Other Music New Release Update
November 8, 2000

In This Week's Update:

the Monks, live at Cavestomp!
Gentle Waves EP
Fatboy Slim
Pepe Deluxe
Ladytron EP
General Magic
3 Trikont comps: American WarSongs, Novelty Songs, and Pre-War Gospel
Finley Quaye
The Blues Train reissue
the I live the life of a movie star secret hideout EP
Across the Cell Wall comp.

Chicks on Speed domestic re-worked album

New this week:

MICROSTORIA "Model 3, Step 2" (Thrill Jockey) CD/LP $13.99/$13.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/kontra.rm
Markus Popp and Jan St. Werner present possibly their most difficult
album yet. While it starts in dreamland, immersed in ultra-placid,
Charlemagne Palestine-ish drones and gorgeous faint harmonies,
as it rises to sharp points and weirdly resonating windchime sounds,
the stage set presented is abandoned for the chaos and impromptu
problem-solving in the wings. They use a combination of sounds: of
moving a music box really fast while damping it's metal tongues, a guitar
tuning up, scraping guitar strings, clouds of finely-constructed static, a
creaking swingset. It's abstract, dense music bereft of beats, but
reflective of the beautiful inconsistency located throughout the whole
world of sound rather than just the world of 'music'. Structurally, "Model
3, Step 2" has more in common with modern musical improvisation,
even though Popp and Werner plan every step they take. It's hard even
to say how it differs from their other work, as it exists in its own universe,
its own category. [RE]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999142351&refer_url=email

THE MONKS "Let's Start a Beat! Live from Cavestomp!" (Varese Sarabande) CD $15.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/Livmonk2.rm
Boy, am I ever a dumbass. There's not a lot that will elicit that
self-evaluation, but missing the Monks' two reunion gigs last year at the
Cavestomp! fest will. But lucky me! In this modern era everything is
documented (even if on media with a questionable lifespan), and the Monks'
concert is no exception! This is no half-assed reunion concert. Everything
they had, or did, is here, in splendid working order and huge sound. The
Monks, all five of them, hit the stage, hair once again shaved into
tonsures (though some now are missing that front section), dour black
suits, ropes knotted around their necks. How do I know this? Not only does
this CD include the sound recordings, but three stompers are included on
CD-Rom video. And do they pound away: chanting in unison en masse, call
and response into the void, sound twisting into distortion. The only thing
missing is cigarette smoke lingering on my clothes, the inevitable tinnitus
the next day. 16 tracks, no hangover. [RE]

GENTLE WAVES "Falling From Grace" (Jeepster, UK) CD EP $9.99
Four new songs, only one of which is from their new album "Swansong
For You" (which we just got today: review next week). Gentle Waves is
the project of Isobel from Belle and Sebastian (she calls herself 'Bel' here)
with a great deal of help from three or four of her B&S bandmates. This EP
is four solid songs, not a throwaway in the bunch. It starts with baroque
beat-pop with harpsichord, thrumming strings, moves to a complete Nick
Drake knock-off folksong, right down to his cadences and chord
progressions (it's the kind of song you can layer 'Pink Moon' on in your
mind and it fits perfectly). The third is some neat pop of light chaos and
finger-snaps, and the EP climaxes with a wonderful song in the manner of
the Art Ensemble of Chicago's softest, mildest work, with Bel doing a
windy Jeanne Lee-style vocal over the top, all air and no throat, set to
flutes, maracas, and woodblock percussion. [RE]

FATBOY SLIM "Between the Gutter and the Stars" (Astralwerks) CD $17.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/FatboyS2.rm
How did I come to be a Fatboy fan? When I first heard Norman Cook's
Fatboy Slim project, I listened to a little, got disgusted, flipped the CD off
and sold it, immediately. Lowest common denominator bullshit, I thought.
He's just pandering to the masses, pushing their buttons. FS's first few
CDs offered up '70s rock riffs that everyone knew as hooks, set in
old-school dancefloor and hip-hop beats, a palatable mess that relied on
the connotations of the music he used as much as working a crowd on his
own. But that skill has held him in good stead, and he's worked into it,
deeper. His songs, for big dance anthems, are more complex and rely on
sophisticated manipulations for effect -- like breaking a song down in the
middle, making the crowd want the hook more and more until he finally
gives it up. Like changing the treble or bass levels while working it --
keeping the beat, but changing its texture. The last track on "Between" is
like a scale model of one of his live sets, he slowly shapes a groove,
charges in with the beats, falls back to a slower groove, and hits samples as
memory hooks at the end. And on this new album, Cook uses more obscure
samples of sermons, spoken word interludes, finding breaks where no one
else does. In doing this, he impresses upon these lost songs a level of
recognition he used to suck off of the popular songs he sampled.
Interestingly enough, Cook gives the groups/artists he samples
co-publishing credits. I don't know if this is now common practice, but I
certainly hadn't seen it yet. Along with the Doors, Bill Withers, Wet
Willie, and Rev. W. Leo Daniels, Bootsy, Macy, trombonist Ashley Slater,
and Roger Sanchez make real guest appearances. Is Fatboy Slim still
ridiculously funky and catchy? Why, yes. Will you get his songs stuck in
your head? Yes, again. But will you hate that they're there? I doubt it. [RE]

PEPE DELUXE "Super Sound" (Emperor Norton) CD $13.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/pepeDel2.rm
Pepe Deluxe's debut album rests somewhere between the funky bombast
of Fatboy Slim (see above) and the sleazy slink of Thievery Corporation
(only with teeth), between DJ Shadow and Tipsy. They know how to fake
the monumental so much it nearly becomes real: the whole CD is a buildup of
pressure, minus the release. Once they realized they didn't have any soul
of their own, they grabbed big chunks of the blues in moans and guitar
riffs to fill in those holes, a little like Moby's recent hits, only edgier.
Hip-hop beats (lots of turntablistic scratching), exotica, and disco are
harnessed, and they ride away: this is not a record for the intellect, they
leave nothing behind to chew on once the disc is over. They even sample
'Love Hangover' nearly entirely, only not hitting the vocals. This all sounds
like I'm complaining about it, but I'm not. If you like Fatboy Slim or other
jumpy popular dancefloor fodder, you'll like this. I'll shut up and dance. [RE]

AFU-RA "Body of the Life Force" (Koch) CD $16.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/Whirlwin.rm
The debut album by this Gang Starr Foundation member is a solid
collection of meat-and-potatoes East Coast hardcore hip-hop, featuring
great production from DJ Premier and guest MCs Masta Killa, M.O.P, and
the Genius (from Wu-Tang). Lyrically, Afu-Ra speaks on a spiritual black
nationalist tip, with no misogynist gangster posturing; yet this record
maintains a dark edge--not an easy feat. It's been out for nearly a
month, yet has been criminally slept on! If you're a fan of Gang Starr,
Jeru tha Damaja and DITC, definitely check this out. [DH]

LADYTRON "Mu-Tron EP" (Invicta Hi-Fi, UK) CD EP $9.99
Invicta Hi-Fi contributes to the repackaging and repackaging of Ladytron
for each market (a band that has different, overlapping releases from
Japan, Europe, the UK, and the US!). This one includes two songs that
originally showed up on the now OOP "Miss Black and her Friends"
release from Bambini in Japan, a new, clobbering instrumental (very
club-worthy) and a starkly different remix of 'Playgirl', worth it for this
alone, rendering it acoustic, pensive, Brit-pop-ish and instrumental.
Their sweet, melancholy melody holds up so well that it reveals how
their songs really shine through any treatment. 14 minutes, yum. [RE]

GENERAL MAGIC "Rechenkonig" (Mego, Austria) CD $16.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/Gmagic2.rm
Andreas Pieper and Ramon Bauer return, those smoothly chaotic
headscratchers, for their second album in four years. They've always had
more melody than most other Mego acts (okay, Dr. Nachtstrom and G.
Potuznik notwithstanding). The sound of all the bubbles in your Coke
jumping and colliding, embedded in hard techno rhythmic structure.
Blurting beats like garbage cans tipping over, abstracted, but palpably
goofy, and most of all, impetuous. How do you disco to beats laid down
by a very focused toddler? 26 tracks which blend together, one hour. [RE]

[V/A] "Halleluja 1926-1946: Gospels & Prayers" (Trikont, Germany) CD $13.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/GoldGate.rm
Good gospel compilations are not hard to find. But great ones are harder,
and "Halleluja", compiled across the ocean at Trikont, ranks in my top five
at least. Best of all, there are a goodly number of tracks here that take
hard advantage of the rhythms of breath (including a subset of 'gospel
train' songs, with singers who mimic the chugs of a steam engine). It's not
a collection of obscurities, even as there are a few musicians here I've
never heard of (the excellent Golden Eagle Singers and Elder Charles Beck),
and contains the biggies: Thomas A. Dorsey's nearly hopeless croon,
Roberta Martin's deep androgyny, Sister Rosetta's playful guitar, even a
Bessie Smith track that sounds like it was left out of "Porgy and Bess", and
the best Golden Gate Quartet song ever (RA above). Phenomenal vocal
performances, incendiary lyrics, traces of the negro spiritual, the raw and
the polished: all songs given to the congregation, lost sinners, and up to
god. If you don't own any pre-World War II gospel comps, this is an
excellent starting point. If you do, I recommend it anyway. It's swell. [RE]

[V/A] "American WarSongs 1933-1947: Hitler & Hell" (Trikont, Germany) CD $13.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/TexGrand.rm
As WWII dominated American culture well beyond the four years of actual
participation, inevitably there was an impact on music as well. As radio
was the most immediate medium to reach the masses, America's
propaganda machine used it as a vital tool to drum up support. War
usually brings out the deadly serious side of art, and that is the basis for
sentimentality, whether light- or heavy-hearted, which colors the tracks
here, even the silliest ones. Gospel, big band jazz, popular, country and
western, even blues musicians contributed to the war effort. Sure, there
are musicians you might expect here: Andrews Sisters, Nat King Cole (a
marvelous tune called 'D-Day'), Benny Goodman, Mildred Bailey. The song
'Mr. Hitler', just by virtue of it being sung by Leadbelly makes an
inescapable comparison between Jim Crow laws and what Americans knew
at the time about the treatment of Jews in Germany. The Golden Gate
Quartet's version of 'Stalin Wasn't Stalling' merges metaphors of politics
and religion. 31 songs, 77 minutes. [RE]

[V/A] "Novelty Songs 1914-1946: Crazy & Obscure" (Trikont, Germany) CD $13.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/JonesBoy.rm
One of six new compilations of American, pre-war music selected by the
German researchers at Trikont. There are a few cues as to what makes
a novelty song during this period: Make fun of an ethnic group -- political
incorrectness abounds, with songs satirizing Eskimo, Hawaiian, Chines,
Russian, and Latin cultures. Sing nonsense, really fast. Write a silly
story, sing it as a ballad. Or, oddest of all, include laughter in the song
itself! Early in recorded history, the sound of laughter played back
through a gramophone was so novel that it would provoke, infect the
listeners with glee, causing a chain reaction of the giggles. There was a
whole subgenre of 'laughing records', one of which is included here, but
that effect was used for the following thirty years in a lot of novelty
songs. It's a trick, but one that worked until used with killing abandon on
television, which wrecked the effect for everyone. Also included on this
disc--music from films, with Laurel and Hardy, Groucho Marx, Billy 'Popeye'
Costello, Spike Jones, Danny Kaye. A few blues singers lampoon
themselves, and there are two tracks of instrumental goof: the
harmonica as a stuttering train, bedsprings played like a harp. The songs
selected for this collection are so vivid, you can nearly see them being
performed as you hear them. [RE]

FINLEY QUAYE "Vanguard" (Epic, UK) CD $25.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/FQuaye2.rm
Australian singer Finley Quaye's second album. Many elements of his debut
are retained in one form or another, though his thoughts then are more
fully-realized in execution now. Precious love songs of loss, loneliness,
and broken hearts sit comfortably next to poetic verses on the virtues of
conscientious living. Though antipodean, the album is Rasta, both lyrically
and musically. Pop songs, trip-hop, warm bubbly sonic ska, and sparse
rhythmic mantras, all in a thick Australian accent. Recommended. [GA]

THE BLUES TRAIN "s/t" (Gear Fab) CD $13.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/coasttoc.rm
Why do I always reach for the Rolling Stones before Muddy Waters? Why
is it that Mike Blomfield floors me, while Buddy Guy just bores me? And why
has this reissue by The Blues Train already gotten more spins than that
Junior Wells record I picked up a few years back? But wait, it gets more
embarrassing. The Blues Train were from Canada -- perhaps the least
blues-y nation on planet earth. Yikes! This disc is shrouded in mystery, but
it's believed that one Johnny Kitchen -- a Kanuck Al Kooper, as it were --
had a hand in its creation. Recorded in 1970, "The Blues Train" sounds like a
less accomplished, but no less inspired conjuring of prime-era Blues
Project and Butterfield Blues Band; The Stones' "Between the Buttons" LP is
another obvious influence.  Marked by some pretty stunning guitar-piano
interplay, and Johnny's (Johnny, is that you?) growling blues-eyed soul,
'The Blues Train' transcends its tin-can sound, and makes me wonder all the
more what the big hoo-ha is about Otis Rush. [MH]

"Autumn Girl Archers Horsemen Bring Arrows" (March) CD $12.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/LTLMSSH2.rm
Who knew the Beat Happening/Cannanes model for pop music could be
revived so successfully? It's as if the years between 1992 and now never
happened. For T.L.T.H.L.O.A.M.S.S.H., that is. (I'm going to refer to this
trio as 'Hideout', hereon.) Great songs, tiny strums on cardboard guitars
and drums, tambourine, glockenspiel, vocals sung by everybody, one
at a time. No attention span to speak of, it's impossible for them to make
a song over three minutes: all 11 songs here fit in 23 minutes. Words
missing from Hideouts' vocabulary: 'grand', 'complex', 'soulful'. Their
words to live by: 'awkward', 'sensible', 'wry', 'vulnerable'. A nugget
of sticky candy rolled in lint. [RE]

DHK "Extended Play" (Invicta Hi-Fi, UK) CD EP $9.99
A three-song EP from 'Dolf', 'Hans' and 'Karl', actually a British duo.
Following the release of lots of cassettes (!), Invicta picked the best for
this. They combine spy music cliches, riffs from the Jam, a 'Partridge
Family' view of pop, '70s newscast 'breaking news' incidental music, and
big dancefloor beats. Cute, goofy, huge. I just found this on the web:
http://www.bluejam20.freeserve.co.uk/dhk.htm. MP3s! [RE]

[V/A] "Across The Cell Wall" (Kodama) CD $13.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/btester.rm
A concept compilation, in which electronic musicians in the modern IDM mode
(Jake Mandell, Kid 606, Arovane, Unit, Twerk, Kevin Blechdom, more) were
asked to create tracks around a particular biological action: the way
molecules move through the walls of a cell. Most of the tracks here pulse
with full, complex beds, teeming with activity like bacteria viewed through
a microscope, wiggly, inconsistent; shards of noise pushed briefly past.
Mannequin Lung do this explicitly, holding a set of midrange noises steady
as ascending and descending noises spear across. Stewart Walker and
Richard Devine have rigid beats,  they cast the concept into their own mold
rather than molding their music to fit the concept. And I think my favorite is
Brian Tester's super short, thwappy electro rendering. Nothing swells or
fades here. Rather than fantastic journeys with a conscious start or
finish, the artists opt instead for tiny perpetual energy devices. [RE]

Restock, domestic:

CHICKS ON SPEED "Re-Releases of the Un-Releases" (K) CD $13.99
RealAudio /ramgen/othermusic/COStUR.rm
The first 'version' of this album was "Chicks On Speed Will Save Us All".
This is that, or sections of that, remixed by Gerhard Potuznik and Ramon
Bauer. The Chicks, a German/American/Australian trio based in Munich
made a collection of some singles, some live bits, interview sections, and
miscellaneous detritus into their first full-length record for America. 33
tracks of Casio weirdness, textural complexity (lots of waves of machinery
and static), vocals as delivered through airport loudspeakers, splattered
drums and guitars. Their love of forceful '80s chick bands is well in
evidence (B-52s, Delta 5, Grace Jones, Malaria), and they have a bit of the
DHR aesthetic, though the artillery is toned down to a conversational
level. This band is all about surface, but it's a shredded, grated one,
scraped by creaks, chains and spikes, presided over by a wry, blase sneer,
tongues forked into both German and English. Techno, pop, art, fashion, in
a rustic form only possible through high technology. About half the tracks
from "Will Save Us All" were removed and replaced with new material --
but I think it was a lot of the filler they took out, replacing it with a higher
percentage of actual songs! [RE]

MOTOR "Hexen" (Audio NL, Netherlands) CD $16.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/Motor3.rm
This Russian basement alchemist comes out of nowhere (okay, Russia) to
bring to you one of the funkiest minimal techno albums yet made. All the
elements of good techno are here: squishy simple rhythm basslines,
wall-scraping analog noise, euphoric build-ups and breakdowns. There are
at least two changes of the beat on each track, two to three breakdowns
and builds; on a few songs the bassline changes halfway through, for which
you're totally unprepared. He creates grooves that are so infectious and
engaging that you can't help moving. Maybe the following will help: every
time we've played this in the store, people can't stand still. Even the
surliest 'Out' music shoppers' butts start gyrating! What's the difference
between this and, say, Brinkmann? It's the difference between jumping up
and getting down. [DH]

This week's newsletter springs from: Geoff Albores [GA], Robin Edgerton
[RE], Matt Hanks [MH], and Duane Harriott [DH].

Thanks for reading.
-all of us at Other Music

15 E. 4th Street
New York, NY 10003