Other Music New Release Update
July 19, 2000

In This Week's Update:

Takako Minekawa & Dymaxion
Tutto Matto
Masayuki Takayanagi & New Direction Unit
Brigitte Bardot box set reissue
Pluxus EP
Franco Battiato reissues (2)
Future Bible Heroes EP
Falsch CD-ROM compilation
Pascal Comelade with Robert Wyatt
Pascal Comelade with PJ Harvey
Schlippenbach & Johanson
Corvin Dalek's "Stadtansichten" comp.
Nick Drake remastered (3)

Chantal Goya
Michel Polnareff box

TAKAKO MINEKAWA & DYMAXION "Maxi On" (Trattoria, Japan) CD EP $17.99
A brilliant and inspired collaboration in which Takako Minekawa teams up
with enigmatic NYC outfit Dymaxion -- their retro-futurist approach to music
adding a myriad of new sounds and textures to Takako's bloopy brand of
electro-pop. Echoing at times French composer Pierre Henry, Dymaxion lay
down wildly oscillating tones that whistle and stagger amidst rigid,
mechanical drum patterns and Takako's cunningly detached vocals. Elsewhere
they conjure up icy-cold electronic backdrops and orchestral fantasy-worlds
for her multi-layered voice-scapes. On one of the two songs where she's not
working with Dymaxion, she joins Keigo Oyamada (aka Cornelius and her
husband now, I'm told) on the absolutely sublime "Follow My Dreams". Six
songs (23 minutes) of beautifully fractured art-pop that's broken in all the
right places. Superb. [TC]

KMD "Black Bastards" (Metalface) CD $14.99
DJ Subroc and his brother Zen Love X (now known as MF Doom) rocked
everyone's world with their guest shot on 3rd Bass' 'Gas Face' single back
in 1989. Their debut, "Mr Hood", itself a lost classic, followed in 1991.
Not exactly a reissue, this duo's infamous "Black Bastards" album was never
released. Tragically, DJ Subroc died in a car accident after they had
finished the album. In a particularly sick move, even for the music
business, Elektra dropped the band later that same week. Straddling the
line between righteous 5-percenter ideology and witty Native Tongues
finesse, KMD dropped hard, jazz-laced funk beats into a thoroughly
compelling and soulful album that contained a harsh examination of racial
stereotypes from both sides of the fence. Better late than never, and on
top of that, essential. While bootlegged like crazy, it's now legit, on MF
Doom's own label. [KC]

TUTTO MATTO "Funkolo" (Tummy Touch, UK) CD $15.99
This is a fun dumb summer dance record of the post-disco variety. Fat funky
bottoms, latin and afro touches, and lots of little trills and effects to
keep things moving, breezy and light -- imagine a lighter Les Rhythmes
Digitales or Basement Jaxx, if you can. The first full-length by this duo
(after various singles, also on Tummy Touch), it may be dripping with irony
but it's always sweet. Even the raised-middle-finger logo is kinda sweet. A
guilty pleasure, which'll make you smile and shake some butt. Then you'll
forget about it for awhile. Then you'll play it again, smile, and shake
some butt. It's really hot out. What more do you want? [AL]

MASAYUKI TAKAYANAGI & NEW DIRECTION UNIT "Live At Moers Festival" (Three Blind Mice, Japan) CD $16.99
Another searing live set from the late Japanese avant guitar master.
Recorded in Germany in 1980, Takayanagi and Co. (Kenji Mori, reeds; Akira
Iijima, guitar; Nobuyoshi Ino, cello; Yasuhiro Yamazaki, drums) play it
stately and dignified through the first two lengthy original compositions,
accompanied by mysterious recorded German voices. On the third track, the
15-minute 'Mass Hysterism', all hell breaks loose, pitting Iron Chef
Takayanagi's hypersonic post-Sonny Sharrock chops in direct combat with
Challenger Mori's heightened Ayler-isms in a no-holds-barred steel cage
death match. Whose free-jazz cuisine will reign supreme? Tune in and find
out! (Hint: Takayanagi emerges for a solo encore and serves up a mighty
tasty Lee Konitz tidbit.?) [JG]

BRIGITTE BARDOT "Initiales B.B." (Philips, France) 3xCD $61.99
Welcome reissue of Philips' 1993 deluxe box-set overview of the French
screen-goddess' excursions into song. 55 tracks; all the hits (Serge
Gainsbourg-penned gems 'L'appareil a Sous', 'Harley Davidson', 'Bonnie And
Clyde', 'Comic Strip'), the spectacular failures (an unfortunate cover of
'Everybody Loves My Baby'; a truly laughable French-language duet on Stevie
Wonder's 'You Are The Sunshine Of My Life'), and almost everything else she
recorded between 1962 and 1973. While it might be something of a stretch to
suggest that Ms. Bardot was responsible for the expansion of the French
chanson and ye-ye into the cosmopolitan realms of worldbeat (after all,
Gainsbourg was concurrently delving into polyrhythmic jazz and Afro-Cuban
forms), she was pretty fearless in taking on songs with mambo and salsa
flavor that stretched her limited-range alto. But, then again, as the
biggest international sensation prior to the arrival of The Beatles, she
might have been told she could walk on water. Fabulous large-format 32-page
booklet includes loads of photos, text in French and gorgeous reproductions
of all her LP and EP sleeves. [JG]

PLUXUS "Och Resan Fortsatter Har" (Slowball, Sweden) CD EP $9.99
The electrodisco revival is not just hitting Germany and Detroit hard, now
it sweeps Sweden as well. When will it end? Not yet, I hope. Pluxus, a
Stockholm-based band whose electronics have stayed at the minimal end of
the pool (even though they use casiotone) go full-on Kraftwerky on this new
EP. With a particular 1983-84 sound, they've got full-on songs here, not
just sequences of loops, with a range of squeaks, fake handclaps, and
twinkly Kitaro-esque keyboards and melodies. Mostly instrumental, but a few
voices ('ahhhh' chanting, vocoder abuse) pop up. Garnered more than a few
calls (and expressions of surprise that it was modern) when I played it on
the radio last week. Like playing an exceptionally friendly and easy
videogame for 20 minutes. [RE]

FRANCO BATTIATO "Za" (Artis, Italy) CD $16.99
FRANCO BATTIATO "Juke Box" (Artis, Italy) CD $16.99
These '70s recordings, Battiato's most experimental, were reissued a few
years ago. From 1976, "Za" is the most difficult, as well as most
rewarding. Not for folks with short attention spans, its worth is in the
unfolding of sound over time. If Charlemagne Palestine's piano minimalism
of the same period is about drone, Battiato's is about tempo. Piano chords
are struck hard, and repeatedly, for 19 minutes, with noticeable decay and
overtones. But the distance between the notes is just as important, the
tempos created by silence as much as sound. Universally, this creates
reference points in our bodies -- making you think about the time between
steps or breaths. The flip side (originally an LP) is a mix of ceramics,
glass, laughter, wobbly piano, violin, and atmospheric bells, arranged in
4-minute cycles--it's a concept based on the sounds of a restaurant, but I
think someone who speaks Italian would get more out of it. You need to hear
"Za" in its entirety for it to make sense at all, so I didn't include
RealAudio tracks here. From 1977, "Juke Box" is a short set of pieces
composed for a TV film about Florentine architect/engineer Filippo
Brunelleschi. In a circuitous tribute to the music of the 15th century,
Battiato rearranges period sounds and musical phrases into compositions of
instability and entropy. Violin, piano, and voice are overdubbed in layers
at different volumes -- imagine a recording of a choir where each member is
miked differently. The sound ends up bolstered, even buttressed, but not
amplified. Like Brunelleschi's Duomo, Battiato's music has a set of
powerful internal tensions where one part, if overstressed, held, or
changed, would make the whole thing fall apart and sound cliched or weak.
"Juke Box" is an expressive, elegant, but short CD -- it clocks in at just
less than 27 minutes. [RE]
"Juke Box"

EXHAUST "s/t" (Constellation, Canada) CD $13.99
As Chris Cutler says, "interesting things happen when things leak together
at the edges." Canadian trio Exhaust takes these fringe-joining tactics to
heart by combining live beats and instrumentation, remixes, samples, and
tape loops. From the same label that brought us Godspeed You Black Emperor
and its many offshoots, it's just as prettily packaged. Aidan Girt (from
Godspeed) provides the hip-hop beats, aided by newcomers Krieger Gordon on
belting clarinet, bass and guitar, and Mike Zabitsky on the reel-to-reels.
Like Godspeed, Exhaust use space to create dramatic sounds and lyric-free
songs in cinematically-inspired soundscapes. Unlike Godspeed, their rhythms
cruise from the minimally hip-hop ('Metro Mile End') to trip hop ( 'A
Medley of Late Night Buffet Commercials') or go to eerie electronics,
reminiscent of Otomo Yoshihide at his most organic ('Winterlude'). If
rhythm is the vehicle, the clarinet is the hitchhiker picked up on a dark,
foggy road. Taking the front seat on 'Metro Mile End' and riding solo on
'Black Horns of H2T', it bellows and squawks, forming solid, sputtering
melodies. Throughout the album, an array of sounds take turns steering
styles from dub to punk into each other. Definitely worth repeated
listening. [LG]

SUPERSTAR "Phat Dat" (Camp Fabulous, UK) CD/LP $21.99/$21.99   
I've always had a soft spot for underdog albums: records by bands that
really don't have a prayer for success but don't seem to know it, with
sounds so out of step with the times that they just haven't got a clue. Joe
McAlinden has been one-half of Glasgow's Groovy Little Numbers (two
wonderful EP's on the 53rd & 3rd label), a member of the BMX Bandits and an
arranger and sideman for Teenage Fanclub. His eponymous first LP as
Superstar (on Creation, 1992) failed miserably. Plagued by production
difficulties and licensed to an American label that folded on the eve of
his first U.S. tour, McAlinden had to beg money for a return flight home.
The follow-up, "Palm Tree" (1998) was critically praised, but again,
nowhere near a chart-topper. The problem might be that Joe McAlinden writes
hook-laden melodies with complex arrangements; his idols are Brian Wilson
and Burt Bacharach; he sings naive love songs straight from the heart. With
a silken tenor in the grandiose tradition of the Raspberries' Eric Carmen
and Queen's Freddie Mercury, Joe McAlinden gives everything he's got, and
it's never enough to make him a pretty boy or a star. But that's what I
love about his stuff. He is Superstar. Pulp released four or so of my
favorite underdog albums before "His N Hers" and "Different Class" vaulted
Jarvis Cocker into the stratosphere. So be kind to the likes of Joe
McAlinden and Superstar. One day soon we might all be lined up to shine
this man's shoes. [JG]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=502773135611&refer_url=email

PHOENIX "United" (Source, France) CD/LP $21.99/$23.99
This is not a humble record. A collection of pseudonymous French producers
and musicians are Phoenix, assisted by other artists from France's Source
label (home to Air, etc.). It's all AM radio to me, and specifically AM
radio spanning the years 1975 to 1985. While the songs are catchy, they let
so many reference points fly that your head nearly spins (especially if you
were born before 1975) just trying to stay with the songs and not the
references. And it's thoroughly decorated with pedal steel, cheesy 80s
saxophone solos (tres horrible!) and keyboards, full string sections, and
cooing, sassy background vocalists. You can't tell if this is absolutely
dripping with irony, or a heartfelt re-creation of mood and time. Are they
Bee Gees without the harmonies? Wham! without the histrionics? The same
distance from classic soul as Hall and Oates were? And are those Paul
Simon's guitar licks? Listen to the tracks above and make your own
decision. If this is the trend that forward-thinking Frenchmen are setting,
I'm not sure whether to jump in happiness or be very scared. [RE]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=72438488531&refer_url=email

FUTURE BIBLE HEROES "I'm Lonely (and I Love It)" (Merge) CD EP $9.99
Future Bible Heroes are a duo, the Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt and his
pal Chris Ewen, with a few vox from MF's Claudia Gonson. This new EP is not
starkly different than their album, "Memories of Love." Ewen's history as
keyboardist in Detroit technogoth band Figures on a Beach springs up here
-- they even use some of the same sounds and urgent beats, remarkably. With
more disco and less pop, they're still writing songs and not anthems. 'My
Blue Hawaii' and 'Cafe Hong Kong' have a detached quality -- the first a
pure techno-pop in praise of tiki culture, the second, French chanson with
not a shred of the chanson sound in it and sung in English. The best track
is their remix of 'Hopeless'. They haven't yet written their gay
discotheque hit (Future Bible Heroes songs tend to be too songlike, too
wordy, and neither Stephin nor Claudia divas make) but I trust that
someday, they will. If they want to. For now, it's complex dance music you
can't dance to. [RE]

[V/A] "Falsch 01" (Mego, Austria) 3" CD-ROM  $10.99
Usually, 3" CDs can only keep about 22 minutes worth of material, yet the
"Falsch" compilation has almost three hours. How? It's not an audio CD: you
can't play this in your walkman or home stereo. A subset of Mego, the
releases from the Falsch 'label' are free MP3s (and a few other audio-type
files) posted on their site (
http://fals.ch) since 1995. Many of them are
removed, down, so this release acts as an archive of sorts. The aesthetic
here lines up with Mego's, yet expands beyond it. It's mostly click click
slice slice chirp chirp minimal electronics, with a few anomalies here and
there. Includes Pimmon, Voice Crack, the annoying Fon, Evol, and Jodi, two
amazing tracks from Oval/Frank Metzger, the deadpan deutsch disco of
Maeuse, long tracks from Massimo and Pix, Lutsch Symphonic Orchestra's
processed fart noises and fake choral chanting on a dancefloor of static,
and many more. They're in a few different encoding formats (I couldn't get
11 of the 44 tracks here to play right on my computer). But if you have a
painfully slow connection and/or can't download huge MP3 files (the
largest here a whopping 37MB), then you will definitely appreciate
this portable collection. [RE]

PASCAL COMELADE "September Song" (Le Disques du Soleil, France) CD EP  $10.99
PASCAL COMELADE "Swing Slang Song" (Le Disques du Soleil, France) CD EP  $10.99

Two new EPs from Frenchman and toy instrument fetishist Comelade. And both
have, at their center, collaborations. "September Song"'s title track is
exquisitely sung by Robert Wyatt. Oddly, this rendition subtracts the
melancholy the song usually containsc -- his version's bright and hopeful,
yet also tender and painful. How can we preserve Wyatt's beautiful,
increasingly creaky human tenor, possibly the most beautiful voice in the
world, for future generations? Comelade rounds out the disc with another
Wyatt composition and some covers--Italian standards, Dylan, and more, in
his twinkly arrangements for toys and odd instruments. Last year, Comelade
recorded "L'Argot du Bruit" with PJ Harvey (he's her favorite arranger).
"Swing Slang Song", released in an edition of 3000 that sold out instantly
(this is the repress) contains the rest of the tracks from that session.
Harvey sings on two tracks of the eight, one from "L'Argot" and one other,
her voice providing swiftly crawling tensions. The rest are mostly sweet,
wistfully French instrumentals performed on his usual parade of weird
instruments. One seems especially Partch-inspired (where he decides to play
everything out of tune -- or just-intoned, if you prefer), all twanging
rubber band strings and wheezing mini-accordions. Even though there's
sometimes a winking edge to his music, this man knows how to string
together a set of enchanting, positively transporting songs. [RE]
"September Song EP"
"Swing Slang Song EP"

Terrific archival release featuring two of the most prominent figures on
the European improv scene. "Schlippenbach and Johansson play permanently
engaged in conversation and often act simultaneously as soloists. This
requires a lot of sensitivity, compatible ideas about sound and experience
playing together. The percussive aspects of the pianist and the
sound-oriented actions of the percussionist make the correspondences
particularly obvious. The crucial element that remains is the attitude
towards making music which has its roots in Jazz and which, at the same
time, goes beyond it. 'Instant Composing' still seems to be the best term
coined for this process because it unites both spontaneity and the
intention to structure. Out of the abstract musical language a waltz bursts
forth, European popular music which tips over into the jagged convolutions
of the jazz outsider Thelonious Monk just to be pulled to pieces, contorted
and re-assembled. When was there ever before such a strange version of
'Round Midnight' to be heard?"--Bert Noglik, from his liner notes. Over 72
minutes. [JG]

CORVIN DALEK "Stadtansichten (Various Artists)" (MFS, Germany) CD $15.99
A pumpy, house-y techno record that reflects the current state of popular
dance music AND is a conceptual tour of Berlin. Corvin Dalek's seamless mix
is relentless, and I find it breathtakingly irritating. (But NY Times
writer Ed Ward raved about it, calling it his favorite record of the year.)
One thing that's a little odd here is how the tempo doesn't vary--track to
track--same b.p.m. every time (or only slightly different). Big keyboards,
anonymous divas; get yourself pummeled. With more than one track from Denki
Groove, Dalek himself, Cal-q-lator, tr727/abyss. And 90% of the music is
from the MFS label. Do you want the Love Parade in your living room? [RE]

NICK DRAKE "Pink Moon (remastered)" (Island, UK) CD $18.99
NICK DRAKE "Five Leaves Left (remastered)" (Island, UK) CD $18.99
NICK DRAKE "Bryter Layter (remastered)" (Island, UK) CD $18.99

Nick Drake's classic works of folk genius, the artistic apex of careful
melancholia. Remastered with amazing sound and repackaged with expanded
liner notes and photos. More next week, including sounds, for those of you
who want to know what you've been missing, if you've been missing him.
Please note that these are import copies. Domestics out in a few weeks.
"Pink Moon"
"Five Leaves Left"
"Bryter Layter"


CHANTAL GOYA "Les Annees 60" (Magic, France) CD $19.99
Goya's most famous turn came in Jean-Luc Godard's 1966 film "Masculin
Feminin", where she portrayed Madeleine, an aspiring pop star. This
collection includes six songs from that film plus six seven-inch releases
between 1964 and 1967, 20 songs total. Her best work is post-1965, where
the arrangements start edging towards the baroque end of the pop spectrum.
Goya's voice is lilting and guileless, as if she was Francoise Hardy's
untrained kid sister. [RE]

MICHEL POLNAREFF "Les Premieres Annees" (Universal, France) 3xCD Box Set  $61.99
Even with the tremendous amount of attention focused on French-language
music icons, the name Michel Polnareff continues to go essentially
unrecognized. Polnareff had a unique voice and possessed a mysterious
creative energy akin to Serge Gainsbourg's...on speed! Three CDs, 60 tracks
covering the years 1966 through 1971, every EP and 45, all staggeringly
high in quality! Marvel as he develops from a '50s-riffing yehyeh Boy into
a baroque-pop juggernaut using every hook and cliche in the book, yet still
sounding years ahead of his time. Highest recommendation. [JG]

This week's correspondents: Tom Capodanno [TC], Kris Chen [KC], Robin
Edgerton [RE], Lisa Garrett [LG], Jeff Gibson [JG], Andrew Leigh [AL].

Thanks for reading.
-all of us at Other Music

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