Other Music New Release Update
May 31, 2000

In This Week's Update :

Clientele EP
Wilco & Billy Bragg do Woody Guthrie Vol. 2
"Angola in the '70s"
"AfricaFunk" Vol. 2
Keith Tippett Group reissue
Os Mutantes
Noise Ramones (aka Eye and Yoshimi)
Fernando Grillo
Red Crayola reissue
Steev Hise plunderphonics
"Nymphomania" Vol. 3
Slapp Happy do opera

Sigur Ros with reviews of all four full-length CDs

Featured New Releases :

THE CLIENTELE "A Fading Summer EP" (March) CD $8.99
The first CD release from London's The Clientele (after a handful of
vinyl-only singles) is an enchanting four-track EP compiling two previously
released songs and two brand new ones. Although the band is often compared
to artists like Nick Drake and Love, the dreamier songs of Beatles-era John
Lennon may be a more obvious touchstone: on 'Driving South' you may find
yourself inadvertently singing the chorus of 'Dear Prudence.' Influences
aside, the Clientele specialize in timeless-sounding, melancholic British
pop -- their gentle guitar-driven melodies and soft vocals are drenched in
thick layers of reverb. The effect is always pleasing and, at times, even
magical. The only downside is that the songs can start sounding the same as
the band rarely varies the tempo. Although they don't sound much like them,
they're already a huge hit with hardcore fans of Belle & Sebastian. [TC]

BILLY BRAGG & WILCO "Mermaid Avenue Vol. 2" (Elektra) CD $15.99
This second installment of the "Mermaid Avenue" project digs even deeper
into the Woody Guthrie archives (which still contain lyrics to over 2,000
songs never set to music). Edgier than Vol. 1 and less tender, this set is less
an elegiac momento than a show of force. Wilco bash and Bragg swaggers,
which is perfect for Guthrie's forceful songwriting eviscerating the modern
world with a razor tongue and panoramic vision. Songs about sucky jobs,
modern cults, machinery transforming the landscape, and the way a human is
still a human are scattered throughout. Bragg's acidic British accent is heard
less -- more songs here are sung by Wilco, guests Natalie Merchant (ugh)
and bluesman Corey Harris. Wilco's elaborate, rockish arrangements of
worksongs and gospel stoicism are reminiscent of classic work from The
Band, with rolling organs, harmony vocals, full components of both acoustic
and electric guitars. And you never forget that these songs are Guthrie's
children, ghosts set free in the world to make their homes in our ears. [RE]

[V/A] "Angola 70's: 1974-1978" (Buda Musique, France) CD $14.99
Installment three in Buda Musique's series documenting Angola's urban
musical history. Springing from Luanda, Prenda, Benguela, and Lobito, these
artists were at the forefront of a musical revolution, one which was an
amazingly calm, lilting antidote to the political unrest within the country
itself (many artists here were arrested, too). Music for thinking rather
than music for shaking, the soulful vocals and complex polyrhythms here
straddle cultures, incorporating Latin and Brazilian melodies and
percussive elements, even touches of melodic Reggae. It's even more obvious
here that the Angolans were on a track entirely different from the rest of
Africa. While concurrent Nigerian, Senegalese, and Ethiopian musics were
turning to hard funk, Angolan musicians were on an artistic tangent,
extending into sadness and weariness: minor key melodies, spookily layered
echo vocals or call-and-response singing, and incredibly intricate guitar
work. Urbano de Castro's shuddering vibrato is one of the odder voices
you'll ever hear in pop music, and Artur Nunes sings with particular
cadences -- he's an African Jonathan Richman, plain-voiced and plaintive.
These interesting fusions took root in 1974, ending just before most music
across the continent descended into highlife mush. [RE]

[V/A] "AfricaFunk Volume 2: Return To The Original Sound Of 1970's
Funky Africa" (Harmless, UK) CD $23.99

The title notwithstanding, this second volume in the Africa Funk series is
a collection of tracks from '71-'99, by African and non-African artists, in
a variety of funk-based styles. The unifying concept is basically the
cross-pollinating influences of James Brown and Fela Kuti. The latter's
represented by all 15 urgent minutes of 'Roforofo Fight,' and his great
drummer Tony Allen's also here, (the jumpy 'N.E.P.A.,' not found on either
of the recent double-album reissues) as well as his worthiest descendants,
contemporary local faves Antibalas, with their irresistibly catchy
'Uprising.' The Hardest Working Man In Show Business doesn't appear,
but his presence is felt in everything from 'Time Will Tell' by Lafayette
Afro-Rock Band alter-ego Ice to 'I Feel Funky,' an unfortunate bit of
Godfather Lite by Matata. There's a disco track by Manu Dibango, some
gut-bucket fusion by Oneness Of Juju, and two killer rarities (both here in
RealAudio): The Rwenzori's grooving 'Handsome Boy (E Wara),' and the Kongas
hard-hitting, almost blaxploitational 'Anikana-O.' A solid sampler, twelve
tracks in all. [AL]

KEITH TIPPETT GROUP "You Are Here...I Am There" (Vertigo/Disconforme, Andorra) CD $22.99
If it's true what they say about some debut albums bearing the fruit of a
lifetime's labors, oh what a life pianist Keith Tippett must have led by
the ripe old age of 22! This was recorded in 1970 with a horn section
comprised of grizzled veterans Elton Dean (23), Nick Evans (22) and Mark
Charig (25), and abetted by the rhythm section of ambitious
thirtysomethings Jeff Clyne and Alan Jackson. "You Are Here..." fairly
bursts at the seams with innovative arrangements, sly knowing references
and ecstatic energy. A kinetic cornucopia, the album brims with ideas
gleaned from the large ensemble work of Quincy Jones and Oliver Nelson
while simultaneously retaining the intimacy of John Coltrane and Cecil
Taylor's furthest excursions outward. Whether quoting the chorus of 'Hey
Jude,' juxtaposing Liberace-esque runs against jarring skronk, inverting 'A
Taste Of Honey,' or assembling a soundtrack for a film that could exist
only in one's head, this sextet was truly without limits. My head's still
spinning. Highest recommendation! [JG]

MOUNT EVEREST TRIO "Waves From Albert Ayler" (LIM/Unheard Music Series) CD  $13.99
Extraordinary reissue of a rare album from the Swedish improvisation
underground, first released in 1975 on the LIM (Live Improvised Music)
label (with three bonus tracks added, recorded in 1977). Resplendently
posing on the sleeve and looking for all the world like Motorheadskog Jr.,
the Mount Everest Trio were: Gilbert Holmstrom (alto, tenor sax), Kjell
Jansson (bass) & Conny Sjokvist (drums). For whatever reason, Scandinavians
(and Swedes in particular) managed to grasp the elements of free jazz far
better than white folks should have any right to. While their European
counterparts to the south were adept at dissecting improvisational forms
into vast cerebral realms aligned with avant-classical structures, the
Swedes were easily the most receptive toward the matters of the soul
demanded by 'The New Thing.' I believe John Coltrane understood this, as
did Don Cherry, who went on to record extensively with Swedish sidemen.
Add, of course, Albert Ayler, who's incendiary 'Spirits' kicks off the
festivities herein. A bouncy reading of Ornette Coleman's 'Ramblin' follows
and then Holmstrom & Co. proceed to get busy with a searing set of
originals that give Peter Brotzmann and pals the what for. Killer! [JG]

INSIDES "Sweet Tip" (3rd Stone, UK) CD $16.99
Now this is a very nice surprise! Ten years ago, well before it became
fashionable, this male/female duo produced an amazing album and EP of lush
downtempo technopop and pathos-tinged vocals for 4AD Records. This probably
explains why those records and that group promptly disappeared -- until
now. Adopting a "been there -- done that" attitude to the cold, minimal
trip-hop sound they helped create, "Sweet Tip" incorporates a jazz quartet,
and Kristy Yates' vocals here are less affected and very soulful. All the
better to hear her amazing, self-absorbed, neurotic lyrics ("I hide my
winter-white skin in jeans with room I don't have hips for?should I have a
problem with that"). Perfect for listening to _after_ you go out, when you
can't remember what you did. Try to visit more often, will you? [DH]

STEREOLAB "First of the Microbe Hunters" (Elektra) CD $11.99
Here's a weird one. Rumor has it that The Groop went into the studio to
record a bunch of B-sides, and were so pleased with the results that they
decided to keep the tracks together and release them as an album. And these
seven slices of bleepy, bubbly minor-chord cake are forty minutes of
quintessential Stereolab -- almost too quintessential, as there's certainly
no new ground broken here. It's almost as if the band's earlier releases
were fed into a computer which spat this out. But that's okay, because
while there are no real standouts here, the overall effect is light and
summery, the aural equivalent of a popcorn movie. Until the rather ominous
lyrics kick in... [AL]

MUTANTES "Tecnicolor" (Universal, Brazil) CD $14.99
"Tecnicolor", the long-lost Mutantes album recorded in Paris in 1970,
is a welcome addition to the Tropicalia discography, coming across as
a sort of "best of" the Mutantes marketed towards an English-speaking
audience. Sung mostly in English, the tracks here are from the Mutantes'
first three albums, and have a more polished pop-rock sound than the
fuzzed-out psych of the the Brazilian originals. The overall effect of the
"Tecnicolor" is quite different than their sound from the late '60s, as it
goes in a soulful pop direction, with vocal croons that are oddly accented
by the fact they're sung in a non-native language. Sometimes the Mutantes'
attempts at catering to a more commercial audience are pretty -- certain
tracks adapt well to a swingy, easy-listening sound -- or can be even
downright funny, with slick blues licks and cheesy effects. Given all of this,
"Tecnicolor" still captures most of the spirit of the Mutantes early recordings,
and the new versions of songs range from refreshing to downright puzzling.

NOISE RAMONES "Rocket to DNA" (Dual Plover, Australia) CD $16.99
In which the long-lost relatives of Joey, Johnny, Dee-Dee and Marky, "Eye
Ramone" and "P.P. Ramone" -- the ones with the addled minds and outsider's
sense of rhythm -- make their own record. A half-hour of chopped beats and
brain-scrambling, piercing sine-waves, a toddler's-ear-view of punk, if that
toddler was a robot dog. Includes catchier, but incredibly brief 'remixes' by
"DJ Smallcock", that are much more fun and less painful (and seem to be
differently sped-up versions of the first, 22-minute long track). (You guessed
it, this IS Eye and Yoshimi of the Boredoms.) [RE]

FERNANDO GRILLO "Fluvine" (Cramps/Ampersand) CD $14.99
Veering effortlessly from apocalyptic thunder to the whisper of an infant's
breath, the double bass mastery of Fernando Grillo is truly a sonic marvel
to behold! "Originally released as a part of Cramps' much vaunted Diverso
series in 1976, Grillo's 'Fluvine' has long been regarded as an important
and influential audio document by netherworld artists like Nurse With
Wound. Karlheinz Stockhausen dubbed him the Buddha of the contrabass.
Avant-garde heavy hitters Iannis Xenakis, Luciano Berio, Luigi Nono, Klaus
Huber, Henri Posseur and Iancu Dumitrescu have all composed for him.
Recorded solo with a suite of parabolic and contact microphones, the
spectacular and deeply spiritual kinaesthetic bass gesticulations on this
disc elicit sounds that straddle the finest lines between free rhythmic
improvisation and sparkling electroacoustic bliss."-- Ampersand Records.
Presented in deluxe slipcase packaging, featuring original scores and
photos, with notes by Grillo and avant composer Ana Maria Avram. Another
item to be checked off your list, Mr. Stapleton. [JG]

RED CRAYOLA "Malefactor Ade" (Glass/Drag City) CD $13.99
The Great Lost Red Crayola album! (One of several, I suspect...) Recorded
around 1988 in Germany and featuring the group's latter-day core of Mayo
Thompson and Albert Oeheln assisted by Andreas Dorau (current
Bungalow-label disco king!), Rudiger Carl (FMP stalwart), and Werner
Buttner, "Malefactor Ade" was all set for release on Glass Records, copies
pressed and then the label promptly folded. The album was never
distributed, with all but a handful of copies disappearing into the black
hole of bankruptcy litigation. As Thompson had, then, recently produced the
Chills and Primal Scream, this finds him moving away from the didactic
political art-songs that comprised most of his early-'80s output, back
toward the realms of lysergic sonic experimentation and minimalist song
structures that characterized his seminal psychedelic work in the '60s. I
was overjoyed to find a copy in England ten years ago -- now I can finally
wipe that smirk off my face. [JG]

STEEV HISE "Original" (Illegal Art/Cha Bashira, Japan) CD $10.99
In a wobbly, choppy manner, the instigator of "Deconstructing Beck" from a
few years ago turns his ear to the reign/stranglehold popular American (and
sometimes Canadian) culture has had on, well, culture in general for the
past 40 years. Hise's the virtual son of John Oswald and the Tape-Beatles,
as fed through CalArts. Covering 1995-1999, his work relies on not the tape
edit but the altered CD, with layers of familiarity rather than altered
realities. He spins your head with so much recognizability that you're
gasping for mental air after a piece whizzes by. In a way, it's like the
barrage of ads on a landscape--you have a torrent of connotation that's
severed from the songs themselves, just as a billboard doesn't represent
that particular arrangement of words and images but a product. Short, poppy
cuts of familiar songs are interspersed with longer, ambient works that
might just be patchworks of altered guitar solos. Very catchy, even when
it's nearly making you vomit from vertigo induced by speed-switching.
Includes a nice version of the national anthem made from skipping CDs and
decay. If you think you'll want it at all, you'll want to get it now -- no
way is this release going to stick around with all of the copyrights it
treads upon. [RE]

[VA]: NYMPHOMANIA VOL. 3 "More Sexy European Go-Go Music from the 60s" (Sexy Hexy)  CD-R  $11.99
The third installment of this very popular series inspired by the success
of the decadent "Vampyros Lesbos" party that has become an institution of
NYC nightlife. These super-rare tracks spotlight more of the funky Hammond
organ weirdness, French pop, and "strip-hop" that we've all come to know
and love. A non-stop party from beginning to end. [TC]

TAKU SUGIMOTO, KEITH ROWE, & GUNTER MULLER "World Turned Upside Down" (Erstwhile) CD $13.99
An itchy, nervous record of trio improvisations. Two tracks open to reveal
the structures of the instruments, not the skin. Rowe's tabletop guitar
barely resembles such, instead seeming like a sped-up craft project in
process while different objects slide over the strings. Muller's work is
especially delicate here, spazzing out only once or twice, mostly making
impenetrable scrabbling noises (much bowing and scraping of the kit, no
hitting) and 'acting upon' the drums. I don't think he ever picks up an
actual drumstick. Sugimoto's gentle lyrical noodles provide a soft bed of
near-melody to the broad, random range of acoustic timbres emanating from
the other two. The second piece is a little livelier, with strange
vocalizations, tiny opera samples, and sounds like a squadron of purring
mopeds. Clocking in at 57 minutes. [RE]

SLAPP HAPPY "Camera" (Blueprint, UK) CD $21.99
Dagmar Krause, Anthony Moore and Peter Blegvad team up with the Balanescu
Quartet to produce an opera of sorts -- "Camera" is dominated by Krause's
throaty, formal alto, the Quartet's drafty strings, and a 6-piece horn
section. It's a serious production, one which emphasizes frequent shifts of
time signature, crashing electronics like flocks of birds, and a meandering
quality. As it was written for television, I wonder what images they used?


Another large shipment of of Sigur Ros CDs have arrived. But act fast. No
matter how many of these we get, they always sell out quickly. Please note,
the "Svefn G Englar" EP on Fat Cat is temporarily unavailable.

SIGUR ROS "Agaetis Byrjun" (Smekkleysa Sm, Iceland) CD $28.99
Sigur Ros' sound is a calculated work of beauty. Combining swirling guitar
washes, melancholy falsetto vocals and gorgeous sonic orchestration, this
Icelandic outfit's new album exceeds all the expectation. The band's sound
evokes the ethereal air of Cocteau Twins, the slow and winding song
structures of Low, and an at-times Eno-esque ambiance. Their cinematic
instrumental interludes blend seamlessly with haunting vocal swoops,
converging emotion with an instrumental lyricism that speaks nearly as loud
as the vocal sections. Sigur Ros also use the sheer length of "Agaetis
Byrjun" to wander in and out of moods, keeping a steady pace throughout.
By the time the 70 minute mark hits, you realize that not a boring note has
been struck. "Agaetis Byrjun" is a near perfect journey into Sigur Ros'
cascading cinematic pop sound. [PW]

SIGUR ROS "Von" (Smekkleysa Sm, Iceland) CD $22.99
The first album from Icelandic natives Sigur Ros. Even though it was
recorded while they were a trio, "Von" fans the flame of ever-increasing
interest in the dynamic orchestral sound made popular by Godspeed You Black
Emperor and Mogwai. Their sparse soundscapes, soaked in My Bloody Valentine
reverb, ignite images of the land of fire and ice, seem directly inspired
by the environmental extremes of their homeland. The beginning ambient
notes float eerily like glacial drift slowly falling apart, accented by
warped seagull cries. It's not until the second song that the high male
vocals gently fade in to subtly carry the melody. By the third song, 'Hun
Jord,' the traditional instruments carry the mark of mid-eighties
experimental pop bands with pounding drums, distorted guitars, and the best
part: an unexpected loop, creating the effects of skipping CDs and
pitch-shifted vinyl. More quiet experimentalism characterizes this album
than their later work, making "Von" a primeval journey into a
groundbreaking future. [LG]

(Krunk, Iceland) CD $28.99
Here, Sigur Ros add simple guitar melodies to soundtrack composer
Hilmarsson's Icelandic Michael Nyman stylings and string patterns. The
sweet strings and guitar can be extremely beautiful for the sake of beauty;
they can also be obvious and/or overwhelming, like adding makeup to Uma
Thurman. Akin to the work of Bjorn Olsson, it's actually best when the
beauty drops out for a minute and they start playing with tiny dissonances
in the string sounds. On the most interesting track, the violin dissonance
imitates the sound of jet engines firing or accelerating, shifted into
melodies. Add a little free-jazz drum rumbling discord -- the storm before
the calm -- and it becomes sinister, murderous. Even though there are lots
of repeating themes, the entire album takes a path like the plot of a play:
it's a series of conflicts and resolutions. All liner notes in Icelandic,
darn. But gorgeous packaging nonetheless. [RE]

SIGUR ROS "Von Brigoi/Recycle Bin" (Smekkleysa Sm, Iceland) CD $22.99
Their album "Von," remixed. What is emphasized? Jingling keyboards, faint
vocals, revving hums. "Recycle Bin" makes "Von"'s placid qualities diverse,
often adding drum-n-bass rhythms and videogame noises, emphasizing a
bone-shaking guitar rattle, or rolling a track out into a long, low
ambience. The best tracks: Bassbraeour's layering of eerie choirs and
vocalists into a grinding guitar edge, and Sigur Ros remixing themselves
with beats, saxophone solos, and ululating vocals in a way that's techno
meets technopop. The majority of the artists here are Icelandic and/or
unknown (though a few familiar names crop up: Mum, Curver, Gus Gus).
Basically, this puts edges and styles into music that already has a
contemplative depth, in some ways tarting it up superficially, in others
revealing structures you didn't know were there. Calls to mind We or
Photek, too, here and there. [RE]

This week's newsletter written by Tom Capodanno [TC], Robin Edgerton [RE],
Lisa Garrett [LG], Jeff Gibson [JG], Duane Harriott [DH], Phil Waldorf [PW].

Thanks for reading.
-all of us at Other Music

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