Shirley & Dolly Collins, "For As many As Will"

This is a very welcome reissue of the final album by the Collins sisters. They cast a marvelous spell on mysterious traditional songs from Southern England. It's all here: advice, a beheading, blacksmiths, erections, farming, happiness, a hanging, letters, loss, love, nosebleeds, poaching, pudding, rakes, revenge, treachery, and youth. All that and their cover of "Never Again," a Richard Thompson lament more contemporary to this 1978 recording.

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Jakob Olausson, "Morning & Sunrise"

Jakob Olausson follows up his acclaimed album Moonlight Farm with another entrancing record. Its hypnotic quality comes partly from song structures which seem looser than they actually are, and from the stark contrast between emotionally raw lyrics, some sparkling guitar notes, and his doubled or heavily echoed voice.

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Hans Otte, "The Book of Sounds" Book of Sounds was composed between 1979-82, when Hans Otte was reflecting on his previous artistic output, by distilling hundreds of pages of improvisations he had written down, and looking ahead to a future dealing with his cancer diagnosis. The work was originally released in 1984 and consists of 12 solo piano pieces which blend older and newer traditions: the intimacy and poetic style of Chopin and the pantheistic eulogies of Debussy as against the Eastern rhythms and pointillist pulses familiar to Reich and Glass. Yet these influences are subsumed beneath an artistic vision: music stripped to the bone and laid open to deep listening and personal reflection. There is neither great variation nor exact repetition in these 12 tracks. Instead there is a deep exploration of sound, the sound of an acoustic piano, with great emphasis on harmony.

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The Stranger, "Watching Dead Empires in Decay"

The Stranger’s second album sounds very different from his 2008 release Bleaklow. Whereas that debut was doused with a sense of trekking over ancient stones and moors of Northern England, this record feels much more interior, claustrophobic and urban. The rhythms boom and snake through a threatening, shattered, dystopia like rats crawling through pipes beneath a recently evacuated building.

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"Oi! A Nova Musica Brasileira!"

Thankfully, Oi! is not a trawl through a dubious underbelly of UK punk. It’s a two disc snapshot of recent Brazilian music from Amapa to Rio Grande Do Sul, Acre to Paraiba, mapping the places where indigenous forms meet dub, funk, psychedelia, and several other outer-national sub-genres. Of the 40 tracks I prefer those suggesting cool, dark alleys, mind warping neon surfboards, or vertigo-inducing rooftops, to others which feel like over-crowded hip-hop/carnival nether regions where “party” is a verb and Karl Pilkington dreams of quiet reverie during a hellish episode of An Idiot Abroad.

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Snakefarm, "My Halo at Half-Light"

Long-time musical partners Anna Domino and Michael Delory take ten songs from the public domain and recreate them in their own image: the cool detachment of Domino's voice and non-traditional arrangements contrasting with narratives of treachery and murder. As they previously did in 1999 with their much-heralded album Songs from My Funeral.

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Dino Valenti

Reissued in mono, Dino Valenti's solo album is a heady mix of sparse melodic guitar and his idiosyncratic cocksure crooning, both benefiting from brilliant production that balances ego and echo.

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Geisterfahrer, "Stained Lunar"

New Orleans duo, Geisterfahrer, expand their previous palate by appearing to reduce it. On Stained Lunar they still eschew computers but also use clearer production, silence, and darker lyrics. The result is a separation of instruments and voices which better emphasize an ethno-catatonic, hypnotic, pagan sensibility.

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  9603 Hits

Surf City

There are just about enough thrills on this debut EP to ward off the nagging boredom of another guitar group traversing a well worn musical terrain. In this case: that which might be termed "surf-gaze."
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FWY!, "CA 80's-90's"

Under the name FWY! (pronounced Freeway) Edmund Xavier offers a hypnotic instrumental tribute to various California highways.

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Hecker, "Speculative Solution"

Collecting ideas from fiction and philosophy, this release clarifies Florian Hecker’s reputation for playfulness and investigation. Like a rogue mathematician who is considering questions which most people will never consider, Hecker attempts to turn metaphysical query into sound. His response to the (strange and hilarious) notion of hyperchaos will be unpalatable for some; but others of us wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Duane Pitre, "Omniscient Voices"

On his first solo album since 2015, Duane Pitre takes figures/motifs from a "justly tuned" piano and uses his Max/MSP-based generative network to convert them into data which is then sent to two polyphonic microtonal synthesizers which have patches he designed. There is also some controlled improvisation interacting with the piano-reactive electronics. That may be clear to many readers, but it is impressively baffling to me. No matter, I often enjoy the benefits of things I don't fully understand: hydroelectric power, photography, bees making honey, and sound "living in the grooves" of vinyl records, to name but four. So it is with this lovely series of degenerative musical feedback loops. They also have a consistently pleasing sound and invite inner contemplation and a sense of interconnectedness.


The key to why Omniscient Voices pleases the ear may be “just tuning.” This is an important part of the debate about how music should be played and composed, along with the concept of the harmonic series. “Just" tuned music is associated with composers such as Harry Partch and Terry Riley, with calmness, introspection, slowness, and tranquility. It stands in sharp contrast to the compromised "equal temperament" tuning which has been accused of ruining harmony and causing Western culture to be deaf to the resulting action-oriented, bland, buzzing, colorless, over-caffeinated, out-of-tune happiness-fixated din. I think there’s something in that. Meanwhile, lovers of Pitre’s 2012 album Feel Free may experience OV as less of a long form work, but the harmonic variety does not result in any dilution of intensity or loss of “naturalness.” The pieces are clearly connected and there is no fragmented concession to post-modern aesthetics. The track titles suggest excavations of creativity and learning from the past. I am interested to know why track 4 is called "The Rope Behind The Bee" but it may not matter too much. There is no wrong way to approach this recording. By all means listen while trying to grasp the notion that in tuning theory 5/12 = 5/6 = 5/3 = 10/3 = 20/3, but the album is going to sound fine either way.

samples available here

  1691 Hits

"Jukebox Buddha"

The first compilation devoted to pieces made with the FM3 Buddha Machine includes 15 efforts by artists such as Blixa Bargeld, SunnO))), Kammerflimmer Kollektief, Adrian Sherwood + Doug Wimbish, Es, and Sun City Girls. Overall it achieves a collective consistency which may transcend what Derek Bailey called "lounge electronics, mumbling electronics."
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Twenty Knives, "The Royal We"

Twenty Knives follow the compiled track "The Royal Vomitorium" and free EP The Royal Invitation with an intriguing album wherein a spaceship crashes and the pilot explores a weird terrain guided by a small robot. With an overblown digital game sensibility and an air of glam-electronica, this is slightly dated harmoniously malfunctioning music. I enjoy it more for knowing nothing about the artist and the whole concept being almost as laughable as it is mysterious.

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Akron, "Voyage of Discovery"

Akron's one-man debut nods to influences such as Delia Derbyshire and Joe Meek but cannot begin to approach the originality or spirit of experiment of those legends. Yet the best of these pieces are odd exotic bleeping echoes which did transport me to other worlds, just perhaps not the ones intended.

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Cam Deas, "Quadtych"

Available as two vinyl LPs or as this one CD these four solo guitar pieces range in length from around 16 to 20 minutes. On his favored Breedlove 12 string, Cam Deas plays guitar like ringing a (Tibetan) bell and with an intimate intensity that is by turns wild, meditative, melodic and transporting. Within an extended structure he rubs and thrashes the strings into an extraordinary, calm, deliberate, fluttering frenzy.

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CS Yeh, "In the Blink of an Eye" b/w "Condo Stress"

cover imageIn one way, this 7" is a departure from C Spencer Yeh’s lovely, wild, textured, drone experiments as Burning Star Core and from his work with everyone from Comets on Fire and Tony Conrad to John Sinclair. Yet, these two engaging songs, with their satisfyingly oblique lyrics, also confirm his interest in the human voice and in the studio as a compositional tool.

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Dirty Water 2: More Birth of Punk Attitude

This second mix of eclectic roots underpinning the late-'70s musical revolution may irk the purists who feel Blue Cheer, Edgar Broughton, Faust, Parliament, Suicide, The Misunderstood, The Godz, Woody Guthrie and others weren't "punk." Actually, many of Kris Needs' choices make sense, although the lack of Dada tone-poetry is baffling.

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Phantom Payn Days, "Phantom Payn Daze"

In the duo 39 Clocks, Juergen Gleue upset everyone from beer-loving Bavarians to Joseph Beuys. Apparently, shitting on organs, playing vacuum cleaners, mocking the art world and using a drum machine saw them regularly abused and hurled from a variety of scenes. Phantom Payn Daze is the sound of Gleue recorded solo in the 1990s after a period over-immersed in drink and drugs. It adheres to the Clocks' version of beauty: as simple as rural blues and raw as early psych-pop, with a beguiling twang and metronomic propulsion looking ahead to Tarwater and back to The Velvet Underground.

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Max Richter, "24 Postcards In Full Colour"

Richter displays a hitherto unsuspected sense of humor in composing music for ring tones. This is an intriguing concept, with an apt title and short pieces that prove surprisingly wide ranging and affecting. The only flaw is that if my phone sounded this good I would be loath to interrupt any of these tracks to answer it.
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