Other Music New Release Update
November 15, 2000

In this week's update:

Human League Tribute comp.
Sylvester Boy
Ennio Morricone's "Gli Occhi Freddi Della Paura" soundtrack
Tomas Jirku
Gentle Waves full-length
Neurokinetic comp.
Harry the Bastard
Shanti Project 2 comp.
Cashier Escape Route comp.
Peter Cusack and Max Eastley
Stephen P. McGreevy
Japanese Velvet Underground Tribute comp.
Laura Cantrell


[V/A] "Reproductions" (March) CD $13.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/BaxenHL.rm
A tribute to the Human League, possibly the biggest, and
definitely the first band in new wave to really crack US radio
(unless M counts, then he's first). Influential on indie-poppers
while they were still caring whether your butt said Jordache or
Sergio Valente, the Human League's music went well beyond
'Don't You Want Me', 'Mirror Man' and 'Keep Feeling
Fascination', from early rocking industrialisms to flighty huge
pop. This tribute doesn't cover their whole career -- it stops at
1986 -- but it hits the high points. Stephin Merritt takes over
with not only a solo instrumental but also tracks from Future
Bible Heroes (Merritt and Claudia Gonson in a cute but
predictable gender switch on 'Don't You Want Me' -- Merritt's
the waitress, Gonson the svengali), and the 6ths with Lloyd
Cole. Their interpretations are pretty faithful, but not all the
artists here follow that path. Optiganally Yours turn out a
pounding new wave marching anthem (RA above), Baxendale
make 'Fascination' over into warm acoustic folk mixed with zips
of disco. Some of the artists here reduce their own images so
much they become the machine (Lali Puna, Hidden Variable),
while others (Barcelona, Stars) have the opportunity to create
music much grander than usual. I applaud, and encourage their
leap from making modest pop to stretching for the monumental
(which Human League had in spades). Also appearing:
Aluminum Group, Momus, Ladytron, hollAnd, Clicks (Dave
Trumfio and Sally Timms), more. [RE]

SYLVESTER BOY "Monsters Rule This World!"
(Chicks On Speed, Germany) CD/LP $15.99/$10.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/bastardo.rm
Sylvester Boy is the first non-Chicks On Speed release on that
band's own label. And, proving once again their CoS's taste is
very good (think about their cover song choices) -- "Monsters?"
surpasses much of the CoS material. Channeling a slapdash
punky new-wave style of 20 years ago, Sylvester Boy (Thomas
Sehl) constructs ragged music that still has room for electrogloss.
Not forsaking his German heritage, he embraces the robotic
dominance found in both Gary Numan and mid-period Bowie (or
Kraftwerk, or the Thompson Twins, or ...). His pretty dumb but
perfect lyrics recall a more politicized Hall and Oates (their
"H2O" album in particular). Every track is great, even if they're
all almost the same song. A diamond in the rough. If you like
new wave at all, this is pretty essential--Sehl is probably the
best 'revival' practitioner in that genre yet. [RE]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=71875299031&refer_url=email

ENNIO MORRICONE "Gli Occhi Freddi Della Paura" (Dagored, Italy) CD $14.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/NuovaCon.rm
The music to this 1970 film ("The Cold Eyes of Fear"), is not
mere background music. The music and the way it's arranged --
harsh, ephemeral -- would be difficult to integrate and not have
the sound dominate the motion, in this case, of a slasher/
suspense flick. The only soundtrack Morricone ever recorded
with his Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, it's a
rare piece that has been reissued before, but this one includes
seven entire tracks of previously unreleased material. The
whole sound is like trying to wear something down by
throwing metal shards at it: It's got chaotic movement, yet is
not chaos itself. Morricone, on trumpet, leads a flawed call and
response (with himself) that's as if he's trying to communicate
through a brick wall; there's a jazz rhythm section that goes
from scattered to driving; a prepared piano echoes, tingly, next
to the jarring vibrations of an out-of-tune violin. It's brilliant, but
dead -- blank stares of the underworld, rattlesnake rhythms and
a lion's yawn. By the end, you're positively eroded, abraded into
accepting an entirely new set of tonal values as 'normal'. [RE]

TOMAS JIRKU "Sequins" (Force Inc., Germany) CD $15.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/track11.rm
Jirku eschews the familiar (the only sounds you'll recognize
are one richocheting guitar bit and a vocal snippet) on his
second CD for a set of dense, decisive, oblique gestures. His
work centers on that hypermodern concept, the fragment.
Assembling fragments seems to be the only un-tapped-out
method left for modern art, and Jirku's thwips and strains
and fizzles arepronouncements for a cut -- there's barely an
edit made without its requisite 'thwap'. Jirku's music has
beats, certainly, and they're jumpy and catchy, with the
complex lightness and flexibility of carbon fiber rather than
steel's clanky stiffness, with the sequential familiarity of
throwing plastic dice over the surface of a boardgame.
Definitely one to watch, and on an aesthetic par with
Brinkmann, Delay, etc. -- I think I even like this even more
than those artists' recent work. [RE]

THE GENTLE WAVES "Swansong for You" (Jeepster, UK) CD $13.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/LorretaY.rm
Last week reviewed their EP -- contrary to the usual
circumstances, Gentle Waves, the project of Isobel ('Bel')
from Belle and Sebastian left her more unusual songs there, in
order to make her full-length record a uniform song-cycle. So
soft and faint, she's Vashti Bunyan as produced by Van Dyke
Parks. She, like other members of B&S have been known to do,
resorts to storytelling in places as an accent, plus she adds
faint notes of Western guitar, samba, harps, bells, cymbal
shimmer. Her breathy voice hits one extreme of '60s girl pop
sound, yet it's so mellow a version of yeh-yeh it's nearly re-
christenable as ahh-ahh music: like a depressed Nancy Sinatra.
Bel's vocals meanderingly whoosh by, an empty tube that
wrapped around the solid B&S piano patterns and brushy
drums. A down album, it's like a '60s movie where a couple
walk around a lot and then split up at the end, leaving the
girl sighing through a train window. [RE]

[V/A] "Neurokinetic" (Toytronic, UK) CD/LP $13.99/$13.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/Fizzarum.rm
The first CD from Toytronic, whose releases, all on vinyl in a
variety of sizes, have come very well-received around here.
Toytronic searches the electronic underground around the world,
coming up with a few knowns (Arovane, Funckarma), and many,
many more unknowns (gimmik? Dude? Quench? Proem?
Digitonal?) for 16 tracks. Comparable to early '90s Warp
Records-style electronics (think Black Dog, Polygon Window), or
like Schematic Records' aesthetic, minus the hip-hop. Rattling
straw, tender synth notes, thuds like your heartbeat gone awry,
a balloon rubbed against a squeaky hinge: drum'n'bass meets
ambient music in tracks that pull this way and that. Mr. Projectile
gives up striated electro ever so loosely reminiscent of the
patterns of a pan orchestra; Multiplex's track has the urgency
of technopop without any actual pop. Though there's a lot
going on here, there's an overall leveling, flattening of sound that
makes this a highly-developed version of those cheap-ass
Chinese music toys you can buy on the street around here.
Four extra tracks on the LP. [RE]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999142681&refer_url=email

HARRY THE BASTARD "Vol. 2 Presents Club H" (Statra) CD/2XLP $15.99/$17.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/Spacetim.rm
Harry the Bastard, dance buyer for Watts music (the main
distributor of the majority of dance music in the U.S.) and
tastemaker returns with a second volume of deep house.
This time the servings are a bit lighter in nature and more Latin-
flavored, but he retains the soulful melancholy that made the
last Club H collection indispensable, yet it also doesn't snowball
the same way. A lot of these tracks are extremely difficult to
find on wax, much less CD, like Kings of Tomorrow's lovely
'Fade to Black', plus his mixing is superb, like the Herbert remix
of Spacetime Continuum merging into Korben Dallas. If you
love Deep Dish or the "Lazy Dog" compilation that Ben Watt
just put together, check this one out. [DH]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=68512320081&refer_url=email

[V/A] "Shanti Project Collection 2" (Badman) CD $12.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/KrisHers.rm
A collection of sonambulating country-ish indie-rock singers,
put together as a benefit for Shanti, an organization which
helps PWAs and persons who are HIV+. Don't listen to this
when you're driving, the thread which holds the collection
together is super-slowness and a soft drawl. Spikes amidst this
are Kristin Hersh's angry folk (a great acoustic version of
Throwing Muses' weird 'Garoux des Larmes', which PJ Harvey
would trade in her sunglasses to have written), and Paula
Frazer's Phil Ochs imitation (her duet with Mark Eitzel goes
back to country languidness, though). Other sleepyheads
playing delicate guitar patterns and drones so light they would
disappear in a puff of breath: Rebecca Gates, Julie Doiron,
Low's Mimi Parker, and, to a lesser extent, Hole's (or is that
Smashing Pumpkins'?) Melissa Auf der Maur (under the name
'MadM"). Most tracks haven't appeared before on CD, the few
that haven't are from singles or other compilations. [RE]

[V/A] "Cashier Escape Route" (City Centre Offices, Germany) CD/LP $14.99/$14.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/CERarov.rm
Yep, electronic concept comp., this time with the onus of making
modern music for the supermarket. Though I think most artists,
in perversity, made music that might lull one into submission
instead. A lot of clicky placidity, level after molding level of
pointillistic dits that make perfect beds for subliminals -- the
music's so dense you'd never find them. In City Centre Office's
theoretical grocery, the energy is subdued -- cashiers tap keys,
refrigerators hum, ice crystals form, shrinkwrap crinkles,
produce sprinklers spray, all in a universe of unified rhythmic
harmony. (But the fruit and meat are quiet.) Seventeen tracks
by isan, Styrofoam, Goodiepal, to rococo rot + D, others, and
you'll find a little upbeat electro here and there. Tracks by
Bauri and Metamatics are exclusive to the LP. [RE]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999143021&refer_url=email

PETER CUSACK & MAX EASTLEY "Day for Night" (Paradigm, UK) CD $16.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/EastleyC.rm
Take Cusack's fieldwork in urban and suburban settings,
recordings that often include the voices of this children, add
Eastley's unmatched sense of the ways materials, sound and
space interact. Eastley's kinetic sound sculptures are just about
the most integral to the medium I've ever seen -- he never
forces ideas beyond what's right in front of your eyes and ears.
These sculptures, mostly of wood, water, metal or paper, form
the base. Cusack's recordings of forest wildlife or boomboxes
on the street connect confusedly into the 'real' sound-world,
layered in specifically incongruous ways: like the piece (above)
for fire, birds, and something between dog barks and sheep
bleats, which is no doubt in actuality the echoes from one of
Eastley's metallic constructions. [RE]

STEPHEN P. MCGREEVY "Auroral Chorus II: Music of the Magnetosphere" (Auroral Chorus) CD $13.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/mcgrevy2.rm
Natural radio is electromagnetic (radio) signals emanating from
lightning storms, aurora borealis, and the earth's magnetic field.
McGreevy drives up to the Canadian tundra in the summer, sets
up his equipment and listens to electrons pinging their way
between the earth's poles. The ELF and VLF radio spectrum he
records is of the lowest frequencies, and his receiver converts
them into listening range (a little like what Dr. Fiorella Terenzi
did with cosmic spectra, only McGreevy doesn't add synths to his).
McGreevy's first CD, "Electric Enigma" on Irdial, is sadly out of print.
This is the only way to hear these fascinating sounds, tiny swoops,
whistles, winds, uneven static chops (the radio trace of lightning!),
crackling tinfoil. If you miniaturized an ensemble consisting of
someone connecting and disconnecting a cranked amplifier,
someone with a slide whistle, two people blowing over the top of
a microphone, and two people with bullroarers, you'd be close.
It can also sound simply like a chorus of insects during a
particularly sticky rainstorm, or ghostly chatter on a dusty LP. [RE]

[V/A] "VU Tribute/Rabid Chords 2" (Rabid Chords, Japan) CD $39.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/honyskoo.rm
A Velvets tribute (how many are there, anyway?) from Japan.
Imagine 'Stephanie Says' sung by a breathy Japanese woman
-- that's a no-brainer, sung here by Nakako. The Japanese bands
(Zoobombs, Tagomago, many others I haven't heard of) are
more true but less creative than their American counterparts,
like Ladybug Transistor's country-style 'I Found a Reason', John
McEntire's chaotic, Yoshihide-esque 'Guess I'm Falling in Love',
or the Music Tapes 'All Tomorrows Parties', which rides through
a sea chantey and the land of Charles Ives. Reversals -- Jim
O'Rourke just adds twinkle sounds to his 'Venus in Furs', though
his vocals are a little more Freddie Mercury pronouncement
than Lou Reed junkie slump (admittedly, he turns the last few
minutes into a LaMonte Young-ish minimalist blur). On the other
side of the lake, Japanese group Ahh! Folly Jet weigh in with a
nice, psychedelic/free jazz 'Ferryboat Bill'. The CD set seesaws
on pop and noise, while rock takes a respite elsewhere, and
between the songs are a number of telephonic reminiscences
by Warhol assistant/NYC Official Parks photographer/VU dancer
Gerard Malanga. [RE]

LAURA CANTRELL "Not the Tremblin' Kind" (Diesel Only) CD $13.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/Cantrel2.rm
Cantrell's a songstress whose sweet, thin voice plays it straight,
heartbreaking on the slow songs, contrary on the rave-ups. Her
music's in the Gram Parsons mold, balmy harmonies and superb
arrangements; her song selection is pure, unfiltered country.
Which is, traditionally, mostly covers, and Cantrell's got the
secret rooms and forgotten corners of the repertoire all in her
head, digging up songs written by members of '80s/'90s indie-
country outfits Beat Rodeo, the Volebeats or Go to Blazes,
turning them into timeless classics. In her hands, the title
song (RA above) becomes a statement of fact rather than of
protest, and it's been in my head for weeks. [RE]

This week's newsletter: Robin Edgerton [RE], Duane Harriott [DH].

Thanks for reading.
-all of us at Other Music