Other Music Update
January 18, 2000

In This Week's Update :

Fenn O'Berg (Fennesz, O'Rourke, Rehberg)
April March (& Bertrand Burgalat) 10"
Mixed-Bag Philanthropist reissue
Anti-Pop Consortium singles
Thomas Brinkmann singles
Barbara Manning and the Go-Luckys
Kid 606 and Friends
Chappaquiddick Skyline
Storm and Stress
Krokodil titles
Catalogue Records compilation
Soft Machine
Yoshinori Sunahara
Tara Key & Rick Rizzo

FENNESZ, JIM O'ROURKE, PETER REHBERG "The Magic Sound of Fenn O'Berg" (Mego, Austria) CD $15.99
Edited from lengthy live performances throughout late 1998 and early 1999,
"Fenn O'Berg" documents the powerbook trio of Mego artists Christian
Fennesz and Peter Rehberg (Pita) and American Jim O'Rourke. Surprising and
cohesive, this CD shows off the spectacular improvisational talent
involved. While the sounds are processed and manipulated, it becomes clear
that Fenn O'Berg listen intently to each other in the creation of unique
juxtapositions and textures. Melodies burst through random bits of static,
sampled live instruments are warped and treated, and, at moments, each
individual artist's hallmarks (Fennesz's buried melodies, Pita's sine-wave
massacres, and O'Rourke's humorous use of samples) shine through the
group's collective conscious. As each piece unfolds it becomes thoroughly
apparent that this is a new kind of process music, in which an end is not
always the the actual final result (regardless of what made it onto the
CD). It's an endless, ongoing experience; the fraction of it that they
chose to freeze in time (to disc) here is impressive indeed. [JZ]

APRIL MARCH "Dans Les Yeux D'April March" (Tricatel, France) 10" EP $8.99
With the look of a '60s French pop 7", this April March 10" is more
accurately, a March/Bertrand Burgalat recording, because Burgalat includes two of
his rare and precious instrumental pop songs along with March's punchy
Franco-American songdom. Her agility with the French language on 'Mon Ange
Gardien' is impeccable, and she garages along with Los Cincos on 'Magic
Ass'. Of Burgalat's two gorgeous, plowing instrumentals, one mimics a
Bollywood-style sweep, a string quartet doing the soaring; the other is
SOOO Bacharach, with horns playing off a sweet, fake, metallic harpsichord. [RE]

MIXED BAND PHILANTHROPIST "The Impossible Humane" (Siren Records, Japan) CD $16.99
Amazing musique concrete construct originally issued on the Selektion label
(300 copies with hand-painted covers) in 1986. The sleeve lists source
material as originating from luminaries such as Nurse With Wound, H.N.A.S.,
Organum, Merzbow, Asmus Tietchens, Tom Recchion, The New Blockaders, and
Smegma. But it's the unauthorized participation of the likes of Tom Jones,
The Four Tops, and Dusty Springfield that virtually assures that this edition
of 500 copies will be the last and not too long for this world. It's
a probable response to, and in every sense the equal of Nurse With Wound's
genre-defining "Sylvie And Babs Hi-Thigh Companion" from 1985. "This record
represents a period when everybody was putting out music as a result of a
collaboration through mail: I send you raw sound material, you rework it,
send it back, I add something and this is repeated x-times... The montage
is superfast and superstereo. There isn't a single moment of peace and
quietness here. Elements of noise (the tape-contributions) go together with
quotes from pop and jazz, and snippets of radio announcements. It's totally
crazy stuff, which is much better than a lot of today's
lounge/plunderphonica/cocktail/b-movie DJs, who can only dream to do things
like this. And this is all pre-laptop stuff and must have taken hours of
tape-splicing."--Frans de Waard. An intense, spiraling, hyperkinetic
collage of the first order, this is about as punk-rock as 'out' gets!
Highest recommendation. [JG]

ANTI-POP CONSORTIUM "Diagnol Ryme Garganchula" (Wordsound) 10" EP $7.99
ANTI-POP CONSORTIUM "Lift" 12" (75 Ark) $5.99

One of the biggest hip-hop records of 1999 at Other Music came from the
Isolationist, the name given to the collaboration between DJ Vadim and New
York's Anti-pop Consortium. As the Consortium returns, this time without
Vadim, it's with yet with another stellar recording. 'Diagnol Ryme
Garganchula' combines a simple, sparse production sensibility with the
Anti-pop's articulate rhyming and original delivery. The bubbling, cut up
production of their "Lift" single owes more to Schematic or Chocolate
Industries' style of electronica: sounds tweaked into oblivion bouncing
between speakers. The Consortium combine smart poetic phrasing, echoed
vocal effects, and a distinctive vocal style for an unbelievably refreshing
hip-hop sound. Also included on this 12" is a dizzying instrumental version
of their 'F~ck Rap', an a cappella mix of 'Lift', and three additional
tracks. The Consortium attain greatness not only for what they are, but
also for what they are not, as they avoid the kiss-of-death cliches of
today's hip-hop: generic production, blatant sexism, and redundant lyrical
content. This short sampling of the Anti-pop Consortium is some of the most
forward-thinking, innovative hip-hop being made today. [PW]
"Diagnol" 10
"Lift" 12

THOMAS BRINKMANN "Groovin/JB" (WvB, Netherlands) 12" $9.99
THOMAS BRINKMANN "Ulla/Vera" (Ernst, Germany) 12" $9.99

Brinkmann's turntablism takes a different angle: instead of going for the
perfect scratch, instead, he performs the perfect etch. As usual for
Brinkmann, there is no real percussion here -- the rounded kick drum,
stinging snares and rolling toms are all created solely with a knife and a
turntable, the knife carving the vinyl at different depths, the TWO
tone-arms on the table channeling it into stereo. "Ulla/Vera", the next in
his alphabet series, introduces some piano chords to the low-slung, 4/4
bassline, while "Groovin/JB" eats a handful of barely-discernable Motown
samples, leaving only syllables dangling above the pulsing, rhythmic
arrangement. His mesmerizing, serpentine grooves are both rigorously
experimental and dancefloor ready: a real rarity. [TH]
"Groovin/JB" 12
"Ulla/Vera" 12

BARBARA MANNING AND THE GO-LUCKYS "Homeless Where The Heart Is" (Naiv, Netherlands) CD/LP $13.99/$13.99
In the world of bald-faced confessional indie rock, there is a fine line
between a sappy self-serving whine-fest and palatable sincerity. It's the
width of a knife edge, and Barbara Manning is one of the few who can tread
it with grace, always falling to the right side if she falls at all. On
this, her "I left home and traveled the world to find myself" EP, her
change of venue has opened up new issues for songs. As usual, Manning most
definitely got her heart broken in California -- as she puts it (like Eliot
and Achebe), 'Everything Fell Apart.' For many songwriters, this can be the
most liberating time to create good music. It allows her to recapture that
sense of meaningful passage (especially on the heart-wrenching '#1' and
'Isn't Lonely Lovely') her work of the past few years has lacked. Yet when
she spastically rocks (with a surprising, Ex-ish sound; close to her work
with 28th Day), racing the new band out of the gate, her sincerity shines
bright. All in all, these world travels (Mexico, cross-America, Germany)
have taken her body everywhere, but, as "Homeless" shows, her heart's
always in the right place. [LR/RE]

KID 606 AND FRIENDS "Vol. 1" (Tiger Beat) CD $13.99
Over the past two years, the Kid (Miguel Depedro) has (luckily!) engagingly
and endearingly networked his butt off in the IDM world. And here is his
payoff: a set of collaborations with the best of the underground, eager
mixes and remixes that are inspired and completely fun. Not only does he
bring out the best in some, but he extracts new directions from others. For
instance, Aube branches out of his usual constant noise into noise with a
thrumming pulse, connecting the music to the sound of blood rushing in
one's own ears. Hrvatski dumps any art pretensions in his transformation,
making giddy, scattered gabberstab pop. 606's own remix of electronic goth
punks the Rapture takes their sound and makes it fiercer, edgier. And a
collaboration with the reclusive Max Tundra is nothing more than
essential, skeletal piano soundboard loops. Snotty, knowing, pureed, too
cute, full of beats that push like a door against the palm of your hand,
featuring Matmos, Jake Mandell, Lexaunculpt, etc...where's the vinyl on
this, anyway? [RE]

This release from Joe Pernice of Pernice Brothers and Scud Mountain Boys
marks his solo debut. Following the country tinge of his other projects,
Chappaquiddick employs slide guitars and piano as polish for his honest,
somber ballads. Adding keyboard and orchestral samples and loops, Pernice
and his band spread pop cruelty over the quiet blue yonder. A cover of New
Order's 'Leave Me Alone,' (an accurate rendition worthy of repeated
playing) follows the wrenching lyrics and beautiful maladies of the
previous tracks. It's a welcome change of tempo, especially seen through
the inevitable haze of wet eyes the rest of album leaves you with. [LG]

STORM AND STRESS "Under Thunder and Fluorescent" (Touch and Go) CD/LP $12.99/$9.99
Three years in the making, "Under Thunder & Fluorescent Lights" finds the
Storm and Stress taking a subtler approach this time around -- their
delicate, intricate broken melodies that hint at songs slowly disintegrate
before you even realize it's happening. Using standard rock
instrumentation, each member expands upon the musical vocabulary used on
their previous album, while retaining their familiar sound. Producer Jim
O'Rourke captures the group's live intensity, helping them create a record
that recalls both cracked glitch electronic music and lush pop threnodies.
This is the album from which to consider the upcoming colder months. [JZ]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999121711&refer_url=email

L'AUGMENTATION "S/T" (Kooky, UK) CD $12.99
An excellent 8-song EP. I know little about this British group, but their
sound brings together familiar elements -- they're a folk-psych
instrumental version of Belle and Sebastian; do Stereolab as if played on
instruments from the Renaissance; and imitate Broadcast gone totally analog
or acoustic. Simple lines of steady harpsichord, aching trumpet, trilling
flute and complex farfisa overlap, and then restart, like a round, barely
reaching the ends of their circular forms. The many-keyboards-at-once
sounds -- '60s electronic harpsichord, organ, accordion -- venture into
carnival and/or soundtrack-mode at times (think Wicker Man, but prettier),
and there are only a few tracks with distant, soft, abstract vocals (a la
Felt or Sarah records). Tense, but softly, brilliantly so. [RE]

KROKODIL "Swamp" (Second Battle, Germany) CD $22.99
A most tuneful and infectious album forever hampered by its unfortunate
position within the discography of these Swiss krautrockers. This 1970
release shows a band in flux between the scorching boogie-blues workouts of
their eponymous debut and the massive stoned psych action of their third
album masterpiece ("An Invisible World Revealed," see below). Many German
groups attempted to sing in English to broaden their audience and virtually
all failed miserably. "Swamp," on the other hand, reveals itself to be one
of the more interesting examples of this phenomena, venturing into Van
Morrison, Fairport Convention, and even Wailers territory. Meanwhile, the
rest of the band was experimenting with sitars, flutes and avant
percussion. With the fantastic packaging we've come to expect from Second
Battle Records, plus three bonus selections from 1969, including trailer
music for a film entitled "Stenhaufmadchen", recalling early Pink Floyd.

KROKODIL "An Invisible World Revealed" (Second Battle, Germany) CD $22.99
One of the genuine monsters in all of Krautrock, here expanded to over 70
minutes via recently-discovered bonus material. Paired down to a quartet
led by percussionist Dude Durst, Krokodil hooked up with legendary producer
Dieter Dierks, who introduced them to the joys of the mellotron and
encouraged their lysergic inclinations by layering on heaps of distortion
and other effects. Exotic instrumentation (sitar/tabla/flute) hinted at on
previous offerings here leaps to the fore, infusing once-standard blues
patterns with something almost decidedly evil, like an exploded "Beggar's
Banquet." This one's on par with the likes of Brainticket's "Cottonwood
Hill," Ash Ra Tempel's self-titled release, Can's "Tago Mago," Guru Guru's
"Hinten" and Amon Duul's "Paradieswart Duul." In other words, a no-brainer.
Highest recommendation. [JG]

[V/A] "Catalogue 1999" (Catalogue, France) CD $16.99
This label compilation features relatively unknown outfits from Paris and
London, following a sample-heavy, 'lounge-a-delic' theme. You can surmise,
from the name of each group, what kind of music they each make. The first,
Williams Traffic, takes soundbites from the infamous "free at last" Martin
Luther King speech, dispensed with Bob Marley vocal samples over percussive
ghost rolls and strings, all in the service of '70s soul melodies. The most
busy and upbeat track, by Telepopmusik, extolls a spy theme via sneaky
keyboard chords, quiet congos, and a slow buildup to horn outbursts, guitar
fuzz and tambourine pops. The compilation continues with Big Bang
Experience, Money Penny Project and a downtempo track by Fat Masonics. If
this is what Catalogue brings us in 1999, my interest is definitely piqued
for 2000. [LG]

SOFT MACHINE "Noisette" (Cuneiform) CD $12.99
Another stunning, newly excavated Soft Machine set. "Recorded January 4th,
1970 at the same concert as 'Facelift' on "Third", by the short-lived
quintet formation of the group: Elton Dean and Lyn Dobson-reeds, Hugh
Hopper-bass, Mike Ratledge-keyboards and Robert Wyatt-drums and vocals.
"Noisette" features the rest of the concert, and showcases a band in
transition from their earlier psychedelic/progressive sound towards the
jazz-rock sound of "Third" and "Fourth". It features the quintet performing
versions of material from their first two albums as well as material not
available on their studio albums. Mastered directly off of the 30 year old
15-ips master tapes, this release boasts superb live sound for the time
period, and includes rare, unseen photos and liner notes by Ayermic
Leroy."--Cuneiform Records. 73 minutes.

YOSHINORI SUNAHARA "Pan Am: The Sound of the '70s" (Bungalow, Germany) CD/LP $14.99/$11.99
While also a member of Japan's edgy, goofy techno trio Denki Groove (under
the alias Marin Ishino), Yoshinori Sunahara has simultaneously followed a
mellower, more stylish solo path in a series of albums, of which "Pan Am"
is the latest. Sophisticated, seamed groove lounge beats twinkle like
streetlights on the ground from a jet's P.O.V. Inspired by production music
and advertising culture, Sunahara nonetheless eschews a substanceless
approach, somehow still retaining a super-lite sound. Pretty samples circle
around a hard-ass groove, vocals are rendered via sample fragment only--
it's comparable to Towa-Tei or Pizzicato Five's backing tracks. The CD is
relaxed, but it's the kind of relaxation that only comes after you've been
twitching all of your body parts for a while. [RE]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=71875615701&refer_url=email

TARA KEY & RICK RIZZO "Dark Edson Tiger" (Thrill Jockey) CD/LP $13.99/$8.99
A haunting collaboration between Rick Rizzo and Tara Key, brought together
for some lyrical guitar playing, sedate keyboard drones, odd percussion
sounds, various string instruments, and well-placed electronics. Mostly
instrumental, this album combines elements of dissonance with lyrical
passages, creating a beautiful cinematicism in places. Key and Rizzo
include a couple of serious rock numbers, contrasting delicate playing with
passages that pump out the hot licks. "Dark Edson Tiger" is not post-rock
aimless noodling -- it manages to cover quite a bit of territory in a
cohesive and refreshing manner. [PW]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999121901&refer_url=email

SMOG "The Manta Rays of Love" (Spunk, Australia) CD single $8.99
A limited Australian CD single that we received in December (and
immediately sold out of) -- we now have a few more. On it, Mr. Callahan
does his best laid-back, folkily decadent Scott Walker impression. But this
time, he has an amusing tongue-in-serious cheek, lapsing into phrases from
'Baby Got Back' at the end of his paen to sex, 'Real Live Dress', giving up
a barely-recognizable cover of 'Pure Sunshine', and casting in a repetitive
head-scratcher, 'Bored Bayou'. [RE]

This week's update provided by Robin Edgerton, Lisa Garrett, Jeff Gibson,
Tim Haslett, Lyndon Roeller, and Phil Waldorf.

Thanks for reading.

-all of us at Other Music