Coolies started out in the late 1990s, a trio of school friends from South Auckland, NZ, making a homemade-punk noise. After a first spurt of activity they lost a couple of drummers, released hardly any music, and seemed to have gone silent. This brief new album captures their gleeful, raw, energy on a reel-to-reel recorder.
Legend has it that more than a thousand years ago King Gasil of Gaya ordered a stringed instrument to be created. Archaeology suggests that same instrument, the gayageum, may have been made even earlier. Either way, de Jaer's compositions have a quality that is both ancient and modern.
I don't know if there is much surfing in their Massachusetts location but Zebu!'s eighth record is mainly powered by waves of surf-instrumental tunes. Chill Wave twists a retro beach party vibe into something more bracing, brooding, and raw: as suggested by the LP cover with overcast sky and big lump of rock sticking up out a cold, dark stretch of ocean.
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.
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.
Thankfully, Oi! is not a trawl through a dubious underbelly of UK punk. It‚Äôs 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 ‚Äúparty‚Äù is a verb and Karl Pilkington dreams of quiet reverie during a hellish episode of An Idiot Abroad.
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.
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.
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 ‚Äújust tuning.‚Äù This is an important part of the debate about how music should be played and composed, along with the concept of the harmonic series. ‚ÄúJust" 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‚Äôs something in that. Meanwhile, lovers of Pitre‚Äôs 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 ‚Äúnaturalness.‚Äù 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.
In 1986, Duane Warr retreated to his trailer home with an 8-track recorder to make an album which turns out to be a bit more than a doom-laden, cartoonish amalgam of the antics of everyone who has played air guitar in just their underwear during a dark night of the soul.
This 1967 recording features an intriguing line-up of alto sax, cello, and two bass players. Since Tyler played on Albert Ayler's Bells and Spirits Rejoice it is no surprise that on his own album he challenges the other musicians to explore restless improvisation and avoid locking into too much of a groove.
Duncan Edwards lives in Bergen with another human, two deerhounds, two seagulls, a crow, and a dove. Previously he was exiled in Texas from New Orleans where he was previously exiled from England where he sometimes felt a bit exiled while sitting comfortably at home. He did a radio show for a few years called Not Your Cup Of Tea. The first record he bought was "Ride A White Swan."
Picks of 2008 with possible leakage from 2007 and into 2009:
potpie - "six"
The Gubernatorial Candidates - "No Remainder"
MaxTundra - "Will Get Fooled Again"
Aufgehoben - "Annex Organon"
Group Inerane - "Awal September"
The Low Anthem - "Ticket Taker"
The Stranger - "Something To Do With Death"
DJ Spooky/James Joyce/ Erik Satie - "Eolian Episode/Gnossiene"
DJ Spooky/Shukar/Radio Mentale/Raoul Hausmann - "Cika-Laka/Cool Noises Pt2/BBB"
The Subliminator - "Howl"
John Baker - "Woman's Hour (Reading Your Letters)"
Blackout Beach - "Cloud Of Evil"
Ethan Rose - "On Wheels Rotating"
Fotheringay - "Wild Mountain Thyme"
Lucille Bogan - "Tricks Ain't Walking"
Surf City - "Mt Kill"
Mt. Eerie/Julie Doiron/Fred Squire - "With My Hands Out"
Lucky Dragons - "Desert Rose"
Deer Tick - "City Of Sin"
Olafur Arnalds - "0040"
LT - "England Story"
A Place To Bury Strangers - "Sunbeam"
Karl Blau - "Stream Of Ganders"
Herman Dune - "When The Water Gets Cold And Freezes On The Lake"
Raglani - "Perilous Straits"
Oren Ambarchi - "Highway of Diamonds"
Anna Jarvinen - "Nedgangslaten"
Johann Johannsson - "Fordlandia"
Ben Simmons - "Untitled"
Alessandra Celletti - "Foolish Child"
Haswell & Hecker - "Aguirre I"
IfIHadAHiFi - "Get Killed, Get Noticed"
Folklore - The Ghost of H.W. Beavermann
Awake My Soul
Gavin Bryars/Philip Jeck/Alter Ego - The Sinking of The Titanic
Sun City Girls - You're Never Alone With A Cigarette:Singles Volume 1
Max Richter - 24 Postcards In Full Colour
Russell Haswell - Second Live Salvage
Picks of 2007:
Basil Kirchin, "I Start Counting"
A Place To Bury Strangers, "Another Step Away"
Porn Sword Tobacco, "Den Rose Sporten"
Keith Hudson, "Darkest Night On A Wet Looking Road"
Wyndham Lewis, "If So The Man You Are"
Porn sword Tobacco, "Ljus,Der Yhersa Gavan"
Edward Ka-Spel, "Doughnut"
Kode 9 & The SpaceApe, "Victims"
Roger Lavern & The Microns, "Moon Rocket"
Mike Sammes, "Timex"
Future Conditional, "Crying's What You Need"
No Age, "Everybody's Down"
Eric Malberg, "Leksand, Tidigt Nittiolal"
Brion Gysin, "Cut-Ups (1959)"
Young Marble Giants, "Choci Loni"
Celestine Ukwu & His Philosopher's National, "Okwukwe Na Nchekwube"
Pluramon, "Turn In"
Wisbey, "The Ladies Bra's"
Sir Richard Bishop, "Ecstacies In The Open Air"
Jakob Olausson, Moonlight Farm
Sandro Perri, "Family Tree"
Amp, "Moon Tree"
Sandro Perri, "Mirror Tree"
Robert Wyatt, "A Beautiful War"
Joe Boyd, "White Bicycles" (Book)