Other Music New Release Update
March 7, 2001

In This Week's Update:

Ethiopiques Volume 9: Alemayehu Eshete
Ester Brinkmann
The Orb
Tom Ze
King Tubby's lost treasures
BLO reissue
Benjamin Diamond
Sachiko M & Toshimaru Nakamura
Michiko Kusaki and the Re: Kusaki tribute to her
Wagon Christ
"Japan For Sale" sampler
The Clientele/The Relict split 45

Featured New Releases:

ALAMAYEHU ESHETE "Ethiopiques Vol. 9: 1969-1974" (Buda Musique, France) CD $15.99
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It's a rare CD compilation series that can maintain an initial
level of quality over a long period of time -- but "Ethiopiques" is
on Volume 9 and going strong. In fact, this CD, documenting the
career (at least part of it) of popular Ethiopian singer Alamayehu
Eshete is decidedly equal to (IMO) the best CD in the series (by a
very small margin), Volume 3. What else would you expect from a
singer given the nickname of the 'Ethiopian James Brown', whose
work more than any other Ethiopian singer embodied youthful
rebellion in its incorporation of Western styles and manipulation
of occasionally surreal, yet simple lyrics imbued with an amazing
depth of feeling? But Eshete doesn't punch and scream like Brown,
even if he does fit in a 'YOW!' here and there, he had a much
broader range, spreading from sinuous soul and pop to bizarre funk
shakedowns and mournful laments. While his voice slides all over
the Ethiopian scale, the musicians of the All Star Band and Alem-
Girma Band hold the line in bass patterns that climb and descend
the scale as if it were stairs, horns in melodic counterpoint,
organs forming slippery rhythms. Along with this, his songs on
Ethiopiques Volumes 3 and 8, and the few to be released on the
upcoming Volume 10 (Blues and Ballads), all in all 35 of Eshete's
36 45s he made between 1969 and 1974 will be available. While the
sound quality on this CD varies even more than the other volumes
(then again, there's a beautiful graininess in the distortion), it
was pieced together not from masters, but from very rare 45s of
the period, one even from an old cassette, the only remaining
recording of his first single. This CD is an absolute masterpiece,
I kiss the plastic under which it's encoded. [RE]

ESTER BRINKMANN "Der Ubersetzer - Il Traduttore" (Suppose, Germany) CD $15.99
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Once again recording under his deceased sister's name, Thomas
Brinkmann creates an uncanny, disturbing record that reveals his
mastery of collage and bricolage like nothing else he's recorded.
Fans of the three records for Cologne non-profit arts organization
Suppose will find this album the finest in the triptych -- those
looking for off-balance dance music might want to turn to his
records on the Max and Ernst labels. Which is not to take away
from this wonderfully flawed album. Through track four the
listener is presented with bare spoken-word passages in German,
longer than Brinkmann usually allows. But, with characteristic
subtlety, he begins toying with the post-structuralist lectures,
inserting hollow pops and bubbles into the voices. 'Latour' is
this album's standout. Opening with beautiful, quiet minor-key
synth chords and a buzzing '80s electro bassline, it reveals deep
structures that were either there to begin with or were built
underground. One can't tell, and this is where Brinkmann's genius
lies. The music and voices on this record often seem to have come
to the producer in a dream, emanating from a place other than the
recording studio. They take on a life of their own, seemingly out of
Brinkmann's hands altogether. An essential record for any
following the trajectory of contemporary experimental electronic
music. [TH]

ORB "Cydonia" (Island) CD/2xLP $17.99/$31.99
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After more than a year of delays, Dr. Alex Paterson and co. return
with their fifth full-length endeavor. And, though I've liked them
in the past, this one puts it over the top. Why? For one, there
are two songs, including the lovely 'Once More,' sung by Japanese
vocalist Aki, and the equally lovely 'Ghostdancing,' by Nina
Walsh. Structurally, it follows the pattern established by their
last long-player, "Orblivion." That is, more and shorter tracks,
13 of them to be precise. These are woven into a kind of epic as
if set in the title location, a mythical city on Mars. In which
the aural cityscape includes sweeping chugga-chugga sounds, vast
rolling fields of dub, blips and blops, snatches of radio voices --
comedy sketches, bizarre commercials -- as if wafting from open
windows. If this is chill-out music, why does it command such
invigorated, specific attention? If it's a druggy, trancey blur,
why is it so clear and impeccably constructed? If it's all texture
and atmosphere, why are my toes going tappity-tap? [RE]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=73145480892&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=73145480891&refer_url=email

TOM ZE "Jogos De Armar (Faca Voce Mesmo)" (Trama, Brazil) 2xCD  $17.99
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As Tom Ze ages (as if, though -- he's a perpetual youngster) the
melodies with which he started his career back in the '60s have
been steadily dropping away over time. And as that happens, he
continues to experiment with adding other sounds and techniques to
his decidedly pop music. On "Jogos De Armar" (games to set?), the
biggest change is that he populates his studio with a crowd of
vocalists. Seemingly twenty to thirty people reflect and respond,
serve as a backdrop, make the sound swing from complexly epic in
arrangement to squarely down-to-earth chaos. Besides doing all
kinds of backup chanting and choral singing, they also, en masse,
growl, coo, or whine, even whistle in slightly off-key swarms of
sound, and even wrap up a track by pretending to be a giant
donkey. Ze's musical effects include a melody formed from car-horn
noises (tip of the hat to Wendy Mae Chambers?), samples of
playground noise. He uses his usual bed of sputtering, thunderous
bass sounds (a cross between electric bass and baritone sax), and
rhythms made of notes that yo-yo in tone. "Jogos", too, is more
abrasive and scouring in the production sound, as if moving some
of the melodies out left behind jagged holes. This printing of the
CD includes a somewhat extraneous bonus disc mostly populated by
the sounds they used to mix "Jogos" -- like one track consisting
entirely of a roomful of people laughing. Ze's still one of my
favorite artists ever, a gremlin of challenges, a magician at whom
you're still amazed even after he reveals all his tricks. [RE]

[V/A] "King Tubby's Lost Treasures" (Jamaican Recordings, UK) CD $16.99
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For King Tubby, a piece of music is like an elaborate bit of
theatre; he drops elements in and out of the mix like moving
figures on the stage. Tubby, Osbourne Ruddock, Jr., would also
have made a superb director of suspense films -- you never know
when he'll suddenly drop one strand of a track deep into the echo
chamber. But this unpredictability is a superb asset. For instance,
'Frenemy Dub' opens with a tinkling keyboard figure and
untreated vocal. But, before the second vocal line, the male voice
disappears after the first syllable, never to be heard from again.
And 'Dub on the Street Again' begins with a plaint about poverty
in Trenchtown -- but instead of stripping the vocal from the mix,
the first hi-hat strike is stretched to the horizon like a sun
that never quite sets. Further, on 'Deceiving the Dub,' each
trumpet and sax note are repeatedly tickled by the echo box,
upsetting any linear progression the track might otherwise have
had. The brief, but overwhelming 'Dub Confession' is another heart-
stopping piece. It's a 'non-starter' in the best sense; just when
you think you've gotten hold of the track's progression,
everything in aural range is plunged into the echo chamber;
vocals, hi-hat, bongos, bass drum, guitar and bassline all vanish
from the range of hearing. There are dozens of King Tubby albums
floating around, but this is essential in so far as it contains no
overlaps, each of these 'riddims' and tracks is newly unearthed, a
sublime pleasure. [TH]

SPOON "Girls Can Tell" (Merge) CD/LP $13.99/$11.99
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The Spoon saga continues, as the Austin-bred group works with
their third label in as many albums. This is significant because
"Girls Can Tell" could well be the end of a kind of metamorphic
trilogy. The first installment, "Telephono," was an album of
striking force, more punk than pop, filled with exclamations and
edge. Their great major-label bow, "Series Of Sneaks" (Elektra)
burned like a fuse, their intensity now more descriptive and
contained. Now, on "Girls Can Tell", Spoon becomes Spoon, fusing
post-punk whip-snap (Wire, Gang Of Four) with pop heart (Cars,
Modern Lovers) until you can't tell the difference. "Girls Can
Tell" defines a unique rock sound, and it goes something like
this: accented with Britt Daniel's smacking, quivering melodies, a
Spoon song is laid down with barbed guitar chords and an authentic
piano bounce. Then it's built from a jagged punk blueprint with
various soft-rock tools. In fact, on most of the album, the trio
expands at times to include Mellotron, harpsichord, vibes and
viola. And Spoon's studio sound has always been raw and broad,
leaking with static and air. Listen closely and you can hear the
edits. Timed at just over 36 minutes, "Girls" is, of course, much
too short. Daniels must be always humming an original melody,
probably just waiting to jot it onto an unsuspecting bar napkin.
As track 11 fades, you want him to hum some more. [DD]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=03617294952&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999150181&refer_url=email

BLO "Phases 1972-1982" (Afrostrut, UK) CD/2xLP $16.99/$19.99
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Though existing in the same city (and political climate) as Fela
in his prime, BLO formed out of quite different circumstances.
After touring with Ginger Baker in the group Salt (which also
included the Lijadu Sisters, another group overdue for a
reissue!), BLO, a trio, decided to form Nigeria's smallest rock
band (highlife groups tend to crowd the stage), and rolled out all
kinds of psychedelic rock arrangements placed over solidly African
complex rhythmic funk. Melodic and deep, their work has traces of
soul and more than a little Hendrix in the influence pile. By the
later '70s, their producers were urging them to get more of a
disco sound to keep up with the times, but their choppy, jerky
edges never got smoothed out, even as disco snares, wubbly space
synth and multitracked vocals worked their way in (I even hear
some Steve Miller by-way-of Manu Dibango, or Grand Funk Railroad).
This CD represents Strut's impeccable selection from their six
LPs. "Phases" is not just a CD of music revived from the eroding
effects of time, but BLO embody an entire genre subject to that
erosion as well. This reissue illuminates a big sign that there
are other pieces of African musical history still held in virtual
obscurity. Thanks to Strut for blowing away some of the dust. [RE]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=67586550004&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=67586560004&refer_url=email

BENJAMIN DIAMOND "Strange Attitude" (Epic, France) CD $24.99
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We can barely keep this one in stock. A favorite amongst quite a
few of OM's hardworking sales staff, we sell this like crazy and
I'm finding it hard to believe that no one in the U.S. has picked
it up for domestic release (Astralwerks? anybody?). Benjamin
Diamond, two years ago, had a big hit singing Stardust's (a Daft
Punk side-project) 'Music Sounds Better with You'. He released
"Strange Attitude" first as a series of 12"s, then, a few months
ago, as this CD. And it, along with the new Daft Punk out soon,
points the direction that French house/dance is going in --
slamming backwards into a soup of early '80s production styles,
deftly and playfully. "Strange Attitude" refers to "Thriller", Hall &
Oates circa "Voices" and "Private Eyes", and slightly, early Prince,
with a dash of modern Cher. Though he uses it, he keeps a light
hand on the vocoder, his own smooth and friendly white-soul voice
rounds these tunes up, the scrunchy synth and candy-disco beats
only adding to the lipgloss and glitter production. It's the sort
of record that I want to dismiss as pure candy (as it contains the
line 'I love the way you move your ass' -- it's either a record
that lives that down or up, you know what I mean?), but just
can't, it's too fun. [RE]

KOMEDA "Pop Pa Svenska + Plan 714 Till" (Minty Fresh) CD $13.99
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Komeda, who named themselves after film composer Krzysztof
Komeda (why did I not realize this until now?) have been patiently
recording pretty pop in their home country of Sweden since 1991.
This welcome domestic release of their first album (plus an early EP)
represents some of their best work. With one foot in the Stereolab/
Pram camp Komeda weave arrangements that are unpredictable but
sound seamless and effortless. They have shreds of that '60s film
music sound (the late Piero Umiliani is an obvious influence), but
formed into pop songs with vocals; adding lots to the rhythm
section: lots of vibes, Spanish guitar, a little typewriter
(always cute), bells, accordion, more. There's not a dud on this,
yet not one (that as of yet) stands out especially, either.
Primarily sung in Swedish with a little fractured English and
French. There's just enough melancholy here to lift this out of
shallowness, and they're breezily stylish without bludgeoning you
over the head with their hipsterness or being too 'lite' -- a rare
combination. [RE]

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A groundbreaking release from two youngish Japanese improvisers.
Sachiko M plays sample-less sampler, and Nakamura uses the no-
input mixing board--both instruments which conceptually produce
no sound, yet these two conjure it out, somehow. "Do" was
recorded live in Europe and Tokyo last summer, and features
three improvisations varying in length from just over two minutes
to slightly under 40. While the shorter tracks are worthwhile and
hold moments of greatness, it is the first, very long track that
is clearly the central piece of the album. Starting from a pure
ultra-high pitched sine wave (remember: do not play for your
pets), it gradually breaks down into sound vertebrae, which are
linked together, gradually building a huge mass of sound. This
flowing sound construction gradually envelops and captures the
listener inside. Like Xenakis's "Legende D'Eer", Parmegiani's "De
Natura Sonorum" or even Amon Duul's "Psychedelic Underground",
this recording is unique upon each listen, as even the slightest
shift of one's head creates a vastly different experience. Put
very simply: Yes, this is essential. Yes, it will top numerous
best of 2001 lists. Why wait? [MG]

MICHIKO KUSAKI "Don't Do That" (Hiao Hiao Hiao) CD $9.99
[V/A] "Re: Kusaki" (Angelika Kohlermann, Austria) CD $16.99

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In a nutshell, Michiko Kusaki's music sounds like Chicks on Speed,
only depressed. Kusaki, the alias of Frenchwoman Anne Laplantine,
has a number of albums under her belt (three or so, I think), as
Kusaki and one under her own name. She's got a similar fuzzed-out
lo-fi and simultaneously slick cheesy synth sound, deadened Casio
melodies and filtered vocals in heavily-accented English, stilted
drum patterns and wavery melodies to COS, only hers, even the
upbeat ones, have a sense that she's dragging a heavy weight
around or singing inside a sauna or similarly thick atmosphere.
Though this makes it sound bad, it's not, Laplantine is just
crafting a different aesthetic with the same tools. I think this
is the first time I've seen a tribute record that follows the
originating artist's first album after a delay of but two years,
nonetheless Kusaki's got one, and it contains all her pals in
Germany and Austria: Chicks on Speed, DMX Krew, Felix Kubin,
Curd Duca, Pita, Sylvester Boy, plus 11 more artists. Though,
admittedly, amongst the 17 tracks only 9 songs of Kusaki's are
covered -- for instance, there are five versions of 'Let's Rock
Baby'. Most are done in similar cut-and-paste electronics where
all the tape is showing, there are glue smears throughout, or the
edges are ragged, though Sam & Valley, Bodenstandig 2000 and
Console burnish their covers to a fine gloss. A lot are pumped up
for the dancefloor, too, in fun inflated-but-still-flimsy ways.
Pita merged two songs for the chaotic 'Let's Rock Maybe', and
Obscurum render another song over-the-top speedmetalgarage-
freakout style. [RE]
Re: Kusaki

CD SLOPPER "Saskie Woxi" (OR / Mego, UK) CD $14.99
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cd_slopper is the file 'working-name' for the Computer Music unit
of Oswald Berthold (aka OST of Farmers Manual) and Florian Hecker
(Hecker). Finding spare time between their tour schedules, they
would meet in each other's studio, working on different computer
platforms (SGI/UNIX, LINUX and Mac) to produce this enhanced CD
containing 44 audio tracks plus static as well as
dhtml/text/pics/Java executables. I have no idea what any of that
means, but I do know what I like and this is superclever blip-
bleepery of the first order! [JG]

DURRANT/ LEHN / MALFATTI "Dach" (Erstwhile) CD $13.99
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The follow up to the "Beinhaltung" album on Fringes, "Dach" is a
fragile minimal masterpiece recorded live in 1999 in Austria by
Phil Durrant (violin), Thomas Lehn (synthesizer) and Radu Malfatti
(trombone), three of Europe's greatest improvisers of today. In a
specific way, it highlights silence by contrasting it with sound,
a compositional and improvisational technique developed by
Malfatti and utilized since the early '90s (which has been terribly
under-documented -- but a solo CD on Edition Wandelweisser
and a composition performed by Zeitkratzer on one of their CDs),
"Dach" is comparable to the mid-'90s AMM at their most sparse,
or some of the better work by Francisco Lopez. Like Lopez, this
trio questions the nature of silence, but where Lopez' works use
the hums of electronic devices, this trio work on an organic
action/non-action axis, highlighting the environmental sounds
that occur between actions and the ability of the performer to
interact with these sounds. For instance, during during the
recording a heavy rainstorm fell upon the roof. Instead of
competing with the improvisors, on "Dach" it functions
essentially as a fourth musician. [MG]

WAGON CHRIST "Musipal" (Ninja Tune, Canada) CD/LP $13.99/$15.99
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Wagon Christ, yet another in the series of pseudonyms Luke
Vibert's created for himself, is ostensibly where he stashes all
the lounge and kitsch. But this is not necessarily the case any
longer--"Musipal" is a sweet, somewhat wistful approach to this
aesthetic. It has a clever, tingling use of samples throughout,
from dogs-can-hear-it-real-good twittering to hand jive, thigh-
slap hip-hop beats, and, as always, wonderful finds, from
something that sounds like blubbery lips to a guy emphatically
yelping "I'm gonna fuck the whole WORLD up!". Add to that some
lovely flute breaks, calm piano, unusual space sounds, and the
good sense to start a song somewhere and then move it over time,
not just making loops but proficiently manipulating found sounds.
I continually admire this man's ears and ability to create breaks
out of nearly anything, used to its utmost here. [RE]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=62597810542&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=502139223118&refer_url=email

HEFNER "We Love the City" (Too Pure) CD $13.99
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Darren Hayman's songwriting isn't cringeworthy, isn't cheesy, but
holds a strange position between guarded cleverness and
confessional storytelling that's nicely specific and metaphoric at
the same time. "We Love the City" is like a book of short stories,
mostly first-person, about moving through spaces and different
romantic situations all very urban in detail. Occasionally he hits
a Robyn Hitchcock moment in the music (and singing, esp.), but
Hayman has nary a shred of surrealism in his frame. What I really
like is that he writes about relationships in a way quite unlike
anyone else I can think of in music, and the closest I can think
of culturally would be cartoonist Eddie Campbell's "Alec" semi-
autobiographical graphic novel series. Amelia Fletcher (Marine
Research) guests. [RE]

[V/A] "Japan For Sale" (Sony, Japan) CD $11.99
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Sony Japan transforms their popular "Japan Not For Sale" promo-
only series into a for-sale, budget-priced CD sampler custom-made
to introduce their artists to an American audience. This is the perfect
way to hear some of these worthwhile acts without plunking down
upwards of $30 for just one of their import-only albums. FYI, J-Pop
superstars Puffy are renamed Puffy AmiYumi here -- lest anyone
confuse the energetic, ultra-vivid female duo with the guy that used
to date J-Lo. Their epic "Asia No Junshin" has chirpy harmonies,
glam-rock guitar chords, swirling strings and rips off "Mr. Roboto"
just enough to do that other Puffy proud. Meanwhile, Polysics
offer up the harrowing "XCT" in which the controlled chaos of the
Boredoms gets injected with a healthy dose of Devo. And Chappie
is represented ably by an excellent track penned by P5's Yasuharu
Konishi. Also features DJ Krush, Denki Groove, Yoshinori Sunahara,
Boom Boom Satellites (among many others) for a generous taste
of contemporary Japanese hip-hop, trip-hop, and pop-rock. [TC]

THE CLIENTELE/THE RELICT "Split Single" (Johnny Kane, UK) 7" $5.99
The Clientele (featuring Pam Berry) perform "(I Can't Seem) To Make
You Mine" on one side while The Relict give us "Held In Glass".
Available only as a 7-inch vinyl single. Limited edition.

Contributors: Tom Capodanno [TC], David Day [DD], Robin
Edgerton [RE], Jeff Gibson [JG], Michael Goodstein [MG],
Tim Haslett [TH].

The Big Picture:

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