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"
THUJA All Strange Beasts Of The Past (Emperor Jones) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Thuja, beautiful Thuja. While around here (San Francisco) this group of quiet, psychedelic improvisors doesn't get quite the attention we feel they deserve, they do have a devoted, international following of fans. Fans who will be thrilled with these two new releases: a new full-length cd (their third for the Emperor Jones label after one on tUMULt) and a cute lil' 3" cd-r installment in their own Jewelled Antler "Library Series". All Strange Beasts Of The Past, the full-length, is also a record that should make Thuja some new fans if only folks get exposed to it. It's certainly their most acoustic instrument based, melodic, and folky sounding record to date, veering close to the territory explored by Thuja member Steven R. Smith on his Hala Strana releases. Not that they've abandoned their sticks and stones and drone, in fact you'll find that the last track -- they're all untitled as usual -- is entirely full of ambient grit and rattle and clank and the abstract drone sounds of undisclosed detritus found in the woods. This mellow, maybe menacing, dark forest epic takes up almost half of the disc's running time, and could easily have stood as a fine 3" release on its own. But it makes a great finale, after the shorter, more musically 'conventional' (by Thuja standards) instrumentals that preceeded it. It's as if they finally reached the dragon's lair suggested by the album's title (and wonderful cover photo and other graphics). They're creeping about, exploring a hopefully uninhabited cave, littered with strange glittering treasures and terrible old bones.
"track 2" MPEG Stream:
TILLY, THOMAS Cables & Signs [Ten Underwater Field Recordings] (Fissur) cd 15.98
BACK IN STOCK!! Most of the underwater environmental recordings we're familiar with are of whale songs and Antarctic seals and penguins, but this one takes us to an even more unusual locale: the moat of a medieval castle! How cool is that? The ten tracks on this 55 minute disc consist of material selected by French sound artist Thomas Tilly from about five hours of hydrophonic field recordings he made in the murky green waters of the moat of Sanzay Castle in the west of France. These excerpts represent what Tilly, in his careful listening, found most interesting, a dense buzzing micro-sound world created by the aquatic insects and plants, apparently reacting to the intensity of the summer sunlight on the surface of the water. Aside from some "slight equalisation", he made no electronic treatments or altering edits of the raw recordings; weird as it is, this is what you'd hear if you dunked your head in the moat and gave a long listen! Yet, it SOUNDS quite electronic (something that other nature recordings have prepared us for). They certainly don't sound of organic origin. Buzzing, pulsing, chattering drones. Rhythmic, intriguing. Steady mechanical whirr. Sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle. Constant clicking, like the ticks of a Geiger counter. Sudden sharp whines... decay... Even Morse Code like BLEEPS! (Is that a robot rusting away at the bottom of the moat, still emitting sounds? Did a mad scientist once inhabit this castle?). It makes us think, Raster-Noton meets Sounds Of North American Frogs. Almost makes you wonder why the likes of Alva Noto, Ryoji Ikeda, Nerve Net Noise, all the experimental electronica, digital glitch, clinical clicks and cuts types even bother, when instead of investing in a laptop computer and software, it seems you merely need to submerge a microphone in a suitable stagnant moat. Of course we're kidding. But the thought does occur. The varied ambient textures of these tracks are mesmeric for sure, and surprising. The most fascinating Found Sounds / Field Recordings find we've run across.
"Cables & Signs 1" MPEG Stream:
"Cables & Signs 5" MPEG Stream:
"Cables & Signs 10"
TSUNODA, TOSHIYA O Respirar Da Paisagem (SIRR.ecords) 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 got this sometime last year, but our supplier ran out before we had a chance to list it. Now we've gotten some in again direct from the label, so any Tsunoda fans who missed this have another chance to grab a copy now. It's another installment of his amazing field recordings, microscopic sonic examinations of everyday vibrations -- everything from a signboard creaking in the wind to the rumble of a fishing pier and the tide. (And yes, if you've never heard Tsunoda before, it's good listening, opening up a whole new world that your ears aren't normally focussed enough to hear). The booklet provides information on each track, like notes on location, technical details of microphone placement and such. In addition, there's some more general words from Tsunoda about how he catagorizes the sounds he's documenting here: events on "boundary lines", spacial context, and "observation and object"... giving some conceptual insight into Tsunoda's interest in the meticulous recordings of the seemingly mundane with which he's made his career.
"Cicada and window" MPEG Stream:
"Deck of a wharf"
TSUNODA, TOSHIYA Pieces Of Air (Lucky Kitchen) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Lucky Kitchen -- those bright-eyed and bushy-tailed purveyors of anthropologically minded, but nevertheless cutiepie electronica -- has commissioned Japanese field recording minimalist Toshiya Tsunoda to do an album for their "Sparkling Composer" series (though he's not exactly a composer, more of a conceptual recordist). Tsunoda's previous releases "Extracts From Field Recording Archive Vol. 1" and "Vol. 2" were incredibly stoic offerings of amplifications of very quiet resonant frequencies, and stand as some of the most challenging, unprocessed field recordings we've ever heard here at Aquarius. Some of us here prefer those discs to this new recording but others really like this new album too. We all agree that this album has all of the prerequisites to be interesting, with Tsunoda's elaborate explanations of the technical set-up and circumstances of his recordings (such as the reflection of prepared test signals of very specific frequencies against a wall, or the placement of microphones in bottles or pipes, exposed to radio broadcasts or the sea). The liner notes certainly make for interesting reading, we'll not try to paraphrase them here. We were touched, though, by this comment: "Track 14 exceeded the input level at the time of recording and thus needed the technical help of my best friend and engineer Yukiharu Higashioji." And the results of these recordings are fascinating and indeed beautiful listening. Much of "Pieces of Air", though proclaimed by Lucky Kitchen as an example of Tsunoda's sense of "child-like wonder", might actually make for a great horror movie soundtrack. Vaguely sinister thumps, humms, splashes, and drones abound. One of the best tracks is the last, recorded in Istanbul during the noontime call to prayer. Half-audible chants, drifting throught the air from across the city, mingle and merge in an ambient haze.
"inside of a pipe - radio and water level" RealAudio clip:
"inside of a pipe at the seashore 1" RealAudio clip:
"inside of a pipe at the seashore 2" RealAudio clip:
"echo of a room" RealAudio clip:
V/A Americana Volume I: Vox Populi (Citizen Kafka Productions) cd-r 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. True "Outsider Music" lovingly culled from the thousands upon thousands of bad records out there, and don't get us wrong, these are certainly very bad too, but bad in a good way. By Outsider Music we don't mean music made in the Great Outdoors, we mean music made on the fringes often without the support of any established label or industry behind it, music made by amateurs and weirdos and wannabes. You gotta love 'em. There's a brilliance to the energy and hard work and passion found in these tracks, which were compiled by Citizen Kafka for his WFMU radio show (Kafka works a lot with Pat Conte, better known as the legendary guy behind the Secret Museum of Mankind compilations.) Contained herein: solo warblings courtesy Howard Finster (better known for his fantastic outsider art sculptures), multi-track tape manipulations sounding like early cartoon music a la Raymond Scott, singer songwriter fare performed in a van to an audience of one dog, amateur poems set to music by seasoned "pros", vanity songs played by hired orchestras, Beat poetry performed over psychedelic squiggles, hotel-bar bands playing Smokey Robinson, kids tunes, retarded young adults performing "This Little Light of Mine", music performed on the 1973 Comet (an instrument that has 400 notes per octave!), even a bonus track from electronic children's music pioneer Bruce Haack, himself the object of several recent reissues. 25 tracks in all, 71 minutes of either great listening or aural torture (it's up to you to decide.) Lots of liner notes and pictures, just be aware that this is a cd-R (and given that, we are sorry about the excessive price of this disc, but it's based on what the compiler is charging us). This recording is for those of us folks who think The Shaggs are all that.
BOBBY BROWN "Macho Joe Medley" RealAudio clip:
SPECIALISTS "Groovin'" RealAudio clip:
EDITH BOXHILL AND STUDENTS "This Little Light of Mine"
V/A Animals of Africa: Sounds of the Jungle, Plain & Bush (Nonesuch) cd 12.98
We're pretty damn excited about Nonesuch's decision to reissue the entire Explorer Series on CD. The series was spearheaded by Nonesuch chief Teresa Sterne who ran the label from 1965 to 1975 (when she was canned by Warner bean counters who had just acquired the label and its parent Elektra.) Sterne earned her stripes through her championing of modern American composers Edgard Varese, Elliott Carter, George Crumb and Scott Joplin. The Explorer Series was another undertaking entirely, and was the first time anything close to a thorough collection of recordings of world music had been attempted for commercial release. Dating as far back as 1966, with David Lewiston's recording of Balinese "kecak" chant, the entire series is nearly 100 discs in total! Broken up into 8 regions there are recordings from Africa, Indonesia/South Pacific, Tibet/Kashmir, Latin America/Caribbean, East Asia, Central Asia, Europe and India. Quite and undertaking. All the discs include the original liner notes that were included with the LPs so, as the editor warns at the beginning of each booklet: "general cultural perceptions or specific factual information may have occurred since then." Each release comes with a handsome outer sleeve, the liner notes are accompanied by nice black & white photographs and though the lengths of the CDs are generally between 30 & 40 minutes, the nice price fairly makes up for it. More fuckin' weird animal sounds? Fuck Yeah!!! You must have noticed by now that we here at Aquarius go a little nuts when we get a good recording of some animals kicking out the hella mad squeals, growls, hoots, clicks and snorts. And when their sounds are unlike anything we're likely to hear on a walk through the Marin headlands or in Tilden Park, we get pretty excited. What's more, many of the animals on this collection -- for those who haven't heard them before -- sound nothing like what one's intuition would suggest. For instance, who would think that the rhinoceros, weighing in at 2000 pounds and capable of goring any one of us like a twinkie with its horn, would have a larger vocabulary than a series of menacing snorts? But au contraire, the rhino -- as captured here -- has, in its mating call, one of the cutest inquisitive mewls you'll likely ever hear. It sounds almost like it's on the phone giving positive reinforcement to the hippopotamus on the other end complaining about the way the lion has been acting of late. Or how about the Hyrax, a small East African mammal about the size of a rabbit (and a distant relative of the elephant of all things), that makes a loud growling noise not unlike someone trying to start a chainsaw. But that's not all, you get the Vervet monkey with its complex vocabulary announcing to all its mates that a leopard is on the prowl. And not to seem biased towards the primates' side of the story, the producers also included the leopard's growling complaints about the monkeys' behavior. And that's just the beginning! You also get Zebras (they sound a lot more like coyotes or dogs than horses), Wildebeest (think frogs), Lion (say no more), Hyena (god, hyenas are freaks! no matter how many times you hear them, they never lose their charm), Wild-Dog (someone scrubbing a plate glass window clean with a gerbil), Silver-Backed Jackal (parrot?), Elephant (elephant), and last -- but certainly not least -- the hippopotamus (on the other end of the line with the rhino.) Originally released by Nonesuch as part of their Explorer series in 1973, it'd take the most tenacious DJ to find a copy of this on vinyl so pick it up on disc today. Absolutely essential!
"Hyrax" RealAudio clip:
"Rhinoceros" RealAudio clip:
V/A Art Of Field Recording Volume II (Dust-To-Digital) 4cd-box 68.00
V/A Art Of Field Recordings Vol 1 (Dust-To-Digital) 4cd box 68.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Dust To Digital is the new Smithsonian Folkways, every one of their releases fantastically complete, meticulously researched, gorgeously presented, often in a way that has you digging music you might have assumed you wouldn't otherwise. In the past they've given us the Goodbye, Babylon collection of gospel music, packed in a silkscreened wooden box and snuggled up next to clumps of raw cotton, the Fonotone Records collection, old time bluegrass, blues and folk, housed in a cigar box, with a hardcover book and a bottle opener, the I Belong To This Band compilation of Sacred Harp Recordings, and now this, The Art Of Field Recordings, a 4 disc set, culled from 5 years of field recording, collected by archivists Art and Margo Rosenbaum, and collecting all manner of musical Americana, blues, rhythm and blues, gospel, country, gospel, spirituals, religious hymns, ballads and almost anything they stumbled across. If you LOVE Harry Smith's Anthology Of American Folk Music set, and have been hankering for more, this will absolutely hit the spot. Or if you always think about buying the Harry Smith box for someone and wish they didn't already have it so you could, well here's the answer to your problem. The recordings are amazing, super intimate and personal, many of them a cappella, lots of them including the various bits of conversation that took place before and after, making it feel like you were sitting right there on the porch. The discs are separated onto four discs, each with a particular focus, instrumental and dance, blues, religious, and one disc that is a sort of sampling of all of the above and more, even including some Mexican folk, a German traditional, and other songs that maybe didn't fit perfectly into those genres. Includes a massive book, with a huge essay and tons of notes on every song and each performer. The packaging is a little strange, maybe not up to the D2D standards we're used to. A super nice thick box, housing a big perfect bound book, but the cds are in paper sleeves, and laid on corresponding colored squares, separated only by a weird little foam 't' adhered to the bottom of the box. But it hardly matters as the music inside is so completely fantastic. Recommended bug time. And pretty much the ideal gift for your blues/folk/country obsessed loved ones (especially the ones who own and love the Harry Smith anthology)!
V/A Atomic Platters (Bear Family) 5cd+1dvd box 195.00
Holy crap! This is just about the most amazing box set we've ever seen! The second we heard about it, we knew it was going to be good, but we weren't prepared for just HOW GOOD. Not sure how many of you are familiar with Bear Family Records, but they're a German label who specialize in super elaborate, incredibly detailed and well researched releases, especially box sets, running the gamut from the women of Sun Records to the Everly Brothers to Ernest Tubb to Perez Prado to Flatt And Scruggs and on and on. Always very expensive and often hard to get, but once you lay your eyes and ears on one of their releases you realize it was worth all the trouble and worth every penny. And never was it truer than with Atomic Platters. This years in the works set is a five cd, DVD, hardcover book, box set collecting "Cold War Music From The Golden Age Of Homeland Security", 5 plus hours of fifties and sixties, rock and roll, R&B and soul, either warning us of the dangers of Communism and the impending atomic war, or more playfully using the A bomb and Uranium and Communism as metaphors for love and romance and partying ("You Hit Me Baby Like An Atom Bomb", "Atomic Baby", "Fujiyama Mama", "Uranium Rock", etc.). Scattered throughout are loads of civl defense spots, most appallingly naive and utterly ridiculous, there's Groucho Marx explaining that we have a good chance of surviving an atomic war, Art Linkletter warning us to not use the phone in case of an atomic attack, and lots of other misguided warnings and advice from Bob Hope, Tony Bennett, Fred MacMurray, Tom Lehrer, Pat Boone, Connie Francis, Don Pardo, Johnny Cash, Boris Karloff and lots more, as well as tons of bizarre civil defense dramatizations and creepy little Leave It To Beaver style vignettes. Then there's the music, lots of favorites you've heard on other comps, but an amazing amount or material you've never heard (and probably never thought you'd hear) anywhere as well as totally obscure tracks from some not so obscure artists. Some of the more recognizable folks: Roy Acuff, The Sons Of The Pioneers, Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan, Bo Diddley, Dexter Gordon, The Louvin Brothers, Carl Perkins, Bing Crosby, Bill Haley, Doris Day, Hank Williams and more, but the lure is definitely the hundred or so other tracks, all catchy or bizarre or both, from a wild cast of one hit wonders. As if that weren't enough, there is also a disc containing two full length spoken word records released in 1961, If The Bomb Falls and The Complacent Americans, both ridiculous and paranoid, laughable and goofy, but also sort of sad and creepy. Wow. Then there's the DVD which contains 9 short films, over two hours of educational films, teaching us about Communism, the impending Atomic War, and the infamous "Duck And Cover" method of surviving an atomic bomb attack (and we're fairly sure that the narrator of one of the films is none other than Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion, and the singer of the "You're A Mean One Mr. Grinch"). Finally, there is the book, a massive 11" x 12" hard cover tome, chock full of illustrations, liner notes, photos, and a full page description with pictures and all sorts of extra info for every track in the box. Unbelievable. This is absolutely essential for all lovers of strange sounds and weird music as well as being perfect for history buffs too. And as it's that gift giving season, we can't possibly imagine a more perfect and amazing gift! WOW! These are a bit too expensive to keeep a bunch in stock, but if you want one let us know and we'll be getting as many as we need next week!
GROUCHO MARX "Civil Defense Spot: Excellent Chances" MPEG Stream:
SLIM GAILLARD QUARTETTE "Atomic Cocktail" MPEG Stream:
FAY SIMMONS "You Hit Me Baby Like An Atomic Bomb" MPEG Stream:
BOB HOPE "Civil Defense Spot: Pattern Of Survival" MPEG Stream:
THE BUCHANAN BROTHERS "Atomic Power" MPEG Stream:
UNKNOWN "Take The Step (Grandma's Pantry)"
V/A Bosavi: Rainforest Music From Papua New Guinea (Smithsonian Folkways) 3cd 25.00
A fantastic package here: 3 cds (that's 193 minutes!) of musical/field recordings spanning 25 years, documenting the pre-industrial culture of the indigenous people of Papua New Guinea (y'know, it's an island to the north of Australia) and their rainforest sound-world. Recorded and compiled by ethnomusicologist Steven Feld, who also provides the very detailed, wonderfully informative text and photos found in the thick booklet accompanying these cds (all packaged together in a cardstock slipcase). Disc one starts "Bosavi" off with examples of how this ancient culture is also very much current and living -- nineteen tracks of the new, secular guitar-based "string band music" that began to flourish in the 1990s, arising from the island's relatively recent independence and the influx of Western instruments and musical forms. Gorgeous stuff indeed. Feld's notes provide translations of the lyrics and contextual information, not that any is really needed to appreciate the beauty of these string bands' music. Disc two brings us the sounds of everyday life, which involves a lot of singing and music, traditional work-songs (and accompanying work-sounds) being the focus here. Absolutely riveting, as it's not hard to allow youself to enter into the audio field with your imagination. And disc three introduces us to the ritual music of these rainforest-dwellers, from weeping funerary chants to ceremonial drumming. Kudos again to Feld and Smithsonian Folkways for their fine work in compiling these sounds and bringing them out of the forest to our stereos.
KEMULI STRING BAND "Oh no!" RealAudio clip:
GUSUWA STRING BAND "Long ago" RealAudio clip:
A MEN'S WORK GROUP "Clears a new garden" RealAudio clip:
ULAHI AND EYO:BO "Sing with afternoon cicadas" RealAudio clip:
AIBA "Seance 'gisalo' song with weeping"
V/A Broken Hearted Dragonflies: Insect Electronica From Southeast Asia (Sublime Frequencies) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. The first recording in the Sublime Frequencies catalog to not focus on the noise people make, Broken Hearted Dragonflies gives a voice to our insect brethren in Southeast Asia, as recorded by Tucker Martine in Laos, Burma and Thailand in 2000. The disc starts off like any other "traditional" insect recording: lots of cicada-like whining and chirping, but gradually turns to sound unlike all the rest. As one particular insect in the field begins to slowly sweep up in pitch like an oscillator on a synthesizer. A short time later, the clashing buzz of insect varieties begins to grate against their own harmonies and sounds much like either a clever DSP patch or the aliasing sound of a poorly sampled instrument. In other words, it all sounds hardly organic. In fact, in the field recording genre, we'd have to place this one in the same bizarre category as Douglas Quin's Antarctica recordings. The Raster-Noton sounds of nature. We're periodically reminded of our bucolic setting only by the steady hoots and coos of the native birds. You will undoubtably share our initial skepticism regarding the purity of these field recordings, but it is emphatically stated by the recordist that "these recordings were not processed, the insects actually sound like this!" Absolutely amazing stuff! Features liner notes by none other than Hakim Bey.
"Morning Fanfare" MPEG Stream:
V/A Broken Hearted Dragonflies: Insect Electronica From Southeast Asia (Sublime Frequencies) lp 21.00
One of our favorite Sublime Frequencies releases EVER, long out of print on cd, is finally available again, and on vinyl!!!! Here's what we wrote about this amazing record way back in 2004 when we first reviewed it on New Arrivals List #192: The first recording in the Sublime Frequencies catalog to not focus on the noise people make, Broken Hearted Dragonflies gives a voice to our insect brethren in Southeast Asia, as recorded by Tucker Martine in Laos, Burma and Thailand in 2000. The disc starts off like any other "traditional" insect recording: lots of cicada-like whining and chirping, but gradually turns to sound unlike all the rest. As one particular insect in the field begins to slowly sweep up in pitch like an oscillator on a synthesizer. A short time later, the clashing buzz of insect varieties begins to grate against their own harmonies and sounds much like either a clever DSP patch or the aliasing sound of a poorly sampled instrument. In other words, it all sounds hardly organic. In fact, in the field recording genre, we'd have to place this one in the same bizarre category as Douglas Quin's Antarctica recordings. The Raster-Noton sounds of nature. We're periodically reminded of our bucolic setting only by the steady hoots and coos of the native birds. You will undoubtedly share our initial skepticism regarding the purity of these field recordings, but it is emphatically stated by the recordist that "these recordings were not processed, the insects actually sound like this!" Absolutely amazing stuff! Features liner notes by none other than Hakim Bey.
"Morning Fanfare" MPEG Stream:
V/A Celebrities... At Their Worst! (Mad Deadly Worldwide Communist Gangster Computer God) 2cd-r 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Completely hilarious bloopers will keep you in stitches. Andee keeps telling the story of how he had to listen to Joe from Souled American imitating the drunken John Wayne! Everyone from William Shatner to Elvis, Colonel Sanders, Tom Brokaw, Liz Taylor, Billie Holiday, The Beach Boys, Barry White, Casey Kasem (of course), Jack Palance, and more.
V/A Celebrities... at Their Worst, Volume 2 (Mad Deadly Worldwide Gangster Communist God) 2cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Guaranteed to be answering machine fodder for eternity, this is "2 1/2 more hours of bad acting, bad comedy, bad rock'n'roll, bad everything." Bloopers and profanity recorded but never ever meant for release, from 62 personalities including Barbra Streisand, Robin Williams, Stevie Nicks, Linda McCartney, Hank Williams Jr., Jim Morrison, Elton John, Tiny Tim, William Shatner, Brian Wilson, James Brown, Buddy Hackett, George Burns, Dean Martin, and the entirety of the out-of-print live Venom 7" put out by Ecstatic Peace, the one that was edited so that it consisted mainly of ridiculous between-song banter (if you can call comments like "Hell yeah!" banter).
V/A Chamanes Et Possedes (Shamans and Possessed) (Buda Musique) cd 15.98
This compelling compilation brings together tracks from a bunch of different releases in Buda Musique's Musique Du Monde series to provide a global, pan-cultural perspective on traditional shamanic ritual music. Here you'd definitely find some wild and wonderful examples of musical expression made by and for shamans and other "possessed" persons from places as diverse as Indonesia, Iran, Siberia, Haiti, Vietnam, Ecuador, Guyana, and Brazil. From the always-incredible Cak chant of Bali to Voodoo frenzies, from the anti-suicide ceremony of a Siberian shaman to the hallucinogenically-enhanced mouth-bowing of an Amazonian healer, this is both some great listening and a fascinating reminder of the universal human desire to transcend this world and find strength and succor in what to some is a very real spiritual realm. Some of the selections demonstrate the communal, celebratory energy needed to make contact with spirits, while others seem to derive their power from the depth of feeling evident in a singer's solo performance. 11 tracks, 60 minutes, an excellent international "shaman-sampler" indeed.
"Siberia: Nganasan shamanic ritual" MPEG Stream:
"Ecuador: Shuar shamanic ritual (Jivaro)"
V/A Crash! Bang! Boom! (Rhino ) cd 14.98
V/A DJ Drank's Greatest Malt Liquor Hits 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. VERY LIMITED. And we think the blurb on the back of the cd says it best, so we'll just quote it: Before the appropriately named Alkaholiks DJ/producer E-Swift hooked up with King Tee and DJ Pooh to work on a series of 60-second St. Ides TV and radio commercial spots that they had been commissioned to do: complete with a budget that allowed them to bring in some of the best emcees of the day. These rap commercials were really really good (they sound better than most commercial rap crap today!) and were so immensely popular at the time (early 90's when commercial radio didn't play nearly as much rap as today, esp. West Coast artists) that they resulted in listeners jamming radio station request lines at stations like Wild 107, San Francisco just to hear Cube or the Geto Boys rap about their favorite high-octane malt liquor. Not surprisingly with lyrics like Cube's "Get your girl in the mood quicker, get your jimmy thicker, with St. Ides malt liquor," it wasn't long before controversy soon overshadowed the advertising campaign. Outraged protests followed particularly in African-American and Hispanic communities where malt-liquor billboards and posters were defaced. Additionally the St. Ides commercials were publicly criticized by the U.S. Surgeon General and the New York State Consumer Protection Commission and drew fines from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, as well as the New York State Attorney General's Office. Additionally Korean grocers boycotted St. Ides, but for a different reason, for their use of Ice Cube as their spokesperson. Their protest was based on Cube's derogatory lyrical comments about Koreans in his album "Death Certificate." (Note: McKenzie River Partners, the San Francisco-based maker of St. Ides, consequently temporarily discontinued using Ice Cube.) But the biggest criticism of the St. Ides commercials was that it used hip hop/rap music, a genre most popular with teenagers at the time, to sell malt liquor directly to underage drinkers. This was further enforced when St. Ides blatantly marketed a nonalcoholic drink for kids, boldly using the St. Ides name/logo (check out the lyrics to Ice Cube's "Crooked I For All Ages" track #30). Overall the reaction to the St. Ides ads was so intense that G. Heileman Co., the national brewer that had created the St. Ides label, disavowed any connection with St. Ides. And eventually the commercials were banned altogether and never heard/seen again. With Ice Cube, Yo-Yo, Geto Boys and Scarface, Snoop Dogg, Wu Tang Clan, Eric B & Rakim, EPMD, and many more. 30 tracks in all. VERY LIMITED.
V/A Folk and Pop Sounds of Sumatra Vol. 1 (Sublime Frequencies) 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're pretty damn excited by Sun City Girls 33.3 percenter Alan Bishop's new Sublime Frequencies label. "Dedicated to acquiring and exposing obscure sights and sounds from modern and traditional urban and rural frontiers" Sublime Frequencies is slipping on the shoes apparently discarded by such pioneering labels as Smithsonian Folkways, Nonesuch Explorer, et al. Unlike previous explorers in such unheard music, Sublime Frequencies is not restricted by academic or commercial purposes. The latter probably deserves a bit more explanation; for where much of the post-Explorer purveyors of "world music" shamelessly produce an endless slough of slick garbage that sounds like the crap you can hear on any U.S. top 40 radio station merely sung in another language (Christ, if I had a wooden nickel for every fuckin' starry eyed NPR music review extoling the uniqueness of some generic world music outfit that combines electronic music with traditional folk, yadda, yadda, yadda the world's forests would be clear cut by now) the recordings you'll hear presented by Sublime Frequencies come from the cracks in the pavement of the culture makers. Through field recordings (many made by Bishop himself in his travels), radio and shortwave broadcasts some of the most fucking great music and audio you've never heard has been culled together. Balls to fidelity, none of the artists here would be allowed within 10 miles of a Putamayo AR executive, this is the punk rock of field recordings! Assembled from cassettes acquired by Alan Bishop through trade or purchase in 1989 while traveling through Sumatra, "Folk And Pop Sounds" contains some of the most obscure recordings of the three initial CD releases from Subliminal Frequencies. Located on the furthest Western edge of the Indonesian archipelago, Sumatra is big (as big as California) and widely unexplored in the audio realm in comparison with its neighboring islands to the East, Java and Bali. The disc begins with the Haba Haba Group in which a male singer is accompanied by flute, two alternating gongs and percussion and secondly by an unknown Sumatran Dangdut (crazy overdriven pop with a heavy Indian film music influence). The most immediately noticeable difference in these recordings from Sumatra to Bali & Java is the overt Arabic influence on the music. The Dangdut track even sounds similar to the music on a Somalian CD, "Jamiila" which we used to sell here years ago before it went out of print. As if to admonish us against generalizations, another later Dangdut track, with runaway farfisa organ, pleasant arppegiating electric guitar and female vocals sounds not dis-similar to the "keroncong" music of The Steps CD from Java released on Warn Defever's Time Stereo label. While the disc may begin innocently enough, the sequencing of the tracks seduces the listener into the strange world of Sumatran music. The very Arabic sounding Indang Pariaman which features a female singer who's melody line interweaves beautifully with end blown wooden flute and some more incredibly nutty buzzing electric keyboard (one can only imagine that the sound is intended to imitate a double reed instrument of old) is moved along by jovial electric bass and casio-rhythm. The combination of acoustic and archaic electric instruments is shamelessly wonderful. Later an orchestra of sorts, complete with violin, electric organ, bass, drums, female voice leads us down a fragrant path that's oddly reminiscent of a Sun City Girls track. Speaking of which, though this one technically isn't, there are a couple of tracks on here which indeed are songs covered by the Girls, can you figure out which ones? Along with the songs proper included here, there are some great excerpts from dramas. The first instance begins with sweet flute and what's supposed to be a rooster crowing, but emulated by what sounds like an old air raid siren played through a broken megaphone. A melodramatic dialogue ensues between a terribly afflicted female and a stoic male voice. needless to say, this one comes highly recommended!
HABA HABA GROUP "Sitogol #1" MPEG Stream:
UNKNOWN "Piso Somalim #1" MPEG Stream:
PIMP RUBIAH "Sri Mersing"
V/A Folk and Pop Sounds of Sumatra Vol. 1 (Sublime Frequencies) lp 25.00
Awesome! A deluxe vinyl reissue of this out of print cd!! Originally released nearly 8 years ago, this incredible compilation was one of the very first things from a new 'world music' label, head honcho'd by Sun City Girl Alan Bishop. That label, Sublime Frequencies, as most loyal aQ list readers are well aware of by now, went on to quickly become what has to be one of the exciting and varied labels out there, especially amongst world music reissue specialty labels, which often tend toward the very mainstream. This stuff was and is anything but mainstream, dedicated to, according to the label themselves, "acquiring and exposing obscure sights and sounds from modern and traditional urban and rural frontiers". Sublime Frequencies effortlessly slipping on the shoes apparently discarded by such pioneering labels as Smithsonian Folkways, Nonesuch Explorer, et al. And unlike previous explorers in such unheard music, Sublime Frequencies was, and is, not restricted by academic tradition or commercial purposes. The collections and compilations seem more like mixtapes, lovingly compiled, and born of a true and genuine love of the music. Every one brimming with sounds like we'd never heard before, musics culled from the cracks in the pavement of the culture makers. Through field recordings (many made by Bishop and the rest of the SF crew themselves), collected tapes and records, radio and shortwave broadcasts, Sublime Frequencies consistently manages to utterly transport the listener, capturing all the energy and emotion, the politics and the passion, of other peoples and places, via the sounds and music that are the soundtracks to their lives. And as we mentioned before, none of the artists here would be allowed within 10 miles of a Putamayo AR executive, Sublime Frequencies is the punk rock of field recordings! Or at least was. If anything, they've become the new standard by which other world music upstarts are measured, and they've set the bar pretty damn high. And it all started here. Here's what we had to say about Folk And Pop Sounds From Sumatra, Volume 1, when we first reviewed it nearly a decade ago, and listening to it again, even now, it still sounds as fresh and exciting as it did thenÉ Folk And Pop Sounds was assembled from cassettes acquired by Alan Bishop through trade or purchase in 1989 while traveling through Sumatra, which is located on the furthest Western edge of the Indonesian archipelago, and is big (as big as California) and widely unexplored in the audio realm in comparison with its neighboring islands to the East, Java and Bali. The disc begins with the Haba Haba Group in which a male singer is accompanied by flute, two alternating gongs and percussion and secondly by an unknown Sumatran Dangdut (crazy overdriven pop with a heavy Indian film music influence). The most immediately noticeable difference in these recordings from Sumatra to Bali & Java is the overt Arabic influence on the music. The Dangdut track even sounds similar to the music on a Somalian cd, "Jamiila" which we used to sell here years ago before it went out of print. As if to admonish us against generalizations, another later Dangdut track, with runaway Farfisa organ, pleasant arpeggiating electric guitar and female vocals sounds not dissimilar to the "keroncong" music of The Steps cd-r from Java released on Warn Defever's Time Stereo label (another big seller here way back when). While the disc may begin innocently enough, the sequencing of the tracks seduces the listener into the strange world of Sumatran music. The very Arabic sounding "Indan g Pariaman" which features a female singer whose melody line interweaves beautifully with end blown wooden flute and some more incredibly nutty buzzing electric keyboard (one can only imagine that the sound is intended to imitate a double reed instrument of old) is moved along by jovial electric bass and Casio-rhythm. The combination of acoustic and archaic electric instruments is shamelessly wonderful. Later an orchestra of sorts, complete with violin, electric organ, bass, drums, female voice leads us down a fragrant path that's oddly reminiscent of a Sun City Girls track. Speaking of which, though this one technically isn't, there are a couple of tracks on here which indeed are songs covered by the Girls, can you figure out which ones? Along with the songs proper included here, there are some great excerpts from dramas. The first instance begins with sweet flute and what's supposed to be a rooster crowing, but emulated by what sounds like an old air raid siren played through a broken megaphone. A melodramatic dialogue ensues between a terribly afflicted female and a stoic male voice. Needless to say, this one comes highly recommended! And like all Sublime Frequencies vinyl (and cds for that matter), kinda limited...
HABA HABA GROUP "Sitogol #1" MPEG Stream:
UNKNOWN "Piso Somalim #1" MPEG Stream:
PIMP RUBIAH "Sri Mersing"
V/A Framework 250 (Framework Editions) 4cd-r 55.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Beginning back in 2002, Framework is a radio show hosted by Patrick McGinley, who presents his listeners with an hour dedicated to field recordings and their use in composition. The first broadcasts appeared via Resonance FM in London, with syndication of the show expanding through various stations online and over-the-air in Belgium, Greece, and on occasion New York. The shows are stellar productions (even when streamed online) with McGinley often able to solicit exclusive field recordings from his numerous contacts around the globe. In celebration of the 250th broadcast and in support of his original host Resonance FM, McGinley has assembled this amazing 4cd document of exclusive compositions that in some way, shape, or form incorporate the art of field recording into the final piece. The list of contributors is quite large, and certainly acts as a who's who in the realm of avant-garde composition, featuring Phill Niblock, Asmus Tietchens, Peter Cusack, Steve Roden, Giancarlo Toniutti, and of course Chris Watson (arguably the pinnacle of sound ecology). But there's plenty of those who we here at aQuarius have long championed: Loren Chasse, Michael Northam, McGinley's own project Murmer, Jonathan Coleclough, Tarab, Keith Berry, John Grzinich, Eric Cordier, Richard Garet and our own Jim Haynes. With four discs, there's a lot to cover and a surprisingly large amount of high caliber material. So, here it goes... Wooden creaks, bell strikes, and distant bird calls slowly percolate to the surface of Jonathan Coleclough's collaboration with Ben Owen, who collectively augment those sounds with Feldman-like gestures of windswept tonal clusters. Stalwart concrete / sound artist Toy Bizarre offers a compacted mass of water sounds; and Mark Schrieber offers a composition of squeezed noise courtesy of a windshield wiper grating against a contact microphone. Jim Haynes scrapes slabs of slate together before transmitting a harmonic overdrive of clustered bell-n-shortwave tone-floatation. Toshiya Tsunoda's exquisite study in low-end vibration patterns originated from a rope lashed from a boat to pier in his native Japan. Seth Nehil turns the cacophony of a traffic jam into a meditative thrum punctuated by mechanical gestures, aerated hisses, and oblique moanings. Having set contact microphones upon several pieces of wood mounted to a small dam, Maksims Sentelevs captured a polyphony of chiming noises amidst the bubbling watery percolation that's quite unsettling. Eric Cordier's haunted ululations and distant squeals loop hypnotically, making allusions more to horror sound effects rather than typical field recording fodder, even if the material is probably the sound of a gull screeching just off the shoreline. Jeph Jerman's grey hiss of a field recording scrabbles with the sound of insects rummaging around bamboo, all the while sounding like an extract cassette from the bottom of a tarpit. Conducting something of a small ritual with objects around his apartment, Loren Chasse layers textural sounds into an enthralling, mysterious mass of hushed sound. Tarab's corroded drones and tactile spillages from pure field recordings are as captivating as ever, proving that he's one of the more under-recognized composers around today. Steve Roden's contemplative, lulling piece is beautifully composed from two notes on guitar quietly plucked against the hiss of a rainstorm recorded back in 1930s on a 78 as an early sound effects record. Keith Berry's hauntological ambience could easily give Leyland Kirby a run for his money. Industrial rumble and concrete bunker reverberation dominate the low-end frequencies of Jez Riley French's exceptional contribution, perfectly situated next to the obscurant documentation from Giancarlo Toniutti's rattlings of ironworks and deep environmental droning. Chris Watson makes no secrets as to the source on his recording "Ravens" who sound as ominous and cackling as you would expect. Phill Niblock's contribution was sourced from a field recording he made back in 1986 of church bells, but elongated digitally into a slightly atypical piece for the minimalist, as it's less than 6 minutes long! Whew! All of this and more. There's also the fact that this is limited to 250 copies. Actually, none of these discs were to be available in shops at all, but McGinley made one exception to this rule, allowing Aquarius to have a handful of these. We have less than a dozen, and it remains to be seen if we'll be able to get more. Yes, it's expensive, but it is worth it for the material at hand, plus the proceeds are going to support McGinley's production for Framework and Resonance FM.
MAKSIMS SENTELEVS "River Dam Performed" MPEG Stream:
ERIC CORDIER "Montchaibeaux" MPEG Stream:
JONATHAN COLECLOUGH & BEN OWENS "Two Chambers" MPEG Stream:
TARAB "Untitled Artefacts" MPEG Stream:
STEVE RODEN "Six Small Storms" MPEG Stream:
GIANCARLO TONIUTTI "Chooramuuk, Girasrum" MPEG Stream:
PHILL NIBLOCK "Bells And Timps"
V/A Framework Seasonal: Issue #1, Autumn 2011 (Framework Editions) cd-r 25.00
Patrick McGinley has been broadcasting his exemplary Framework Radio series since 2002, showcasing the wild and wooly uses of field recordings in composition with the occasional Finnish freak-folk tune (laced with bird song, of course!). He began Framework through the seminal London-based Resonance FM, gradually expanding his scope with stations licensing the series around the globe. In support of these productions, McGinley started a small cd-r imprint whose releases would only be available to the donors supporting Framework; but he's made one very kind exception to this, appointing aQuarius as his sole retail outlet. The first collection McGinley offered was a 4-disc set of exclusive tracks with some heavy hitters amongst the lot including Chris Watson, Phill Niblock, and Giancarlo Toniutti with plenty of AQ-favorites dotted in the nearly five hours worth of music. Here, McGinley begins what looks to be a quarterly cd-r series of exclusive material whose compositions feature field recordings in some way, shape, or form. At least for Issue #1, McGinley has picked an array of artists not featured on that aforementioned 4-disc set. Here, the artists include Marc Behrens, Ernst Karel, Gill Arno, Sebastiane Hegarty, Mark Peter Wright, Mecha/Orga, Paulo Raposo, Lee Patterson, and Joe Stevens. The swarming, buzzing drone of Sebastiane Hegarty's track is a magnificent piece of field recording, originating from a couple of contact microphones attached to a taut wire vibrated by stiff English winds. Eerie and beautiful in its harmonic humming as an Aeolian harp. The Marc Behrens track reworks the chaotic urban soundscape of Hong Kong into a complex musique concrete piece looking back to those early collages by Jim O'Rourke. The enveloping thrum of Mark Peter Wright's very impressive "Around And Within" originated from a network of decommissioned drain pipes that resonate with a thick, vibrating set of frequencies captured with open air microphones along with the drips from melting snow. Very nice. Lee Patterson's hydrophone recordings capture the rich chorus beneath the surface of various fish and water-borne insects, with a skittering almost electrified-sounding bed of staccato chatter and sferic arcs. Paolo Raposo also uses hydrophones, although he coaxes ringing tones and drones from those recordings in this brightened piece of minimalist shimmer. A brilliant collection through and through. Yes, the price is steep for a cd-r, but the offset folio packaging is quite nice and proceeds from this disc go to support Resonance FM!
SEBASTIANE HEGARTY "Resistance 4" MPEG Stream:
MARC BEHRENS "Yes, China" MPEG Stream:
MARK PETER WRIGHT "Around And Within" MPEG Stream:
PAULO RAPOSO "Planting A Tree Inside Water"
V/A Framework Seasonal: Issue #2, Spring 2012 (Framework Editions) cd-r 25.00
Patrick McGinley's Framework radio show has been on the air for well over a decade now, sporting the tag line of "Phonography, field recordings, the art of sound hunting. Open your ears and listen." He began Framework through the seminal London-based Resonance FM, gradually expanding his scope with stations licensing the series around the globe. In support of these productions, McGinley (who also records under the moniker Murmer, fyi...) started a small cd-r imprint whose releases would only be available to the donors supporting Framework; but he's made one very kind exception to this, appointing aQuarius as his sole retail outlet. This is the second in the ongoing series of the semi-regular Framework Seasonal publications, featuring a fantastic array of sound artists using field recordings in composition. Most of the artists featured are making their aQ debuts, although we are well acquainted with the work of the aktionist performance artist Dave Phillips of the Schimpfluch Gruppe and the industrial clamor of Australian engineer Camilla Hannan. Phillips's piece, being a field recording, is not the overt aggression one would find in his bloodcurdling performances or his diabolical sound designs; but certainly holds true to his abject agenda. He managed to capture the sound of a very drugged out transvestite shrieking into the night sky, punctuated by metallic clanks presumably from Phillips banging on the rails of a stairwell. Whether the transvestite was responding to Phillips sporadic percussive klank or not is unknown, but it does make for a very strange, and very unsettling duet. The Lithuanian sound artist Sala constructs an equally creepy track called "Arboreal Burial" that draws inspiration from a dream he had about a group of trees which bid farewell to their fallen brothers and sisters by sending them down to the river. The field recordings of creaking trees and deep resonant windscapes amass into churning thickets of acoustic noise. Very unsettling. Situated next to Sala's mobile tree rituals, a sense of dread rubs off on James Wyness' "6 Listening Environments," a collection of rustic scrapes and springtime weather events from the English countryside. Both Camilla Hannan and Aymeric De Tapol draw from the ultrasound and thrumming resonance of ship engines, with vastly different results. The former focuses on the wheezing repetition of the chugging pistons; where the latter collects the massive drones diffused through large bodies of water. There's all of this plus tracks from JD Zazie, Anton Mobin, Pali Meursault, and Lass-Marc Reik. Another brilliant collection from Framework!
SALA "Arboreal Burial, Pt. 2" MPEG Stream:
DAVE PHILLIPS "You Don't Have To Pretend To Be What You Are" MPEG Stream:
CAMILLA HANNAN "Straddie"
V/A Good For What Ails You - Music Of The Medicine Shows 1926 - 1937 (Old Hat) 2cd 28.00
This is most definitely a lost corner of old timey rhythm and blues music that we had not really thought about too much, let alone even considered there could be a huge amount of lost and undiscovered music worth collecting and releasing. But all we can say now is WOAH. It would take a lot for any collection to rival the also recently released second volume of American Primitive early 20th century gospel recordings, but this one comes darn close. Unlike American Primitive, with its haunting otherworldliness, the tracks here are more about fun and entertainment. This was post Civil War, before radio, or TV, when folks often got their entertainment (as well as elixers and whatnot) from travelling medicine shows. Two discs of fun and funny, playful, foot stomping, catchy and kooky, even a bit randy and risque. Twangy guitars, banjo, fiddle, even kazoo woven together into rollicking blues vamps underpinning tales of no good women, no good men, food, money, cars, cats and dogs, sickness, cops, parents and anything else folks might worry or obsess or want to hear songs about. Packaged in a beautiful six panel digipak, with a MASSIVE seventy page book packed with liner notes on each performer and every track, tales of old medicine shows, an eyewitness acount of travelling in a medicine show, and an amazing batch of rare and never before seen photos!
DADDY STOVEPIPE & MISSISSIPPI SARAH "The Spasm" MPEG Stream:
GID TANNER AND RILEY PUCKETT "Tanner's Boarding House" MPEG Stream:
LIL MCCLINTOCK "Don't Think I'm Santa Claus" MPEG Stream:
DALLAS STING BAND WITHCOLEY JONES "Hokum Blues"
V/A Hilarity & Despair (Sebastian Speaks) lp 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Not sure if this is exactly 'hilarious' as the title implies, but it sure is creepy, and unsettling, and at times very very annoying. But in that way we can never seem to get enough of. Hilarity & Despair is a collection of found, lost and purloined answering machine tapes, an uncomfortably voyeuristic glimpse into the private telephone lives of random strangers. Hints of unseemly behavior, small town scandal, infidelity and marital strife abound, often so extreme it's funny, but more often so intense it makes you feel kind of, well, dirty. Plenty of pissed off moms and girlfriends, many calling back over and over and over, increasingly upset with each call, some apologetic boyfriends, slurring drunks, lots of drama, but there are a handful of phone calls that are just plain FUCKED UP: unexplainable weirdness, strange voices, indecipherable messages, unexplained sounds, completely irrational rants, and those are the calls that make this an essential addition to the ever growing 'what the fuck' section of your collection.
V/A Hiss (Touch) cd 16.98
New sampler from one of our favorite labels, Touch, this time round a sampler of wares previously released. This is the perfect chance for those who are unfamiliar with this truly great label's output to become acquainted. Among the cuts found here are tracks by Evan Parker vs Disinformation, an excerpt from the Santa Pod cd (recordings of the Santa Pod drag car raceway in England), another from the "Runaway Train" lp (radio transmissions between the operator of an out of control train and the home office), I Saw It All Happen... (recordings of a life support system), EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) specialist Raymond Cass describing his contact with alien voices, Daren Seymour & Mark Van Hoen (of Scala and Locust), and much more.
V/A Hollerin' (Rounder) cd 16.98
Truly amazing and strange collection recorded in Spivey's Corner, North Carolina in 1975 & 1976 during the annual "Hollerin'" contest. Developed out of a need for communication over long distances long before walkie talkies were invented, Hollerers soon developed their own unique hollers for various emergency situations. This disk contains some of the most advanced developments in Hollerin' and as such has some of the most amazing sounds you'll ever hear coming out of a human throat at high volumes.
V/A Human Breakdown of Absurdity: MSR Madness Vol. 3 (Carnage Press) cd 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. The series that started with the classic "Beat of the Traps" lp continues, with dozens more examples of "amateur lyrics ground through the song poem mill". Rodd Keith fans will weep with joy.
V/A I Remember Syria (Sublime Frequencies) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. That it's the first double disc in the Sublime Frequencies series says something about I Remember Syria. Recorded by Mark Gergis (Monopause / Neung Phak, Porest) in 1998 and 2000, I Remember Syria is an impressive collection of sounds, interviews and music from a country that's essentially unknown to the western world. Vilified by Bush, Rumsfeld et al. There's really no access to the wonderful culture of Syria. Gergis successfully attempts to alleviate that with the two plus hours presented here. Recorded using a stereo mic. and minidisc recorder, and subsidized with excerpts from television and radio. Disc one focuses on the city of Damascus, while disc two features recordings from throughout Syria. Along with recordings of street musicians, wedding processions, prayers, mosque interiors and open air markets are brief interviews with Syrian citizens reflecting on the US Govt. and the west in general. I Remember Syria is an impressive and unique audio documentary of a country that deserves more positive exposure.
I REMEMBER SYRIA "Multi-Interior" MPEG Stream:
I REMEMBER SYRIA "Debis" MPEG Stream:
I REMEMBER SYRIA "Homo Aleppo" MPEG Stream:
I REMEMBER SYRIA "Youth Radio of the Syrian Arab Republic"
V/A I'm Just The Other Woman: MSR Madness Vol. 4 (Carnage Press) cd 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. The series that started with the classic "Beat of the Traps" lp continues, with dozens more examples of "amateur lyrics ground through the song poem mill". Rodd Keith fans will weep with joy.
V/A Jalan Jalan: Street Atmospheres And Music In The Heart Of Java (self-released) cd-r 9.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Having travelled to Indonesia in 2008, the sound artist Jesse Paul Miller (who also does time as a member of the Factums and has dabbled on the recordings of A Frames, Climax Golden Twins, and the Sun City Girls) collected a wealth of amazing recordings of the various street musicians throughout Java. Given his proximity to Sublime Frequencies, we can't help wonder why this didn't get released through that increasingly venerable label. No matter, Miller offers a great mix of folk musics that express the vast cultural patchwork of Javanese music beyond the principle exports of gamelan and dangdut. That said, one of the first tracks that Miller presents is from a trio of street musicians on a homemade gamelan offering a spirited rhythmic backdrop for a trained monkey who was delighting a group of squealing children. Another track features a krontjong troupe serenading passengers at the train station with a double timed acoustic guitar strum set to a rather maudlin croon. One of the highlights of the album comes from another island Lompok, which is home to an ensemble called Sakhabad, who present an urgent folk number that could easily be one of those acoustic guitar tracks that the Sun City Girls would have appropriated on 330,003 Crossdressers From Beyond The Rig Veda. The vocalist even sounds a lot like Alan Bishop crossed with Jello Biafra (this is meant in the best possible way, mind you!). Miller concludes the album with a lengthy series of Islamic calls to worship, one from the break of dawn and another from the end of the day. There's only 50 of these in circulation, and they certainly won't last long.
"Topang Monyet, Solo" MPEG Stream:
"Krontjong Troupe, Solo" MPEG Stream:
"Sakhabad, Mataram, Lombok"
V/A Konstantin Raudive: The Voices of the dead (Sub Rosa) cd 14.98
For those who recall the now out-of-print "The Ghost Orchid" cd collection of EVP -- "Electronic Voice Phenomenon", the mysterious manifestations of unknown voices breaking through radio transmissions, presumed to be voices of the dead -- Konstantin Raudive may be a familiar name. His contributions to that recording (originally paired as a 7" with his legendary book from the mid '70s entitled "Breakthrough") were some of the most hyperbolic and grandiose, claiming that in his research he had contacted numerous recently deceased friends, as well as historical figures like Winston Churchill! Since "The Ghost Orchid" and the follow-up collection drawn from from fellow researcher Friedrich JurgensonFriedrich Jurgenson's EVP recordings have been very difficult to track down in recent months, we thought that this new release of recordings from the archives of Raudive (and his collegue Gerhard Stempnik) would make for an acceptable substitute. Well, it might have been, if it weren't for all of the extraneous, some might say unneccesary, tracks found here: remixes of Raudive's recordings, tracks inspired by Raudive's recordings, and tracks that got onto this album just because they were by DJ Spooky. (DJ Spooky? Get it? These are ghosts. Haha.) At least the folks at Sub Rosa had enough sense to program all of the actual Raudive recordings as the odd numbered tracks with the remixes and so forth being the even numbered ones. So at least you can program your CD player if you wish to avoid the pieces by DJ Spooky, Brett Dean, Scanner, Calla, Lee Ranaldo, David Toop, CM von Hausswolff, Random Inc. and others. Not to say that these remixes are bad (some are pretty cool, total X-Files electronica), but how can you hope to compete with the raw ghost transmissions themselves? Truly voices of the dead or not, they're still creepy radio-noise recordings with German-language lectures to introduce 'em, full of mystery and terror and dense sonic textures. Imagine an occult Conet Project. We're purists, I guess, and would have liked the tracks by the modern-day artists to have appeared on a seperate release from the archival EVP material. But others we're sure won't be bothered at all, and enjoy (and be haunted by) the whole package.
KONSTANTIN RAUDIVE "Here Is Konstantin Raudive" RealAudio clip:
KONSTANTIN RAUDIVE "Radio Stimme" RealAudio clip:
SCANNER "Palae Fore Memoire" RealAudio clip:
CALLA "Raudive Track"
V/A Music By The Children Of Ala Costa (The Dancing Tree) cd-r 9.98
Hmm, what to say about this exactly? It's a 24-minute cd-r collecting stuff recorded by 'developmentally disabled' kids (ages 6 to 22) at the Ala Costa Center in Northern California who participated in a twelve week music workshop run by San Francisco's The Dancing Tree organization, which seems like wonderful fun for them. The kids are let loose with tom toms and kazoos and and xylophones and slide whistles and sticks etc., and these are some of the results. Funny and silly, sweet and innocent and full of creative enthusiasm (if not skill). Musically, it's primitive stuff, with lotsa playful percussion and singing. We really like all the pieces that utilize "sticks on playground structure". File with the Tangerine Awkestra and the Kids of Widney High in the untrained and/or differently-abled avantgarde section. "Trees And Whistles" is pure beat poetry, while the single-minded abandon of several of the tom tom jams outdo Amon Duul and Crash Worship. Well, maybe.
"Playground Song" RealAudio clip:
"Devil Of The Butterfly" RealAudio clip:
"Trees And Whistles"
V/A Music For Mentalists (Psychic Circle) cd 17.98
Most of the time, compilations are intended to bring you the "best" of something. This one, though, is different! The compilers have deliberately put together a compilation of the WORST. A collection of "the obscure, the peculiar, and in some cases the downright disturbing". And of course, we recommend it! Now, the Psychic Circle label is known for all their keen compilations of '60s psych pop, "instro-hipster" groove, glam rock, and other vintage obscurities. Many of their discs are compiled by Nick "Bevis Frond" Saloman, who here, along with colleague Mick Dillingham, delve into a very different, and certainly much less cool/good/valuable, section of what must be vast, vast record collections. The section labeled "incredibly strange (or daft) music"! Collectable perhaps, but definitely more as a compulsion than an investment. They're mostly flea market and junk shop finds, we imagine. Barmy commercial jingles. Novelty tunes. Celebrity cash-ins. Easy listening attempts to be hip. Embarrassing (though fairly witty) rapping by an old white Englishman promoting his darts themed TV quiz show. Disco-sploitation. Would-be exotica and/or erotica. Super sappy lovesongs. "Ethnic" oddities (including more rapping). Et cetera, et cetera. Like other Psychic Circle comps, it's stuff from from the '60s and '70s (though it's possible that the ones with the rapping could be from the early '80s), some tracks having an increased humor factor due to their datedness. The other humor factor: how terrible, terrible this music is. Quite painful some of it. But also really funny. And sometimes pretty darn catchy. Which actually is a dangerous thing - you might wind up with some really bizarre stuff stuck in your head as a result of listening to this. Don't say we didn't warn you. But who wouldn't want, ferinstance, "These Boots Are Made For Walking" as performed (for some reason) by an outfit appropriately called Balsara & His Singing Sitars stuck in their head? Certainly not you. There's an overwhelming 33 tracks here (OMG!). And immediately you'll find confusional, cringeworthy fodder for your next voicemail greeting, or something to render the next mix tape (cd-r, playlist, whatever) you make just a little bit weirder! Most of the stuff here was previously quite unknown to us (though we venture to guess that if you grew up in the UK, there's a chance you might be more familiar with some of the entries). And even if we knew the artists, such as the celebrity contingent of David McCallum, David Carradine, and Xaviera "The Happy Hooker" Hollander (performing separately, not together, now that would be REALLY crazy), that didn't really prepare us for what their tracks were all about. Or maybe it did. Bizarre stuff in any case, as are all the rest of the tracks here, which include everything from Micky Katz's Yiddish version of "K'nock Around The Clock" to a silly shoe advert ("The Weakling In Thom McCann Shoes") to opera singer Cathy Berberian's faux-classical take on the Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand" to a big band version of the Monkees theme to naive outsider homemade pop to discofied Pink Floyd. Just when you think it can't get any worse or weirder, it does!! And let's not forget, this starts off pretty insane, with track two being about the weirdest bit of civic boosterism ever, a song called "Energy In Northampton", commissioned by The Northampton Development Corporation and sung by one Linda Jardim, this song tells of aliens from outer space crash landing in the town of Northampton and finding it quite to their liking! It's like Saloman and Dillingham took turns one-upping each other with the most absurd, atrocious recorded artifacts they (perversely) treasure... "Oh, you thought that was bad? Get a load of THIS!" and you get to hear it all, in its awesome/awful glory. The cd booklet provides some mercifully brief details about each track along with appropriate accompanying graphics in full color (and also reveals that most of the blame here goes to Mr. Dillingham, from whose crazy collection most if not all of these records were sourced). We're sorta surprised this is on Psychic Circle, and not, say, the Trunk label. This disc seems destined to become a beloved best seller... at least here at Aquarius!
LINDA JARDIM "Energy In Northampton" MPEG Stream:
REGINALD BOSANQUET "Dance With Me" MPEG Stream:
HYLDA BAKER "Substitute" MPEG Stream:
MARVIN JAMES "Together In Iceland"
V/A Music! The Berlin Phonogramm-Archiv 1900-2000 (Wergo) 4cd 96.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Founded in 1900 by Carl Stumpf, The Berlin Phonogramm-Archiv is a repository devoted to archiving the musics of the world before their eventual destruction by encroaching modernization brought about by global capitalism. Case in point is presented on page two of the accompanying booklet: "'Within the foreseeable future there will no longer be any day-long journeys by rowing boat, where twenty men in a canoe stand one behind the other and sing, because otherwise they would not be able to keep in time with the rhythm of the rowing..." (Albert Schweitzer, 1914) "...Because the songs of the members of the boat's crew who tow the boats along the Yangtse will have become silent forever, before these faint magical lines have worn away on the wax cylinder. Only the shrill whistle of the steamboat will be heard, and black smoke will lick away at the gruesome cliffs." So wrote Hedwig Weiss, wife of Friedrich Weiss who worked as a translator in the Sichuan province of China at the beginning of the 20th century. The two of them together took to recording the rowing song of boat crews working on the Yangtse river to preserve their songs. This is just one of the stories on this incredibly impressive four disc collection celebrating the 100th year anniversary of the Archive -- which now has a collection of over 150,000 recordings. Fans of the "Secret Museum" series should take heed, this is the shit! Some of the best recordings by pioneering ethnomusicologists are included here along with very detailed information not only about the music they recorded -- along with transcriptions in many cases -- but the stories behind the people who took to the field to make these recordings. The 100 tracks on this set are divided into four sections: disc one covers the wax cylinder recordings (1893 - 1954), disc two covers monophonic tape recordings (1951 - 1974), disc three covers stereophonic recordings (1967 - 2000) and disc four covers stereophonic, concert -- ie: not field -- recordings (1973 - 1999) and each disc is sequenced in sections by region: Asia, Oceania, Africa, The Americas and Europe. A hefty price tage yes, but well worth it.
(ANONYMOUS) NEW GUINEA 1912 "Interlocking Flutes" RealAudio clip:
(ANONYMOUS) CAIRO, EGYPT 1955 "Nubian Song" RealAudio clip:
JEGOG JAYUS "Jayan Tangis" RealAudio clip:
HAI, TRAN QUANG "Flowing Water, Equal Bars, Golden Chains"
V/A Night Recordings From Bali (Sublime Frequencies) cd 14.98
Let's just start by reiterating what we said in the last list: We're pretty damn excited by Sun City Girls 33.3 percenter Alan Bishop's new Sublime Frequencies label. "Dedicated to acquiring and exposing obscure sights and sounds from modern and traditional urban and rural frontiers" Sublime Frequencies is slipping on the shoes apparently discarded by such pioneering labels as Smithsonian Folkways, Nonesuch Explorer, et al. Unlike previous explorers in such unheard music, Sublime Frequencies is not restricted by academic or commercial purposes. The latter probably deserves a bit more explanation; for where much of the post-Explorer purveyors of "world music" shamelessly produce an endless slough of slick garbage that sounds like the crap you can hear on any U.S. top 40 radio station merely sung in another language (Christ, if I had a wooden nickel for every fuckin' starry eyed NPR music review extoling the uniqueness of some generic world music outfit that combines electronic music with traditional folk, yadda, yadda, yadda the world's forests would be clear cut by now) the recordings you'll hear presented by Sublime Frequencies come from the cracks in the pavement of the culture makers. Through field recordings (many made by Bishop himself in his travels), radio and shortwave broadcasts some of the most fucking great music and audio you've never heard has been culled together. Balls to fidelity, none of the artists here would be allowed within 10 miles of a Putamayo AR executive, this is the punk rock of field recordings! By now we've listed numerous recordings from Bali already, and with good reason: the people of Bali live and breathe music and art. It's no wonder that they've been the source of fascination from artists dating back to Walter Spies and are currently inundated with the clumsey feet of foreign tourists who flock to the island every year. Much like the beloved Indonesian Soundscapes, Night Recordings From Bali is a collection of field recordings -- made by Alan Bishop and Manford Cain in 1989 -- of the sort not likely to be captured by traditional "ethnomusicologists" or found on the likes of an Explorer or even Smithsonian Folkways disc. For instance: "Rubber Television", a recording of a television drama or soap opera accompanied by gamelan, dripping water sound effects that warbles pathetically like they were being recorded with a dying cassette deck (courtesy of Bali's notorious humidity maybe?) While many of the other recordings are of Bali's numerous, well exposed gamelan and sundry other music ensembles like anklung, kebyar and kecak, the man-on-the-spot style recording fuses the sounds of the frogs and insects to the performances where another recordist might have isolated the ensemble. Additionally, there are recordings here of wild life segueing between musical performances and even a recording of a cremation ceremony where the surviving loved ones battle in a traditional tug of war between those wishing to bring the body to the pyre and those resisting the inevitable final journey.
"Legian Minstrels" MPEG Stream:
"Rubber Television" MPEG Stream:
"Night Village Barong #2"
V/A Okkulte Stimmen Mediale Musik : Recordings Of Unseen Intelligences 1905-2007 (Suppose) 3cd 57.00
This 3cd boxset is a fantastical document of parapsychological research throughout the 20th Century, with recordings of purported demonic possession, glossolalia, precognition, poltergeists, and the already well documented Electric Voice Phenomenon. The latter had been the subject of research by noted parapsychologists Raymond Cass and Freidrich Jurgensen, whose work was collected on several cds released on the Touch label, one of which was the AQ perennial favorite The Ghost Orchid. The first disc of this set focuses on voices spoken through a person, who may not be conscious of the spirits controlling their words. There are several examples of demon possessed children, and a particularly creepy recording of a spirit medium who has contacted those who died in a plane crash and weeping through the medium to "move on." The second disc concentrates on Xenoglossy (the articulation of a language not known to the speaker) and Glossolalia (also known as 'speaking in tongues'), with examples of an English girl who speaks in an arcane form of Egyptian. There's also a few examples of Aleister Crowley famously channeling the Enochian language which the 16th Century mystic John Dee had also been known to conjure up. The third disc documents the sounds left behind by the spirits themselves, including paranormal music (that which has been transcribed from a deceased composer into the hands of a receptive living musician), the rappings of poltergeists within the walls, and the aforementioned EVP. A good deal of these recordings suffer from poor recording qualities that exacerbate the mystery of these spirit communications. From a strictly aesthetic point of view, we have long extolled the virtues of scratchy 78s, tape hiss, and surface noise as a patina of remarkable beauty and sublime power. This rusted sound makes things seems haunted to begin with, and then add the recordings of demons, ghosts, and other spirits, and we've got one thoroughly creepy and amazing document. Includes extensive liner notes in both German and English.
"Jack Suttton Contacts Dead Airmen (1980s)" MPEG Stream:
"Banta Trance Speech (1948)" MPEG Stream:
"Spukfall Pursruck (1971)"
V/A One of One (Dish) cd 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. From the makers of the "Sound for Little Ones" comes this collection of recordings made on "Recordio Discs" - self recorded 78s. Sort of an audio equivalent of the instant photo booth, these thrift store gems are now audio time capsules of the average and not-so-average American living in the 1940's: rants, songs, whistles, gossip, making-baby-cry-while-trying-to-make-baby-talk, foul mouth antics, and more. If you've ever found a strange photograph lying pathetically in the street and needed a story to go with it, this is for you.
V/A Poly High: School Bands Play the Classics (Amalgamated Incorporated) 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. Wow, things were awesome in the seventies. Sure, there was Watergate and an oil crisis and Vietnam...but there were also high school bands rocking out versions of Hendrix and Led Zeppelin! You loved the Langley Schools Music Project, right? Maybe you also dug the (now out of print) "Schoolhouse Funk" disc of high school marching bands doing funk covers. Here's the next must-have in this burgeoning 'genre', a collection of recordings of high school bands circa 1970-1976 doing their favorite rock hits of the day. From Foghat's "Slow Ride" to Santana's "Soul Sacrifice" to B.O.C.'s "Godzilla" this is pretty darn killer, a way to enjoy these 'oldies' without turning on classic rock radio -- the originals can't compare anyway. Check out the drum solo in "Moby Dick", or the way the kid's voice changes during "Purple Haze" (heck, he's probably 13 years old!). You'll hear from the Santa Monica Unified School District Music Dept., the Anaheim High School Original Rock and Popsannay, the Fairview High School "Excalibur" and Jazz Ensemble, the Baldwin Harbor Junior High Jazz/Rock Ensemble, among others. Was it square to be in band back then? 'Cause these kids sound pretty hip to us today. From crazy fuzz psych guitar leads that seem way beyond their years to sunny, Fifth Dimension style vocal choruses, these tracks are full of extra-curricular excellence. We were especially surprised and impressed by the Roswell New Mexico Goddard High School Stage Band's version of "Evil Woman" -- no, not the E.L.O. song, or even the one by Spooky Tooth, but the much more obscure composition by '60s garage band Crow that Black Sabbath covered on the UK version of their debut album! Cool, and weird.
"INSTANT FUNK" VENICE HIGH SCHOOL, CA "Moby Dick" MPEG Stream:
AMELIA HIGH SCHOOL ROCK ENSEMBLE "Dreammare" MPEG Stream:
GODDARD HIGH SCHOOL STAGE BAND "Evil Woman"
V/A Record Store Record (RRR) 2lp 42.00
V/A Reportage: Spela Sjalv (Expo Norr) lp 17.98
Reissue of this long lost seventies Swedish release, originally purported to be a Trad Gras Och Stenar album, when in fact, it's something much more interesting. Bo Anders Persson, a member of Trad Gras Och Stenar, as well as Harvester, International Harvester and Parson Sound, traveled around Sweden, collecting field recordings of amateur musicians performing (the title roughly translates to 'Play Yourself'). So this is essentially like a Swedish drone rock, gypsy hippy folk version of Smithsonian Folkways (or Sublime Frequencies). Wild fluttery flutes, chimes and rattles, whistles and tribal drumming, much of this definitely reminds us of modern soundmakers like Avarus and Sunburned Hand. Simple hypnotic drumming over acoustic guitars and hand claps, whoops and hollers, still more flutes, violins, strings, hand drums, simple skeletal guitar melodies, lots of jaw harp, will percussion freakouts, occasional stretches of groovy spaced out kraut psych jamming, the whole time, the surrounding sounds become a part of the music, people talking, crowds in the distance, tinkling bottles, birds singing, total idyllic outsider psychedelic hippy jam. A couple tracks on the B side stand out, one that sounds almost African, gorgeous and moody, percussive, but super melodic, like some sort of marimba, looped and loping and rhythmic and so mesmerizing, and another sprawling rhythmscape, cool, and acoustic, all deep lo thrum, big strings buzzing, a warm whirring sound peppered with all manner of jaw harp buzz, and some almost throat singing, really haunting and mysterious and so gorgeous. Definitely recommended for anyone into the above mentioned Swedish outfits, but also anyone into field recordings and abstract psychedelia. Exact reproduction of the original 1970 lp release, and of course, LIMITED!
V/A River Songs Of Bangladesh (Arc) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Field recordings by ethnomusicologist Deben Bhattacharya, freshly recorded in February 2001. Traditional Bangladeshi music can be divided into two forms, the more traditional Indian-influenced Raga-Tala system, and the more simple form known as Deshi ('of the land'). Deshi is what we hear on this cd: gorgeously simple, stark folk songs played on just a few instruments including multi-stringed lutes made out of jack-fruit wood, single-steel-stringed drone intoners, bamboo flutes, and wooden clappers. Male and female voices are melancholy and sing of hard river life, such as "The river banks are crumbling down and falling into the water / My heart too is dissolving in pieces like the river itself."
ANURUPA RAY WITH NARAYAN CHANDRA RAY "Dhalla Nodi"
V/A Songs in the Key of Z (Which Records) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. It could be the product of a genetic disaster, alien abduction, drug excess, the lack of proper medication, or nothing easily quantifiable. Regardless of the cause, outsider art is dominated by a artistic compulsion / obsession so strong as to defy any lack of training or ability or good sense. Irwin Chusid's compilation "Songs In The Key Of Z" is a absurdist journey into the obtuse songwriting from The Shaggs, Daniel Johnston, Wesley Willis, Joe Meek (whose legendary tone-deafness couldn't be more self-evident as on the demo to "Telstar"), Captain Beefheart, Shooby Taylor, The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, Tiny Tim, Luie Luie, Congress-Woman Malinda Jackson, the ever lovable Jandek, and many more. We're working on getting the book itself too.
V/A Songs In The Key Of Z Volume 2 (Gammon) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Heads up! Irwin Chusid has unleashed another collection of what is sooo aptly described on the traycard as "ear-tingling outrephonics". Vibrant, electrifying, and yes often bizarre feats of sonic tunesmanship are contained within each of these seventeen tracks. If you've read the book and/or heard the first volume you probably have some idea of what to expect with this second compilation, but what's impossible to anticipate is the diversity of this unheard, absolutely earnest and untethered music. An acquired taste? Yes... many actually, but very rewardingly so. Andee took a particular liking to Bingo Gazingo & My Robot Friend's "You're Out Of The Computer", while all of our ears were left a-tingling by the sounds of Shooby Taylor and The Space Lady. Who else will you hear? Thoth, Congress-Woman Malinda Jackson Parker, Dick Kent, B.J. Snowden, Luie Luie, and many more. Please consider yourself forewarned: some may make you giggle, some may make you uncomfortable, some may make you cringe. Others may be uplifting, inspiring or disturbing. Some may as Alvin Dahn's song simply states "drive [you] mad". While it can certainly be said that Volume One was a hard act to follow, Chusid has unearthed and assembled an exceptional selection of perhaps even more obscure oddities.
BINGO GAZINGO & MY ROBOT FRIEND "You're Out Of The Computer" RealAudio clip:
THE SPACE LADY "I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night"
V/A Sound Of Nature, The Nature Of Sound, The (Kaon) cd 16.98
"The Sound Of Nature, The Nature Of Sound" is an excellent compilation put together by the Kaon label, which has actively been promoting the artform of the manipulated field recording. Francisco Lopez - perhaps one of the more well known composers of manipulated field recordings - offers one of his incredibly quiet pieces, so quiet in fact that we'll take Frans de Waard's recollection that there is a distant bass rumble somewhere on the track. Giancarlo Toniutti presents an eerie recording of the wind scraping against a small set of bells, or some toy piano parts. Easily one of Toniutti's finest moments! It appears that Jeph Jerman's offering isn't one of his explorations of rock scraping, instead he offers a field recording of water rushing in and out of a resonant cistern. Seth Nihil and Toy Bizarre have produced the only collaboration for the compilation, with a delicate manipulation of dropped pebbles into fluctuating drones. Eric La Casa allows much more of the computer and the digital sound processing techniques to speak through his downpitched recordings of rain and metallic pipe fighting, while Mnortham turns similar material into what we like to hear in Francisco Lopez' audible pieces with steady crescendos of grey sound slabs. Kiyoshi Mizutani offers a very straight recording of a waterfall overlaid with a squeaky door (I was hoping they were ducks, oh well.).
"track 2" RealAudio clip:
V/A Spirits Of Life: Haitian Vodou (Soul Jazz) cd 21.00
Gaining independence from France in 1804, Haiti was the first black republic to claim such from a white colonial government. It's also the only nation in the Caribbean whose music is completely free from western influence. That music, the complex drumming and accompanying call & response singing, is inseparable from the Vodou rituals which themselves come directly from Africa by the slaves that brought them to Haiti over four hundred years ago. Despite attempts by the Catholic Church to convert Haitians to Christianity, over fifty percent of Haitians still practise Vodou, often subverting the Catholic rites into Vodou. Vodou has even played a big part in the government, with dictator "Papa Doc" Duvalier using the religian to instill fear into the hearts of Haiti's citizenry. He even dressed his private militia, the Tontons Macoutes, in uniforms resembling the Vodou spirit of peasant farmers and would often dress himself up in the likeness of Baron Samedi, the spirit of the dead. The singing and drumming on Spirits Of Life are a great document of a vital, flourishing and unique religion in this tiny, struggling and oft overlooked island nation. Comes with a nice 25 page booklet with liner notes and gorgeous photos.
"Agoue-Dambala (Yanvalou)" MPEG Stream:
V/A Spirits Of Life: Haitian Vodou (Soul Jazz) lp 24.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Gaining independence from France in 1804, Haiti was the first black republic to claim such from a white colonial government. It's also the only nation in the Caribbean whose music is completely free from western influence. That music, the complex drumming and accompanying call & response singing, is inseparable from the Vodou rituals which themselves come directly from Africa by the slaves that brought them to Haiti over four hundred years ago. Despite attempts by the Catholic Church to convert Haitians to Christianity, over fifty percent of Haitians still practise Vodou, often subverting the Catholic rites into Vodou. Vodou has even played a big part in the government, with dictator "Papa Doc" Duvalier using the religian to instill fear into the hearts of Haiti's citizenry. He even dressed his private militia, the Tontons Macoutes, in uniforms resembling the Vodou spirit of peasant farmers and would often dress himself up in the likeness of Baron Samedi, the spirit of the dead. The singing and drumming on Spirits Of Life are a great document of a vital, flourishing and unique religion in this tiny, struggling and oft overlooked island nation. Comes with a nice 25 page booklet with liner notes and gorgeous photos.
"Agoue-Dambala (Yanvalou)" MPEG Stream:
V/A Star Switch On (Touch) cd 15.98
"Star Switch On" is a collection of commisioned pieces which use Chris Watson's field recordings of wildlife from "Outside The Circle Of Fire" as their source materials. Watson's original has been one of the most celebrated field recording albums as an incredible anthology of cheetahs purring, tinkerbird songs, spider monkeys, deathwatch beetles, elephants, and many more. It's probably not wise to think of the recordings on "Star Switch On" as attempt to improve upon Watson's recordings, but perhaps as alternative viewpoints of the same material. Or maybe not. Regardless, this album does make for a nice introduction into the experimentalists and electron engineers who make their home at Touch Records. Mika Vainio (of Pan Sonic and many of the Sahko titles) opens the album with a transformation of a recording which initially appears as swarming bees into a very calm atomization of sound, with frigid gaspings and resonant sonar bleeps quietly moving across barren spaces. Hazard (a project that has used Chris Watson's recordings of weather phenomena on a number of occasions) offers a fractured drone of whirring vibrations. Fennesz keeps the digital fuckery to a minimal with a sampled repetition of what could be the aforementiond tinkerbird song, quite subtle parametric filtering, and additional samples. AER (aka Jon Wozencroft), Biosphere, and Philip Jeck also offer their reinterpretations.
MIKA VAINIO "Outside The Circle Of Fire" RealAudio clip:
HAZARD "Debugged" RealAudio clip:
BIOSPHERE "Night and Dawn"
V/A Street And Gangland Rhythms: Beats And Improvisations From Six Boys In Trouble (Smithsonian Folkways) lp 16.98
Wow, what an amazing artifact! Smithsonian Folkways have just reissued this 1959 release of urban folk song recordings made by six 11 and 12 year-old youths from the Harlem projects. With only bongos and bottles to beat out percussive rhythms, the kids make rhyming songs, chants, and stories that relate to their experiences of rough street life and how they cope with them. An argument can be made that these recordings are the nascent beginnings of what would later become rap, but the song's basic forms sound much more rooted in early blues, call and response rhymes, and tribal African rhythms, in that they still have the feeling of being tied to an older tradition of folk music. That they are being made by kids with such exuberance and charm in the face of real hardship make these recordings truly special.
V/A Super Bad Super Black: Can Y'all Dig That? (Waste Management) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. The lowdown on this disc is pretty simple: it's a collection of original radio spots for over fifty different classic (and not-so-classic) '70s blaxploitation flicks. Pretty much all of 'em feature a smooth-talking baritone dude talking up the movie's titular hero or heroine backed by snippets of dialogue, machine gun fire, and all kinds of scorching funk/soul soundtrack music. It actually sounds like the same guy doing the voiceover on about 90 percent of these! You get promo clips for the likes of Black Caesar, Trouble Man, J.D.'s Revenge, Truck Turner, Blacula, Dr. Black & Mr. Hyde, Ghetto Freaks, Sheeba Baby, Black Belt Jones, Trick Baby, Slaughter's Big Rip Off, Shaft, Coffy, The Mack, etc., etc. Rudy Ray Moore's "Human Tornado" rap is certainly a highlight, though all the teasers about mean super-chicks and jive hustlers are pretty entertaining -- for sure they'll get you running to your local video store hoping their blaxploitation section (if they've got one) is well-stocked. Kitschy and way over-the-top. Here are a few examples: "She's six foot two inches of black beauty. She handles a car like a gun. She handles a gun like a man. And she handles a man like like Cleopatra. Cleopatra Jones!" "Coffy. The baddest one chick hit squad that ever hit town... Coffy. She's got a body men would die for. And lately, a lot of them have." "He drives the most expensive car because second best never enters his mind. He'll bet a hundred thousand dollars on the turn of a card because he don't believe in losing. And he's about to take on a small army with TNT -- he means, 'taint nothin' to it. [explosion] There's only one stud who could rip off New York, ruin Rome and stay alive to run a number in Africa. That Superfly dude is back, black, and beautiful." On cd and vinyl (cool for the djs!).
"Trouble Man" MPEG Stream:
"Black Mama, White Mama" MPEG Stream: