Other Music New Release Update
July 12, 2000

In This Week's Update: 

Cale, Young, Zazeela, Conrad, & Maclise: Inside the Dream Syndicate
Kahimi Karie
Smith & Mighty reissue
Modry Efekt/Radim Hladik
Nurse With Wound
Jah Wobble's Molam Dub
Eyvind Kang
Arthur Doyle & Sonny Murray
Twice As Much reissue
"Attitude" comp. of NWA-inspired silliness
Burkhard Stangl & Christof Kurzmann
Ursula 1000
23 Skidoo
Plaid early works reissue
V/A-Super Funk Vol. 1

Featured New Releases:

CALE, CONRAD, MACLISE, YOUNG, ZAZEELA "Inside the Dream Syndicate" (Table of the Elements) CD $18.99
This is a 31-minute drone. It's also probably the most important historical
release of the year. After a decades-long wait, we're finally able to hear
the original Dream Syndicate -- not the pop band, but the legendary
ensemble of '62-'65, which influenced thousands solely through its
reputation. The delay was caused by a rights battle, which pitted La Monte
Young (vocals, along with partner Marian Zazeela), the zealous custodian of
the tapes, against violinist Tony Conrad, who went so far as to stage
protests at Young's concerts, demanding they be made public. One listen to
this 1965 performance clearly shows what the fighting was really about.
Young, the minimalist legend, has generally been seen as the mastermind of
the group (which was, after all, an outgrowth of his Theatre Of Eternal
Music). And he's undoubtedly an important presence here: his and Zazeela's
Indian-influenced tones bringing an ethereal, floating quality to the mix.
However, it's the bite of Conrad's razor-sharp violin, together with the
blistering howl of John Cale's prepared viola, which makes this music so
much more than so much of what's come after it. Admittedly, this is also a
matter of amplification (as well as the limitations of a slightly
boxy-sounding period recording). But Conrad and Cale are the motor,
producing a sound like the world itself exploding, only in slow motion and
with absolute precision. All that's left is for tabla player Angus Maclise
(soon to depart with Cale for the original Velvet Underground) to skitter
about the remains. The effect is similar to that of a good aerobic workout.
Just as an athlete begins with enthusiasm, then moves through fatigue and
pain to the endorphine rush, so the listener moves from interest, though
weariness and irritation (including some sections which conjure the image
of oral surgery being performed while the dentist's smoke detector duets
with a car alarm from a nearby construction site), to a kind of white-noise
transcendence, which lingers in the silence after the piece abruptly cuts
off. An instant classic, still jaw-dropping after a 35-year hibernation.
(Note: this disc is only available as an import at the moment.) [AL]

BABLICON "The Orange Tapered Moon" (Misra) CD $12.99
This group's second album retains their all-over-the-map qualities (improv,
songs, psych, jazz, etc.), but congeals it in lumps. These lumps are a
tendency towards seesawing, minor key melodies, and music that holds a
rhythm throughout/under improvisational jazz. Their drummer (also the
'leader', Jeremy Barnes of Neutral Milk Hotel) is the linchpin, skittering
all over the place, providing interesting fills, and keeping the rest of
the players from falling into mush (as they pile so much on top of him,
it's a difficult job). As for diversity localized to this CD (and sorry,
their cover of 'Electric Avenue' is not included!), they use: sped-up
harpsichord tones in a free jazz context; an anchoring, distant piano; a
modern classical number inserted into the middle as a tease; lots of bells
and 'antique' samples; a melodica and oboe in a whirling fight; and the
inconsistent rhythmic rattle of beads in a rainstick. By track four they're
coasting on oscillator squiggles, guitar feedback, and '60s organ. More
than anyone else, their nasal singing and anything-goes mentality recalls
Thinking Fellers Union Local 282. It's hard to believe they're only a
three-piece. [RE]

KAHIMI KARIE "Tilt" (Polydor, Japan) CD $34.99
For her third proper full-length album, Kahimi Karie expands her
ever-widening sphere of collaborators even further, making "Tilt" her most
eclectic pop collection to date. Over the course of the album's 13 tracks,
Karie shoots off in several directions charting, for her at least, some new
territory. Long-time collaborator Momus is featured on just one song (the
near-epic, prog-rock anthem 'Pygmalism') while newcomer Arto Lindsay
contributes the dreamy/funky 'Sleepwalking' and the Brazilian-tinged 'Dear
Boy'. Steven Claydon's rollicking and fanciful 'Ice Age Train' contrasts
nicely with a Tomoki Kanda track (Japanese title, sorry no translation)
that one might almost consider (gasp!) trip-hop. Similarly, the eccentric
arrangements and horn sections on Julien Ribot's 'Je Dormais Sous La Neige'
(Real Audio above) brilliantly complement those brought to the table by the
Olivia Tremor Control's Will Hart. It's clear now that as more and more
artists compose songs for her, they're no longer writing for the person of
Kahimi Karie, but rather for her persona. What's most interesting for us is
that while her mystique continues to evolve, so does her music. [TC]

SMITH & MIGHTY "Bass is Maternal" (Studio K7) CD/2xLP $15.99/$18.99
Originally released on More Rockers Records in 1995, Smith and Mighty's
debut album is an incredibly brittle and very prescient record, the whole
thing overlaid with a fine net of tics and precise static miniatures (the
ascents and descents of the artificial snare snap). There's a regularity
throughout, and a full love of dub that makes them infuse the disc with
irie-inflected vocal samples and melodica fragments. They also lean in
heavily on classic R&B, doing the same with lines of Motown choruses, and
yearning bits of soul piano (hearing such a snippet repeated is the most
angst-producing, coaxing tease, making you feel oh-so-manipulated, yet also
happy putty in their hands). Released years before Pole 1, it's a different
approach to the dub/electronic marriage, one which emphasizes regularity in
their neatly jerky, well-defined placement of beats. They look for musical
inspiration (samples) in unusual places: even pulling breaks out of Steely
Dan and U2 records. Clever and really well-done, "Bass is Maternal" takes
the test of time (at least the first, the hardest five years of that test) and
passes: it doesn't sound dated in the least. [RE]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=73000370901&refer_url=email

QUASIMOTO "The Unseen" (Stone's Throw) CD $14.99
Quasimoto is the imaginary friend of the Bay Area's Madlib of the Lootpack
crew, who digs every day deep into the grooves of records by David Axelrod,
Stanley Cowell, the Art Ensemble, or on the Strata-East label, searching
for beats. On "The Unseen," Quas is given a voice -- a sped-up, helium-
tainted version of Madlib's own -- and a set of fused heavy chunks of
rare soul and jazz breaks, and black nationalist sound bites (courtesy
Mario Van Peebles, Last Poets, etc.). Q and M hold engrossing, seamless
hip-hop dialogues about smoking weed, record shopping, and getting
harassed by cops, all next to an amazing aural backdrop that recalls DJ
Shadow at his most brilliant, DJ Premier at his most experimental, and Slick
Rick at his goofiest. But on 'Good Morning Sunshine', the hook is "I ain't the
cat y'all saw yesterday/At least tomorrow I won't be anyway." One wonders
if Quasimoto visited Ralph Ellison 50 years ago -- or Prince Paul 15 years
ago -- in order to help other introverted young black men find their creative
voice. [DH]

MODRY EFEKT / RADIM HLADIK "s/t" (Supraphon/Bonton, Czech Republic) CD  $19.99
This Legendary Czech group's finest hour (well, 48 minutes) was captured in
1973, and offers a concise history of monster guitar riffage, in all forms:
progressive, jazz-fusion and psychedelic. Less Velvets/Mothers-esque than
their countrymen Plastic People, Modry Efekt ("Blue Effect") specialized in
long instrumental passages within grandiose tracks, not unlike German
contempories like Grobschnitt, Thirsty Moon, or Guru Guru. What set them
apart, however, was superior musicianship. Radim Hladik, one of the most
versatile guitarists of his era, pulls out all the stops on this one,
driving each selection to ever-dizzying heights. Imagine a player with the
proficiency of Sonny Sharrock fronting a Krautrock outfit -- plus there's
inspired alto sax assistance from improv legend Jiri Stivin. Kind of
ridiculous in its own way and almost too much musical information to handle
in one sitting. Highest recommendation! [JG]

NURSE WITH WOUND "Alice The Goon" (United Dairies, UK) CD EP/12"  $15.99/$15.99
This mini-album, originally released in conjunction with the Musiques
Ultimes festival in France (1995; edition of 500 one-sided vinyl copies)
finds Steven Stapleton elaborating upon the cartoonesque dada-construct
style he pioneered on "A Sucked Orange" and "Sugar Fish Drink". The first
track, '(I don't want to have) Easy Listening Nightmares' juxtaposes
screaming psychedelic guitar soloing over beyond-cheesy samba vamps for
nearly 10 minutes before a breathy female voice begins to chant "easy
baby!" into the fadeout. 'Prelude To Alice The Goon' follows, a 13-minute
selection of haunted ethnic vocals weaving through a prominent wandering
bassline, Tibetan singing bowls and heavily flanged horns. The CD adds an
untitled piece of bonus ambiance, while the 12" features some awesome Babs
Santini (Stapleton's visual-arts alter-ego) artwork etched into the vinyl
flipside; of course, fanatics like me need to purchase both! This man's
output never fails to astound. [JG]
12 /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=502195862201&refer_url=email

JAH WOBBLE & THE INVADERS OF THE HEART "Molam Dub" (30 Hertz, UK) CD $14.99
This world already has too many records where beats are put behind
Mongolian throat singers in the interest of making a "crossover" record
(and most of these are from Bill Laswell). However, while "Molam Dub" has
the same paste-beats-to-world-music motivations, it yields something
greater. Molam is the most popular form of music in Laos. Fun, swingy,
often blue in lyrics (but not in attitude), gamelike, and improvisational,
the chants and happy yelps of the singers come very close to soul music,
strangely enough. The Laotian Molam singers are fed by Jah Wobble and a
host of assistants through the meat grinder of dub. The songs emerge
echoed, but intact, with splendid resounding percussion and an insistent
something that sounds just like the dub melodica but is actually the
Laotian khene, a free-reed wind instrument (basically a melodica made of
bamboo). Not all tracks are fully dubbed out (when they are, the echo
shatters the music into interesting pieces), but all are have electronics
grafted in. Yet the songs are memorable--it's odd for these Western ears to
remember songs in Asian keys and pentatonic scales, yet I do with these.
And they're accented gracefully by kachapi guitar in lilting patterns,
whistling off in the distance, and melodic surprises. Maybe I should be
more worried about Wobble's colonializing actions. But I can easily put all
that aside and just go into warm, fluid music. [RE]

EYVIND KANG "The Story of Iceland" (Tzadik) CD $14.99
Violinist and composer Eyvind Kang has a unique gift. He can travel easily
through many cultures and styles of music, with the twin perspectives of
both an insider and an outsider. Maybe that's due to his birth origins
(he's equal parts Icelandic and Japanese) or maybe it's just his
personality. In any case, on his fourth CD, this flexibility becomes all
the more obvious. The majority of the disc is a song cycle of chamber music
(with the same title as the CD) that makes oblique references to the musics
of the North Atlantic, yet doesn't fall into any cliches. He's the only
composer I've heard use Uillean pipes and pennywhistle and get away with it
in this post-"Titanic" era. This cycle combines the stateliness of Sibelius
with the structures of the minimalists (loop one, loop two), in long pieces
driven forward by a striding bass beat provided by Kang on tuba, balanced
by a lazy snare. The general tone of the cycle is a march -- but not an
up-and-at-'em march, rather, the grinding, weary march (or row, possibly)
of an army staggering home tired and sad, yet optimistic. Kang includes an
interlude of wavering violins tracing and retracing patterns that is
especially lovely. Notably rounding out the disc is one fabulous ten
minute track that could be an early Roxy Music (Eno-era) outtake, complete
with Brian Ferry-esque strangled, tightrope-walking vocals. [RE]

COIL "Musick to Play in the Dark 2" (Chalice, UK) CD/2xLP $20.99/$27.99
Previously only available on the group's Web site, Coil's newest is a
dizzying combination of crackled electronics, wandering vocals and wobbly
loops: a wildly psychedelic soundtrack that would be best heard with the
lights out. It starts off with electronics that wash back and forth as if
buffeted by winds, bubbling and cracking, paired with an eerie speaking
voice. "Musick" takes on a Tangerine-Dream-like repetition, particularly on
the melodic 'Tiny Golden Books', which nudges toward pop music, including
vocals roboticized with vocoder. This pop mold quickly turns to the
haunted, with the looping electronics, modulated voices and rolling pianos
developing into a dark and distant soundtrack. As the electronics ping and
pong on 'Paranoid Inlay', Coil's influence on/by contemporary electronic
music is revealed: the crackles and pops would make any "Clicks and Cuts"
enthusiast proud. [PW]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=502195840681&refer_url=email

ARTHUR DOYLE & SUNNY MURRAY "Dawn Of A New Vibration" (Fractal, France) CD  $16.99
Anyone who's had to endure Murray's recent tantrums at the past two Vision
Festivals might be skeptical, but this March 2000 meeting between free-jazz
legends Doyle and Murray does not disappoint. Doyle's fiery and lyrical
tenor sax playing propels Murray to his finest recorded effort in years.
"If there can be such a thing as 'relaxed intensity', then Doyle's playing
here embodies it: his extended exploration of tiny melodic ideas on
'Giblets 3' leads him to playful Persian Market quotations, while his
'Nature Boy' serves to remind us that free jazz is not only the angry urban
heat of titanic tenormen (David S. Ware, Charles Gayle...) blowing their
horns to pieces--it is also the pastoral tenderness of Marion Brown, the
nightfall intimacy of Bill Dixon. Doyle's gently darting flute lines recall
the conversations with the birds of Sam Rivers and Eric Dolphy. Murray is
exemplary throughout: his flailing hi-hat and ride cymbals set up a haze of
continuously ringing harmonics, a pulsing intensity that inhabits the
listening space--music not only as sound, but also as light and heat."--Dan
Warburton, from his liner notes. For 'Govery', the album's finale, Doyle
lays down his horns and performs a vocal incantation over Murray's
percussive backdrop, inverting lines from the Young Rascal's 'Groovin'' to
mesmerizing effect. 60 minutes of spiritual unity. [JG]

TWICE AS MUCH "Sittin' On A Fence" (Immediate/Sequel, UK) CD $13.99
The All-Music guide calls Twice As Much "one of the most anonymous-sounding
acts of the British Invasion", and says repeatedly that they missed the
point of most of their covers. Yet my impression of the duo of Dave Skinner
and Andrew Rose is not that they were trying to be the next Rolling Stones
or Small Faces. Their work is in a pointedly distant, yet scrupulous
folk-pop mold, with constant harmony vocals, harpsichords that lap at each
other, and even touches of that typical mid-'60s pseudo-vaudeville. And
their work, tight-laced as it is, also appears to me to be an elegy for the
decay of the mod, baroque world of Swinging London into the flailing
psychedelic era. They just had to detach and go into craft rather then
sadness for an aesthetic shift. Their songs imply an anti-grit, anti-roots
stance, yet within this they did some incredibly strong covers (like the
ecstatic, wonderfully arranged "Is That What I Get for Loving You Baby" by
Phil Spector) and a lot of originals. This is just another branch of where
the Apples in Stereo got their inspiration. And their songs just stick. [RE]

[V/A] "Attitude" (Tigerbeat) 3"CD $12.99
This CD of remixes/covers of songs by NWA (giving the "A" to the title) was
compiled by Kid 606 and Cex of Tigerbeat, and includes V/VM, Hrvatski,
Matmos, Cex, Dat Politics and a host of others. The approaches used here
range from the ridiculous (Kid 606, Lesser) to nearly obliterating
(Christoph de Babalon, Pure) to abstract (Dat Politics). "Attitude" is a
pointedly lowbrow, humorous collection of plundered sound and electronic
interference, that, while novel, maintains a sense of fun throughout 14
densely packed short tracks. [PW]

The first domestic release from these two youngish Austrian improvisers.
Guitarist Stangl (Polwechsel, Ton Art, etc.) and Powerbook player Kurzmann
(co-leader of Orchestra 33 1/3) improvised tributes to four of their
favorite films (from Barbara Albert, Fassbinder, Chris Marker & Godard).
Rather than simulate a vertical narrative to showcase plot development or
the buildup of tension in the films, "Schnee" is concerned with the actual
sensory non-cerebral experience: the relationship between color, image &
sound. It's a difficult enterprise, to creating work that mirrors the
delicacy of the colors of filmic images and sound (including theater
sound). Stangl's post-Derek Bailey fragile guitar introversion and
alternating droning crescendos are placed over Kurzmann's G3's slowly
changing textures -- slow rumbles and abrupt popping -- which they change
just after they've led you into a false sense of rhythmic pattern (which
plays the role of the film projector?). All this works to disassociate one
from the experience ever looming in the darkness of the theater. Much like
one of the masterpieces they honor, it deserves the thorough commitment of
the listeners' attention in order to reveal its true worth. And like the film works,
the ultimate reward from that commitment has exceptional value. [MG]

URSULA 1000 "All Systems Are Go-Go" (18th St. Lounge) CD $14.99
The second album from Brooklyn-based producer Alex Gimeno is actually a DJ
mix of 18 tracks by artists who are both influences on and contemporaries
of his own musical incarnation, Ursula 1000. Recorded live at the Manhattan
boutique where he used to spin "All Systems" is an incredibly funky,
beat-heavy collection of exotica-inspired dance tracks that are often
unusual but always fun. Artists featured include Le Hammond Inferno, Nicola
Conte, Montparnasse, Los Chicharrons, Ursula 1000 himself, and more. [TC]

23 SKIDOO "Dawning" (Virgin, UK) CD/12" $9.99/$9.99
The quartet comprised of Johnny & Alex Turnbull, Fritz Catlin and Sketch
have been in demand recently as hip-hop producers (Deckwrecka, Roots
Manuva) and for their work on advertising soundtracks and commercial
remixes. For their first release as 23 Skidoo in 16 years, they enlisted
the aid of sax legend Pharoah Sanders on the chill-out title track. Miles
and decades away from the intense polyrhythms that characterized seminal
efforts like "The Culling Is Coming" and "Urban Gamelan" (whose 'Coup De
Grace' provided the basis for the Chemical Brothers' 'Block-Rockin'
Beats'), 'Dawning' is insidiously catchy and shows a group in total command
of the sounds at their disposal. Can't wait for the full-length! [JG]

KLANGSTABIL "Gioco Bambino" (Plate Lunch, Germany) CD $15.99
One of those 'less is more' or a 'they did this using THAT?' propositions.
Germany's Klangstabil (Maurizio Blanco and Boris May) recorded "Gioco
Bambino" using only the sounds made on a Nintendo Gameboy and the camera
cartridge that attaches to it. No overdubs, nothing. Just Gameboy to DAT.
And, as you would expect, it's ridiculously fun, mindless loops of chirps,
chips and 'kch' sounds over rotating, somewhat sad melodies. It's
mesmerizing, and the repetition implies overtones beyond what's there,
casting out sounds that shrink and ascend about a room (this is much better
not on headphones). It's very basic, but pure. I've never even touched a
Gameboy, but now that I hear what they can do, I want to play, too. [RE]

PLAID "Trainer" (Warp, UK) 2xCD/3xLP $22.99/$28.99
A collection of the earliest material from Plaid (Andy Turner and Ed
Handley) is augmented by eight new tracks. This early work (including
1991's "Mbuki Mvuki" album) also includes the slew of limited 12" singles
they released under the aliases Aytpic, Balil, and Tura. Wired melodic and
erratic original electronic amalgams with very early-90s blurry keyboards,
clunky/chunky beats, and chirpy, clipped horn samples. Naturally, packaged
exceptionally well.
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=502160307411&refer_url=email


[V/A] "Super Funk" (BGP, UK) CD $21.99
They say it's from 'deep in the crates', but this compilation of funk
rarities from 1968-1974 goes deeper than vinyl, digging up iron oxide from
the archives, with seven of the 20 here unreleased tracks from seminal,
outstanding labels: Westbound, Kent, Eastbound, and more. And they're all
hard Detroit or Southern back-snappers, with a heavy dose of James Brown's
influence. Horn parts compete with growling and shrieking singers; there's
also a reliance on '60s catchphrases for lyrics. This is the best funky
soul comp I've heard since those collections from the People, Hot Wax, and
Invictus labels came out. Yow! [RE]

This week's newsletter: Tom Capodanno [TC], Robin Edgerton [RE], Jeff
Gibson [JG], Michael Goodstein [MG], Duane Harriott [DH], Andrew Leigh
[AL], Phil Waldorf [PW].

Thanks for reading.
-all of us at Other Music

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