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


album cover 31 KNOTS Polemics (Polyvinyl) cd ep 8.98
Yay, four more (five if you count the atmospherically stutterin' intro) tracks of the sinuous, powerful post-punk poppy progginess that Portland's 31 Knots has always wowed us with! They still sound like some weird, choppy blend of Yes and Fugazi (to use the usual shorthand), and their arty experimentation and sheer sonic bombast hasn't lost any of its punch or pleasurableness. And oooh, it's one of those cool lookin' 3" cds, with the extra clear plastic rim 'round the outside to give it the regular cd 5" diameter total. You'll understand what we're talking about when you see it.
This came out at the tail end of 2006, so we're hoping that they're pretty much ready to unleash the new full-length for which this has whet our appetites!
MPEG Stream: "Sedition's Wish"

album cover 31 KNOTS Talk Like Blood (Polyvinyl) cd 13.98
Quickly following up their fine The Curse Of The Longest Day ep with this excellent new full-length, Portland, Oregon's 31 Knots are satisfying all our abundant cravings for pop-smart, sonically rich indie rock gone prog. Prog as in Yes, to whom these guys have often been compared. And that's a good thing (if you aren't sure that's the case, you really should check out Fragile or Close To The Edge, to mention just two of the great Yes albums of the early '70s). As with such ye olde prog, the 31 Knots guys are top knotch instrumentalists... and no slouches at singing and writing songs either. Their Yessisms are more like hints of Yes (both their complexity and melodicism) informing and subverting songs that a less ambitious band might have crafted into more typical examples of the current "new wave" of white belted indie dance rock. And along with the pull of prog, this material is also shaped by the push of (arty) punk rock aggression as well. Fugazi, Yes, and I dunno, Elvis Costello might make strange bedfellows but 31 Knots make it seem like such a pajama party would be a good idea. Talk Like Blood's ten tracks bombastically blend heartfelt vocals, rubbery basslines, precise drumming, classical piano, electronic glitchscapes and lots more besides, always making moody and powerful and undeniably poppy music.
MPEG Stream: "Hearsay"
MPEG Stream: "Chain Reaction"

album cover 31 KNOTS The Curse Of The Longest Day (Polyvinyl) cd ep 8.98
Polyvinyl offers up a 21 minute ep from new signings 31 Knots of Portland, OR. We were already fans of these guys after getting hip to them via their second album It Was High Time To Escape a couple of years ago. They haven't messed much with their prog-infused, hooky indie-pop formula with these new songs (thankfully!). Marked by the strong, emotive, confident voice of guitarist Joe Haege (not to mention his accomplished guitar playing and effective deployment on piano as well) and the powerful, precise rhythm section of Jay Pellicci on drums and Jay Winebrenner on bass, these four songs (and one shorter instrumental interlude of sampled strings/electronic loops/glitchy noises) are big and bold when they need to be, complex and textured too. Melody lines swoop about within song structures that are well fitted with stops and starts and sudden dynamic changes, that should appeal to fans of everybody from OK Computer era Radiohead to Deerhoof (whose Greg Saunier helped mix and master this ep) to Blonde Redhead to Shudder To Think to The Mars Volta -- though the well-written, compelling compositions of 31 Knots are, for our money, a better application of prog to indie rock than the sometimes overcooked brand practised by the latter. Our only complaint here is that it's just an ep! But there's a new full-length on the horizon, so that's cool.
MPEG Stream: "Welcome To Stop"
MPEG Stream: "The Corpse And The Carcass"

album cover 31 KNOTS The Days And Nights Of Everything Anywhere (Polyvinyl) cd 14.98
We've always been impressed by the audacious emo-prog of this Portland, Oregon outfit. A mashup of mathy chops and melodramatic, melodic pop, 31 Knots' latest is a worthy addition to their discography, building on their distinctive sound with what seems like at least one unpredictable new twist per track, writing exhilarating songs that variously incorporate piano, horns, and well-placed electronic glitch... Fans know they need this, noobs should start here or with 2005's Talk Like Blood (or, if you're on a budget, one of the band's several excellent eps). In a perfect world, these guys would be as big as the Mars Volta!
MPEG Stream: "Beauty"
MPEG Stream: "Savage Boutique"

album cover 31 KNOTS The Days And Nights Of Everything Anywhere (Polyvinyl) lp 14.98
We've always been impressed by the audacious emo-prog of this Portland, Oregon outfit. A mashup of mathy chops and melodramatic, melodic pop, 31 Knots' latest is a worthy addition to their discography, building on their distinctive sound with what seems like at least one unpredictable new twist per track, writing exhilarating songs that variously incorporate piano, horns, and well-placed electronic glitch... Fans know they need this, noobs should start here or with 2005's Talk Like Blood (or, if you're on a budget, one of the band's several excellent eps). In a perfect world, these guys would be as big as the Mars Volta!
MPEG Stream: "Beauty"
MPEG Stream: "Savage Boutique"

album cover 31 KNOTS Trump Harm (Polyvinyl) cd 12.98
Portland's 31 Knots are one of those bands that just keeps plugging away, making amazing albums, to the great pleasure of their loyal fans of course, but we wonder why they don't in the course of things also, you know, get BIG. More fans, more pleasure. They should, or would, be huge if rock n' roll was a meritocracy (which it obviously isn't). This is their sixth full-length release, since their debut about a decade ago, and once again it's a enjoyable example of their trademark "Fugazi-meet-Yes", indie rock gone no wave prog sound. Hmm, maybe that explains why they aren't BIG... that's too weird of a formula. But then again, Radiohead, Muse, Mars Volta, Coheed and Cambria, they're popular, so folks who like the likes of them, should check out 31 Knots for something maybe knottier (though in no way naughtier, they're not that sort of band). Out of the 31 Knots discography, Trump Harm is as good as any (though maybe the cover art isn't), it's assuredly poppy, yet complex and bombastic, offering up ten new tracks that satisfy all our 31 Knots expectations, of earworminess and angularity, mathiness and melody, electricity and emotion. It's thinking (and feeling) man's pop music, that kicks ass too, with arty post-punkish power and precision. If just one person reading this review who has never heard 31 Knots before, decides to check 'em out and becomes a fan, we'll be happy. 100 people, that'd be even better!
MPEG Stream: "Onanist's Vacation"
MPEG Stream: "Candles On Open Water"
MPEG Stream: "Get Gone"

album cover 31 KNOTS Trump Harm (Polyvinyl) lp 15.98
Portland's 31 Knots are one of those bands that just keeps plugging away, making amazing albums, to the great pleasure of their loyal fans of course, but we wonder why they don't in the course of things also, you know, get BIG. More fans, more pleasure. They should, or would, be huge if rock n' roll was a meritocracy (which it obviously isn't). This is their sixth full-length release, since their debut about a decade ago, and once again it's a enjoyable example of their trademark "Fugazi-meet-Yes", indie rock gone no wave prog sound. Hmm, maybe that explains why they aren't BIG... that's too weird of a formula. But then again, Radiohead, Muse, Mars Volta, Coheed and Cambria, they're popular, so folks who like the likes of them, should check out 31 Knots for something maybe knottier (though in no way naughtier, they're not that sort of band). Out of the 31 Knots discography, Trump Harm is as good as any (though maybe the cover art isn't), it's assuredly poppy, yet complex and bombastic, offering up ten new tracks that satisfy all our 31 Knots expectations, of earworminess and angularity, mathiness and melody, electricity and emotion. It's thinking (and feeling) man's pop music, that kicks ass too, with arty post-punkish power and precision. If just one person reading this review who has never heard 31 Knots before, decides to check 'em out and becomes a fan, we'll be happy. 100 people, that'd be even better!
MPEG Stream: "Onanist's Vacation"
MPEG Stream: "Candles On Open Water"
MPEG Stream: "Get Gone"

album cover 31 KNOTS Worried Well (Polyvinyl) cd 14.98
Ooohh. After four full lengths and a handful of eps, this Portland-based indie-pop-prog act has pretty much proven themselves a sure bet, for intelligent, complex, catchy music that's equally, seemingly effortlessly at ease with today's electronic glitch, '70s prog inspired bombast, and quirky post-punk groove. This latest, Worried Well does not break that streak. No worries, if you love the 31 Knots thing, like we do. Plenty of nervous piano, lush arrangements, noisy guitars, mathy drums, theatrical vocals, all the works in other words. True, some might find 31 Knots a bit too much, too pretentious or peculiar or puzzling or poncy or something. Personally, though, whatever 31 Knots is too much of, we want more. But maybe this one works better if you're already into their other albums as well. If you do, dive right in. And besides, you've gotta love an album where in one song ("Compass Commands") what sounds like a chorus of little girls yells "Kill or be killed!" in response to the singer's schoolteacher-ish question "Who can tell me the universal rule of thumb?".
MPEG Stream: "Certificate"
MPEG Stream: "Compass Commands"

album cover A.R. KANE Complete Singles Collection (One Little Indian) 2cd 21.00
The Cliff's Notes summary of A.R. Kane often begins and ends with the brief description: "the black Jesus & Mary Chain", which wouldn't be too far off the mark, if it weren't for the gradual / unfortunate shift that Alex Ayuli and Rudy Tambala made from blustery dream-pop to house-lite electronica. This collection of all the band's singles produced outside their three albums proper maps out that history from when they began as a beautifully scalding group that most definitely deserved all the Jesus & Mary Chain / Cocteau Twins comparisons to the less than stellar end of their career when the guitars were ditched in favor of some rather tepid Euro-pop numbers. Fortunately, the best work - the earliest stuff - is all found on disc one; so you can just leave the second disc firmly planted in the package and just forget it. The first single really does embrace that JAMC model fully with Psychocandy style hurricane-shock distortion grafted onto concise post-punk tunes, and even the Bobby Gillespie snare & floor tom dum-dum beat. As A.R. Kane, Ayuli & Tambala only recorded one single for 4AD, the lush, proto-shoegaze ep "Lolita" (1987) with a rather languid dreamy-pop number entitled "Sado-Masochism Is A Must" making the sexual fetish crowd swoon with the squalls of oceanic distortion instead of the sharp sting of a whip. The opening track to the following ep "Baby Milk Snatcher" (1989) is all about blowjobs followed by the rather stiff jangle of "Sperm Travels Like Juggernaut", lending to much critical debate from the stuffy British music press.
When A.R. Kane was signed to 4AD, label boss Ivo Watts-Russell suggested that the duo collaborate with the sample-heavy dance-pop outfit Colourbox; and they produced just two tracks - one of which is featured here in the downtempo proto-MBV number "Anitina." The other track was the chart-topping floor filler "Pump Up The Volume", also ascribed to their collaborative name M/A/R/R/S. It's not featured here; but for those who grew up in the late '80s and early '90s, that track is permanently etched into your memory anyway, it being a wholly memorable darkly-disco-pop number.
By the end of 1989, A.R. Kane left the guitars behind for sure, with the dubby martial funk of "Is This It?" which cops its moves from the post-industrial outfit 23 Skidoo with plenty of spooky atmospherics and atonal cornet blurting. But after this, it's all downhill. David Byrne signed them to Luaka Bop and A.R. Kane's quality control and their aesthetic choices took a serious nose dive. Buy this for disc one (which is brilliant!) and forget about the second.
MPEG Stream: A.R. KANE "Haunting"
MPEG Stream: M/A/R/R/S "Anitina (The First Time I See She Dance) Remix"
MPEG Stream: A.R. KANE "Baby Milk Snatcher"
MPEG Stream: A.R. KANE "Up"

album cover ABSU Abzu (Candlelight) cd 14.98
Welcome once again to the esoteric, eccentric, and extreme world of Absu! If bands can be said to conjure unique "worlds", AQ faves Absu certainly do. Insane and arcane as we have said. The veteran Texan black metal trio returned from a long hiatus with their excellent self-titled comeback in 2009, to which this new, almost-self-titled album (we love that it's called Abzu!) is the follow-up. Again, original founding member and resident drum demon Lord Proscriptor McGovern and his current chaotic cohorts have crafted a lesson in magickal thrashing, full of awe inspiring hyperspeed battery, dog whistle shrieks, rasping kokills, and headspinning shred, that puts all other bands to shame when it comes to "staying in character" and maintaining their mythos & mystique. We mean, these guys aren't just tight musically but conceptually as well, as they say in the digipack's liner notes: "NOTE: ABSU arrogantly executes mythological occult metal... still." Indeed they do, and they have reason to be arrogant.
This new Absu opus opens with the ripping "Earth Ripper" and doesn't ever let up, apart from some stop/start and sudden dives into quieter acoustic/melodic breaks, like the lovely ending to "Circles Of The Oath", or several of the sections that make up the 14+ minute long suite "Song For EA" that closes the album with epick side-long prog grandeur. Prog? Heck yeah, note that not one but two members of the three-man Absu horde are credited with playing Mellotron, that most '70s proggy of all instruments (the most '80s prog would be the Chapman Stick, but we digress). However, no one will confuse Abzu for the new Opeth, this album rages, part Slayer, part King Diamond, part Immortal circa Blizzard Beasts, part graduate thesis in ancient Sumerian occult philosophy...
MPEG Stream: "Earth Ripper"
MPEG Stream: "Circles Of The Oath"
MPEG Stream: "Ontologically, It Became Time & Space"

album cover ABSU Abzu (Candlelight) 2lp 29.00
NOW ON VINYL!! Folks been waitin' for this... 180 gram, colored vinyl, gatefold....
Welcome once again to the esoteric, eccentric, and extreme world of Absu! If bands can be said to conjure unique "worlds", AQ faves Absu certainly do. Insane and arcane as we have said. The veteran Texan black metal trio returned from a long hiatus with their excellent self-titled comeback in 2009, to which this new, almost-self-titled album (we love that it's called Abzu!) is the follow-up. Again, original founding member and resident drum demon Lord Proscriptor McGovern and his current chaotic cohorts have crafted a lesson in magickal thrashing, full of awe inspiring hyperspeed battery, dog whistle shrieks, rasping kokills, and headspinning shred, that puts all other bands to shame when it comes to "staying in character" and maintaining their mythos & mystique. We mean, these guys aren't just tight musically but conceptually as well, as they say in the digipack's liner notes: "NOTE: ABSU arrogantly executes mythological occult metal... still." Indeed they do, and they have reason to be arrogant.
This new Absu opus opens with the ripping "Earth Ripper" and doesn't ever let up, apart from some stop/start and sudden dives into quieter acoustic/melodic breaks, like the lovely ending to "Circles Of The Oath", or several of the sections that make up the 14+ minute long suite "Song For EA" that closes the album with epick side-long prog grandeur. Prog? Heck yeah, note that not one but two members of the three-man Absu horde are credited with playing Mellotron, that most '70s proggy of all instruments (the most '80s prog would be the Chapman Stick, but we digress). However, no one will confuse Abzu for the new Opeth, this album rages, part Slayer, part King Diamond, part Immortal circa Blizzard Beasts, part graduate thesis in ancient Sumerian occult philosophy...
MPEG Stream: "Earth Ripper"
MPEG Stream: "Circles Of The Oath"
MPEG Stream: "Ontologically, It Became Time & Space"

album cover ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE & THE MELTING PARADISE UFO / ESCAPADE A Thousand Shades of Grey (Funfundvierzig) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
As if they didn't already have enough releases of their own, now Makoto Kawabata's Acid Mothers Temple have begun popping up on split releases with other bands -- recently with Kinski, and now with NY's Escapade. This should do wonders for Escapade's profile within the wider indie-rock community as they're a band definitely stuck in a geeky space/prog rock ghetto that most AMT fans probably don't venture into. A place where bands have names like... 'Escapade'! But Escapade are definitely better than their name. They occupy two lengthy tracks here, bookending an even longer, single contribution from everyone's favorite Japanese hippy freaks (well, second favorite maybe now that Ghost is back...) entitled "European Sun". It's a 28 minute drone-out doozy featuring electric sitar, violin, bamboo flute, voice and electronics. Minimalist repetition with ethnic and sci-fi synth frills. Meanwhile, Escapade's two tracks are slow-building spacerock synthfeasts, that fans of AMT, Kinski, Subarachnoid Space, Circle, and the like oughta dig.
MPEG Stream: ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE "European Sun"
MPEG Stream: ESCAPADE "Transformation 2"

ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE / CIRCLE split (Verdura) 7" 4.95
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Split single from two AQ faves that by now, if you're a reader of this list you are quite familiar with. You get a burst of fuzzed out, spaced out extraterrestrial Japanese mayhem from AMT ("The Tombstone Phantom Drifter") and a blast of droning, hypnotic krautrock-inspired Finnish ur-rock from Circle ("Riemukaari"). Only a few in stock.

album cover ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE SWR Stones, Women & Records (Magaibutsu) cd 19.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
It's an ***Acid Mothers Temple alert*** and also a ***Ruins alert*** with this one. Japanese underground music devotees, look alive! The clumsily-named Acid Mothers Temple SWR unit is a power trio consisting of drummer Tatsuya Yoshida (Ruins, etc.), guitarist Makoto Kawabata (AMT, etc.), and bassist Atsushi Tsuyama (AMT, etc.). They've released one album under this moniker previously (and several together under other names -- this is the same lineup as Seikazoku). And as before, this time around they've created a crazed, semi-improvised rock tribute to three of their favorite things: Stones, Women, and Records (SWR)!! The cheesecake cover photo sorta says it all. Who else would pose a woman in a bikini on a rock holding a record?
Anyway, there's 18 confusional tracks here ranging from spastic jazz noodlings to country-pop parodies to plenty of out-n-out freek-rock, all of it played with hella chops and tongues, we think, planted firmly in cheek (which doesn't stop them from accomplishing all sorts of insane vocals). They jump from one musical idea to the next without warning, somehow managing to cram outbursts of heaviness, interludes of genuine beauty, Black Sabbath quotes, and even kazoos all onto this same perverse prog platter! The song titles are incomprehensible in-jokes ("Very Very Very Jazz - deer cries with 'KAGYEEYO' in the breeding season", "Fairy music of foolish sushi bar - country singer NARENA BAYSTAR", "Ahla Hassanbeck Lamborghini rock"...????) and these guys are as silly as they are psychedelic, but AMTSWR don't mess around at messing around, even the most humorless avant-listener (of a psych bent) should walk away impressed at this music. Think Acid Mothers Temple meets old Omoide Hatoba and Boredoms... Yeah. "Forever stones, Forever women, Forever records"!
MPEG Stream: "Uzumgayu - Just George Benson"
MPEG Stream: "Beyer"

album cover ADN 'CKRYSTALL Jazz Mad (Dark Entries) lp 15.98
One of two new Dark Entries titles this week is this bizarre French progressive synth obscurity from 1982, ADN'Ckrystall. Erick Moncollin, the man behind this one-man-band, recorded this in four days but it has as many ideas crammed into its six tracks as a candyland record store filled to the brim with Gong, Vangelis, Tim Blake and Bernard Szajner albums! Starting with the darkwave adrenaline pop of "Cocaina Vitamina", the lengthy mind-bending and genre-jumping tracks that follow employ spacey electronic synthesis, cavey dirges, occasional plodding new romantic vocals and a wonderful outsider sense of unbridled compositional experimentation. Every time we play this, we sell a copy. Weirdo French new wave prog is always welcome in our book and big thanks to Dark Entries for introducing this into our lives!
MPEG Stream: "Cocaina Vitamina"
MPEG Stream: "Pour L'Amour D'Un Cygne"
MPEG Stream: "Le Blues De La Fille Aux Jambes De Jeans"

AGINCOURT Fly Away (Acme Gramophone) cd 15.98

album cover AHLEUCHATISTAS What You Will (Cuneiform) cd 14.98
Whew! 14 tracks of frenetic, uber-mathy instrumental prog rock here, the Ahleuchatistas representin' the younger indie/post-rock wing of the venerable progressive rock and jazz fusion label Cuneiform's roster. We heard them recently on that Power Up! compilation of Nintendo video game theme music covers (reviewed last list), which put 'em in the company of such acts as Upsilon Acrux and The Fucking Champs. They're a prog power trio with some punk cred (in part from their edgy energy, in part from their evident political leanings, as evidenced by song titles like "Remember Rumsfeld At Abu Ghraib" and "Ho Chi Minh Is Gonna Win!"). So here's their most recent (third) full-length and, well, it's a doozy if you're dizzy for this sort of herky-jerky, highly concentrated (and concentrating) display o' chops. It's not all Primus-on-45 busyness, there's definitely post-rock moody bits to mellow things out a bit (think Rumah Sakit, Turing Machine, Chevreuil...), but clearly their calling card is the roiling, sped-up complexathons that certainly suggest these guys get their money's worth out of their practice space rent. For fans of the aforementioned Upsilon, Hella, Don Cab, Mick Barr's various outfits, Bozart, and like minded mathy dudes.
Includes three QuickTime videos of these guys playing live, so you can see they're for real!
MPEG Stream: "Remember Rumsfeld At Abu Ghraib"
MPEG Stream: "I Used To Be Just Like You, But Now I Am Just Like Me"

album cover AKA Hard Beat (Strawberry Rain) cd 16.98
Whoo-hoo! Here's a whole disc (or double lp) of music by a band from that great Those Shocking Shaking Days compilation of Indonesian '70s fuzz/funk/psych/prog we made Record Of The Week not long ago... one of the bands we liked so much we picked 'em for one of the sound samples accompanying our review of that comp. This best-of AKA collection is the first release on the Strawberry Rain label, formed by the very fellow who compiled Those Shocking Shaking Days, to reissue more vintage Indo-rock treasures. We're already salivating at the prospect; with this anthology Strawberry Rain is off to a pretty darn badass beginning. We imagine you'll agree, if you're into the international language of screaming vocals, acid rock guitar, swirling synth, and seriously funky grooves. Hard Beat is aptly titled.
According to the liner notes provided here, AKA started off in East Java, giving wild live performances playing material by such Western artists as James Brown, Jimi Hendrix and Grand Funk Railroad... and listening to this, we'd guess that some Deep Purple was probably part of their repertoire too. Eventually they started writing their own stuff, got signed to a label, and made eleven albums between 1971 and '77, selected songs from which are presented here - including the two tracks comped on TSSD, "Do What You Like" and "Shake Me", along with 12 others (13 on the cd, it's got a bonus track), all of 'em equally awesome, but varied between ants-in-the-pants JB's style funk (including their #1 in Australia hit, "Crazy Joe"), groovy psych-pop, and Purplish heavy rockers... several songs somehow managing to combine all of that, all at once, in fact!
For fans of sundry other purveyors of hairy funk freak rock from around the world, say like Los Dug Dug's, Speed Glue & Shinki, Modulo 1000, Black Merda, Bunalim, Ngozi Family, Juan De La Cruz, etc. Highly recommended; good grief this is good. Here's hoping Strawberry Rain do a Hard Beat volume two someday, though of course there's other bands from Those Shocking Shaking Days we'd like to hear more of too!
Compact disc packaged in gatefold mini-lp style sleeve, the double vinyl also in a gatefold, both limited editions.
MPEG Stream: "Reflecton"
MPEG Stream: "We've Gotta Work It Out"
MPEG Stream: "Cruel Side"
MPEG Stream: "Shake Me"
MPEG Stream: "Skip Away"

album cover AKA Hard Beat (Strawberry Rain) 2lp 28.00
Whoo-hoo! Here's a whole disc (or double lp) of music by a band from that great Those Shocking Shaking Days compilation of Indonesian '70s fuzz/funk/psych/prog we made Record Of The Week not long ago... one of the bands we liked so much we picked 'em for one of the sound samples accompanying our review of that comp. This best-of AKA collection is the first release on the Strawberry Rain label, formed by the very fellow who compiled Those Shocking Shaking Days, to reissue more vintage Indo-rock treasures. We're already salivating at the prospect; with this anthology Strawberry Rain is off to a pretty darn badass beginning. We imagine you'll agree, if you're into the international language of screaming vocals, acid rock guitar, swirling synth, and seriously funky grooves. Hard Beat is aptly titled.
According to the liner notes provided here, AKA started off in East Java, giving wild live performances playing material by such Western artists as James Brown, Jimi Hendrix and Grand Funk Railroad... and listening to this, we'd guess that some Deep Purple was probably part of their repertoire too. Eventually they started writing their own stuff, got signed to a label, and made eleven albums between 1971 and '77, selected songs from which are presented here - including the two tracks comped on TSSD, "Do What You Like" and "Shake Me", along with 12 others (13 on the cd, it's got a bonus track), all of 'em equally awesome, but varied between ants-in-the-pants JB's style funk (including their #1 in Australia hit, "Crazy Joe"), groovy psych-pop, and Purplish heavy rockers... several songs somehow managing to combine all of that, all at once, in fact!
For fans of sundry other purveyors of hairy funk freak rock from around the world, say like Los Dug Dug's, Speed Glue & Shinki, Modulo 1000, Black Merda, Bunalim, Ngozi Family, Juan De La Cruz, etc. Highly recommended; good grief this is good. Here's hoping Strawberry Rain do a Hard Beat volume two someday, though of course there's other bands from Those Shocking Shaking Days we'd like to hear more of too!
Compact disc packaged in gatefold mini-lp style sleeve, the double vinyl also in a gatefold, both limited editions.
MPEG Stream: "Reflecton"
MPEG Stream: "We've Gotta Work It Out"
MPEG Stream: "Cruel Side"
MPEG Stream: "Shake Me"
MPEG Stream: "Skip Away"

album cover AKSAK MABOUL Onze Danses Pour Combattre La Migraine (Crammed) cd 24.00

ALBOTH/RUINS/MOLECULES/BELLY BUTTON/MUG (Pandemonium) 7" 3.99
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
R: Hyper kinetic bass/drums prog.
M: Bay Area jazz prog.
A: Swiss Young Gods style arty bombast.
BB: Noisey post rock.
M: Jazzy art brut funk rock.

ALESSANDRONI, ALESSANDRO Inchiesta (Sonor Music Editions) lp 26.00

ALRUNE ROD Sonet Arene 1969-72 (Sonet) 2cd 29.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.

AME SON Catalyse (Wah-Wah Records) lp 30.00

album cover ANIMA MORTE Face The Sea Of Darkness (Dead Beat Media) cd 12.98
We're always talking about how much we love '70s Italian horror soundtrack prog maestros Goblin. If you share our passion, then we've got a(nother) band for you!
Not too long ago, we highlighted a cd-r by an artist called Umberto, who did a highly synth based, DIY take on the Goblin / giallo soundtrack sound. Everyone dug that one so much, we figured we'd also better list this, something else we just discovered, a band from England called Anima Morte who are obviously in love with Goblin too. Like Umberto, this is laced with plenty of buzzing, sinister synth. But unlike Umberto, Anima Morte are an "actual" band, a four-piece, and as such has a bit more of a proggy, rock sound, with guitars that are almost metal in parts. It's almost entirely all instrumental, with (synthesized?) vocal choirs wordlessly haunting the proceedings now and then. There's calm, delicate moments, with placid piano melodies and electronic drone, and other parts that are a lot more frantic, driven by busy bass and mathy yet grooving drums, getting almost into Magmoid, "Zeuhl" territory. Fans of the likes of Guapo, Zombi, and especially Crime In Choir - as well as Goblin - should be interested!
Now, anyone familiar with the sort of soundtrack music that this is inspired should know that there's often a grandiose & romantic, perhaps slightly cheesy element to it that's also part of the charm, and Anima Morte don't shy away from incorporating that aspect of their influences too. After all, Goblin wasn't really "scary" music all the time, or at least they demonstrated that '70s discofunk can be as suspenseful as more obvious atmospheres of gloom! But in any case, Anima Morte are more creepy than kitschy, though of course the two can go together.
While Anima Morte might not be making the most original music on this week's list, it's very enjoyable, if you're into the same spooky stuff they revere. It's done with plenty of verve and sincerity all right, and boy does it sound like the real deal, some lost soundtrack to a '70s Argento or Fulci flick.
MPEG Stream: "A Decay Of Mind And Flesh"
MPEG Stream: "He Who Dwells In Darkness"
MPEG Stream: "Devoid Of Soul"

ANIMA MORTE The Nightmare Becomes Reality (Transubstans) cd 21.00

album cover ANVIL CHORUS The Killing Sun (Rockadrome) cd 12.98
Not to be confused with Anvil! Though, right now, maybe they'd like to be. This Bay Area metal band, is another from the '80s that had even less success than those now famous Canucks. Much less. Back in the day, Anvil Chorus never managed to get signed, and released only demos and singles, never an album - until now. It wasn't 'cause they weren't good, in fact, they were commonly known as "the Bay Area's best unsigned metal band". It was more due to mere bad luck. And maybe 'cause their music crossed too many genre lines, from NWOBHM power, to party time LA pop metal, to progressive wank, to speed metal tech. Who knows. But it's cool that they got back together, got back in the studio, and FINALLY have released their debut album, via the Rockadrome label (who've been blessing us with some awesome proto-metal reissues lately, you should recall). Anyone who digs '80s metal ought to check this out. There's certainly plenty of shred. And don't worry, most of these songs are ones demoed back in the day and thus have that "only in the '80s" authenticity to 'em, although they're newly recorded.
Criticisms? Well, Anvil Chorus do have a tendency to a bit of cheesiness, mainly due to overuse of keyboards, that's their weak spot taste-wise. And they've probably only grown in "adulthood", towards such prog-metal pitfalls, also evinced by the awful album cover. Cheesy, yeah. Still, even their cheese can be kinda enjoyable, so this is just a warning to those who can't handle a whiff of it. Their song "European" for instance, might be too poppy for some, but it's ultimately pretty good, a classy track, though we prefer it when they're killing us with the equally classy "Deadly Weapons"! Anyway, among the 12 songs here there's lots to make folks into heavy, riffy, rippin' bands like Riot, Armored Saint, and Metal Church happy... along with pleasing the Queensryche fans that their cheesier prog side indulges. So check it out, it's some Bay Area heavy metal history come back to life (they even played a show the other night!). Oh, and making amends for the cover art, the cd booklet includes lyrics, vintage photos of the band in action in the '80s, and a band history/appreciation by local metal celeb Ron Quintana.
MPEG Stream: "Deadly Weapons"
MPEG Stream: "Blue Flames"
MPEG Stream: "Phase To Phase"

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

album cover ARARAT Musica De La Resistencia (MeteorCity) cd 14.98
Weird and wonderful one here, folks. And it's for folky folks, though it's got a HEAVY pedigree. A lot of you are fans, like us, of South American stoner rock cosmonauts Los Natas, so you'll sort of (but not really) know what to expect here, Ararat being Los Natas guitarist Sergio Chotsourian's solo side project, and it is psychedelic like the most darkly psychedelic of Los Natas' output, coming closest perhaps to the proggy spaciness of Los Natas' two Toba-Trance discs for Circle's Ektro label, but is even more abstract and stripped down, not actually rock at all, often all-acoustic, "New Weird Argentina" maybe we'd call it! Ararat could be some kind of haunted, campfire krautrock, more like a field recording than the finished product of a studio session (even if the studio is called Death, which is where this was in fact recorded).
It starts off with "Gitanoss", an quietly epic almost 14 minutes of moody late-night strum, ambient hum, echoes, drifting melody, hazy organ drone, ritual percussion, backwards effects... quite a trip, as is this whole disc, Chotsourian climbing his personal Holy Mountain here (Mount Ararat!), it seems, this album a musical sketchbook of his ascent, of sorts.
Track two turns out to be a reprise of "Dos Horses", the album-ender of most recent Los Natas disc, Nuevo Orden De La Libertad, this alternate version not that far removed from the acoustic guitar/piano interplay of the original (Chotsourian just must be very proud of this particular composition, and it is quite nice). Next, there's the spooky "El Carrusel", all billowing fuzz and tinkling bell, like Stephen Wray Lobdell's Davis Redford Triad doing the soundtrack for a John Carpenter film!
While that one got heavy, the next is not, the pretty "Little Grissy" being under a minute of guitar and guitar only, Chotsourian giving a delicate demonstration of his chops for the Takoma crowd, leading into the hushed and melodic "Ganar-Perder", which to us sounds like Ghost's Masaki Batoh reinterpreting "Planet Caravan" or something (it too is a version of a song from Nuevo Orden De La Libertad, but in this case much altered, extended and acoustic). That's followed by the delicate Spanish guitar and atmospheric creaky crackle of the nearly 12 minute long "Magia Negra", one that Sir Richard Bishop fans should enjoy.
Only finale "Castro" is a "real" rock song, sounding like a band (Los Natas, or even Circle), with proper drums, and amps fully cranked, with vocals that Circle's Mika Ratto might think were his own, and even this one stays freaky and uncommitted, 'til it ends with the clatter of abandoned drumsticks, electricity flickering, Chotsourian and his mysterious band wandering away into the desert night.
We always say Boris fans should check out Los Natas. And Boris fans should check this out too, but we think Ararat is also for folks into Six Organs Of Admittance, James Blackshaw, Jozef Van Wissem, Feathers, Steven R. Smith and other Jewelled Antler stuff, all that whole post-Fahey psychfolk scene, with the astral Argentinean/Amerindian/Armenian/Appalachian vibes here flowing as ominous, minimalist mesmer, intimate and entrancing...
MPEG Stream: "Gitanoss"
MPEG Stream: "El Carrusel"
MPEG Stream: "Ganar-Perder"

album cover 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.]
MPEG Stream: "Ganglat Efter Lejsme Per Larsson, Malung"
MPEG Stream: "Petrokemi Det Kan Man Inte Bada I"

album cover ARCHIMEDES BADKAR Badrock For Barn I Alla Aldrar (South Side) cd 24.00

AREA Event '76 (Akarma) cd 16.98

album cover AREA Live Concerts Box (Akarma) 3cd 46.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Italian "International Popular Group" Area were a '70s prog rock band. But they went far beyond the ELP/King Crimson/Yes worship of many of their peers. Area's music incorporated avantgarde jazz improv, new electoacoustic composition, dramatic and bizarre vocal experiments, folk, and a heavy dose of radical politics. They are not an easy group to get a handle on, not at all. But they were group like none other, who along with Magma are a heavy influence on current Japanese proggers Ruins, for one.
This handsome box contains three cds of Area recorded live at their peak circa 1976, in Paris, Lisbon, and Milan. The latter concert takes up two whole cds, and features avant-jazz guests Steve Lacy (sax) and Paul Lytton (percussion). Area perform many of their signature tracks from such albums as "Crac!", "Maledetti", "Caution Radiation Area", and "Arbeit Macht Frei", plus several live-only improvs. Disc three also includes two bonus solo tracks by Area singer (and John Cage collaborator) Demetrio Stratos.
Inside the box, the cds are packaged in miniature lp style sleeves, and are accompanied by a booklet featuring photos, notes, lyrics, and a discography. Definitely a worthy package for fans of Area, but probably too daunting a place to start for those unfamiliar with the group!
RealAudio clip: "Arbeit Macht Frei"
RealAudio clip: "Lobotomia"
RealAudio clip: "L'abbattimento dello Zeppelin"

album cover AREA Revolution (Cramps) 4cd 56.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
More crazy radical jazzy Italian prog than you can handle! The first four albums by the amazing Area all in one handy box set: Arbeit Macht Frei, Caution Radiation Area, Crac, Are(A)zione. Next to Magma, one of Yoshida from the Ruins favorite '70s prog acts.

album cover ARKHAM s/t (Cuneiform) cd 16.98
Careful students of the works of European avant-progressive rock giants Magma and Univers Zero might be excited, or at least curious, about this new Cuneiform release. Arkham was a very early '70s Belgium-based prog band featuring drummer Daniel Denis (briefly a member of Magma, and later a founding member of UZ in '74) and keyboardist Jean-Luc Manderlier (who joined Magma in '72 for their classic Mekanik Destructiw Kommandoh album). Arkham therefore has quite a place in the euro-prog rock family tree! This all-instrumental keys/bass/drums trio are indeed "lost legends" -- they never recorded an LP, but did tape their many shows and rehearsals (not leaving out the drum solos!), resulting many years later in the compilation of this cd. Their trio format and obvious virtuosity might recall ELP, but their jazz tendencies place them closer to the Soft Machine. Arkham (despite the Lovecraftian name) was definitely not nearly so dark and otherworldly as the bands Denis and Manderlier later were involved with, but still this is one for prog/fusion fans to check out. Oh, and while the sound isn't perfect, it's not terrible, and of course it's the best Arkham you're gonna hear.
RealAudio clip: "Monolithic Progression With Anticipated Rupture"
RealAudio clip: "Tight Trousers"

album cover ARMAGEDDON s/t (Esoteric) cd 23.00
A few things you might want to know about Armageddon (this band/album, not the Biblical battlefield of the Apocalypse described in the Book Of Revelations, and presumably depicted on the album cover, with the longhaired band lounging about smoking cigarettes in the foreground):
1) Despite the name, it's not a really heavy metal. Recorded in 1974, you could certainly call it "proto-metal", though, as well as "heavy progressive".
2) Don't confuse 'em with the other proto-metal band with more-or-less the same name. That band spells their name with two g's and one d. This band spells their name with one g and two d's. That Armaggedon were from Germany's krautrock scene, this Armageddon were a UK-USA sorta supergroup.
3) Their singer was Keith Relf, originally of The Yardbirds and later Renaissance, and this was his last recorded project before his tragic death from electrocution whilst practicing guitar in '76.
4) On drums, was Bobby Caldwell of Captain Beyond. There's some extra proto-metal cred!
5) And perhaps most importantly, this band included 2 ex-members of British bluesrock act Steamhammer, guitarist Martin Pugh and bassist Louis Cennamo. Steamhammer's best and proggiest album, Speech, is a long-time AQ fave in the heavy prog / proto-metal genre, recently reissued and relisted here not long ago. If you dig Speech, you'll also want to hear Armageddon, in fact, they open up here with a completely rippin' song, "Buzzard", that's adapted from a track on Speech.
6) According to the sleeve, Cennamo claimed to be the "originator of the electric bowed bass guitar".
7) Armageddon's sole, self-titled album has been newly reissued on cd by the Esoteric label, superseding the previous (and hard to find) Repertoire edition, with nicer packaging.
8) Oh yeah, it totally kicks ass and rocks hard, while maintaining an aura of psychedelic hippie higher-minded mysticism. We mentioned speedster "Buzzard", then there's "Silver Tightrope" and "Paths And Planes And Future Gains", both of which sound kinda like a combination of Yes and Captain Beyond, in different and complex ways. "Last Stand Before" is a rollickin', almost funky one too, and then the album wraps up with the four-part epic "Basking In The White Of The Midnight Sun", full of fierce fuzz, percussive bombardment, and some of the heaviest harmonica soloing this side of Sabbath's "The Wizard". What with their pedigree, Armageddon had a knack for breakneck (and quite catchy!) bluesrock riffage, like we said rippin' from the get-go of "Buzzard" through to the finale of "Basking", energetic and exuberant throughout but for the occasional calmer bit of reverie (like on "Silver Tightrope") wherein Relf takes the listener for some lovely astral trippin'.
9) We recommend it, especially to all proto-metal, heavy prog fiends! You know who you are, if you like Captain Beyond, Steamhammer, early Wishbone Ash, Wild Turkey, Tarkus, Toad, early Deep Purple, etc...
That's it. If you want to know more, there's always the liner notes, so buy the disc!! Then you'll get to hear the whole thing too.
MPEG Stream: "Buzzard"
MPEG Stream: "Paths And Planes And Future Gains"

album cover ART BEARS The Art Box (ReR) 6cd 98.00
Finally! The Art Box sees the light of day. A gorgeous boxset from one of the most influential / seminal / legendary art-rock bands ever. For those out of the loop, the Art Bears featured guitarist / composer Fred Frith, drummer / percussionist Chris Cutler, and vocalist Dagmar Krause. This boxset contains the band's first three albums (Hopes & Fears, Winter Songs, The World As It Is Today) all remastered and gussied up. Also included are two discs of remixes and reworkings from Christian Marclay, Ground Zero, the Residents, Biota and loads more. And finally a whole disc of unreleased rarities!

album cover 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).
MPEG Stream: "e=mc2"
MPEG Stream: "L'Overdose"
MPEG Stream: "Uno Spettro Si Aggira Per"

ART ZOYD Symphonie Pour Le Jour Ou Bruleront Les Cites (Sub Rosa) cd 16.98
Brilliant dark chamber prog Rock In Opposition.
MPEG Stream: "Brigades Speciales"
MPEG Stream: "Masques"
MPEG Stream: "Simulacres"

album cover ART ZOYD Symphonie Pour Le Jour Ou Bruleront Les Cites (Sub Rosa) lp 16.98
Brilliant dark chamber prog Rock In Opposition.
MPEG Stream: "Brigades Speciales"
MPEG Stream: "Masques"
MPEG Stream: "Simulacres"

ART ZOYD u.B.I.Q.U.e (Inpossible) cd 15.98
Brand new disc from this long-running Belgian art-rock orchestra. Just as creepy as any of their early '80s chamber rock classics, "u.B.I.Q.U.e" is a "symphonic poem" for guitars, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, tuba, drums, and samplers. The samplers bring in an 'industrial' vibe that synchs up with the album's inspiration, the works of cult sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick.

ARTI & MESTIERI Giro Di Valzer Per Domani (Akarma) cd 16.98
Reissue of the second album by this '70s Italian band (follow up to their "Tilt: Immagini Per Un Orecchio" reviewed last list) and it's another slice of Mahavishnu/Crimson style prog.

ARTI & MESTIERI Tilt: Immagini Per Un Orecchio (Akarma) cd 16.98
Snappy Italian prog-rock originally released in 1974 on Cramps records. Reminiscent of King Crimson or even Henry Cow, Arti & Mestieri move between light and jazzy-but-frenetic riffs to heavy blues influenced prog. Using a very well rounded out line up of insane drumming, bass, piano, electric piano, analog synth, mellotron, hammond, electric & acoustic guitars, violin, soprano & baritone sax plus clarinet, vibes and even a little bit of singing.

album cover ARTIST 12 Album Title (Label) cd 15.98
Four albums in, and REDACTED's ARTIST 12 have established themselves as more than just a band of bearded REDACTED boys with bad attitudes getting sludgy, Eyehategod style. They certainly started out that way, and we liked 'em then too, but quickly a penchant for spacier, more psychedelic exploration sent them off in a variety of interesting directions, mostly all of 'em still quite HEAVY though. Synth-drone, slowcore, stoner riffery, that's all part of their trip... dunno if we'd even really call them doom (or dooooOOOOoom) any more. They're just way "poppier", and spacier, and also more experimental than you might expect. There's mantric dirges here totally worthy of Om at their finest, other parts where they freak out like Acid Mothers Temple... or rock out like the good ol' Southern boys we mentioned that they indeed are. But it's just as 'Eastern'. Tracks like "REDACTED" sound like Buddhist monks zoned out on Hawkwind, with someone from a Tokyo Flashback act on lead guitar, or maybe Stephen Wray Lobdell... Sometimes these songs are storming, sometimes they're slow and languid (well, a lot of the time), no matter what though, REDACTED is an heavy-lidded yet uplifting listen, with an oxymoronically "urgently relaxed", stoned vibe generally absorbed via throbbing waves of synthesizer, low end guitar, leaden battery, and sometimes even a bit of (heavily effected) vocal melody.
ARTIST 12 are the "sludge" band we'd recommend to White Hills and Wooden Shjips fans. Likewise if you like UFOmammut, US Christmas, Litmus, Los Natas, Boris and even a bit of Baroness too...
This new one was produced by REDACTED, heaviness studio guru de jour for good reason. Probably, uh, "420 friendly" but you don't need any help to get a high from this, just turn it on up!
MPEG Stream: "sample one"
MPEG Stream: "sample two"
MPEG Stream: "sample three"

album cover ASAHARA, MASAYO Saint Agnes Fountain (Audiolaceration) cd 16.98
The back-story on this is a good one, so let's start with that: We heard about this from a friend of ours (who shall remain nameless). So Loren came in and asked us one day if we could get an obscure album by some '70s Japanese experimental composer named Masayo Asahara. Apparently it was recently reissued on cd by a label in England... and was said to sound like Terry Riley meets Magma meets Soft Machine or something! Well THAT sure sounded interesting. So we looked it up online. Sure enough, Masayo Asahara's rare 1974 LP Saint Agnes Fountain was now available on cd. Here's what the label's website had to say about it: "A forgotten drone-prog-jazz classic from the 1970s Japanese underground...St Agnes Fountain was composed while Masayo Asahara was completing her masters degree at the University of Osaka in 1974. Asahara's doctorate concerned the music of the early American minimalists, especially LaMonte Young and Tony Conrad, and her composition reflects her involvement not only in that music, but also with the thriving Osaka free jazz scene from whose ranks this one-off band was put together specifically for this recording. Asahara also cites Faust, Soft Machine, and the Rolling Stones as influencing her work during this period. The rather curious title and artwork come via Asahara's parallel studies of mediaeval European history and pagan imagery in Protestant hymnal writing." Wow! We had to order that! Wish we could hear if first though...hmm...maybe there's a sound sample here...click here for more info it says...ok...wait, what's this?! We read: "St Agnes Fountain was composed by Martin Archer and UTT/Foster, and was recorded at Yellowarch Studio, Sheffield during 2002. This music is different from Martin's core music, and we have created Masayo in the hope of bringing a different audience into our music journey." Huh?! Turns out the whole thing is a cruel hoax! Albeit not a very deceptive one, if you did a little research. But hadn't our friend said that he'd heard of this supposed composer Masayo Asahara before? He had -- when he visited experimental/jazz musician Martin Archer in England! So, there's no such person as Masayo Asahara at all, she's merely the alter-ego Martin Archer. Apparently he only wanted to fool some of the people some of the time, in aid of making a fantasy LP come true. So, disappointed but still intrigued, we got Martin to send us a copy, thinking, it had better be good! And...it IS good! Really good. Dunno if we would have been fooled had he not revealed the truth, it certainly sounds inspired by all the stuff cited above, though the recording itself is perhaps not authentically '70s-sounding. And what we really think this sound like, is Gas gone prog. The disc begins with the track "Begin" -- twelve minutes of heavily filtered electric organ chording, endlessly building, eventually morphing into the 17+ minute "Continue"! Further into the disc, new themes and instrumentation are introduced, but the basic hypnotic concept progagates. It's a very satisfying trip, the kind of thing that you don't really realize is playing for as long as it is. It really sounds like the pulsing electronics of Wolfgang Voigt's Gas project combined with the minimalist jazz-drone of Australia's The Necks (two big AQ faves you'll note), with some detours into psych-fusion freakouts, via Hammond organ and what Martin Archer and his co-conspirators consider their tribute to "Magma's horn section". If this really WAS a long-lost Japanese LP from '74 we'd be losing our minds over it...so why not anyway? Martin Archer's fantasy has resulted in a quite fantastic musical reality on this here disc.
MPEG Stream: "Begin"
MPEG Stream: "Second Tempo"
MPEG Stream: "Third Tempo Plus Organ Solo"

ASANO, KOJI Gravity (Solstice) cd 14.98
One of Koji's first releases, with his group Gravity: an instrumental, guitar-keys-drums avant-rock band! Hard to describe, improv-meets-surf-meets-metal-meets-prog music, quite different from much of his vast catalog, but nonetheless one of Allan's faves.

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

album cover ASTRA The Black Chord (Metal Blade / Rise Above) cd 14.98
'Bout time these guys were back with a follow-up to 2009's great The Weirding. And damn, if San Diego prog rockers Astra don't just blast off from the get-go here, 8-minute instrumental opener "Cocoon" being a galloping space rock hoedown indeed. Hold on to your hats. Then they head right into the album's longest piece, the quarter hour title track. Vintage keyboards are set to stun, Astra channelling some Yes "Heart Of The Sunrise" action here, the epic composition veering from the head noddingly heavy to gently sung and and acoustic-y and back again, or all at the same time, and that's just within the first few minutes.
Next up, "Quake Meat" takes both the rocking out/spacing out to each extreme, while "Drift" is more laid back and aptly named... And so it goes, Astra proving themselves again to be one of the best modern prog bands at doing what sure sounds like ye olde '70s prog, but doing it with just enough heaviosity to fit in on the Metal Blade label. Just check inside the (quite nicely graphically designed) cd booklet to see how authentically '70s these guys look - all the requisite long hair, double necked guitars and other gear... one of the polygon-framed photo montages even features an Old English Sheepdog.
You gotta love prog to get into this, but if you do, this band's chopsy synth laden grooving will take you very happily to your special prog place/space!
Slipcased jewel case packaging, as usual with Metal Blade's Rise Above licensed releases.
MPEG Stream: "Cocoon"
MPEG Stream: "Quake Meat"
MPEG Stream: "Bull Torpis"

album cover ASTRA The Black Chord (Rise Above) lp 34.00
Import vinyl version here now!
'Bout time these guys were back with a follow-up to 2009's great The Weirding. And damn, if San Diego prog rockers Astra don't just blast off from the get-go here, 8-minute instrumental opener "Cocoon" being a galloping space rock hoedown indeed. Hold on to your hats. Then they head right into the album's longest piece, the quarter hour title track. Vintage keyboards are set to stun, Astra channelling some Yes "Heart Of The Sunrise" action here, the epic composition veering from the head noddingly heavy to gently sung and and acoustic-y and back again, or all at the same time, and that's just within the first few minutes.
Next up, "Quake Meat" takes both the rocking out/spacing out to each extreme, while "Drift" is more laid back and aptly named... And so it goes, Astra proving themselves again to be one of the best modern prog bands at doing what sure sounds like ye olde '70s prog, but doing it with just enough heaviosity to fit in on the Metal Blade label. Just check inside the (quite nicely graphically designed) cd booklet to see how authentically '70s these guys look - all the requisite long hair, double necked guitars and other gear... one of the polygon-framed photo montages even features an Old English Sheepdog.
You gotta love prog to get into this, but if you do, this band's chopsy synth laden grooving will take you very happily to your special prog place/space!
MPEG Stream: "Cocoon"
MPEG Stream: "Quake Meat"
MPEG Stream: "Bull Torpis"

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