Other Music New Release Update
September 20, 2000

In This Week's Update:

Xenakis' "Persepolis" reissue
Tom Ze 1st album reissue
The 6ths
Ethiopiques vol. 8 comp.
Broadcast EP
Ambarchi, Fennesz, Pimmon, Rehberg & Rowe collaboration
Maurice McIntyre "Humility" reissue
Cindy Sherman/Glove Compartment book/CD
Michel Houllebecq
Hey Mercedes EP (3/4 of Braid)
Luomo (Vladislav Delay's house project)
Sarah Cracknell EP
Fucking Champs
Jim & Jennie and the Pinetops

Phoenix (now domestic)
Automatic Dlamini (John Parish with PJ Harvey)

Featured New Releases:

BJORK "Selmasongs" (Elektra) CD $14.99
The music from, though not the soundtrack to "Dancer in The Dark", itself a
musical. The distracted, nearly demented songs conceptually start on the
Broadway stage, then veer off instrumentally as thwappy beats and
electronics are invited in along with the orchestra. Bjork calls on her "Gling-
Glo" past for these songs, the kind that demand one singer in a spotlight
(or sharing one, as many of these are duets, including one with Catherine
Deneuve), though much more loosely contrived. Brilliantly, you can really
hear how they emerge from the story in specific devices: notably assembly-
line rhythms or footsteps. It's for that reason that I think you should listen
to them before you see the movie (if you want to appreciate the songs on
their own) -- I imagine that they're inextricable from the imagery, once
seen. Marc Bell and Vincent Mendoza's orchestrations are typical cinema
music, albeit listing, slightly unstable. A little over a half-hour; seven
songs from this hugely intrepid performer. [RE]

IANNIS XENAKIS "Persepolis" (Fractal, France) CD $15.99
Simply put, "Persepolis" is one of the most powerful pieces of music ever
assembled. It's a logical conclusion to Xenakis' earlier tape works (see
the Electronic Works CD on EMF) in its interest in earthy sounds and
sources (charcoal and other fire-related elements were favorites of
Xenakis), prior to his move to more clinical pieces ("Legende D'Eer') -- as
well as being a massive and unbelievably dense work. It reminds me, oddly,
of Hermann Nitsch in its ability to create a solid volcanic sound object.
Unlike Nitsch, though, who dominates the sound his orchestra creates with
images, smells and actions, Xenakis stated "It [Persepolis] is visual
symbolism, parallel to and dominated by sound." (Even so, stories would be
told of the arcane nature of it's performance: played in the ruins of the
fallen Persian temple Persepolis, through 100 loudspeakers scattered
throughout, while fireworks and lights danced amongst the sky and at the
audience moved freely amongst the ruins until being led by the 150
torch-bearing children into the neighboring forest.) As the piece
progresses, sounds erupt violently from a molten core, showering listeners
with beauty -- ashes and fire -- then the earth splits open, mountains are
leveled and the sky is illuminated. In the end, "Persepolis" is about fire,
but it is not holocaust, nor destruction. Inscribed with the words "we bear
the light of the earth", "Persepolis" draws upon Zoroastrian symbols of
fire and light representing the good and the eternal to create a work of
unity, understanding and hope. The centerpiece to Phillips' Prospective 21
Siecle series, this has been virtually un-findable in its vinyl incarnation. If
you have any interest in experimental music, you need to hear this. [MG]

TOM ZE "s/t" (Columbia, Brazil) CD $15.99
Ze's first album, released in 1968, followed his immersion into the
Tropicalia movement of 1967. A swingy pop album very much of its time, it
holds its own next to anything contemporaneous from Veloso or Gil. It
doesn't haul off and nail you over the head like the fabulous Mutantes or
Gal Costa's freakouts, but it's not without its own set of oddities.
They're subtle, but they're there, and more than hint at the spectacular
rhythmic experiments that Ze would provide over the next 30 years. For
instance, extended mewlings open one song, or there's odd tapping
percussion, or small, flash-frozen patches of psych fuzz guitar, plus a
number of spoken sections, both solo and uniquely arranged in taped
overlapping layers. These choosy arrangements also include softened
trumpets, trickling piano, scads of backup singers often performing very
traditional material (like a track with fife and drum), and very nice
pairings of electric and acoustic guitars. I've heard him perform a few of
these songs live and never knew where they came from. Definitely an
overdue and excellent Tropicalia reissue. [RE]

DETTINGER "Oasis" (Kompakt, Germany) CD/LP $15.99/$12.99
On his second effort, Olaf Dettinger leaves the popular melodic downtempo
style of his first CD behind for a more ambient feel. Clicks and distorted
bells keep the beat, while layer upon layer of bubbling analog synths hold
down the melodies. Washes of distorted guitar permeate the air, and
processed vocals drift throughout -- and that's just one track. Like a
mindmelding combination of My Bloody Valentine and the Cocteau Twins if
they were produced by Brian Eno and Mike Ink. A beautiful ambient journey
that gains from each listen. Essential for anyone who enjoyed Gas' "Pop",
B. Fleischmann's "Pop Loops for Breakfast", or Seefeel's "Quique". [JS]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=71875088571&refer_url=email

THE 6THS "Hyacinths and Thistles" (Merge) CD $13.99
The first 6ths album, "Wasps Nests", released five years ago, had songs
written by the Magnetic Fields with other singers in mind. "Hyacinths"
seems to depart from this formula in that the songs seem first written,
then handed over to singers who they happen to like and respect (i.e.
not songs written for a particular voice). Produced as if it's A Hal Wilner
tribute (to themselves!), the songs here shimmer and shimmer (all synth,
piano, pianolin, toy piano, and tiny mournful beats) and then fall apart:
epic tendencies tragically unfulfilled. The singers admirably fill in the
outlines of the songs, whether by using Stephin Merritt-like phrasing (Bob
Mould, Neil Hannon), or a unique voice (Melanie doing a rusty Broadway
style, Clare Grogan's hard-palate-hollow kid's voice). Their World War
I-era (ish) sad ballad 'Waltzing Me All the Way Home' is rendered crisp,
exquisite and edgily emotive by folk legend Odetta. "Hyacinths" may be a
sketchy release, but in that it's simpler, just sketched out -- AND it still
leaves them towering over their contemporaries. 60 minutes in length, but
a big chunk is taken up by the glittery, almost new-age coda to 'Oahu' that
rotates more and more slowly, like a turntable that takes 28 minutes to
come to a full stop. [RE]

[V/A] "Ethiopiques 8: Swinging Addis 1969-1974" (Buda Musique, France) CD  $15.99
The 8th volume of this extraordinary series collects Ethiopian pop and
soul, and many of the artists on this had tracks on volumes 1, 3 or 4. On
the soul side, Alemayehu Eshete is given six of the 21 tracks, his
charging, jerky soul mirroring a pre-funk James Brown (including grunts!).
Volume 9 of the series will be devoted entirely to this man's fantastic
output. A few of the earlier (1969) tracks on this compilation land like
American rock of the very early '60s -- Fats Domino or even Elvis -- except
that the vocals corkscrew bizarrely around the rhythm section, or a song
might include weird breaks: for instance, an arrhythmic cowbell solo. A few
pop numbers have very conventional arrangements, as if they were backing up
Connie Francis or Vic Damone, except that the singer in these cases uses
strange phrasing, and the ululating melodies of Ethiopia that take no
familiar tracks or tunings into account. This compilation also highlights a
few tracks from the prolific, visionary pianist Girma Beyene, a superb
arranger who produced a wide range of material, from languid popular jazz
with penetrating, almost psychedelic vibraphone, to late '60s dance numbers
with a particular kind of bangy guitar sound that reminds me of the Velvet
Underground. Ethiopia's music from this period straddles the continent of
Africa, the connection between middle-eastern melodies and central African
rhythms, exactly equivalent to its position on a map. [RE]

BROADCAST "Extended Play Two" (Tommy Boy/Warp) CD/12 $6.99/$6.99
The second EP release from Broadcast bookends their incredible "Noise
Made By People" album and contains three exclusive tracks as well as
"live-in-the-studio" reworkings of 'Unchanging Windows' and 'Drums of
Fire'. As in the past, the band filters their abstract take on modern-day
pop through the lens of 1960s music futurists. In doing so, they create
shimmering, nearly psychedelic, songs anchored by singer Trish Keenan's
detached yet delicate delivery. On the two instrumental tracks found here,
Broadcast venture into some new territory: fractured electronica on "A Man
for Atlantis" and kosmische musik on "Drums of Fire" where they mimic the
hypnotic lock-groove of Neu and like-minded German progressives. Highly
recommended. [TC]
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AMBARCHI, FENNESZ, PIMMON, REHBERG, & ROWE "Afternoon Tea" (Ritornell, Germany) CD $15.99
Mego artists Fennesz and Peter Rehberg (Pita) join guitarists Oren Ambarchi
and Keith Rowe and electronic musician Paul Gough (Pimmon) in two marathon
improv sessions, recorded early this year. Eschewing barrage, this ensemble
collectively creates cautious sequences of little sounds -- "digital residue" as
their label calls it. Antlike burbling, tiny ricochets, the occasional bell, tics and
trickles: it's more industrious than industrial. No two seconds are alike, the
whole thing is very abstract, not tense in the slightest (no beats, either), and
seems to make time absolutely speed by. Forty-four minutes spread across
two tracks. [RE]

MAURICE McINTYRE "Humility in the Light of Creator" (Delmark) CD $12.99
Having made a name for himself on Roscoe Mitchell's now-seminal "Sound"
album, a record of very free tonal and textural explorations, tenor
saxophonist Maurice McIntyre debuted as a bandleader on this, in 1969.
McIntyre both diffused and coalesced Mitchell's sound. His agenda on
"Humility" included more melody, and an open, spatial approach, and was
performed by nine players, including Leo Smith, Malachi Favors, John
Stubblefield, George Hines (with nonlinear, subtle, textural vocals) and
more. McIntyre described this recording as a response to transitions in
urban environment taking place, and a coming of a new age. "Humility" is a
spiritual exploration underpinned by a framework of brooding, yet expansive
sounds and rich melodic improvisations. [GA]

(Glenn Horowitz Bookseller) Book & CD $49.99

A new 40-page hardbound book with 32 of Sherman's earliest photographs
(circa 1976) and an accompanying CD of sample-based psych-pop (circa 2000)
by the Glove Compartment, loosely modeled on the tradition of Dreamies and
the United States of America. "The concept is simple: listen to the CD when
you look at the pictures inside ... and let that experience be your own." -Cindy
Sherman. The 16 brief songs on the CD are largely constructed around
samples from abandoned answering-machine tapes, radio broadcasts, and
other revealing relics of humanity. There are snippets of a young girl describing
a Playgirl, an enraged man calling for an anti-hippie militia, and other
found sounds, all set to original music which effectively breathes life
into Sherman's 'recreations' of individuals, both real and archetypal. The
experience of looking through the book as the CD plays is a powerful one
which urges the listener/viewer to ponder the thoughts and lives of
strangers and discover the extraordinary in the ordinary. Limited to 1000
copies. [TP]

MICHEL HOUELLEBECQ "Presence Humaine" (Tricatel, France) CD $16.99
Controversial French novelist Michel Houellebecq (pronounced "Well-beck";
also the subject of a recent feature in the New York Times Magazine) puts
forth his first musical effort with the help of Tricatel supremo Bertrand Burgalat.
The album's ten songs are basically sound poems written by Houellebecq,
scored ably by Burgalat, and performed by a crack French rock band.
Although not much of a singer, Houellebecq's sing/speak style elicits a
palpable world-weary charm, not unlike Gainsbourg in his more decadent and
indulgent moments. Bertrand's arrangements evoke both a '60s easy listening
feel as well as a high-strung '70s funk-soul groove. Overall, it's the contrasts
between Burgalat's tense arrangements and Houellebecq's loose delivery that
make "Presence Humaine" something more substantial than just high-quality
background music. While it can get just a bit tedious at times, the album
contains several spectacular moments, notably the anxious "Paris-Dourdan"
and the crescendo-rock of the eight-minute epic "Plein Ete" (RA above).
A surprisingly solid debut for a writer turned rock star. [TC]

HEY MERCEDES "s/t" (Polyvinyl) CD EP/12" EP $6.99/$7.99
From the ashes of the legendary emo-pop band Braid comes this new EP.
Hey Mercedes is pretty much Braid, except that Mark from Compound Red
plays second guitar. And this is full of all of the distorted guitar riffs, drum
breakdowns, and melodic emotional vocals that made Braid such a revered
group. Just think of their last single 'Please Drive Faster', a pure pop gem
more along the lines of the Promise Ring than hardcore. This EP extends
from where that left off, which might give you a clue as to just how great
this EP is. Four tracks, each one better than the last. I can't wait for the
album! [JS]
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LUOMO "Vocalcity" (Forcetracks, Germany) CD/2xLP $15.99/$18.99
AKA Vladislav Delay, in house mode! An album compiling three 12" (for a
total of 6 tracks and 76 minutes), it spikes and sputters, with lots of
skipping -- not skipping CDs, but hop-skipping rhythms. Delay's pretty,
dancefloor French-style disco/house even has whispery, sultry R&B vocals
most of the way through. A populist record with an underground, distorted
sound that unfolds around the edges and in deep dub tones, the beats
sometimes wash out to ambience and murmur, like water on ink. Think
Moodyman, Basement Jaxx -- deep house that snags the listener on
multiple levels: head to heart to feet. [RE]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=71875631141&refer_url=email

PHOTEK "Solaris" (Astralwerks) CD $15.99
Sunburnt and stark, Photek's flash-illuminated beats shred white noise,
horn blasts, and huge, resonant fake tympani in the pursuit of relentless,
almost mathematical precision. Discarding most tonality, he now turns to
even deeper textures to chop for his beats -- many sounds are similar to
those generated/used by Vladislav Delay. Photek's drum'n'bass is so huge,
so out of human scale, that it makes for a pretty satisfying pounding -- it
would be best listened to in a huge empty room with a massive speaker
system. This is tempered, somewhat, by the addition of vocalists, most
notably two collaborations with the legendary Robert Owens, an old-school
singer whose marvelously emotive voice makes him sound like he sings every
note on the verge of tears. If Photek had more pop in him, he'd be Moby.
But I'm glad he's not -- his straight-ahead beats are uniquely inhuman, and
therefore very difficult: qualities that take multiple listens to take in fully. [RE]

SARAH CRACKNELL "Kelly's Locker" (Instinct) CD EP $9.99
Ms. Cracknell's solo material, compiled here from a number of sources: new
songs, a few from her solo album "Lipslide", new mixes of others, and one
from a 12": eight songs in toto. As to Ms. Cracknell's solo work, it's not
quite as bouncy as St. Etienne, but has a broader range, from simple piano
numbers (she models herself on Dionne Warwick here and there) to full-on
disco diva mode. A striding sweetness, some dancefloor traditions, and a
more principled approach to club music. One track even includes converging
prepared piano, synth, and drum machine. Thirty-five minutes. I'm still not
sure why Instinct chose to release these songs together. [RE]

THE FUCKING CHAMPS "IV" (Drag City) CD $13.99
Licks and licks and licks and licks, from Halen to Maiden to Queen to
Zeppelin -- they're all here. Also (and formerly?) known as the Champs,
this racks up starkly different, hence the name-switch. Instrumental,
powerful. Metal for indie-rockers. [GG]

JIM AND JENNIE AND THE PINETOPS "Little Birdie" (Overcoat) CD $13.99
Did you ever want to hear the Carter Family in full modern audiophonic
clarity? No hiss, no tape wobbles distorting their clear, solid voices?
Your wish is pretty much granted with Jim & Jennie and the Pinetops' covers
of 'Cannonball' and 'No Telephone in Heaven'. From lightning speed to fast
jalopy pace (all fast or midtempo numbers), this ensemble (now on their
second album) combines harmonies and traditional instruments in lovely
songs faithful to old-time bluegrass in arrangements and mood. A handful of
originals next to covers by Earl Scruggs, the Delmore Bros., Hazel Dickens,
more. They used to be Jim and Jennie and the Pine Barons. [RE]


PHOENIX "United" (Source/Astralwerks) CD/LP $15.99/$16.99
A collection of pseudonymous French producers and musicians are Phoenix,
assisted by other artists from France's Source label. It's all AM radio to me,
and specifically AM radio spanning the years 1975 to 1985. Songs are
catchy, decorated with pedal steel, cheesy '80s saxophone solos and
keyboards, full string sections, and cooing, sassy background vocalists.
You can't tell if this is absolutely dripping with irony, or a heartfelt
re-creation of mood and time. Are they Bee Gees without the harmonies?
Wham! without the histrionics? The same distance from classic soul as Hall
and Oates were? And are those Paul Simon's guitar licks? Listen to the tracks
above and make your own decision. [RE]
LP /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=72438488531&refer_url=email

AUTOMATIC DLAMINI "From a Diva to a Diver" (Big Internation, UK) CD $14.99
An early project of PJ Harvey collaborator/arranger John Parish with his
friend XX; includes Ms. Harvey herself on a lot of the tracks. Automatic
Dlamini revel in that particularly British kind of early '90s giant rock,
forceful even as it's tinted throughout by slide guitar and pedal steel
(Blue Aeroplanes are an apt comparison). A hard import CD to find --
we just got a few more in, and they'll go fast. [RE]

Thank-you scribes: Geoff Albores [GA], Tom Capodanno [TC], Robin Edgerton
[RE], Lisa Garrett [LG], Mike Goodstein [MG], Graham Gulden [GG], Tom Pratt
[TP], Jeremy Sponder [JS].

Thanks for reading.
-all of us at Other Music

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New York, NY 10003