Other Music Update
March 8, 2000

In This Week's Update :

Papas Fritas
Lily of the Valley (Schematic  compilation)
New Grape Time (His Name is Alive side project)
Dirty Three
Susumu Yokota
Abdulai Bangoura
Bowery Electric
Kevin Drumm + Martin Tetreault
Hecker remixes
Tektonics (electronic producers meet turntablists comp.)
Giant Sand

Etienne Charry
Chantal Goya

Featured New Releases :

PAPAS FRITAS "Buildings and Grounds" (Minty Fresh) CD $13.99
In a just world, an album like "Buildings and Grounds" would top the
commercial pop charts, be a Billboard best-seller. A song like "Way You
Walk" uses all the tricks of popcraft, like the ridiculously catchy 'oohs'
and 'ahhs' to groovy handclaps that keep the beat, throwing in a funky
break to boot. Though their shamelessly catchy choruses will inevitably
stick in your head after one listen, they go beyond pop cliche. And not all
is uptempo -- slow jams 'Far From an Answer' or 'I Believe in Fate' are
patiently churned out, too. With a perfect 1-2 male/female vocal front,
Papas Fritas' "Buildings and Grounds" is one of those rare classics where
every song could easily be a hit single. Pure pop really doesn't get much
better than this. [PW]

[V/A] "Lily of The Valley" (Schematic) CD/LP $12.99/$12.99
Schematic records give up their second CD compilation, and this time out
they've upped the ante -- leading off with an amazing track by newly signed
Warp recording artist Richard Devine. The rest features Takeshi Muto,
Phoenecia, Gliese, 09, Jesua, and the much sought-after Phoenecia remix of
Jake Mandell's "Untitled 27", which originally appeared on an out-of-print
Lucky Kitchen CD. Spastic breaks, distorted electronics, and downtempo
beats make for another amazing release out of Miami. [JS]
LP  /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=65067000121&refer_url=email

SENKING "Ping Thaw" (Karaoke Kalk, Germany) CD $16.99
Once again the Karaoke Kalk label releases another gem. This time, it's the
sophomore CD from Senking, a compilation of two EPs that seems to hit upon
many current styles of electronic music while keeping an amazing control on
quality and flow. From the extremely dark and sinister tribal rhythms of
"Risk", which brings to mind early Techno Animal and the percussive mayhem
of Muslimgauze, to the dubbed out atmospherics of "Ringe" and "Movies", and
the evil ambience of "Harrigan", which recalls Nurse with Wound's shaded
soundtracks. This is an extremely beautiful and sinister record in which to
envelop yourself throughout many repeated listens. [JS]

NEW GRAPE "New Grape Time" (Time Stereo) CD-R $10.99
Another side project from the ever-prolific Warn Defever. This one is
closer to his work for the Institute of Spoons label (from whom we should
have a great comp next week), where he buries his vocalists in sand as if
they were kids playing at the beach, occasionally exposing an elbow or a
knee. The singer, Dara (who also writes the songs) has a Kendra Smith-like
tone to her voice, and the collaboration with Defever is reminiscent of
Smith with David Roback in Opal. Yet they also evokes Madonna's work with
William Orbit, albeit if that pair's stickiness was wrapped in a mohair
sweater. Defever's wobbly feedback fuzz curls Dara's breaths into eddies,
samples warble and frogs chirp in accompaniment. A large sound is made with
a lot of layers, provided with fast-forwarding CD skips and burbles offset
with simple stereo guitar separations. Recommended, somehow both dense and
incredibly simple. [RE]

DIRTY THREE "Whatever You Love, You Are" (Touch And Go) CD/LP  $13.99/$9.99
Formed in Melbourne, Australia in 1992, Dirty Three's sound rides the epic
and emotional violin melodies of Warren Ellis. The violence and beauty of
each musical theme soars loudly above a tasteful foundation of Mike
Turner's guitar beauty and Jim White's sparse drumming. For five albums
now, Dirty Three have been using the violin-as-lead formula to create
impressive soundtrack-like instrumentals that wring emotions from hard
hearts. Often starting with a whisper and growing toward epic, screaming
finales, Dirty Three dip their themes beneath a fog of beautiful noise,
only to culminate in violin feedback and symbol crashes, challenging the
listener to follow at full volume. Tracks like "Stellar" have the feel of
structured improvisations, where the musicians suggest their changes and/or
crescendoes on the fly. Fans of last year's "Ocean Stories" (the group's
musical interpretation of the ragged and cryptic mysteries of the sea) will
appreciate the continuation of triumphant and tearful melodies on "Whatever
You Love?". [LR]
LP  /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999125321&refer_url=email

SUSUMU YOKOTA "Magic Thread" (Leaf, UK) CD $15.99
Yokota's bread and butter is in the realm of trancey techno, yet his real
gourmet delicacies are located on the two recordings he concocted and gave
to Leaf Records. The first of these, "Image", was released last year, a
gorgeously vague distillation of new wave echoes and electronic prescience,
recorded mostly in the mid-'80s. It's unclear how and when he recorded
"Magic Thread", and this mystery extends to the sounds themselves. Overall,
it's closer to the Mille Plateaux sound of 1999, yet I think he's making
all the sounds by manipulating actual tapes (the 'magic thread' of the
title) rather than discrete sound files. Therefore the scratches, pops, and
flickering taps are stretched and looped in awkward, sweet ways with
fragments of melody crawling to the surface. It's also far more rhythmic
than "Image" and, in that, more familiar. Yokota's sensitive, detailed
work will hopefully not go unnoticed. [RE]

WHILE "Lock" (Chocolate Industries) CD/LP $12.99/$12.99
While return, following their acclaimed 12" on Musik Aus Strom, with this
album of sinister breakbeats. Minor-key melodies, hip-hop breaks, and
warped electronics add up to great electrofunk, a must for fans of
Funkstorung, Autechre and Push Button Objects. [JS]
LP  /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=67751400081&refer_url=email

IHAN "Iota" (Mille Plateaux, Germany) CD $14.99
Glitchcore blends with clickcore and a dash of musique concrete on this
debut album by two design students from Toulouse, France. The 12 untitled,
numbered tracks are intended to "explore the abstract 'plates-formes' of
sound," but "use it in a very special humoresque but also cool way." This
translates into taking every trick in the book, from skipping-CD noises to
computer bleeps to high-frequency tones guaranteed to drive your puppy
insane, and layering them with the ebb and flow of various stripped-down,
chilly beats. The result is hard, attention-grabbing, and spacious. Imagine
Ryoji Ikeda meeting David Tudor in Cologne. "The world of Iota is builded
on the coexistence of electroacoustic research's gains ('techniques de
montage', microscopic study of sounds) and the rational pulsation of
minimal techno." Who are we to disagree? [AL]

ABDULAI BANGOURA "Sigiri" (Avant, Japan) CD $21.99
Frenetic and cool, Bangoura's West African one-man-band music is made with
kalimba, balafon, and percussion. His activity yields a sound like fields
of bicycle wheels with cards in them, noises from off-tune metal and wood,
delicate and insistent at the same time, with notes spraying out in all
directions. Always percussive, accidentally melodic (the kalimba and
balafon play different notes, even when they're used for rhythm) adept and
precise, it's the antecedent to the mallet madnesses of mockxotica. "...a
griot and a prodigy, with machine-gun precision and dexterity. Although
rooted in Islamic melody and rhythm, Bangoura's playing was always about
seeking the outer edges." -Marc Seidenfeld, from the liner notes. 6 tracks,
42 minutes, recorded in 1990, and really wonderful. [RE]

BOWERY ELECTRIC "Lushlife" (Beggars Banquet) CD $13.99
Turning NYC into a moodily lit, cinematic melodrama of cigarette coughs and
sad, beautiful clubgoers. Bowery Electric are definitely positioning
themselves into the Everything But the Girl zone, and their metamorphosis
from space-rock noodlers to introspective jet setters is nearly complete.
Gone are the cascading, My Bloody Valentine-style guitars, in their place,
fine, modern sample-based trip hop with a steady rumble through it. Martha
Schwendener's vocals recall a softer, sultrier Liz Phair -- a limited range
that gets the job done; Lawrence Chandler's programming draws in string
arrangements, light drums which slip and drop in places, and runs water
sounds across the surface. [RE]

JAPANCAKES "Down the Elements" (Kindercore) CD/LP $9.99/$8.99
Following their much acclaimed debut "If I Could See Dallas", Japancakes
return with a more concise effort -- this mini-LP clocks in at just over 30
minutes. "Down the Elements" starts off with a moodily cello-led track that
is considerably darker than anything on their debut. It is followed by the
moog-driven Neu! inspired workout of 'A.W. Sonic'. Then toning it down a
bit, relying more on bubbling electronics and space-age effects, borrowing
the style defined by Eno or Harmonia in the mid '70s. Less kitschy than
their debut, "Down the Elements" is a step forward for this Athens-based
outfit. [PW]
LP  /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999125281&refer_url=email

KEVIN DRUMM & MARTIN TETREAULT "Particles and Smears" (Erstwhile) CD $13.99
Martin Tetreault's a Canadian turntablist whose work has paralleled that of
Otomo Yoshihide and Christian Marclay (but without the pop-cultural
fortitude; preferring abstraction) and Kevin Drumm, from Chicago, is best
known for delicate tabletop prepared guitar, though his most recent record
(reviewed here last week) was of keyboard feedback(s). Making sounds not
meant to provoke bliss or immersion, their discrete, tangible cause-and-
effect improvisations -- less coherent/constant than other work I've
heard of Tetreault's (who usually favors a barrage turntable technique
over than the tiny needle dance sequences here),end up much closer to
Drumm's solo guitar work. There's the definite sense that you're missing a
lot of visual info -- keys jangle and drop, and whole chunks of machinery
fall to the floor, scattering pieces of all sizes that roll and stop
irregularly. Drumm and Tetreault make sounds like your Dad in his workshop
building a chair with all kinds of different tools, but a chair that's
turning out really screwy and unsittable. And while he builds, both the
chair and the acoustic guitar over in the corner are being attacked by
termites, their mandibles chattering. Recorded 1999 by TV Pow's Todd
Carter. [RE]

HECKER "[R*] iso / chall (remixes)" (Mego, Austria) CD $16.99
A collection of remixes of Florian Hecker's last release on Mego. Some
tracks are blown up, glitches in random order and tiny blips inflated 50x,
others are so quiet you'd need a sensitive mic to pick them up (like
Francisco Lopez' barely-audible reconfiguring). But Hecker's work tends to
be subtle to begin with, and the remixers end up acting as magnifying
glasses to see what's really there. His details become broad strokes, loud
thick clicks out of prickles, springy nerf sounds from something tight,
like loosening a bed of nails one by one until all the nails fall over into
big wavy patterns. With Jim O'Rourke, Yasunao Tone, Bruce Gilbert, Gescom,
and many more. Complex and cool, but difficult in places, too. [RE]

[V/A] "Tektonics" (OM) CD $14.99
Pairing up turntablists with techno/d'n'b producers? One's elusive with the
beat, the other evades it in hands-on tricks and spasms. The result, shown
on this comp, is usually slippery and surprising. You get an melding of
sounds where beats are formed through serendipity. Each track starts with
some sort of rhythm, but as the scratching comes in (sometimes working on
the initial sound itself, sometimes added, like a new sample), nothing
coheres. Yet this is a recording with commercial appeal, where every track
has something to give a dancefloor or advertisement, a hip-hop/techno
amalgam that's an MTV producer's dream. The best tracks? J-Boogie and DJ
Imperial's B-boy batucada fusion, Ming & FS meeting DJ J-Rocc of the Beat
Junkies, Wagon Christ and Rob Swift, and Meat Beat Manifesto solemnly
brooding while the Herbaliser skips merrily nearby. It's not clear who
mixed with who, or even who had the final say, but who cares? [RE]

GIANT SAND "Chore of Enchantment" (Thrill Jockey) CD/LP $12.99/$12.99
Less pop, more drawl with weird sounds milling around in the background.
That's the small departure Giant Sand takes with their new album, but one
step away from previous work. Melody becomes the 5th order of business,
with heavy rhythmic chunks taking over. Howe Gelb's soft roots country, his
skeletons for songs have the descriptive angst of a desert Kafka, dry beats
float next to grit-covered drums, and dusky-voiced angels (Juliana
Hatfield, for one) hover nearby. There's not a lot new here, with Gelb's
Lou Reed downer drawl holding court, but that's sort of the point -- the
gloom is hopelessness following the sadness of losing a dear friend, and
the record is steeped in it. This friend, to whom "Chore of Enchantment" is
dedicated, was fellow Arizonan guitarist and songwriter (and Giant Sand
collaborator/participant going back to 1980) Rainer Ptacek. A terribly sad
record, with a minute's worth of Ptacek's playing providing a coda that
finally breaks your heart to pieces. [RE]
LP  /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999125331&refer_url=email

TOSCA "Suzuki" (G-Stone) CD/2xLP $15.99/$18.99
Here's the second full-length from the Kruder-less Richard Dorfmeister's
downtempo project with Rupert Huber. This one's not as varied as "Opera,"
and doesn't have any particularly standout tracks, but is more of a steady
ride through a trippy, acid-jazzy soundscape. Dub elements, discrete
mini-samples, and a particularly elegant rhythm section of throbbing bass
and crisp, snappy drums blend into an atmosphere that's somewhat familiar,
yet darker and a bit funkier than many other records of this type. A smoky
addition to the jukebox in your chillout room. [AL]
LP  /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=73000370851&refer_url=email

New Domestic Price or Restocks :

ETIENNE CHARRY "36 Erreurs" (Kindercore/Tricatel) CD $12.99
Now out in America. Total ear-candy. Etienne Charry has, cut, paste,
arranged and re-routed entire orchestras and a cartoon-village's
worth of little noises into technicolor cache of utterly gleeful pop.
Underscoring and anchoring are completely fuzzed-out, overmodulating
bass and guitar lines, creating a modern hybrid of french pop and
electronics with the bounce of a lamb. Sounding bright and overlit,
like it was recorded in a TV sound-studio (even has applause in places),
"36 Erreurs" devours popular culture by the gulp-ful, phrasing near to
the Beatles at times, and sung entirely in French. 52 minutes, 36 songs
of unadulterated francophile bliss. [RE]

CHANTAL GOYA "Les Annees 60" (Magic, France) CD $19.99
Goya's most famous turn came in Jean-Luc Godard's 1966 film "Masculin
Feminin", where she portrayed Madeleine, an aspiring pop star. And this
collection includes includes six songs from that film, and covers her six
seven-inch releases between 1964 and 1967, 20 songs in toto. Her best work
is post-1965, where the arrangements start edging towards the baroque, with
flute, the occasional harpsichord, and tight patterns of interlocking crisp
instrumentation, or take turns like 'Si Tu Gagnes au Flipper', a wistful
pop song with pinball/cash register noises. Overall, Goya is lilting and
guileless, an untrained kid sister to Francoise Hardy, she of the
sophisticated undertow of world-weary wisdom. Goya instead seems to face
her own future with blank eyes, yet ones that are at least wide open. [RE]

PATAPHONIE "Le Matin Blanc" (Gazul, France) CD $19.99
One of the great lost bridges between prog-psych, free-jazz and what would
eventually become known as Rock In Opposition, Pataphonie began in 1972
espousing a credo which translates roughly as: "No purpose, no ambition;
except, ultimate luxury, to be unclassified..." This, their only
fully-realized studio effort, was recorded in July 1978 and neatly
summarized four and a half years of touring. Tempered by a shared passion
for contemporary composers like Bartok, Satie, and Ravel, "Le Matin Blanc"
reveals a band at the very height of its powers, possessing the deft wit of
Plastic People Of The Universe, the intricacy of Henry Cow, the ambitious
versatility of Soft Machine and the sheer intensity of Magma. As a bonus,
this reissue adds four staggering live tracks. Highest recommendation. [JG]

This week's production: Robin Edgerton [RE], Jeff Gibson [JG], Andrew Leigh
[AL], Lyndon Roeller [LR], Jeremy Sponder [JS], and Phil Waldorf [PW].

Thanks for reading.
-all of us at Other Music

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New York, NY 10003