REYNOLS Rampotanza Grodo Rempelente (Locust) cd 14.98
In their "Met Life" series, Locust Records has commissioned experimental artists to produce a field recording of a dynamic aural evironment and then respond to that recording using any methods of their choosing. So, the Argentinian out-rock ensemble Reynols presents the sounds of city workers in Buenos Aires jackhammering a ditch in a busy city street. While Reynols could be implying that this field recording is an obtuse channelling from Minecxio -- that's the mythical alternate dimension that Reynols have cited as the source of their 'musical' ideas, which have included in the past a symphony for 10,000 chickens and an album comprised entirely of blank tape (which is anything but silent). However, Reynols' field recording of jackhammers seems pretty straight. Their "response" to this field recording is another matter altogether. With gritty guitar noise freakouts lurking in the distance, Reynols sets up a psych-fug throb of primal percussion, close-fisted organ arpeggiations, and bellowing trumpets, turning the pneumatic monotony of the jackhammer into an atypical, instrumental waltz of cosmic melodies and drunken rhythms.
"Rampotanza Ronil Grodorempelente" MPEG Stream:
"Rampotanza Ronil Grodo Rempelente: Response"
ROBIN THE FOG (HOWLROUND) The Ghosts Of Bush (Curved) lp 28.00
We had been hearing about this record for ages, and even before actually getting a listen, we were pretty convinced we'd love it. A collection of nocturnal field recordings captured at Bush House, the home of the BBC's world service for seventy years it was recently relocated. Robin The Fog worked nights at Bush House, and spent much of his time there capturing the gorgeously creepy haunted house ambience of that historic site, the hum of air conditioners, the sound of the elevators, various sounds echoing through the empty halls and abandoned studios, the outside world filtered through the structure's thick walls, a barely audible murmur, an attempt to capture on tape, the spirit of a place, and the residual traces of all who had passed through, and the energy of what had taken place in those hallowed halls for the last seven decades. Those captured sounds were then manipulated on an old 4-track reel to reel tape, and the results are truly stunning. A symphony of whirs and rumble, of echoey traces and ghostly shadowy sounds, moaning and creaking, scraping and rustling, voices surface now and again, as do little snippets of music. Unclear what the actual sources for those elements are, but they add a definite otherworldly mystery to the captured and manipulated minimalist soundscapes. Imagine Philip Jeck, Tim Hecker, William Basinski, the Ghost Orchid EVP recordings, the Conet Project, The Ghosts Of The Bush seems to occupy a similar sonic space, one where tones are blurred into shapeless drifts, echoes captured in dusty old stairwells becomes hazy swaths of weirdly melodic drift, clouds of static and tape hum cover everything like a layer of dust on discarded furniture covered in old grey sheets, long keening high end shimmers spread out like spectral transmissions from the past, it's hard to say how much of a hand the recordist had in the final product here, it's obvious quite a bit, but we like to pretend that perhaps nothing was done to the original sounds, that this is in fact that sounds old buildings make when there are no humans around to hear, creeping swaths of droning rumble, warbling loops of chordal throb and pulsating rhythms, all disappearing into a moonlit murk, scurrying away into the dark shadows in the corners of grey-lit rooms, fragments of music box melodies floating atop the sound of wood expanding and contracting, of scraping metals, and of groaning foundations, the creaking of rusted hinges woven into mysterious keening soundscapes, blurred fragments, echo drenched and slowly dissipating like some spirit called back to the other side, and of course the near silence that upon close listening is not silent at all, the invisible world that comes to life, when the lights go off, and the shadows swallow up the light, a dizzying array of sonic spirits that manifest, way from the ears of humanity, here captured surreptitiously, giving the rest of us a glimpse of what lies beyond, and just outside of our perception. So hauntingly gorgeous. And absolutely recommended for fans of strange found sounds and mysterious minimal soundscaping. And of course, EXTREMELY limited...
"Part 1 - Cantonese Subs / Fog At 5am" MPEG Stream:
"Part 2 - The Resonating Stairwell" MPEG Stream:
"Part 3 - Cold Space And Peeling Oxide"
ROCHE, J.C. & B.H. GUNN Wailing Wolves (Loups En Liberte) (Sittelle) cd 17.98
ROCHE, JEAN C. Le Monde Des Singes 1 (Primate World 1) (Sittelle) cd 17.98
There always seems to be labels vying for the coveted position of coolest record label in the world. EM in Japan of course, with their insane array of amazing, and amazingly packaged reissues. aRCHIVE is a contender, with outrageously deluxe packaging and some of the coolest weirdest music out there. There's PseudoArcana, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon, and let's not forget Andee's tUMULt label. But France's Sittelle label constantly blow us away, and are inching ever closer to being the one. C'mon, there was the rutting red deer disc, a whole record of deers mating, that sounds as amazing as you might imagine. Then there was the insane Bats record, two whole discs, one of normal recordings, the other of slowed down bat sounds, coupled with a massive book! Cicadas and Crickets was another great one, transporting us to some filed in the middle of nowhere. Bizarre Birds? Indeed, an outrageous collection of, well, bizarre bird sounds. And finally, Pastoral Bells, one of our all time favorites, the sounds of cowbells, drifting over the hills as cows wander and graze, so gorgeous and tranquil. And as if it couldn't get any better, they bring us MONKEYS!!! You may not know how obsessed we are with monkeys, but WE ARE!!! (Andee even got to hand feed monkeys when he was in Japan!!) WE LOVE MONKEYS!!! But this is no ordinary collection of monkey sounds, these sounds are amazing, and amazingly varied, some do in fact sound like monkeys, but some sound like sirens, some like strange electronics, some even like black metal. And like most of the stuff on Sittelle, it's not just the sounds, but the surroundings, the sonic bed in which the sounds exist. Here, it's the sound of the jungle, a lush, living thing, crickets and insets, a nearly constant buzz, birds chirping, the sound of wind, leaves, branches, that would almost be enough even without the monkeys, and come to think of it pretty sure there's at least one or two discs on Sittelle specifically of jungle sounds... But monkeys is why we're here and the monkeys represented here are remarkable. There's the hooting Siamangs, engaged in an intricate call and response, multiple monkey calls piling up into confusional squalls. Then there's the Lar Gibbons, who alternately whistle, trill like birds, or scream like a frightened hysterical woman. How about the Male Orangutans who sound nothing like Clyde from Every Which Way But Loose, and instead sound a little like strange electronic whooshes and bleeps. Almost like a human making video game sounds. There are the chimps, whose calls are the most recognizable of the bunch, but who also have a call that sounds like a screaming woman or a mewing kitten. Then there are mountain gorillas, who grunt and pant, and growl a little like wild dogs. Then it gets strange. The Black Colobus, who groans like a wizened old man, or croaks like some giant frog, and sometimes sounds like Popeye, the calls separated by what sound like a very human grunts and coughs. Then there are the howlers, whose tracks, complete with the haunting forest backdrop, sound almost like Abruptum, some haunting black metal ambience, distant groans and growls, a drawn out demonic rasp, whispering like the wind, a growling monstrous rumble, very intense and ominous sounding. And there's more. WAY more. Far too much to describe here. But all of it fascinating and bizarre and funny and completely amazing. And the most remarkable thing about these discs, is they are somehow not just "nature recordings", they are recorded, and sequenced, and presented in a way that makes them eminently listenable. It is more than the sounds of nature, it is a strange form of natural music, the music of nature. It can transport us to some far away jungle, some lost world, or it can just fill our ears with strange and wonderful sounds. Either way, this is a fantastic listen. Surprisingly musical, totally mysterious and so great! As with all Sittelle releases, included is a big booklet with extensive liner notes in both English and French, which includes detailed notes on each track and on each type of monkey!
"Family Of Siamangs" MPEG Stream:
"Pair Of Lar Gibbons" MPEG Stream:
"Harem Of Proboscis Monkeys" MPEG Stream:
"Group Of Chimpanzees" MPEG Stream:
"Group Of Black Colobus" MPEG Stream:
"Two Mantled Howlers"
ROCHE, JEAN C. & NELLY DESESQUELLE Bizarre Birds (Droles D'Oiseaux) (Sittelle) 2cd 26.00
THESE ARE SOME WEIRD BIRDS! France's Sittelle label (home to Bats, Rutting Red Deer, Cicadas And Crickets, and loads and loads of Frogs, among other wonderful nature recordings) blows us away yet again with this double cd, that they (in English) call Bizarre Birds. They got that right. Well we don't know if these birds are funny-lookin' or not, but these sure aren't your average birdcalls. No sir. Spread over two whole discs, you get an amazing plethora of examples of our feathered friends opening their beaks and making some freakin' strange sounds. Each one stranger than the previous, it seems, over the 68 tracks on on disc one, and 55 on disc two. It's an international selection, these birds of six continents... from the Canada's Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker to the Venezuelan Horned Screamer; from the Laughing Kookaburra of Australia to Finland's Common Snipe. Together at last! In all, there's 84 bird species represented, over two hours of audio, with 39 of the tracks being "slowed-down" replays allowing the listener to discern additional "hidden music" in the birdcalls. We've said this before about some other out-there nature field recordings we've heard (the droning SE Asian insects of Broken Hearted Dragonflies, the underwater penguins of Douglas Quin's sadly out of print Antarctica, the alluded-to-above The Inaudible World - A Sound Guide Of The French Bats): it sounds like cutting-edge experimental electronic music. And it's true. Some of the birds here DO sound like birds, for sure. But some of the others... is it a dog? A monkey? A demonic baby? A piece of industrial machinery? A spaceship?? We don't think that a team of sound FX specialists armed with a roomful of synths could replicate some of these wacky noises. Yet as weird as these are, there are also many examples that possess the beauty commonly attributed to birdsong. Just in their own special way. Anybody remember the Waldamsel / Forest Blackbird album we sold so many of years ago? Well this is like that but just... a lot more bizarre! As with most Sittelle products, this comes with a thick cd booklet. Usually they're packed with a lot of explanatory text. This one's a bit different, instead we're provided with basic info on each bird/track (scientific and common name, geographic region, slow motion ratio if slowed down) plus also quite a few amusingly goofy cartoon-styled illustrations of some of the birds, in color!
"European Storm-Petrel" MPEG Stream:
"Cory's Shearwater" MPEG Stream:
"Crested Oropendola, slowed 2 times" MPEG Stream:
"Hoopoo Lark" MPEG Stream:
"Greater Racket-Tailed Drongo, slowed 4 times" MPEG Stream:
ROCHE, JEAN C. & JEAN THEVENET Cicadas And Crickets (Gigales Et Grillons) (Sittelle) cd 17.98
Chirp chirp chirp chirp... those of us who grew up somewhere outside of the city where you get to hear the sounds of nature at night are familiar with the wonderful, pulsating background drone provided by crickets and cicadas in warmer weather. These particular "singing" insects (60 different species!) were recorded all over the world (in France, China, Boreno, Cameroon, Australia, Venezuela, Sengal, and many, many other locales), but some of them could just as easily been in my parents' wooded backyard in Pennsylvania. OK, well maybe if I was an expert I could tell otherwise. But the buzzing chirping sounds still sound familiar, comfortingly so. Yet alien too, when you think about it... as with the somewhat similar Sublime Frequencies volume Broken Hearted Dragonflies, this could just as easily be the work of an experimental electronic musician! Ryoji Ikeda, Noto, or Nerve Net Noise perhaps...and the examples of "buzzers" on the Conet Project also come to mind. With sixty tracks here, it's hard to pick faves. They all have their individual charms, each group of insects its own rhythmic and timbral signature, plus the different background ambience (frogs, bumble bees, woodpeckers) found from track to track, some recorded at "nightfall in a banana plantation" others at "twilight in a plam grove", or "during the day from a tree" etc. Also, these bugs' high pitched whines and massed chattering vary in intensity levels from the soothing to the downright frightening... Definitely recommended to all you fans of the likes of Sounds of North American Frogs and Chris Watson's field recordings. And, as further recommendation, this comes from the from the same label that brought us Rutting Red Deers, The Inaudible World of Bats, and this week's Record Of The Week, Pastoral Bells!
"Crickets: Reunion Island (track 14)" MPEG Stream:
"Cicadas: China (track 35)" MPEG Stream:
"Cicadas: Venezuela (track 47)" MPEG Stream:
"Cicadas: Malasisa (track 40)"
ROCHE, JEAN C. / BORIS JOLLIVET Mammiferes D'Europe (Sittelle) 2cd 32.00
RUNAWAY TRAIN (Ash International) lp 9.99
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. A riveting real time radio transmission recording between a controller of the Canadian Railways and the operator of a runaway train... and that's all. But man, what a field recording!! Destined to go into our new Found Sounds section, alongside The Conet Project, Sounds of North American Frogs, Stephen P. McGreevy's recordings of the aurora borealis, and that guy who dreams out loud.
S.E.T.I. Pod (Ash International) cd 15.98
"Pod" is the final installment to Andrew Lagowski's alien trilogy, which has dealt with the secrecy surrounding extra-terrestrial intelligence and the so-called Grey Projects of research & development of the defense applications of ET technology. Thematically, Lagowski posits a different metaphor for "Pod" away from the control of information and closer to an escape mentality that was embraced by the members of the Heaven's Gate cult. Within this context, Lagowski has crafted an evocative collage of crackling VLF recordings, air-traffic control transmissions of UFO sightings, and other cosmic transmissions.
SABBATH ASSEMBLY Restored To One (Ajna) lp 17.98
Got something here for fans of Jex Thoth, the No Neck Blues Band, AND weird religious cults... there's probably some overlap there, we imagine! The Ajna Offensive, best known for black metal releases by the likes of Deathspell Omega and Funeral Mist, and also that fancy Bobby Beausoleil box set not long ago, now bring us the Sabbath Assembly, singing "glorious songs of praise to Lucifer, Satan, Christ, and Jehovah". Huh? These are indeed REAL hymns, and all from one church. Some would say, cult. The explanation: ever heard of the Process Church Of The Final Judgment? This is their music, "reProcessed" by a contemporary psychedelic (super)group of underground musicians, including Jex Thoth of, um, Jex Thoth on vocals, David "Xtian" Nuss (NNCK, Angelblood, Under Satan's Sun), and Randall Dunn (Master Musicians Of Bukkake)! So you can expect this will be ominous and esoteric. The subject of a recent Feral House book, the Process Church was a '70s phenomenon, of course, a kind of apocalyptic Jesus-freak cult with radical political dimensions. We're told they wore black cloaks (always cool) and had German shepherds (really?). We first heard of 'em years ago thanks to George Clinton's band Funkadelic, who for a while in the early '70s were, if not followers, at least supporters of the Process Church, who presumably had a chapter in Detroit. Several Funkadelic lps feature Process Church teachings (propaganda?) on the sleeves. The music of the Sabbath Assembly doesn't sound much like Funkadelic, though. Not quite that funky! Nor are they metal as you might assume from the label... it's actually often pretty, mellow stuff, presumably sounding close to what the Process Church folks themselves sounded like when singing the Lord's (or Lucifer's?) praises back in the day, these hymns very hippie sounding, churchy and folky, but also garagey, with twangy guitar and groovy organ, building into throbbing rhythmic psych workouts. It even gets a bit jazzy in spots ("The Power That Is Love"). Still, while this isn't heavy in the guitar dep't the way Jex Thoth's regular band is, it is definitely "heavy" in terms of subject matter. Jex is the perfect vocalist for this, her dramatic, devotional delivery at once both innocent and intense, sincere and sinister. Her exaltations and exhortations rise from a delicate whisper to commanding, demanding heights, sometimes unaccompanied, at others, with backing vocals reinforcing the message. Be warned, this ain't Sunday school. When Jex asks "will you serve the will of God?", it seems like you had darn well better answer (yes!). Dunno if the Process Church is still around (haven't read the book yet) but if they are, there's a good chance this record might recruit some converts... And at least, it's certainly making us curious to read that book. Creepy, yes, and quite catchy too, we can understand why these folks were drawn to reinterpreting these songs. Though of course curious about what the original source material was (lyrics? vintage recordings?). Perhaps it says somewhere inside the lp packaging, we haven't checked for liner notes as yet. This was produced in association with Feral House, so it would seem the Sabbath Assembly had access to whatever inside archival info there was on the Process Church's musical activities. As "religious" recordings go, this is what we dig! For fans of Jex of course, and Yahowah 13, Family Jams, Sounds Of Ascension, and other "cult" audio... recommended! 180 gram, gold-colored vinyl.
"Glory To The Gods In The Highest" MPEG Stream:
"Hymn Of Consecration" MPEG Stream:
"Judge Of Mankind"
SANTA POD s/t (Ash International R.I.P.) cd 15.98
'Get ready for drag-racing MAYHEM... Mayhem... mayhem... ummm do we really have to keep badgering them like this?' - Smithers OK, do not dismiss this as just a field recording of drag races (even though that is what it is). While the blasts of drag racing noise tear bi-aurally across this CD of field recordings from the Santa Pod Raceway in Podington, England on the site of an old American airbase, it is the constant ridiculous banter of the announcer whose barely audible / poorly-transmitted-through-a-crappy-speaker rants have captured the essence of the drag-racing. Certainly in the tradition of the 'Sounds of North American Frogs', 'The Conet Project', 'The Ghost Orchid', and 'One of One', this is brilliant.
SAPERA Snake Charmers of North India (Bona-Fi) cd 14.98
Got some of this old favorite back in stock, thought we'd list it again in case you'd missed it. Previously we wrote: The image of a pungi player hypnotically swaying the end of his instrument in front of a cobra portrayed in Western books and films is a fairly accurate one" says this disc's notes, and while that may justify this one Western preconception, it does nothing to prepare for how weird and wonderful the music from snake charmers really is. The three different instruments used by snake charmers (the oboe-like pungi and the rhythmic instruments premtal and kanyeri) provide not so much of a sexy sway as one might think, but a herky-jerky set of bobbing rhythms and an odd stop-start style of reed playing. Andee has likened it to the hard disc editing of Oval, Pita, and Jim O'Rourke but played live! Perhaps the snakes are Mego fans... This is a pretty spectacular collection of mysterious and stirring sound. Highly recommended.
"Theka Talin" MPEG Stream:
"Melody From The Film Phagun"
SCANDINAVIAN SOUNDSCAPES - 1 (KRISTER MILD) Scandinavian Soundscapes - 1 (Symphonies Scandinaves 1) (Sittelle) cd 17.98
SEMPER, JONTY Kenotaphion (Charrm) 2cd 18.98
"Kenotaphion" is one of the most unusual collections of archival recordings to pass through the Aquarius doors, as British artist Jonty Semper has culled through the archives at BBC, British Movietone, and ITN Reuters for recordings of the 2 minutes of communal silence. This ritual heralds back to November 11, 1919 to commemorate the Armistice of World War I when all of England literally stopped for two minutes of silence - the trains came to a halt, telephone relays were shut down, schools paused in the middle of lectures, everything except for the media. BBC radio would broadcast these public displays of silence, capturing the mighty bell tolls of Big Ben and a massive multiple gun salute followed by the environmental ambience at that exact moment. BBC didn't just turn off their signal, they captured the sounds around the Houses of Parliament: rain, birds, wind, etc. As various sources had recorded these memorial silences dating back to 1929, the recorded medium becomes apparant on a number of the older recordings, as scratchy surface noise and tape hiss. Thus these silences are not exactly silent. Semper was not content to simply collect the solemn silences bracketed by the chiming of Big Ben and the crack of the rifles, he interspersed them with snippets of narration uttered by the BBC commentators, often poetic, yet certainly sentimental thoughts spoken in the finest of Queen's English. Disc one features the oldest recordings (1929 - 1965) and ripples with tons of surface noise, yet as the microphone technology improved through the later recordings (1967 - 2000) the quiet din of London trying to be silent makes itself known. A strangely alluring record.
"November 12, 1934" RealAudio clip:
"November 14, 1934" RealAudio clip:
"November 9, 1980" RealAudio clip:
"November 14, 1999"
SERPENT'S KNIGHT Silent Knight...Of Myth And Destiny (Shadow Kingdom) 2cd 17.98
Had to get at least a couple of these and list it. First off, it's one of our pal Brian from WFMU's current faves (and if you've ever heard his radio show, you know he digs the weirdest shit, especially where metal is concerned). Secondly, the other day this was playing in the front of the store, and from the back office, we thought it was freakin' Diamanda Galas... except it was '80s metal, sort of. But the crazy vocals and lo-fi recording quality made it sound like something totally WTF? and avant garde instead. So, who the heck sings like that? What IS this? Well, the singer wasn't Diamanda. Or even a woman. Serpent's Knight were in fact an eighties metal band from Seattle, and the first disc of this archival double cd set consists of demos circa '83 to '85, when their singer (with the insanely high voice, and, it should be added, an equally impressive mane of platinum blond hair!) was a guy by the name Warrel Dane, best known now as the frontman for currently popular power metal outfit Nevermore. But before Nevermore, he was in a (much better in our opinion) speed metal band called Sanctuary, who debuted in '87 with an album produced by Megadeth's Dave Mustaine. And before that, he sang for these guys, Serpent's Knight, who never made an album - though they provided Sanctuary with their best track "Battle Angels", and both bands also did covers of "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane. Serpent's Knight started off as a high school band doing Sabbath and Priest covers. Writing their own songs, they then moved into even more of a dark and evil-sounding Mercyful Fate influenced occult metal mode, finding a dude (Dane) who could out-screech even King Diamond himself!! So check this out if you're into some extreme glass-shattering vocal histrionics, heavy metal or otherwise. And/or if you're already a fan of Sanctuary, or Nevermore. And of course if you're just an '80s metal nerd, like some of us! You'll love how the trebly, widdly guitars rip it up along with the vocals... In addition to the material with Warrel Dane, there's also a couple tracks on disc one with someone named "Father Scorn" on vocals, who is also pretty bizarre. And then there's disc two, a 1989 demo from later lineup of Serpent's Knight, with a Mark G on vox. With songs like, um, "Sick Bloody Cunt" it seems they were trying for a PMRC-baiting, shock rock angle, W.A.S.P. style, though that didn't apparently lead to much success, oh well. Not bad though, more value added for the obscure '80s metal inclined. Furthermore, the 2nd disc contains a bonus 19 minute video clip, grainy footage from their first ever gig in 1984. And then there's a 22 page cd booklet with tons of color photos and EXTENSIVELY detailed band history.
"Sorcerer's Apprentice" MPEG Stream:
"Disturbing Your Peace" MPEG Stream:
SETI-X Scrambles Of Earth (Seeland) cd 13.98
If you're anything like us, you've always been fascinated by aliens and outerspace and all that science (fiction?) stuff, X-Files, In Search Of, Star Trek, Cosmos, art, TV, movies, magazines, with every move forward, every discovery, every shuttle launch, every planned mission to Mars, the world comes on step close to becoming what humans once only dreamed of, and wrote about. One of those epochal science moments, happened in 1977, when we launched a gold record into space, encoded on it were all the various things that make humans human, music, and math, voices, and languages, recordings of heartbeats, whatever scientists could think of that might help an alien species that discovered the record be able to understand and maybe communicate back (assuming they had turntables!). Similarly, we've always been a bit obsessed with SETI, the Search For Extra Terrestrial Intelligence project, a group who monitors the sky for communications from space, and perhaps from alien beings. In all the time SETI has been active, they have not received a single confirmed alien transmission. Which brings us to the similarly named SETI-X, Search For Extra Terrestrial Intelligence in Exile program, who supposedly received transmissions, that were believed to REMIXES (!) of those records we sent into space. SETI-X meticulously reconstructed these very sound files here from the various transmissions, bits and fragments, snippets and shards of sound. Scientists were of course skeptical, so SETI-X set out to contact the micronation of Sealand, who were well known for supporting controversial and radical science, might step in to help, but a typo when searching in Google resulted in them contacting Seeland Records, Negativland's record label, and they were of course more than willing... now wait a minute... So yeah, this incredible 'scientific document' is in fact absolutely and certainly alien remixes, NOT some elaborate and brilliantly conceived and executed musical art hoax from a band who exists to fool the foolish. The sounds begin with a twisted greeting, which then explodes in a grinding squall of distortion only to unveil a warped bit of classical music, and the greeting we originally sent skyward, and from there on out, Scrambles Of Earth is a dizzying assemblage of collaged sound, beats and rhythms, strange loops, disembodied voices, textures and drones and truncated melodies, twisted bits of pop, slowed down classical music, voice in many languages, snippets of various musics, usually wrapped around weird voices and glitched out electronics, lots of hiss and buzz, lush swells, super blown out corrosive crunch, gorgeous hypnotic bits of kosmische electronics, all manner of mysterious production, squalls of competing sounds sweeping back and forth through the stereo field, bits of jazz, blues, calypso, and so many voices, surprisingly, it's a really great listen, flowing like some twisted sonic travelogue, as if this is how the aliens see us, based on how we represented ourselves. Cool and strange. Oh, and absolutely real. Includes extensive liner notes, with a history of the Seti-X program, a description of each track, lots of photos and diagrams, oh and did we mention that this was released on Negativland's label Seeland, but is not Negativland, but in fact actual alien remixes? Good.
"Pulsar Plus" MPEG Stream:
"Thin Dark Night" MPEG Stream:
"Ill-Tempered Wedding" MPEG Stream:
"Rushing Streams" MPEG Stream:
"Fifth Dysphony" MPEG Stream:
SHATNER, WILLIAM The Transformed Man (Varese Sarabande/BMG) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Finally (legally) reissued.
SHIRAISHI, TAMIO Sax Solo Performance At Subway In NY (PSF) cd 17.98
Part field recording, part free jazz improv. As the title indicates, solo sax in the subway, that's what this is. But definitely not your usual "busker" fare! Beautiful, but also definitely dog-whistle intense. Japanese saxophonist Tamio Shiraishi has been active since the '70s, and played in an early incarnation of Keiji Haino's Fushitsusha, we're told. He been living in New York City for at least a decade, collaborating with NNCK among others, and apparently likes to haunt the subway in Queens, with his sax, when he's in a pensive mood. The sax he blows here generates a thin, piercing, upper-register "whistling" sound, sometimes a subtle squeal, sometimes a haunting soul-cry, that we'd think would be lost in the clangor of the subway system. But, instead it sounds like he's playing in an abandoned area of the subway, it seems often almost totally silent, but for the saxophone. And except, now and then, for the sounds of a passing train. Clearly it's a lonely stop, late at night or very early in the morning... or maybe the sine-wave like tone of his saxophone has chased all the commuters away. When a train does "run though" the station where Shiraishi is playing, a whole 'nother dimension is added, the ambient, field recording character of this disc becomes apparent, that's definitely what makes this most interesting to us, as listeners. Rumbling, clanking, hissing, rhythmically choo-chooing in its subway way, first in the distance softly, then louder, then receding again to be replaced by the sax it didn't quite drown out... The loneliness of the delicately shrill saxophone soloing is accentuated as the train fades away, each a drone of its own, for moments in brief duet. More than the sum of its parts, we'd definitely rather hear Shiraishi in this subway setting than in a studio - and at the same time, it's NOT quite what you might have thought a subway platform saxophone recording would sound like. So, move over DJ Shadow, David Shire, and Charles Gayle... this is the new sound of the NYC subway system!
"track 1" MPEG Stream:
SHIRAISHI, TAMIO & SEAN MEEHAN In The City (Fusetron) 12" 14.98
SHIT, MARK Video Anthology (SPAME) dvd 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. When Brentley of SF's finest nerd-rock band Three Day Stubble brought these homespun dvds into AQ, he recommended wearing a diaper while viewing it -- i.e, 'cuz you're gonna shit yerself laughin'! While we didn't quite have that exact experience when we watched it, we did find ourselves put through the full spectrum of mental states -- shock, bummer, boredom, agitation and elation. The dvd is divided into five chapters that span fifteen years, and each one offers a home video glimpse into the life of the lad who calls himself Mark Shit. And we can tell you he was one intense kid! Sometimes hyper, sometimes bratty, often punk as fuck, but always completely focused on the video camera. In our opinion, the high point musically is the second chapter named TDRtones Session -- intentionally or not, it features a claustrophobic performance of some pretty great, tightly wound propulsive post-punk. Songs include "Spratley Went To The Bathroom", "She Didn't Know I Was A Midget", "Gah Gah's Coming Out" and an odd very Hendrix-icated "Star Spangled Banner". The low point in every sense is the 'reunion'. You'll have to see for yourself.
SHUDDER TO THINK Curses Spells Voodoo Mooses (Sammich / Dischord) cd 12.98
This review comes courtesy of former Outpunk label head, current A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. label mastermind, gay gangsta and AQ pal Matt Wobensmith! First time ever on CD, after being out of print for over a decade! Before "emo" was a noun, it was an adjective used to describe the sensitive, post-hardcore stylings of artistic DC punkers, who weren't afraid to cry in public and dedicate songs to trees. Some say Rites of Spring's 1986 self-titled debut album (Dischord Records) is the holy grail of emo. However, this album may well be that genre's defining document. The operatic wailings of Craig Wedren's falsetto -- not unlike Pere Ubu's David Thomas -- were a peculiar contrast to the band's more aggressive punk leanings. Says Craig of this era: "I joined a 'hardcore' group, we did not like each other's sound, they banged, I screeched ... [it] came out sounding, a little like, Ozzy?" From a time when "US hardcore" was mired in socio-political aggression and macho posturing, STT were perhaps a reaction -- ironically from within the ranks of DC bands that were so influential to that movement in the first place. This is a beautiful and enthralling album, impossibly melancholic, with perplexing lyrics from someone who's "heart is filled with 'All May Rise' and 'X Ray Eyes'". Lots of people know Shudder to Think's bizarre, dramatic alt-rock material from subsequent recordings for Dischord and later, Epic, from which most of their fan base is likely drawn. But this record -- while technically inferior and unpolished from a production standpoint -- is still many fans' favorite STT release. Reissue includes four bonus tracks from their first 7" and one unreleased cut as well.
"A Vampire's Proposal" MPEG Stream:
"Abysmal Yellow Popcorn Wall"
SMALLCOCK, DJ Yinyue (Dual Plover) cd 9.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Don't know much about this artist, but "Yinyue" is supposedly an hour long journey through Beijing via static laden radio transmissions collected and manipulated by DJ Smallcock. Essentially, these recordings (all clocking in at 3:33, by the way) are split second snippets cut together via pressing pause / unpause on a tape recorder whilst flipping through various stations on the FM dial. Totally fucking stupid. Any asshole can do this bullshit. I just can't believe Dual Plover actually pressed this (presumably in large quantities) on an actual factory pressed disc and not on a cd-r in a small run. Too bad someone has too much money to throw around and no good sense to put out something somewhat interesting.
"Piece Of Shit"
SMALLWOOD, SCOTT, SAWAKO, SETH CLUETT, BEN OWEN, AND CIVYIU KKLIU Phonography Meeting 070823 (Winds Measures Recordings) cd 12.98
Another beautifully austere letterpress design housing another beautifully austere set of recordings of found sounds by way of Winds Measures Recordings. This album was the result of a performance at the Issue Project Room in Brooklyn a few years back in which these five artists consecutively mixed unprocessed environmental recordings. The whole set is pocked with silences and quiet moments of sonic inactivity, working compositionally in sync with the latter day / lowercase acolytes of Morton Feldman (e.g. Bernhard Gunter, Steve Roden, etc.), but also speaks to the growing lack of quietude in the 21st century society. Scott Smallwood is a sound artist who worked with Pauline Oliveros in the past and had a fantastic, if under appreciated disc of desert wind recordings released on Deep Listening about a decade ago. His field recordings here focus on aquatic details and rippling textures, that deftly cut to the resonance from wind chimes and back to those watery sounds. In a terse piece of text that accompanies the disc, Smallwood speaks of the unwanted / unexpected / hidden sounds that blur the lines between the natural and man-made sound ecologies. One has to wonder if those bells would qualify as an "unwanted" intrusion for Smallwood as he tried to situate his microphones near an alpine stream, and as such, would those seemingly innocuous sounds bemoan an urban interlocution with the natural soundscape. Sawako's bizarrely reflective echoings of disembodied human speech seem completely unnatural, but we'll assume that her contribution held true to the modus operandi of unprocessed sources. Church bells introduce the field recordings of Seth Cluett, who transitions towards a series of small tactile cracks and thunderous scrunches from contact microphone recordings, feeling like a hyper-amplified listen into the crevices of a teeming colony of ants. Ben Owen's wooden clunking events transition perfectly out of Cluett's sounds, again focusing on the amplification of the minuscule through the contact microphone. Civyiu Kkliu completes the album with a humming drone from an unknown electrostatic source, crafting a sustained minimalist howl akin to his sporadic collaborator Toshiya Tsunoda, rounding out a wonderfully introspective record of pure sound. Limited to a mere 300 copies!
"Extract 1" MPEG Stream:
"Extract 2" MPEG Stream:
SMIGEL, JACOB Eavesdrop: A Wealth Of Found Sound (self-released) cd 8.98
Remember the first time you heard a crank call tape, or a compilation of found sounds, or an answering machine tape you bought at a thrift store? You probably don't remember exactly what it was you heard, but you definitely remember the feeling. The thrill of hearing someone else's private thoughts, glimpsing into the lives of complete strangers. It almost didn't matter what was on the tape, just the fact that you weren't meant to hear it was enough to make it funny and crazy. But since then, we've been barraged with mediocre crank call records and boring collections of random phone calls. Like anything else, people don't seem to realize that it's not as easy as just slapping some recordings onto a tape and presto. If you're a crank caller, you need to have style, charisma, the whole idea is to push the limits while keeping someone on the phone long after a sensible person would have hung up. Give a listen to Longmont Potion Castle for the ultimate in "Why the hell don't these people just hang up"? If you're compiling a collection of found sounds, you have to have a good ear, a sense of what is actually interesting to listen to. Voices, subject matter, cuz it's not all that fascinating to listen to someone calling the dry cleaners or making a reservation to get their hair cut. But it IS totally fascinating to hear two women talk about the fact that they won't eat at Hamburger Hamlet because it's owned by a Lesbian, or hearing an instructional tape teaching women how to sell dildos door to door Tupperware style. Thus we have Jacob Smigel, a deft archivist with a keen ear for human foibles. This collection isn't necessarily laugh out loud hilarious (although it is sometimes) but what it is, is bizarre, curious, demented, poignant, and yeah funny. And it's not just what's on the tapes, it's the recording quality, some of the dialogue is difficult to hear, but the timbre and the weird tape hiss is interesting in its own. But ultimately, it's the wonderfully wide world of weird people that make collections like this worthwhile, and this is one of the best ones we've heard in ages. From the opening Hamburger Hamlet track, to the ultra brief second to last track where a woman calls to leet someone know she's happy they are pro choice and then asks him how his lawn is. In between is a totally baffling, completely mesmerizing procession of strange, confusional, cute and crazy conversations and messages. One man discusses the infection in his cock and how it swelled up to 2 and a half times its size, a girl painfully tries to reach a way too high note, a couple does some cocaine, argues a bit and listens to some country music, a woman balls out a deadbeat ex-boyfriend, a woman describes a truly disturbing relaxation technique, a man performs various jingles he's written, a woman sends her friend to the store, and needs her fuckin' Pepsi, a girl performs possibly the most painful karaoke EVER, a not very bright woman tries to rent 3 Men And A Baby on BETA, the Hamburger Hamlet women discuss the downside of charcoal broiling, a young man takes a French Horn lesson, various couples make tapes for far away relatives, boyfriends and girlfriends make tapes for their significant others, some really amazing square dancing announcing to "Elvira", a stammering young man reads his book report, and on and on and on. Each vignette, whether 30 seconds or 5 minutes, is completely riveting. Funny and fucked, weird and wonderful, a totally addictive listen. Gorgeously packaged in a full color multi panel digipak with extensive liner notes.
"Hamburger Hamlet" MPEG Stream:
"The "Hee-Ahhh"" MPEG Stream:
"Fun Ladies" MPEG Stream:
"Fuck'n Pepsi Now" MPEG Stream:
"BETA Video" MPEG Stream:
"Charcoal Taste?" MPEG Stream:
"How Can Women Do It?" MPEG Stream:
"Pro-Choice / How's Your Lawn?"
SONG OF THE WAVES, THE (JEAN HERELLE) The Song Of The Waves (Le Chant Des Vagues) (Sittelle) cd 17.98
SOUND GUIDE TO THE TAILLESS AMPHIBIANS OF FRENCH GUIANA (CHRISTIAN MARTY / PHILIPPE GAUCHER) (CEBA/Centre Bioacoustique) cd 21.00
We're total suckers for frog records. And you all are too, judging from how many we sell. And why the hell shouldn't we be? Frogs are probably the greatest and most varied noisemakers in nature. In fact most of our favorite frog records, this one included, effortlessly surpass most of the thousands of meticulously crafted electronic records released every year. A gorgeous head spinning cacophony of squeals and shrieks and trills and hums and clicks and about a million other sounds that sound like they couldn't possibly be made by a tiny little frog. But here they are, in all their audial glory. A veritable symphony of strange sounds, separated by type of amphibian for your listening convenience. But these frogs aren't solo, they're nestled amidst a glorious world of crickets and wind and burbling brooks and various other insects and creatures. However, they are the featured performers on their tracks and you don't have to worry about not knowing which is the particular creature in question. Beautifully recorded, and meticulously documented, this is a treasure trove of amazing sounds, for the nature obsessed, the field recording connoisseur as well as lovers of strange sounds. Hard to describe exactly what these beasts sound like, other than to say most of them don't sound like frogs. Some sound mechanical, some like other animals, there are frogs that sound like video games, like quacking duck, like Geiger counters, like the ping of undersea sonar, like woofing dogs, like ringing cellphones, like creaking bed springs, like someone rubbing on a washboard, like tiny little sirens, like a mewling baby, like an old fashioned alarm clock and yes, some of these frogs actually do sound like frogs... So totally fascinating and amazing. Comes with a huge booklet, with text both in English and French, about the recordings, each species of amphibian, and tons of gorgeous full color photos!!
"Allophryne Ruthveni" MPEG Stream:
"Dendrophryniscus Minutus" MPEG Stream:
"Bufo Guttatus" MPEG Stream:
"Bufo Margaritifer" MPEG Stream:
"Bufo Marinus" MPEG Stream:
"Colostethus Baeobatrachus" MPEG Stream:
"Dendrobates Ventrimaculatus" MPEG Stream:
SOUNDS FOR LITTLE ONES s/t (Dish Records) cd 12.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
SOUNDS OF AMERICAN DOOMSDAY CULTS The Church Universal and Triumphant Inc. feat. Elizabeth Clare Prophet (Faithways International) cd 17.98
Here's some of what what we wrote about this gem way back when it first came out as a vinyl release: It's hard to believe this is real. In fact, it took a lot to convince Andee, who was sure this was some sort of elaborate prank. But it's one of those things that just makes you proud / embarrassed to be an American. Elizabeth Clare Prophet purchased 24,000 acres in Paradise Valley, Montana and started The Church Universal and Triumphant, a creepy new age doomsday cult in which Prophet channeled spirits such as Jesus, Buddha, K-17, Morya, Quan Yin, Afra, Hercules, Mighty Victory, Astrea, Shiva, Pope John XXIII, and more. (Sort of like J.Z. Knight of Yelm, Washington and her channelling of "Ramtha" except even more scary.) Prophet and her husband stockpiled arms, built giant bomb shelters, and coerced their devotees to purchase their own survival equipment at exorbitant prices. Throughout its existence various members of CUT were indicted for kidnapping, lost custody of the children who belonged to the church and were investigated for tax exempt status and firearms violations. In 1995 former member Joseph Pietrangelo Jr wrote a book condemning CUT entitled "Lambs to Slaughter: My Fourteen Years with Elizabeth Clare Prophet and Church Universal Triumphant". But the thing that really puts CUT on the map for us is their way of conducting their religious services. The tapes of these services have been floating around for years already. Those of you familiar with Negativland's 1989 album "Escape From Noise" will already be familiar with an excerpt of one of the tracks on this album, as they used it for the track "Michael Jackson", and Steve Fisk has been using these tapes for years as well. This record features live recordings of Clare Prophet 'speaking' out against the evils of rock music. She sounds perfectly normal as she introduces her 'psalms' or 'songs' or 'speeches' or whatever they are. But when she gets going, it's amazing. And so goddamn insane sounding. Her rapid fire high pitched testifying sounds a bit like an impossible mix of an auctioneer, a yodeller, the guy who sings the directions at a square dance, Neil Hamburger huffing helium and variations of baseball's 'hey batter batter' chant only faster. It's like that sound you make when you sort of hum/breathe out and move your finger up and down between your lips making a sort of 'bebubebubebubebubebubebubebubebu' sound. It's one of the most amazing things we've ever heard! Cup's group I Am Spoonbender even performed a cover version of it live in concert a few years ago! A must for all cult fanatics, new age withdrawal victims, seekers of the truly strange, and fans of extended, trancelike vocal techniques. Ever so highly recommended! We'd almost have made this cd edition our Record of the Week if we weren't certain that it would probably bug the heck out of more people than (like us) would love it!!
"Dedication To The Of The Beast And The Dragon - The Momentum Of Rock 'N' Roll" MPEG Stream:
"Call For Protection"
SOUNDS OF AMERICAN DOOMSDAY CULTS VOL. 14 The Church Universal and Triumphant Inc. feat. Elizabeth Clare Prophet (Faithways International) lp 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. It's hard to believe this is real. In fact, it took a lot to convince Andee, who was sure this was some sort of elaborate prank. But it's one of those things that just makes you proud / embarassed to be an American. Elizabeth Clare Prophet purchased 24,000 acres in Paradise Valley, Montana and started The Church Universal and Triumphant, a creepy new age doomsday cult in which Prophet channeled spirits such as Jesus, Buddha, K-17, Morya, Quan Yin, Afra, Hercules, Mighty Victory, Astrea, Shiva, Pope John XXIII, and more. (Sort of like J.Z. Knight of Yelm, Washington and her channelling of "Ramtha" except even more scary.) Prophet and her husband stockpiled arms, built giant bomb shelters, and coerced their devotees to purchase their own survival equipment at exorbitant prices. Throughout its existence various members of CUT were indicted for kidnapping, lost custody of the children who belonged to the church and were investigated for tax exempt status and firearms violations. In 1995 former member Joeseph Pietrangelo Jr wrote a book condemning CUT entitled "Lambs to Slaughter: My Fourteen Years with Elizabeth Clare Prophet and Church Universal Triumphant". But the thing that really puts CUT on the map for us is their way of conducting their religious services. The tapes of these services have been floating around for years already. Those of you familiar with Negativland's 1989 album "Escape From Noise" will already be familiar with an excerpt of one of the tracks on this album, as they used it for the track "Michael Jackson", and Steve Fisk has been using these tapes for years as well. This record features live recordings of Clare Prophet 'speaking' out against the evils of rock music. She sounds perfectly normal as she introduces her 'psalms' or 'songs' or 'speeches' or whatever they are. But when she gets going, it's amazing. And so goddamn insane sounding. Her rapid fire high pitched testifying sounds a bit like an impossible mix of an auctioneer, a yodeller, the guy who sings the directions at a square dance, Neil Hamburger huffing helium and variations of baseball's 'hey batter batter' chant only faster. It's like that sound you make when you sort of hum/breathe out and move your finger up and down between your lips making a sort of 'bebubebubebubebubebubebubebubebu' sound. It's one of the most amazing things we've ever heard! Cup's group I Am Spoonbender even performed a cover version of it live in concert a few years ago! A must for all cult fanatics, new age withdrawal victims, seekers of the truly strange, and fans of extended, trancelike vocal techniques. Ever so highly recommended! We'd almost have made this cd edition our Record of the Week if we weren't certain that it would probably bug the heck out of more people than (like us) would love it!!
"Invocation For Judgement Against And Destruction of Rock Music" RealAudio clip:
"Decree" RealAudio clip:
"Dedication To The Tackling Of The Beast And The Dragon-The Momentum Of Rock And Roll"
SOUNDS OF FROGS AND TOADS OF BOLIVIA (R. MARQUEZ, I. DE LA RIVA, J. BOSCH & E. MATHEU) Sounds Of Frogs And Toads Of Bolivia (Guia Sonora De Las Ranas Y Sapos De Bolivia) (Alosa / Fonoteca Zoologica) 2cd 37.00
We love frogs!!! Although the AQ website only offers two records of frogs (not counting the awesome and problematic musical group the Frogs), both HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, our personal collections seem to be bursting at the seams with field recordings of frogs. Never has there been a creature capable of producing so many impossibly unanimal like sounds. This gorgeously packaged and super deluxe collection comes from the wonderful Sittelle (it's not on their label, but they do distribute it) who in the past have brought us the sounds of rutting red deer, hillsides of pastoral cowbells and recordings of bats! So we knew this was going to be good. We were just a little unprepared for how good! It comes in a massive oversized jewel case with a 50 page booklet with extremely extensive liner notes, both in English and in Spanish, the amazing thing is there are almost 200 tracks, each one a different frog, and each track has specific liner notes as well as a full color photo of the frog! WOW! But it's the sounds that have us all smitten with the world of frogs, and they don't get much more wild and weird and incrdibly varied than this collection right here. There are of course a few of instantly recognizable 'croaking frogs', sort of nature tape style, but the majority here are completely bizarre and otherworldly (but without being aggravating). The frog calls typically sound nothing like frogs, here's a random sampling of what some of these frog call sound like to us: metal ping pong balls clinking together, a rapid fire mechanical woodblock like on one of those crazy pizza joint one man band player piano thingies, high pitched metallic scrapes and squeals, clinks and clanks like a broken music box, a barking seal, chirping birds, the sound of a stick hitting a tin can, a rusted hinge, a creaking door, a quacking duck, a strange looped industrial rhythm, a crying child, a bicycle horn orchestra, Tuvan throat singing, shortwave interference and it just goes on and on. It's almost like listening to some avant music concrete sound artist. But just to prove this is indeed the sound of nature, you also get the surrounding ambient sounds, rushing water, children playing, wind blowing, birds chirping, crickets, rustling leaves, it's quite a gorgeous and perplexing musical journey through nature. And quite possibly our favorite frog record yet!!!!
"Bufo Castaneoticus" MPEG Stream:
"Bufo Granulosus Major" MPEG Stream:
"Bufo Paracnemis" MPEG Stream:
"Melanophryniscus Rubiventris" MPEG Stream:
"Hyla Andina" MPEG Stream:
"Hyla Boans" MPEG Stream:
"Hyla Lanciformis" MPEG Stream:
"Hyla Leali" MPEG Stream:
SOUNDS OF JAPANESE DOOMSDAY CULTS Music By Aum Shinri Kyo Leader Shoko Asahara (Faithways International) 7" 6.50
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. This all time favorite, a primo slab of WTF weirdness, available again, and a bit cheaper too, but who knows for how long... From Faithways, the label what brought us that extreme example of American religious fuckery The Church Universal And Triumphant, comes two songs from the leader of the Japanese Cult Aum Shinri Kyo. The cult made history in 1995 when they set off sarin nerve-gas in a crowded Tokyo subway, killing 11 people and injuring 5000 (they were later charged for the murder of another 14 people -- some quite gruesomely, as described within the accompanying booklet.) The nearly blind leader Shoko Asahara fancied himself a bit of a singer / songwriter, much like fellow cult leaders Charles Manson, David Koresh (whose rock band is featured on the label's first release) and even the lovable Anton LaVey. Musically, Shoko's songs most resemble the latter cultist's works, but with an even greater whimsy that he could be jokingly referred to as Casiotone For The Pathologically Deranged. Better yet, take Nagisa Ni Te, drop the vocals a couple octaves, change the instrumental accompaniment to casio keyboards, throw in melodic hints to "It's A Small World After All" and you can almost hear the weird world of Shoko Asahara. Comes with a 6 page booklet detailing the cult's history.
"Sonshi's March" RealAudio clip:
"Lord Death's Counting Song"
SOUNDS OF NORTH AMERICAN FROGS Sounds Of North American Frogs (Smithsonian Folkways) cd 13.98
First "The Conet Project", now this. Well, okay, this isn't spooky like those shortwave spy broadcasts, but the sounds these frogs make have some similar qualities to the morse code or "noise stations", and like The Conet Project is both bizarre and fascinating. The 92 tracks of the croaks, trills, screams, mating calls, and other forms of amphibian vocalisations were conceived, narrated, and documented by Charles M. Bogart. Travelling from the far reaches of Alaska to the deserts of Arizona to the foothills of Tennessee, Mr. Bogart presents a labor of love in selecting these field recordings and their descriptions. The dry delivery of Mr. Bogart's indexical texts is unnervingly and humorously dissimilar to these frogs calls. Just like The Conet Project's unintentional (?) aural terror, The Sound of North American Frogs features a wide variety of drones and clicks that could be from some RLW or Pierre Henry experiment with tape loops. So highly recommended that several unnamed staff members of AQ have been over heard "singing" along with the Pig Frog and the Carpenter Frog.
"Chorus Of Barking Treefrogs" MPEG Stream:
"Barking Treefrog" MPEG Stream:
"Green Treefrog" MPEG Stream:
"The Mating Call Of The Barking Treefrog Is Heard First" MPEG Stream:
"Mating Call Of The Oak Toad"
SOUNDS OF THE DESERT (JEAN C. ROCHE) Sounds Of The Desert (Les Voix Du Desert) (Sittelle) cd 17.98
SOUNDS OF THE EARTH : LOONS (Oreade Music) cd 12.98
Loons! Andee was immediately like, automatic Record Of The Week! Allan had to be the voice of reason. But let's talk about the voice of the loon... We've always been of the mind that no matter how amazing some music sounds, nature has most likely produced sounds that are just as cool. Whether it's the gentle droning rumble of winds, or the clatter of stones, or the bizarre polyphony of a frog filled swamp, or the jagged sound of melting / cracking ice. It's all completely and utterly music to our ears. We get the same thrill from a bunch of frogs that we get from a bunch of guitars. Beautiful sounds are beautiful sounds. So after reviewing records of the sounds of caves, the sounds of frogs, purring kittens, barking sled dogs, insects in stored foodstuffs, recordings of the Earth's magnetic fields, melting ice, the bioelectrical impulses of plants, crackling woodfires, chirping dolphins, the songs of forest blackbirds and more, we come to the Loon. Yes, the loon, with it's strange whippoorwill like call, a bizarre resonant trill, one that is instantly recognizable, but that at the same time is completely alien sounding. This is pretty much a straight field recording. Random birds, and insects, and the occasional sound of water, but the occasional call of the loon is what is most distinct. This is a gorgeous, lazy, sun dappled slice of creek life, makes us want to hang up the ol' hammock, stick the fishing pole in the dirt and just doze the afternoon away. Or for those of you too grim or evil for lazy afternoons in the hammock by a stream, and have two cd players at your disposal, this record would sound just perfect mixed with some funereal doom like Skepticism, adding just the right amount of foresty flavor!
SOUNDS OF THE EARTH: DEEP INTO THE EARTH (Oreade Music) cd 12.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. From the same folks that brought us the frogs recording reviewed in list #83, comes another in their "Sounds Of The Earth" series. "Explore the passages of the vast caverns deep down into the earth. Experience the mysterious atmosphere with echoey waterdrips and clear trickles, combined with a strange wind-tunneling effect" --culled from the liner notes to this disc of subterranean recordings. No additional production, no musical interludes, just cave recordings. A very nice field recording piece. Drip drip drip...
SOUNDS OF THE EARTH: FROGS (Oreade Music) cd 12.98
"The ceaseless croak of frogs creates an immensely penetrative and authentic environment... Offers pure natural sounds, no voices are added. No music is added." (From the back of disc.) The perfect companion to the 'Sounds of North American Frogs' if you didn't care for the vocal interruptions or if you want to test your knowledge by identifying the frogs on this recording... We find this to be best when played LOUD!
SOUNDS OF THE EARTH: SEA & DOLPHINS (Oreade Music) cd 12.98
From the same company that brought us Frogs, Woodfire, Deep Into The Earth and Whales comes another appropriate nature recording: dolphins. Everybody loves dolphins, they're the clowns of the sea. And yet something's not quite right here. Oreade music is a little disingenuous about the recording's execution. Like their other releases in the series, Oreade claims this recording "offers pure nature sounds; no voices are added, no human-induced noises are heard". Which is true, I suppose, but the implication is that this is somehow a pure, unfettered, field recording. But it seems that the producers weren't happy with Flipper's performance on a dry mike and decided to soak him with a little 'large hall' reverb. And I guess just plain a cappella squeals weren't good enough either so they mixed in some above water recordings of lapping swells to keep people interested: hence, the "Sea & Dolphins" title. Which is all a bit disappointing. But enough uptight, uber-purist, nature sound bitching, it does at least come with a nice poem about dolphin love.
"Sea & Dolphins"
SOUNDS OF THE EARTH: WHALES (Oreade Music) cd 12.98
SOUNDS OF THE EARTH: WOODFIRE (Oreade Music) cd 12.98
We've been stocking selected titles in this import nature sounds series (croaking frogs, dripping caves, singing whales) while ignoring the cheesier entries (wind chimes I, wind chimes II, evening birds, etc.). Here's another disc in series that makes the AQ-cut: 72 minutes of a crackling woodfire. As always, best if listened to at an unnaturally loud volume. "Warm your hands and thoughts to the woodfire sound on this album" is the suggestion, but we think this might also be a good purchase for black metal fans eager to sonically picture an authentic church burning (you'll have to imagine the cries of the priests though). Or, if you have two stereos, play this simultaneously with Oreade's "Deep Into The Earth" cave-sounds disc and simulate life as a prehistoric caveman. Roasting frogs is another, somewhat sicker possibility.
SPOONBENDER 1.1.1 Stereo Telepathy Academy - 2nd Edition (Studio Version) (The Helen Scarsdale Agency) cd 15.98
Edition 2 (studio version) of the Spoonbender 1.1.1 Stereo Telepathy Academy trilogy... Simply put, this is a weird-as-hell, warped, late night, difficult-listening 'trip' for all you aQers looking for truly strange atmospheres... Okay, first things first; Spoonbender 1.1.1 is not a side-project of I Am Spoonbender. The duo of Dustin Donaldson and Cup consider Spoonbender 1.1.1 to be a self-contained project that ventures outside the 'populist avant-tronics' of I Am Spoonbender into the realms of sidereal soundtrack music, the transmission of ideas through subliminal means, manifestations of 'third mind' techniques, and the non-logic of chance operations. Not so different on paper, but put another way: there are no drums, singing, or 'songs' in the 1.1.1 project. The material for Stereo Telepathy Academy was debuted during a live performance in which Spoonbender 1.1.1 performed with (appropriately enough) Psychic TV; however, for the second edition of Stereo Telepathy Academy, Spoonbender 1.1.1 recomposed all of the material in the studio -- expanding and elaborating on their live performance, and making for a distinctly new and different listening experience that stand on its own with or without the visual accompaniment. That said, as in the first edition, Stereo Telepathy Academy features "text taken from one film, overlaid on images from another, and the audio score was written around a different, third film... the results appear to be intentional" for a sort of 'Wizard Of Oz/Dark Side Of The Moon' for telekinetics. The J.G. Ballard-esque text was taken from David Cronenberg's 1969 student film 'Stereo', a faux-documentary detailing the work of a Dr. Luther Stringfellow, which concerns surgical procedures for the advancement of telepathic communication, while the visuals came from 'Crimes Of The Future' (another Cronenberg film, which transpires in an urban dystopia populated by pedophiles and oozing victims from a female-eliminating cosmetics related catastrophe). As creepy and sterile as the images were, we have to say that its Canadian-ness was positively charming, somehow. In their score, Spoonbender 1.1.1 lunges ominously forward with an otherworldly radiance of slow motion electronic pulses and melodies that retain an even darker hue than that of Klaus Schulze, Coil (e.g. Coilans / Time Machines), and Alan Splet, who are probably Spoonbender 1.1.1's closest sonic neighbors. Given the nature of their intense, masterfully detailed sea of electric sound, Spoonbender 1.1.1 hedged their bets that Cronenberg's pseudo-scientific spoken text would situate nicely against their audio. And indeed, this freakish document of prepared-chance context, atmosphere and appropriation works exceptionally well. PLEASE NOTE: In keeping with the numerological-binding-of-3 theme, there will be 3 released versions of Stereo Telepathy Academy, all with different packaging. The first version arrived as a cd-r edition of 111 copies sporting a white glove as an allusion to 'Crimes Of The Future' (now out of print). This is the second edition, a proper disc that comes with letterpressed artwork in an edition of 333. The final edition will be in an edition of only 3 copies!
"Edition 2 Excerpt 1" MPEG Stream:
"Edition 2 Excerpt 2"
SPOONBENDER 1.1.1 Stereo Telepathy Academy - Live In San Francisco 2004 (Seismic Seance Recordings) cd-r 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Edition 1 (live version) of the Spoonbender 1.1.1 Stereo Telepathy Academy trilogy... Simply put, this is a weird-as-hell, warped, late night, difficult-listening 'trip' for all you AQers looking for truly strange atmospheres... Okay, first things first; Spoonbender 1.1.1 is not a side-project of I Am Spoonbender. The duo of Dustin Donaldson and Cup consider Spoonbender 1.1.1 to be a self-contained project that ventures outside the 'populist avant-tronics' of I Am Spoonbender into the realms of sidereal soundtrack music, the transmission of ideas through subliminal means, manifestations of "third mind" techniques, and the non-logic of chance operations. Okay, not so different on paper, but put another way: there are no drums, singing, or 'songs' in the 1.1.1 project. The Stereo Telepathy Academy cd-r documents Spoonbender 1.1.1 live in SF while performing with (appropriately enough) Psychic TV. The J.G. Ballard-esque text was taken from David Cronenberg's 1969 student film 'Stereo', a faux-documentary detailing the work of a Dr. Luther Stringfellow, which concerns surgical procedures for the advancement of telepathic communication, while the visuals came from 'Crimes Of The Future' (another Cronenberg film, which transpires in an urban dystopia populated by pedophiles and oozing victims from a female-eliminating cosmetics related catastrophe). As creepy and sterile as the images were, we have to say that its Canadian-ness was positively charming, somehow. Spoonbender 1.1.1 composed a musical accompaniment for these texts and images to a third film whose identity is both unknown and irrelevant. As Donaldson announces in the introduction to this performance / recording (a sort of 'Wizard Of Oz/Dark Side Of The Moon' for telekinetics), Stereo Telepathy Academy features "text taken from one film, overlaid on images from another, and the audio score was written around a different, third film... the results appear to be intentional". In this score, Spoonbender 1.1.1 lunges ominously forward with an otherworldly radiance of slow motion electronic pulses and melodies that retain an even darker hue than that of Klaus Schulze, Coil (e.g. Coilans / Time Machines), and Alan Splet, who are probably Spoonbender 1.1.1's closest sonic neighbors. Given the nature of their intense, masterfully detailed sea of electric sound, Spoonbender 1.1.1 hedged their bets that Cronenberg's pseudo-scientific spoken text would situate nicely against their audio. And indeed, this freakish document of prepared-chance context, atmosphere and appropriation works exceptionally well. Special handmade packaging comes with a single white glove (as seen in the film) for your edification. PLEASE NOTE: In keeping with the numerological-binding-of-3 theme, there will be 3 released versions of Stereo Telepathy Academy, all with different packaging (versions 2 and 3 will be non-cd-r, and on a proper label, with pressings of 333 and 3 copies respectively). Available here at AQ exclusively, this first version is limited to 111 cd-r copies only, so you know what to do!
"excerpt 1" MPEG Stream:
SS HELL CAMP: CULT CLASSICK VOL. 1 OST (Cult ClaSSick) cassette 7.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We wish we had a million of these, and we wish it was a cd instead of a cassette, cuz this is so weird and freaked out and creepy and awesome that had it been a cd and not probably already out of print, we most definitely would have made it a record of the week. The lost soundtrack to an obscure video nastie, SS Hell Camp, one of those Nazi prison movies, lots of nudity, torture, violence, and while many of us here consider ourselves to be experts in all things fucked and freaky old movies, none of us had ever heard of or seen this glorious piece of cinematic trash. But based on the soundtrack alone, it sounds like it's probably the greatest bad movie EVER. Manic pianos, buzzing synths, creepy ambient music, weird seventies keyboards, orchestral percussion, the sounds of marching jackboots, German soldiers, machine gun fire, babies crying, women screaming, super bad acting dialogue, and inexplicably, a grunting panting beast right in the beginning. Maudlin, and cheesy, cinematic and overly dramatic, lots of this sounds like extra low budget Goblin, and if you can imagine Goblin scoring a Nazi prison flick, well, we barely need to say anything else. The recording is murky and lo fi, as if it was dubbed right off of an old VHS tape (which it probably was) but only adds to the mood and feel and flavor. When we first threw this on, it sounded exactly like some of the music from those fake trailers between the two movies in the Grindhouse double feature. Which is obviously what those guys were going for. We are gonna track down this movie eventually, but until then, we're watching it in our heads every time we play this chunk of trashy cheesy awesomeness. Super low budg packaging, and crazy limited so these will probably fly out of here, and odds are that'll be it...
STORMHAT Klokker Og Guldsmede (Krabbesholm) cd ep 5.00
**SALE **SALE* *SALE** **LAST COPIES** One of our Danish customers, an experimental musician named Peter Bach Nicholaisen, aka Stormhat, sent us this a while back - his first cd after a couple cd-r releases. It kind of got lost in the shuffle but we just discovered we had a little pile of them so here's a review! It's a brief (21 minute) disc consisting of six fairly abstract, textural tracks made from field recordings and glitchy digital manipulations. It's mostly quite gentle, yet active. Sometimes quite pretty, at others maybe even a little bit sinister-sounding. There's sounds of a baby gurgling, tinkling fragments of music-box melodies, falling rain and indistinct voices... various crunchings and rustlings, edits and echoes... The droning hiss and weird noises suggesting a nest of small, fantastical creatures, their mysterious activities being listened-in upon from a safe distance via sensitive microphone equipment. The final, title track is our favorite, as these critters settle in for a long winter with ringing drone and drowsy birdlike twittering, the night drawing in, wind at the window, hush, hush... This is not unlike something that you might find on Hapna, Helen Scarsdale, or Kning Disk. It's packaged in a gatefold digi-sleeve thing, the cd itself being one of those nifty ones that's like a 3" cd inside a 5" clear plastic disc.
"Regndrone" MPEG Stream:
"Klokker Og Guldsmede"
STURM, BOB. L. Music From The Ocean (Composer Scientist Recordings) cd 9.98
This record seems like it was made for AQ. A scientist, Bob Sturm, attaches microphones to buoys to record different oceanic events. These events translated into sound become gorgeous deep drones, and haunting alien soundscapes. Right up there with the singing telephone wires of Alan Lamb or the subtle vibrations recorded by Toshia Tsunoda. A natural phenomenon that can be studied and explored as sound. That would be enough right there, since the sounds speak for themselves. Gorgeous shimmery ripples, dark muted metallic buzz, if we didn't tell you, you'd probably believe this was some strange limited drone cd-r or a new release from Jonathan Coleclough or Andrew Chalk. But Sturm is a scientist, and these sounds are just one part of his study of the ocean, the atmosphere and their behaviors. So the booklet is packed with serious scientific data, graphs, measurements, algorithms and photos. Included is a research paper AND a Flash presentation on the "sonification of ocean buoy spectral data" originally presented at the 2002 International Conference On Auditory Display held in Kyoto, Japan. Holy crap. This is some dense stuff. But even if the science is way over your head, or all you want is some deep dark mysterious music, then dig in. The track lengths tend to be short, but they manage to blend into long stretches of drifting dreamy drone, very minimal and soft focus, many of the tracks have a strange metallic tang, that sounds more like some alien reverb, giving the drones a steel string like buzz, a few tracks are much more active, high end hiss, and prickly fuzz, but for the most part, the oceanic data translates into huge cavernous rumbles, delicate glistening murmurs, or soft billowing clouds of whirring vibration. So completely captivating. And for the drone obsessed among you, absolutely essential!
"5000V" MPEG Stream:
"3000V" MPEG Stream:
"35000v + 30" MPEG Stream:
"2800v - 1330" MPEG Stream:
"15000v - 10360" MPEG Stream:
"Flipl(Cumsum(Randn(1,64)))" MPEG Stream:
"9-Band" MPEG Stream:
"Random Spectral Bins"
SUN CITY GIRLS High Asia Lo-Pacific (Abduction) 2cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. "High Asia Lo-Pacific" comprise volumes 9 and 10 of the Sun City Girls' Carnival Folklore Resurrection series. High Asia, disc one, finds the Girls returning to their quasi-ethno folk which they seem to do so well. Using primarily stringed instruments -- guitars and lutes, bowed and plucked -- augmented with some nice harmonium work and a bit of piano. Middle Eastern flavored melodies are the vehicle of choice for most of these tracks with the Girls using their trademarked falsettos and nasal murmuring. Gocher's drumming remains low in the mix throughout with the exception of the sort of rocking "Philly SOUL LAO" and "Old Glory's Fade". Three tracks of the Sun City Girls' alter ego as a dark-hippy jam band are the exception to the rule in this collection and their presence represents more of a refreshing change than the wearying endlessness that an entire album of such No Neck Blues Band-esque skronkery can be. Disc two, Lo-Pacific, is a 40 minute mix-track of short wave and field recordings. With the exception of a section in the middle entitled "Blood of Guadalajara" -- contributed by John Vallier -- featuring a radio play of a 'cock' fight (get it?) , all the recordings were made by the Sun City Girls during their travels throughout Asia between 1988 and 1998. Quite a nice montage of street scenes, odd animal noises, calls to prayer, arguments, strange radio transmissions and more. There's even a snippet of a numbers station (Russian maybe?) slipped into the mix. The inclusion of this second disc definitely pushes this release near the top of the list of our favorites in the C.F.R. series.
"Draco Kilik" RealAudio clip:
"Qator Sidaan Yong" RealAudio clip:
"Ruby SOUL LAO" RealAudio clip:
"Lo-Pacific (excerpt 1)" RealAudio clip:
"Lo-Pacific (excerpt 2)" RealAudio clip:
"Lo-Pacific (excerpt 3)"
SUZUKI, DAISUKE D.D.D. (Idea) lp 18.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Daisuke Suzuki is mostly known as the proprietor of Siren Records in Japan, home to some amzing drone records from the likes of Jonathan Coleclough and Andrew Chalk (including the universally acclaimed "Sumac" album). But Daisuke has also contributed sound works on occasion to Ora (the loose collective of Chalk, Darren Tate, Colin Potter, Coleclough, and others). "D.D.D." marks Daisuke's first solo project as well as the debut release from Idea records, beginning a series of vinyl only field recording releases. The first side of this album features two recordings that Daisuke made at Zenpukuji Lake in Tokyo, where the winter ducks had been congregating, quacking, splashing, and generally being obnoxiously cute. The ducks themselves seemed to have been very interested in Daisuke's recording gear, as you hear them closing in on the microphone, bumping into it, and diving off into the lake. The second side of the album features the choral chirps and striations of late night crickets. Great care has been taken to get these recordings to be as good as they can be, and puts "D.D.D." up with the Douglas Quin and Bernie Krause field recordings. Be warned this is a super limited production, and we got the *last* five copies available.
TARAB Wind Keeps Even Dust Away (23five) cd 14.98
BACK IN STOCK!!! Wind Keeps Even Dust Away is the second album from the brilliant Australian sound artist Tarab (aka Eamon Sprod) originally released in 2007; yet in his small discography of manipulated field recordings and agitated objects, he's proven himself a masterful sound artist, on par with all time aQuarius favorites Chris Watson, Toshiya Tsunoda, Matt Shoemaker, and Loren Chasse. In comparison to those esteemed artists, Tarab's work is considerably darker; and he has mentioned in a rare interview a somber sympathy for the views of extreme ecologists who posit that the world would be better off if humanity were to succumb to nuclear annihilation. As such, his albums loom as sonic harbingers of the end of the world. He builds all of his work through the overlay of multiple field recordings, augmented by the complementary sounds of Sprod rustling leaves, flaking rust, crumbling dirt, and shattering glass, all of which get mulched into seamless compositions swollen with expansive low end drones and electrocuted vibrations. Wind Keeps Even Dust Away navigates barren landscapes between the industrial wasteland and the wilderness of the outback, whose epic suites wander through the exploded view of locust swarms transmogrified into an electro-static hiss coupled with wind-borne drones and thrumming metallic vibration. Toward the end of the record, Tarab hits an ecological density through his arid sources that would imply the monumental forces of the Amazonian rainforest, but where Lopez seeks to pummel, Tarab is far more subtle in his approach, being inclined to show that weird beetle scurrying through the loose soil. He'll also make you aware of that bug's toxic qualities well after it has already crawled up and down your arm. Brilliant!
"Wind" MPEG Stream:
"Keeps" MPEG Stream:
THAI ELEPHANT ORCHESTRA Elephonic Rhapsodies (Mulatta) cd 15.98
If there's one record that seems to be most identified with Aquarius Records, other than the infamous Conet Project (those recordings of shortwave spy transmissions) lots of folks would pick the Thai Elephant Orchestra, an ensemble of elephants who play gamelans and gongs and harmonicas and all sorts of custom made, super-sized instruments. So here we are three years later, and we get a little sonic update on what Phong, Mae Kot, Aet, Jo Jo, Chapati, Prajuab, Prathida, Luuk Khang, Tao, Wanalee and Gaew, the elephants responsible for one of our favorite records ever, have been up to. Quite a bit it seems as the elephants have just released their sophmore record (which is farther than most human bands make it!), and have made huge progress in their musicianship, playing short composed tunes and long drawn out meandering pieces with improvisation. Elephants have always been popular with children, and well, elephants playing musical instruments that's every child's fantasy right? Well project directors Dave Soldier and Richard Lair obviously think so as they've seemingly geared this record specifically toward children, with some bubbly rainbow lettering on the cover, and a cringeworthy introduction from "your Uncle Dave and Uncle Richard" as they introduce each elephant and describe their personalities. But don't let that stuff keep you from getting into this record. It's even better than the first. Beautifully recorded and of course masterfully played. The first third of the record are the elephants playing on their own, some of Soldier and Lair's 'compositions' and the sound is divine. Hypnotic and spare, tinkling and clattering chimes, thumping drums, booming gongs and gamelan melodies, all meandering lazily through a hazy dreamy percussive soundscape. As with the first record, if you weren't told, you'd most definitely think this was some sort of avant tribal minimal outift, maybe No Neck Blues Band or one of the many foresty Finnish folk groups. It's totally primal and mesmerising, weirdly melodic and sonically soothing. The next chunk of the record features the elephants again playing composed pieces, this time playing with human musicians, and the aforementioned effect is even greater, with Soldier's keeing violin, or Jami Sieber's moaning cello, or any of a handful of traditional Thai instruments played by the elephant's mahouts (trainers) perfectly complimented by the spare clattery backdrop. The effect of listening to some out rock, avant folk group makes it almost impossible to believe these are elephants playing this beautiful music. It also raises the question of how we have progressed and moved musically forward for centuries, yet the people furthest out on the edge, pushing the limits the farthest (NNCK, SHOTM, and any one of hundreds of avant musicians) seem to be aspiring to sounds that nature has been making for millenia or is capable of making without humans or electricity, or any of the stuff most of us rely on to play music. Pretty awe inspiring. The final portion of the record seems yet again directed at children as it is famous songs about elephants ("Baby Elephant Walk" etc.) played by small ensembles and accompanied by the elephant orchestra. Cute but not absolutely essential elephonic listening. Thankfully, in the liner notes Soldier and Lair explain that in the future they plan to "revert to the 'classical' format: long elephants-only instrumentals with minimal 'chamber music' mixing." We can't wait. But that said, there is so much good stuff on Elephonic Rhapsodies, definitely don't be put off by the young person vibe. Also in the liner notes, there is an invitation to bands and musicans all over the world to come and record with the elephants. We can hardly contain ourselves we have so many good ideas....Boris and the Thai Elephant Orchestra? Sunburned Hand Of The Man and the Thai Elephant Orchestra? Peter Brotzmann and the Thai Elephant Orchesta? Bjork and the Thai Elephant Orchestra? Hatebeak and the Thai Elephant Orchestra???
"Phong's Solo" MPEG Stream:
"The Birth Of Ganesh" MPEG Stream:
"Little Elephant Saddle"
THAI ELEPHANT ORCHESTRA s/t (Mulatta Records) cd 15.98
First it was Frogs of North America invading our record bins, then it was Antarctic Seals and Penguins, followed by Insects in Stored Foodstuffs... now it's Elephants from Thailand! Brilliant recordings by non-human, um, sound-artists that we just can't get enough of here at Aquarius. In this case, the elephants are not just making their natural noises, they are indeed playing instruments! You may have read about this project in the New York Times -- when we found out about it we immediately contacted the label and ordered a whole bunch (based also on the on-line sample we heard at www.mulatta.org) and now here they are. These are elephants from a elephant preseve in Thailand who have been trained to play specially-built instruments (many marimba-like instruments similar to the traditional Thai renat, as well as such things as harmonicas, drums, and even a stringed "electric bass"), but they haven't been trained *what* to play, it's all improvised with minimal human guidance! Yet it's definitely music. It was kind of an experiment to find out how the creatures might express themselves, and we'd say it was very successful indeed. If we didn't know these were elephants, we'd think this was a strange No Neck Blues Band recording or something. Imagine a stumbling, primitive hippy folk jam on gamelan instruments, but not one that's random or erratic. The elephants play steady beats, the struck gongs or chimes interspersed with their vocalizations as well. With no overdubs and few edits this is certainly a very impressive recording! The Thai Elephant Orchestra was dreamed up, and this disc produced, by David Soldier (New York musician and academic) and Richard Lair (American expatriate elephant expert, who advises the Thai Elephant Conservation Center where this project goes on). The two came up with the idea that elephants, being social animals, might enjoy playing music together, and proceeded to investigate... Happily, not only did the elephants enjoy playing, they were good at it, demonstrating that they were able to decide what sounded good (to them) and what didn't. The booklet features photos and detailed, fascinating liner notes by both men. Here is what Soldier says the criteria was for the construction of the instruments, which were made by New York instrument builder Ken Butler (of "Gravikords, Whirligigs..." fame): "1. The instruments must be suitable to the elephant's anatomy, which means large instruments operated by the trunk. "2. The instruments must withstand jungle heat, humidity -- and the elephants. "3. The instruments should require minimum upkeep. "4. The instruments should have a Thai sound, because the regular daily audience is Thai, the mahouts would enjoy the music more, and the elephants have heard Thai music all their lives." Some more great tid-bits from the notes: "The elephants took easily to the harmonica, which sparked the first elephant music fad: one morning I arrived to hear the sound of harmonicas from all over -- from the hills and from the river. The elephants were walking in from the forest playing harmonicas, which they hold easily in the tip of their trunks." "The elephants didn't seem interested in the bells or theremin. At first they were spooked by the synthesizer keyboard, but later two animals were entranced by it. They disliked playing Ken's reed instruments with a large mouthpiece, or rather, trunkpiece. A mahout told me they were afraid that a snake might jump into their nostrils!" As sort of bonus tracks, in addition to the forty-plus minutes of elephant improv, there's also some non-instrumental elephant field recordings, several tracks of humans and elephants playing together, and even a few traditional Thai songs played by humans, about elephants. Sure there's a bit of simple amusement to be found here just from the concept alone, but in actual fact the music these elephants make is, to our ears at least, quite beautiful. We could go on and philosophize about how this project speaks to the relationship between man and animals in this world, but we'll leave those thoughts for you to explore if you chose to check out this album, which we highly recommend! Amazing and wonderful.
"Jojo" MPEG Stream:
"Duo For Renats" MPEG Stream:
"Harmonica Music" MPEG Stream:
THAI ELEPHANT ORCHESTRA Water Music (Mulatta) cd 15.98
Wow, 2011 is ruling so far, so much good stuff has come out this year already. Here's one we REALLY flipped for when we saw it was available - the third and apparently final album (bar the inevitable reunion tour!) from everyone's favorite all-elephant ensemble. That's right, the Thai Elephant Orchestra of the Thai Elephant Conservation Center in the jungle locale of Lampang, Thailand. We're huge fans of their other two albums, made both of 'em Records Of The Week, and this one is just as good - or actually maybe even better, 'cause as they say it's a "purist" recording of the Elephant Orchestra, with no human guidance at all, edits, or overdubs. It's indeed all-elephant, with the exception of a Buddhist monk's chanted prayer for the elephant spirit heard on the very first track (also we're guessing a human came up with the song titles). All the music is entirely improvised by the elephants themselves, playing the special over-sized instruments built for them by conservationist Richard Lair and experimental composer David Soldier as part of their project to help preserve these amazing creatures and their ever-threatened habitat. Lair and Soldier just hit record and let the elephants go to it on these ten tracks. They really seem to enjoy expressing themselves, these tracks truly lovely and mesmeric, with all kinds of percussive textures, gently tinkling chimes, occasional crashing gongs or drums, gamelan-like tones, harmonica drones... and it's all remarkably rhythmic, at a stately pace. Beautiful! They definitely know what they're doing, they've got big ears after all, and it's incredible the feeling and careful restraint that they bring to the music they're making (for such large animals especially). We doubt humans could do better. NNCK, Sunburned Hand Of The Man, Kemialliset Ystavat, et. al., you're no match for these elephants... as we've said before, if you didn't know dem wuz pachyderms, you'd think this was some new weird krautrock-inspired improv group, or a reissue of something by the likes of Amon Duul, the Taj Mahal Travellers, or Yahowah 13 perhaps. For those unfamiliar with the Thai Elephant Orchestra, you're in for a treat! And anyone already a fan will be thrilled too. Previous albums contained a fair number of tracks with humans participating too, so it's nice to have one that's elephant-only, and it's sooooooo good. Utterly, utterly wonderful, both musically and conceptually. How can you not love these elephants? FYI, a new documentary about the Thai Elephant Orchestra can be found on YouTube, part one is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZHLPrYkpRc
"The Last Monsoon Of Summer" MPEG Stream:
"Gathering Storm Clouds" MPEG Stream:
"Clouds Cover Sun"