Other Music New Release Update
July 5, 2000

In This Week's Update:

Maher Shalal Hash Baz
Badly Drawn Boy
Pinky Maclure
Walter Ruttmann Weekend remix
Da Lata
Charlemagne Palestine
Restocks at domestic prices:
Mark Hollis
Senor Coconut

Featured New Releases:

MAHER SHALAL HASH BAZ "From A Summer To Another Summer (An Egypt
To Another Egypt)" (Geographic, Scotland) CD/2xLP $18.99/$18.99

"This music was found in a small apartment room. The sound is rough, it
always sounds like it should have been played better, but I know it's the
best. Now the speed of life and the speed of music has become much the
same. We sing as we live."--Reiko Kudo. How do I love this magnificent
27-track compilation from Japanese political exiles on Stephen Pastel and
David Keenan's (Wire magazine) new label? Let me count the ways. First,
I've always had this thing for missionary bands. One melancholic toot from
a Salvation Army-style ensemble and I'm instantly transported to a place
where time stands still and I can come to no harm. Tom Waits understands
the concept, having built a career around it. I suspect Belle & Sebastian
do too. And Albert Ayler, especially late in his brief life. Second, I
adore the incidental music from movies released during the British
Invasion. Arrangers like George Martin fashioned scores that attempted to
reconcile the newfangled sounds emanating from Merseybeat with simpler
nostalgic paradigms that would be familiar to both the hipsters and their
WWII-vintage mums & dads. Third, I'm a sucker for foreign language vocals.
Not understanding lyrics frees me up to key in on the voice as more of an
evocative musical instrument. Fourth, the composing process and effects of
variation and repetition intrigue me. Fifth, I've always been enamored of
the D.I.Y. ethic; musicians who are rather less than virtuosos creating
sounds driven forward through feeling, not technique. Groups like Swell
Maps, Television Personalities, and the Pastels are the main reason that I
have pursued this line of work. M.S.H.B. embrace all of these aspects and
more. This exquisite blend of shambling songs and recurrent instrumental
themes was recorded between 1985-99 by Tori Kudo, his wife Reiko, and 20
other sympathetic souls. "Maher were formed in the mid-1980s. Tori was
working on a building site in Tokyo when he met Hiroo Nakazaki, who
confided that he could play the euphonium, a bizarre brass instrument with
a distinctly forlorn parp. Tori thought it would sound great alongside his
cutting guitar style, which he had learned from hours of deep-listening to
Syd Barrett records. What you now hold in your hands is a juicily selective
overview of their existent recordings; early cassette sketches, ecstatic
jazz blowouts, psychedelic pop-forms, and echo-drenched surf. The sound of
meditative mystics kneeling on the beach gently expounding on the merits of
primitive non-pro musical invention, of lightly struck de-tuned acoustics
and horns. Collected in this way it's the best record they never made and
to my mind the most unimpeachable outside set of humanly-breathed joy this
side of 'Trout Mask Replica'."--David Keenan, from his liner notes. Sixth,
I've already listened to this about 18 times since receiving the advance
three weeks ago and I'm losing sleep. Highest recommendation. [JG]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=505501990011&refer_url=email

SODASTREAM "Looks Like A Russian" (Tugboat, UK) CD $18.99
After two melodic, moving EPs, the Australian duo Sodastream present their
first full album. Karl Smith's lilting vocals are highly mannered and
phrased, Pete Cohen's nearly subsonic bowed bass skitters and scrapes the
bottom of their well of loneliness, laying an inconsistent foundation to
their precise arrangements of trumpet, acoustic guitar, and barely any
drums. To say that it (already) appeals to the myriad of Belle and
Sebastian fans doesn't go too far-- theirs is a similar sort of delicacy
that both B&S (some of whom assisted on one of Sodastream's EPs) and the
more finely-grained, less flailing of the late '80s Flying Nun groups
(Robert Scott's work in particular) have or had. At the same time, the
influence of Nick Drake, more pervasive than ever, permeates at least the
singing style, if not the forthright sensitivity (Sodastream hold their
cards closer to their chest): though their hands aren't open, nor are they
scarred. There's a deja-vu here, though: they've written melodies you
somehow already know. Even with too many Jesus references, it's a great
album. [RE]

BADLY DRAWN BOY "Hour of Bewilderbeast" (XL) CD/2xLP $22.99/$23.99
Manchester's Badly Drawn Boy's professional rise has been ruled equally by
luck and talent, along with smart, conscious calculations on his part. His
first break was vocals on one track of U.N.K.L.E.'s "Psyence Fiction"
album. But, even though he had songs coming out of his ears, as it were, he
didn't make an album right off. BDB (aka Damon Gough) slowly slipped out
nine singles and EPs over the past few years before presenting us with
"Hour", a lengthy debut album containing 18 songs that unwind and sprawl in
a stately manner. While the singles and EPs had a particular, pointed
cheapness to the guitar and keyboard sounds, on "Hour", he goes full-out on
production, though not into orchestral territory. The core of the songs
here are implied duets, as he elevates one instrument at a time from the
mix to wrap his voice around and next to, including viola, trumpet,
harmonium, acoustic guitar, even bird tweets and twitters. Then the
instruments left in the background unravel into their own kind of folk-pop
mass. Heartfelt but not bitter, his work recalls the most intimate moments
of the Verlaines or a rusticated Elliot Smith, and his Springsteen fetish
(he quotes him periodically) leads him to a pretty successful capture of a
particular kind of '70s white R&B. Both airy and florid, Gough's work here
is just the tip of the iceberg - from any one of these songs you can tell
he's got acres of tricks up his sleeve we won't hear until at least five
years hence. I know I'll keep listening. [RE]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=63490401331&refer_url=email

PINKIE MACLURE "From Memorial Crossing" (Liquid Records, UK) CD $16.99
I have found that every now and then, a record will demand to be played,
and I feel as fortunate to have caught sight of it as I would a snowflake
in a winter sky. "From Memorial Crossing" is filled with songs of
heartbreak, loneliness and unrequited, hopeless love -- finally, a worthy
companion to my Scott Walker albums. Ms. Maclure writes unique torch songs
capable of illuminating any strange surprise that might slip under the
smoke and shadow of an after-hours piano bar. Similar to Portishead and PJ
Harvey, her work is down-tempo and definitely dark. She also performs a Tom
Waits cover and a David Lynch-penned Jimmy Scott song from the soundtrack
to "Fire Walk With Me." Pinkie has a voice that will reach into your heart
and transport you to the time it was broken. [AG]

[V/A] "Walter Ruttman Weekend Remix" (Intermedium, Germany) CD $13.99
In 1925, German filmmaker Walter Ruttman took his documentary style to the
airwaves in "Weekend", a sound piece meant to evoke, unmediated, the span
of a weekend: factory whistles and typewriters sandwiching opera, sounds of
children playing and other leisure activities. This bit of musique concrete
prefigured Cage's "Imaginary Landscapes" by more than a decade, and is
considered the first soundwork of its kind. On this CD, not only do you get
the original recording (also available as a 3"CD from Metamkine), but six
artists' approach to the piece as raw sound fodder, with mixed (and
remixed!) results. Both Klaus Buhlert and Ernst Horn abstract Ruttman's
filmic gestures, crafting new, odd scenes from repeating re-juxtapositions
of his sounds, yet not making much of a journey from them (though I love
how Horn repeats two sequential chords Ruttman used to imply the intro to
'Heartbreak Hotel'!). Their versions are, effectively, a contemporaneous
(to 1925) Futurist gesture, as they treat the sounds like Luigi Russolo did
with his intonarumori, with repetition and implication. DJ Spooky is more
selective, placing deep echos and blurs on the material, making it seem
underwater and slo-mo, and with some added effects and bass. Mick Harris'
is the most, well, pathetic, adding thudding beats and computer effects to
simple sequences of sounds cut from the original. It's like watching a
cable access version of a masterpiece. To Rococo Rot do something
different-they painstakingly recorded the contemporary equivalents of every
sound in "Weekend" throughout Berlin in 1998, so the work sounds are of
modems, phones, and modern construction equipment; the leisure sounds
eating, shopping, television and videogames, sports and the radio. John
Oswald compounds what's already there into a more modern chaos, layering
all the sounds into a stream of frenetic, emphatic noise. In its early
days, the power of radio to stimulate the imagination was not as overlooked
as it is today. [RE]

DA LATA "Songs From The Tin" (Palm Pictures, UK) CD/2xLP $23.99/$23.99
What Massive Attack did for dub, Da Lata, a quartet of Brazilians and
Brits, do for samba. Their assets? Batucada percussion and berimbau,
wonderful samba arrangements, and their ace-in-the-hole, Brazilian singer
Liliana Chachian. Chachian's voice is clear, with swingingly perfect
phrasing, she's far from the liteness of Leao or Gilberto (Astrud), or the
throatiness of Costa, Bethania, or Regina. Yet she doesn't sound awfully
unique, either-the closest I can think of would be Anamaria Valle. Even
though they're not revivalists, Da Lata's work retains the integrity of its
origins wholly, resulting in a broad appeal (their 12" showed up on
playlists by both John Peel and Gilles Peterson). The form they use is not
the jazz samba of the '60s, it's the samba pop of the '70s: a la Jorge Ben,
Caetano Veloso, or the more conventional songs of Tom Ze. With acid jazz
grooves and neat electronic effects (artificial echos on voices, backwards
percussion, stretched strings, more), there's only one flaw in the music: a
'smooth jazz' soprano sax solo on one track. Unfortunately, this is an
import on Palm Pictures UK -- why won't they release this domestically, I
wonder? [RE]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=66020020121&refer_url=email

CHARLEMAGNE PALESTINE "Jamaica Heinekens In Brooklyn" (Barooni, The Netherlands) CD $14.99
Palestine, one of sound art's great characters, again baffles with his
choices and interests. While his last album, "Karenina", had weird chanting
amidst the drones, this time his carefully-placed tones and shivering waves
are joined by his favorite recent field recording, that which may be very
familiar to those in our neck of the woods, Brooklyn's carnival parade. In
a way, I can see the relationship--he loves an endless grind of sound, and
there's nothing more endless and grinding than the ruffling beats from the
chatter of passersby, the ebb and flow of booty-bumping floats and stomping
dancers. What pops through in his mix are the higher notes -- whistles and
bleating horns from dance troupes, the occasional "oh _shit!" from parade
watchers, laughter, and helicopters. I'm trying to imagine the odd Mr.
Palestine out amidst the stalls of codfish and ginger beer, with his
microphone, beret, and maybe a stuffed animal or two in tow. It's not hard,
onsidering the proliferation of NYC crazies that show up en masse to any
large event. An oddly fun, perplexing, mesmerizing record of 61 minutes.

Restocks (new lower prices):

MARK HOLLIS "s/t" (Polydor, Germany) CD $15.99
Now offered at a cheaper price, this beautiful moody album deserves as much
recognition now as when it originally was released in 1998. Mark Hollis,
formerly of Talk Talk, uses space and silence as much as orchestrations in
the creation of a haunting, desolate sound that inches along, each and
every note and word glistening. The sparseness of the cinematic production
coupled with Hollis' unmistakable vocal delivery and bleak lyricism makes
for a perfect collection of sad, moody songs. A gorgeous work. [PW]

SENOR COCONUT "El Baile Aleman" (Emperor Norton) CD $12.99
Sparing you a big chunk of the original Japanese import price of $35,
Emperor Norton kindly makes this available at domestic rates. Senor
Coconut, aka Uwe Schmidt (also Atom Heart, Lassigue Bendthaus, Lisa Carbon,
Erik Satin, ETC.) has precisely and very cleverly re-arranged Kraftwerk's
mechanistic pop hits in a range of looser-limbed Latin styles: Rumba,
Merengue, Cumbia, Cha Cha Cha, and more. Here, samples of guiro, horns,
accordion, marimba, and xylophone replace Kraftwerk's original electronic
swooshes, crunches, and revving. The execution is tres respectful, and
there's the faux-cultural mindblower of a crack Latin ensemble performing
Kraftwerk's hits their way. [RE]

This week's newsletter: Robin Edgerton [RE], Andrew Giles [AG], Jeff Gibson
[JG], and Phil Waldorf [PW].

Thanks for reading.
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