy full-color picturedisc, all of which have
slight warps, even though they're pressed on very thick vinyl.

ECSTASY OF ST. TERESA "Sensurrate" (Clairecords, UK) CD  $18.99
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Reissuing a peak bit of 1992. Driving, fuzzed-out shoegazing
excellence, comparable to all the 'gaze greats: MBV, Curve, etc.
Stark guitars made of crewcut fuzz and melodic spikes, held
together by rocking, stable drums. 38 minutes. A thankfully-
reissued classic of its type!

BUM CELLO "s/t" (Comet, France) CD/LP $14.99/$14.99
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Bum Cello's first solo CD came out at the beginning of the year;
we just got it now. Interesting, skritchy drum'n'bass accented
with -- yes -- swaths and segments of cello (and, I think, a few
other stringed instruments). Different enough to remark upon,
yet not remarkably different, his work is definitely starting to
veer off in the direction of jazz, a nice merging of solid beats and
free rhythms. He also used to be in the group Papa's Culture
with members of Cypress Hill and Blackalicious.
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=376001816010&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=376001816009&refer_url=email

RUINS "Pallaschtom" (Sonore, France) CD $13.99
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Ruins continue to work in short bursts of guitar (rock and metal-style),
tin-pan and tiny hairpin drums, chatter and yelp vox, this time adding
up to a something much like a more masculine version of Melt-Banana.
Yet their sometimes-falsetto vox bring to mind Sparks, for some reason!
Staccato rock. Approx. 1 hour; ends with a one-minute, very silly heavy
metal-style classical music medley.

HOWLING WOLF ORCHESTRA "Speedtraps for the Bee Kingdom"
(Rockathon)  CD EP/EP  $9.99/$11.99

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Robert Pollard really has just so many songs spilling from his head
that he needs more, albeit smaller vessels just to hold them. And
this is such a vessel, the trio being Pollard, his brother Jim and friend
Nate Farley, with a rawer, and somewhat darker version of all that
Guided By Voices pop chaos. Distant garage and psychy songs
recorded messily and thickly, with a lot of reverb and some
distortion; eight songs squeezed into 13 minutes.
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999147092&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999147101&refer_url=email

STEPHEN MALKMUS "Discretion Grove" (Matador) CD single $4.99
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Malkmus' much publicized solo career kicks off! And, what else, he's
Pavement, only poppier! Clever wraparound rhyme schemes, similar
guitar work throughout. The second track here is the standout,
sounding as if he's fronting Olivia Tremor Control or something --
he puts his sound through a psych filter, with strains of flute,
delicate backwards tapes, '60s keyboard.

Just In:

[V/A] "Bip-Hop Generation V.1" (Bip-Hop, France) CD $13.99
The first of what will be a quarterly released series of compilations
documenting the current international state of IDM. Using only
exclusive material, this, Volume One, includes approx. two tracks
each by Marumari, Schneider tm, Massimo, Goem, Ultra Milkmaids,

PIZZICATO FIVE "Ca Et La Du Japon" (Readymade, Japan) CD  $29.99
The brand, brand new album from Pizzicato Five (not to be
confused with the recent "Fifth Release From Matador" which
is actually their 1999 LP). All new material. Deluxe, oversized
packaging. Not scheduled for domestic release.

FAUST "The Land of Ukko & Rauni" (Ektro, Finland) 2xCD $19.99
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Double-disk document of Faust live in Helsinki in April of 2000.
More next week.

Scribes du jour: Kris Chen [KC], David Day [DD], Robin Edgerton [RE], Phil Waldorf [PW], Joshua
Zucker [JZ].

The Big Picture :

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