Other Music Update
June 7, 2000

In This Week's Update :

Belle & Sebastian
ESG reissue
Randy Greif's "Alice in Wonderland" reissues
Guinean Discotheque 1974-76 comp. reissues
Thomas Brinkmann
George Antheil's original 1924 Ballet Mechanique
Ralph Lundsten reissue
Richard Davies
Bright Eyes
David S. Ware's new quartet
Scorched Earth Policy reissue
Royal Trux
Judy Garland's boozy, druggy rants
Pierre Berthet
Fez File swanky comp.
David Grubbs
Jake Mandell

Saint Etienne domestic release

Featured New Releases :

BELLE & SEBASTIAN "Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant"
(Matador) CD/LP $11.99/$10.99

With the release of their fourth album, Belle & Sebastian have produced their
strongest, darkest, and most mature record to date. From the Gainsbourgian
strings on 'Don't Leave the Light On Baby', the melodic, Bacharach-y 'Nice
Day for a Sulk', all the way to Lee Hazlewood-penned country love-gone-bad
'Wrong Girl' and 'Beyond the Sunrise,' their influences are worn on their
sleeves. The greatest gem, though, is Sara Martin, fronting the band for
the first time, working her way through the dreamy 'Waiting for the Moon to
Rise,' tracing haunting images with warm flutes and strings. But don't
fret, Murdochites, there are still plenty of sweet melodic head-bopping
orchestral pop favorites, too. [MC]

It was the most perfect moment for the world's most hyped band to fall flat
on its face. Instead, B&S have come up with what is, for some, their most
perfectly realized album yet, an orchestral popwork of haunting depth and
profound beauty. The perplexities of history, the vagaries of love, elusive
metaphysical speculations and more are married to exquisite melodies set in
elegant, spacious arrangements. Eleven songs suffused with innocent
sophistication, little mysteries that will shake you for a long time before
you'll be able to shake them. A moving and even disturbing experience, one
of those records so ear-opening that you'll probably remember exactly where
you were when you heard it for the first time... [AL]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=74486104291&refer_url=email

ESG "A South Bronx Story" (Universal Sound, UK) CD/2xLP $19.99/$19.99
Nothing is more welcome than, after wave after wave of bootlegs, a
LEGIT collection of ESG's best, earliest material originally created for 99
Records around 1980. This trio (and then quartet) of sisters from the Bronx
produced a stark, anomalous wonder of sound--raw tracks of edgy, primitive
beats with heavy echo and mysterious delay, played live. Add the sisters'
strangely wooden, oddly-cadenced vocals and they sounded then--and still
sound now!--unlike anything else. This work, along with that of labelmates
Liquid Liquid, was one of the earliest musical influences on hip-hop, one
that continues to resound. TLC, Wu-Tang Clan, and the Beastie Boys are just
a few of the artists who have latched onto their phenomenal, fundamental
no-wave polyrhythms over the past 20 years. Even if sample credits don't
pay their bills (they've rarely received renumeration), hopefully this
will! The world is still catching up to them. [RE]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=502632820101&refer_url=email

RANDY GREIF "Alice In Wonderland" (Soleilmoon) 5xCD Box Set $49.99
A genuine Dadaist's delight and easily one of the greatest psychedelic
excursions of the past 20 years! It took nearly three years trying, a trip
to Cologne, Germany (well, I was in the neighborhood) and incessant
pleading with a reluctant distributor for me to assemble the five original
volumes (released singly in mail-order-only editions of several hundred
copies between 1991 and 1993) that now form this box set. From the
Jefferson Airplane to Bevis Frond, Lewis Carroll's masterpiece has provided
inspirational fodder for generations of musicians, but no one had ever
taken things quite this far. Running approximately 6 hours, Randy Greif's
massively ambitious project infuses unforeseen life into a dusty BBC
Radiophonic recording (circa 1950s?) of the work in its entirety, by
sculpting electronic soundscapes to suit the narrative, deconstructing
text, and manipulating voices. Which results in a work of infinite texture
and surreal beauty. Now remastered to maximize headphone enjoyment, and
sporting entirely re-vamped artwork, this collection is now available and
affordable enough to delight more than several dozen. As an added bonus,
the set includes random "Alice in Wonderland" trading cards each
corresponding to one of the 60 tracks on the CDs. See you on the other
side! Highest recommendation. [JG]

SUCKLE "Against Nurture" (Chemikal Underground, UK) CD $23.99
Frances McKee was one-half of the core duo (the other being Eugene Kelly)
that comprised Glasgow's wildly influential Vaselines, the
pre-International Pop Underground version of Nancy & Lee. Possessing a
pensively assertive yet playfully beguiling voice, McKee sang like some
inadvertent hybrid of Sandy Denny and Nico. The Vaselines broke up toward
the close of the '80s, but the group would quickly take on a mythic stature
after their demise. Nirvana covered their 'Molly's Lips' and 'Son Of A
Gun.' Sub Pop reissued their entire recorded output. And Frances McKee sold
her guitar and became a schoolteacher. But she was hardly forgotten. In the
intervening decade or so, the indie-pop world saw its share of Frances
McKee vocal wannabes, but for my money only Stereolab's Laetitia and
Broadcast's Trish managed to approach her stylistic depth and effortless
cool. Fronting the sextet Suckle finds McKee writing and singing songs of
ethereal beauty and baroque splendor, supported by melodica, flute, cello,
and glockenspiel in addition to the usual guitar-drum-bass suspects.
Imagine the Velvet Underground taking a spot of tea over at Popol Vuh's
house and you might be onto something. I know I am. A most welcome
return. [JG]

[V/A] "Discotheque 74" (Syllart, France) CD $16.99
[V/A] "Discotheque 75" (Syllart, France) CD $16.99
[V/A] "Discotheque 76" (Syllart, France) CD $16.99

For nearly the past half-century, the small country of Guinea on Africa's
(ill-named) Gold Coast has had the ignoble honor of not only being one of
the worst on human rights, it's also at the absolute bottom of the poverty
scale. So how come this music is remarkably celebratory? Because, besides
crying, sometimes all you can do is dance. These picture a precursor to the
dreaded highlife phase that (to me) trapped most African Music since 1978
in ringy-guitar hell. There are lots of Cuban influences in the melodies
and especially in the horn arrangements (from another Communist alliance
made in the '60s--see the Angolan CDs reviewed last week), and tender,
anxious vocalists. "Discotheque 74" is probably the most varied, with the
most western funk touches. "Discotheque 75" includes some call-and-response
and very soulful vocals, tangled guitar lines, and throbbing bass with 6
tracks from 4 groups. "Discotheque 76" really highlights national treasures
Bembeya Jazz National (5 out of 6 tracks), whose chattering percussion,
horns and Latin melodies, and guitar elements that later unraveled into
straight-up highlife (but not yet here!). All three are reissues of
original hits LPs released in Guinea during their respective years, and are
the latter and _better_ three in the series (which actually spans 1970-76).
The mid- '70s in Africa were an era where shaking your ass could also break
your heart. [RE]
75 /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=74004282122&refer_url=email
76 /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=74004282142&refer_url=email

THOMAS BRINKMANN "Soul Center 2" (WVB, Austria) CD $14.99
This second installment of Brinkmann's free-floating funk project is even
jollier than the first. The idea's the same: samples of soul legends
(including, in this case, Eddie Floyd, the Staple Singers, Rufus and Carla
Thomas, George Clinton, the Bar-Kays, and more,) laid over steady,
throbbing beats. Perfect for toe-tapping and booty-bumping, sweet mindless
computerized summer fun. Are you ready? So far only available on CD. [AL]

GEORGE ANTHEIL "Ballet Mechanique and Other Works" (EMF) CD $13.99
An elaborate Futurist (in the first meaning of the word) fantasia of
carefully constructed noise. The predecessor to everything, notably Harry
Partch, Raymond Scott, Carl Stalling, Terry Riley, and god knows everyone
else. George Antheil's original 1924 version (composed when he was 23) of
the "Ballet Mechanique" even challenged Wagner on the execution of the
concept 'over the top'. Cartoony, precise, noisy as hell, and when the
sirens and undulating, frantic pianos charge through, bizarre and gleefully
demented. Captures the Futurist's and Dadaist's aesthetic schism in sound,
the precise moment from when modern music became its own entity. The first
six pieces included on this CD -- small ensembles for percussionists, two
Richard Grayson pieces for player pianos and electronics, an interesting
but somewhat kitschy arrangement of Mendelssohn for 16 player pianos, and
John Cage and Lou Harrison's 'Double Music' -- are mostly sparse and
lightweight, abstractions that never acquire much mass or depth. But as for
the half-hour long Antheil--you may as well throw out any versions from the
'50s and '60s you picked up in dollar bins. Antheil himself watered it down
in 1953, eliminating the siren and most of the propellers, bells, and
xylophones that put that pure punk energy into his mechanistic marvel of a
factory of sound. The audio equivalent to Fritz Lang's "Metropolis". In fact,
wouldn't have made a bad score for such. [RE]

MERZBOW "Merzbox" (Extreme, Australia) 50xCD Box Set  $599.99
Over three years in production, "Merzbox" finds Japanese noisemeister
Masami Akita vaulting past Muslimgauze, Keiji Haino, Loren Mazzacane
Connors, and, of course, Jandek for title of the world's most prolific
outward-bound artist. Over this past week, I have done nothing else but
listen to the treasures contained herein, so you may have my personal
assurance that these 50+ hours of "music" are nothing less than joyously
top-notch. MERZDISCS: Collection spanning 18 years of sonic decomposition,
1979 to 1997. 5 LPs (most currently fetching upwards of $200 each among
collectors), 1 CD, and many titles originally available only as cassettes
(all long deleted) are reissued. Additionally included are 20 albums of
material that have never been released. MERZBOOK: Full color book with over
100 pages and illustrations. Brett Woodward reviews each album in the
"Merzbox" and provides an extensive biography of Merzbow. Akita himself
contributes explanatory liner notes. Achim Wollscheid, Jim O'Rourke and
Damion Romero also comment on their favorite noise musician.
Techno-theorist Eugene Thacker provides a text on the relationship between
Merzbow and eroticism. MERZROM: Interactive multimedia CD-ROM designed by
Troy Innocent. It includes additional images, music and video footage that
provide a kinetic document of Merzbow (MAC and PC compatible). MERZDALLION:
Jeweler Marcus Davidson reinterprets primitive Merzbow collage artwork on
this commemorative, two-sided, bronze medallion. MERZSHIRT: Black,
long-sleeve, 100% cotton T-shirt featuring the artwork that Merzbow has
become infamous for. MERZCARDS: Series of postcards that capture the mail
art aesthetic that was critical to the early years of Merzbow.
MERZSTICKERS: Two stickers with all new full color Akita artwork.
MERZPOSTER: Large gloss poster that gives meaning to the term "lowest
arts". MERZCASE: 'Fetish-rubber' case manufactured specifically to house
all of the CDs, medallion, cards, and stickers, allowing for complete
portability. MERZPACK: Custom designed zippered flexpack to house the
entire collection, complete with a numbered metal plate to seal in the
freshness. Can't wait to see what this one goes for on

RALPH LUNDSTEN "Elektronisk Musik" (Andromeda, Sweden) 4xCD $44.99
I highly recommend fans of contemporary experimental electronica to check
out the work of Ralph Lundsten, Sweden's foremost electronic composer: a
true isolationist who, by ignoring the work of his contemporaries, created
a musical language of his own. This 4xCD collection dates from the '60s and
'70s, but it could easily be a part of today's scene; sounding similar to
work generated on powerbooks, at home on labels Rhiz or Touch. I hope this
serves as a revelation to those blindly devoted to their computers. Could
it, ideally, jump-start a long-overdue analog revival? [AG]

RICHARD DAVIES "Barbarians" (Kindercore) CD/LP $12.99/$10.99
Richard Davies returns with his third album, "Barbarians," and it takes a
darker, more melancholy direction than his previous work. Sparser than his
Moles and Cardinal projects, "Barbarians" allows Davies odd vocal melodies
and guitar lines to take the fore, backed by simple percussion and soft
basslines. Some of the playing here is closest to the Moles "Untune the
Sky", especially the punchy style of 'Great Republic,' while other tunes
are more reminiscent of his recent solo work. Davies' simple pop might be
best heard in this bare setting, as it allows his melodies to glisten and
songs to be fully heard. [PW]

BRIGHT EYES "Fevers and Mirrors" (Saddle Creek) CD/LP $13.99/$10.99
How does one person generate so much angst in the years between age ten
and twenty? Or rather, everybody generates the angst in those teenage
years -- Conor Oberst just chooses to express his. On this, his fourth CD,
his melancholia grindings turn to maudlin sickness. He's purged the pop,
channeling it into superbly plunging, Violent Femmes-ish force, or, in
depressive mode, a wavery, pained sweetness. I especially love how
he's taking pieces of standards --"You Are My Sunshine", "Sunrise, Sunset",
and rewriting them significantly in his own, exceptionally agitated style.
I like thinking of Oberst's work as if you took Elliot Smith and physically
shook him quickly while he was trying to write, sing or play. What kind of
effect would this kind of constant harrassment have on a person? This CD is
your answer. He also provides more elaborate arrangements than ever before
-- pedal steel, flute, mellotron, and other miscellaneous organs accent the
jittery, visceral lyrics. Some of this is recorded beautifully, other tracks
sound like they were performed in a room with cement block walls.
Disquieting, both literally and figuratively. [RE]

DAVID S. WARE "Surrendered" (Sony) CD $16.99
David S. Ware's new album establishes his quartet as one of jazz's great
ensembles. Much like the classic Coltrane quartet or Ornette Coleman's
prime work, Ware explores the avant-garde while establishing himself as a
great jazz songwriter. Joined by the melodic lyricism of Matthew Shipp on
piano, the two share a musical dialogue that can only be achieved by years
of collaboration. Ware's other sidemen include one of the greatest bassists
ever, William Parker, and young drummer and Oliver Lake alum Guillermo E.
Brown. The melodic line Ware returns to on the aptly titled 'Theme of Ages'
sounds so strikingly familiar that it could be easily be mistaken for a
lost Coltrane or Coleman tune. This recording might seem tame compared to
Ware's days as a free blowing powerhouse, but it cements his presence as a
premier saxophonist, with a full spectrum of his melodies interwoven with
well-placed harsher shrieks. "Surrendered" contains all the makings of a
classic jazz recording. By venturing back 'in', Ware has taken his music
further than before. [PW]

SCORCHED EARTH POLICY "Keep Away From The Wires" (Medication, NZ) CD $14.99
Between 1982 and 1986, Kiwi sextet Scorched Earth Policy were the
anti-Clean. While they shared an affinity for the Velvet Underground, The
Fall and a jolly good sea shanty with the brothers Kilgour and Robert
Scott, they were not tight and tidy, but shambling, messy and glorious.
Plaintive male/female vocals hover over an organ-heavy sound that initially
swirls about very much like The Clean but ultimately disintegrates into
improvisational noise elements, employing violin and occasional sax, with a
more prevalent trash aesthetic. This 62-minute retrospective compiles their
two rare EPs recorded for Flying Nun, plus live and demo material from
their impossible to find Xpressway cassette release. S.E.P.'s Brian Crook
and Peter Stapleton would carry on to establish Dadamah, Flies Inside The
Sun, Rain, The Terminals and The Renderers to name a few. Released in an
edition of 500. [JG]

DELGADOS "The Great Eastern" (Chemikal Underground/Beggars Banquet) CD  $14.99
Glaswegians The Delgados, though falling in the shadow of fellow city-zens
Belle & Sebastian over here in the states, have enough of a national
following there that they even performed for the opening of Scottish
Parliament! Though they've been active since 1995, "The Great Eastern" is
only this co-ed four-piece's third proper album. Delicate and controlled,
it's not fey, and when guitarist Emma Pollack sings, they recall Mazzy Star
without the haze; her clear, throaty soprano cuts pop with strength and a
certain pliability. A John Peel fave (to put it mildly), their music goes
from quiet and specific to a lovely bash-fest. Frankly, if you're buying
the new Belle & Sebastian this week, you may as well pick this one up too,
because you'll like it, even if it scratches a different itch. [RE]

ROYAL TRUX "Pound for Pound" (Drag City) CD/LP $13.99/$13.99
Royal Trux have always sounded to me exactly like this place I used to go
when I was 12 or 13. It had the usual bumper boats, batting cages and
go-karts, but also these amazing, sketchy waterslides that were open even
after dark. The locker room was in the back of the video arcade, everthing
made of wood paneling and astroturf, populated by gawky, semi-delinquent
youth. And that embodies the sound of RTX. Plus their inimitable, Rolling
Stones-meets-blaxploitation-grit style makes me think of a time when rock
was, well, just rock--rather than now, when it is more or less ordained
that rock should be merged with some other approach in order to sound
interesting. Or sometimes, should be ignored as a precept altogether. Leave
it to the Trux, now a solid 5-piece, to come through, wielding what have to
be some of the more winning underdog-rock tactics of all time. This record,
slicker than usual for them -- a little more disjointed for them, too -- imposes
it's certain, majestic agenda right from the get-go. [DaH]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999132501&refer_url=email

JUDY GARLAND "Speaks: Celebrities At Their Worst 2.5" (Mad Deadly
Worldwide Communist Gangster Computer God) 2xCD $13.99
America's Sweetheart, or proof that Dana Plato died mercifully young?
That's the question posed by "Judy Garland Speaks", installment 2.5 in Nick
Bougas' "Celebrities at their Worst" series. Hollywood legend has it that
Garland got hooked on barbituates as a spritely teen, via the pusher-hand
of Warner Bros. studio execs looking to squeeze more work out of her. By
the time she made these home tapes -- recorded within months of her death,
and intended as dictation for a never-released autobiography -- drugging
and drinking had rendered Garland damaged goods nonpareil. Of course, she
was no stranger to public embarrassment (ever seen "A Child is Waiting"?),
but these paranoid, delusional rants show that Garland was just as
histrionic and weepy off-camera as on. Sad, sick and tedious, "Judy
Garland Speaks" is a glimpse at the grand matron of the E! True Hollywood
Story series. [MH]

PIERRE BERTHET "Un Cadre De Piano Prolonge" (Sonoris, France) CD $14.99
Last heard from in collaboration with Frederic Le Junter, Pierre Berthet
specializes in minimalist long-string sound installations. Here metal cans,
suspended above the audience, are linked to strings on a piano frame by
long steel wires. The strings are excited by percussion, friction, magnetic
fields, and electric motors, resulting in rich rhythmic textures and
surprisingly complex overtones. Recommended to anyone who has enjoyed
the works of Arnold Dreyblatt. Runs 62 minutes. [JG]

EFZEG "Grain" (Durian, Austria) CD $15.99
Another intricate live performance featuring members from the Viennese
improv community. Efzeg consists of Burkhard Stangl (guitars, devices),
Boris Hauf (saxophones), Dieb13 (turntables), and Martin Siewert (guitar,
electronics). Deliberate, sometimes barely audible yet harrowing at times,
Efzeg have a decided knack for obliterating expectations. 74 minutes of
difficult, yes, but ultimately rewarding listening. [JG]

[V/A] "Fez File" (Schema, Italy) CD/2xLP $16.99/$18.99
We just got a few of Schema Records' new hipster compilations in, and this
is the best of them: a modern, mock-multicultural jumble of lounge grooves,
spy, pop, dub, mambo, and a lot of 'arabic ethnic' rhythms. Percussion and
swankitude is key here, but fun rules out over all. While most of the
tracks here have been available on CDs or 12"s over the last year or so,
this merges them into a mighty nice mix. I'm partial to Cosmo Vitelli's
goof-euro club hit 'We Don't Need No Smurf Here' and Dauerfish's melty
popsicle 'I'm On Fire.' I think this is very well done for one of these
nouveau-'60s hip groove comps; an admirably brainless,
butt-and-elbow-friendly party disc. [RE]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=801834411319&refer_url=email

DAVID GRUBBS "Aux Noctambules" (Rectangle, France) CD $7.99
In the tradition of myriads of minimalists, Grubbs, in collaboration with
Noel Akchote, provides a beautiful, slowly evolving composition that varies
in pitch and timbre with hints of melody: basically an E-bow, guitar and
organ shift drones for about 15 minutes on this 3" CD. Originally released
as the B-side to the vinyl-only "Coxcomb" EP last year. Exclusive to OM for
the next few weeks. [AG]

JACOB (JAKE) MANDELL "Underling" (Kodama) CD $12.99
The second in a 12 part series, released by Mandell on his own label. More
ambient, minimal, and Eno-ish than his other work. Exclusive to OM for the
next few weeks.

Restocked, domestic price:

SAINT ETIENNE "The Sound Of Water" (Sub Pop) CD/LP $13.99/$9.99
It seems that Saint Etienne can never truly win. They are so very deft and
facile, so subtle and painterly, so endlessly CLEVER, that they are
frequently dismissed as being soulless dilettantes by the nasty British
press with the short attention span. And will Sarah ever stop singing about
transport and waking-up and preparing to go out? I hope not. I'm all for
the elevation of the mundane into art. It's where we're at most of the time
anyway. No, Saint Etienne are not stupid enough to attempt to remake
"Foxbase Alpha" or even "So Tough." Assisted by To Rococo Rot and Sean
O'Hagan, the aptly titled "The Sound Of Water" flows and washes over the
listener, recedes and is gone. Even more cinematic than their
"Misadventures..." soundtrack. [JG]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=60900810181&refer_url=email

Scribes this week: Melissa Cox [MC], Robin Edgerton [RE], Jeff Gibson [JG],
Andrew Giles [AG], Matt Hanks [MH], Dan Hougland [DaH], Andrew Leigh [AL],
Phil Waldorf [PW].

Thanks for reading.
-all of us at Other Music

15 E. 4th Street
New York, NY 10003