Other Music New Release Update
June 28, 2000

In This Week's Update :

Cubismo Grafico
Jurassic 5
Larry Levan live @ the Paradise Garage
Kulturni Program
Dim Dim
Bokaj Retsiem reissue
William Parker (2)
"AGARR Retro"  53rd & 3rd collection
Microstoria LP
Kid 606
Edward Ka-Spel reissue
Miasto Nie Spallo
Etienne Daho
Constant Friction Collaborations comp.
Bernhard Gunter
John Duncan
Einsturzende Neubauten

Morton Feldman "All Piano"

Featured New Releases :

CUBISMO GRAFICO "Mini" (Escalator Records, Japan) CD $16.99
The J-Pop (Shibuya-style) record of the year, so far. The second CD release
from Cubismo Grafico bests even the excellent debut album "Tout." That
record, like this one, was a dazzling mixture of breezy pop with a French
flair, sampled vocals, and funky breaks. But on "Mini", the bar is raised even
higher. Everything here is just a little bit better than before: samples are
choicer, songs and rhythms are more complex, and the execution is absolutely
flawless. There's a more pronounced Brazilian influence on "Mini," especially
on the track 'Jour de Vanves' (RealAudio above) where bossa nova guitar
meets skittering rhythms both traditional and futuristic. Meanwhile, the
exotica-tinged dance track 'Danz le Metro' (RA also above) contrasts beautifully
with the downtempo, sample-heavy 'Pleasures'. Even with only eight songs
(clocking in at 22 minutes), "Mini" has been a more satisfying listening experience
for me than virtually every full-length album I've heard this year. Put it on and
you'll find yourself reaching for the repeat button again and again. [TC]

JURASSIC 5 "Quality Control" (Interscope) CD/2xLP $9.99/$12.99
It's been so long since Jurassic 5's first, classic EP that it's hard to
remember; was it part of beloved '80s old-school hip-hop, or was it a
refreshing, funky tribute to the days before cash, ladies and firepower
were more important than rhymes, beats, and community? Time drags on,
and for a while, few believed that the L.A.-based group would ever drop a
full-length debut. But here it is, and well worth the wait. The new album
comes on a bit edgier than their older tracks (tighter beats, a harder
vocal style), but loses none of the melody and intelligence that set them
apart. The centerpiece of the group is their four MCs, each distinct in
vocal style and rhythm. As they rehearse their rhymes endlessly, the vocal
interplay is dizzying in its synchronized complexity. Plus they can really
sing, too, drifting casually from edgy raps to funky R&B. Their superior
DJs Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist mix great rare groove, jazz, and weird found
sounds, 'diggin' in the crates'-style. Even though they stay away from
typical ghetto imagery (and violence), they never come off as preachy. They
choose to simply bring a crowd together for a party, and let the rest sort
itself out. [JM]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=60161711811&refer_url=email

[V/A] "Larry Levan live at the Paradise Garage" (Strut, UK) 2xCD $21.99
Larry Levan was the DJ Jesus, his temple the legendary, lamented Paradise
Garage, where, from 1978-87, he offered Salvation Through Gyration to
thousands of disciples, and presided over the evolution of Disco into
House. He was the first superstar DJ, given new singles months before their
release and special mixes pressed in editions of one just for him to play.
He could move the crowd anywhere he wanted, sometimes conducting in the
booth as he made the music build and release into an ecstatic scream. The
idea was togetherness; a place where the largely black and gay crowd,
always a step ahead of everybody else, could keep the love going as
mainstream disco turned into soulless, mindless pap. Brilliant and erratic,
Levan oversaw everything, once even going out on the floor mid-set to clean
the mirror balls, while a record played through to the label and the
dancing stopped. But nobody could mix like he could, and there is nobody
spinning records today who doesn't owe him a debt. Since his death in 1992
at the immortalizing age of 38, his name has remained magical enough to
generate everything from CD comps of the somewhat pedestrian remixes he did
for Salsoul and West Side to dozens of fake bootlegs and vendor tapes. But
now we have the Holy Grail, two CDs worth of an actual soundboard recording
from 1979, and it's a delight from start to finish. Ashford & Simpson,
Stephanie Mills, Shalamar, sure. But the post-Diana Supremes? Jermaine
Jackson? Cher's 'Take Me Home'? It reads like 'girlfriend, please,' but
somehow, Levan makes it all work, along with tracks by various semi-knowns
(Bunny Sigler, above) and unknowns (Jakki's delicious 'Sun...Sun...Sun...',
likewise) The point isn't smooth mixing -- there's even a technical glitch
or two -- but being told a story through song, taken by the hand and
brought from place to place. You'll feel it. And the packaging is to die,
including a long and fascinating historical essay. Simply put, anyone who
cares about dance music must own this. [AL]

KULTURNI PROGRAM "15 Plastic Donuts" (Bungalow, Germany) CD $14.99
A lounge-pop and hip-hop hybrid? Though it sounds horrifying (as most
hybrids of this nature have been), Kulturni Project, a S.F.-based group,
pull it off. Although similar to the Beastie Boys a lot of the time
(creatively, plus in their unison and call-and-response vocals), they do
'juvenile' a little differently. While the Beasties cultivate the whine,
Kulturni do dumb-ish things like making a song out of someone reading a
list of porn movie titles. The scary thing is, it's still a good song! Even
though there's plenty of cussin', the English language itself is so
fragmented here that you have no idea what's being said, and half the time
it's in French or Spanish. The easy-listening parts? An awesomely fake Ray
Charles Singers-style song with multi-part harmonies--sung hilariously just
a bit off-key; a Lenny Dee-type instrumental built around their keyboard's
rhumba preset; and a tendency to bring in a lightweight, pingy organ sound
which totally undercuts any swagger they work up. They've got such a weird
approach to hip-hop, plus they never take themselves too seriously: they
know that posturing is just (and only) that--a pose. Nabbed opening slots
for Cypress Hill, Beasties themselves, and Beck. What else do you need to
know? [RE]

RECHENZENTRUM "s/t" (Kitty-Yo, Germany) CD $14.99
Imagine Daft Punk releasing a record on Chain Reaction. The opening 30
seconds of the first Rechenzentrum album hook you into it: a minor key
glitch is repeated over and over as ambient washes of synths float behind.
Stray vocal samples glide from speaker to speaker and then in comes this
extremely funky squelching tone. And from there, this CD just gets better
and better. A highlight is 'Das Hilsbach Triptychon-Regal', infused with
metallic hip-hop elements that wouldn't sound out of place on a Funkstorung
record. Though their roots are in the Chain Reaction/Hardwax school (this
CD is produced by Robert Henke of Monolake), Rechenzentrum take that ball
and run with it, making it into a kind of playful funk that only Mouse on
Mars and some of the A-Musik label stalwarts seem to acheive. A pleasant
surprise; one that will last for many listenings. [JS]

DIM DIM "Ananas" (Audio Dregs) CD $10.99
Dim Dim is the alias of Belgian musician Jerry Dimmer; it's also the name
of the cartoon dog who is the imaginary 'star' of his music. On this, the
third Dim Dim CD, Dimmer's sweet, bouncy electronics generally are becoming
more minimal. He's not turning into Brinkmann or anything -- he's just
finding repetition more and more enthralling. On the other hand, this is
the most 'vocal' of the Dim Dim releases, with different altered vocal
snippets 'becoming' a range of cartoon 'characters.' But they never say
much: They nod and sigh and speak in twisted bits of fun gibberish:
chipmunks in le discotheque. Dimmer speeds up all of his samples before he
moves them around, so they have a fun, eager momentum, and a trebly cast.
(Frequent ones: bloops, twitters, whistling, videogame noises, fake
barking, fake scratching, electronic toys, pretty echoes.) Ironically, it's
perfect music for either kids and commercials -- the kind of bouncy fluff
that grabs those with a short attention span. Solid from start to finish. [RE]

BOKAJ RETSIEM "Psychedelic Underground" (Gear Fab) CD $13.99
Wonderfully obscure 1968 proto-Krautrock gem featuring ex-Rattles
(Hamburg's neo-prog answer to the Beatles) guitarist Reiner Degner. 'Bokaj
Retsiem' is a backward spelling for 'Meister Jakob,' the German language
equivalent of what we know more commonly as 'Frere Jacques'. That familiar
theme music recurs throughout the album, played in differing styles and
tempos, and bridging songs bearing the stamp of psych/blues contemporaries
like Jimi Hendrix and Cream. However, like his Rattles bandmate Achim
Reichel, Degner is scarcely content merely to pay homage. He delights in
surprises and the cross-pollination of musical genres, folding in haphazard
sound effects, scrambling song structures, and invariably shifting gears
within each intricate selection. Kicking off with 'So Bad,' a lysergic
stomper centered around a variation on The Animals' 'Don't Let Me Be
Misunderstood,' on through mournful power ballads and a few paranoid songs
about "pills" (who to give them to and when!), Degner's affection for the
Hammond B3 organ sound and ridiculous broken-English singing continually
manage to confound any listener's expectations. [JG]

(Aum Fidelity) 2xCD $18.99

William Parker's Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra is always a full-on
tour de force of complex composition and large ensemble improvisation.
Recorded at live appearances throughout 1999, this is a monster album.
That's in both performance and composition, not to mention sheer volume: it
clocks in at over 140 minutes. Pieces like 'James Baldwin to the Rescue'
capture a spirit and sound matched only by Sun Ra's Arkestra, with Aleta
Hayes soaring voice approximating the soulful croon of June Tyson. '3 Steps
for Noh Mountain' is divided perfectly into three sections, the first a
slow, prodding, beautiful marching theme, the third adding an eastern
melody strain to a different melodic marching theme, creating a mood not
far from the Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra's finest moments. The
title track might be Little Huey's most epic work to date: over thirty
minutes of varying themes, stunning free playing and dazzling interplay.
Nothing short of monumental. [PW]

WILLIAM PARKER "Painter's Spring" (Thirsty Ear) CD $14.99
Calling William Parker the hardest working man in jazz today would be no
understatement. With two additions to his discography this week, Parker
continues to prove his versatility and ability in almost any context. The
first release on friend and frequent collaborator Matthew Shipp's imprint,
The Blue Series, is a trio featuring Parker, Daniel Carter and Hamid Drake.
Parker's explorations with Drake on Peter Brotzmann's Die Like a Dog albums
contain a rhythm section that is nearly unparalleled -- and in evidence here
as well. When the bass and drums open "Painter's Spring," Parker and Drake
create a funky backbone for Carter to add some of his most tuneful playing
in a lead. What really sets this album apart from Parker's other output is
how a trio allows him to explore more freely with Drake, as they combine
bouncy rhythms with complex interplay. "Painter's Spring" is a beautiful
record that integrates soulful style and unmatched skill in the creation of
a near-perfect mix of tunes and sonic exploration. [PW]

[V/A] "AGARR Retro" (53rd & 3rd/Avalanche, Scotland) 2xCD/2xLP $24.99/$15.99
My goodness, this stuff makes me happy! If I were OM's Mel C., I might be
inclined to leap about yelling "Woo-hoo!" and high-five everyone in sight.
But since I am not a loveable, PowerPuff-esque superstar gal like she, I
must stick to my over-the-hill curmudgeonly ways. This collection from
Stephen Pastel and Sandy McLean's 53rd & 3rd imprint is the long-awaited
sequel to the "Fun While It Lasted" compilation and features more 7"
rarities and other out-of-print plunder from the label's incredible
post-C86 output. Roll call: The Vaselines (3 cuts, including 'Molly's Lips'
and 'Jesus Don't Want Me For A Sunbeam'), Shop Assistants, BMX Bandits (2),
Talulah Gosh (pre-Heavenly/Marine Research; 3 tracks including the beyond
infectious "Bringing Up Baby"), Househunters (2; Swell Maps' Jowe Head's
bizarre girl group), Chin Chin (incredible Swedish female power trio), The
Groovy Little Numbers (2; pre-Superstar boy/girl duo including their
inspired cover of The Association's 'Windy,' and finally The Boy
Hairdressers (pre-Teenage Fanclub Norman, Raymond and Francis with the
A-side of their lone release, the sublime 'Golden Showers'). By the way,
"AGARR" stood for "As Good As (a) Ramones Record", which was the expressed
goal of every title released on the label. And didn't they just pull it
off! I can listen to pop like this anytime and my world gets substantially
brighter. Awesome possum! [JG]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=502454509831&refer_url=email

MICROSTORIA "Improvisors" (Sonig/Thrill Jockey) LP $10.99
Oval's Markus Popp and Mouse on Mars' Jan St. Werner make up the closest
thing the electronic-glitch community has to a supergroup. After three
years of silence, Sonig presents us with this live LP that gives every
other electronic group something to aspire to. Excellent at blending
esoteric sounds with warm, organic melodies, Popp and Werner create
achingly beautiful compositions, and the live format presents the pair with
the opportunity to be a bit more playful. They even let moments from their
first LP, "Init Ding," bubble to the surface, only to expand and
disintegrate. Experimental yet focused, Microstoria eschew the cliches of
laptop performances, managing to create a deeply introspective LP. [JZ]

KID 606 "Down With The Scene" (Ipecac) CD $14.99
Not his best, and certainly not as good as his collaborations album, this
returns to the pseudo gabber/eurospazz methods he exhibited on his first
few EPs. It's flush with glitchbeat, one 'hip-hop' number, and tons of
3-part and 1-part gabber (you'll know what I mean when you hear it--there
are two kinds of gabber beats. He uses both). And, once in a while, a
little pop music peeks through the static. By track 11, he provides a
wavery, nearly ambient track with enough ticks and flaws to remove it from
wimpdom. Includes 'it'll take millions in plastic surgery to make me
black', a spazzed-out groaning mix of reconstructed late '70s R&B decaying
into minimal angularities. For the Kid, it's a kind of musing on identity --
or as close as he gets to such a thing. Actually, the whole album is. [RE]

MATRIX "Various Films" (Chain Reaction, Germany) CD $14.99
Every time a new Chain Reaction CD is released, customers invariably ask the
same question: "When's the next one coming out?" The label's winning streak
does not let up with this, their tenth release. Matrix, from Japan, gives us 65
minutes of beautiful tech-house. Layer upon layer is carefully constructed,
as he switches the emphasis on each track from bass, to snare, to synth, to
electronic faults. The tracks range from minimal ambient house to distorted
dancefloor stormers. Holds its own alongside recent masterpieces from
Vladislav Delay, Porter Ricks, and Various Artists. [JS]

EDWARD KA-SPEL "Khataclimici China Doll" (Streamline, Germany) CD $13.99
Not quite sure how this slipped past me for a couple of weeks, since it is
easily one of my all-time faves! No matter since, along with the Steven
Stapleton-produced "Malachai: Shadow Weaver Part 2," this represents the
peak of surreal genius within the prodigious output of Legendary Pink Dots
main man Ka-Spel. An extended CD reissue of his fifth solo album,
"Khataclimici" was recorded in 1987 with the help of Dots members Majest
Alarme and Silverman, and released on Christoph Heemann's DOM label that
same year. Elegant, understated and utterly timeless, this song cycle
seamlessly merges worlds gothic and psychedelic, as if the spirit of Syd
Barrett had come to inhabit the lair of Nurse With Wound. As a bonus,
Streamline has added a chilling 24-minute collaboration with Heemann from
1994 that vaults this set into the realm of undeniable classic. Highest
recommendation! [JG]

MIASTO NIE SPALO "Piesni Zatobne I-VII (Obuh, Poland) CD $12.99
This group's name translates as "The City Didn't Sleep". Acoustic trio
recordings (bowed double-bass, violincello, and accordion) from the label
that brought us Atman and the Magic Carpathians. Seven mournful, minimalist
elegies that make me want to return to my bed and pull the covers up over
my head. And sometimes that's not a bad thing at all. Simply beautiful. [JG]

GIZMOS "1976/1977: The Studio Recordings" (Gulcher) CD $11.99
This first-ever Gizmos CD collects their first 3 EPs and a slew of
outtakes. These highly sought-after recordings of post-glam artpunk draw
heavily from the raw energy of the Stooges, MC5, & Dictators and feature
contributions from members of MX-80, Shirkers, and even John(ny) Cougar!
The jangled guitars spirit of teen innocence are enough to make you want to
throw out your laptop, pick up a cheap guitar and start banging out tunes
in the nearest basement or garage. [BQ]

SLIPPER "Invisible Movies" (Rephlex, UK) CD/LP $15.99/$14.99
This co-ed quartet includes two former members of Loop Guru, and lots of
guest musicians who come and go. The line-up includes two jazz drummers
and jazz singer Liz Fletcher (whose mysterious cooing, chanting, and scat
decorates a few tracks). It's a new kind of jazz record, using both samples
and instruments, and while it's smooth enough to be on Blue Note, it's
obviously more than weird enough for Rephlex. Their approach can be free,
rambling, even punk (in that Half Japanese sense of punk), with enormously
mixed up percussion and samples of baby voices, saxes, guitars, horns,
theremin: and when there's a solo, you can't tell if it was 'performed' or
'constructed'. There are also a lot of wavery, nearly indiscernible
sine-tones, which sent me home from work early with a headache from
listening to it twice in a row. But I like it -- I'm just not going to overdo
it again. In the last third, their pleasant randomness is transformed into
chaos (plus far too many movie soundtrack/dialogue sample cliches). But the
first part is very unusual -- I can't really compare them to anyone else. [RE]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=66690801031&refer_url=email

ETIENNE DAHO "Corps et Armes" (Virgin, France) CD $16.99
Etienne Daho has fashioned, over time, the persona of a French
Everyman -- angsty, intelligent, sensual. He has a nice history of digging
around and afield in pop: most notably on his EP with Saint Etienne, and he
made a song by Stuart Moxham (Young Marble Giants) into a hit, which
pretty much kept Moxham afloat for years. Here, he doesn't go that deep.
There's a collaboration with Vanessa Daou, and his version of Carly
Simon's kind of awful 'Touched by the Sun' improves it vastly, not only
translating it into French, but rewriting it (his new title translates back
into English as 'Year of the Dragon'). His contemporary vision contains a
strong chanson/songcraft tradition, especially in some Bacharach-y
arrangements (avec horns) on 'La Baie' and a lite-ly loungy number,
'Rendez-vous a Vedra.' With big production sound, and the contributions of
at least 60 musicians, it's a very controlled album, but a pretty one. [RE]

[V/A] "Constant Friction: Collaborations 2" (Lo Recordings, UK) CD $16.99
I think the Lo records compilations had been flagging for a while, but this
one gets them right back in the game. And why not? I often find
collaborations and remixes more interesting than originals or single-artist
projects; there's something about a merging of minds in sound. While some
of these have appeared elsewhere (like Four Tet/Rothko's modern now-classic
12" 'Rivers Become Oceans', or the phenomenal 'Nuclear Cats Get a New Home'
from Hrvatski/Blitter, which originally appeared on Lucky Kitchen's "Blip
Bleep" comp.) As the artists pull their collaborators somewhere they've
never been, it can be for the worse (Stereolab/Hairy Butter's track is just
loopy overmodulated kitsch), or for the better (Warn Defever [His Name is
Alive] gives a mechanical warmth to Persona's cold scratch). Richard Thomas
and Rothko each appear on two different tracks, no surprise as they're both
on Lo themselves. All in all, an unusual collection. [RE]

BERNHARD GUNTER "Time, Dreaming Itself" (Trente Oiseaux, Germany) CD $15.99
I can imagine that listening to Gunter is the closest one can get to the
classic sensory deprivation tank experience without need of a towel to dry
off afterward. Lie down, eyes closed, and bask in the warm glow of his
magical, minimal harmonics. You might find that you've changed more than
the music appears to! Fear not, for this single 40-minute ever-evolving
track never sounds quite the same from one listen to the next. "This work's
main aspects are, as its title suggests, time -- and the notion of slowness.
Of complex harmonic design similar to 'Brown, Blue, Brown on Blue
(for Mark Rothko)', the composition uses both instrumental images and
elements of a more soundscape-like character, plus a non-tempered scale as
the basis for the various transpositions of sounds."--Bernhard Gunter. Turn
off your stream, relax and float down mind. [JG]

JOHN DUNCAN "Tap Internal" (Touch, UK) CD $14.99
A revealing and occasionally brutal glimpse into the soul of industrial
power-electronics after the style of Merzbow. "Have you ever asked yourself
'What is the sound of energy?' John Duncan has been trying for years to
explain the composition of matter through sound, and not everyone can
understand this -- but once the door is opened everything suddenly becomes
easy. 'Tap Internal' is beautiful and, in classic Duncan style, cruel -- in
that it puts you in contact with our deepest psyche and lays it bare,
turning the auricular membrane inside out, leaving an indelible mark of new
frequencies that are beautiful to abandon yourself to. But watch out: just
at the moment of hypnosis the scenario is completely convoluted and the
sound becomes coarse and varied, cuts the air and tries to attack. The
nightmare begins again, and once more the listener is forced to change his
attitude, define a new reaction to the input. The beauty and uniqueness of
Duncan's music is fully captured in this continuous change of situations,
dynamics, sounds and emotions which is the microscopic photography of life
itself." --Jon Wozencroft, Touch. One harrowing 47-minute track. The
squeamish need not apply. [JG]

EINSTURZENDE NEUBAUTEN "Silence Is Sexy" (Mute) CD $18.99
EN's newest album, "Silence is Sexy," comes on the heels of their 20th
anniversary. Themed around the dystopia that is/was Berlin, EN play with
rewriting histories in the moody experimental cabaret music they've started
to inhabit. Now the group's texts and sounds are illuminated more clearly
than before with irony, humor and composure. No longer does noise disturb a
landscape of continual sound-effects, but silence is the centerpiece and
the signpost for disruption amidst improvisations within songs -- as if
they're trying to jumpstart a particular kind of close listening. Other than
that, it's still pretty goth for me. [RE]


MORTON FELDMAN "All Piano" (London Hall, UK) 4xCD $39.99
Classical pianist and AMM-collaborator John Tilbury offers here the most
generous survey to date of piano works by America's greatest composer/dry
cleaner. Four discs, 3 1/2 decades of work in 3 1/2 hours, from 1950's 'Two
Intermissions' to 1986's 'Palais de Mari,' and all of it blissfully free of
the cobwebs which, in most recordings, usually obscure the clarity of
Feldman's shifting patterns. Tilbury's approach is muscular and precise,
passionate yet unsentimental, always respectful but never hiding behind the
composer's often maddeningly inaudible markings and slow tempi. Every
impeccable performance manages to weave spaciousness and timelessness
with a human pulse. The truest test is 'Triadic Memories': this 79-minute
version leaves the competition in the dust, making Hinterhauser seem wimpy,
Fafchamps drippy, Woodward bombastic, and Takahashi rushed. If you've ever
found Feldman's music too glacial, Tilbury masterfully reveals the fire beneath
the ice. A tremendous accomplishment, an invaluable resource, an essential
purchase. [AL]

This week's newsletter scribes: Tom Capodanno [TC], Robin Edgerton [RE],
Jeff Gibson [JG], Andrew Leigh [AL], Josh Madell [JM], Jeremy Sponder [JS],
Phil Waldorf [PW], Joshua Zucker [JZ].

Thanks for reading.
-all of us at Other Music

15 E. 4th Street
New York, NY 10003