4 LEVELS OF EXISTENCE, THE s/t (Lion Productions) cd 15.98
Gosh. We're just constantly amazed at the wealth of obscure psych/prog "buried treasure" from all over the world that's continually being unearthed by all the industrious reissue labels out there. Lion Productions in particular has a darn good track record, we'd say (they blew us away earlier this year with the Classical M disc, amongst other cool reissues). Here's a great example, as out of the blue they present us the lone album by a Greek band called The 4 Levels Of Existence, originally released as a (now very rare and expensive) private press LP in 1976. And while a few of our far-gone record collector geek friends knew about this already, we sure hadn't ever heard of it before, but we're glad to get introduced to it now! It's a real folk-flavored fuzz monster, full of wailing guitar leads, melancholic lyrics (sung in their native Greek), majestic melodies, acoustic interludes, and did we say FUZZ? With all the fuzz this is fairly hard and heavy, but in a '60s garage band sorta way (despite being from the mid-'70s, this sounds earlier). Pretty much exactly what you'd hope a bunch of young, basement dwelling longhairs from an Athens suburb would create if they spent all their time jamming, studying philosophy, and drinking ouzo, as we can pretty much assume was the case here. Prog-laced and imbued with traditional folk melody, in a lot of ways this has got a similar vibe to the many awesome '60s and '70s Turkish psych bands we dig, even though Turkey and Greece have been far from friendly neighbors historically. This legendary record (as we now know it to be) certainly is one of the coolest things we've heard from Greece from back when, alongside Socrates Drank The Conium and Aphrodite's Child. And as we've come to expect from Lion, this reish is no shoddy package. It comes with a thick booklet of liner notes (scribed by 4 Levels' rhythm/acoustic guitarist Athanasios Alatas), lyrics (in both Greek and translated into English too), and photos. Recommended.
"Wilderness" MPEG Stream:
"Someday In Athens"
AAVIKKO Back From The Futer (Muysic For Peoples) cd 17.98
Wow! A new Aavikko full length! This just might be the year of the Aavikko. When we first slapped this aluminum disc on our system we must admit we were a little taken aback: Hi-Fi Aavikko? Could it be? For so long these Casio-crazy Finns have championed the most primitive of production aesthetics with a sound only once removed from a ring tone. But here they were in crystal clarity and using the entire spectrum of the audible sound range. Did they get a sponsorship with some big keyboard company? Sources close to Aavikko are keeping tight-lipped about the group's new cache of keyboard equipment. Okay, let's put this in perspective before we go any further: a "hi-fi" Aavikko is still "lo-fi" by most standards, so don't expect any enormous shifts in the Aavikko sound. Bigger than their production changes is perhaps their new-found love of exotica and classic space-age bachelor pad music as a launching pad for their new compositions. Andee pointed out that a lot of the tunes on Back From The Futur sound like a lo-fi Tipsy. Their retro-futurist vision also smacks mightily of Kraftwerk (vocoder makes its way into a couple songs as well), Gershon Kingsley with bubbling and arpeggiating synth lines, catchy melodies and upbeat tempos, and maybe even the soundtracks for Roger Corman sci-fi flicks. We love it!
"Una Lira Soluziona" MPEG Stream:
AAVIKKO History Of Muysic (Muysic For Peoples) cd 16.98
At long last, back in stock!! Here's our review from list 207... Fuck. That's always a great way to start any decent review here at Aquarius. Fuck Yeah! That's even better, and certainly more appropriate for a disc we've been lusting after for so long. Aavikko is one of those elusive bands that we never seem to be able to keep in stock long enough to escape becoming a mere legend and a fading memory. The problem seems to reside in a lifetime of poor distribution and lackluster label attention. But now Aquarius has secured a direct pipeline to the band in the hopes of rectifying this shortage. Aavikko, for those who've yet to experience their magic, are easily the reigning kings of "electronic instrumental rock" (their own genre?). Hailing from Finland -- that in and of itself should be a clue -- Aavikko have honed a lo-fi electro-punk sound that's oft imitated, but never equaled. Using only cheap electric organs (most notably the Yamaha PSS Home Organ), drums and archaic analog recording technology, Aavikko compose Slavic disco, garage surf punk with rumba beats and insanely catchy pop tunes that bring to mind soundtracks to 8-bit videogames of yesteryear. History Of Muysic is an impressive collection of both no longer available Aavikko classics and unreleased tracks dating back to the group's inception in 1995. The latter includes their first rehearsal demo, outtakes from the Derek! ep sessions and their theme for the Kumman Kaa TV series (which has become one of the most popular ring tones in Finland!), among others. In the long lost and now out of print category, we're most excited by the inclusion of the eight tracks from the first, self-titled Aavikko 7". These are a veritable holy grail of primitive electronic rock and expose imitators for the slick hi-fi hucksters they really are. Probably recorded direct to cassette, you can even hear the tape drag and occasional drop outs. Fellow lovers of Bjorn Olsson will be excited by this and all analog anomalies indelibly pitted into the digital realm. All under three minutes in length, the tracks on the eponymous debut are tight and gritty pop ditties, completely trimmed of fat: the words 'overproduced' and 'Avvikko' will never be found in the same sentence but for this one. Also included on this anthology is the entire Oriental Baby CD, their collaboration with Mono Pause "Of Stomping Men", an unreleased live recording off of the beloved WFMU in NJ, their contribution to the Team Yamaha compilation and last, but in no way least, their most recent single, for the first time on CD, the amazing Eye of the Leopard with Kabar. Really folks, do yourself a favor...
"Alas Volgaa" MPEG Stream:
"Seikkailu Villi" MPEG Stream:
"Eye of the Leopard"
ALESSANDRONI, ALESSANDRO I Cantori Moderni Di Alessandroni (Penny / Flipper Music) lp + cd 27.00
Another amazing Italian Library missive from the same folks who brought us the Daniela Casa we reviewed a while back. Alessandroni, most famously known for being the whistler for Ennio Morricone's Spaghetti Western soundtracks, was a fantastic composer in his own right as we heard previously on Prisma Sonoro, a haunting library score reissued on the Australian Roundtable label last year. On this 1970 release he created the vocal group, I Cantori Moderni Di Alessandroni, an eight to sixteen person choir, who have lent their talents to many soundtracks by Morricone, Piero Umiliani, and many other Italian composers of the 60's and 70's (and were also featured recently on Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained soundtrack). This was the only full length the choir recorded. Through 12 original compositions by Alessandroni, the choir evoke a lilting cinematic pop sound of Italian Bossa vibes and moody themes, augmented by harpsichord, flutes and twangy guitars. The choir not only featured Alessandroni's first wife, Giulia De Mutiis, but also the incomparable Edda Dell'Orso whose wordless vocals epitomize many of Morricone's Italian western and horror scores. Fantastic and Limited!!
"Una Storia" MPEG Stream:
"Verso l'infinito" MPEG Stream:
"Insieme A Te"
ALESSANDRONI, ALESSANDRO Prisma Sonoro (Roundtable / The Omni Recording Corporation) lp 27.00
We'll pretty much get anything on the Roundtable label right now, as they in collaboration with The Omni Recording Corporation, have been on a winning streak of reissuing on vinyl the most farflung and obscure library records, documentary soundtracks and other psycho-cinematic sonic ephemera from far off corners of the globe. Trouble is, they have been especially hard to get, and even more difficult to get enough of for us to list. We've literally been waiting for these latest two releases for nearly a year and our hopes of ever getting them were diminishing by the week. And all of the sudden, we got the news they were on the way and we were so seriously psyched! Two Italian library gems, one of haunted choir compositions from Egisto Macchi, founding member of the mighty Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova con Sonanza and the other from the wonderfully named Alessandro Alessandroni who is perhaps more well known as Ennio Morricone's guitarist and whistler! (Yes, whistler, of course he had to have one!) Both are pretty essential for lovers of seventies dreamy, otherworldly, acousmatic psychedelia! Alessandro Alessandroni was a key player in shaping much of the classic Italian soundtrack sound as we know it today from such comps as Delirium Of The Senses: Psychedelia In Italian Cinema. As guitarist for Ennio Morricone, his famous whistle pretty much defined the whole Spaghetti Western sound. He was a session player for nearly all the well known film composers, Piero Umilani, Bruno Nicolai and Francesco De Masi, yet his own solo work often was overshadowed. It's hard to figure out why with such a beautifully brilliant album as this mythical library album for the Sermi label. Like the most sublime Italian soundtracks from Ennio Morricone, Prisma Sonoro is phantasmagoric exotica of strangely compelling and lush melancholic moods. A lysergically-minded sound design creates druggy cinematic compositions of harpsichords, mournful strings, psychedelic guitars and haunting female vocals. Seriously beautiful and limited to 500 copies, get one while you can!
ALGUERO, AUGUSTO Todas Sus Grabaciones En Polydor 1968-1971 (Rama Lama Music) 2cd 25.00
A vibrant mix of early Serge Gainsbourg, Burt Bacharach, Ennio Morricone and Carl Stalling, Augusto Alguero was a Spanish composer for film and televison and this two disc survey is an incredible journey of his best output from 1968-1971. From space age bachelor pad music to ye ye pop with big lush orchestrations and swinging tunes. GROOOOOVY, baby!
ANCHISKHATI CHOIR Polyphonic Voices Of Georgia (World Audio Foundation / Soul Jazz) cd 17.98
This is the second release for the amazing new Soul Jazz subsidiary label World Audio Foundation, devoted to new recordings of far-flung sounds from around the globe. The first was the Carnival Music of Eastern Cuba, an amazing recording, we'll hopefully list next time, if we can keep it in stock! But this beautiful recording of Sacred Polyphonic Vocal Chants out of the Republic of Georgia by the all male Anchiskhati Choir is equally amazing! Polyphonic singing dates back to pre-Christian times, but was readily adopted for Georgian Orthodox liturgical services, the second oldest Orthodox Christian Church in the world dating all the way back to the first century. Polyphonic singing involves two styles, one where two alternating male singers sing over a drone sung by a male chorus, and the other where three independent vocal lines are sung simultaneously to produce an array of consonant and dissonant chords. Probably the most well-known example of Georgian Polyphonic singing is the traditional folk song "Tsintskaro", featured in Werner Herzog's film version of Nosferatu, as well as Kate Bush's "Hello Earth" from her album Hounds of Love. Maintained over centuries as an oral tradition, The Anchiskhati Choir are the world's leading exponents of this incredible musical form, and after listening to it, it's not difficult to understand why it was proclaimed by UNESCO to be "one of the Oral and Intangible Masterpieces of Humanity".
"The Angels In Heaven" MPEG Stream:
"A Mercy Of Peace"
AQUARIUS BUTTONS 2 x 1" buttons 1.00
Hey, we just got another batch of AQ buttons made up... Spread the word! Show the world your true aQ colors! COOL COOL COOL aQ buttons, now in 6 different vibrant color combinations. 5 new color combos (blue on pink, red on dark grey, dark blue on blue, orange on black, and yellowish green on dark green) and a popular one we had previously (brown on yellow). TWO FOR $1!!! Colors are random, but buy enough and you'll be guaranteed to get 'em all! And of course all feature our spiffy James Gang style logo!! So stylish!
ARBETE OCH FRITID s/t (Music Network) cd 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. BACK IN STOCK! As if to keep Charlie & Esdor company (see elsewhere on the list)...here's our review of this from when we first listed it: International Harvester, Algarnas Tradgard, Trad Gras Och Stenar, Kebnekajse. If those names mean anything to you then you're probably like us -- a big fan of Sweden's answer to krautrock, the Svenska psych-prog-folk bands of the seventies. There's been a veritable smorgasbord of cd reissues of awesome if obscure classic LPs by these and other '70s Swedish outfits over the past couple of years, and now comes this, a cd version of the third (we think, but maybe it's the fourth?) album by this legendary group, Arbete & Fritid, from 1973. Like Harvester and Kebnekajse especially, you'll hear plenty of traditional Scandinavian traditional folk music mixed up with a kinda Velvet Underground rock style in A&F. They've been described as sounding like the "Third Ear Band meets Terry Riley" and that's pretty accurate, especially on the last track here, a 20 minute drone-jam called "Ostpusten-Vastpusten" that's probably worth the eighteen bucks this costs alone. That's actually a bonus cut, taken from the Arbete & Fritid side of a 1972 split LP with some other band we've yet to hear. While that's the highlight, the rest of this disc is mighty fine too, the only problem perhaps being how their diverse interest in folk, politics, repetitive minimalism, and experimental jazz doesn't always lead to them maintaining a consistent vibe. During one song you'll be transported to the a cold farmhouse in the Swedish wilderness filled with rustic hippies sawing on violins, but then on the next you're in a basement radical jazz club pondering urban issues after a streetfight with the Man. In a way though that's kinda cool. Tea party waltzes and heavy fuzz jams, they're all here. Had we heard A&F before those other bands mentioned above, it's quite likely that they'd be the measure by which we'd judge the rest, as apparently they were a seminal influence on the scene -- in fact, members of the Parson Sound/Trad Gras Och Stenar axis later joined A&F after this particular album. Hopefully then this is only the first of a slew of A&F reissues! [Hasn't happened yet...we've only seen one other reissue and it wasn't as good.]
"Ganglat Efter Lejsme Per Larsson, Malung" MPEG Stream:
"Petrokemi Det Kan Man Inte Bada I"
ART FLEURY I Luoghi Del Potere (Die-Schachtel) cd 27.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. There's thankfully more than a few labels whose reliable track record and special aesthetic makes us ALWAYS interested in what they're putting out. Several examples: EM Records, Hapna, Ektro, Holy Mountain, Paradigms, Lampse, and Andee's own tUMULt (of course). Also among those "likely essential" labels is Italy's Die Schachtel, an outfit that either digs up the most wonderful Italian experimental obscurities from the '70s or presents the most intriguing new underground bands from their country, always in super-snazzy packaging. Unfortunately, 'cause so much of their output is so great, it's tough for us to keep up with 'em all, but here at least is a review of our of their more recent gems, a cd reissue of an unusual 1980 record by what was a young Italian group called Art Fleury, who played shows with the likes of Area and Henry Cow and was right there on the cutting edge of politically and musically radical avant-prog, Rock In Opposition sound-making... This album of theirs, the title of which means "The Places Of Power", was apparently conceived as an imaginary soundtrack of sorts, and it's indeed quite soundtracky, you could imagine this being the score to a very arty, serious and suspenseful Italian film. It's a sonic collage that effectively deploys skittering percussion and tape-splicing studio fuckery, instrumental prog bombast and jazz improv freedom, the proceedings often infused with moody textures of glitch and crackle, visited by musical cues or voices set amidst radio static, as if sampled from a random spin of the dial. This is very much in keeping with the sounds of modern-day Die Schachtel acts like A and Christa Pfangen, and their colleagues 3/4hadbeeneliminated. We're also reminded of AQ faves Village Of Savoonga, and to several of Art Fleury's contemporaries or near-contemporaries like Faust, This Heat, and Nurse With Wound. You probably get the idea: recommended! This cd comes packaged in a oversized cardboard box, inclosing a booklet with liner notes along with a poster of the album's black & white cover graphic of a clenched fist. By the way, while six tracks are listed, there's only five actually indexed on the cd, implying that two are run together... thus we might not have gotten the titles of our sound clips right (i.e "e=mc2" might be "La Morte Al Lavoro" actually).
"e=mc2" MPEG Stream:
"L'Overdose" MPEG Stream:
"Uno Spettro Si Aggira Per"
ATRIUM MUSICAE DE MADRID Musique Arabo-Andalouse (Harmonia Mundi) cd 17.98
Ancient Hispanic-Moslem music from the Andalusian region of the Iberian peninsula, recreated with appropriately medieval atmosphere by Gregorio Paniagua's Atrium Musicae de Madrid -- the same outfit of ethno-historic musical explorers who recorded the marvellous "Musique de la Grece Antique" disc that we've sold so many of (the one where they speculatively imagined what the music of Ancient Greece was like). Detailed liner notes explain the history and structure of the music performed here, all of which is exquisite. This album was originally released on LP in 1977.
ATRIUM MUSICAE DE MADRID Musique de la Grece Antique (Harmonia Mundi) cd 11.98
FINALLY BACK IN PRINT -- and still cheap! Now in a digipak. Here's Allan's old review of this AQ-favorite, originally released on LP in 1979, now in its 2nd or 3rd Harmonia Mundi cd incarnation: Some records come out (say, a reissue of some strange '70s psych) and there's all this anticipation because of reading about it for years, or at least seeing it in a catalog or something (kinda like AQ-list subscribers hear about a lot of new things), but many of our favorite albums were first heard (and appreciated) with no prior information or expectations. You know, the kind of thing that really grabs you partially because you DON'T know anything about it, like a thrift store LP you picked up just 'cause of the weird cover art or something (like, how some of us first encountered Bruce Haack's "Electric Lucifer" for instance). Now, this album we didn't originally find in a thrift store record bin, there wasn't even a cover associated with it: the story is, a friend had a tape of this in his car, it was obviously some sort of old recording (taped off a scratchy LP) of what our friend was told (by the person who'd given the tape to him) was traditional Greek music. But it was quite unlike any Greek music we'd heard before, sounding more like a soundtrack to a film featuring pagan rites, very ceremonial and mysterious in nature. Unlike any "real" recording of Greek music I could imagine. Eventually (last week) we decipered the handwritten info on the cassette and after only a few minutes of research on the sometimes miraculous internet, found out not only what it was but that it had been reissued on cd! And so now we have it here at Aquarius. Nice how that worked out! What we now know is that the concept of this recording is that it's a partially-imaginary reconstruction by an unusual Spanish world-music ensemble of what the music of ancient Greece MIGHT have sounded like, based on what little historical documentation is available regarding musical practices of the period. Each track references some papyrii or other (so the spoken and sung texts are supposedly historically accurate) and the music is played on what are assumed to be authentic types of instrumentation (including a reproduction of an hydraulic organ!). As we said, much of the music is ritual-sounding, with chanting and bells. It has quite an occult vibe. There's also tracks of beautiful, folky female vocals backed by plucks of the lyre. Add to that stirring horns, droning flutes, percussive crashes, eccentric vocal flourishes, and much more. Liner notes explain the Atrium Musicae's intentions and procedure in trying to recreate this lost music. There's a definite sense of drama, and of the weight of the ages upon those trying to bring the fragments of Greek music back to life. This disc is sometimes creepy, often lovely, always fascinating. Although I kind of wish that this cd had the scratchy surface noise found on our friend's tape of the LP, which gave it even more of a "lost treasure" vibe (as if some ancient Greek philosopher had invented some sort of anachronistic "marble cylinder" recording technology, recently unearthed by archeologists!) it's still totally amazing!
"Anakrousis.Orestes Stasimo" RealAudio clip:
"Hymne a la Muse" RealAudio clip:
"Hymne a Nemesis" RealAudio clip:
"Pean.Papyrus Berlin 6870"
ATRIUM MUSICAE DE MADRID Tarentule-Tarentelle (Harmonia Mundi) cd 16.98
ATTESTUPYA Tjalen / Den Stora (Release The Bats) lp 23.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
AVARUS Live (267 Lattajjaa) cd-r 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. More limited cd-r madness, again from our Finnish faves Avarus. A super limited one track 22+ minute live set, and it'a a little surprising considering what we're used to from these guys. The last few Avarus releases have been dreamy, stumbly psychedelic tinged folk, with loose tribal drumming, and an odd assortment of bowed, plucked and strummed instruments, reminding us very much of AQ faves Kemialliset Ystavat (with whom Avarus share members) and tribal, free-rock collective the No Neck Blues Band. But this live record is a different beast altogether. Channelling the spirit of the Dead C, Avarus kick up quite a racket, a thick slab of sound, with LOTS of guitars, feedback and some seriously chaotic drumming, recorded hot and overblown, adding just the right amount of distortion and haze to the recording. It almost sounds like some New Zealand noise rock band like Gate or maybe UK psych/drone ensemble Sunroof! -covering- Avarus. A nice new direction for one of our favorite bands! In handpainted sleeves, every one unique!
AVARUS Posum Ekor Kait Dataran (Lal Lal Lal) 3" cd-r 5.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. A 3" cd-r from this obscure & primitive Finnish psych-folk entity. Stumbling psych jamming spread over two tracks, nearly twenty minutes. Imagine the Dead C playing Finnish forest music. Or Tower Recordings covering International Harvester next door to Reynols' practice space? Droning, damaged clatter, like the cavorting of drugged out hippy carpenters. This band may or may not have members in common with labelmates Kemialliset Ystavat, that OTHER amazing damaged Finnish folk combo (of which we have a new release, see nearby for review) -- but any rate, fans of Kemialliset will like this too. Numbered and limited to 100 copies.
AVARUS Rasvaaja (Secret Eye) lp 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Yet another blissful excursion into the wild Finnish Forests with one of our favorite troupes of intrepid sonic explorers Avarus. This limited lp only release finds these Finns exploring similar sonic terrain as past releases, but even though it may be a well trod part of the forest, Avarus know how to ferret out all the secret little hiding spots and all the beautiful sounds as yet undiscovered. Drifting abstract melodies unfurl from detuned guitars, woodwinds flit and flutter like birds darting through the treetops, plenty of percussive clang and clatter underpin the action, while far off in the distance, the forest frolicking is threatened by thick black swells of grinding low end, and stormlike rumbles. The A side offers up a full on hippy kraut jam near the end, noisy and propulsive and about as rocking as these guys ever get, with pounding drums, looped riffs all amidst clouds of whirling swirling sound. The B side is much more restrained, more mysterious and abstract, with long stretches of near silence, plenty of microscopic sonic happenings, an extended sprawl, as if the musicians, exhausted from side one's closing jam, are all stretched out in the shade of the forest, lazily plucking strings, and rubbing metals, kicking drums with their feet as they stretch out on the sun dappled forest floor, making music that is as relaxed as they are, strange, slow burning, haunting and dreamlike... LIMITED TO 300 COPIES!! Each one hand numbered, packaged in super eye popping dayglo full color sleeves!
BACHI DA PIETRA Non Io (Die Schachtel) cd 17.98
Dunno why, but we're suckers for sinister mumbling in Italian, accompanied by glitchy droning music... which brings us to this, another cd in Die Schachtel's "Zeit" series, which means original, interestin' Italian experimentalism in a nice embossed digipack, a la previous releases like A and Christa Pfangen. This time, it's a disc from a duo known as Bachi Da Pietra ("The Worms Of Stone" or something like that), who delve deep into what could be considered a form of avant-blues... no please don't run away, we really like this! The slow and sad "blues" here are so blown apart that it's more about a mood than anything that ol' Robert Johnson would recognize, though dealings with the Devil seem possible in both cases. Bachi Da Pietra's music is damaged, dark, droning, doleful, doomed... almost like a depressed Italian Jandek playing in the style of Earth's Hex album...? Or Radian gone "wooden guitar"? Other comparisons could be made to Sinistri, and Larsen. An ominous moodiness pervades, stark tension increasing, as insistent beats and acoustic guitar strum are deconstructed to accompany the whispery, lonely-sounding vocals (sung in Italian, with English translations provided in the cd booklet). The percussion and guitar playing both sometimes sound like splintering sticks, and you can practically hear the smoke curling up from the singer's inevitable cigarette.
"Casa Di Legno" MPEG Stream:
"Altri Guasti" MPEG Stream:
BARUCH, BEN The Complete Recordings 1949-1950 (Sub Rosa) 2cd 16.98
Not sure if a lapsed Jew is anything like a lapsed Catholic. But if it is, I definitely used to live with one. We joked that I was way more of a Jew than he was. I would make matzah brie and matzoh ball soupÉ OK, well maybe my Jewishness didn't extend much beyond the kitchen, but that was STILL more Jewish than my lapsed housemate. What's the point of all that? Well, I of course know nothing about Jewish religious music either really, cantors, synagogal religious songs, but I know what I like. And I have been LOVING this collection of old 78s by Yitshak Jacques Zaludkowski, aka Ben Baruch. A two disc set that collects his complete recorded output, originally released as 78 rpm picture discs in 1950 on Saturn Records. Running the gamut from religious, songs -about- religious topics, and songs about the inception of the state of Israel, all sung in Hebrew, Baruch's music is gorgeous and emotive, his voice a lush rich baritone, the music super dramatic and orchestral. Strings swoon beneath Baruch's powerful croon, some folks here thought it sounded like the music in the sad parts of Disney movies, which is not all that far off. His voice actually sounds a bit like Thurl Ravenscroft, who sings the Haunted Mansion song. Operatic and darkly emotional, Baruch weaves dreamy, haunting tableaus, every song sounds like it was pulled from some mysterious old film, jazz, big band, swing, all lushly underpinning Baruch's gorgeous smooth voice. And of course, since they're mastered from old 78's, there's plenty of crackle and pop and tape hiss, wrapped warmly and lovingly around every note. In fact, fans of the recent record of the week Victrola Favorites will probably dig this too! So gorgeous.
"Zol Nokh Zayn Shabbes" MPEG Stream:
"Dos Lempi" MPEG Stream:
BATTIATO, FRANCO Pollution (Water) cd 15.98
Although it's only a very small section inside our store, many of our most devout and curious shoppers have found gem after gem in our Italian Prog section. Franco Battiato is one of those gems for sure. One of those endlessly creative artists who completely defies categorization. Sweeping in scope and eccentric in all the right ways it's no surprise that Battiato has finally begun to get the attention he so rightly deserves, as folks like Jim O'Rourke have gone out of their way to champion these forward thinking sounds from decades ago. Released in 1973, Pollution is a psychedelic synth masterpiece foreshadowing so much of what was to come in the landscape of electronic music. With out-of-this-world synths that make Rick Wakeman's playing seem pedestrian, and an otherworldly dimension orchestrated to perfection. Like David Axelrod getting super psychedelic and arranging a record for Ash Ra Tempel. So extravagant yet totally coherent. These sounds are so alive, so full of color, wonder and beauty. It goes without saying that as more folks discover this record it will probably be sampled to death, and we wouldn't be all that surprised if Four Tet, DJ Shadow, or Plaid hadn't already borrowed a bit here and there. Like Jean Claude Vannier's L'Enfant Assassin Des Mouches, this is an early '70s psych-prog masterpiece that is an across the board AQ favorite!
"Areknames" MPEG Stream:
"Plancton" MPEG Stream:
BITTOVA, IVA Cikori (Indies) cd 14.98
BLACK OX ORKESTAR Ver Tanzt (Constellation) cd 14.98
From Constellation, the label that brought us Godspeed You Black Emperor! and Silver Mt Zion, among others, comes the Black Ox Orkestar. But this Montreal group (with membership ties to the abovementioned bands I believe) isn't about epic post-rock. Rather, they specialize in music from the Old Country: Eastern European Jewish folk music interpreted with respect and youthful energy. Some of these tunes are stately, heavy with the weight of ancient tradition, some are swirling, passionate and outspoken. Unconstrained by klezmer orthodoxy, they draw on appropriate eclectic influences (Greek, Middle Eastern and Gypsy music) but don't attempt to hybridize with anything Godspeed-like either. If you like Davka, or Hala Strana, or suchlike, check this out.
"Shvartze Flamen, Vayser Fayer" MPEG Stream:
"Papir Iz Dokh Vays"
BORGHESIA Ljubav Je Hladnija Od Smrti (Dark Entries) lp 15.98
At the time Borghesia was formed in 1982, Yugoslavia was beginning to exhibit the cracks in its federalist system of government; by good fortune, the Croatian born members of Borghesia, Aldo Ivancic and Dario Seraval, chose to study in Ljubjana, located in Slovenia - the state which peacefully separated from the Yugoslavian federation in 1990, unlike those states to the south. Ljubjana had long been the home of a lively arts and music scene, having spawned a number of underground venues / art-spaces including the first gay disco which caused considerable controversy within the conservative society at large. This was also home for Laibach, the Irwin Group, and other arms of the Neue Slowenische Kunst collective. Borghesia had always played second fiddle to Laibach, even though they really sounded nothing like the band. Where Laibach offered bleak appropriation of cultural elements within a cold industrial context, Borghesia was one of the early proponents of "electronic body music" - the sweaty electro-funk that really exploded out of Belgium by the late '80s, with D.A.F., Cabaret Voltaire, and Chris & Cosey influencing Borghesia's hedonistic, leather-clad electronics. The mutant funk sensibility takes up tracks like "A.R." and "Brisk Vomit" with choppy guitars, darkly bubbled electronics, and neck-wrangled basslines. On the aforementioned "A.R.", Borghesia filters the vocals through a megaphone of barked sloganeering for the closest thing that the band ever came to sounding like Laibach. The dirge "Tako Mladi" with its whip crack, reversed delay, and stalking electronic sequences is probably the strongest track on the record, through its oppressive atmosphere. This album was originally released on an Italian label in 1985, and came with Italian translations of the Croatian lyrics. Those have now been transcribed into English, but keeping the same oversized poster with dot-matrix artwork / text that was on the original. As with all Dark Entries releases, this has been exquisitely remastered and pressed on big chunky vinyl. Limited to 500 copies.
"Tako Mladi" MPEG Stream:
"Kdo Je Ugasnil Luc" MPEG Stream:
BURAKA SOM SISTEMA Black Diamond (Fabric) cd 16.98
Oh shit! These are some intensely sweaty and dancey jammers that are sure to be the soundtrack of any truly down and dirty party this summer, and probably for a long time to come. Hailing from Portugal, Buraka Som Sistema have become international ambassadors for the Kuduro scene, bringing this unique sound to people throughout the world. It makes perfect sense that M.I.A. lends her voice to the record's standout track, as the sounds on Black Diamond make a great companion to her latest record Kala. Incorporating elements of hip-hop, Baile funk and electronica, Black Diamond is all about being uptempo and making bodies sweat, move and shake and groove. This is one of those records that should appeal to all sots of music lovers, from fans of Konono No.1 seeking that same sort of intense all out energy to fans of Missy Elliott who want something pulsating and creative to move them on the dance floor. So damn good!
"Sound of Kuduro (feat. DJ Znobia, MIA, Saborosa, & Puto Prata)" MPEG Stream:
"Aqui Para Vocs (feat. Deize Tigrona)" MPEG Stream:
BURAKA SOM SISTEMA Black Diamond (Fabric) lp 24.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Oh shit! These are some intensely sweaty and dancey jammers that are sure to be the soundtrack of any truly down and dirty party this summer, and probably for a long time to come. Hailing from Portugal, Buraka Som Sistema have become international ambassadors for the Kuduro scene, bringing this unique sound to people throughout the world. It makes perfect sense that M.I.A. lends her voice to the record's standout track, as the sounds on Black Diamond make a great companion to her latest record Kala. Incorporating elements of hip-hop, Baile funk and electronica, Black Diamond is all about being uptempo and making bodies sweat, move and shake and groove. This is one of those records that should appeal to all sots of music lovers, from fans of Konono No.1 seeking that same sort of intense all out energy to fans of Missy Elliott who want something pulsating and creative to move them on the dance floor. So damn good!
"Sound of Kuduro (feat. DJ Znobia, MIA, Saborosa, & Puto Prata)" MPEG Stream:
"Aqui Para Vocs (feat. Deize Tigrona)" MPEG Stream:
BUTCHER, JOHN / DURRANT, PHIL Secret Measures (Wobbly Rail) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Andee sneers, "Jim thinks this record is jazz because it has saxophone on it. Jim only wishes all jazz sounds like this; shrieking & sputtering sax electronically processed into skittering waves of grit, buzz, squeaks, groans, drones, and hiccups. As if Pan(a)sonic or Pita of Mego were forced to take sax lessons as children. Like a more animated, more abrasive version of the Parker/Casserly 'Solar Wind' collaboration. I think Jim is jazz." Jim retorts, "No, I certainly am not."
CACCIAPAGLIA, ROBERTO Sonanze (Mupymup) lp+cd 29.00
We've been working backwards in the Roberto Cacciapaglia catalog. We started with the eccentric pop of The Ann Steel Record from 1979, then a few lists back moved on to his minimalist systems composed piece, Sei Note In Logica. We'd planned on reviewing his first record, 1975's Sonanze, when Wah Wah originally reissued it, but are glad we waited for this Mupymup version which contains a bonus disc of 15 extra pieces from the period which really detail the beautiful range of this experimental classical composer with both Italian prog and Krautrock ties, and this will most definitely appeal to fans of either genre. Sonanze is perhaps the most classical leaning release of the bunch, but it definitely has a deep kosmiche feel. Its 10 movements begin with cascading gongs filtered through tape loops against an airy atmosphere of piano runs. Chamber string dramatics lay out the definitive feel of the entire piece of plaintive horns and kettle drums before getting full on cosmic in the Second Movement with pulsating synths and deep phased chanting leading to a percolating soundscape of jaw harp vibrations and swelling strings. The third movement brings in Lubomyr Melnyk-style piano cascades, while the fourth movement introduces a disembodied angelic choir, reminding us of Ligetti's "Lux Aeterna" from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The 5th movement brings in Peter Michael Hamel-style organ arpeggiations devolving into bowed gong scrapes. The 6th movement is very Michael Rother like, with cloudy gliding guitar and on and on it goes, a different feel or instrument in each changing movement, but somehow tied into a deeply introspective and gorgeous whole. Mixed by legendary krautrock producer Rolf-Kaiser Ulrich (Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Ash Ra Tempel), Sonanze is definitely our favorite of the three releases we reviewed thus far (though the Ann Steel scores major points because it's so dang out there!). The bonus disc is also pretty killer, filled with cosmic new age compositions of Moog and piano, filled with wonderful vocal experiments (check out the proto-Grouper track, "Manuela"), gongs and some abstract soundscapes to boot. So totally recommended and these reissues don't stick around long, so get it while you can!
"1st Movement" MPEG Stream:
"2nd Movement" MPEG Stream:
"6th Movement" MPEG Stream:
"Manuela" MPEG Stream:
"Skywaves" MPEG Stream:
CASA, DANIELA Societa Malata (Penny / Flipper Music) lp + cd 27.00
A mind-bending Italian library obscurity gets a nice reissue thanks to Penny Records. Daniela Casa may not be as well known as Ennio Morricone, Egisto Macchi, or Alessandro Alessandroni, but his 1970 concept album Societa Malata (The Sick Society) is one of the strangest psych "soundtracks" we have heard. It begins very dreamy, with hypnotic vibes and woodwinds lulling us into a restless sleep state, where we are introduced to the acid guitar grooves, loping bass rhythms and bongos that seem to anchor the majority of the record as we traverse otherworldly landscapes tinged with paranoia, seduction and uncertainty. Moogy flourishes and hectic rhythms add to the fever dream feel. With piano and echoing metallic percussion highlighting the noirish vibe, but it's not all terror. "Esoda" carries a wondering pastoral vibe, even if it does have a creepy tinge, but not as creepy as a track like "Occultismo" with its chorus of ghostly voices, or the final track, "Dittatura", a beautifully doomed march to destinations unknown. It's a wonder how the Italians can make such beautifully dreamy music that scares the bejeezus out of us, but we're entranced every time! Each record comes with a cd version as well, nice.
"Strade Vuoto" MPEG Stream:
"Fabbrica" MPEG Stream:
"Esoda" MPEG Stream:
"Occultismo" MPEG Stream:
CHARLIE & ESDOR s/t (Mellotronen) cd 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Finally got enough of these to list. It's something you're gonna DEFINITELY want to have if you're into the whole '60s/'70s Swedish psychedelic scene, Sweden's "krautrock" bands if you will. Y'know, if you like Parson Sound, Trad Gras Och Stenar, International Harvester, Arbete Och Fritid, Algarnas Tradgard, Kebnekajse, and all the other often interrelated outfits that we've been lucky enough to find reissued on cd in recent years. You can add this to that list, a brilliant collection of loping, rollicking, freaky hippie jams from the drums/sitar and guitar duo of Edmund "Charlie" Franzen and Esdor Jensen, and friends. They got their start together in 1969, and performed at the first of the free festivals in the summer of 1970 that are now an part of Swedish counterculture hippie history. They definitely must have fit right in that time and place, judging by this cd's awesome mixture of Eastern-inspired raga rock, Swedish folk troubadour music, Dylanesque ballads, and HEAVY guitar power trio acid rock. These tracks, recorded in 1970 and '71, have languished in obscurity, mostly unreleased for the past 30-some-odd years, several of them originally meant for an abandoned album release back in the day. A few, like "Wolfs Mouth Song" (here given its original title of "Fuck The Cops"!) were released on vinyl as singles and so forth. But you were probably never gonna run across one of those rarities... so it's great to have this all on cd! And Mellotronen has presented this in a nice digipack. Isn't that a great cover shot, of Charlie's back as he beats his drum kit at one of those hippie festivals?? It would good for a Levi's ad (you can see the tag on his jeans) if they were that hip. The 32 page booklet provides plenty of photos, a history of the band, and detailed track-by-track commentary on these recordings. There's also a discography complete with full-color reproductions of album covers and single sleeves. Very very nicely done.
"Da Klagar Mina Grannar" MPEG Stream:
"Fuck The Cops"
CIRCLE Rakennus (Ektro) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. You've probably already know this, 'cause you heard it from us, or from a friend, or you were there, or you saw it on Youtube (see http://youtube.com/watch?v=rkDGd28Kxm8 or http://youtube.com/watch?v=4FWftvvaVok for some examples) but let's just say it again: CIRCLE ARE AN AWESOME LIVE BAND. Their 2007 US tour was proof of that. During their stop in San Francisco they did an fantastic Aquarius in-store, ruled at the Bottom Of The Hill, and utterly destroyed playing in the enclosed confines of our friend John's bus. Hopefully you saw 'em. If you did, you know you want this new live cd, recorded on that very tour (in Charlottesville, Virginia at a place called Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar). If you didn't see 'em, at least don't miss this chance at the Circle live experience, as captured on cd. It'll make a believer out of anybody foolish enough to doubt reports that some weirdo Finnish proggers could have created such an urgent and infectious hybrid of rhythmic, krautrocky minimalism and tongue-in-cheek, leather-n-spikes ass kickery, that's for sure. Such a hybrid (which itself is only a part of the wider range of Circle's music) is in full effect all over this hour-long disc, right from the get-go. A disc, by the way, that includes LOTS of material that we're pretty sure Circle has never previously recorded on any of their many previous studio albums. Actually track one "Uusi Uhraus" (which is one of the several songs here that appear to be unique to Rakennus) starts innocuously enough, an introductory stretch of pretty, burbling synth a la Terry Riley mixed with the random anticipatory noises of the crowd, talking and laughing. Then, boom! at almost the three minute mark of this nearly 11 minute-long track, the "New Wave Of Finnish Heavy Metal" riffage kicks in, Circle's nervous "circular" chugging getting your head banging as Circle's vocalist/keyboardist/all-purpose madman Mika Ratto begins to bizarrely babble and screech like a homeless Rob Halford... "Shake shake shake / six six six" are some of the only words in English we (think) we can make out. And then, getting weirder (and cooler) still, at about two-thirds of the way through the song, someone else in the band starts honkin' way on the harmonica! The second track, "Nopeuskuningas", comes from their classic album Sunrise, and rocks even harder, with more unhinged, Judas Priest riffed, motorik metal. They continue on "Breaking The Law" Circle-style with the equally metallic track three, "Tulilintu", originally off of Tulikoria, which boasts another harmonica solo. And by now, when/if you can hear the crowd at all, they're not talking, they're screaming and shouting and and hooting and clapping wildly, as this album/live set reaches an early, energetic peak. Everybody takes a breather for the lovely ten and a half minutes track four, "Tuhat". It's a laidback jam with lots of meandering, Miljard or Tower-style electric piano and smoothly percolating percussion. Mika does deliver some expressive vocals here, but nothing in comparison to what he unleashes on the very next track, "Virsi", a song marked by bombastic prog-rock organ fanfare and crashing percussion, and especially Mika's over-the-top singing, sounding not unlike an even more extreme and dramatic version of Peter Hammill of Van Der Graf Generator -- a tall order, any fan of VDGG will concur! Triumphantly, Mika leads the band onward into old, old favorite "Point" (originally appearing on a Bad Vugum 7" from back in 1992, before they even had an album out) which demonstrates that the NWOFHM is no new thing they just thought up. And then "Murheenkryyni" is even heavier, yet more melodic and grandiose, and certainly left the band and their Charlottesville audience (and perhaps you the listener at home) totally spent and drenched in sweat. That's the final song of the set -- except of course they get brought back for an encore, wrapping things up with a version of "Kaappikellon Kummitus" which originally appeared not on a Circle album, but on a disc by Mika and bassist Jussi's side project, Ratto Ja Lehtisalo. It's a nice, mellow, piano-grooved and hand-clapped coda to a pretty darn intense show! Whew! Rakennus is pretty much an essential document of something you don't see everyday, a band tearing the roof off playing music unlike anything else on the planet. Insane vocals! Harmonica leads! Spacey synth zappery! A prog-splosion of energy and tripped out bliss both... transcending all the elements of pastiche that color their music, the combination of riff-rockin' abandon and precise minimalism a truly hypnotic thrill ride. It's also something never quite to be recreated on any of their studio discs, another dimension added by their live prowess and choice of material. And by the way, the live recording sounds fantastic, like you were there in the flesh, basking in Circle's vibrations, clear and powerful. The way the crowd noises are mixed in is not only the hallmark of a true live album but also seems to work as an extra texture with the music, like something Circle might have attempted in the studio anyway, mutterings reminding us of the Sunburned Circle set at times... As always, this cd package features some nice graphics work, the booklet full of what appear to be snapshots of "Americana" from Circle's on-tour viewpoint.
"Uusi Uhraus" MPEG Stream:
CIRCLE Soundcheck (Full Contact) lp 23.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Circle are getting to be like a Finnish hypnorock version of the Grateful Dead, a comparison which would no doubt thrill Circle mainman Jussi Lehtisalo, who is very upfront about his obsession with the Dead. In so much as between albums, Circle, like the Dead, crank out killer live record after killer liver record, often with some of the same songs, always including a few live staples, familiar enough to hit the spot, but different enough that a Circle fan could be forgiven for needing them ALL! This vinyl-only latest from these fantastic Finns, is indeed yet another live set, and not only features a super striking crystal skull cover, but also finds the band bolstered by some extra axe power in the form of members of fellow NWOFHM combo Pharaoh Overlord. Recorded last year, in Finland, Soundcheck, as the label puts it, "offers the most contemporary document possible of a Circle soundcheck / concert experience". Indeed! The Aside offers two new tracks, beginning with the brief "Kukkakaalia Kapteenit!", a wispy swirl of shimmery synths, laid back tribal drumming and some dramatic, emotional crooning, very cinematic sounding, almost like it could be some lost 4AD single, dreamy and ethereal, giving way to the way more rocking and intense "Tuhatsata", which takes up most of the side, a slow burning, blackened bit of Finnish krautrock, super epic, with dueling vocals, crooning versus grunted and growled, fusiony keys, still more tribal drumming, spidery guitars, the track pulsing and pounding, building to multiple crescendos, frenzied freakouts that always lip right back into more looped mesmer. The flipside features two instantly recognizable live set staples, first up, "Virsi", dramatically progtastic, with that super soaring epic intro, all dynamic shifts and huge bursts of instrumental crunch, with vocals howling and wailing almost operatically, before lurching into some rad atonal krauty, fusiony, jazzy, hypno groove skitter. The second track, another Circle classic, and live staple, "Nopeuskuningas", explodes right out of the gate, with its chugging almost surfy, ZZ Top-ish boogie riff, locked in groove, the whole thing stretched out over the remainder of the side, the band solid, and hypnotic, and intense, and rocking and tight as fuck. Their showstopper for sure, and it clearly did the job at this show as well. Heavy vinyl, super swank skull jacket, and most definitely LIMITED.
CIRCLE Telescope (Sunhair) 2cd 23.00
When it rains, it pours. And when Finland's Circle is concerned, there certainly has been no drought of releases lately. Fine with us though, we say bring it on! Last list, we reviewed their excellent new live disc, Rakennus. We mentioned that there was *another* live release upcoming, and this is it. Dare we ask, do you need another live Circle album so soon? Silly question. And Telescope IS quite a bit different from Rakennus. While that cd documented an hour-long show recorded on Circle's 2007 US tour, Telescope contains an epic 131 minutes of music, spread over two cds, captured in 2003 at a show in Wurzburg, Germany. And it's all looong tracks, several of 'em jams in the 20-30 minute range, which means there's only six individual tracks here (three per disc) as compared to the eight songs found on the single disc Rakennus. Circle's lineup of four years ago is the same as it is now, but the material they're doing here differs somewhat. Maybe it's 'cause they were playing in Germany, but the "krautrock" side of Circle (as opposed to, say, their "metal" side) is to the fore here. Total jammed-out space rock grooves in the usual ultra hypnotic, ultra repetitive, trance-inducing Circle tradition. The air is thick with amped-up psychedelic guitar textures, some of this recalling Spacemen 3, or more accurately, since it's heavier than that, Loop. At moments you'll think you've stepped back in time into a San Francisco '60s hippie ballroom concert (or krautrock commune)... at others you'll be surprised by the angular, garage-rock guitar shards flying from the stage. Much of this is totally flowers and beads pretty, while some of it breaks into a dervish frenzy. Circle's cyclical riffs and beats are certainly in full effect, and due to the happily stretched-out durations of these songs, the band can really develop shifting patterns of their seemingly endless pulsations... also having many minutes to build from spaciously mellow, minimalist meandering to more urgent, energetic explosions. We can only imagine that being in attendance at this concert, if you really let yourself get into it, would have resulted in some sort of altered state of consciousness, time slowing down or even seeming to stop completely. What, it's over already?? Some "Circle-casualties" might never snap out of it, spending the rest of their days in a head nodding daze, communicating with others only in an approximation of Circle vocalist Mika Ratto's nonsensical but beautious babble... And if this happens to YOU as a result of purchasing Telescope, consider it money well spent! As far as we can tell, most of the tracks are exclusive to Telescope, being previously unreleased/unrecorded compositions or improvisations, while the couple we do recognize are derived from their album Guillotine, which was Circle's current studio release in 2003. And on the final, 33 minute mega encore track "Kaare", Circle is joined by a special guest, from the German psych rock bands Sula Bassana and Zone Six, on "space bass". Not that they need any help in that department... FYI this is limited to 1000 copies, not to be repressed... we got 100 and that's it.
"Matka" MPEG Stream:
"Metsan Henget" MPEG Stream:
CIRCLE Tulikoira (Headspin) lp+7" 36.00
Okay, Circle freeks and Finnish music obsessives, we hate to tell you this, but you knew it was coming. You're gonna have to buy Circle's Tulikoira again. On vinyl. Cuz you know what? It's even better than the cd version. Not only does that crazy angry-red-man-with-Tulikoira-carved-into-his-head artwork look AWESOME all big and lp sized, but the gatefold has the letters NWOFHM printed HUGE, and also there's now a cool printed inner sleeve with one of those heavy metal style collages featuring at least one or two photos of our very own Andee and aQuarius! And if that wasn't enought, the lp version comes with an exclusive two track 7" not available anywhere else -- featuring vinyl versions of the first two tracks off Circle's Earthworm cdep, the one with the mighty Bruce "Jesters Of Destiny" Duff on vocals. So if you haven't picked up Tulikoira yet, well, obviously now is the time, if you already have the cd, well, maybe it's time to upgrade to the vinyl! For those vinyl-only folks who haven't previously heard Earthworm, here's a rundown on the two tracks here: Sonically classic Circle, with the propulsive drumming, the cyclical riffing, but here the sound is revved up and supercharged, it's Circle on 45 literally, jamming out sped up krautrock with thick swaths of space-y synth draped over the Circular jams. The first track, titled "Earthworm" features Duff wailing Jesters style, channeling his eighties metal majesty, and whipping out some seriously WTF lyrics like "Bad boys from New Orleans", "Bad boys, they're from East L.A."É The flipside features more of that supercharged Circle hypnorock, but with Duff's vocals way down in the mix, a whispery croon, almost choral here and there, perfectly complimenting Circle's tripped out space-y jam. The best part though, is the sleeve of the 7" is done in the same style as the Tulikoira cover, but instead of the angry carved headed man, it's Bruce Duff, all rendered in scratchy black and red. Cool. And for folks who also haven't heard Tulikoria, here's our review of the album proper: NWOFHM. That's what it says on the inside of the cd booklet, in big bold letters. NWOFHM? WTF? If you don't get the joke, explaining it won't help, but here goes: New Wave Of Finnish Heavy Metal. Our Finnish friends Circle are apparently referencing the famed NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) that took the rock world by storm circa 1979, giving us Saxon, Angel Witch, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Venom, Samson, and many many many more. What's that got to do with the Can and Neu! pulsed space/prog/post-rock normally practiced by Circle?? Well Circle fans know that these guys have indeed established their very own trademark "circular" sound (repetitive, rhythmic, looping, hypnotic rock) that, whirlpool-like, pulls in all sorts of influences, from the aforementioned Krautrock forefathers to jazz and dub and lo-fi drone improv and, yes, metal. When you get a new Circle album, you kinda both know what to expect *and* never know what to expect. Well we'll tell you about Circle's latest studio effort, Tulikoria. In part, it's Circle donning the leather and spikes (metaphorically, perhaps, though they threatened to do so for real live on stage at their show in San Francisco that was happening the night we originally posted this review). Circle's love of metal, specifically the true, traditional heavy metal of the '80s, has borne fruit before, on several of the songs from their amazing Sunrise album released in 2002 (sadly now out of print). So, the heavy metal component present on Tulikoira is precedented in the Circle discog. But, like Sunrise, this isn't just Circle "doing metal". It's a lot of other things besides! Nobody will confuse it for an "actual" metal album. But heavy metal is definitely, proudly an element here, amongst others. And graphically, too, it's an inspiration, as you'll see from Circle's new fangled, tough-looking symmetrical logo, which even incorporates a lightning bolt! There's four tracks here, starting with "Rautakaarme", an atmospheric seven-minute cut featuring monkish chant, eerie drone, and energetic bursts of rock action. Second track "Tulilintu" is *entirely* active and energetic, really bringing in the headbanging, fist-pumping metal, complete with guitar leads and soaring screams in the manner of Rob Halford. Seriously. The lyrics are in Finnish (presumably) so we don't know how tongue-in-cheek-or-not they are. Track three, "Berserk", is kinda weird, another atmospheric exercise with some lines in English like "I'm a scorpion" and "I'm a crocodile" spoken over rather spooky, bass-heavy grooves. A lot of tension in this one. Could almost be a noirish film soundtrack from the '70s, but with additional "circular" electric guitar riffing. Then the final track "Puutiikeri" arrives, pretty much taking over the album since it's an epic 24 minute affair, beginning and ending with authentic heavy metal riffing, but journeying far and wide in-between. Creaky improv splatter, lush keyboards, gently whispering vocals, spacey electronic effects, chugging, pulsating rhythms (of course!), and even some quasi-techno beats (!) are stirred into this weird mix. Ranging in mood from calm tranquility to flat out rockin', this is a real trip, as is all of Tulikoira. If you've been following Circle's output in recent years, and rolling with all their eccentricies, from Sunrise to Guillotine to Forest to Empire, you'll be happy to add Tulikoria to your collection too! [And by the way, that show was AWESOME! Circle destroyed! No spikes though.]
"Rautakaarme" MPEG Stream:
"Tulilintu" MPEG Stream:
CIRCLE Tulikoira (2009 Edition) (Ektro) cd 14.98
This 2005 Circle album, out of print for a bit, is now newly reissued on cd, this time its jewel case wrapped in a spiffy slipcase, featuring some cool new artwork (and a "no posers" symbol)! NWOFHM. That's what it says on the inside of the cd booklet, in big bold letters. NWOFHM? WTF? If you don't get the joke, explaining it won't help, but here goes: New Wave Of Finnish Heavy Metal. Our Finnish friends Circle are apparently referencing the famed NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) that took the rock world by storm circa 1979, giving us Saxon, Angel Witch, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Venom, Samson, and many many many more. What's that got to do with the Can and Neu! pulsed space/prog/post-rock normally practiced by Circle?? Well Circle fans know that these guys have indeed established their very own trademark "circular" sound (repetitive, rhythmic, looping, hypnotic rock) that, whirlpool-like, pulls in all sorts of influences, from the aforementioned Krautrock forefathers to jazz and dub and lo-fi drone improv and, yes, metal. When you get a new Circle album, you kinda both know what to expect *and* never know what to expect. Well we'll tell you about Circle's latest studio effort, Tulikoria. In part, it's Circle donning the leather and spikes (metaphorically, perhaps, though they threatened to do so for real live on stage at their show in San Francisco that was happening the night we originally posted this review). Circle's love of metal, specifically the true, traditional heavy metal of the '80s, has borne fruit before, on several of the songs from their amazing Sunrise album released in 2002. So, the heavy metal component present on Tulikoira is precedented in the Circle discog. But, like Sunrise, this isn't just Circle "doing metal". It's a lot of other things besides! Nobody will confuse it for an "actual" metal album. But heavy metal is definitely, proudly an element here, amongst others. And graphically, too, it's an inspiration, as you'll see from Circle's new fangled, tough-looking symmetrical logo, which even incorporates a lightning bolt! There's four tracks here, starting with "Rautakaarme", an atmospheric seven-minute cut featuring monkish chant, eerie drone, and energetic bursts of rock action. Second track "Tulilintu" is *entirely* active and energetic, really bringing in the headbanging, fist-pumping metal, complete with guitar leads and soaring screams in the manner of Rob Halford. Seriously. The lyrics are in Finnish (presumably) so we don't know how tongue-in-cheek-or-not they are. Track three, "Berserk", is kinda weird, another atmospheric exercise with some lines in English like "I'm a scorpion" and "I'm a crocodile" spoken over rather spooky, bass-heavy grooves. A lot of tension in this one. Could almost be a noirish film soundtrack from the '70s, but with additional "circular" electric guitar riffing. Then the final track "Puutiikeri" arrives, pretty much taking over the album since it's an epic 24 minute affair, beginning and ending with authentic heavy metal riffing, but journeying far and wide in-between. Creaky improv splatter, lush keyboards, gently whispering vocals, spacey electronic effects, chugging, pulsating rhythms (of course!), and even some quasi-techno beats (!) are stirred into this weird mix. Ranging in mood from calm tranquility to flat out rockin', this is a real trip, as is all of Tulikoira. If you've been following Circle's output in recent years, and rolling with all their eccentricities, from Sunrise to Guillotine to Forest to Empire, you'll be happy to add Tulikoria to your collection too!
"Rautakaarme" MPEG Stream:
"Tulilintu" MPEG Stream:
CRACOW KLEZMER BAND The Warriors (Tzadik) cd 15.98
Newest entry in the Radical Jewish Culture series released on John Zorn's imprint Tzadik. Based in Poland, this band is supposedly quite avant garde... but I'm not sure what's so "radical" about them. This is somber, melodic, minor-key instrumental Jewish traditional music played out on accordion, violin, clarinet, and double bass; and will most likely appeal to fans of Masada (Zorn's own klezmer improv group) and that Evan Lurie disc from many years ago, that had the gorgeous wistful accordion, remember (Selling Water By the Side of the River)? The music is certainly very pleasant, and it has a grown-up, smoky, sophisticated tone to it, but let's face it: this is kinda predictable, not "radical". (Sometimes Tzadik's self-aggrandizing obis are really over the top.) That doesn't mean it ain't nice, though!
DANUBIUS s/t (Web Of Mimicry) cd 13.98
Mr. Bungle/Secret Chiefs 3 guitarist Trey Spruance discovered this group playing the folk/gypsy music of Eastern Europe (Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Balkans) in a local San Francisco cafe, and immediately persuaded 'em to release a cd on his own Web of Mimicry label 'cause he was so impressed. And indeed, Danubius are an undeniably fun and capable band, with a repertoire stretching from the streets of Budapest to the Carpathian Mountains to the Black Sea -- bringing in both "village" and "city" musics, demonstrating more diversity than many other traditional Eastern European music groups might. The twenty tracks on this album are organized into several suites, ethnomusical groupings such as "Hungarian Gypsy restaurant style" and "Transylvanian Suite". All share unflagging energy, bright sounds, evocative traditional instrumentation (accordion, cimbalom, tambura, hurdy gurdy, etc.), and some fancy pickin' on the ancient folk/popular tunes they're bringing to your stereo. We're told that the band members (who originally hail from all over Eastern Europe) will get into violent arguments on stage about how the pieces should be played, or say things like "I'm from Romania -- what do I know about this song from your village in Hungary?" but this disc demonstrates that when they manage to set aside their differences they can make some beautiful music together. And in fact, they have a serious purpose in doing so. To quote the liner notes: "Danubius is hoping to show a way into the future that allows traditional world musics to flourish, not just exist as a resource for 'samples' that can be thrown into some 'mix'. We believe that the experience of hearing this music live creates an emotional reaction that cannot be compared to hearing bits and pieces in films, in electronic compostions, or as a component of a 'world music' recording." A laudable goal. The liners go on to briefly discuss each track, helping to make this an educational package -- but one you can dance to as well. Danubius are not unlike "old world" bands like Taraf de Haidouks and Fanfare Ciocarlia who have created a following for gypsy/wedding music in the West, although those groups, especially Fanfare Ciocarlia, play what might be termed a more "hardcore", frenzied version of these musics. Whereas, after all, the music of Danubius *does* sound like tunes you'd hear in (appropriate) restaurants. Even the wildest Romanian dance music they play won't make you choke on your dinner, while Fanfare's performance might require the Heimlich. Danubius are little more restrained. At least on disc -- but after hearing this I'm going to have to look for a chance to see 'em live.
"Hategana" RealAudio clip:
"Joc ca la Stana" RealAudio clip:
DAVKA Lavy's Dream (Tzadik) cd 16.98
DAVKA Live (Tzadik) cd 15.98
DAVKA The Golem (Tzadik) cd 16.98
Veteran San Francisco klezmer/jazz outfit Davka are certainly a good choice to take on the task of providing a soundtrack to the 1920 silent film classic Der Golem. Davka violinist Daniel Hoffmann wrote the score and performs it along with Paul Hanson on bassoon and clarinet, Kevin Mummey on dumbeq and zarb and Moses Sedler on cello. It's 32 short tracks seamlessly stitched together, ranging from almost loungey, exotica flavored sketches to more creepy and melancholic evocations -- but you could easily listen to this without getting creeped out, it doesn't come across like a horror-film score, just well-played, Old World influenced chamber jazz full of life, definitely for fans of John Zorn's Masada in their Bar Kokhba mode.
"The Golem track 8" MPEG Stream:
"The Golem track 12"
EL GUINCHO Pop Negro (Young Turks) cd 13.98
Summer in San Francisco is a funny thing. It doesn't really happen, most of July and even August is chilly, grey, and windy. We know we have no room to really complain about the weather here, but it can get you down. Luckily we do usually get this small blast of Indian Summer that hits late in September and we all run to the park, the beach, a lake, anywhere to soak it all up as much as we can, as we know it will be gone before we know it. So in these times of packing in as much summer as we can in just a handful of days we really need and relish when an end of the summer jam shows up just in time to blast as we play in the sunshine. El Guincho has given us the perfect bright, bouncy and colorful soundtrack that's beyond perfect for tapping into the carefree vibe of running through waves and playing in sand, the fleeting summer state of mind that is already on its way out. Picking up perfectly where his 2008 debut left off, and even upping he quality of songcraft and irresistibility. While El Guincho is from Spain, his music really sounds like someone so in touch with so many great sounds being made across the globe. It's a universal kind of super smart and catchy dance minded pop, filled with so many cascading melodies, catchy rhythms and such impeccable taste. One of those perfect records that seamlessly mixes synths, samples, and live instruments along with warm and welcoming vocals to create songs that are made for letting down your guard and soaking up some much needed joy and sunshine. So damn good!
"Bombay" MPEG Stream:
"FM Tan Sexy" MPEG Stream:
EL GUINCHO Pop Negro (Young Turks) lp 15.98
Now on vinyl! Summer in San Francisco is a funny thing. It doesn't really happen, most of July and even August is chilly, grey, and windy. We know we have no room to really complain about the weather here, but it can get you down. Luckily we do usually get this small blast of Indian Summer that hits late in September and we all run to the park, the beach, a lake, anywhere to soak it all up as much as we can, as we know it will be gone before we know it. So in these times of packing in as much summer as we can in just a handful of days we really need and relish when an end of the summer jam shows up just in time to blast as we play in the sunshine. El Guincho has given us the perfect bright, bouncy and colorful soundtrack that's beyond perfect for tapping into the carefree vibe of running through waves and playing in sand, the fleeting summer state of mind that is already on its way out. Picking up perfectly where his 2008 debut left off, and even upping he quality of songcraft and irresistibility. While El Guincho is from Spain, his music really sounds like someone so in touch with so many great sounds being made across the globe. It's a universal kind of super smart and catchy dance minded pop, filled with so many cascading melodies, catchy rhythms and such impeccable taste. One of those perfect records that seamlessly mixes synths, samples, and live instruments along with warm and welcoming vocals to create songs that are made for letting down your guard and soaking up some much needed joy and sunshine. So damn good!
"Bombay" MPEG Stream:
"FM Tan Sexy" MPEG Stream:
ES Kesamaan Lapset (Fonal) cd 17.98
Brand new record from this Finnish aQ fave, every new album a slowly blossoming mystery in sound, whether it's manipulated chunks of old vinyl, rickety campfire psychedelia, or expansive soundscapes of delicate crystalline shimmer. Es is the musical monicker of Sami Sanpakkila, who also plays in some other aQ Finnish favorites, most notably Kemialliset Ystavat and Kiila, and who is often joined by various members of the ever shifting and constantly collaborating Finnish underground community. Kesamaan Lapset seems to be a record composed and performed entirely on keyboards and synthesizers, the opening track is a gloriously sun dappled chunk of skittery sunshiney new age synths, lush swoonsome swells of fuzzy whir, tinkling little melodies, and soft tangles of squiggly glitches, looped and chopped, like a more kinetic caffeinated Oval. The follow up begins with some circusy lo-fi keyboard melodies, that get more and more dense and intricate before the vocals swoop in, super effected and lush, wrapped in delay and reverb, ghostly and otherworldly, drifting lazily and dreamily over the softly chaotic jumble of tones and melodic fragments, managing to be pretty and soft, but fractured and off kilter at the same time. The first of the two long tracks is a slow building dronescape, thick swells of warm lush organ whir, beneath delicate spidery piano melodies, the whole thing growing ever brighter and more insistent, various keyboards beginning to stutter and skitter creating all manner of incidental rhythms before finishing off in a dense swirl of hissy soft focus drift. The 21 minute title track is all woozy dream pop, female vocals, over a constantly undulating bed of looped pianos and swirling synths, male vocals offer up some unlikely harmonies, horns slowly surface as do gauzy clouds of effects, before transforming into a deep, dark, almost brooding bit of keyboard driven drift, replete with all manner of Oval like digital glitch, warbly and underwater sounding, super hypnotic and intense, eventually giving way to a strange bit of majestic fanfare before fading out in a brief blur of warm abstract melody. The final brief track is a buzzed out coda, all electronic glitchery, fuzzy drones, plonked electric piano, howled vocals buried in the mix, tons of grit and texture, buzz and whir, like a way more abstract Animal Collective. Certainly a bit different than any of the other Es releases, but in its own warm and warped, tripped out and twisted way, a logical extension of Es's ever expanding soundworld. And we dig it. As always, the packaging is super cool full color 4 panel gatefold, with some amazing childhood photos, printed insert with more cool art and liner notes, and a gold and white printed obi.
"Ennen Oli Huonommin" MPEG Stream:
"Kesa Ja Hymyilevat Huulet" MPEG Stream:
"Sateet Sun Sielusta"
FANFARE CIOCARLIA Baro Biao: World Wide Wedding (Piranha) cd 19.98
Super intense, wild Gypsy wedding music from this 12-piece Romanian band. Lots of crazy dancing potential here.
FANFARE CIOCARLIA Iag Bari (Piranha) cd 19.98
From a little village called Ciocarlia, located in Eastern Romania, near the Moldavian border, comes this eleven-man brass and woodwind band of gypsies. Combining elements of traditional Romanian, Turkish and Gypsy music as well as Klezmer, this former wedding band (who've been known to have played weddings for up to twenty hours!) are also the fastest known brass band in the world (between 130 and 220 bpm)! Wild, schizophrenic and exciting, if you've ever seen the Yugoslavian cinema of Emir Kusturica (Time Of The Gypsies, Black Cat White Cat, or the epic Underground), you can begin to understand the intensity of Fanfare Ciocarlia. Also, remember those crazy FedEx adverts with the insane music? Byram feels compelled to Next Day Air something every time this disc gets played. Anyway, if you liked the Disco Bhangra cd (on John Zorn's Avant label), Taraf De Haidouks, or insanely fast klezmer, definitely check this out! "Iag Bari" is a fine, frenzied followup to FC's previous Piranha disc, "Baro Biao: World Wide Wedding" that we mentioned way back on list number 87!
"Iag Bari" RealAudio clip:
FANFARE SAVALE Speed Brass of the Gypsies (Sub Rosa) cd 14.98
Fans of Fanfare Ciocarlia pay heed. Fanfare Savale are an eleven piece gypsy brass band (ten horns, one drummer) from the Eastern Romanian village of Zece Prajini. Like Fanfare Ciocarlia, Savale often play at impossibly fast (upwards of 200 bpm) tempos and, being a group that makes its living through weddings and festivals, can play for extended durations. Infectious and reckless, it's hard not to start jumping up and down to Fanfare Savale's festive brass hard core. Put this on and open up the wine at your next party and you can bet someone's going to get hurt by the time the night's through.
"Suita Lui Erno" MPEG Stream:
FIELDS, IRVING TRIO Bagels And Bongos (Reboot Stereophonic) cd 16.98
FINNTROLL Visor Om Slutet (Spikefarm) cd 14.98
As their name suggests, this is music by, or at least for, Finnish trolls. They should tour with Za Frumi, the Swedish orc band. Their self-described brand of black metal polka (or "humpa", as the Finns call it) has made 'em a fave here at Aquarius where anything less ridiculous gets barely a listen, after all. This third album from Finntroll sports a sticker on the front reading "Special Price Acoustic Album". Well, the price isn't any more special than their others, and it's also not an acoustic album, so we're not sure what's going on there. It is, however, pretty special! Starting off with ominous forest noises, this soon builds into a doleful (is that an oboe?) square dance for monsters, stomping and growling. That's followed by some rather more lively jigs, that sound a bit like Czech maniacs Uz Jsme Doma, if they had a chorus of grim-voiced trolls backing them up. Other numbers are on the bombastic side, symphonic in scope even, very medieval and fantastical of course. I guess the deep-woods hoedown aspect is what prompted Spikefarm to label this "acoustic" even when there's obviously lots of non-acoustic instruments (keyboards, electric guitars!) being used along with traditional Finnish/trollish instruments like jaw harps and handclaps... and it certainly is Finntroll's least "metal" album. Finntroll goes in the direction of early In Extremo, cool.
"Asfagelns Dod" MPEG Stream:
"Forsvinn Du Som Lyser"
FOWLEY, KIM Another Man's Gold: Lost Treasures From The Vaults 1959-69 Volume 2 (Norton) cd 14.98
With so many stories circulated about legendary LA-based weirdo (many, including the man himself, might say "asshole") Kim Fowley, it can be easy to overlook the reality that he was, if nothing else, ridiculously prolific as a songwriter and producer. The amount of songs Fowley is responsible for is staggering and quite impressive. He appears to be of that rare breed that could crank out songs with ease and completely forget their existence by the time he had moved on to the next project. Even while many of these songs were probably viewed by Fowley himself as disposable pop fodder and a quick paycheck, they are incredibly enjoyable pieces of quirky '60s pop, stupid in the best way and just plain fun. Nostalgic in the most snarky way possible, a good portion of the songs concern themselves with teenage '50s high school themes (like the outrageous "Memories Of A High School Bride" by The Players (Vol. II), a programmatic soap opera saga complete with a tape-manipulated gossip chorus!), or swingin' sixties turn on, tune in, drop out freekdom, tongue seemingly in cheek, like Althea And The Memories' "Worst Record Ever Made" (Vol. I). There's plenty of just plain WTF weirdness too, like Donnie And The Outkasts' "Big Fat Alaskan" (also Vol. I). A bunch of Fowley-sung numbers crop up, delivered with a snotty awareness that makes them among the best tunes on here. Looking at the pictures within, the gangly Fowley sticks out like a sore thumb among the wide eyed bands and, ahem, teenage girls, who probably felt they were going to make it all the way to the top. Little were they aware of the madness that would see them ending up on these awesome compilations so many years later. Good stuff, both volumes equally recommended, get 'em both!
"The Renegades - Geronimo" MPEG Stream:
"Kim Fowley - Big Sur, Bear Mountain, Ciro's, Flip Side, Protest Song" MPEG Stream:
"The Players - Memories Of A High School Bride"
FRICARA PACCHU Midnight Pyre (Lal Lal Lal) cd 16.98
Yes! The cd debut of this fantastic Finnish four-track project... We actually meant to list this, like, a month ago, but unfortunately the original review we wrote of it was lost in one of our several recent arggh-inducing komputoor crashes, but actually that's a good thing, 'cause it gave everybody here at AQ more time to listen to this, over and over, at home and in the store, and have us all decide that this HAD to be a Record Of The Week. So we ordered more copies from Finland, and re-wrote the review (which, in our memory, was actually probably better written the first time, so trust us on this) and here we go! Ah, Finland. We've said it before, we'll say it again. So many of our favorite bands hail from Finland, from the hypnotic NWOFHM space rock of Circle to the the funereal doom of Skepticism, with all the freaky forest folk of Kemialliset Ystavat, et. al. in between. And now Fricara Pacchu, solo project from a member of such underground Finnish acts as Avarus, Anaksimandros, Maniacs Dream, and yes Kemialliset Ystavat. Hopefully you remember our review of the Fricara Pacchu 7" and accompanying art/collage booklet that the Fonal label put out not too long ago (we may still have a few of those babies in stock, if you act fast). Both Allan and Andee accidentally wrote separate gushing reviews of it, that's how much we all liked it! That 7" left us eager to hear a full-length, and now here it is, courtesy of Lal Lal Lal. 12 wigged out instrumental tracks of Fricara Pacchu's undefinable, eccentric, psychedelic weirdness. We had compared the 7" to everything from the Boredoms to Oliva Tremor Control, and that goes too for the all-instrumental music on this cd, to which we can add such other disparate references as Neu! and When and Fuck Buttons. Fricara Pacchu's music is part techno, part noise, part pop... all awesome. Recording at home on a four-track, Pacchu creates a woozy, rhythmic soundworld filled with distortion and delight. A world of magical gnomes with chugging machines spewing colorful clouds... clouds of mysterious, maybe illegal substances that coalesce in pretty patterns you can hear, as well as kaleidoscopically see. There's dense, druggy layers of guitar feedback with electro beats; lo-fi fuzzy loops, gurgly computer bleeps and sci-fi sound FX swooshes; throbbing pound and gentle ambience. Fricara Pacchu produces fragile music box melodies that exist amidst exploding minefields of noise, like the detonations of distortion that rhythmically obliterate parts of "Four Seasons Of Violins". Noise that is taken to an extreme with the utter, surging distorto-destruction of "Sky Helicopter"... Whew! Wow. Maybe if the glorious synthscapes of fellow Finns Shogun Kunitoki were way grittier and guitar-ier, done more D.I.Y., and wrapped in steel wool and played backwards on a cheap cassette, that would sound something like the quirky and compelling music of Fricara Pacchu. By which we mean, this is great!
"Four Seasons Of Violins" MPEG Stream:
"Freaky Labyrinth" MPEG Stream:
"Return Of The Rats" MPEG Stream:
"Possessed By Possibilities"