Other Music New Release Update
March 14, 2001

In This Week's Update:

Magic Carpathians
Daft Punk
Jay Dee
RE: Martin Arnold "Alone, Life Wastes Andy Hardy" (comp.)
Lightning Bolt
Big Eyes
After Dinner reissue
Kampec Dolores
Art Ensemble of Chicago reissue
Soft Boys reissue
Third Eye Foundation
Taku Sugimoto/Kevin Drumm
Kleenex Girl Wonder
Phatt Pussycat (Romanthony)

Sun Ra's "Strange Strings"
Magic Carpathians (2 titles)

Featured New Releases:

MAGIC CARPATHIANS "Denega" (Obuh, Poland) CD $14.99
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As close to heaven as I get these days. Magic Carpathians have
finally embarked on their first U.S. tour. I'm still recovering from
the tremendous set they performed this past Sunday at The
Knitting Factory after earlier dazzling listeners live on WFMU. The
core duo of Anna Nacher and Marek Styczynski (augmented by bass
and percussion) move deftly from one exotic instrument to the next
in fabricating ethereal improvisations that defy categorization.
Psychedelic drones give way to free-jazz skronk begetting ethnic
chant morphing toward raga dissipating into ambient stillness
evolving outward and back again. "Denega", their 3rd enchanting
album in less than 18 months, strikes me as their most pensive,
a treasure-trove of pastoral instrumentation and sonic structures
that bring to mind Muslimgauze minus the beats and political urgency.
Piano figures float between cascades of flowing water; Nacher's
extraordinary voice shimmers above the fray of bass and dulcimer,
and I am transported to strange and stranger lands. Needless to
say, highest recommendation! (NYC in-store on Thursday, March
29th at 9:00 PM!) [JG]

DAFT PUNK "Discovery" (Virgin) CD $15.99
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You know those records from the 1970's, ones that were highly
touted as the ultimate in craftsmanship due to the detail work and
length of time spent in production? Steely Dan, Supertramp, Hall &
Oates, and K.C. and the Sunshine Band were perfect examples of
artists who wanted to work for months on a three-minute epic.
And it seems Daft Punk have been studying them, carefully. And
not for the sounds, necessarily, but the way they're put together,
that within four minutes you have a number of payoffs. And they
employ different filter effects, especially ones which morph loops
into vocals, and not just one climax but three or four. And just as
the duo were examining that, they were also honing their already
considerable dancefloor skills, working on the perfect beat. Once
you combine those factors, you have this album. It uses house
and disco music as a template on which they make towering pop
songs that shift in front of your ears, creating new vistas around
every bend. Not for house or techno purists, but, you know, Daft
Punk started as a guitar pop band! This is just an extension
(a very LOOONG one) of that. [DH/RE]

JAY DEE "Welcome 2 Detroit" (BBE, UK) CD $14.99
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"Welcome 2 Detroit" is an aural snapshot of a master in the process.
Jay Dee (the man behind Common's "Like Water For Chocolate",
Erykah Badu's "Mama's Gun" and generally Tribe, Pharcyde and
D'Angelo) scripts a solo debut off the cuff with his blazed Detroit
krew. An accomplished studio artist, Jay Dee makes broken, bumped-
up, soulful hip-hop, laced with crate-dug souljazz samples. The
wonderful magnetic package is more than snug in BBE's catalog,
where the "Funk Spectrum" and "Disco Forever" compilations
reside, because Jay Dee reinterprets those sounds of the past,
making them thump and grind in the present. Do not be deceived,
there is nothing prudish about this record. In the liners, Jay Dee
notes he was allowed "2 do whatever I wanted to do." So it's beat
experiments, free-flow vocals and sex. Where Slum Village left off
(this scribe's #1 fave of 2000), Jay Dee picks up. It's like a second
come-on, a late night offer, a spontaneous production from the mind
of a man soaked in musical influence. Like his twisted 'B.B.E.
(Big Booty Express)' reconnects Detroit and Dusseldorf, more than
making up for the humanity Kraftwerk set aside. Sergio Mendes,
Fela, Donald Byrd and a glut of influences pour through this record.
Perhaps most importantly, it's Volume I of The Beat Generation, a
new series of freeform full-lengths which are designed to let studio
legends do whatever. Soon to come, or so they say, are
experiments from Jazzy Jeff, Hi-Tek, ?uestlove, DJ Premiere, Pete
Rock and more. Whoa. Once again, the incomparable and well-
named Barely Breaking Even label does not disappoint. [DD]

MATMOS "A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure" (Matador) CD/LP $13.99/$9.99
Making a bit of a concept album this time, Matmos forage for their
usual odd source materials to be refined in the editing stage. With
a medical theme, "A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure" works
disorders and the process by which ailments are corrected into
cute, catchy beats and pastiches of thought, language, and sound.
Like their other albums, they are stirring a lot of elements into the
mix, so much that when something rises out of it, like keyboards or
a voice, it's as if a swift wind cleared the mental detritus of the
layers of samples away. I think they want to make you think, here,
overall, about what's been removed. 'Lipostudio' has a creepy break
in the middle with fat-sucking noises made into beats. Another track
is made of the sounds of the bowed rat cage that belonged to their
pet rat -- following his departure from this sphere. 'Memento Mori'
crafts techno out of sounds wrung from a human skull, and
miscellaneous other bone and tissue. Whose were they? Does this
make the former owner of the skull in part a member of the group?
Medical procedures are accomplished with even more specialized
machinery than electronic music making -- Matmos seem to be simply
inviting us into that area of life, tape-recorder at the ready, then
making us dance while we're there. Does 'now say ahh' connect with
'everybody say yeah'? Here it does. [RE]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=74486104892&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=74486104891&refer_url=email

[V/A] "re: Martin Arnold 'alone, life wastes andy hardy'" (Apestaartje) CD  $12.99
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I think it's high time for a much shorter appellation for ambient
techno -- just ambo will do. This CD is one of the best ambo
recordings I've heard. There are rhythms, but they're implied by
the shifting of textures rather than rimshots or breaks. Seven
tracks, 46 minutes of imaginary acoustic spaces, the music as used
for Martin Arnold's 1997 film (title above). Though ambo music is
fine for a backdrop, it's a cold, prickly one, well in keeping with
the Cologne sound. One track sounds like a fleet of miniature
aluminum jets landing on a runway of chicken wire, another has
static crawling from one stone hallway to the next, opening
creaking metal doors along the way, another is as if your own
earwax formed a band. Though in these little 'scenarios', the real
world of sound doesn't intrude in the slightest -- there's nary an
earthly syllable, strum or note interrupting the sounds spurting
out of wires. "Re: Martin Arnold" is one of the most engaging CDs
of ambo, especially the tracks by Fennesz, n/a, and Pimmon. [RE]

DUMP "That Skinny Motherfucker with the High Voice?" (Shrimper) CD  $12.99
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Dump has a style of his own. He adds blue notes to grace notes,
he's wistful and simple, innocent and bewildered. Now apply this to
songs penned by the biggest sex machine pop star of the last 20
years, Prince. Yes, it's an entire CD of James McNew (also of Yo La
Tengo) doing covers of Prince songs, originally released as a cassette
on Shrimper a few years ago. Funky in a skidded way, with elided
synths and drum machines set on metronomic tic-toc. McNew's muted
vocals dip below the surface of the mix, and they're plaintive, sung
with none of Prince's musky forthrightness but rather in a slipped-
around-the-corner mode. Though he can remind me a little of the
Gibson Brothers or Jon Spencer in the bluesier numbers (like 'Erotic
City'), he also brings out the blues/rockabilly rave-up that was
always there in the song. I like his version of 'Raspberry Beret'
better than the original, it's the wistful pining of a stalker rather
than Prince's 'hey, baby' approach. Dump reaches up to the falsetto
tentatively ('The Beautiful Ones'), adds fake harpsichord ('When U
Were Mine', done twinkly shoegazingly), or fake gamelan ('A Love
Bizarre') to magnificent effect. 'Dirty Mind' is as if done really lo-fi by
the Cars. 12 songs, 54 minutes. Wow. [RE]

LIGHTNING BOLT "Ride the Skies" (Load) CD/LP $12.99/$9.99
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Emerging from Fort Thunder -- the Providence, RI music and art
collective that they helped found -- Lightning Bolt pin down their
noise-spattered, yet strangely catchy, hyperactive sound on "Ride
the Skies", the band's second on Load. Formed in 1995, the duet of
Brian Chippendale (drums/vocals) and Brian Gibson (bass) recorded
a self-titled debut LP (now out of print) as well as a smattering of
tracks for compilations before this fall's national tour (and its
accompanying 7") brought them new attention. Known primarily as
a live band, Lightning Bolt have built a following amongst those
fortunate enough to witness first-hand their apocalyptic frenzy of
distorted vocals, shouted over riotously fast, almost electronically
paced drums and nearly lost behind the racket of an 1800 watt bass
amp. Chippendale fires off his own brand of raw, cathartic percussion
with a speed and precision heretofore unleashed only by machine.
Veteran producer Dave Auchenbach (Small Factory, Wheat) helps
translate the band's live energy onto "Ride the Skies",
accentuating the bass hooks and pounding rhythms that have
made Lightning Bolt heroes to all who hear them. [SB]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=60419710312&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999150671&refer_url=email

BIG EYES "Clumsy Music" (Pickled Egg, UK) CD $16.99
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Big Eyes debut album 'Clumsy Music' is a 23-song collection of
(mostly) instrumental folk sounds. Using an array of instruments
(including Spanish guitar, harmonium, autoharp, xylophone and
violin), they shift between Morricone-like passages, modern classical
musings and ethno-folk explorations. "Clumsy Music" extends well
beyond cinematic background music, as each short song is full of
emotion within its complex arrangement. Equally interesting is
Big Eyes' ability to arrange songs with an array of influences, at
times the gorgeous Spanish guitar plucking pairs perfectly with
the eastern hum of the harmonium. A unique recording which flows
beautifully from genre to genre, creating a diverse, yet unified
sound that is absolutely breathtaking. [PW]

AFTER DINNER "Paradise of Replica/Paradise of Remixes" (RER, UK) $9.99
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The one-named Haco has been musically active since 1981, when,
as the core member of After Dinner (now sort of classified as a
Japanese branch of the Rock In Opposition genre), she composed
and sang. This album, their fourth and from 1989, is a profoundly
complex and unusual approach to, in the very slightest terms, pop
music. Her compositions recall Pascal Comelade (only no doubt she
was an influence on him and not the other way around), with a
parade of tin-can and string instruments moving in and out of songs;
Haruomi Hosono in the unexpected directions songs take, and the
confluence of sounds and genres; and Robert Wyatt in the sweet
singing combined with odd yet still palatable music. This remastered
reissue (very reasonably priced) adds four remixes of "Paradise of
Replica"'s material. Unfortunately, the remixes are nothing special
(though Terre Thaemlitz makes an interesting epic). But this reissue
made me remember just how good and unusual this band were.
Haco, btw, now records as Hoahio. [RE]

TIPSY "Uh-Oh" (Asphodel) CD/2xLP $15.99/$17.99
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Though it's been a few years since their debut record, it feels, by
this new one, that time has not passed -- at all. It's every bit as
excellent, energizing, and twist-inducing as "Trip Tease", they just
haven't gone in any new directions in the meantime. Then again, I
never really paid attention to just how Latin their rhythms are. Very
Prado or Cuget, they hit samba and mambo and the cha-cha (leaving
off the last 'cha'), using theremin sweeps, vibes, marimbas, guiro,
horns, farting bass, glittery percussion. Plus a little Hawaiian sound,
in bending steel guitar strings, more vocal cooing than they've used
before. 52 minutes of the perfect upbeat TV transition music. In a
way, Tipsy do an imaginary version of what Carl Stalling did for
Warner Brothers, taking things from here and there to make
springy backgrounds for motion. All the other bands that have tried
this lounge-pop (save some of Uwe Schmidt's work) don't have the
consistency of Tipsy -- like the sun rises every morning, they're
bouncy, catchy every time, track after track. [RE]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=75302720032&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=75302720031&refer_url=email

KAMPEC DOLORES "A Bivaly Hatan (Sitting on the Buffalo)" (Bahai/ReR, UK) CD $16.99
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Kampec Dolores started in 1984 with an odd, new wave/ethnic
Hungarian sound, moving further out and into frenetic rock music
mixed with some improvisation a la the Ex. (In fact, their first few
records sound like the Ex and Liliput combined with Iva Bittova.)
Singer Gabi Kenderesi gives them a mournful, centuries-old sound,
even more on this, their newest and 5th album, which veers away
from the rock blasts and edgier noises to produce a record at the
intersection of Hungarian, Middle-Eastern, and Klezmer-sounding
melodies (which are not that far apart to begin with). Kenderesi's
vocals are a boon for this group. While the they makes improvisatory
motions on folk instruments, Kenderesi springs off of that platform,
going from song to gibberish, summoning vocal techniques I haven't
heard since the throaty Amazonian growls of Godmama in the
Boredoms. Their multi-ethnic approach is mirrored in the metaphors
of their name -- 'Kampec Dolores' is not Hungarian, it's a combination
of Yiddish and Latin that means 'the end of pains'. For all the angles
in their music, there is a soulful core that trusts in rhythm and
warbling. [RE]

ART ENSEMBLE OF CHICAGO "The Spiritual" (1201 Music) CD $15.99
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1969, the landmark year for the Art Ensemble. The year they added
'of Chicago' to their name (it was how European clubs billed them),
and released no less than nine albums, including this one, "Message
to Our Folks", "Comme a la Radio", and "A Jackson in Your House".
Now remastered, I hadn't heard this album until its reissue -- it's now
one of my favorites of theirs, I think. They hold together rhythms all
the while going off on little tangents that seem to have nothing in
common with each other until you realize they're building a nearly
pointillist collage of sound. They all pick up shakers and tambourines
(as there's no drummer), sound like they're sucking water through
the brass, seemingly raid the silverware drawer, become a jug band,
reduce their instruments to bleating, and go on nonsensical rants.
Plus the stereo spread is wonderful. [RE]

THE SOFT BOYS "Underwater Moonlight" 2xCD/3xLP $14.99/$21.99
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A new reissue of a classic angular new-wave rock album made truly
worth it by the addition of an extra disc's worth of material. With a
lengthy essay peppered with anecdotes, quotes and period photos
describe not only the Soft Boys but also the music scene at the time
(and especially how they did [or didn't] fit in). The extra stuff is a
little rougher, recordings done on cassette, some of which were
reworked for "UM", and, in fact have more of a Captain Beefheart
feel to them. And the first disc here not only has the entire album,
but also nine tracks they didn't even include. If you get the vinyl
version, you also get a 7" with two songs not on the CD. If you've
never heard (IMHO) their best song, 'I Wanna Destroy You', you
have to click the first RealAudio link above. DO IT NOW. [RE]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=74486105002&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=74486105001&refer_url=email

FARINA "Three People" (Pickled Egg, UK) CD $15.99
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Farina (not related to Geoff Farina or Mark Farina for that matter)
are, of course, a trio. This, their first album, follows a number of
singles and compilation tracks. They have a basic sophistication in
the arrangements and approach that is not unlike Burt Bacharach
-- only about five times removed. Using a clarion trumpet sound,
piano, guitar, and jazzy, lite drums, Farina recall some mid-period
Go-Betweens (especially in the vocals) or a stripped-down Belle &
Sebastian. Only Farina doesn't paint such scathing or soothing
pictures. Member Mark Brand (formerly in The The and the Gift, I find
online!), is also a music writer, and curiously has a book coming out
next month about the birth of the singer/songwriter tradition in
'60s folk music, called "American Troubadours". Interesting! [RE]

THIRD EYE FOUNDATION "I Poo Poo on Your Juju" (Domino, UK) CD/LP  $16.99/$13.99
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Matt Elliott's newest is a collection of remixes (that haven't
appeared elsewhere) and collaborations (with Chris Morris and
Glanta). He took tracks he liked and often stretched them into
hypnotic, knotted strings of pained melody fractured more and more
as the album progresses with cracked-glass beats. Frenchman Yann
Tiersen's 'La Dispute' is set adrift in a floe of solo piano and
accordion, Faultline's original has the delicacy removed until it's
almost a smoothed-over speed garage track (okay, slower too).
Though on most I don't really know how much he's changed the
originals because I haven't heard the founding tracks from
Remote Viewer, Tarwater, etc., except for the Blonde Redhead one,
where Elliot makes some of the instruments trip over themselves
and also eerily reverses the vocals, making the track sound as if
it's erasing itself. [RE]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=503420200912&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=503420200911&refer_url=email

TAKU SUGIMOTO & KEVIN DRUMM "den" (Sonoris, France) CD $15.99
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Recorded live in Tokyo last April, these collaborators are cope very
nicely, complement each other's sound. Drumm uses his prepared
guitar and electronics, Sugimoto's just on guitar, and you can hear
each clearly, plus you get the perspective to see how they fit
together, especially delivered via headphones. It's a very quiet
release, striated feedback tones or faint whirlygig statics with
individual notes (and off-notes) hit on the guitar to mark time. [RE]

FUG "Ready For Us" (Nuphonic, UK) CD $15.99
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The first non-electronic, non-DJ record on Nuphonic, compositions
that act like trip-hop as performed by a chamber ensemble. Very
light and very stylized, "Ready For Us" is the swanky version of a
merging of the production sound of High Llamas and with the intricate
guitarwork of Gary Lucas. 50% has soft-diva vox (the slightest bit
Minnie Riperton-ish -- except the vocals are done by Jess Williams,
who is classically-trained). People who like Lamb will like this. [RE]

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Graham Smith, aka Kleenex Girl Wonder, is an oddball. Which you
knew even if you only knew that his first album was titled "Graham
Smith is the Coolest Person Alive". Following the fascinatingly
accurate boy-band 'hit', 'Why I Write Such Good Songs', that came
out a few months ago, Smith backpedals to bring us a two-CD
concept album with 19 actual songs (Smith solo) and a million
in-between 'skit' tracks, that follow a combination of Smith's daily
life in making music with some computer espionage intrigue
paranoic tale worked in. Luckily, Smith points out which are actual
songs, so you can program it yourself. Only someone with charisma
to burn would even attempt this and come away standing. I am
looking forward to a new 'real' album, though? (btw, you can go to
marchrecords.com and download Smith's version of the 'Thong
Song' for free.) [RE]

PHATT PUSSYCAT "Phatt Life" (Glasgow Underground, UK) CD/2xLP $15.99/$18.99
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Phatt Pussycat is the product of Romanthony (New Jersey boy
getting a lot of attention with his vocal contributions to the new
Daft Punk album, including the single) with more Jerseyites Kit and
Kat (Kit Smith is a vocalist). Here he steps back behind the mixing
board and not in front of the mike, leaving them to do the house
diva thing with a little contemporary R&B style to it. Album is,
essentially, a facsimile of/tribute to old school, new jack Chicago
house, very upbeat and dancefloor-friendly. [RE]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=68949200202&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=68949200201&refer_url=email

HIM "5/6 in Dub" (Bubble Core) CD $9.99
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32 minutes of fusion-tinged, improvisatory post-jazz (electronic
effects applied to music as it flows out of real instruments) that is
the wee bit self-indulgent. Fuzzed-out guitar noodling, horns on
echo delay, performed live and in the studio, edited into gonging
rhythms. Actually, on this, dub all but disappears -- only the faint
thrum of the bass shows where it used to be. HiM is a seven-piece
ensemble led by Doug Scharin (June of '44). I give it three-and-a-
half streams. Now I forgot--what does HiM stand for? [RE]


SUN RA "Strange Strings" (El Saturn) LP $16.99
This mysterious LP was recorded in the mid to late '60s, depending
on who you ask, and blurs the line between modern composition
and improvisation, utilizing a Cage-like ideology in its approach,
coming across like nothing Sun Ra's Arkestra had created before.
The concept behind the piece 'Strange Strings' (which takes up a
side and a half of this LP) stems from an experiment Ra wanted to
try with his musicians. He had collected a vast array of stringed
instruments, including ukuleles, koto, mandolin, pipa and others,
and passed them out to his reed and horn players. In addition to
these unfamiliar instruments, band members also were to use
homemade musical devices on this recording. He then had them
play, free of guidance except that he would point to them when he
wanted them to start. The end result is a chaotic flurry of sounds,
devoid of musical tradition, a wild intuitive piece that allowed them
to express themselves solely through the craft of making sound and
filling up space. Recorded at a high volume, the sound bleeds
together like a field recording that cannot be placed: if someone
were to listen to this blindly, there would be no indicators
whatsoever where to locate this recording in time, location, or
nationality. Also included here is 'Worlds Approaching,' which
ventures back into more familiar Arkestra territory, Marshall Allen
and John Gilmore's horns dancing around a thundering bassline
courtesy Ronnie Boykins, while a percussive rumble sets the
backbone. "Strange Strings" is no less than completely essential,
even with the cheap photocopied cover it is more than worth the
price of admission. [PW]

MAGIC CARPATHIANS PROJECT "Ethnocore" (Fly Music, Poland) CD $14.99
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Here it is, my hands-down absolute favorite record released in 1999!
"Ethnocore" is one of those records that demands total immersion,
shuts down all conscious thought. Psychedelic? Free improvisation?
Progressive folk? Mantric chant? World beat? It's all here in true
schizophrenic glory. Faust, Magical Power Mako, Brigitte Fontaine,
and Taj Mahal Travellers all spring to mind as parameters. Clocking
in at over 67 minutes, this album is so complete in scope and vision
that it's kinda scary. The group rose out of the ashes of prog-psych
masters Atman, whose catalog we stock; who are well-worth
further investigation. Higher than highest recommendation! [JG]

MAGIC CARPATHIANS "Ksiega Utopii" (OBUH, Poland) CD $14.99
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"Ksiega Utopii" ("Book Of Utopia"), the second album from former
Atman mainstays Marek Styczynski, Anna Nacher and their associates.
Their flawless combination of ethnic-folk instrumentation, haunting
vocals and psychedelia is a virtual cornucopia of world music riches.
Magic Carpathians' "Ethnocore" was my absolute favorite release of
1999 for its relentless diversity and its continual ability to surprise
even the most jaded listeners like myself. This follow-up might be
even better in terms of consistency of scope and depth of texture.
Highest recommendation! [JG]

This week's contributors: Sandra Barrett [SB], David Day [DD],
Robin Edgerton [RE], Jeff Gibson [JG], Duane Harriott [DH], Philip
Waldorf [PW].

The Big Picture:

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