Other Music New Release Update
January 31, 2001

In This Week's Update:
Richard Devine
Nummer Drie comp.
Millennium side project reissues:
  Sandy Salisbury
  Curt Boettcher
  Joey Stec
Geology 2 Planet E comp.
Bright Eyes/Son, Ambulance
Jyoji Sawada
David Abir/Ashley Wales (Meld Series)
Marble Valley
Dat Politics
Jake Mandell
Ida's songs for kids
Printed Matter: The Wire (Feb. 2001)

Featured New Releases:

MOMUS "Folktronic" (Le Grand Magistery) CD $12.99
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Many call Momus, clever and wordy in his lyrics, 'pretentious'.
But pretension is posturing not backed up by ideas, and Momus
has ideas coming out of his pores. "Folktronic" deals with (in no
particular order) the death of oral history, how technology
invades daily life, and the ways we're starting to be pulled from
the physical world into the virtual. Twenty years ago, a popular
theme of New Wave music was the whole idea of man becoming
machine -- and now Momus is doing new New Wave. "Folktronic"
combines old-timey bluegrass, technopop and electronics, with
bumpy moog/banjo and fiddle/synth pairings. Though his wordiness
sometimes conceals how excellent and catchy and just plain unusual
his sound is now, without this approach we wouldn't have songs
like 'Finnegan the Folk Hero', a sea chantey-ish tune about ghosts,
labor politics, retribution and Web site management, which made me
laugh out loud! Other topics: an imaginary tale of Jean Michel Jarre
captivating a hick town, a love duet by a man and his Palm Pilot, and
the self- explanatory 'Folk me Amadeus'. But his rah-rah futurism only
extends so far: though he's trying to be the most avant-garde
musician ever, he relies almost entirely on text to communicate.
How 20th-century! [RE]

RICHARD DEVINE "Lipswitch" (Schematic) CD $12.99
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Citing influences such as Coil, Morton Subotnick and another
Richard (Aphex Twin), Richard Devine constructs a glitchno schema
so complex it boosts him way ahead of the post-industrial pack.
"Lipswitch" bounces like an elastic reaction, as stuttered static
snakes wrap around your eardrums. Liquid glass is blown, dried and
quietly shattered in microseconds, while gaping ambient maws in
the soundscape are traversed in half steps. Although his greatest
asset, Devine's unfathomable intricacy is almost absurd?minimal
he's not. For this debut LP Devine took to his laptop like Edison
to Menlo Park, coming up with a ghastly 1200 different squiggles
and glitches and somehow spacing them all into an 8-song siege.
The result is a kaleidoscopic lattice-work of bass beats, clicendos
and parsed vocal samples which would have sounded magnificent
to a B-Boy in "Blade Runner." Lipswitch is an aural obstacle course,
a challenge any good set of headphones would gladly accept. [DD]

[V/A] "Nummer Drie" (D.U.B., Netherlands) CD $13.99
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This follow-up to "Nummer Een," the first album to highlight the
important and adventurous electronic of Rotterdam, is better than
its predecessor. And the first compilation was no joke. Though
many critics have written off the "D.U.B. sound" as nothing but a
collection of pallid Autechre also-rans, this album displays the
label's diversity in splendid fashion. EOG's throttling 'Reqmx' is
a jagged plea for help, with jagged percussive spikes bursting
through the thin bassline. Phako's 'Reform' is a gentler, more
melodic, but it retains the serrated percussion of the EOG track.
This is a laudatory collection of imaginative electronic music that
should not be overlooked. [TH]

Millennium side projects:

SANDY SALISBURY "Sandy" (Poptones, UK) CD $19.99
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While California was imploding in the rise of drug and groupie
culture, zoning out and Charles Manson's activities, Sandy
Salisbury, even in comparison to his comrades in the
Millennium/Sagittarius, was an oasis of cute, a seemingly clean-
cut mama's boy, surrounded but somehow untouched. These
recordings, which span 1967-69, have that California-country
sound, tinged with cowboy rhythms and pedal steel ('Hills of
Vermont', 'Cecily'), shaded by psychedelia in the keyboards and
guitars, even merging Frankie-Valli '50s harmonies and handclaps
with choking fuzzed-out electric guitar ('Do Unto Others').
Producer and collaborator Curt Boettcher pushes in some different
approaches, like a cover of the Fleetwoods' 'Come Softly', done
with full-on Beach Boys-style soaring harmonies and the lead sung
_into_ a grand piano for the resonance. Today, Sandy, now Graham
Salisbury, is a respected writer of books for children. Wholesome
California pop made elaborate, and of interest to fans of the
Millennum or Billy Nichols. [RE]

CURT BOETTCHER "Misty Mirage" (Poptones, UK) CD $19.99
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If Harry Nilsson was the Oscar Madison of rock'n'roll, then Curt
Boettcher was its Felix Unger. A purveyor of gorgeous, fastidious,
anal-retentive pop who knew precisely how talented he was, and
wasn't afraid to show it. I've always had my suspicions that Curt
was a fairly cocksure dude, and this recent onslaught of Boettcher-
related archive material proves it. The frustrating thing is that
Boettcher literally could do no wrong between 1966 and 1968 --
everything he touched still sounds magical. The material on "Misty
Mirage" includes a great version of 'Tumblin' Tumbleweeds' (even
better than Mike Nesmith's version), a commercial recording for
Levi's jeans, and embryonic versions of several Sagittarius and
Millennium songs. I know, it all sounds pretty "Odds & Sods"-y,
but even in its rawest form, there's an almost religious purity to
Boettcher's music. So perfect, it might even scare you a little.

JOEY STEC "s/t" ( Poptones, UK) CD $18.99
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This Jimmy Miller (Raspberries)-produced LP is from 1976,
following Stec's stints with Sagittarius and the Millennium. In
that intervening time, Stec played with the Blues Magoos, Gram
Parsons, Crazy Horse and Stephen Stills, and this album reflects
that combination rather than the bright psych-pop of the
Millennium. Not really folky, "Joey Stec" makes straight-up
Americana pop, more like to the contemporaneous "Rumours"
or "Hotel California" than anything else. [DH]

[V/A] "Geology 2" (Planet E) CD $14.99
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Carl Craig dwells between the first and second generation of
Detroit techno artists. He's too young to have grown up listening
to The Electrifyin' Mojo on the radio but not too old to have
listened to Kraftwerk, Manuel Gottsching, and his mentors: Atkins,
May, and Saunderson. This second collection of tracks from Craig's
Planet E label demonstrates his unerring ear for quality and his
peerless artistry. One only need hear Paperclip People's 'Steam'
to understand Craig's ambidextrous use of the drum. His mentors,
like Recloose, who plays a loosier, jazzier rendition of
traditional melodic Detroit techno, and Common Factor, who
incorporates the background spoken-word effects, are very close
to his catholic tastes. Whether this is an introduction to Carl Craig
or an automatic purchase of every one of his releases, "Geology 2"
is highly recommended. [TH]

BRIGHT EYES/SON, AMBULANCE "Oh Holy Fools" (Saddle Creek) CD/LP $12.99/$11.99
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A "split" short album where Bright Eyes and Son, Ambulance
alternate songs. Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes) works his way
arduously through each of his songs with a unique, pained tremolo;
Joe Knapp's voice is smoother, more tentative in comparison. Son,
Ambulance like light, jazzy rhythms, with piano and strings, and
Bright Eyes jittery energy threatens to make things fall off (the
entropy of vibrating a table while everything on it inches towards
the edge?). I think Saddle Creek is putting these together to get
all those Bright Eyes fans to get into Son, Ambulance. It's likely
to work, too. The energy levels sink on each successive song, so
by the end each seem so wiped out by their efforts and emotion
that you could collapse in pure empathy, then Bright Eyes ascend
into a great, extreme vortex of torment at the very end? [RE]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=64840100342&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999148211&refer_url=email

JYOJI SAWADA "Enfant Terrible" (Sonore, France) CD $13.99
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Strange themes from Japan! Sawada's new disc (his second solo one)
is a concept-recording about children in the year 2020 shouldering
the awkward burden of inheriting a destroyed world. "Enfant
Terrible" travels -- from lo-fi chanting w/traditional Japanese
percussion; to solid free jazz with contrabass solos; to lovely
classical guitar pieces with a filtered voice; to slicing
electronics with sounds of children giggling; to repetitive stereo-
pans of children reciting tongue-twisting, circular poems -- and
back to the start again. A cinema-for-the-ear, there's a lot of
recitation tucked amidst the music in Japanese and French (though
a little Indonesian chant pops up). Behind this recitation he
might use a string quartet and prepared piano, and the voices come
via microphones, but also altered by the tape machine or through a
staticky radio broadcast. It's produced by Aki Onda, whose own
conceptual CDs follow a similar, though not as fun path (Onda's a
little 'artier'). The highlight is an awkward but funky
centerpiece of three pieces, all oddly looped constructions and
gabbering voices. [RE]

DAVID ABIR/ASHLEY WALES "Meld Series" (Sulfur/Sulphur, UK) CD $9.99
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The third in the Meld series of artist collaborations on Scanner's
label. This, from all I can tell, seems like two discrete pieces
by two different composers. Abir's piece is absolutely wonderful,
a twinkling ambient work for electronics and strings that's
soothing like taking deep breaths is -- modern inhalation at its
best. It moves into a brief sequence of vocals halfway through,
which emerge then disappear. Wales' "Landscape" is shorter, and is
of the same general approach, yet is more listless in comparison,
even as it uses very similar sounds and progressions. (It would
probably sound better to me if it weren't dwarfed by its
companion!). [RE]

MARBLE VALLEY "Sunset Sprinkler" (Pork, UK) CD $16.99
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In hearing this project, I kept thinking "This is on Pork?" as I
expected an electronic record with new-age overtones. Instead
there was this odd rockish/electronic record with guitars and
drums, but also tons of shining keyboards. The singing set it even
further apart -- mostly deadpan, Mark-E-Smith-style drawls banked
by filtered vocals or overdubbed syllabic choruses on almost every
song (an unequal call-and-response between a shaky singer and his
alter-ego idiot choir). With parodic hip-hop (I'll call it hop-hop, as it
seems like it only has one leg to stand on), songs that don't end
up anywhere near where they started, stumbling funk, and quirky
rhythms. There's a little of an early '90s L.A. indie-rock subset
sound -- like Trotsky Icepick or Slovenly -- in there too. Okay, who
is it? It's the second solo album from Pavement drummer Steve West,
which you probably knew already. Upon listening to it again with that
knowledge, it sounds much better to me than their last few records,
yet is recognizably a tangent of it. It's also much less predictable than
what I've heard from Malkmus, too. I'll stop kicking myself now. [RE]

DAT POLITICS "Sous Hit" (Digital Narcis, Japan) CD $16.99
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A hyper half-hour of digital doors slamming, digital music boxes,
digital oscillator tones, digital velcro and digital spazzing out.
(Digital 'national anthem' sounds, too, with digital horns.) The
first few minutes are computer-generated shrieks and screams.
These, when heard though a physical filter like a door or a wall,
can sound alarmingly like a three-year-old being tortured?when I
played it, even the people next door were very concerned! The rest
is MIDI-madness (way more palatable), little melodies and pogo-ing
rhythms beeping around. Chaotic fun! [RE]

WHISTLER "Faith in the Morning" (Wiija, UK) CD $13.99
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Somewhere in the giant gap between the Cranberries and Belle and
Sebastian live Whistler, who don't take up a lot of that space.
They're pretty maudlin, like a more sophisticated Cannanes and
heir work is not overly ambitious, but because of that they easily
accomplish whatever they want -- in this case, soft and tender
British pop with seemingly inverted instrumentation (the
instruments that usually take side roles take larger ones, vice
versa). Clever arrangements never shout their presence, and
Whistler's lock together perfectly and don't draw attention to
their perfection. Whistler are technically a trio with two acoustic
guitars and a viola, but they've got guests and doubling of
instruments to fill in things like drums. This is better than their
first -- it's not so awkward, develops towards a unique sound,
and improves in melody with more key changes and minor scales.
They're still not shaking the world with any kind of originality, but
the world needs good music that doesn't dominate you, too. [RE]

JAKE MANDELL "Love Songs for Machines" (Carpark) CD $12.99
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Mandell's new IDM takes a turn away from his progressively drudgy
material, and "Love Songs" rises with a lighter approach than usual.
Interlaced muffled rhythms and disappearing tones, anchored with
a steady thrum -- typical, but still nice. Even a few with vocal samples,
which spice the mix up considerably. Techno made of sugar threads.

IDA "You Are My Flower" (Last Affair) CD $11.99
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Ida's "You Are My Flower" is a cul-de-sac of sorts, a project recording
their favorite songs for young 'uns, classics in folk, gospel, pop
traditions: 'Shoo-Fly', 'This Little Light of Mine', 12 total,
some well familiar, others mysteries to be unwrapped, as everyone
had a different set of songs they were exposed to as children! A
portion of proceeds go to Mothers and Others, an environmental
education and activist organization. Warren Defever (His Name is
Alive) guests. [RE]

THE WIRE "Issue 204" (February 2001) MG $7.00
February's issue of the Wire includes a cover story on Tortoise and
features on music and advertising, the Secret Museum of Mankind,
Bob Ostertag, The Residents, Lesser, Peaches, John Schott. Invisible
Jukebox by Gary Lucas and lots of album and live reviews.

Contributors: David Day [DD], Robin Edgerton [RE], Matt Hanks
[MH], Duane Harriott [DH], Tim Haslett [TH].

The Big Picture:

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