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IMPORTANT (Please read to avoid confusion):
Some items below may be tagged with a bold, red, all-caps "out of print/unavailable" notice. This does NOT mean that all other items not so tagged are, in fact, in stock -- or for that matter, in print and available, though there's a good chance they are. Some folks get confused on this point, and we can see why, so please read this for further clarification and other important before-you-order information. Unlike some mailorder websites, we don't have an electronic inventory system linked to our site, so you can't be sure of what we actually have or don't have in stock at any given moment without asking us -- please email our mailorder department for availability status -- or better yet, just go ahead and place your order using our shopping cart function and we'll get back to you with the status of each item. If you have general non-mailorder questions, email the store.


album cover ABDUL-RAUF, LEILA Cold And Cloud (Saadi Saati / Pesanta Urfolk) lp 19.98
Local metal guitarist Leila Abdul-Rauf (Vastum, Hammers Of Misfortune, Amber Asylum, Saros, etc.) shows us a surprisingly different side to her talents with this vinyl-only solo debut! Here she's set herself up as a cinematic-style composer, working with brass and piano, and a little gentle singing, amongst other sonic elements woven into the dreary, drifty, droney soundscapery of Cold And Cloud, the title of the record and its music apparently (not that we doubt it!) inspired by summers in San Francisco (& probably winters too, just look out the window today...). You know the old saying attributed to Mark Twain, about the coldest winter he ever spent being a summer in San Francisco.
Ambient and intimate, this is probably something that those who know Abdul-Rauf from her work with chamber goth group Amber Asylum will likely be more into, than those who know of her as a six-string shredder in filthy deathmetallers Vastum or the progoperatic Hammers.
Album art by Tor Lundval.

ADAMS, JOHN Violin Concerto / Shaker Loops (Nonesuch) cd 16.98

album cover ADAMS, JOHN LUTHER For Lou Harrsion (New World) cd 16.98

album cover ADAMS, JOHN LUTHER In The White Silence (New World) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Oooh. So utterly blissful, beautiful, and contemplative. In The White Silence is a musical evocation of the endless white Arctic tundra. John Luther Adams lives in Alaska and this piece, like much of his work, is inspired by the remote Alaskan wilderness, in all its vastness and stillness, what he considers exploration in "sonic geography". We thought at first that sounded like it might be a bit too New Agey or something but as soon as we heard this we couldn't help but fall in love with it!
This was recommended to us by one of our customers who said that it was basically the closest any modern composer had come to making "Pop Ambient" music (as in, the Pop Ambient compilations released by the Kompakt label, stuff like Gas, Markus Guentner, and Klimek). But it's not electronic, it's chamber music, performed by the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble. That means lots of sweet strings -- violins, violas, cellos, bass, harp. Also some additional coloration (and this is colorful, in the way that white is all colors) from vibraphone, celesta and orchestra bells. Although of course this composition has a beginning and an end, it seems like something that could go on forever, though it really only lasts about 75 minutes -- slowly unfolding, built from layers of cloud-like tone clusters and barely-shifting rhythms. The musically learned liner notes (which will tell you a lot more about the musical theory behind the construction of this piece than I could ever hope to do) speak of "static textures of densely layered sound, sustained tones, short repetitive patterns, and long rising and falling lines." All true, but you have to hear it to understand how NICE that can be. If the Arctic really sounds like this, we're all set to fly up there and strap on the snowshoes... A gorgeous, extended, and immersive piece of minimalist, "pop ambient" chamber music indeed!!
MPEG Stream: "Letter F"
MPEG Stream: "Letter L"

album cover ADAMS, JOHN LUTHER Red Arc / Blue Veil (Cold Blue Music) cd 14.98
We've always loved the blissful and beautiful work of John Luther Adams, one of the great American modern composers. His album In White Silence is a bonafide all time AQ favorite but truth is, Adams has plenty of other records that are equally worthy of our attention. Red Arc / Blue Veil blew us away the first time we heard it as it shows a much more intense side to the Alaskan composer then we were accustomed to. Yes, it's still stunningly crisp and beautiful, but there is a velocity and urgency to this work that struck us immediately. In some ways this is the darkest recording we've heard from Adams, yet within this music, there is still a shining mystical light beaming so brightly. Whether it's the dueling pianos in "Dark Waves" or the monumental bass drums pounding to the heavens in "Qilyuan" or the majestic vibes and keys that close out the record on the title track "Red Arc/Blue Veil", Adams has created a piece of music that demonstrates again that as a supposedly "academic" or "modern classical" composer, he's capable of creating some of the most beautiful and sublime sounds imaginable, regardless of genre.
MPEG Stream: "Red Arc/Blue Veil"
MPEG Stream: "Qilyuan"

ADAMS, JOHN LUTHER Strange and Sacred Noise (Mode) cd 16.98
Percussion-centric composition from the guy who brought us the lovely In The White Silence.

ADAMS, JOHN LUTHER The Light That Fills The World (Cold Blue Music) cd 14.98

album cover ADAMS, JOHN LUTHER The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies (Cantaloupe) cd 21.00

MPEG Stream: "Rumble"
MPEG Stream: "Shimmer"

album cover ALESSANDRONI, ALESSANDRO I Cantori Moderni Di Alessandroni (Penny / Flipper Music) lp + cd 27.00
Another amazing Italian Library missive from the same folks who brought us the Daniela Casa we reviewed a while back. Alessandroni, most famously known for being the whistler for Ennio Morricone's Spaghetti Western soundtracks, was a fantastic composer in his own right as we heard previously on Prisma Sonoro, a haunting library score reissued on the Australian Roundtable label last year. On this 1970 release he created the vocal group, I Cantori Moderni Di Alessandroni, an eight to sixteen person choir, who have lent their talents to many soundtracks by Morricone, Piero Umiliani, and many other Italian composers of the 60's and 70's (and were also featured recently on Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained soundtrack). This was the only full length the choir recorded. Through 12 original compositions by Alessandroni, the choir evoke a lilting cinematic pop sound of Italian Bossa vibes and moody themes, augmented by harpsichord, flutes and twangy guitars. The choir not only featured Alessandroni's first wife, Giulia De Mutiis, but also the incomparable Edda Dell'Orso whose wordless vocals epitomize many of Morricone's Italian western and horror scores. Fantastic and Limited!!
MPEG Stream: "Una Storia"
MPEG Stream: "Verso l'infinito"
MPEG Stream: "Insieme A Te"

album cover ALESSANDRONI, ALESSANDRO Prisma Sonoro (Roundtable / The Omni Recording Corporation) lp 27.00
We'll pretty much get anything on the Roundtable label right now, as they in collaboration with The Omni Recording Corporation, have been on a winning streak of reissuing on vinyl the most farflung and obscure library records, documentary soundtracks and other psycho-cinematic sonic ephemera from far off corners of the globe. Trouble is, they have been especially hard to get, and even more difficult to get enough of for us to list. We've literally been waiting for these latest two releases for nearly a year and our hopes of ever getting them were diminishing by the week. And all of the sudden, we got the news they were on the way and we were so seriously psyched! Two Italian library gems, one of haunted choir compositions from Egisto Macchi, founding member of the mighty Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova con Sonanza and the other from the wonderfully named Alessandro Alessandroni who is perhaps more well known as Ennio Morricone's guitarist and whistler! (Yes, whistler, of course he had to have one!) Both are pretty essential for lovers of seventies dreamy, otherworldly, acousmatic psychedelia!
Alessandro Alessandroni was a key player in shaping much of the classic Italian soundtrack sound as we know it today from such comps as Delirium Of The Senses: Psychedelia In Italian Cinema. As guitarist for Ennio Morricone, his famous whistle pretty much defined the whole Spaghetti Western sound. He was a session player for nearly all the well known film composers, Piero Umilani, Bruno Nicolai and Francesco De Masi, yet his own solo work often was overshadowed. It's hard to figure out why with such a beautifully brilliant album as this mythical library album for the Sermi label. Like the most sublime Italian soundtracks from Ennio Morricone, Prisma Sonoro is phantasmagoric exotica of strangely compelling and lush melancholic moods. A lysergically-minded sound design creates druggy cinematic compositions of harpsichords, mournful strings, psychedelic guitars and haunting female vocals. Seriously beautiful and limited to 500 copies, get one while you can!

ALMURO, ANDRE Depli (Elica) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
"Depli" marks the first CD release of the little known French composer who had spent time working with Bernard Parmigiani at INA-GRM as well as in radio aproductions with Andre Breton and Jean Genet. "The three pieces on this album span a fourteen year period of Almur—'s recent musical production: 'Le Trois¸me Oeil' (1991) is a 28 minute dynamic and deceivingly cosmic piece for clashing and screeching electronic bodies... 'Terrae incognitae' (1978) is a 36 minute eerie and ritualistic tour-de-force for sixty-member chorus, recorded live at its animated and scandal-stirring premier in the Notre-Dame Church in Caen. 'Boomerang, Prelude' (1979) is a dark and brooding 12 minute electronic composition also performed live surrounded by iron fences and road cones, big standing mattresses and a whole tree hanging upside down."

album cover AMBER ASYLUM Still Point (Profound Lore) cd 12.98
Esteemed chamber music goddess Kris Force returns with what is quite possibly her most stark compositions to date. She's joined by some of the Bay Area's finest and most beloved of the indie metal and rock community including John Cobbett (Hammers Of Misfortune, Ludicra), Jackie Perez-Gratz (Grayceon), Tim Green (The Fucking Champs, Concentrick), Lorraine Rath (The Gault), and Sarah Schaffer (The Gault, Weakling). Still Point begins with three songs that slowly drift in on droning strings (violin, viola and cello) and ghostly choral vocals. From there the gothic proceedings build gradually with the entrance of minimal piano, guitar, flute, trumpet and percussion. As always, absolutely haunting and stunningly gorgeous!
MPEG Stream: "In The Still Point He Remains"
MPEG Stream: "Black Phoebe"
MPEG Stream: "The Summation"

album cover ANDERSON, LAURIE Homeland (Nonesuch) cd 24.00
A legend and pioneer in not only performance and video art but also in how to intertwine those arts with music in a mystifying, engaging, confusing, question-raising, mind-blowing way. We could go on and on about the people Laurie Anderson's work has had a huge influence on. Fever Ray, Tracy & The Plastics, Miranda July, Sadie Benning, Oneohtrix Point Never, Planningtorock, Bjork, Kathleen Hanna, Gang Gang Dance, etc. She really is one of the few people who has been successful in merging the worlds of performance art and music, with captivating and breathtaking results. Her 1982 debut, Big Science, remains for many of us as one of our favorite records of all time. Decades later, Homeland taps into a very similar approach to sound as that iconic album. It's a record that really encapsulates what Anderson does best which is to both provoke, confuse and create an overall feel that operates in a different dimension.
While Anderson is mostly first thought of as a performance artist and thinker, it should not be overlooked what an incredible violinist she is, not to mention composer, and pianist too, always getting such interesting sounds from her keyboard. And she has such a keen sense for bringing together a wide range of instrumentation and vocal deliveries to create such striking moods. On Homeland she enlists the amazing voices of Tuvan throat singers as well as a great cast of players including Eyvind Kang, John Zorn, Kieran Hebden, her husband Lou Reed, and Antony, who contributes the most ethereal vocals on one of the albums stand out moments, the song "Strange Perfumes".
Homeland is a meditation on American life over the last decade. It really creates this insular zone in which you get completely entranced by its sounds and words and lose touch with everything around you. It's best to listen to this really loud and when you are in a place to fully surrender and be completely present. It's not a throw-on-when-you're-hanging-out-with-friends-and-talking kind of record, but when you blast it on headphones the next time you're on an airplane or while sitting on a long bus/train ride you will be so thankful to have this record for the intense and beautiful spaces it transports you to. So awesome to know that some artists stay as great as they were when they first made their impact on culture and continue to challenge themselves and make such stunning work.
MPEG Stream: "Strange Perfumes"
MPEG Stream: "Transitory Life"
MPEG Stream: "Falling"

ANZELLOTTI, TEODORO Domenico Scarlatti (Winter & Winter) cd 16.98
Adventurous accordionist Teodoro Anzellotti has already adapted the piano music of Erik Satie for another Winter & Winter disc. Now he turns to the harpsichord music of Italian composer Domenico Scarlatti, who flourished in Spain 1685-1757. Scarlatti's music blends the most modern, courtly music of his time with the ancient rustic gypsy folk tunes of the Iberian peninsula. Anzellotti's virtuosic accordion interpretations are delightful and colorful.

ANZELLOTTI, TEODORO Erik Satie (Winter & Winter) cd 17.98
Satie wonderfully adapted for accordion!!

album cover APOCALYPTICA Cult ( Spitfire) cd 16.98
We listed this back on #108, when it first came out as an import (we were stocking the Canadian version, thanks to our friends at Scratch Records in Vancouver who ordered 'em for us and smuggled 'em down here) but it's taken over a year for this to get a proper US release. We never were able to get enough of the import to make a big deal about it, but now that it's out domestically we're ready to give this the big push -- it's one of the best "metal" albums of the year, despite not having a single electric guitar anywhere on it! This is what we said about it before:
We've been huge fans of this Finnish all-cello quartet for a while now, and how could we not be? Their first record was of them sawing away at all Metallica covers! Their second record was almost all covers too, not just Metallica, but Sepultura and Faith No More. It's not all that surprising that these pseudo classical instrumental versions of metal songs worked so well (sometimes better than the originals), especially considering the epic Wagnerian quality of a lot of metal, especially Metallica.
On their third record though, Apocalyptica have almost completely abandoned their metal/Metallica covers (except for a couple bonus tracks) in favor of originals, and the result is probably their best record yet. They have obviously learned all they can from the masters (classical and metal), and have struck out on their own, to create something new, certainly not conventionally metal, but not classical either. Definitely 'heavy' though! The four cellists (here augmented by double bass and all sorts of percussion) craft explosive and complex, super intense epics, fusing classical movements with traditional song structures, bizarre techniques with impeccable chops, all delivered with decidedly un-classical aggression, making for a record way heavier and better than anything Metallica themselves have done in the last few years. Not bad for a bunch of cellists!
This new US edition is a little different than the import -- the bonus tracks are the same (two Metallica covers plus their version of Grieg's "Hall Of The Mountain King"), but they've also included a new version of their song "Path" that adds vocals from the woman from the band Guano Apes (who I guess are popular in Europe), and there's also a cd-rom video included for that same cut. While it's neat to see them flailing away at their cellos in the stylish video, if you already have the import it's not enough to make you trade it in for this version. But if you *don't* have the import (and we know quite a few of you missed out), now's your chance to pick up this awesome album!
(Oh, quick note to the people who write press sheets for Spitfire: "Hall Of The Mountain King" is NOT a Savatage cover, guys!)
RealAudio clip: "Path"
RealAudio clip: "Pray!"
RealAudio clip: "Struggle"

album cover APPLETON, JON & DON CHERRY Human Music (Water) cd 16.98
We love the out-there improvs of legendary jazz trumpeter Don Cherry, and the idea of him teamed up with an equally out-there electronics maverick (Jon Appleton, natch) was enough to get us excited about this cd reissue of the duo's 1970 recording Human Music. Cherry, then a fixture on the NYC free jazz scene, was invited to be an artist-in-residence by young Dartmouth music professor Appleton -- who just happened to have a Moog-laden electronic music studio at his disposal. The resulting collaboration is an early exercise in "live" electronic-meets-acoustic music -- as the studio techniques of musique concrete, like splicing and editing tapes with razor blades, couldn't be applied to a real-time improv duet, so Appleton had to find ways for Cherry's playing (on both horns and sundry percussion) to immediately "trigger" responses from the studio's arsenal of synths. The results are VERY bleepy-blurpy-whooshy, like something from a freaky sci-fi soundtrack, and Cherry's trumpet is often obscured by the electronic effects. We can't say that Human Music is an absolutely essential Don Cherry album but it's definitely an interesting novelty in his discography and it's cool to get to hear it now!
MPEG Stream: "BOA"
MPEG Stream: "OBA"

album cover AQUARIUS BUTTONS 2 x 1" buttons 1.00
Hey, we just got another batch of AQ buttons made up...
Spread the word! Show the world your true aQ colors! COOL COOL COOL aQ buttons, now in 6 different vibrant color combinations. 5 new color combos (blue on pink, red on dark grey, dark blue on blue, orange on black, and yellowish green on dark green) and a popular one we had previously (brown on yellow).
TWO FOR $1!!! Colors are random, but buy enough and you'll be guaranteed to get 'em all! And of course all feature our spiffy James Gang style logo!! So stylish!

album cover ARNALDS, OLAFUR Eulogy For Evolution (Erased Tapes) cd 17.98
That magical air in Iceland continues spawn some of the most soaring and beautiful sounds found anywhere on the globe. At just 21 years old, Olafur Arnalds is emerging as a strong voice in a new wave of modern classical inspired majestic sounds. On this, his debut full length, he employs strings, piano, guitar, organ, melodica and subtle ambient electronics at times, to create incredibly rich and lush sounds. Inspired by everyone from Eric Satie, to John Luther Adams, Kronos Quartet to the Rachels and even Godspeed You Black Emperor, as well as, of course, his countrymen Sigur Ros who he's often perfromed with live. Somber and elegant and packaged beautifully with artwork that compliments the kind of fragments of memory his beautiful music evokes.
MPEG Stream: "1953"
MPEG Stream: "3326"

ASANO, KOJI Flow-Augment (Solstice) cd 14.98
Japanese experimental music wunderkind Koji Asano has already produced a slew of fine albums that range in focus from guitar noise-rock to meditative piano improvisation to electronic soundscapes... Now, with this release, he ventures into the realm of modern classical, with three long tracks of melancholy and unsettling yet not-unmelodic music for strings, performed by the Koji Asano Ensemble (piano, cello, viola, violin, and contrabass). Koji Asano is perhaps Japan's answer to the United States' own prolific and multitalented new music prodigy Jim O'Rourke (and Asano has yet to release any dubious "pop" music). Recommended.

album cover ASANO, KOJI Sanctuary On Reclaimed Land (Solstice) cd 16.98
Man, we've got some catching up to do. Since we last listed anything from prolific AQ-fave Koji Asano (that'd be 2002's Octopus Balloons), the Japanese avant-composer has moved from Barcelona back to Japan, gotten married, had a baby, and somehow managed to record and release another NINE albums. He's up to his thirty-seventh release now!! Dunno if we're gonna manage to retrospectively, individually review all of 'em but we'll at least try to get back with the program by presenting to you now numbers 36 (Sanctuary On Reclaimed Land) and 37 (Takoyakikun). We do, however, also have a couple copies each of The Giant Squid, Gondola Odyssey, Piano Suite Vol. 1: Fitness Club No. 1-20, Absurd Summer, Suite For Organ And Recorders No. 1: The Alien Power Plant, Zoo Telepathy, and Wind Gauge in stock for any fellow Asano enthusiasts that need to complete their collections right now.
Anyway, Sanctuary On Reclaimed Land is definitely still the Koji Asano music we know and love. Recorded as part of an installation in an empty warehouse on the Osaka waterfront, literally a "sanctuary on reclaimed land", this 51 minute piece is the sound of the interaction of a grand piano with a computerized sound system inside the echoing interior space of the warehouse. Notes played on the piano were amplified, reflected, and reproduced via computer processing and multiple microphones and speakers. Asano says he "received the inspiration of moisture and the sea breeze, while vibrating the Osaka harbor warehouse by a large volume and ... completed a large integrated work of the grand piano and computer sound". The results are a gorgeous ambient drone piece, that sounds not unlike Wolfgang Voigt's work as Gas. We've always enjoyed Koji's various piano-based projects (discs like Preparing For April, The End Of August, You Cannot Open The Door Because It Is Already Open, and January Rainbow) and this one belongs in that bunch, but at the end of a continuum where the piano as an identifiable sound source is almost entirely abstracted. Very nice.
Instead of the cardboard sleeves of most of his recent releases, this (and Takoyakikun too) comes housed in Asano's newest style of cd packaging, a plastic, sort of cd-sized dvd case.
MPEG Stream: "Sanctuary On Reclaimed Land (excerpt)"

album cover ASANO, KOJI Spherical Moss Factory (Solstice) cd 14.98
With album number 26 in his rapidly expanding discography, Japanese experimental composer Koji Asano switches from packaging his cds in jewel cases to putting them in slim cardboard sleeves. He tells us that the reason for this change is in part because of a dream he had, about how his ancient Barcelona flat would collapse under the weight of all those jewel cases when he reached his hundredth release! And he's over a quarter of the way there already, so that's a real concern...
This 72-minute "Spherical Moss Factory" disc continues Koji's interest in high-end (shrill) sonic explorations, being a piece in two parts written for violin and contrabass, performed by the Koji Asano String Ensemble, which consists of Tomomi Tokunaga and Kentaro Suzuki on those instruments respectively. But the first few minutes of track one don't betray the stringed instrument sound source, as the near-inaudible scrape of Tomomi's violin starts things off in what sounds like an emulation of the sine-wave electronics of Sachiko M. But soon the listener realizes that this is no computer processed piece, but an avant-classical composition featuring real human musicians on acoustic instruments. Track two displays quite a bit more energy from the get go, as Tomomi saws away on her violin with abandon, before relaxing and entering into a duet with Kentaro's deep contrabass bowing. All throughout both tracks, the violin and contrabass together trade mournful moans in a melodic (if melancholy) mode, punctuated by frenzied scrabblings. We may not be season ticket holders to the symphony or 20th/21st century classical experts, but we know what we like, and we do like this.
RealAudio clip: "Spherical Moss Factory pt. 2"

album cover ASANO, KOJI Takoyakikun (Solstice) cd 14.98
Man, we've got some catching up to do. Since we last listed anything from prolific AQ-fave Koji Asano (that'd be 2002's Octopus Balloons), the Japanese avant-composer has moved from Barcelona back to Japan, gotten married, had a baby, and somehow managed to record and release another NINE albums. He's up to his thirty-seventh release now!! Dunno if we're gonna manage to retrospectively, individually review all of 'em but we'll at least try to get back with the program by presenting to you now numbers 36 (Sanctuary On Reclaimed Land) and 37 (Takoyakikun). We do, however, also have a couple copies each of The Giant Squid, Gondola Odyssey, Piano Suite Vol. 1: Fitness Club No. 1-20, Absurd Summer, Suite For Organ And Recorders No. 1: The Alien Power Plant, Zoo Telepathy, and Wind Gauge in stock for any fellow Asano enthusiasts that need to complete their collections right now.
Takoyakikun is a bit of a departure for Asano, or maybe a return to his roots. For one thing, it's not one long, cd-length track, but several different, individual songs. Songs? Well, instrumental rock numbers anyway. Yes, rock. Or avant-rock, or prog-rock, or something. And, unlike most of his releases which are solo recordings (or sometimes string ensembles), this is a band project -- the very same band with which he made one of his first discs, Gravity.
Maddeningly convoluted and repetitive at times, this is choppy, angular, occasionally melodic, no-wave instrumental improv prog from a trio of guitar, keyboards and drums (Asano being the guitarist). We think folks into other skronky underground Japanese prog-core acts like Ruins and Korekyojinn would find this of interest... The keys definitely give it a "classic" prog vibe, and there's even a drum solo in track five! Recorded in 1997 (and released as a cd-r only at the time) now Asano has remastered and repackaged Takoyakikun for a proper cd release on his Solstice label.
MPEG Stream: "Takoyakikun track 1"
MPEG Stream: "Takoyakikun track 2"
MPEG Stream: "Takoyakikun track 3"

ASHLEY, ROBERT Dust (Lovely Music) 2cd 28.00
This record really just makes me mad. Robert Ashley has composed "Dust" to be a polemic on the lost conversations of homeless men and women. It's not really clear if Ashley's lyrical content is the collected results from homeless poets or if it is Ashley's fictionalization of the plight of the homeless. But the potential for the class-based argument that a wealthy white man fabricated his own stories of what it means to be homeless is the least of his problems. First off, this patronizing piece of high moralism falls not far from those classic ABC after school specials on why taking acid is deadly. Secondly, I don't know which crappy poetry slam Ashley picked Jacqueline Humbert from, but her perfectly groomed speaking voice trying to mimic Laurie Anderson has got to go. Thirdly, why the hell has Ashley turned to this tepid new ageist ambient, after his "Automatic Writing" stands as one of the eeriest pieces of academic compositions? Fourth, when will the "conceptual" community learn that aesthetics can never be forgotten whenever a concept is presented in a public forum? I'm choking on my own rage now.

album cover ASHLEY, ROBERT Wolfman (Alga Marghen) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
This is one of three separate shards of electronic music history (Ashley, Neuhaus, and Palestine) recently unearthed by Italian audio archaeologists Alga Marghen.
"Wolfman" collects four pieces circa 1957-1964 by American original Robert Ashley, a composer known for his releases on Lovely Music. Noisy tape-music and electronics to accompany equally extreme vocal performances. Pretty wild, and hard to take, certainly pioneering stuff!
MPEG Stream: "The Wolfman"

album cover ATCHLEY, KENNETH Fountains (Auscultare) cd 12.98
Kenneth Atchley is a little known composer with connections to the Mills College Center for Contemporary Music (a couple of performances and a composition that has appeared on Chris Brown's web 'hub'), yet his "Fountains" piece is miles above the digital splutter that Mills has been promoting in the name of indeterminant composition and computerized improvisation. Atchley based the 3 compositions of this album on the digital synthesized contact microphone recordings of simple fountains pouring water into 40 gallon steel trash cans. The first piece ("fountain_1999.20") is a fractured collage in which passages of those water fountains in various states of augmentation jump cut between each other after several minutes, sounding much more like a late '80s collage from the Hafler Trio than anything recently coming from Mills. "fountain_1998.3" takes an oversaturation approach by amplifying the sounds into dense distorting layers much in the same way as Francisco Lopez' intensely loud moments. His most recent composition "fountain_2001.5" is the weakest of the three, sounding most like the Mills penchant for recognizable granular synthesis filters and flanges, though this one is the most adventurous composition with cutting from the dramatic sustained noise passage immediately to quiet water drips.
Released on Randy Yau's immaculately designed Auscultare Records.
RealAudio clip: "Fountain_1999.20"
RealAudio clip: "Fountain_1998.3"

album cover BAKER, JOHN The John Baker Tapes, Volume 2 (Trunk) cd 16.98
Volume number Two of BBC Radiophonic workshop guru, John Baker's amazing recorded output. This time focusing on his jazz compositions, homemade electronic experiments and library music, most of it largely unheard. Less small themes and interludes than volume one, which also means less of what he made exclusively for the BBC. But that should not deter the BRW fanatics out there from picking this up. It's even stranger because it's so varied, covering his entire musical career from 1954 up until his death in 1985. Exhaustively culled from boxes and boxes of often unmarked tapes, there's homemade musique concrete pieces made early in his musical development, as well as his early recordings with a jazz combo. The jazz and library compositions (made for the Southern and Peer International organizations) are similar in form and sound to Basil Kirchin and Michael Garrick (two other Trunk luminaries), urgently spright and pastoral, sometimes soft and spacey. There is also soundtrack music for an early Ridley Scott short film, Boy on A Bicycle, and advert music, one of which we suspect the group Broadcast must have been very aware of ("Jazz Advert"). A great and essential companion to Volume One, and for anyone interested in early British electronic music.
MPEG Stream: "Requioso "
MPEG Stream: "Jazz Advert"
MPEG Stream: "Power Source "
MPEG Stream: "Pot's 'n'Pans"
MPEG Stream: "Piano Strokes"

BANG ON A CAN Meets Kyaw Kyaw Naing (Cantaloupe) cd 17.98

album cover BASINSKI, WILLIAM Variations For Piano And Tape (2062) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
One of our absolute favorite minimalist composers pulls another lovely work from his bag of tricks. That bag of tricks being his seemingly endless collection of moldering tape loops initially recorded a couple of decades ago. This time around it's from a deceptively simple piano loop titled "Variation #9: Pantelleria". Pantelleria is a tiny volcanic island southwest of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea whose long and ancient history is steeped in bloodshed, due to its once strategic proximity to warring Christian and Muslim nations. The patina of time on Basinski's key material, coupled with a happy accident of the tape loop slipping off of the tape head, creates a beautifully decaying and lyrically submerged counterpoint effect. What at first seems like five simple notes repeated ends up sounding like Nature cleansing herself of mankind's bloody history. Gorgeous!
MPEG Stream: "Variation #9: Pantelleria"

album cover BASTIEN, PIERRE Visions Of Doing (Western Vinyl) cd 14.98
Oooh. We're always excited about any new releases from French automated-instrument builder and trumpeter Pierre Bastien. How often do we get records featuring music made (in part) by robots? Not often enough. And such lovely music too. All these tracks were originally composed as soundtracks to projects by a Dutch experimental filmmaker by the name of Karel Doing (hence the title). But Bastien's music so readily stokes the imagination than Doing's cinematic visions are not necessary accompaniment.
We said 'automated-instrument builder', those instruments being what Bastien calls his 'Meccano', simple sound-making robots or kinetic sound sculptures, that make looping music box melodies and provide a backing of slow, steady mechanical clank for Bastien's own wheezing, muted trumpet. Bastien plays in a smokey jazz mode, breathy, beautiful, oh so melancholic, that in the this context reminds us of Chet Baker in some sort of Tom Waits-ish instrumental junkyard. The gamelan or thumb piano like plinkings of Bastien's Meccano - exotica for scrappy homebuilt robots - are rendered somehow more human by the sweet sighs of Bastien's trumpet. He also makes use of field recordings, unidentified underwater warblings, and other mysterious textures in constructing these tracks. Wonderful stuff, so languid and relaxed and full of life, animated indeed by Bastien's Visions Of Doing. Bastien's previous discs for Rephlex, and others, have all been 'late night faves' here at AQ, and this latest gentle gem from Bastien joins them for sure.
MPEG Stream: "The American On The Highway"
MPEG Stream: "Visions Of Shanghai"
MPEG Stream: "The Thermodynamic Orchestra"

album cover BATAGOV, ANTON Bodhicharyavatara (Tummo) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Another gorgeous collection of Buddhist based modern minimalist compositions from one of our favorite contemporary 'classical' composers/performers. We recently made another Batagov release our Record Of The Week (Music For The 35 Buddhas), and we sold tons of Batagov's sprawling three disc minimalist masterpiece The Wheel Of The Law, which had we been able to get more, would also have been a Record Of The Week. And for some of us, ranks as one of our all time favorites, classical or otherwise!
Bodhicharyavatara is breathtakingly beautiful, and once again demonstrates Batagov's ability to fuse his Buddhist practice, with his unique compositional style, informed by so much of what came before (Glass, Feldman, etc.) but definitely something wholly original, especially here, where the sound takes on something more akin to post rock, incorporating warm smoldering guitars, even some actual drumming, into his already achingly lush palette of piano, bells and percussion.
All of the tracks here are tranced out and hypnotic, delicate slow building swirls of sound, constructed from lush resonant piano, warm wistful woodwinds, chiming bells, the guitars more like swirls of smokey shimmer, the tones stretched out into warm, chordal streaks, with Telo Tulka Rinpoche, the Supreme Lama of Kalmykia, reciting ancient Buddhist texts over the top. It's very reminiscent Of Godspeed! You Black Emperor, especially in the way Godspeed used to employ samples of spoken word, but here, that same effect becomes something much more spiritual, haunting and heady. While it's definitely more droney and dirgey than other Batagov recordings we've listed, it's still quite meditative, the lush backdrop of sound, broods and pulses, tones moan and soar, the piano alternates between low end flurries and pointillist crystalline melodies, and then part way through the second track, in come the drums, and the song blossoms into full on post rock, pounding drums, wailing guitars, all over that darkly swirling bed of bells and piano. Super intense, and the sort of thing Godspeed freaks will flip over.
The third and fourth 'movements' return to a sound much more restrained, but like the first few tracks, continue to explore a brooding, post rock flecked modern minimalism, the sung/spoken texts truly mesmerizing, woodwinds drifting in, bleating horns, blurred into softly churning backdrop, all of this adding a haunting melancholy to the already moody minor key sound, and while the drums are still present, their presence is much more abstract, their rhythmic colorations more spare, skittery for the most part, but with brief moments of bombast. Batagov has always professed a love of collaborating with rock musicians, and many of his records display the fruit of these collaborations (there's even been talk of a drum / piano record, with our very own Andee!), but few reveal his mysterious musical mastery, better than this one. Stunning.
MPEG Stream: "The Excellence Of Bodhichitta (1st Chapter)"
MPEG Stream: "Adopting The Spirit of Awakening"
MPEG Stream: "Dedication"

album cover BATAGOV, ANTON Music For The 35 Buddhas (Tummo) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
We first discovered Russian pianist / composer Anton Batagov via his breathtaking triple cd release The Wheel Of The Law, a record EVERYone here loved, and one that we sold tons of and realized in retrospect, really should have been a Record Of The Week. Much of what made that record special was how rooted in Batagov's Buddhism the music was, a mesmerizingly hypnotic arrangement for organ, glockenspiel, xylophone, piano and percussion, it conjured up a tranquility and otherworldliness that we found quite moving, the various movements offering up gorgeously rhythmic and almost looped sounding figures, the sort of composition that we presume is how he ended up being described by some reviewer as "Reich on vodka". And while he is most definitely influenced by Reich and Riley and Glass, his sound is definitely something unique, we find ourselves sometimes reminded of another aQ favorite, Lubomyr Melnyk, the two have a similar flair for lyrical melodies and lush arrangements, although where Melnyk fills all the space with flurries of notes, Batagov is as much about the spaces between the notes as the notes themselves. Batagov is also quite the collaborator, often teaming up with rock musicians and other non classical performers, and has produced all manner of releases from straight up classical to soundtracks. Needless to say, we are obviously big fans.
So in the process of trying to track down more Wheel Of The Law cd sets, we discovered another Batagov record that we found equally amazing, from back in 2001, another composition based on Buddhism, which is obvious from the title, Music For The 35 Buddhas and like Wheel, it's another fantastic and dreamlike composition, mixing Batagov's lovely piano playing with vibraphone, Javanese gongs and antique cymbals. There's definitely a gamelan vibe, but in a whole different setting, the interplay between vibraphone and piano, deft and effortless, producing a dreamily cinematic sprawl of notes floating weightless in space, a sort of tranquil soundscape, that seems perfect for meditation, contemplation or even just relaxation. The tones ring out, the extended decay as much a part of the composition as the initial notes, making the whole thing sound very fluid and organic and full of a hopeful energy. Delicate and divine. And even at 40 minutes, way too short, the sort of piece that we imagine playing on forever.
The second piece is a bit darker, and is more overtly linked to the record's theme. Batagov unfurling darkly melodic figures, gamelan like melodies draped over the top, deep resonant tones, and tinkling chimes, over which two different voices deliver prayer-like incantations to each of the 35 buddhas by name, the music brooding and minimal, but utterly entrancing, and with the voices, it only becomes that more powerful. This is probably the most listened to record in the store recently, and it's easy to see why, Batagov achieves the seemingly impossible, creating a piece of music that is both tranquil and soothing, but one that still manages to be active, and engages the listener in active listening, if they so desire, the main melody/refrain is the sort of melody, that will stick in your head, and will surface constantly, which in a way seems like the perfect accompaniment to the Buddhist teachings that accompany it, a sonic mantra, that can be revisited throughout the day, to help the listener remain lost in the music, and perhaps help achieve a degree of inner peace, even when, or maybe especially when, the outside world seems to be at utterly at odds with such a state.
MPEG Stream: "Like Dust That Covers Mirror"

album cover BATAGOV, ANTON Passionate Desire To Be An Angel (Devotio Moderno / Long Arms / Tummo) cd 14.98
We continue to dig ever deeper into the catalog of Russian composer / pianist Anton Batagov this week, with two different, and extremely different sounding titles. The other (elsewhere on this week's list) is one of the strangest recordings we've heard from Batagov so far, which finds him paired up with a musician called simply XMZ, for a gorgeous record of piano and electronic sounds/treatments, and this one, Passionate Desire To Be An Angel, which once again finds Batagov's pushing beyond the idea of standard classical music, and expanding that music's typical palette, to include not only cello, harp, vibraphone and samplers, but also guitars, and not delicately arranged 'classical' guitars, we're talking chugging distorted rock guitars, just check out the opener here "Can You Feel The Rhythm?", which pairs chugging rock riffage, with delicate flurries of piano, a strange combination to be sure, and a bit jarring at first, but after a few minutes, it somehow makes some strange sort of sense, but then it gets even weirder, with mournful trombone melodies, and finally, after a brief respite, the riff swoops back in, wreathed in pointillist piano, but now accompanied by some seriously belted out soulful female vox. Woah. We can definitely see classical nerds being a bit confused, but we're pretty into it, Batagov to at all afraid to mix his love of classical music, with rock, and an obvious joy in strange collaboration.
The rest of the record is not nearly as bizarre, but is, like all the other Batagov records we've reviewed, gorgeous, "Cunjunctio", a sweeping near 30 minute epic, that begins as a series of solo piano vignettes, which are soon joined by organ, and celesta, transforming the sound into what could be some seventies E.L.P. style prog epic, but instead of exploding into tangled rock bombast, the tones are drawn out into meditative drones, and lush layered textures, over which angelic female choral vocals soar, sounding almost liturgical, and it's at this point that we first realize how much of this record, sounds almost Christmas-y, the sort of fanfare you can imagine hearing at midnight mass, or as the soundtrack to some strange art film, all snowy vistas, and glimmery lights strung from houses, Batagov's love of Philip Glass evident here as well, with the busy organ chorale very reminiscent of Glass's score for Koyaanisqatsi.
"Opus Alchymicum" starts out with a very Vangelis feel, pizzicato strings, chiming melodies, all wrapped in swirls of reverbed piano melody, pulsing and propulsive, the song shifting from softly churning and rhythmic, to emotional and darkly hauntingly melodic and back again, those chugging guitars from the first track making a return appearance, and again the vibe is very wintery, and soundtracky, and really quite lovely.
The record finishes with "Umbra Solis", which begins all stately droned out mesmer, whirring organs, and long layered tones, minor key and wistfully minimal, before blossoming into another wintery chorale, swirling washes of organ chords, and harmonized operatic vocals, almost like the score to some time lapse film, of the end of winter, snow melting, falling from branches, buds and shoots pushing their way through the icy ground, the sun bathing everything in its hazy springtime glow. So good.
The accompanying booklet, includes all sorts of alchemical diagrams as well as various bits of text (including some quotes from Manly P. Hall), speaking to a deeper philosophical/alchemical/ideological subtext to these works, which only makes the sounds here that much more moving and powerful.
MPEG Stream: "Can You Feel The Rhythm"
MPEG Stream: "Conjunctio"
MPEG Stream: "Umbra Solis"

album cover BATAGOV, ANTON The Monk Thogmey's Thirty-Seven Precepts (Devotio Moderno / Long Arms) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Yet another breathtakingly beautiful release from Russian composer/pianist Anton Batagov, the fourth we've reviewed, and another recording/composition inexorably tied into Batagov's Buddhism. The Monk Thogmey's Thirty-Seven Precepts, like Batagov's other compositions, unfurls a lush, luxurious sonic backdrop, over which sacred Buddhist writings are sung/spoken/chanted, in this case, it's Gyalsey Thogmey Zangpo's titular poem chanted by Lama Tsering Dondrub, and the subtly sing songy delivery is mesmerizing, quite trancelike in fact, drifting serenely over the brooding, hypnotic, darkly lovely shimmer beneath.
A slow series of sonic swells, constructed from piano, organ, vibraphone, guitar, bass, cello and percussion strike the perfect balance between the meditative mesmer of Batagov's Music For The 35 Buddhas, and the almost Godspeed like post rock / modern classical minimalism hybrid of his Bodhicharyavatara. The record starts off very much like Batagov's masterwork The Wheel Of The Law, delicate piano, muted melodic percussion, a dreamlike sprawl of hushed, haunting rhythmic melody, before the vocals come in, accompanied by a lush almost wall of sound, swirling pianos and shimmering gongs, moaning strings, dramatic and majestic. The whole of the subsequent 21+ minute first movement seems to follow a similar sonic pattern, weaving a gentle, delicate sprawl of washed out and woozy, soft focus melody, chiming and lilting and dreamlike, before shifting to something ever so subtly darker, adding guitar and bass, and infusing it with some of that post rock brood, while the vocals drone prayerfully over the top, before slipping back into the more melodic ambient first half, the cycle continuing for the duration, a slow motion sonic seesaw, that in its structure is also quite meditative and trancelike. The second movement adds more shadow to the light, big booming drums, more guitar, melodically and structurally similar to the first part, but a bit more intense, darker and dronier, but equally as mesmerizing.
Finally, the record resolves with an instrumental epilogue, that fuses the two parts into a slow, dolorous piano driven post rock minimal drift, guitar strums drift weightless over pointillist piano, organs wheeze out lush softly undulating drones, that main melody woven deftly throughout. Fantastic stuff as always. The liner notes describe the record's arrangement as relating to seventies rock music, and although we're not sure we would have picked up on that, it is part of what makes Batagov's compositions and performances so singular, and so unlike the rest of his minimalist peers.
Fans of the other Batagov records will definitely want this one too, this could very well be our favorite recording of his (after Wheel Of The Law)...
Super elaborate packaging, a gorgeous full color slipcase, enclosing the cd in a jewel case, and a thick full color booklet, beautifully laid out with liner notes, in Russian and English, as well as Thogmey's poem in Russian and Tibetan.
MPEG Stream: "Verses 1-21"
MPEG Stream: "Verses 22-37"
MPEG Stream: "Epilogue"

album cover BATAGOV, ANTON The Wheel Of The Law (Listen Different) 3cd 38.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
This incredible, gorgeous chunk of dreamy modern minimalism, finally back in stock, for a VERY limited time...
The very moment we we first heard this, we knew it was something special, and something we just had to list! Recorded in 1999, and originally released in 2002, The Wheel Of The Law compiles three epic pieces of gorgeous minimalism from Russian composer Anton Batagov. Three discs, three tracks composed for organ, glockenspiel, xylophone, piano and percussion, inspired by Buddhism and the Quest for Nirvana, and the practices involved: peace, meditation, deep thought, breathing, consciousness. Repetitive and melodic, lush and so so beautiful. Someone once referred to Batagov as sounding "like Reich on vodka", not sure we hear the vodka, or even any sounds distinctly and immediately recognizably Russian, but there is certainly plenty of Reich here, as well as Riley, and most definitely some Harold Budd, especially in the delicate, spare piano arrangements. The first disc, "Circle Of Time" is four long movements of warm rich swells of organ, flowing lazily beneath delicate cyclical chimes and abstract piano figures, very dramatic and hypnotic. The second disc, the 4 track Voidness cycle: "Appearances And Voidness", "Clarity And Voidness", "Bliss And Voidness", "Mind And Voidness", introduces the same delicate chimes found on the first disc, but this time over a repeating series of haunting moaning violin melodies. Minor key and mildly atonal, the melodies are spread out over a spare background of complex overtones, all drifting dreamily into space. The final disc: "Liberation Through Listening In The Between" is again a massive sprawl of lush static organ drones, wavering and subtly pulsing, with simple three and four note melodies played out over minutes instead of seconds, chiming and ringing, resonating above the organ's mesmerizing drone, the whole thing supported by a barely there framework of simple percussion, so subtle and simple that it's basically a single drum, muted and way down in the mix, offering a sort of pulse for the piece, a musical heartbeat, slowed down, as if in meditation or contemplation.
So completely and utterly breathtaking.
MPEG Stream: "Dus-Kyi Khor-Lo 1"
MPEG Stream: "Dus-Kyi Khor-Lo 4"

album cover BATAGOV, ANTON & XMZ (AB & XMZ) II (Tummo) cd 14.98
On the last list, we reviewed the first collaboration between Russian composer / pianist Batagov and the mysterious XMZ, which resulted in a strange sort of post-classical Batagov, with swirling atmospheres, dense drones, and perhaps strangest of all beats, Batagov's ethereal, dreamlike pianoscapes transformed into something much more rhythmic and electronic and 'modern'. For their second collaboration Batagov augments his usual piano with one that has been prepared, as is evidenced in the picture on the back cover, which features a shot of the strings inside the piano, augmented by screws, dowels, quarters and allen wrenches, with Batagov not just playing that prepared piano, but also the strings inside, adding plucks and scrapes, haunting pizzicato melodies, and all manner of percussive textures.
The mood this time around is much more somber, and soundtracky, XMZ adding thick swirls of rumble and whir, of lush chordal thrum, and slow shifting shimmer, drifting clouds of soft-noise blurred into washed put prismatic smears, over which Batagov unfurls stately, melancholic melodies here, creepy atonal plinks and plonks there. The first few tracks are hushed dark drifts, moody and murky, Batagov's melodies floating weightless amidst streaks of grey and woozy burbling whirs and hums, the result is darkly dream, and mysteriously meditative, it's not really until the fourth track that the sun begins to shine through, that track unfurling like a Philip Glass / Oval mash up, the backdrop a murky swirl over which Batagov flits elegantly. But those moments of light are fleeting, as the mood darkens almost immediately after, Batagov and XMZ weaving a hazy dirge, tense and minor key and quite dramatic, which is only magnified on the follow up, which seems to blur and bleed and ooze into something much more abstract, and nearly terrifying, a could-be score for some lost arty seventies giallo, sinister and smoldering.
The last few tracks mix it up a bit, slipping from Caretaker like haunted ballroom shimmer, to something surprisingly almost flamenco sounding, the first beats we've heard so far, a shuffling skitter, underpinned by a house music like pulse, if Batagov was playing synths instead of pianos, it could almost be some strange sort of Umberto / Zombi retro-soundtrack thing, but instead, it's much more moody and measured. And finally, the two finish off with another Caretaker-ish bit of ghostly drift, the prepared piano sounding almost zither like, the piano proper unfurling gorgeous dreamy melodies, all swathed in a softly swirling cloud of gauze-y ambience.
Another winner from Batagov, and yet another sonic side to this aQ beloved modern classical master...
MPEG Stream: "I"
MPEG Stream: "II"
MPEG Stream: "III"
MPEG Stream: "IV"

album cover BATAGOV, ANTON & XMZ (AB & XMZ) The Piano And Other Sounds (Tummo / Long Arms) cd 14.98
One of two releases on this week's list from Russian composer / pianist Anton Batagov, this one the first in a series of collaborations Batagov produced with a musician called XMZ, who according to the liner notes, contributed 'sounds' the the project, and what sounds they are. We shouldn't need to go into too much detail about how much we love Batagov, his piano playing fluid and lyrical, expressive and emotional, every record we've heard has been stunning, and while this one is no different, it definitely casts Batagov's playing in a whole different light, with XMZ leaving the piano alone for the most part, but creating a lush, and layered, super varied landscape around Batagov's piano, the opening track alone perfectly demonstrates this strange partnership. Batagov unfurls lovely, haunting melodies, which at first are underpinned by strange percussion, and slow shifting textures, but quickly those textures build to soft swirls of chordal color, and underneath, rhythms begin to surface, skittery and barely there at first, but soon, those too become more driving, and eventually almost bombastic, the surrounding ambience too, becomes darkly dramatic, majestic swells of post rock like shimmer, the final minute, pounding, dramatic and so epic!
The second track is much more atmospheric, near ambient, and very cinematic, with XMZ doing most of the heavy lifting in the beginning, Batagov left to unfurl stately chords, and little melodic flourishes. Eventually, the background noise coalesces into another rhythm, and Batagov's piano becomes more forceful, the whole track gaining momentum, becoming a sort of dreamy, soundtracky krautrock flecked new age. The rest of the record unwinds similarly, from moody, darkly dramatic soundtrack like refrains, and strange crackling background textures, disembodied voices, moody rumbling drones, shuffling beats, lush clouds of chordal piano shimmer, sometimes sounding a bit like DJ Shadow, a sample heavy sprawl of beat driven classical piano, but elsewhere, it's a dramatic, dreamy melancholic ambience, and finally, a brooding, lovely, slo-mo sonic elegy, XMZ letting Batagov finish things off, adding very little, just some subtle sonic colorations, and some deep background thrum. As always, fantastic stuff, this one especially sounding like something you might hear on Type or Miasmah or Time Released Sound. Needless to say, absolutely recommended.
MPEG Stream: "Part One"
MPEG Stream: "Part Two"
MPEG Stream: "Part Six"

album cover BATAGOV, ANTON & YUNGCHEN LHAMO Tayatha (Cantaloupe Music) cd 14.98
Tayatha is the latest release from aQ beloved composer/pianist Anton Batagov, and it just might be his loveliest and most haunting work to date. Which is saying a lot, considering how much we love pretty much everything we've heard from him, we've even made several of his records Record Of The Week, before this one, and his triple cd Wheel Of The Law remains one of our favorite modern minimal releases EVER (and would have also been a Record Of The Week, had we been able to get more). But this new one is something else entirely.
On past records, Batagov has enjoyed the act of collaboration, and has explored playing with rock bands, with experimental electronic musicians, incorporating electric guitar, pounding drums, different vocalists, Buddhist recitations, all a part of Batagov's idiosyncratic approach to modern composition, but never has one of his collaborations been so potent, and so moving, as on Tayatha. Yet another Buddhist based composition here Batagov is joined by Tibetan vocalist Yungchen Lhamo, and that's it, just piano and vocals. And it's stunning. Absolutely. Some of the most beautiful and lyrical piano playing we've heard from Batagov, the sound so rich and emotional, moving and personal, even sans vocals, Tayatha would be a revelation, but Yungchen's voice is a marvel, lush and lustrous, but super distinctive, slipping from rich throaty croon, to something more abstract, and back again, and similarly sans piano, this would be a gorgeous a cappella performance, in fact, Lhamo has been performing solo and a cappella for years, but it's how Lhamo's voice and Batagov's piano fit together so perfectly that makes this record so special.
It's hard to put into words what exactly it is about this record, but without sounding overly dramatic, we got chills the first time we put this one. It's lush and lovely, but definitely haunting, and subtly harrowing, Batagov and Lhamo somehow imbuing the sound with intense emotion, the music surprisingly personal and intimate. We won't pretend that there wasn't a potential for new age schmaltz, what with the female vocals and piano, and the rather new age-y looking cover, but don't be misled, this is a powerful collection of dark, dreamy, moody and meditative music that is truly transcendent. Might be best to just listen to the samples below, we find it hard to imagine you won't be immediately smitten.
And what's even cooler about Tayatha, is that the sound and the compositions are super varied, tracks like "Medicine Buddha" are almost poppy, it's not hard to imagine someone like Tori Amos or Regina Spektor performing the same song, but with dramatically different results, yet even in the hands of Batagov And Lhamo, the song swells dramatically, the piano melodies super intense and strangely catchy, the vocals too, since we don't speak the language, often act like another instrument, imbued with the power of the human voice, but not beholden to any sort of lyrical interpretation. Other tracks are more tranquil and meditative, some are lilting and and dreamlike, others brood and pulse with a mysterious dark energy, and at least one, "Flying Dakini", almost sounds like some 'Nighthawks At The Diner' Tom Waits style balladry, albeit in Tibetan and a bit more modern minimalist. But all the tracks here, every one, is heartbreakingly beautiful, the whole somehow is so much more than its constituent parts, repeated listens have transformed Tayatha into more than just voice and piano, it's almost liturgical, a mysteriously lovely spiritual sonic journey, that manages to turn sound into something divine.
MPEG Stream: "Medicine Buddha"
MPEG Stream: "Your Kindness"
MPEG Stream: "White Palace"

album cover BATTIATO, FRANCO Pollution (Water) cd 15.98
Although it's only a very small section inside our store, many of our most devout and curious shoppers have found gem after gem in our Italian Prog section. Franco Battiato is one of those gems for sure. One of those endlessly creative artists who completely defies categorization. Sweeping in scope and eccentric in all the right ways it's no surprise that Battiato has finally begun to get the attention he so rightly deserves, as folks like Jim O'Rourke have gone out of their way to champion these forward thinking sounds from decades ago. Released in 1973, Pollution is a psychedelic synth masterpiece foreshadowing so much of what was to come in the landscape of electronic music. With out-of-this-world synths that make Rick Wakeman's playing seem pedestrian, and an otherworldly dimension orchestrated to perfection. Like David Axelrod getting super psychedelic and arranging a record for Ash Ra Tempel. So extravagant yet totally coherent. These sounds are so alive, so full of color, wonder and beauty. It goes without saying that as more folks discover this record it will probably be sampled to death, and we wouldn't be all that surprised if Four Tet, DJ Shadow, or Plaid hadn't already borrowed a bit here and there. Like Jean Claude Vannier's L'Enfant Assassin Des Mouches, this is an early '70s psych-prog masterpiece that is an across the board AQ favorite!
MPEG Stream: "Areknames"
MPEG Stream: "Plancton"
MPEG Stream: "Pollution"

BATTIATO, FRANCO ZA (Artis) cd 16.98
Minimalist avant piano and voice from 1970s Italy. This composer, we've been told, is much beloved by the Chicago Tortoise crowd. We will also soon be restocking his Jukebox which is a lovely, soaring soundtrack to an older Italian TV movie.

BAYLE, F. L'Experience Acoustique, volumes 5-6 2cd 29.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.

BAYLE, FRANCOIS Fabulae (FCM) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.

BAYLE, FRANCOIS Jeita (FCM) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.

BAYLE, FRANCOIS Vibrations Composees / Grande Ployphonie (MGC) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.

album cover BEBEY, FRANCIS African Electronic Music 1975-1982 (Born Bad) cd 16.98
When we first heard a track from this album a few months ago, our immediate reaction was A) wow, we really had better find a way to get it for the store and B) if and when we do, it'll probably have to be a Record Of The Week. And that was just from hearing ONE song. Fortunately, we did manage to get some of these imports, and the rest of the record only confirmed and amplified our first impression. Record Of The Week it is! (Actually, some of us here, like Andee, were already Bebey fans from way back, but for others of us, gosh, what an introduction...)
As you know, we've certainly seen a bunch of great groovy African reissues lately (in fact, there's a couple others elsewhere on this week's list). But this collection of the late Cameroonian composer & writer Francis Bebey's music is rather unique, to say the least. And it's got something in common with another cool item we're reviewing this week, the vintage "electronic soul" compilation Personal Space. As the title indicates, the focus here is on the especially electronic side of his discography, from the era when multi-instrumentalist Bebey experimented with the latest gear - tape recorders, keyboards, drum machines - to record his own music at home in Paris, making for delightfully dancey, avant-garde Afropop.
The track we had heard was the first one here, "New Track", an over 8 minute long number that starts off with tinkling thumb piano before blaring synth stabs, burbling keys, and ticking drum machine rhythms kick in... pretty soon, the song has become dense with loops and layers, repeating vocals about bananas and potatoes and politics creating a kind of cheerfully confusing mantra. It's as fresh and charming and mesmeric and groovy today as it was when Bebey recorded it in back in '82.
Though this would pretty much be worth it just for that memorable song alone, the rest of this 14-track collection is full of further futuristic Afrofunk highlights. Meaning, more blurting synthesized horns, head bopping basslines, thumping electronic beats augmented by hand percussion, and laidback vocals - some spoken, some sung, in various languages (Duala, French and English). Bebey's talent on classical guitar is also evident. It's quite an amazing mix altogether; 'makossa' music from Cameroon meets "Blow Your Head" style Moog outbursts (as on the woozy instrumental track "Super Jingle", with its skronky synth shiver set amidst hypnotic percussive pulsations). Sometimes the mood gets emotive in other ways, Bebey bringing the beats down and singing sadly in a soft, ragged voice... Here we will go out on a limb, and make a wild hypothetical rock crit "cross between this and that" equation, of Konono No.1 + Arthur Russell, whattya think?
Basically, this is as cool as anything you could imagine something called "African Electronic Music 1975-1982" might possibly sound like! And maybe even cooler than that.
Packaged with liner notes in both English and French.
MPEG Stream: "New Track"
MPEG Stream: "La Condition Masculine"
MPEG Stream: "Pygmy Love Song"
MPEG Stream: "Savanah Georgia"

album cover BEBEY, FRANCIS African Electronic Music 1975-1982 (Born Bad) 2lp 29.00
When we first heard a track from this album a few months ago, our immediate reaction was A) wow, we really had better find a way to get it for the store and B) if and when we do, it'll probably have to be a Record Of The Week. And that was just from hearing ONE song. Fortunately, we did manage to get some of these imports, and the rest of the record only confirmed and amplified our first impression. Record Of The Week it is! (Actually, some of us here, like Andee, were already Bebey fans from way back, but for others of us, gosh, what an introduction...)
As you know, we've certainly seen a bunch of great groovy African reissues lately (in fact, there's a couple others elsewhere on this week's list). But this collection of the late Cameroonian composer & writer Francis Bebey's music is rather unique, to say the least. And it's got something in common with another cool item we're reviewing this week, the vintage "electronic soul" compilation Personal Space. As the title indicates, the focus here is on the especially electronic side of his discography, from the era when multi-instrumentalist Bebey experimented with the latest gear - tape recorders, keyboards, drum machines - to record his own music at home in Paris, making for delightfully dancey, avant-garde Afropop.
The track we had heard was the first one here, "New Track", an over 8 minute long number that starts off with tinkling thumb piano before blaring synth stabs, burbling keys, and ticking drum machine rhythms kick in... pretty soon, the song has become dense with loops and layers, repeating vocals about bananas and potatoes and politics creating a kind of cheerfully confusing mantra. It's as fresh and charming and mesmeric and groovy today as it was when Bebey recorded it in back in '82.
Though this would pretty much be worth it just for that memorable song alone, the rest of this 14-track collection is full of further futuristic Afrofunk highlights. Meaning, more blurting synthesized horns, head bopping basslines, thumping electronic beats augmented by hand percussion, and laidback vocals - some spoken, some sung, in various languages (Duala, French and English). Bebey's talent on classical guitar is also evident. It's quite an amazing mix altogether; 'makossa' music from Cameroon meets "Blow Your Head" style Moog outbursts (as on the woozy instrumental track "Super Jingle", with its skronky synth shiver set amidst hypnotic percussive pulsations). Sometimes the mood gets emotive in other ways, Bebey bringing the beats down and singing sadly in a soft, ragged voice... Here we will go out on a limb, and make a wild hypothetical rock crit "cross between this and that" equation, of Konono No.1 + Arthur Russell, whattya think?
Basically, this is as cool as anything you could imagine something called "African Electronic Music 1975-1982" might possibly sound like! And maybe even cooler than that.
Packaged with liner notes in both English and French.
MPEG Stream: "New Track"
MPEG Stream: "La Condition Masculine"
MPEG Stream: "Pygmy Love Song"
MPEG Stream: "Savanah Georgia"

BEHRMAN, DAVID Leapday Night (Lovely) cd 14.98

BERIO, LUCIANO / BRUNO MADERNA Momenti, Thema - Omaggio A Joyce, Visage / Le Rire, Invenzione Su Una Voce (BV Haast) cd 19.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.

BERNOCCHI, ERALDO & HAROLD BUDD Music For 'Fragments From The Inside' (Sub Rosa) cd 14.98

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