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Records of the Week
Allan's Favorites
Andee's Favorites
Byram's Favorites
Cup's Favorites
Elisabeth's Favorites
Jeff's Favorites
Jim's Favorites
Marcy's Favorites
Sadie's Favorites
Windy's Favorites

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[]O--------------------------------   Aquarius Records
[]O--------------------------------   2002 Staff Faves
[]O--------------------------------   3 January 2003

Beloved Customers and Friends :

It's that time of the year again. Listmaking frenzy. Why doncha join in? We're interested in what you liked. Please don't be shy. Send us your Top Tens of the year by the end of January and we'll publish them on a Customers Favorites AQ-webpage.

Also wanted to mention that we've gotten back in Boris' heavy Amplifier Worship album, along with ample copies of Bohren and der Club of Gore's wonderful Gore Motel and Midnight Radio.

Please note our NEW new freight rates ... as you may recall, we recently switched over to UPS for most deliveries. We really wanted to go with one easy flat rate for all packages, but after a month of doing so, we've come to the unfortunate realization that, well, UPS is a lot more expensive than we had originally thought -- almost every single package we mailed cost us significantly more than the flat rate of $4.50. Good grief. So, now we've come up with an almost as simple two-tiered system to balance things out a bit. We're sorry about the slight added cost to some larger orders, but single and 2-item packages will still be $4.50, and hopefully the continued advantage of automatic tracking and insurance features will keep everybody happy with United Parcel Service service...

All right, onto the Staff Favorites!
As usual, upcoming releases and new in stock items appear at the end of this list.

(see the AQ customer favorites of 2002, or the AQ staff faves of 2001, and 2000)

----* Windy :


Deerhoof - Reveille
Alice Coltrane - Universal Consciousness
v/a - Nothing Left To Lose
Kreidler - Eve Future
Blast Furnace - s/t
Goblin - Il Fantastico Viaggio Del Bagarozzo Mark
Amon Duul - Wolf City
The Necks - Athenaeum, Homebush, Quay & Raab
Radar Bros - And the Surrounding Mountains
Boom Bip - Seed to Sun

Runners Up:

DJ Q Bert's Complete Do-It Yourself Volume 1: Skratching (DVD)
2 Many DJ's - As Heard On Radio Soulwax Pt. 2
v/a - Studio One Story cd/DVD
Devendra Banhart - Oh Me Oh My...
The Anniversary - Your Majesty
v/a - In the Beginning There Was Rhythm
Notwist - Neon Golden
DJ Shadow - The Private Press
Sharrock, Sonny & Linda - Paradise
Steelpole Bathtub - Unlistenable
Tony Conrad w/ Faust - Outside The Dream Syndicate
Boris - Heavy Rocks
Hella - Hold Your Horse Is
Xiu Xiu - Knife Play
Circle - Sunrise
Merzbow - Merzbeat
Tarwater - Dwellers On The Threshold
Capitol Years - Jewelry Store
Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Poison the Well - Tear From The Red
El-P - Fantastic Damage
Amon Tobin - Out From The Out Where
v/a - Constant Elevation
Fairport Convention - Heyday

Favorite Songs:

Ekkehard Ehlers "Plays John Cassavetes" (duh, the Beatles!)
Amon Tobin "Verbal"
Johnny Cash "The Man Comes Around"
Talib Kweli "Get By"
Azure Ray "November"
Eminem "Lose Yourself"
Bran Flakes "Good Times a Go Go"

----* Allan :

Top Ten Faves 2002 (in no order other than alphabetical):

Bohren & Der Club of Gore "Black Earth"
Boris "Heavy Rocks"
Loren Chasse "Hedge Of Nerves"
Circle "Sunrise"
Gandalf "s/t" (reissue)
Immortal "Sons Of Northern Darkness"
Public Nuisance "Gotta Survive"
Ruins "Tzomborgha"
Tony, Caro & John "All On The First Day" (reissue)

NB. I definitely woulda put those three Osanna reissues on here too, like Andee, but even though we reviewed 'em this year, they were actually reissued prior to 2002 and I couldn't justify leaving 3 truly new favorites off my top ten for 'em...

)))) Allan's next thirty runners up:

Agoraphobic Nosebleed "Frozen Corpse Stuffed With Dope"
Koji Asano "January Rainbow"
The Birdtree "Orchards and Caravans"
Black Sabbath "Past Lives"
The Fucking Champs "V"
Alice Coltrane "Transcendence" (reissue)
Daddy's Curses cd-r
Falconer "Chapters From A Vale Forlorn"
Golden Hotel "The Silver Wilderness"
Kemialliset Ystavat "Kellari Juniversumi"
Knead "s/t"
Larsen "Rever"
Doug Martsch "Now You Know"
Maru Sankaku Shikaku triple cd (reissue)
Mirza "Last Clouds" (reissue, kinda)
Los Natas "Corsario Negro"
Oxbow "An Evil Heat"
Queens Of The Stone Age "Songs For The Deaf"
Radian "Rec.extern"
Rondellus "Sabbatum"
Spring Heel Jack "Amassed"
Starfuckers "Infinitive Sessions"
Taake "...Bjoergvin..."
Tarantula Hawk "s/t" on Neurot
Thuja "Ghost Plants" (with "Hills" and "Sons" also close behind)
Trad Gras Och Stenar "Ajn Schvajn Draj"
Ueh "s/t"
v/a "Painted Black"
Ward 21 "Mentally Disturbed"
Woven Hand "s/t"

)))) Also, there were many great reissues of albums that that I *already* loved, and then therefore didn't seem "new" enough to make my top 10 or 30, but still deserve a mention, here's a few:

Agitation Free "Malesch" and "Second"
Burning Brides "Fall Of The Plastic Empire"
Tony Conrad w/ Faust "Outside The Dream Syndicate"
Davis Redford Triad "The Mystical Path Of The Number Eighty Six"
Dissection "Storm of the Light's Bane"
Drive Like Jehu "Yank Crime"
Earth "Extra-Capsular Extraction"
the Nagisa Ni Te reissues on Jagjaguar
the Pink Fairies reissues, especially "What A Bunch Of Sweeties"
Skepticism "Stormcrowfleet"
The Lord Weird Slough Feg "s/t"
Tatsuya Yoshida "Magaibutsu"
and Foreigner's first four albums!!!

----* Cup :


1. OP8 - Slush (re-issue)
2. Neko Case - Blacklisted
3. Hot Hot Heat - Make Up The Breakdown
4. Amon Tobin - Out From The Out Where
5. The Mars VoltaŠ- Tremulant (ep)
6. Doves - The Last Broadcast
7. Yo La Tengo - The Sounds Of The Sounds Of Science
8. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
9. Destroyer - This Night
10. The Anniversary - Your Majesty


Beat Happening - 'Crashing Through' cd boxset
Neko Case - Canadian Amp
Aeolian String Ensemble - s/t (re-issue)
V/A - Nothing Left To Lose
Mirah - Advisory Committee
Ekkehard Ehlers - Plays

And more good stuff:

'Mr. Show: What Happened?!' book (not to mention their live performance at the Warfield and the firstŠand secondŠseasons on dvd!)
DEVO outdoor concert at the Civic Center
'Larry Sanders: The Entire First Season' dvd
The Muppets Action Figures

----* Jim :


1. John Duncan - Phantom Broadcast
2. Devendra Banhart - Oh Me Oh My...
3. Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson - Along Wait Produces Nothing Further
4. Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights
5. Notwist - Neon Golden
6. Loveliescrushing - Glissiceule
7. Michael Gendreau - 55┴ Pas De La Ligne Au No.3
8. Thuja - Ghost Plants
9. Thomas Koner - Daikan
10. Neko Case - Blacklisted

Jim's runners up:

Fursaxa - s/t
Larsen - Rever
Philip Jeck - Stoke
Loren Chasse - Hedge Of Nerves
Vincent Gallo - Recordings For Film and Music
Jandek - Blue Corpse
Organum - everything.
Troum / Yen Pox - Mnemonic Induction
Lotus Eaters - Mind Control for Infants
Stilluppsteypa - 10 Years Of Pointless Activities
Keith Fullerton Whitman - Playthroughs
Isis - Oceanic
Jonathan Coleclough - Period
The Vanishing - In The Bat Haus
Illusion of Safety - In Opposition To Our Acceleration
v/a - Best Bootlegs In The World Ever
Appleseed Cast - Low Level Owl 1 + 2 (missed out from 2001)
Pinback - Blue Screen Life (missed out from 2001)

----* Sadie :


Michael Yonkers LP
v/a - Do the Pop!
Doug Martsch - Now You Know
Flaming Lips - Yoshimi
Black Heart Procession - Amor del Tropico
Spoon - Kill the Moonlight
Woven Hand
Rocket from the Tombs - Day The Earth Met (reissue)
Hasil Adkins ' Out to Hunch (reissue)
Champs - V

Sadie's runners up:

Donnie Darko OST
Black Eyed Snakes - It's The Black Eyed Snakes
v/a - In the Begninning There Was Rhythm
Clinic - Walking with Thee
16 Horsepower - Folklore
Country Teasers - Science Hat
Concentrick- Lucid Dreaming
Nerd- in search of..
Deerhoof - Reveille
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Go-Betweens - Spring Hill Fair (reissue)
Go-Betweens - Before Hollywood (reissue)
Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights
Daddy's Curses

----* Byram :


Neko Case - Blacklisted
v/a - Wayang Golek: The Sound and Celebration of Sundanese Puppet Theater
Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights
Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf
The Notwist - Neon Golden
Philip Jeck - Stoke
Cudamani - The Seven-Tone Gamelan Orchestra From The Village Of Pengosekan, Bali
Radar Bros - And the Surrounding Mountains
v/a - DJ Drank's Greatest Malt Liquor Hits
Biosphere - Shenzhou

Byram's runners up:

Beck - Sea Change
Mikey Dread - World War III
Daddy's Curses
DJ/Rupture - Minesweeper Suite
v/a - Animals of Africa: Sounds of the Jungle, Plain & Bush
Fennesz - Field Recordings 1995:2002
Samla Mammas Manna - s/t
Ward 21 - Mentally Disturbed
Bounty Killer - Ghetto Dictionary: The Art Of War
Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

----* Marcy :


first 2 in order, others are random

Deerhoof - Reveille
Devendra Banhart - Oh Me Oh My...
v/a - In the Beginning There Was Rhythm
Brigitte Fontaine - s/t
Low - Trust
Philip Cohran and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble - On the Beach
Ekkehard Ehlers - Plays
Comets on Fire - Field Recordings from the Sun
Gary Wilson - You Think You Really Know Me
Black Dice - Beaches and Canyons


Six Organs of Admittance - Dark Noontide
Sun City Girls - 300,003 Crossdressers...
Nico - Desertshore
The Fall - Totally Wired
Nate Denver's Neck - Prepare to Die
Pere Ubu - St. Arkansas
v/a - Studio One DJs
A Certain Ratio - Early
Henry Flynt - Backporch Hillbilly Blues 1 & 2
Fennesz - Field Recordings 1995-2002
Tony Conrad w/ Faust - Outside The Dream Syndicate
Charles Tyler Ensemble - s/t
Wickerman OST
Sharon Jones - Dap Dippin'
Rhythm and Sound w/ Cornell Campbell - King in My Empire 10"
The Rapture - HHouse of Jealous Lovers
Sonny Sharrock - Monkey-Pockie-Boo
Werkmeister Harmonies OST
Fullswing - Edits
Don Cherry - Orient

----* Andee :

TOP TEN from the AQ lists:

1. WOVEN HAND s/t (Glitterhouse) cd 17.98
2. STEREO, THE Rewind + Record (Fueled By Ramen) cd 13.98
3. IRON & WINE The Creek Drank The Cradle (Sub Pop) cd 14.98
4. CARDIACS Guns (Alphabet) cd 14.98
5. CHERRY, DON Orient (Fruit Tree) cd 14.98
6. ANAAL NATHRAKH The Codex Necro (Mordgrimm) cd 16.98
7. POISON THE WELL Tear From The Red (Trustkill ) cd 14.98
8. BERKOWITZ, LAKE & DAHMER Without Chemicals He Points (Fflint Central) cdr 8.98
9. OSANNA L'Uomo (Warner Fonit) cd 17.98
OSANNA Milano Calibro 9 (Warner Fonit) cd 17.98
OSANNA Palepoli (Warner Fonit) cd 17.98
10. AVARUS Horuksen Keskimmaisen Silman Mysteerikoulu (Lal Lal Lal) cd-r 6.98

...and of course the tUMULt end of 2002 extravaganza:

IRAN The Moon Boys (the tUMULt concern) cd 13.98
LEVIATHAN Verrater (tUMULt) 2cd 16.98
V/A Painted Black (tUMULt) cd 13.98
WORMS s/t (tUMULt) cd 13.98
OCS s/t (tUMULt) 2cd 16.98
DIAMATREGON Blasphemy For Satan (tUMULt) cd 13.98

and these special gems:

SUNBURNED HAND OF THE MAN The Mind Of A Brother cd-r
SUNBURNED HAND OF THE MAN Tha Agorophobic Christcycle cd-r
SUNBURNED HAND OF THE MAN The Book Of Pressure cd-r
XASTHUR Nocturnal Posioning cd
BLUM, EBERHARD Berlin To Buffalo cd
AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED Frozen Corpse Stuffed With Dope cd
HOTOTOGISU, THE Floating Japanese Oof! Gardens Of The 21st Century cd-r
SPOON Kill The Moonlight cd
HEASLEY, TOM On The Sensations Of Tone cd
SCHAEFER, JANEK Le Petit Theatre De Mercelis cd
NICOLAI, BRUNO 100,000 Dollari Per Ringo cd
CASSETTEBOY The Parker Tapes cd-r
V/A Unholy Trinity cd
FLAMING LIPS The Day They Shot A Hole In The Jesus 2cd
FLAMING LIPS Finally The Punk Rockers Are Taking Acid 3cd
HECKER, TIM My Love Is Rotten To The Core cd
JOSHUA Gold Cosmos cd
MYSTIC FOREST Green Hell... cd
RUHR HUNTER Torn of This cd
RANDOM INC Walking In Jerusalem cd
MERZBOW 24 Hours - A Day Of Seals 4cd
BENEATH THE LAKE Inside The Passage cd
WOLF EYES Dread cd
NATAS Godlike cd
HECKER, TIM Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again cd
IMMORTAL Sons Of Northern Darkness cd
ANAKSIMANDROS, THE Life Is A Skullbow lp
AUDIO LEARNING CENTER Friendships Often Fade Away cd
TIMESBOLD Woe Be Gone... cd ep
GOLDEN HOTEL The Silver Wilderness cd
APPLESEED CAST, THE Low Level Owl: Volume I cd
APPLESEED CAST, THE Low Level Owl: Volume II cd
INTERPOL Turn On The Bright Lights cd
ROOT Black Seal cd
VENETIAN SNARES Winter In the Belly of a Snake cd
WIGRID Hoffnungstod cd YOUNGSBOWER Relayer cd
REDD KROSS Neurotica (reissue) cd
WIPERS Box: Is This Real/Youth Of America/Over The Edge 3 cd
THUNDERBOLT The Sons Of The Darkness cd
CRAFT Terror Propaganda cd

----* Jeff :


Acid Mothers Temple "41st Century Splendid Man"
Anaal Nathrakh "The Codex Necro"
COH "Netmork"
Deerhoof "Reveille"
The Fucking Champs "V"
Vincent Gallo "Recordings For Film And Music"
Mirror "Solaris"
Phill Niblock "G2, 44+ / X2"
Thuja "Ghost Plants"
Keith Fullerton Whitman "Playthroughs"


Gandalf "s/t" ("Golden Earrings" will melt your heart)
Laddio Bolocko "The Life And Times Of"
Maru Sankaku Shikaku "s/t"
Organum "Sphyx"
Pink Fairies "Kings Of Oblivion"
Ruins "1986-1992"
Ruth "Polaroid / Roman / Photo"
Sonny Sharrock "Monkey-Pockie-Boo"
Taj Mahal Travellers "July 15, 1972"
Venom═s Unholy Trinity: "Welcome To Hell" / "Black Metal" / "At War With Satan"


Loren Chasse "Fantasy Apparition" ("Hedge Of Nerves" a close second)
Jonathan Coleclough "Period"
Comets On Fire "Field Recordings From The Sun"
The Curtains "Fast Talks"
Kevin Drumm "Sheer Hellish Miasma"
Hazard "Land"
Thomas Koner "Daikan"
Jean-Francois Laporte "Mantra"
Nagisa Ni Te "Feel"
Vajra "Mandala Cat Last"


Kennelmus "Folkstone Prism"

----* And Here Are Our Reviews Of The Above Records (Just the Top Faves, Not the Runners Up) :

album coverACID MOTHERS TEMPLE 41st Century Splendid Man (tUMULt) picture disc 13.98
Finally, Andee's tUMULt label releases some new shit! Yes, it's been *months* since tUMULt's last releases (Guapo, 7000 Dying Rats). But don't be fooled. All that time has been well spent preparing stuff by Japan's Solar Anus, the soon-to-be-huge OCS [the prolific John Dwyer of Dig That Body Up It's Alive (also coming soon on tUMULt), Coachwhips, and Pink And Brown], Finland's Worms, Norway's Brainbombs, SF black metal one man band Leviathan, a new Circle -and- a new Iran, for imminent release!
But for now, we can revel in this, the latest installment of psychedelic majesty from Japanese avant-hippy heroes Acid Mothers Temple. This is the debut entry in a series of 12" picture discs (future volumes to include Skullflower, Troum, Circle, Reynols, Loren Chasse and more) to be released over the course of the next 12 months and quite an auspicious start it is too. Recorded well over a year ago, this is AMT at their absolute prime, featuring special guest star Tatsuya Yoshida of the Ruins! Two extended tracks (35 + minutes) of transcendental psych-drone. Side one has to be the most beautiful track they've ever recorded. Uncharacteristically tranquil and captivatingly beautiful. Droning, shimmering chimes coalesce into some sort of cosmic Ur-drone, punctuated by simple caveman thuds and epic swooshes, resulting in a grand and gorgeous ambience! Side two is a single track separated into two apparent movements. The first sees AMT back on more familiar ground, with swooping synths and freak out guitar. A stumbling kosmic krautrock, with motorik rhythms and free guitar, amidst a swampy wash of rumbling low end and squealing synths. The track erupts into bubbling atonal out-rock exploration splattered with mad scientist synthesisers as the whole thing slowly mutates into 'cosmic slop' of the nth degree, becoming gradually free-er and free-er. The second 'movement' is all slithery free jazz with bubbling cauldrons of synth sputter, wild keyboards and Can-like rhythms until the whole thing gets all dreamy, eventually blissing out completely. When Andee asked AMT to do a 12", they weren't yet Wire cover stars with so many dozens of releases out -- but this is still one of their absolute best recordings!
As you might have guessed, this is EXTREMELY LIMITED. Hand stamped sleeves. A gorgeous picture disc, with a striking flowers/UFO image on one side, and a scintillatingly saucy photo on the other (you'll just have to buy it to see it!) Frustratingly (for Allan at least) only available as a picture disc lp, although there will be a cd version in the near future, but (even more frustratingly for Allan) the tracks on the cd will be completely different!

album coverADKINS, HASIL Out To Hunch cd 14.98
We're totally delighted that this has finally been reissued. Hasil Adkins is fucking insane and totally rockin'. Like Elvis Presley's evil twin, fucked up, dangerous and COMPLETELY MAD. All of these songs were recorded at home in a cabin in the mountains of West Virginia, rockabilly acoustic guitar under a creepy snarly, freaked out voice, interspersed with a Adkins' cackling laugh. Having spent time touring in a beat up old car with "the greatest one man band in the world Hasil Adkins and his happy guitar" painted on the door, Adkins leaves no doubt as to who is the most rockingest man around! This reissue collects songs from 1955-1965, right at the beginning of his long and consistently nutty career. The first song 'She Said' might rings some bells, since rockabilly freaks the Cramps covered it years back. Nice booklet with liner notes penned by Adkins himself.
RealAudio clip:
"She Said "
RealAudio clip: "We got A Date"
RealAudio clip: "The Hunch"

album coverAMON DUUL II Wolf City (Repertoire) cd 15.98
Soon after Munich's hippie commune krautrockers Amon Duul formed in the late '60s, some of the more musically inclined formed Amon Duul II whose early releases include the masterpieces Yeti (1970), Tanz der Lemminge (1971), etc. Wolf City is just their fifth album, recorded in 1972, and it's fucking fantastic and I can't believe I never heard it before. It's a little bit less experimental than earlier projects, a little more song oriented, but that may be a good thing if prog-flavored German psychedelia is a new cuppa tea for ya. (My co-worker Byram, in fact, found Wolf City a little too Yes-y for his taste -- so listen to the soundclips before buying.) There are seven tracks here, and each one shifts mood slightly -- from the epic masterpiece opener to a single gentle instrumental to spacerock jams, all the arrangements totally unpredictable and interesting. There's heavy prog-style guitar, pleasantly jangly (what sounds like 12-string?) guitar, screeching violin, deep declamatory bass, sweetly macabre piano and organ, plus all manner of weird chuckles, grunts and choir-like ahhhhs. So good! Wolf City is as epic, hummably memorable, kickass, and heavy as Pink Floyd & Genesis, more chaotic and messy than Can, more accessible and full-sounding than Cluster. If you've never heard Amon Duul II before, this is a fine place to start, as are any of the abovementioned albums. Strongly recommended! Windy's new favorite album. In a tie with Goblin's equally prog-gy Il Viaggio del Bagarazzo Mark for hands down Best Reissue in my 2002 year end tops list.
RealAudio clip:
"Surrounded By Stars"
RealAudio clip: "Sleepwalker's Timeless Bridge"

album coverANAAL NATHRAKH The Codex Necro (Mordgrimm) cd 16.98
Thank god (or Satan) that this record is as good as it is, because of all the trouble we had to go through to get it! We became aware of British black metal act Anaal Nathrakh from first seeing ads for this album in Terrorizer magazine (the UK's metal version of The Wire), then Terrorizer named it record of the month, and then one of the top 40 records of 2001! Yet no metal distributors in the United States had ever even heard of Anaal Nathrakh. Not even the band themselves could help us out, and the one distributor that did offer the album only had TEN COPIES. Our tiny little store wanted at least twice that many.
But, many frustrating conversations and unproductive emails later, we finally have The Codex Necro in stock and are happy to report that it is as heavy, as weird and as completely cool as we had hoped. The formula is still blasting black metal mayhem, but A.N. up the intensity a notch as well as mixing in all sorts of fucked weirdness: bizarre ambient electronic soundscapes, creepy cloying melodies buried in the mix, strangely hypnotic vocal chants, light speed fuzzed out blast beats, found sound interludes, and totally processed and INSANE vocals, from growling guttural bowel-shaking grunts to maniacal high pitched, electronically fucked-with shrieks. Plus the riffs are ultra catchy, and the guitars are so distorted and recorded so hot, it feels like demonic claws are being scraped across your ear drums. Take the raw, "necro" sounds of Nordic black metal pioneers Darkthrone and give them the bombastic force of the best-produced, over-the-top Cradle of Filth stuff, and you're thinking Anaal Nathrakh. When they say necro, they mean it. And they say it a lot. Like in the liner notes: "Anaal Nathrak plays Fucking Necro Exclusively!...Fuck Everything".
RealAudio clip:
"The Supreme Necrotic Audnance"
RealAudio clip: "When Humanity Is Cancer"
RealAudio clip: "Submission Is For The Weak"

album coverANNIVERSARY, THE Your Majesty (Vagrant) cd 14.98
What the hell happened here? The Anniversary has poised themselves as the heir apparents to the emo / power pop throne now occupied by labelmates the Get Up Kids, yet with their second album "Your Majesty," these kids from Lawrence, Kansas suddenly think they're Noel and Liam, constructing a bombastic album of baroque pop with lots of harmonizing choruses, extended guitar solos, dramatic piano chords, and distant nods to The Pixies and Supertramp. This record was a real slow burner. In the beginning we all hated it, wondering what happened to our emo pop anniversaries, but the more we listen, the more we began to understand. I began catching Jim or Cup listening to it when they thought no one was the wiser. And Windy is pretty much playing it nonstop in her car: http://aquariusrecords.org/windyscar.html. So now, we give it a thumbs up. The only bummer is the one guy singer who whispers in a earnest croon and ends up sounding lame. Outside of that, they're probably the best Brit pop band America has. A few painfully public inter-band squabbles and loads of coke and the sky's the limit!
RealAudio clip:
"The Siren Song"
RealAudio clip: "Sweet Marie"

album coverAVARUS Horuksen Keskimmaisen Silman Mysteerikoulu (Lal Lal Lal) cd-r 6.98
Will our love affair with Finland never end?!?! I sure hope not. And there doesn't seem to be any reason to worry. Certainly not with what seems to be more and more undiscovered AMAZING music cropping up all the time. First we discovered Circle and Mieskuoro Huutajaat and Keuhkot and Aavikko and the baffling and completely awesome Bad Vugum label. Then we learned of the dreamy clattery folk of Kemialliset Ystavat and their hippy percussion jam side project Anaksimandros. And let's not forget drone-doom lords Skepticism and Rapture and Tiermes. And now we have discovered Avarus and the adventurous Lal Lal Lal label. Avarus and Kemiallisett and Anaksimandros all share at least one member and definitely share an aesthetic, combining folk and Krautrock and free jazz and modern noise ala the Dead C into a totally mesmerising modern noise/folk. Avarus, while less percussive/clattery than Anaksimandros, is also less folk than Kemialliset, situating them in a unique musical position, unfurling lengthy meandering almost funereal jams, desolate and mournful, but dreamy and pastoral, motorik and hypnotic at the same time. Strummed acoustic guitars frame distant throbbing caveman percussion, dreamy soundscapes are punctuated by occasional clang and clatter, all swaddled in the warm drone of amp buzz and ambient hum. Wander into their dark forest and join the tribe.
A warning: as with their prior 3" cd-r release, this is a SUPER LIMITED EDITION CD-R. We may not be able to keep these in stock for long, so if you want one don't dawdle. Sorry, you'd think that because they're cd-rs they *wouldn't* really be limited 'cause they could just burn more, and xerox more covers, but apparently not. Oh well.
RealAudio clip:
"Mars On Paljastanut Salaisuutensa"
RealAudio clip: "Feeniks-lintu Valitti Muista Enemman"
RealAudio clip: "Filipplinien Henkikirurgit"
RealAudio clip: "Eno Muista Mua"

album coverBANHART, DEVENDRA Oh Me Oh My... (Young God) cd 14.98
Devendra Banhart -- who appears to be living his life as an indie-rock gipsy touring with whomever and squatting wherever, including a stint wowing locals here in SF -- crafts his neo-folk songs with the primitive instrumentation of voice and acoustic guitar, spanning a vast spectrum of fragmented emotions through a manic-depressive persona that can be as beautifully charming as it can be terrifyingly devastating. Michael Gira, who released this album through his Young God label, accurately described Banhart's voice with its skewed vibrato and unnerving warble as somewhere in between the magical voices of Marc Bolan, Karen Dalton, Syd Barrett, Tiny Tim, Daniel Johnston, and Nick Drake; and fortunately, Banhart uses that voice to tell a wholly unique set of stories that hold a succinct poetry. Hastily stitched from bizarre stream of consciousness associations and absurdist conditional clauses, Banhart's lyrics expand the realm of possibility into psychosexual surrealism. On occasion, Banhart's tales are anthropomorphic love songs, wistfully dreaming of archaic steam ships and the state of Michigan (yes, he pines for Michigan) with all of sexual cravings and romantic nuances of a young boy first pierced by Cupid's arrow; yet on other occasion, Banhart gnashes his teeth with such existential confusion that the targets of his epithets are blurred by his bilious rage. Within Banhart's language, reality has been realized as a swollen mass of malformed emotions compounded by the urgency that resonates within his voice.
Upon listening to this album, I've had the recurring, sinking feeling either that Banhart is destined to star in an upcoming Harmony Korine film or that he will be dead in a few years as victim of an unspecified gruesome tragedy. As I've tried and failed to assign such distinctly odd critical-doomspeak within various arguments and generalized thesis about the perception of the separation between art and life, I mention it because Banhart -- unlike any artist whom I've come across -- has been able to provoke such controversial thoughts. Far from me to wish Banhart or anybody ill-will, but true manifestations of horror defy logic and are very rare indeed. And this, gentle reader, is the real deal.
If you recall, Andee began his review of Woven Hand's album with the bold statement: "I hate to gush, but gush I must, this is my record of the year. Done deal." As for me (Jim, along with Marcy and Windy), the debut from Devendra Banhart needs to be given serious consideration as a contender for record of the year 2002.
RealAudio clip:
"Michigan State"
RealAudio clip: "Lend Me Your Teeth"
RealAudio clip: "Nice People"

album coverBERKOWITZ, LAKE & DAHMER Without Chemicals He Points (Fflint Central) cdr 8.98
The mighty Fflint Central again prove that they have cornered the market on subversive (and intelligent) electronic fuckery in the UK. Why listen to the retarded antics of V/VM or the pedestrian downtempo dreck of Boards Of Canada when you can get the best elements of both AND THEN SOME from almost any band in the Fflint stable?! The return of the 'killer' electronica threesome (actually a twosome, like the 3 piece Thompson Twins) and their imbalanced, dangerous and baffling electronica. Balancing noise and melody, BL+D craft noisy epics, with gurgling, sputtering synths, purloined Middle Eastern melodies. distant rumbles, screeching high end crunch, chopped and shuffled 20th century classical, ultra-abstract musiqe concrete, bursts of face melting noise, running water framing delicate far-away melodies, totally nonsensical, epileptic drum programming, and more strange and beautiful sounds than any two guys should be able to produce. Gorgeous, challenging, intense and completely original. If there was any justice in this world, Berkowitz, Lake + Dahmer would be the jewel in someone's electronic crown (Warp, Skam, Lo, etc...) They'll just have to settle for Andee's tUMULt label, who will be releasing their first non cd-r release towards the end of the year. In the meantime, don't miss out. You know you want to be able to say 'Oh yeah, I was into BL+D way back in February!' SO RECOMMENDED.
RealAudio clip:
"Blighted Sump"
RealAudio clip: "Cyan Krilp Vipers"
RealAudio clip: "Graphic Tanquiliser"

album coverBIOSPHERE Shenzhou (Touch) cd 14.98
Most of the sensorially depressed semantics of the Chill-Out subculture that arose out of the rave scene had the pretense of such cutesy catch phrases as "I Think Therefore I Ambient." Ugh. The majority of the music that was championed within that early '90s Ambient scene has failed to age with any dignity or grace, instead fading away as mindless New Age drivel. Biosphere - the Ambient project of Norwegian Geir Jensen - has always been the exception to that rule, by never allowing his music to comfortably fall into the regions of aural wallpaper. His first two albums "Microgravity" and "Patashnik" would probably transcend their status as minor classics in their thoughtful recomibinations of Techno propulsion and Ambient utopianism, if it weren't for the ill-advised (though fashionable at the time) use of extra-terrestrial imagery. At the height of the Ambient-Techno phenomenon in 1995 or so, Levi's licensed a Biosphere track off of "Patashnik" for a jeans commercial, which had the same steroid-injected effect on Biosphere's sales as those of Spiritualized, Trio, and Nick Drake with their Volkswagen. Wisely, Jensen took the money and ran from commercial success. He has since declared his permanent base of operations to be Tromso, Norway - located some 400 miles north of the Arctic Circle - and has signed to the exceptional Touch label. Both decisions have resulted in a profound maturation of the Biosphere sound far away from the puerile Chill Out agendas.
"Shenzhou" is the third Biosphere record for Touch, and continues to describe aural environments that are at once decidedly Arctic, yet wholly inviting and warm. Jensen has drawn a very direct line on this album back to Impressionist composer Claude Debussy by basing this album on some very old vinyl recordings of various Debussy pieces. The surface noise crackle may parallel that of the recent Touch production from turntablist Philip Jeck, but "Shenzhou" doesn't extend the comparison beyond their similar source materials. This is distinctly a Biosphere album filled with synaesthetic driftings, subtle rhythmic pulsations, and hypnotic loopings, all culled from the muted instrumentation of those Debussy compositions. Biosphere has yet again succeeded in crafting an exceptionally poetic album that is as accessible as it is subtly expressive. Recommended.
RealAudio clip:
"Ancient Campfire"
RealAudio clip: "Two Ocean Plateau"
RealAudio clip: "Fast Atoms Escape"

album coverBLACK DICE Beaches & Canyons (DFA) cd 14.98
It seems that art world darlings Black Dice have abandoned their super spastic noise assaults in favor of a more subtle, spacious, psychedelic approach, a path not unlike the one the Boredoms followed on the way to making "Super ae" and "Vision Creation Newsun." What happened? It's like someone set those responsible for "Cold Hands" loose in the forest with some shrooms, a couple Amon Duul records and a mission to get in touch with their primal selves. However they got their inspiration, the results are a glorious realization of intensity achieved through built-up layers of evocative, tension filled sound rather than freak-punk pummelling. This is an affair of shimmery guitars, cascading oscillations, tinkling chimes, and even a new agey wind line, worrisome until it gets obliterated via sample manipulation. An element of tribalism pounds its way into Beaches & Canyons, both through hypnotic drumming and yelping "Ah oh ah oh oh ah ah oh YEW! YEW! YEW! YEW!" vocal outbursts. The whole thing teeters precariously on the edge of hippy-dippydom, but Black Dice manages to pull off the jams while avoiding wanton self indulgence. Expansive, unexpected and awesome.
RealAudio clip:
"Endless Happiness"
RealAudio clip: "Seabird"
RealAudio clip: "Big Drop"

album coverBLACK HEART PROCESSION Amor Del Tropico (Touch & Go) cd 14.98
Following three remarkably similar albums (note: this is by no means a complaint 'cause each was a gorgeous richly hued work unto itself), Black Heart Procession have made a few shifts in direction and sound, and widened their scope considerably - the the first sign is the title (as opposed to its predecessors simply titled 1, 2 and 3). This album starts off with a slightly cocktail-hourish number that's anchored by a bossanova rhythm. Later songs encorporate old r&b / soul female backing vocal stylings ("A Cry For Love") as well as layered lead vocals with Pall singing in both his familiar mournful cry and a considerably deeper mannish tone a la Michael Gira or Mark Lanegan (at least I think that's Pall, I couldn't find mention of any other vocalists). Check out the somber, gorgeous final track "The One Who Has Disappeared". Much more diverse than past efforts, but still retaining their trademark languorous pace and mellifluous instrumentation.
RealAudio clip:
"Tropics Of Love"
RealAudio clip: "A Cry For Love"
RealAudio clip: "The One Who Has Disappeared"

album coverBLAST FURNACE s/t (Long Hair) cd 17.98
Copenhagen's rock scene in the early 1970s was so small and fertile that bands formed and reformed in various combinations of the same people. Case in point -- Blast Furnace came together in 1970, released a single great LP in 1971, and by 1972 3/4 of Blast Furnace had joined the band Culpepper's Orchard. It's kind of amazing that this record has been lost to all but the most die hard fans of Danish progressive rock, because it's so clearly great. The angst-filled (almost Faust-ish) vocals of Brit singer Tom McEwan take turns with super-expressive organ lines. And there are flutes eveywhere (which fills our flute obsessive Andee with joy).
And the arrangements are really good, making the most of minor key melodies so that nothing need be overstated. There aren't extended wanky instrumental passages here, for a prog band Blast Furnace edited themselves so well, leaving us wanting more. And, in fact, there is more -- a non-album track intended as a single has also been included on this cd. The disc starts off as classic and firece seventies prog, with complex melodic passages and some instrumental spacy jamming, but as the record progresses, the record veers dramatically from mostly instrumental prog, to super dramatic, almost goofy (in a good way) balladeering. The vocalist's deep baritone waxes poetic on ridiculous and far out subject matters, like the plight of Toytown, or poor sad Bobo the Clown. Sounds silly, and it sort of is, but it's really really good. Reminds us a little of AQ faves Paternoster (although not nearly as insane) or some super melodramatic seventies singer songwriter. But the combination of heartfelt ballads and searing prog action make this a weird and great find. Windy's new favorite record.
RealAudio clip:
"Dr. Night"
RealAudio clip: "First and Last"
RealAudio clip: "Toytown"

album coverBOHREN & DER CLUB OF GORE Black Earth (Wonder) cd 14.98
"Black Earth" is the dark as night new album from an old AQ fave. Is it the heaviest album on this list? It is if you understand Bohren's concept of "quiet heaviness", using their self-described "horror jazz" instrumentation of subtly-brushed drums, down-tuned double bass, sparse piano, Fender Rhodes, mellotron, and melancholic saxophone to create an atmosphere of heaviness "which is otherwise only achieved using distorted guitars and lots of noise."
Our appetite was whetted for his release by an email from Bjoern Eichstaedt (of Caacrinolas), our German friend who originally introduced us to Bohren. He described a recent Bohren concert in which the band played in a cubic room, the walls painted completely black, on a black stage, without light -- all wearing black suits. Live, they used two basses for maximum bottom end. He spoke to them afterwards and learned that black metal is their main influence, noticing also that they were all wearing t-shirts from such bands as Immortal. Yet Bohren's music is far from loud and fast. Metallic or not, it's certainly DOOM. Creeping, plodding, yet gorgeously, sleepily melodic. Each note played on the piano, each hit of the snare, carries great weight, and beauty. Their music falls like thick drops of liquid into a still, dark, black pool, rippling the surface with unknown echoes. Foreboding, and entrancing. Certainly more than deserving of this disc's black on black, skull embossed packaging.
The sultry, smoky saxophone introduced on their previous album "Sunset Mission" is still in evidence, though not so much as before. When it's present, it only adds to the noir-ish vibe, great for wandering the rainy streets of night-time San Francisco with this playing in your Walkman, let me tell you. And compared to "Sunset Mission", this new album definitely extends Bohren's methods to further extremes: slower, moodier, dronier, lovelier: "heavier". Quite quietly heavy, indeed.
RealAudio clip:
"Midnight Black Earth"
RealAudio clip: "Skeletal Remains"
RealAudio clip: "The Art Of Coffins"

album coverBOOM BIP Seed to Sun (Lex) cd 16.98
Excellent! Now this is the sort of stuff Mo'Wax should be putting out, this is what those yuppie lounge bars should be playing instead of fuckin' Kruder and Dorfmeister. Boom Bip may be familiar to you through his Four Tet remix and collaborations with Dose One (Them, cloudDead), but you'd be forgiven for thinking he might be on Mo'Wax -- this record's got all the trademark spacious open wide sonic vistas, echoey breakbeats, movie dialog samples, hip hop reverence, and melody galore. A different take on the whole rock meets electronica thang that only a few bands can pull off well (Fridge, Tarwater, DJ Shadow when he's sampling guitars), Boom Bip mixes space rock with electronica absolutely perfectly, and grounds it with hip hop, lest the thing get too cerebral. There are slow breakbeats, sweet chamber strings, throbbing epic bass, dubby echo, unabashedly rock-based chord progressions, and eccentric scratching. Plus lots of dynamic changes -- the record never gets boring. There's even a finishing track that makes use of Felt-like or Durutti Column-ish tinny guitar. Now, it's not a "weird" record, not even ultra challenging, but it does what it does perfectly. I am very impressed!
Oh, it must also be said that this disc has got artwork we're fairly wetting our pants over -- brown coffee cup stains on neutral cardboard, with gold foil pressed graffiti logo, and a die cut thru which shows the barcode. And then the insert incorporates the barcode stripes into all these pretty loops spelling out Boom Bip. Wow.
RealAudio clip:
"Roads Must Roll"
RealAudio clip: "U R Here"
RealAudio clip: "Mannequin Hand Trapdoor I Reminder (featuring Dose One)"

album coverBORIS Heavy Rocks (Fangs Anal Satan / Quattro/UK Discs) cd 24.00
"Heavy Rocks" is -- to state the obvious if you've heard it -- a more than apt title for this newest (and long-awaited) collection of tuneage from everyone's favorite Japanese heavy rockers, Boris. Yes, the thunderous Tokyo trio of Takeshi, Wata, and Atsuo are back! We promised last year in our write-up of their amazing (but uncharacteristically mostly mellow) album "Flood" that Boris' next disc would be a return to the ROCK. And it is. No acoustic stuff here, nor even the lengthy droning dirges in which they have also indulged in the past. Nope, this one simply rocks hard and heavy, start to finish. Fans know that every Boris album is different, and this one can perhaps be characterized as Boris' "stoner rock" effort. Total Kyuss action! Still, with some grizzled nods to their all-time heroes, the Melvins. The first track, "Heavy Friends", is VERY Melvins (metallic, thudding, glacial) -- and even has a walk-on spoken contribution from Melvins drummer Dale Crover's ex-wife Lori (of Acid King). Speaking of heavy friends, guests pop up all over this release, actually -- there's some lead guitar by Eddie Legend of Japanese garage/rockabilly band The Mad 3, a track with analog synth twiddle courtesy Maso Yamazaki (Masonna/Christine 23 Onna), and another with some laptop computer fuckery from Masami "Merzbow" Akita (who also just completed a full-on collaborative album with Boris, see nearby for a review of that opus, the drone yin to this album's rock yang).
With or without the help of noiseniks Merzbow and Masonna, noisy, fuzzed-out psychedelic atmospheres abound here, but generally in the context of high energy, superheavy rockin'. Really, the album relaxes only for the spaced-out guitar bliss of "Soft Edge" halfway through. Tracks like "Korosu", "Dyna-Soar", "Death Valley", "Rattlesnake", and "1970" are all catchy, riff-laden showcases for Boris' brand of kick-ass rock n' roll. Even if you aren't into stoner rock, you should check this out because it easily surpasses most of the other bands operating within the genre. Irresistable. Honestly.
RealAudio clip:
"Heavy Friends"
RealAudio clip: "Korosu"
RealAudio clip: "Rattlesnake"
RealAudio clip: "Death Valley"
RealAudio clip: "The Bell Tower Of A Sign"

album coverCARDIACS Guns (Alphabet) cd 14.98
We first heard about the Cardiacs from our friend Jussi From Circle. He didn't really give us much to go on, just told us to find Cardiacs records. So when I (Andee) was in England last year I looked everywhere for Cardiacs records. No stores stocked them, no one had even heard of them. Rough Trade? Nope. Record And Video Exchange? Nope. So on a whim I went into Tower Records, and whhattayaknow, the Cardiacs had their own big ol' section. So I bought 4 of the 8 records they had in stock, without even knowing what they sounded like. The guy I was staying with was not at all impressed, telling me "Nobody likes the Cardiacs". But when I finally got down to listening to them, boy was I pleasantly surprised. Somehow not at all what I expected, but that only made me like it more. It's definitely pop, but it's not pop like you or I know it, it's freaked out, complex, super dynamic, totally catchy, weird vocals, drum machines, high pitched lead vocals, carnivalesque, bombastic kick ass sort-of-power-pop. It's really hard to describe. When I brought my copy to play for people in the store, every couple of minutes someone walked up wanting to buy whatever it was we were playing. So finally, we were able to get enough copies to list and let you all get your grubby litttle paws on this demented pop goodness. Think the Pixies meets the Sweet meets the Toy Dolls meets Uz Jsme Doma meets Queen meets the Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack meets XTC but more punk rock, and more prog, or something like that. With totally unlikely but irresistible melodies, squiggly guitars, circus organs, the occasional children's choir (?), drumming that is so stuttery and precise it sounds like it must be a drum machine, burbly spaced out ambient keyboards, completely fucked lyrics and amazing vocals and harmonies. It's like power-pop-prog-ska (like Uz Jsme Doma sounded ska) punk craziness. Goes from manic and intense to throbbing and dreamy at the drop of a dime. I think this band was 'big' for a while in the UK which is why my hipster friends scoffed, but to be honest I can't understand why they're not still big, or big here too. Just a little too weird, methinks.
'Guns' is my favorite record of the bunch. Just listen to the sound sample for the song 'There's Good Cud'. One of the most perfect pop songs I've ever heard. Weird and damaged but totally catchy and fun. Sort of like the whole record. And the sample after that 'Wind And Rains Is Cold' shows the softer (but no less weird) side of the Cardiacs. Lilting pop loveliness wrapped in a warped rock framework. This record totally rules.
RealAudio clip:
"There's Good Cud"
RealAudio clip: "Wind And Rains Is Cold"
RealAudio clip: "Spell With A Shell"

album coverCASE, NEKO Blacklisted (Lady Pilot / Bloodshot) cd 15.98
Watch her legion of admirers increase tenfold with every passing moment! Will you join them/us? On this, her third full length, Neko Case's voice pours forth in such an untethered and unaffected manner, yet with such power and control. It's truly something to behold. Through seemingly endless touring since Furnace Room Lullaby (on her own, as well as with the New Pornographers) she's honed her voice into an incredibly dynamic instrument. She delivers old classics like "Runnin' Out of Fools" or "Look For Me (I'll Be Around)" with such ease and conviction so seamlessly amid her own splendid songs like "Deep Red Bells" and "I Wish I Was The Moon" as well as "Pretty Girls" from The Gift soundtrack. On much of Blacklisted, her delivery is not unlike that of a lone, world-weary torch singer. Quite simply, her performance is arresting - deeply dramatic and haunting. Perhaps this may be attributed, in part or in whole, to the fact that these days she's holding all the reins. She co-released this album on her own label Lady Pilot with Bloodshot Records, and produced and mixed it with Darryl Neudorf and Craig Schumacher. Also noteworthy is the absence of "and the Boyfriends" from her name, but she's by no means flying solo - although she did play a greater number of the instruments this time around (various guitars, saw, piano). Speaking of which, the accompanying music is a perfect, richly hued match that warmly envelops and lingers around her every word. She's surrounded by an impressive group of musical friends including Joey Burns and John Convertino of Calexico, Giant Sand's Howe Gelb, Kelly Hogan, Brian Connelly of Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet, Dallas Good of the Sadies, John Rauhouse, Tom Ray, and Mary Margaret O'Hara. A stunning album that glistens and glows from start to finish. Highly recommended.
RealAudio clip:
"Deep Red Bells"
RealAudio clip: "Pretty Girls"
RealAudio clip: "I Wish I Was The Moon"
RealAudio clip: "Look For Me (I'll Be Around)"

album coverCHAMPS, THE FUCKING V (Drag City) cd 14.98
Fuckin' fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Fuckin' A. These guys rule. Yeah, the name change was stupid, but this, their second album for Drag City as The "Fucking" Champs *does* make you think such basic, expletive-laden, fists in the air, devil-horn sign waving thoughts. Fuck yeah! The Fucking Champs. Indeed. And even if Drag City (as a part of the "joke" presumably) won't let it be known that The Champs play METAL (or maybe it's the band's idea to keep that a 'secret' on their press material, preferring the term "total music"), they are a -for real- metal band. A weird one, and a great one. Now, I do worry for The Champs' sake that their instrumental math-metal virtuosity is enjoyed mainly as a novelty by their legions of ironic indie-rock fans...and if so, how many of these fans are going to be interested in "VI", "VII" and "VIII" when they come out? 'Cause "V", their latest, sees these lads go from strength to strength without significantly altering or diluting their vision. If you already love the Champs, you'll love "V" for sure, it's a lot like "IV" but without the one song with vocals found on that album (c'mon Tim Soete, sing!!). Also there's more fusion and classical moves on here -- one song is listed as copyright 1723 J.S. Bach ("Air On A G-String", which IS Johan's original title, although we were suspicious).
Indeed, within their distinctive sound, variety abounds on "V", from "I Am The Album Cover" which channels the techno-blues rockisms of late-period ZZ Top, to the Frippertronics-ish-isms elsewhere. There's also a bit of electronic tunesmithery that's so much better than anything they did in their collaboration with Trans Am. But that's no big stretch for this band, and for the most part "V" is heavy, rockin' Champs-at-their-best stuff, the trio dealing out rapid, tense riffing, no-denying-it's-metal-lic sheets of sound, and hard hitting drum filigree left right and center. Familiar faves previously only heard live and on old demo cassettes also appear. Melody and math and metal intertwine wonderfully over the fifteen tracks found here, and it's so good it's no joke. No more of a joke than, say, Hammers of Misfortune is (think about it).
That's the deal with the Champs. There's nothing inherently funny about their music (in fact, without vocals/lyrics, they're LESS funny than many of their influences, like Carcass and Metallica). Maybe that's why they like that "total music" tag. 'Cause at the end of the day, they make this music, and you listen to it, for the sake of the music alone, not for some post-hip, ironic, spoof-on-metal hilarity. I mean, a few of the song titles are amusing, but you also know they kind of mean stuff like "Hats Off To Music". No joking here, really. (But we do have to ask Josh Smith about The Guitar That Was Made Of Water that he has listed in his vast equipment array, among other things...)
Anyway, in sum: another winner from one of our all-time favorite bands!!
RealAudio clip:
"Never Enough Neck (Pt 1)"
RealAudio clip: "I Am The Album Cover"
RealAudio clip: "Nebula Ball Rests In A Fantasy Claw"
RealAudio clip: "Chorale Motherfucker"

album coverCHASSE, L. Hedge Of Nerves (Anomalous) cd 14.98
Oval, Disc, Autechre... Lots of folks like that digital glitch stuff -- we do too -- but how 'bout some analog 'glitch'? Good old fashioned record crackle! AQ friend and fave sound artist Loren Chasse's new solo release, his first for Anomalous, totally delves into the realm of crackle, from records and beyond. For details, we may as well quote directly from the label's press release (since our own Allan wrote it!):
"The work of sonic artist/investigator Loren Chasse (solo, Thuja, id Battery, and various manifestations of the 'Jewelled Antler collective') usually involves the documentation and manipulation of minute sound events (rubbings, scrapings, clickings) involving found objects and natural phenomena, emphasizing unexpected perspectives and connections. Even when performing in the psychedelic improv outfit Thuja, his 'instruments' primarily consist of contact mics, a mixer, some rocks and twigs, and his imagination. Loren's processed field recordings are fragile and full of strange beauty and feeling.
"Hedge of Nerves is dedicated to a friend of Loren's who dearly loves the sound of record crackle as it mingles with the music from a record's grooves. He also enjoys the sound of record crackle alone, as when an LP cycles on its run-out groove. Compact disc reissues of early 20th century ethnic music 78s, or Portishead, or Philip Jeck: if it's got that crackle, he likes it! So, this friend asked Loren to make him a recording of vinyl surface noise only, one that he could DJ with, mixing with non-crackly musical sources, to create virtual scratchy records. For this reason, the idea was to avoid any obvious looping, but to make a continuous, unbroken and organic field of crackle. Thus inspired, however, the project soon turned into more than that, as Loren decided that it was more interesting to emulate the sound and texture of record crackle using other sources. The resulting cd indeed begins by utilizing sounds from a scratchy old 78 rpm disc (one recorded by Loren's grandfather in the 1930s at NBC Radio) but also explores more 'elemental' crackling sounds derived from fire and wind and water, from rustling branches, waves, and sand. Hedge of Nerves is dynamic, moving from loud crinkly-crackly storming sound-swarms to the sounds of a wilderness quietly bristling. It's a mesmerizing expanse of hiss and drone, buzz and click, with hints of melody (from his grandfather's 78). The originating idea of surface noise is ever-present, but upon closer examination that 'surface' proves quite deep, something within which the listener will become submerged, blissful and fascinated. Hedge of Nerves is a masterpiece -- just ask Loren's grateful crackle-loving friend, who files it with the best of Philip Jeck, Jonathan Coleclough, M. Behrens, Troum, and other masters of detailed drone constructions."
As you might have guessed, that friend of Loren's is of course our own Allan...and he really does love this disc!! (And he did manage to use an advance version of this to DJ with at the Beyond The Pale festival last year -- it goes really well with Bo Hansson, actually.) Even if you're usually wary of some avantgarde academic "experimental" sterility, try this out anyway, it's warm and organic and inviting in a way many glitchy, noisy things are not, like a bonfire on a desolate, foggy sea-shore.
RealAudio clip:
"track 2"
RealAudio clip: "track 4"

album coverCHERRY, DON Orient (Fruit Tree) cd 14.98
I (Andee) had to push really hard for this to be record of the week back in June as we seldom make LPs records of the week, but now it's been RELEASED ON CD! So all of you turntable-less folks can now also enjoy what is easily one of the most amazing records I have ever heard. We knew about this record but had never actually -heard- it until the aforementioned vinyl reissue. And we were just blown away. We were convinced that this could be the jazz record to cure Jim of his I-Hate-Jazz attitude (we'll let you know what happened with that) (umm, nope. - Jim).
Gorgeous cover art depicting a little ant on the yolk of a big fried egg! Quite striking. Recorded in 1971, 'Orient' features 2 separate live performances with Cherry in two different trios, one with Han Bennink (drums, percussion, accordian, vocals) and Mocqui (tamboura) and the other with Johnny Diani (bass) and Okay Tamiz (drums, percussion). The track 'Orient' which was a side and a half of the 2lp set is the real gem here (although all four tracks are spectacular). 'Orient' starts off with minor key piano and subtle percussion, with mumbled, chant-like vocals, slowly building, rumbling clattery percussion, not all that different from what No Neck Blues Band seems to be working towards. Ten minutes in, the track explodes into a hyper-rhythmic free-jazz frenzy with wailing trumpet and completely mad silverware-drawer-down-the-steps drumming from Bennink. The chanting vocals return, this time, much higher in the mix turning it into a musical tug of war between a somber spiritual and a crazed drum circle free-for-all. The drums prevail, beating out a tribal rhythm, with drum kit and tamboura weaving a rich rhythmic framework, that slowly winds down to dark and dreamy melancholy piano and huge gong swells, with occasional percussive clatter in the background. Suddenly the trio slips into a classic jazz groove that is perfect, but also perfectly out of place. No need to worry, as the groove quickly dissipates into a free jazz supernova of squealing horns and chaotic drumming. Track two, named for Cherry's son, starts with loping and meandering, deep dark beats, with owl-ish flutes and ghost-like horns. Some percussive clatter and an almost Roland Kirk-like breathing/singing whips up a frenzied fervor over throbbing bass, skittery percussion and wild piano (at this point it's necessary to point out the fact that Cherry is handling piano/trumpet/flute single handedly!). The trio soon click into an almost Santana-ish groove with Cherry's soaring vocals following the piano. The track winds down with Cherry going crazy on BOTH the trumpet AND the piano! Track three 'Togetherness' displays some truly breathtaking free-jazz interplay from Cherry and drummer Okay Tamiz. Cherry alternates between pocket trumpet and flute, playing complicated and unlikey melodies over the thick pulsing bass and frenzied percussion (drum kit, but also bells and shakers and gongs!) eventually finishing off with more of that Santana-ish groove and wild, free vocals! The final track, 'Si Ta Ra Ma' is the weirdest of the bunch, again reminding us sonically of No Neck and other of the more modern drone/clatter ensembles. Guttural vocalisations that vacillate from droning almost-throat singing to what sounds like speaking in tongues, with muted horn sputter, droning low-end trumpet buzz, clapping and sorrowful chanting vocals. Over the course of the last ten minutes, the vocals gradually fade into the mix as the percussion (steel drums?) build and build while Cherry solos dreamily and mournfully until the end of the track. Amazing and essential and totally timeless.
RealAudio clip:
RealAudio clip: "Orient (Part 2)"
RealAudio clip: "Si Ta Ra Ma"
RealAudio clip: "Togetherness"

album coverCIRCLE Sunrise (Ektro) cd 14.98
Brilliant, shockingly brilliant! Herewith we present to you what we can only say is the headbangingest record yet from our Finnish friends Circle (containing also, paradoxically, a couple of their most gentle numbers). The Circle concept is one of repetition, and while ALL their records are in fact great, one can find some of them to be a lot like another. So it's nice that this new Circle really goes out on a limb, with so much success, while totally managing to remain Circle to the core. How do they do it?
The album opens with "Nopeuskuningas", seemingly Circle's answer to Judas Priest's "Breaking The Law"! Down and dirty hard rock riffing (cyclic and repetitive in the trademark Circle way, of course) with keyboardist/vocalist Mika Ratto -- a relatively recent, and significant, addition to Circle's lineup on their past three or four discs -- simultaneously channeling screechy metal gods Rob Halford (Judas Priest), Klaus Meine (Scorpions), and Brian Johnson (AC/DC), but in an indeciperable, or Finnish at least, babble. It stretches to nearly eight minutes after the space-rock effects and swirly keys kick in. But then, when you think this is going to be The Heavy Metal Circle album, track two gets all mellow and pretty and folked-out, even MORE unlike any previous Circle we've ever heard. Acoustic guitar, and lots of la la la's from Mika. Unbelievable -- and lovely. But then the next song triggers the dormant motorik Circle drum pulse, overlaid with heavy guitars and vocal histrionics akin to the opening track. Plus new wavey/Axel F keyboards. Hit material here! Following that, track four, "Vaanen Valtiatar", heads back to the forest glade where Circle do that hippy jamming again a la track two, but more plugged-in, turning into a spacey jam session. And then, as you might now expect, it's back to the mosh pit for the monstrous rifferama of the next song, "Kylan Suurin Miekka". Evil stuff. This is True Circular Metal indeed. From then on the album maintains the heaviness, getting spacier and spacier though, culminating in the droning fifteen-minute "Lokki".
Wow. An amazing album, making effective use of Mika's unusual/unique vocals -- he's developed some sort of exotic (Middle Eastern? American Indian?) meets metal style, delivered in a manner as over-the-top as the most insane Italian prog of the '70s. Throw in some violin and moog and of course all the heavy metal moves, and you've got a bizarre blend of, uh, Yoko Ono, Hawkwind, Judas Priest, and of course Circle's krautrock forerunners Neu! and Can.
While "Sunrise" is in many ways a departure for Circle, it can also be seen as an album harking back to their hard-rockin' roots (they've nodded that way on the guitar-heavy "Prospekt" and Jussi's Kyuss-ish Pharoah Overlord side project, but you've got to also remember that the very first Circle album, "Meronia", drew quite a few comparisons to Helmet at the time). Recommended.
RealAudio clip:
RealAudio clip: "Vaanen Valtiatar"
RealAudio clip: "Kylan Suurin Miekka"
RealAudio clip: "Hautain Takaa"

album coverCOH Netmork (souRce) cd 16.98
From his dedication to 'heavy metal fans all over the world' on "Iron" and his recombination of '80s synth pop on "Love Uncut," Coh (aka Russian electron engineer Ivan Pavlov) has presented some unusual concepts to guide his post-techno explorations. Less likely to invoke readings as a piece of irony, the "Netmork" album is a speculation on the hidden language of the telephone, specifically stated as "digitally encoded human emotions running through solid darkness ('mörk') of telephone wires, electromagnetic ghosts of Love and Hate haunting the network after all conversations are made, merging, interacting, turning into each other, disappearing and reborn again." Coh actualizes his concepts through buzzing feedback that gets sequentially darker and more intense over the course of the album. At the album's onset, the electronic squiggles glisten and shimmer with occasional pinpricks of glitched digital feedback, giving way to perhaps those sounds' source material - the indeterminant dialing of a series of numbers on a phone (which made Byram think that Pavlov got bored with the prettiness of those sounds and just called up some friends to get a beer). Instead, the album takes a turn towards the darkside through incrementally building arpeggiations similar to early PanSonic, making for a fine album with an intriguing conceptual framework to match the well-executed electronics.
RealAudio clip:
"netmork, part i: dark inside telephone wire?"
RealAudio clip: "undercosm"

album coverCOHRAN, PHILIP AND THE ARTISTIC HERITAGE ENSEMBLE On The Beach (Aestuarium) cd 14.98
This is a second pressing of "On The Beach," compiling tracks from the late '60s output of Philip Cohran, one of the founders of Chicago's AACM and early member of Sun Ra's Arkestra. While Sun Ra looked toward outer space for inspiration, Phil Cohran (himself an astronomer and mathematician) and his ensemble found manifestations of cosmic spirituality here on earth. Mining different musical traditions such as jazz, rhythm & blues, european classical, "eastern" music, but most specifically reaching into elements of african experience and heritage, the ensemble builds complex rhythms around melodic elements usually provided by Cohran's "frankiphone", a georgeously buzzing bell-like electrified thumb piano of his own design.
On "Unity," which appeared on the excellent Oulele comp a couple years ago, the percussion-heavy groove is anchored by the steady droning of Cohran's violin uke (I presume another of Cohran's designs?). The results go beyond "jazz," even when adding modifiers like avant- or afro-. This is soul music on a higher plane. So beautiful and powerful, this work fits into a larger picture that includes the afro-centric work of John Coltrane, Art Ensemble of Chicago's free-funk explorations with Fontella Bass, and Fela Kuti's consciousness raising jams. Members of the Artistic Heritage Ensemble went on to play with the likes of Miles Davis and Earth, Wind & Fire.
The cd is lovingly packaged in a hand letterpressed sleeve and contains two more tracks than the vinyl version.
RealAudio clip:
RealAudio clip: "Unity"

album coverCOLTRANE, ALICE Universal Consciousness (Verve) cd 17.98
Wow. Of the many recent Alice Coltrane reissues, I have to say this is the best one yet. Recorded in 1971, the record swells with beauty and emotion. It is serene not in a boring way, but in a sort of drone-y way, a state of suspended bliss and yearning that is colored with propulsive drumming courtesy Rashied Ali and Jack DeJohnette, tensely highpitched violin from Joan Kalisch, shimmering bells, and of course Alice's manic improv on the harp and ocean-lulling notes on the organ.
This record is so incredibly unbelievably beautiful, there's not a track that fails to attain superlative heights, and I highly recommend you get it, whether you're a beginner or an Alice fan from way back. Fans of modern experimental work like Vibracathedral Orchestra and Sunroof! should also definitely check this out. Comes in a cd-sized mini gatefold sleeve (like an LP). Really well done!
RealAudio clip:
"Hare Krishna"

album coverCOMETS ON FIRE Field Recordings From The Sun (Ba Da Bing!) cd 14.98
The first thing (the only thing?) you need to know about this Bay Area band is that "electric destruction fuzz guitar" is one of their instruments of choice. Wielded by Ethan Miller, and sometimes also by important Comets associate Ben Chasny of AQ fave acid-folk act Six Organs of Admittance, their "electric destruction fuzz guitar", with help from the band's fuzz bassist and sweaty drum maniac, puts Comets On Fire squarely into the psychedelic garage punk realm, shoulder to shoulder with the likes of 60's heavies Blue Cheer, and modern-day Japanese distortion fiends High Rise. Your friends from college will understand better if you compare Comets to Monster Magnet -- they channel the same sort of MC5-ish ass-kickin' and Hawkwind-like space-outin'. And if Ethan (and Ben's) acid wah guitar leads weren't enough, the Comets take things to a whole 'nother plane of noise with the Echoplex electronic tweakery of Noel Harmonson. His overdriven oscillations multiply the freak-out quotient beyond numerical calculation. And live, his spastic jerking and clapping will occupy your attention visually, at least until the guitarist wrangles his axe into a feedback frenzy jammed up against his amp.
But, there's another side to Comets On Fire, besides the distortion and the garagey riffs. Their loud freak-out elements are only part of an ecstatic musical continuum that also allows for the free jazz / ethnic massed bells and chant of track one, "Beneath The Ice Age". Two songs later, Six Organs guy Ben takes center stage, starting "The Unicorn" off with some improvised acoustic folk. Beautiful. Don't worry, though, 'cause soon enough the electric destruction fuzz guitar is back in action.
"Field Recordings From The Sun" totally rocks, is totally awesome, and is the excellent follow-up (that we'd been eagerly anticipating) to their self-titled, self-released vinyl-only debut reviewed here last year. We sell a lot of Acid Mothers Temple, we should sell as many of these guys! And if you're local, go see 'em, we're lucky they're here.
RealAudio clip:
"Beneath The Ice Age"
RealAudio clip: "The Unicorn"
RealAudio clip: "The Black Poodle"

album coverCUDAMANI The Seven-Tone Gamelan Orchestra From The Village Of Pengosekan, Bali (Vital) cd 14.98
We just got in this brand new release from Vital Records, hot off the presses. (As a disclaimer: though it may seem as if we're obsessed with Balinese Gamelan, it's actually just that a majority of the excellent recordings of Javanese gamelan are currently not in print, but come January we expect a few re-issues from the Nonesuch Explorer series that you can look forward to hearing about.) This release is actually quite exciting in that Gamelan Cudamani represents yet another revolutionary step in the ever changing state of gamelan in Bali. Ironically, it is the very thing that makes this gamelan (and others like it that are being built throughout Bali) new and revolutionary is also the thing that is connecting Balinese gamelan with its past. What makes Cudamani so special is the addition of a mere two pitches to its scale. In truth, those pitches are not a new thing, but contemporary gamelan in Bali since the 1920s have been built with only five (some, a bit less common forms, with only 4.) When the Balinese court dissipated at the turn of the 20th century and many gamelan melted down into modern sets, the repertoire disappeared as well. Lost with those two pitches were the various pentatonic subsets that were capable of being played only on a gamelan with all 7 pitches. I guess you could look at it as if you took all the black keys off your piano, which would severely limit your choice of keys in which you could play. With the music of the Balinese court however, different modes had very different and very strong associations to particular moods. So while all seven tones are rarely used within any given section -- or even composition -- the addition of those two notes opens up the possibilities for playing a huge repertoire of music and creating vast new ones. While this new (re)development has brought the present in closer connection with the past, it has also enabled an unprecedented level of innovation. On the first two pieces of this disc -- both composed by one of Cudamani's founding members -- all seven tones are used, with melodies being immediately recast in other modes and even played on top of one another in a bizarre sort of harmony. Another track included on this collection is a recording of the seminal kebyar piece Teruna Jaya -- as if to bring things full circle once more -- performed as it had originally been performed, including rarely heard sections that are not oft performed anymore. If the instruments and repertoire of Cudamani isn't impressive enough, the family centered group that performs on it is equally so. Though a private organization, the Cudamani is decidedly non-commercial and performs primarily for temple ceremonies and religious festivals. In addition, the Cudamani provides education in performance and dance for youth and adults alike. Cudamani is actually comprised of several performance groups, including the original founding members, there's an all female ensemble and several children's ensembles. The history of the group and very detailed descriptions of the gamelan and the music are included on 15 pages of liner notes.
RealAudio clip:
RealAudio clip: "Legong Candra Kanta"

album coverDEERHOOF Reveille (5RC / Kill Rock Stars) cd 14.98
Gosh. What can I say? This is absolutely the finest moment of Deerhoof's recorded output. At 34 minutes, there is absolutely no filler on Reveille: it is an astonishingly precise and accomplished half hour of some of the most challenging, interesting avant-rock we've heard in a long long time. Jeff loves this album so much he almost started a record label just to put it out! The local trio of Satomi Matsuzaki, John Dieterich and Greg Saunier are old school; you can hear in their music the lessons they learned from vintage Bay Area weirdos like Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 and Caroliner, and from the famously avant garde Mills College music program -- all of which have resulted in a great, eccentric band whose aesthetic is fully formed, mature and confident. Satomi's light, singsong vocal delivery (similar to Boredoms' Yoshimi, Blonde Redhead, Yoko Ono) careens from stereo left to stereo right, a dose of melody and almost j-pop sweetness that plays perfectly against the macabre repeating guitar lines and the great, unpredictable, muscular drumming. Sudden stops and starts punctuate eight minute songs against one minute collages of noisy audio squiggles. Much like the Thinking Fellers did, Deerhoof juxtaposes melodic passages against weighty, distorted guitar a la Sonic Youth; they rarely descend to all-too-easy verse/chorus/verse trad songwriting, yet amazingly enough the album is quite accessible. Experimental music that everyone can enjoy. Wonderful. This record is perfection.
RealAudio clip:
"This Magnificent Bird Will Rise"
RealAudio clip: "Our Angel's Ululu"
RealAudio clip: "Frenzied Handsome, Hello!"
RealAudio clip: "Punch Buggy Valves"

album coverDESTROYER This Night (Merge) cd 14.98
At long last Destroyer (aka Dan Bejar and co.) receives some well-deserved widespread distribution, thanks to the wonderful Merge Records. The previous three albums (Thief, City Of Daughters and Streethawk) were released on small indies, and as a result probably haven't reached as many hungry ears as they deserve. For those unfamiliar, apart from his fine solo efforts Mr. Bejar was also a significant songwriting force along with Carl Newman for the New Pornographers' Mass Romantic album, lending his distinct, slightly more eccentric lyrical twists to their pop magic. But shortly thereafter, he took to the road, travelling from Vancouver to Montreal, Spain, New York, and who knows where else. Somewhere in there he found time to write and record these fifteen songs. A modern day roaming minstrel? He's joined on this album by Fisher Rose (former NP drummer), Chris Frey and Nicolas Bragg. This Night is full of his oft-obtuse, yet deeply poetic writings, and is perhaps his most fleshed out, lush and consistent album to date. Swimming against the current flood of singer/songwriter folk-inflected melancholia, Bejar's songs do more than tug at the heartstrings or play with the emotions. This is not the music of a quick fix although his sweet jangly pop hooks do surface every so often ("Here Comes The Night"). Almost seeming from a different time, the first three songs alone will sweep you up into his world - keeping you on your toes with tempo shifts and his particular vocal inflections - and draw you back again with each listen. Recommended.
RealAudio clip:
"This Night"
RealAudio clip: "Here Comes The Night"
RealAudio clip: "Trembling Peacock"
RealAudio clip: "Goddess Of Drought"

album coverV/A DJ Drank's Greatest Malt Liquor Hits cd-r 11.98
VERY LIMITED. And we think the blurb on the back of the cd says it best, so we'll just quote it:
Before the appropriately named Alkaholiks DJ/producer E-Swift hooked up with King Tee and DJ Pooh to work on a series of 60-second St. Ides TV and radio commercial spots that they had been commissioned to do: complete with a budget that allowed them to bring in some of the best emcees of the day. These rap commercials were really really good (they sound better than most commercial rap crap today!) and were so immensely popular at the time (early 90's when commercial radio didn't play nearly as much rap as today, esp. West Coast artists) that they resulted in listeners jamming radio station request lines at stations like Wild 107, San Francisco just to hear Cube or the Geto Boys rap about their favorite high-octane malt liquor. Not surprisingly with lyrics like Cube's "Get your girl in the mood quicker, get your jimmy thicker, with St. Ides malt liquor," it wasn't long before controversy soon overshadowed the advertising campaign. Outraged protests followed particularly in African-American and Hispanic communities where malt-liquor billboards and posters were defaced. Additionally the St. Ides commercials were publicly criticized by the U.S. Surgeon General and the New York State Consumer Protection Commission and drew fines from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, as well as the New York State Attorney General's Office. Additionally Korean grocers boycotted St. Ides, but for a different reason, for their use of Ice Cube as their spokesperson. Their protest was based on Cube's derogatory lyrical comments about Koreans in his album "Death Certificate." (Note: McKenzie River, the San Francisco-based maker of St. Ides, consequently temporarily discontinued using Ice Cube.) But the biggest criticism of the St. Ides commercials was that it used hip hop/rap music, a genre most popular with teenagers at the time, to sell malt liquor directly to underage drinkers. This was further enforced when St. Ides blatantly marketed a nonalcoholic drink for kids, boldly using the St. Ides name/logo (check out the lyrics to Ice Cube's "Crooked I For All Ages" track #30). Overall the reaction to the St. Ides ads was so intense that G. Heileman Co., the national brewer that had created the St. Ides label, disavowed any connection with St. Ides. And eventually the commercials were banned altogether and never heard/seen again.
With Ice Cube, Yo-Yo, Geto Boys and Scarface, Snoop Dogg, Wu Tang Clan, Eric B & Rakim, EPMD, and many more. 30 tracks in all. VERY LIMITED.
RealAudio clip:
ICE CUBE "Wish They'd Come Up with a 12-Pak"
RealAudio clip: YO-YO / KING TEE "You Need a Six-Pack"

album coverDOVES The Last Broadcast (Capitol) 2cd 17.98
Only the second album from Manchester trio Doves (not to be confused with The Doves), but what a beauty it is! An ultra lush production of mellow, earthy British pop. Often quite akin to fellow Brits Coldplay especially on their slower songs with their lilting, emotive male vocals, warm piano and combined acoustic and electric guitars. The trio's compositions swell to gorgeously grand proportions with some very tastefully applied strings (as arranged by Sean O'Hagan of High Llamas), horns and woodwinds (check out "Friday's Dust", oooh!). And glistening glockenspiel too! Truly soaring and dramatic, but never excessively so. However, these fellows show they're more than capable of also kicking things up a notch or two on tracks like the solid pop of "Pounding", a super catchy number propelled by drums that certainly get their share of thumpin'. Sorta made me think "I'd like the Strokes' if they sounded more like this and less detached and indifferent." Near the close of the album, the songs - particularly the title track and "The Sulphur Man" - shift in tone subtly into something that strongly reminded us of American Music Club, in part due to the striking vocal resemblance between Mark Eitzel and Jimi Goodwin on these tracks. Also includes a bonus limited edition EP of four more gentle songs. Very very nice!
RealAudio clip:
"There Goes The Fear"
RealAudio clip: "Friday's Dust"
RealAudio clip: "Pounding"
RealAudio clip: "The Sulphur Man"

album coverDUNCAN, JOHN Phantom Broadcast (All Questions) cd 16.98
While attending Cal Arts in the mid '70s, John Duncan discovered the transient frequencies of shortwave, and made it his tool of choice in transferring his knowledge about the psychological implications for specific colors to the realm of sound construction. Instead of merely rehasing the Marshall McLuhan's 'medium is the message' tropes, Duncan's use of the shortwave is marked by his ability to transform the sound device into an externalization of profound (and sometimes disturbing) psychological states. Throughout his impressive back catalogue of recordings, the textural grit and grim electrical tonality of shortwave has repeatedly surfaced in any number of contexts, whether that be the poisonous aggression of "River Of Flames" or the architectural hauntings of "Palace of Mind." The same can be said for this album, as Duncan used nothing but a single shortwave transmission augmented by minimal amount of processing in composing the 47 minutes found within "Phantom Broadcast." Instead of the darkened references mentioned earlier, Duncan has extracted a sublimely powerful and uniquely transcendent series of sounds from what is just a utility signal containing something banal like air traffic controller data but could be something sort of shadowy like a RTTY radioteletype (a fairly sophisticated form of encryption; although not impossible to crack like Numbers Stations). These electrical sounds -- originally noxious striations of aural code -- have been smeared into quasi-harmonic, gaseous states and articulated as gasping reverberating drones. Right from the beginning of the album, these sounds do appear as from shortwave but as an epic piece of '60s Minimalism or Ligeti choral and caralon composition. Such references do not disappear over the "Phantom Broadcast" composition as organic cycles and fluctuations move throughout. It's simply breathtaking and beautiful.
While there were a number of great albums in 2002, Duncan's "Phantom Broadcast" is firmly planted at the top of my (Jim's) list for record of the year.
RealAudio clip:
"Phantom Broadcast"

album coverEHLERS, EKKEHARD Plays (Staubgold) cd 14.98
You suckers without turntables get yet another temporary reprieve, as Ekkehard Ehlers' five lovely mini-albums, previously released only on vinyl, are here compiled onto one handy cd. And lovely is most certainly an understatement. This is some of the most gorgeous, sublime and moving electronic/glitch/sample based music we have ever heard. Sounds are completely recontextualised into cloudy, indistinct but somehow emotionally and sonically spot-on homages to some of Ehlers' influences. Falling somewhere between Stephen Mathieu and Oval, Ehlers adds remarkable depth and emotion to what is quite often a cold and clinical artform.
Tracks one and two are the "Plays Cornelius Cardew" lp and are lovely layered soundscapes as only Ehlers can conjure. Sampled sounds are seamlessly woven into dense, textural tone poems again highly reminiscent of Wolfgang Voigt's Gas. The second (track three and four) in the "Plays" series is a 'tribute' to the German beat poet Hubert Fichte. Where those previous tracks are dominated by ephemeral drone work with refined patinas of digital corrosion, this piece curiously sounds like Pole doing free jazz, with erratic squiggles of granular synthesized saxophone and really lazy strums from a guitar seeping up from an electronically sculpted metallic haze. Even those slowly developed basslines that Pole plops into his neo-dub show up in "Plays Hubert Fichte" although Ehlers disregards Pole's structuralism in favor of an amorphous improvisation of deep hovering movements. "Plays John Cassavetes" (tracks five and six) is part three in Ehler's series of 'tributes' and for these pieces he seamlessly weaves orchestral samples into beautiful landscapes of sonic reverberations. Very reminiscent of Wolfgang Voigt's work as Gas, or those brief, subtle moments of bliss found on My Bloody Valentine's "Loveless" record. Tracks seven and eight find Ehlers sampling fragments of Albert Ayler. However, as with most of these pieces, it is debatable as to how much Ayler is actually present on this recording, musically. Consisting entirely of digitally altered cello recordings, these two sidelong pieces gently swell, teeter and expand, forming beautiful, haunting drones that lie beneath digital snippets of arrhythmic ephemera. Somehow, Ehlers manages to restructure a mundane cello recording into a wonderfully reticular songpoem. The final two tracks are from the 'Plays Robert Johnson' 7" which we were never able to get enough of to list. Two short tracks: the first is an abstractly plucked, slow-motion, Reynols-on-cough-syrup style tarpit blues jam, while the final track is all throbbing four-on-the-floor Kompakt style minimal/heroin house.
Trust us, we plow through a lot of pretentious electronic crap that takes itself too seriously -- and while the conceit of the five Ehler tributes might suggest that he could fall into this trap -- he does not. Ehlers delivers, and you'll love this. We all do.
RealAudio clip:
"Plays Cornelius Cardew"
RealAudio clip: "Plays Hubert Fichte"
RealAudio clip: "Plays John Cassavetes"
RealAudio clip: "Plays Albert Ayler"
RealAudio clip: "Plays Robert Johnson"

album coverFLAMING LIPS Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (Warner Bros.) cd 14.98
The Flaming Lips return with yet another gem and it's beginning to look as if they are only getting better with age. We used to think that about Tom Waits, Stereolab, and (some here think) Radiohead, but all those folks have released mediocre (perhaps bad?) records, whereas Flaming Lips' career-long consistency through 12 albums is pretty amazing. Certainly many of their indie rock, pre-Warner fans have long since abandoned their current efforts just as many who discovered them via their hit "She Don't Use Jelly" (or possibly more recently with "Waitin' For A Superman") probably don't find much to enjoy in their early drug addled, psychedleic bombast. But with such a continually evolving yet uncompromising sound, they're bound to alienate some. There's a striking resemblance on Yoshimi to the recent works of Radiohead, but then again there's definitely much that parallels the Lips' career with that of our faves from across the Atlantic. Like Radiohead, The Flaming Lips have chosen ever more increasing studio experimentation, combining electronic music elements with lush arrangements and cohesive album-oriented productions. But more significant perhaps is that Yoshimi, a semi-concept album, shares a similar paranoid and alienated angst that Radiohead has been honing these last several albums. But where as Radiohead takes a decidedly maudlin Orwellian-like approach in their song writing, the Flaming Lips work in an absurdist, comedic fashion more akin to Philip K. Dick. "One More Robot / Sympathy 3000-21" could have been cut straight out of a P.K.D. story: "Unit three thousand twenty one is warming / makes a humming sound -- when its circuits duplicate emotions -- and a sense of coldness detaches as it tries to comfort your sadness..." All this arranged about as close to a Sade song as Coyne and the Lips can conceivably get (which I also see as a friendly jab at the sterile audiophile machinations of modern "soul".) The humanization of machines vs. humanity stripped of love and hate is the theme that's mulled over throughout. Most of the songs on the album are in direct reference to a painful breakup (either real or concocted) and the fictional battle between Yoshimi and the Pink Robots is more of a parable for struggling in the aftermath of having one's heart dashed to pieces. The two themes are intertwined on the album, but loosely enough so that you aren't forced into a Pink Floyd Wall of a concept album. While not as completely rife with hits as The Soft Bulletin, there's a lot to be warmed up to with Yoshimi. At first listen it seemed as though the Lips and Mercury Rev-ifier Dave Fridman had produced nothing but 45 minutes of studio wizardry and ear candy, but continual listens finds these songs opening up like a veritable flower blossom. "In the Morning of the Magicians" with its recurring, heart rending instrumental bridge will even bring a tear to the most desiccated of eyes. And "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" (Part 1, *not* part 2) will have you singing along in your best cracked falsetto soon enough. I imagine the bean counters at AOL/Time Warner had a hard time listening to this more than once, if at all, as they neglected to print up enough copies in the first run and now we -- and stores everywhere I suppose -- are struggling to find a distributor with remaining copies on hand. And we're not sure of the significance or if the title and her appearance on this record are mere coincidences or -gasp- something more, but AQ fave/crushworthy drummer/vocalist Yoshimi of the mighty Boredoms is a musical guest!!
RealAudio clip:
"In the Morning of the Magicians"
RealAudio clip: "One More Robot / Sympathy 3000-21"
RealAudio clip: "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt. 1"

album coverFONTAINE, BRIGITTE s/t (Saravah) cd 16.98
Brigitte Fontaine may get filed next to yeh-yeh girls like Francoise Hardy and Chantal Goya, but the eclectic avant-folk records she has been making with the help of percussionist Areski Belkacem since the seventies take the pop seed and mutate it far beyond the reach of any other French chanteuse. She cut a record with Art Ensemble of Chicago in 1971, and is making amazing records to this day, as evidenced by last year's excellent "Kekeland," featuring collaborations with the likes of Sonic Youth in addition to Areski. This is a reissue of her self-titled album from 1972, and it moves through the sounds of gorgeous pychedelic folk, string and organ-backed polyphonic liturgical-style chants advocating power to the people, medieval prog stylings, bizarre poetics, spoken word, barnyard avant-jazz, and the odd bout of screaming or anti-capitalist rallying. Her seductive voice grounds a kind of dada futurism that emerges alongside the deft navigation of styles, a hallmark of her work. Brigitte Fontaine's brand of cerebral pop experimentalism puts her in a strata attained by few artists. What reference points I can dig up-- Art Ensemble (of course), the best Os Mutantes records, Yoko Ono as a French situationist-- don't really suffice to explain Briggitte Fontaine's haunting oeuvre. Let me just say that listening to this album makes me giddy with joy (seriously!), and comes highly recommended, as does the reissue of 1971's "L'incendie."
RealAudio clip:
RealAudio clip: "Marcelle"
RealAudio clip: "L'Eternal Retour"

album coverGALLO, VINCENT Recordings Of Music For Film (Warp) cd 17.98
While writing a recent review about his favorite group King Crimson (!), Vincent Gallo allowed himself the indulgence of a viperous tangential rant against Harmony Korine: "When a mini-dwarf rich kid from Nashville like Harmony Korine flies first class and moves to New York City's Soho in his 'plush safe' apartment, running around town quoting Godard with lines like, 'Fuck the bourgeois', it's insincere, it's calculated, it's unoriginal, and it's the worst thing in the world, 'trendy'. He already knows that he and his boring girlfriend Connecticut Chloe Sevigny are going to be on the cover of 'The Face'. He knows he'll get his run at The Angelica and be hip in Japan. But no one will ever make an important film because they saw 'Gummo' or 'Donkey Boy'." (http://www.vincentgallo.com/writing/KingCrimson.html) The irony of such a statement is that many of Gallo's critics have uttered very similar attacks against him. In a lot of ways, Gallo brings it upon himself with the public display of a blunt persona that is crass, misogynistic, and brutally ugly. Yet amidst these horrible aspects of humanity, Gallo's facade cracks with wondrous displays of romantic dreams that sing the praises of 'pretty girls,' Genet-like love stories borne out of abjection, and the ephemeral magic of his musical constructions. How much of this dichotomy falls under the category of artistic calculation and how much of it is a hyper-dramatization of Gallo's polarization of human characteristics -- both positive and negative.
Of course, Vincent Gallo doesn't give a fuck what you or I may think about his art, as he's already convinced that's he a genius. I (Jim) enjoyed the grim artistry of "Buffalo 66" but was initially skeptical of his music, as a passing fancy for dilettante who somehow managed to convince Warp Records to sign him. Yet, in setting my pre-conceptions aside and actually listening to his previously published "When" (a bit of a sleeper hit among several of us here at Aquarius) and now "Recordings Of Music For Film," Vincent Gallo is a musician whose talent is not easy to dismiss as a cultural fluke. Like "When," his film scores to "Buffalo 66," "The Way It Is," "Downtown 81" and "If You Feel Froggy, Jump" are delicate, bittersweet wisps of song fragments, with ghostly guitar strumming that recalls late '80s Jandek, Gallo's Chet Baker-like voice, passing flourishes from a clarinet or a melodica, and very little else. What is most impressive is the consistency between all of these recordings despite the 15 years between "Buffalo 66" and "The Way It Is," whose scores make up the majority of this album. Regardless, it ends up being beautiful, no matter what opinion you may hold about Vincent Gallo.
RealAudio clip:
"Her Smell Theme"
RealAudio clip: "The Girl Of Her Dreams"
RealAudio clip: "Six Laughs Once Happy"
RealAudio clip: "Lonely Boy"
RealAudio clip: "A Somewhere Place"

album coverGANDALF s/t (Sundazed) cd 13.98
Tolkien fans, be warned -- this sixties psych pop group from New Jersey was only hastily dubbed "Gandalf" mere weeks before their debut was recorded in 1967. As Mike "Ugly Things" Stax' liner notes say (with perhaps some unnecessary scorn for the inhabitants of Middle Earth): "The group's name is actually a misnomer; although full of magic, the Gandalf record is thankfully free of wizards and hobbits." Previous to their Gandalf incarnation, the band was called the Rahgoos, named, believe it or not, after the Ragu brand of spaghetti sauce! (The liner notes again: "What was needed was a new, more 'with it' name." So they chose Ragu? What?) Whatever the name, though, the band's lone LP, now reissued by Sundazed, is pretty darn great, with gentle, melancholy singing, hypnotic piano and Hammond B3, and plenty of psychedelic tape echo courtesy of a piece of equipment (the Binson Echorec) that the band had acquired soon before the recording sessions and used to great effect, ahem.
Gandalf is especially known (to those in the know, that is, who speak of them in hushed whispers we'd imagine) for their amazing, dark, psychedelic version of the old standard "Golden Earrings" with which they open the disc. Along with that cover, they also interpret several songs by Tim Hardin as well as Eden Ahbez's famed "Nature Boy". But they had a fine songwriter in the band as well, Peter Sando, and his "Can You Travel In The Dark Alone" equals the spooky effect they achieved with "Golden Earrings", while Sando's album-closing "I Watch The Moon" rocks out a bit more with some tasty fuzz guitar -- which you'll also hear in their "Nature Boy", for one!
As long lost, forgotten '60s psych gems go, this is the real deal, not baseless hype based merely on how much some ponytailed psych collector was willing to pay for an original vinyl copy. Sundazed gets our thanks once again!
RealAudio clip:
"Golden Earrings"
RealAudio clip: "Hang On To A Dream"
RealAudio clip: "Can You Travel In the Dark Alone"
RealAudio clip: "Nature Boy"

album coverGENDREAU, MICHAEL 55 Pas De La Ligne Au No. 3 (23Five) cd 12.98
Throughout the '80s and '90s, Michael Gendreau worked extensively in the East Bay avant-noise project Crawling With Tarts, often constructing surreal experiments with idiosyncratic pop-babble and tape collages of art-damaged noise. For Gendreau, the turntable became an ideal instrument for his explorations; and soon, he began working with the archaic technology of lathe cut, handcrafted vinyl. Often the results were bizarre, if sporadically successful recontextualizations of homemade instrumentation, radio noise, and anti-pop. Recently, it seems as though Gendreau has put Crawling With Tarts on an extended hiatus, due to his increasing attention into the field of vibrations diagnostics and consultation. This incredibly technical arena has lead him to researching the problems of acoustic noise vibrations upon highly sensitive pieces of optical equipment, which could present faulty analysis due to the tiny, but measurable effects of environmental noise (air condititioning ducts and heating vents in particular).
"55 Pas De La Ligne Au No. 3" finds Gendreau bridging his current activities of acoustic diagnostics with his once prolific avant-turntable collages. It appears that Gendreau has hooked up a number of accelerometers - technical devices used to detect, measure, and catalogue any number of vibrational frequencies - to a series of battered record players spinning his handmade vinyl. Gendreau's accelerometers are so sensitive, that they pick up, not only the interaction between the needle and the record in question, but also the muffled whir of the thick rubber band stretching between the motor and the turntable plate. The results found on "55 Pas De La Ligne Au No. 3" are astounding, with eerie mechanical drones, minute needle crackle, and the occasional, but always unnerving upsurge of quiet voices floating though the din like the EVP sounds from "The Ghost Orchid" of purported recordings from beyond the grave. This will probably become one of my (Jim's) favorite records of the year.
RealAudio clip:
"Two Worlds For Now"
RealAudio clip: "55 Pas De La Ligne Au No. 3"

album coverGOBLIN Il Fantastico Viaggio Del Bagarozzo Mark (Cinevox) cd 16.98
I am so so so in love with this record! (I'm Windy.) If you don't have any Goblin records then you want to forgo this temporarily (it's just not typical of their material) and get Suspiria first. But if you already have at least one Goblin album, then get this one now. Of course, at first you had to be a little trepidacious about Il Fantastico Viaggio Del Bagarozzo Mark, released in 1978, for the following reasons: [1] it's one of only two Goblin albums that weren't commissioned as soundtracks (the other being Roller), and [2] it's also supposedly their only album with *vocals*. Coulda crashed and burned if you ask me, but it turns out this album is awesome and the vocals just send it over the top! Massimo Morante's voice is dramatic and urgent yet at the very same time super melodic. And it sort of makes sense that without filmic visuals to provide visible stimulation, the vocals provide just the right amount of narrative "human" element. The songs here are so melodic and hook-filled, with tremendously beautiful minor-key climaxes that really satisfy. So great!
Comes with mpeg footage of the band (in 2001) playing music in the same Cinevox studio where they'd always recorded, and also there's a rare interview where they reveal that much of Il Fantastico Viaggio Del Bagarozzo Mark is about saying no to drugs.
RealAudio clip:
"Opera Magnifica"
RealAudio clip: "Le Cascate di Viridiana"
RealAudio clip: "Mark Il Bagarozzo"

album coverHOT HOT HEAT Make Up The Breakdown (Sub Pop) cd 12.98
These young Canadians have certainly come a long way in a very short period of time. Their first Sub Pop cdep 'Knock Knock Knock' only came out earlier this year, and I believe they had just one other release prior to that. They started out in 1999 with a different vocalist and churned out boyish angst filled post-punk made notable by its catchy rockin' synth lines (which were very much like the amazing, but sadly long defunct The VSS). Nowadays however, they're quite a different band. No longer spurring fewer comparisons to Circus Lupus or bands from San Diego's ThreeOneG and Gold Standard Laboratories roster, they're drawing more from the British, buoyant mod pop sounds of the '60s and yes, the new waveness of '80s. Polished, styled out and very danceable, yet still retaining their youthful exuberance. Very fleshed out vocals with great gang of boys backups deliver the clever lyrics. Oh and yes the rad riffin' keyboard lines are also still present. Ultra-infectious and energetic! If you've liked Outhud, !!!, the most recent Rapture 12" or the last Radio 4 album 'Gotham' (a sidenote: oddly enough HHH's singer often sounds a lot like R4's vocalist who actually sounds a lot like early Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello), then you'll definitely want to check this out! Mind you they're a much more pop than funky! Recorded by Seattle studio vet Jack Endino. Get ready folks, you're probably going to be hearing a lot from these boys in the months to come! Recommended!
RealAudio clip:
"Get In Or Get Out"
RealAudio clip: "Talk To Me, Dance With Me"

album coverIMMORTAL Sons Of Northern Darkness (Nuclear Blast) cd 14.98
From the cold frozen north (Norway) comes this, the latest cd from one of our favorite corpse-painted bands ever, Immortal. It's their seventh album but their first for new, big-time label Nuclear Blast, so expectations are high. And "Sons Of Northern Darkness" delivers, in fine Immortal fashion. It's got the unmistakable Popeye-gone-metal vocal stylings of guitarist Abbath, who rasps out the frostbitten fantasy lyrics penned by their former guitarist, the crippled Demonaz, all backed by a blizzard of drums from hefty skinbeater Horgh.
Followers of Immortal's career know that they began as your basic, howling at the moon, primitive blasting black metal outfit. They quickly developed a reputation as the fastest band out there, reaching a peak of pure speed with the classic "Battles In The North". Unable to top that, they did an album of Morbid Angel worship, the hectic "Blizzard Beasts"...and then Demonaz left the band, unable to play guitar due to "arm disease". Regrouping, Immortal shifted in a newly melodic, heavy-metal-riff oriented direction, releasing the brilliant "At The Heart of Winter". Some old fans (Josh from The Fucking Champs, you know who you are) were disappointed that the songs wasn't as fast, and the production not as "necro" (i.e. bad) as before, but the drums still blazed and the better production (courtesy of Peter Tagtgren's Abyss Studio) combined with their improved song-craft made for a true masterpiece. They followed that up with "At The Heart of Winter Part II" (actual title: "Damned In Black"), and now here we are with what is essentially part three, "Sons Of Northern Darkness". No, it doesn't top "At The Heart of Winter" but it's indeed more of the same quality Immortal, totally satisfying! While their blasting abilities are still incredible, this disc is perhaps at its best on the slower songs, like "Tyrants". Cold, cold stuff. There's even a song about Antarctica!
Immortal. Sometimes, there's nothing better.
RealAudio clip:
"One By One"
RealAudio clip: "Tyrants"

album coverINTERPOL Turn On The Bright Lights (Matador) cd 9.98
The Strokes, Andrew W.K., The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Liars, and now Interpol are part of a recent rash of New York punkish bands birthed from the music hype machine as the great salvation of rock 'n' roll. Strange that these bands would garner such praise, since none of them operate outside of the arena of the homage -- either as ironic hyperbole in Andrew W.K. or as The Strokes' downward mobility to blue collar rockisms. Of all the aforementioned bands, Interpol seem the most interesting as they've managed to successfully resurrect Ian Curtis, a task that hasn't really met with much success in other bands. I mention just Curtis, as his persona seems to resonate much more strongly with Interpol than Joy Division as a whole. Sure there are ghosts of Factory's post-punk jaggedness and mororsely bleak temperament; but Interpol's forceful minor keys offer other roadstops past The Strokes' take on brightly-colored, guitar jangle and the sublime washes of fuzzy feedback heard in the early '90s shoegazer bands (MBV, Ride, Slowdive, etc.). Musically, Interpol's debut "Turn On The Bright Lights" is an excellent marriage of those aforementioned styles; but like Joy Division, Interpol is driven by a charismatic singer with a flair for dramatic bombast and a predilection for angst. Paul Banks, Interpol's singer, is a rare breed in the contemporary world of depressed vocalists who have typically followed the emo-centric whimper and scream approach of Sunny Day Real Estate to infuse any lyrical content with immediacy and passion. Instead, Banks can actually really sing, his nervous vibrato echoing the musical accompaniment played between depressed weariness and urgent conviction.
Much of Interpol's aesthetic choices and lyrical content (love / hate relationships, urban isolationism, and sexual dependency) have already been done to death, but few have been able to do them as well. "Turn On The Bright Lights" is a fantastic record and actually lives up to all of the hype that has surrounded it.
RealAudio clip:
RealAudio clip: "Obstacle 1"
RealAudio clip: "Say Hello To The Angels"
RealAudio clip: "Stella Was A Diverr And She Was Always Down"

album coverIRON & WINE The Creek Drank The Cradle (Sub Pop) cd 14.98
There was a time where I would buy ANYTHING that came out on Sub Pop. ANYTHING. And I still kind of miss those days once in a while. Where you didn't say "I like, ya know... Mudhoney, Soundgarden, and Nirvana", you just said "Yeah, I like Sub Pop". Where there was a label 'sound': you know, grunge or whatever, you knew that if you liked Tad and the Thrown Ups and Mudhoney, you were probably gonna dig the Afghan Whigs and Soundgarden. And I was the first to balk when Sub Pop started deviating from their 'sound'. A sound so comfortable and familiar. But whether it was a desperate attempt to battle the massive grunge backlash or just label heads Jon and Bruce showing their age, or an attempt to actually do something really new and exciting, the end result is a catalogue at once brilliant, and totally confounding, perfect, but not right at all. Sure there were some real stinkers, and some records that were definitely 'friend rock' (you know, the only reason we put this out is because they're our friends), but nonetheless some of the most essential and under appreciated gems of the last decade exist -because- of this varied and eclectic take on indie/underground music. The two Zumpano records are all time unanimous AQ favorites, and there's the twangy rootsy country rock/pop of Beachwood Sparks and Chapaquidick Skyline, the gorgeous stripped down pop of Damien Jurado, as well as Mark Kozelek, Mark Lanegan, the Pernice Brothers and now, the debut from Florida's Iron And Wine, a one-man-and-his-4-track, stripped down, Southern, country/folk/mope rock wash of dirgey back woods ballads sung in a plaintive whisper accompanied by banjo and acoustic guitar. SOOOOOOO NICE. So nice in fact, that this would definitely have been my (Andee's) record of the year if it wasn't for last list's Woven Hand record. And that said, it's definitely threatening to overtake the 'Hand as my most listened to record. You've all heard the lonely boy with a guitar, dreamy twangy heartbroken singer songwriter. It's been done to death (but what hasn't? Don't get me started!) But once in a while it's just -done right-. So right in fact, that it transcends its meager aspirations and becomes a volatile and intense emotional piece of art. Such is the case with Iron And Wine. Simple songs are strummed and plucked, the vocals are sort of whispered/sung, melodies surface occasionally to embed themselves permanently in your brain, banjos and acoustic guitars gently lift the vocals above the fuzzy dreamy ambience with a recording quality that makes everything sound like it's dappled with morning sunlight. Think a less damaged Elliott Smith. Think America or Bread (but think it in a nice way, c'mon). Think early Sebadoh without the jokes. Think Sentridoh recording for Folkways 50 years ago. Think Bread recording for K records and playing basements in Olympia. If there was any justice in the world, this would be the record all the little grrrls would put on their mix tapes, this would be the hapless singer songwriter that gets co-opted by the man and inexplicably records soundtracks and ends up playing a song on the Grammies and this would be the next big thing. But it's not, and it won't be, so that just leaves us with Iron And Wine, a twangy, shimmery, dreamy missive full of aching heartbreak, unrequited love, wistful hope, bitter resentment, untapped faith and inevitable diappointment, and a soul soothing contentment with the ways of the world. The perfect record to wile away breezy summer afternoons, to drive aimlessly through the rain, music keeping time with the windshield wipers, to fall asleep to, or to break the heart that keeps yours from breaking. One of the nicest records this year.
RealAudio clip:
"Upward Over The Mountain"
RealAudio clip: "Weary Memory"
RealAudio clip: "Muddy Hymnal"
RealAudio clip: "Bird Stealing Bread"
RealAudio clip: "Southern Anthem"

album coverJECK, PHILIP Stoke (Touch) cd 14.98
Compared to the recent release of the collaboration between avantgarde turntablists Philip Jeck, Otomo Yoshihide, and Martin Tetreault, Jeck's solo production receives the superior packaging job -- not only with the normal sized digipack (and not that stupid 'super jewel case') but also with the beautiful design from Touch's Jon Wozencroft. Furthermore, Jeck's album clocks in nearly 20 minutes longer and is two bucks cheaper.
OK, so it looks good, but what does it sound like?, you ask. The AQ verdict is -- it sounds wonderful! Philip Jeck's take on turntable experimentation involves using multiple turntables and scratchy old records to create blissfully beautiful surface-noise looping. His largely improvised compositions make the most gorgeous, repetitive, droning use of good old-fashioned record crackle and hiss. Jeck takes great care to allow for scraps of melody to emerge from the original music on the records with snippets of piano, sitar, and slow-motion vocals, popping out of crackled loops and often recalling the height of the Robin Storey era Zoviet France in the late '80s.
What differentiates this new album from the previous excellent ones in his oeuvre is its dynamics (perhaps due to the fact that these were all live performances?) -- the music is more active in terms of the elements used and their resulting emotional power. In fact, the first track "Above" is the creepiest composition I've ever heard from Jeck. The dynamism is also evident in that he uses more individual sounds that unfold over time but *not* necessarily being looped. It's nice to hear him trusting the sounds to stand on their own rather than needing the looping effect to make them beautiful. Highly recommended!!
RealAudio clip:
RealAudio clip: "Pax"

album coverKONER, THOMAS Daikan (Mille Plateaux) cd 15.98
Currently, Thomas Koner has been stepping outside of the heroin house persona that absorbed his work within Porter Ricks as the defining force for the Chain Reaction sound. Complementing his recent low-end frequency collaborations with Asmus Teitchens as Kontakt Der Junglinge, Thomas Koner's "Daikan" is a return to the isolationist aesthetics that were indicative of his earliest work (such as "Teimo" and the aptly titled "Permafrost"). Koner opens the album by breaking a pristini, black silence with deep bass rumbles that ominously plod, as if made by some Promethean creature from a Lovecraft horror story. Amidst these distant pulses (which resemble a 909 kick slowed way the hell down), cold washes of densely layered synthethic drones intrude into the audible realm, only to pass back into silence, but with an altered acoustic teleology, sounding sort of like the doppler effect. These fluctuations in and out of silence build up to a rather subtle climax in which Koner introduces a very simple descending three note melody composed out of those same synthetic drones. As simple a compositional technique, this melody, which only appears twice throughout the 54 minutes, is incredibly dramatic. For all of the metaphors and allusions that Koner implies in this work, it is a little odd that he would claim that it "will create a presence of sounds which do not refer to anything, and not only allow, but stimulates a complete awareness, free of dramatized illusion." While he's obviously intended something other than his end results, "Daikan" is a breathtaking vision into an existential void, just as powerful as anything Lustmord or Main has created in the realms of dark acoustic soundscapes. Very nice indeed!
RealAudio clip:
"Daikan excerpt 1"
RealAudio clip: "Daikan excerpt 2"

album coverKREIDLER Eve Future (Wonder) cd 10.98
I've always been a fan of Kreidler's unique sort of post-rock take on electronica -- it reminds me of Fridge's epic Eph album, which many of you reading also love. Well, let me tell you that Kreidler's new mini-album is so great, and so clearly surpasses their previously released work (which was stellar to begin with) that it just takes my breath away. As deeply dramatic and stately as an Ennio Morricone score, the music features gorgeously plucked strings articulating arpeggiated chords over and over in a sort of Reich-ian style of repetition. Glassy, pleasantly chiming melodies bring to mind krautrock of the serene Harmonia / La Dusseldorf variety, and especially the charming driving synth experiments of Cluster's Moebius and Roedelius. Maybe even some Eno. These seven instrumentals sound instantly classic and should appeal to a wide range of listeners -- it's that undeniably good. The cover art is also pretty -- no sleeve, just a mint green woman's torso silkscreened onto the jewel case. Highly recommended! Windy's new favorite record.
RealAudio clip:
"La Casa"
RealAudio clip: "Circulus"
RealAudio clip: "Solaris"

album coverLOVELIESCRUSHING Glissceule (Sonic Syrup) cd 9.98
Shoegazing - originally the derogatory term applied to bands like Ride, Slowdive, and My Bloody Valentine for the lackluster stage presence - had developed into an impressive aesthetic during the early '90s whereby the jangle of '60s psych-pop had been married with Brian Eno's notions of ambient music as an oceanic / prelingual return to the womb. After its gilded crescendo from a couple of records (most notably MBV's "Loveless"), shoegazing as an artform faded away, with many of the original proponents shedding the layers of distortion to concentrate upon their songwriting (most notably Neil Halstead formerly of Slowdive, now a minstrel of sunny folk-rock). Loveliescrushing - the post-shoegazing US duo of Scott Cortez and Melissa Arpin-Henry - disagreed with this trajectory away from etherealism and towards songsmithery, thus centering their music around only the faintest residues of melody and ghostly reminders of what might be a song somewhere within all of their bleary-eyed guitar washes. Their first two exceptional albums ("Bloweyelashwish" and "Xuvetyn") found their way onto Projekt, the stalwart proprietors of America's darkwave / goth scene, although they didn't readily fit with Projekt's aesthetic for black lace and blood red roses. The only connection with Projekt may have been in the mutual affinity for the Cocteau Twins, whose glossalaic siren songs certainly resonate within the incomprehensible siren-like vocalizations of Arpin-Henry. Yet for all of the aforementioned references, Loveliescrushing has little use for a rhythm section, presenting that soft female voice floating way off in the distance amidst oceans of radioluminescent layers of guitar reverberation. Compared to their previous records, "Glissceule" has smoothed over some of Loveliescrushing's expressionistic bursts of static and bristling noise, striving for a more enchanting eternal drone. In all probability, this will stand as one of my (Jim's) favorite 'pop' albums of the year, even though there's nothing 'pop' about it.
RealAudio clip:
RealAudio clip: "Eishglinl"
RealAudio clip: "Suischre"
RealAudio clip: "Cleirglos"

album coverLOW Trust (Kranky) cd 14.98
I feel compelled to lay this on the table: I am totally, absolutely biased toward loving this album. The way I feel about Low is indelibly intertwined with the fact that my first experiences listening to them occurred in my impressionable, and typically miserable, teenage years. While many of my other favored sonic vehicles for massive teen mope fests have long been sold off and forgotten, I still treasure my Low records. This is in no small part due to the fact that they continue to release one record after another that expands and pushes their sound without abandoning the essential Low-ness that made me like them in the first place. That "Low-ness" could, at first, be simply attributed to their glacial pace and minimalist approach, but as their records become more and more lush and full, finding space for added instrumentation and songs that increasingly use the vernacular of straight up rock/pop, something else emerges as the core.
"Trust" continues the momentum established in "Secret Name" and "Things We Lost in the Fire," albeit in a way that is not as immediately graspable as those albums, both of which struck me immediately with their undeniable pop sensibility and catchiness tempered with dark themes. Where vocal-musical interplay on "Things We Lost in the Fire" resulted in an almost black-comedic bleakness, "Trust" regains a more purely somber tone (with the possible exception of the album's fuzz-rocking *hit* "Canada") that repeatedly deals with a worldview informed by ambiguous religious imagery. As Mormons, Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk surely have a relationship with a higher power, but through their chilling songs one gets the feeling that their god is one of impartial omnipotence and destruction as sure as one of love and creation. It is, perhaps, this exploration of the capability of life and the forces in it to deliver both tragic and beautiful moments, often simultaneously, that makes Low so fucking great.
A bit more about "Trust": Albini didn't produce this one, and there aren't any string arrangements, although the bigness of sound is still there. There's a re-emergence of a kind of minimal two-note dirge a la "Long Division" or "The Curtain Hits The Cast" (see "Candy Girl"), although the spaces that existed in the songs on those records are filled in a bit here with reverb and spacy fuzz. If you already like Low, of course you need this. If there's any tendency at all in your record collection toward the sparse and melancholic, then you need this as well, because Low has shown more versatilty and virtuosity within a potentially limiting genre than anyone else, and this album is so gorgeous it hurts.
RealAudio clip:
"(That's How You Sing) Amazing Grace"
RealAudio clip: "Candy Girl"
RealAudio clip: "La La La Song"
RealAudio clip: "Time Is The Diamond"

album coverMARS VOLTA, THE Tremulant EP (GSL) cd ep 7.98
If you've been in search of some new and exciting sounds, you simply should not miss this introductory EP to The Mars Volta. Although this sextet will undoubtedly receive much attention for two of its members' past band (Omar and Cedric were the most recognizable members of At The Drive-In) not to mention the presence of Jon Theodore (of Golden and formerly of Royal Trux and Him) on drums, they fully deserve to be taken on their own ground.
The Mars Volta are determined *not* to take the path of least resistance by retracing the steps they've already trod. Instead, they're traversing a fresh, dynamic terrain. Crafting intricate, multi-layered songs with a definite *prog* angle. Shades of King Crimson and Yes (and U2 in the vocals, but it's not annoying at all). And they've got the chops to successfully execute their formidable mission. The vocals - so untethered, hoarse and fiery in ATDI - are here molded into an emotional falsetto that rings clear and strong with additional effected ones adding an air of alienation. The music is an amazing, intricate blend of ultra-tight drumming, deep bass, keyboards and guitar made even more potent and unsettling by carefully arranged, foreboding samples and electronics. Oh and in case I didn't make myself clear... They absolutely rock! If these three songs are any indication, they will be a force to be reckoned with. Blistering!
Please note: this is not to be confused with DeFacto (TMV members Omar, Cedric, Jeremy and Ikey's experimental dub side project).
RealAudio clip:
"Eunuch Provocateur"
RealAudio clip: "Cut That City"

album coverMARTSCH, DOUG Now You Know (Warner Bros.) cd 16.98
Mmmmm. This album is perfect for the lazy autumn-yet-still-summery-sunshine days that we're enjoying here in SF. Methinks you'll find it welcome no matter what time of the year, though. Doug Martsch, leader of Boise's Built to Spill, one of the only bands we can think of that *always* delivers incandescently glowing, gorgeous albums, has made a great solo album. Mostly Martsch on a twangy steel-stringed acoustic guitar that gives it a sunbaked, folksy backporch feel, he's occasionally accompanied by cello, simple snare drumming, delicate bass. Compared to the gloriously filled-out sound of the BTS records, the sound here is much more stripped down, but even though all of these tracks would have been great as proper BTS rock songs, they are just fine -- in fact, exquisite -- performed this way. Same minor key melodies, plaintively-voiced lyrics, and super emotional guitar solos that just leave ones heart aching.
"There isn't a way of deciding / which half of life's less inviting. / Awake or a dream. / 'Cos both of them lead you to suffer. / You wade from one into the other / twice a day."
The album is quietly dedicated to the recently-passed Chris Takino, head of Up Records, who'd always released the BTS vinyl versions. Highly recommended!
RealAudio clip:
RealAudio clip: "Dream"
RealAudio clip: "Instrumental"

album coverMIRROR Solaris (Idea) cd 16.98
Finally! The first CD release from Mirror, the AQ-favorite duo of Andrew Chalk and Christoph Heemann (nope, no Jim O'Rourke or Andreas Martin on this album) whose previous recordings had been all been vinyl only releases! As was hinted in their last album "Die Spiegelmanufaktur," Mirror express themselves on "Solaris" less through the quest for the drone supreme of unidentifiable tonal fluctuations and more through the delicate interplay of slowly evolving improvisations sounding not unlike recent AMM swimming in the murk of drainage-ditch reverberation. Similarly, the instrumentation has shifted more towards the free-improv territory, centered around prepared piano and clarinet with plenty of drone processing. Neither instrument come across as being typically employed, as the woodwind emits breathy rushes of sound at times and at others haunted bleats resonating like Tibetan thigh-bone horns that had been so prevalent with the early Current 93 and Lustmord recordings. Slightly more conventional in its use, the prepared piano comes across as delicate plucks of the piano's strings and muffled clusters of notes hovering throughout the spatial plane. Nicely done.
RealAudio clip:
"Solaris (excerpt 1)"
RealAudio clip: "Solaris (excerpt 2)"
RealAudio clip: "Solaris (excerpt 3)"

album coverTHE NECKS Athenaeum, Homebush, Quay & Raab (Shock) 4cd 49.00

album coverNIBLOCK, PHILL G2, 44+ / X2 (Moikai) cd 14.98
Seems like Jim O'Rourke keeps sticking his grubby little paws where they're not needed. Tortoise? Stereolab? Mirror? Sonic Youth? Phill Niblock?!?!?!? Good thing he doesn't think Aquarius is cool enough otherwise that bunny-suited dork would be ringing you up at the cash register!! Maybe that's a little mean, but it does seem, where hipness goes, O'Rourke will follow. And in this case, at least, we can't really complain since it means we are treated to one more amazing Phill Niblock record. Niblock who has been active for 20+ years, but had never recorded due to his distaste for the process and the resulting less-than-adequate and timeless document, has recently seen more and more of his work seeing the light of day thanks to better recording and a medium (cds) with more room for longer duration pieces. Niblock also runs the XL label that has been focusing on twentieth century composers specialising in extended drones. On G2, 44+/X2, Niblock has composed an extended piece for multi-tracked guitar. The first version features guitar samples from Rafael Toral, Robert Poss, Susan Stenger and David First. The second version features the same 24 track mix as the first version, but with Kevin Drumm, Lee Ranaldo, Robert Poss, Alan Licht and Thurston Moore adding 2 live parts each. The results are stunning. Version one warm and ALIVE, a swelling, throbbing, beating wall of thick guitars, feedback and chords, all layered into one massive otherworldy drone. The second version is quite similar, but even more dense, with the extra guitars adding more low end rumble and a dizzying array of ultra-subtle harmonics. When the record ends, it's like a vacuum in your skull. It almost physically hurts when the music stops, as if you were floating on a rich, thick bed of sound and suddenly it was yanked out from under you and you find yourself laying on the cold hard ground. Nothing to do but push play again, sit back and let the guitars lift you toward the sky. SO GOOD!!
RealAudio clip:
"Guitar Too, For Four - Toral Version"

album coverNOTWIST, THE Neon Golden (City Slang) cd 23.00
If you're a regular AQ customer you already know that we're all huge fans of Village of Savoonga, the darkest and most dramatically experimental of the many musical outfits hailing from the loose collective of musicians based in Bavaria, Germany. Another group from this incredibly fertile scene, The Notwist started out as a punk band but have gotten better and more different with each release (reflecting the Acher brothers' growing musical smarts and proficiency), culminating in this nice rock album. But not just any indie rock, this music is wistful, lyrical, softly flowing music that's *extremely* well executed, no filler, and brings in all kinds of non-rock elements -- in sort of the same way that the Beta Band does -- *casually*, not making a big deal out of it. Cos electronic keyboards and programming and stuff (courtesy Martin Gretschmann of the solo electronic act Console) are merely one facet of The Notwist's sound, which also includes very catchy minor key hooks, attractively textural cracklings and wooden clop clops, plucked strings (cello?), machine made gurgles and squishies, even out-of-place (-but-not-really) breakbeats that actually work.
In addition to the guy from Console, The Notwist personnel includes the abovementioned Acher brothers Micha (Village of Savoonga, Tied+Tickled Trio) and Markus (VoS, T+TT, Lali Puna).
Highly recommended! This is a grower.
RealAudio clip:
"One Step Inside Doesn't Mean You Understand"
RealAudio clip: "Consequence"

album coverOP8 Slush (Thirsty Ear) cd 15.98
Attention all Calexico, Giant Sand, and Lisa Germano fans! In case you missed it the first time around, the collaboration between those fine artists has been re-issued. Yessiree, and those jubilant cheers you may be hearing are undoubtably coming from our Cup. Why? Well, 'cause it's one of her absolute most favorite albums ever. Not just another Giant Sand side project. No! It's a magical one-time combination of John Convertino, Joey Burns, Howe Gelb AND Lisa Germano. The beautiful rich twang we've grown to know and love from the gents' main projects (Calexico and Giant Sand) is most definitely in full glorious bloom here. Combine it with Ms Germano's off-kilter, melancholic vocal delivery and you've got yourself one very special album. Odd textures and noises creep in to keep the slow bittersweet melodies company. Originally released in 1997, these eleven moody, heartswelling 'n' handwringing songs never ever fail to break Cup's heart (especially tracks #3 and #5). Beautiful downer music. Includes a breathy, slow-winding world-weary duet between Germano and Gelb covering Lee Hazlewood's "Sand". Damn fine listening. Sooo very very recommended.
RealAudio clip:
"If I Think Of Love"
RealAudio clip: "It's A Rainbow"

album coverOSANNA L'Uomo (Warner Fonit) cd 17.98
Ok, here they are, the first and best three albums (reissued on cd) by "possibly Allan and Andee's all time favorite prog band" Osanna, as we boldly declared in our review of another Italian prog rock fave, Il Balleto Di Bronzo. Yep, we've got the Osanna discs now, so you can judge for yourself. Even limiting our discussion to the realm of Italian prog, it would be difficult to claim that Osanna are objectively better than the also amazing likes of Il Balleto, Le Orme, Area, New Trolls, Franco Battiato, Goblin, I Teoremi, RDM, Museo Rosenbach, etc. But, Osanna do somehow combine the key elements of what we like about those bands and prog in general into these three crazy, colorful records, and thus deserve our hype. Ripping flute and sax solos, heavy psych guitar, powerful vocal choruses, hard rockin' prog drumming, weird musical changes and juxtapositions, electronic synth experimentation... Catchy, fun, fucked up prog from five nutty Italians, who want to rock out as much as be arty and display their adept musicanship.
The wonders of Italian prog have been revealed to us in a gradual process of discovery -- finding a used cd with a cool cover, or reading somwhere about another strange band, or getting a recommendation from a friend or customer. Neither of us grew up in Italy, or had a geeky older brother to hand down his PFM and Goblin LPs. In the case of Osanna, Andee's the one who came across 'em first, while travelling in Japan, actually. Rather randomly, the guy from the Boredoms-meets-St. Vitus doom/trance band Solar Anus (soon to have a mindblowing tUMULt label release) gave Andee a tape of Osanna to take home, promising him he'd like it. Well, Solar Anus dude knew whereof he spoke! Soon we were on-line, trying to track down the LPs, or cd reissues. Not long thereafter, Andee and Allan both possessed the complete works of Osanna on cd. But it took more than a few months for us to find a wholesale supplier so we could stock 'em at Aquarius and share our Osanna-excitement with you, our prog-lovin' customers... Actually we hope that self-proclaimed "prog" dedication is not necessary for enjoyment of Osanna, as we think that these discs are good and weird and silly enough for AQ-customers into whatever sort of musical extremity (experimental, krautrock, psych, metal, classic rock) to dig.
Osanna's 1971 debut "L'Uomo" may be the most song-oriented of these three albums, their Crimson and Tull influences easy to spot. They sound a bit like a proggier, Italian version of Mexican contemporaries Dug Dugs, if that's of any help -- equally into weird psychedelic effects, hard rock, and pop. A couple of the poppier songs are sung in English, and those might result in a few uncomfortable moments of "what am I listening to here?" panic. But the sheer exuberance and fuzzed out riffing of "L'Uomo" as a whole can't be argued with!
RealAudio clip:
"Mirror Train"
RealAudio clip: "Non Sei Vissuto Mai"

album coverOSANNA Milano Calibro 9 (Warner Fonit) cd 17.98
Ok, here they are, the first and best three albums (reissued on cd) by "possibly Allan and Andee's all time favorite prog band" Osanna, as we boldly declared in our review of another Italian prog rock fave, Il Balleto Di Bronzo. Yep, we've got the Osanna discs now, so you can judge for yourself. Even limiting our discussion to the realm of Italian prog, it would be difficult to claim that Osanna are objectively better than the also amazing likes of Il Balleto, Le Orme, Area, New Trolls, Franco Battiato, Goblin, I Teoremi, RDM, Museo Rosenbach, etc. But, Osanna do somehow combine the key elements of what we like about those bands and prog in general into these three crazy, colorful records, and thus deserve our hype. Ripping flute and sax solos, heavy psych guitar, powerful vocal choruses, hard rockin' prog drumming, weird musical changes and juxtapositions, electronic synth experimentation... Catchy, fun, fucked up prog from five nutty Italians, who want to rock out as much as be arty and display their adept musicanship.
The wonders of Italian prog have been revealed to us in a gradual process of discovery -- finding a used cd with a cool cover, or reading somwhere about another strange band, or getting a recommendation from a friend or customer. Neither of us grew up in Italy, or had a geeky older brother to hand down his PFM and Goblin LPs. In the case of Osanna, Andee's the one who came across 'em first, while travelling in Japan, actually. Rather randomly, the guy from the Boredoms-meets-St. Vitus doom/trance band Solar Anus (soon to have a mindblowing tUMULt label release) gave Andee a tape of Osanna to take home, promising him he'd like it. Well, Solar Anus dude knew whereof he spoke! Soon we were on-line, trying to track down the LPs, or cd reissues. Not long thereafter, Andee and Allan both possessed the complete works of Osanna on cd. But it took more than a few months for us to find a wholesale supplier so we could stock 'em at Aquarius and share our Osanna-excitement with you, our prog-lovin' customers... Actually we hope that self-proclaimed "prog" dedication is not necessary for enjoyment of Osanna, as we think that these discs are good and weird and silly enough for AQ-customers into whatever sort of musical extremity (experimental, krautrock, psych, metal, classic rock) to dig.
1972's Osanna album, their second, was a soundtrack to a film called "Milano Calibro 9". Working in collaboration with arranger Luis Bacalov, who is also known for his work with the New Trolls' symphonic efforts, this album incorporates strings, piano, and classical motifs. And, as befits a film soundtrack, many moods are touched upon... We don't know what the movie was all about, but it must have featured a fair amount of action, and trippy scenes. Osanna come up with super bombastic themes, high-energy instrumental freak-outs, suspenseful bits of jazziness, pretty vocal interludes, bleepy-bloopy synth fx, heavy electronic organ riff-drone, and the most heavy metal flute soloing you've ever heard. Totally kick ass. Osanna, you rock. Goblin was never this heavy.
RealAudio clip:
RealAudio clip: "Tema"

album coverOSANNA Palepoli (Warner Fonit) cd 17.98
Ok, here they are, the first and best three albums (reissued on cd) by "possibly Allan and Andee's all time favorite prog band" Osanna, as we boldly declared in our review of another Italian prog rock fave, Il Balleto Di Bronzo. Yep, we've got the Osanna discs now, so you can judge for yourself. Even limiting our discussion to the realm of Italian prog, it would be difficult to claim that Osanna are objectively better than the also amazing likes of Il Balleto, Le Orme, Area, New Trolls, Franco Battiato, Goblin, I Teoremi, RDM, Museo Rosenbach, etc. But, Osanna do somehow combine the key elements of what we like about those bands and prog in general into these three crazy, colorful records, and thus deserve our hype. Ripping flute and sax solos, heavy psych guitar, powerful vocal choruses, hard rockin' prog drumming, weird musical changes and juxtapositions, electronic synth experimentation... Catchy, fun, fucked up prog from five nutty Italians, who want to rock out as much as be arty and display their adept musicanship.
The wonders of Italian prog have been revealed to us in a gradual process of discovery -- finding a used cd with a cool cover, or reading somwhere about another strange band, or getting a recommendation from a friend or customer. Neither of us grew up in Italy, or had a geeky older brother to hand down his PFM and Goblin LPs. In the case of Osanna, Andee's the one who came across 'em first, while travelling in Japan, actually. Rather randomly, the guy from the Boredoms-meets-St. Vitus doom/trance band Solar Anus (soon to have a mindblowing tUMULt label release) gave Andee a tape of Osanna to take home, promising him he'd like it. Well, Solar Anus dude knew whereof he spoke! Soon we were on-line, trying to track down the LPs, or cd reissues. Not long thereafter, Andee and Allan both possessed the complete works of Osanna on cd. But it took more than a few months for us to find a wholesale supplier so we could stock 'em at Aquarius and share our Osanna-excitement with you, our prog-lovin' customers... Actually we hope that self-proclaimed "prog" dedication is not necessary for enjoyment of Osanna, as we think that these discs are good and weird and silly enough for AQ-customers into whatever sort of musical extremity (experimental, krautrock, psych, metal, classic rock) to dig.
"Palepoli" was Osanna's third album, originally released in 1973. Getting even proggier perhaps, the record consists of but three tracks: two long (18 and 21 minute) tracks divided by a brief, under 2 minute interlude. These extended suites blenderize all previous elements of Osanna's music, both light and heavy. Grandiose pop collides with mathy instrumental interplay, gentle, ethnic flavored passages of voice and flute suddenly give way to bombastic guitar and sax attacks, drums n' bass gallops are interrupted by electronic squiggles. Some field recordings of street sounds even make it into the mix. We, the goofy, cheesy, '70s prog fiends we are, like each part individually, the crazy combination of musical moods is but a bonus, as with their other albums as well...
RealAudio clip:
"Oro Caldo"
RealAudio clip: "Animale Senza Respiro"

album coverPOISON THE WELL Tear From The Red (Trustkill ) cd 14.98
Every once in a while, there's a record that is so good and makes me so happy, I find it virtually impossible to write a review of it. There's all this pressure to somehow convey in the space of a hundred or so words how goddamn good a record is. To convince YOU that this record will move you as much as it did me. So I hem and haw and write all my other reviews around it until I have no choice but to face my fear and go for it. So here it is. The new record by Florida's Poison The Well. Up until now, I've been a fan, and definitely enjoyed their records. But 'Tear From The Red' is such a colossal leap from their last record. Ostensibly a 'metalcore' record, it manages to encompass so much more: rock, emo, hardcore, death metal, even pop. The heavy parts, even when the vocals are howled, are somehow as catchy and heart wrenching as any Get Up Kids weeper, if not more so. And then when PtW -do- go for it, and break it down and get all mellow and sweet and emotional it's just devastating. And the playing on this record is so phenomenal. The riffs are so thick and huge they just smack you upside the head, but you just kind of bob along, oblivious, banging your head and spitting out teeth and letting this wave of furious emotion watch over you. The songs shift from crunching near-death metal, to wild free-metal, to stuttering stop-start rhythms, to spacy almost Voi Vod-ish melodies, and dreamy shoegazey bliss out parts. Halfway through the record they break out with just vocals and acoustic guitar, but the melody is so odd, and the voice is so impassioned and the chord progression is so unexpected that it ends up being just as intense as any of the heavy stuff, and not cheesy at all. And track three! What can I say? If you could wear out a track from playing a cd too much, I would definitely need a new one by now. Track three has the absolutely most punishing part of almost any song I have ever heard, where the kick drums, guitars, and bass all stutter then stop, over and over. Huge and unbelievably heavy. I was listening to it in my housemate's truck, and when that part came on I had to turn up the stereo so loud that I could SEE the beat making little waves in the rear view mirror. We have been getting a little worn out on this whole metalcore explosion, but Poison The Well have stepped up to the plate with not only one of the best metalcore records ever, not just one of the best emo records ever, but one of the best records I have heard in a long time. Period.
RealAudio clip:
"Turn Down Elliot"
RealAudio clip: "Botchla"
RealAudio clip: "Lazzaro"
RealAudio clip: "Horns And Tails"
RealAudio clip: "Moments Over Exaggerate"

PUBLIC NUISANCE Gotta Survive (Frantic) 2cd 22.00
Here's the record that was never released on account of the Manson murders! (More on that in a second.) This double cd contains all the recordings of Public Nuisance, an obscure (but pretty great) teenage garage/psych band that got together in Sacramento circa 1964. As befits their punky name, they looked like a bunch of hoods, decked out in all-black outfits, with two of 'em sporting proto-Ramones style long hair. That, plus the fact that we read they were like an American version of the wild and crazy English freakbeat bands, piqued our curiosity big time. Supposedly, also, they were as "heavy as the Stooges". The truth is, that's a bit of a stretch. Some of this *is* at least heavier than, if not the Stooges, the Stones, but they do a lot of lighter, Beatles-y stuff too. They perform a nice cover of the Beatles' "I'm Only Sleeping" in fact. So they were as much a pop-psych band as they were a down and dirty garage combo. On the other hand, their song "Love Is A Feeling" sounds EXACTLY like the White Stripes! The 28 tracks here actually cover quite a wide spectrum of sounds from sweet, harpsichord and theremin laced pop to raw, primal R&B stomp w/ plenty o' fuzz. This collection mainly consists of 1969 sessions recorded for an LP that never came out 'cause their label was owned by Terry Melcher, the guy who also owned the house where the Manson Family killed Sharon Tate! After the murders, Melcher, afraid for his life, went into hiding and his label folded... But now, decades later, here are those unreleased sessions plus some rare singles tracks recorded under the band's earlier moniker Moss & The Rocks. Maybe a single-disc "best of" would have been more uniformly killer, and cheaper, but we can't really argue with getting to hear it all. The super thick, colorful, photo-filled cd booklet is full of essays written by Mike "Ugly Things" Stax, Clark Faville, and others -- including notes about each and every song!
Definitely something for fans of the Seeds, Stones, Creation, and "Nuggets" stuff in general to check out. Even if they're not quite the "unknown Stooges" we'd hoped for, Public Nuisance are pretty cool.
RealAudio clip:
"Love Is A Feeling"
RealAudio clip: "Time Can't Wait"
RealAudio clip: "Daddy's Comin' Home"
RealAudio clip: "Holy Man"

album coverQUEENS OF THE STONE AGE Songs For The Deaf (Interscope) cd 14.98
Now, WITHOUT the limited bonus dvd disc! Here's what we said about this last time for those that somehow overlooked it... This one scarcely needs a review. By now you've been hearing this record on the radio and MTV and in malls. Odds are you already own this if you like the Queens Of The Stone Age previous albums, or you bought it for the single. Or you loved Kyuss and think the Queens suck. But setting all that aside, and taking this record just on its musical merits, 'Songs For The Deaf' is a kick ass hard rock/pop rock record. Great sound, great songs! What's not to like? This is easily their best record since their super heavy debut. 'Songs For The Deaf' has it's heavy moments, and the warm fuzzy Kyuss guitars are still in effect, but it's way more of a pop record. And while they do stretch out occasionally, with headbanging stoned desert jams, things always return to the hook. Which is not a bad thing. Just the opposite. And the addition of Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana) and Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees and solo) have added a lot in terms of sonic breadth and songwriting complexity. Way more dynamic and WAY MORE CATCHY. Listen to the sound samples and you'll be sold. The last "hidden" track is a piano driven, string laden psychedelic pop epic. It -sounds- great, but just wish it was a better song (although our friend Drew is convinced it is a 'masterpiece'). But so what? This record is full of great songs!! Plus lots of weird guests: Dean Ween, Twiggy Ramirez, Casey Chaos, Blag Dahlia! The only downside, which has been an annoying QOTSA quirk from the beginning, is their relentless in-joking. This record is rife with said in-jokes, a bunch of stupid fake radio DJ's, occasional joke songs and the like. Easy to skip by but they tend to kill the flow of an otherwise solid record.
RealAudio clip:
"No One Knows"
RealAudio clip: "God Is In The Radio"
RealAudio clip: "Hangin' Tree"
RealAudio clip: "Go With The Flow"
RealAudio clip: "Song For The Deaf"

album coverRADAR BROTHERS And The Surrounding Mountains (Merge) cd 14.98
Back in November of '99, Radar Brothers' album The Singing Hatchet was our Record of the Week. Didn't think it was possible, but the band has actually gotten even better (to the point of -gasp- converting an AQ staffer or two who didn't like' em before), thus we hereby bestow the same honor on the new record And the Surrounding Mountains. For those of you who're unfamiliar with the LA-based trio of Jim, Senon, and Steve, their sound can be most easily described (and I'm sure they're tired of hearing it) as very similar to Pink Floyd. And not just any ole Pink Floyd, mind you!, but specifically the sad, epic two songs that conclude The Dark Side of the Moon: "Brain Damage" (y'know, "the lunatic is on the grass...") and, god, especially "Eclipse" ("And all that is now/And all that is gone/And all that's to come/And everything under the sun is in tune/But the sun is eclipsed by the moon...") You know how you never want that song to end, it's such a pretty, bittersweet way to close an album? Radar Brothers have made FOUR ALBUMS of that sound all stretched out and atmospheric and personal and warm. The guitars are ever so plaintively strummed so that you hear the chords but also the individual strings, the vocals are hushed and sung usually as a duo, the melodies achingly gorgeous, majestic swells of emotion. They're so great that I find it hard to do anything else while listening to Radar Brothers; like Low and Red House Painters' work, Radar Brothers' songs *demand* stillness and respect -- all your attention. Highly recommended.
RealAudio clip:
"You and the Father"
RealAudio clip: "Camplight"
RealAudio clip: "This Xmas Eve"
RealAudio clip: "Sisters"

album coverROCKET FROM THE TOMBS Day The Earth Met (Smog Veil) cd 16.98
Rocket From The Tombs was borne of the same urban decay that coughed up the Electric Eels, the Consumers and Pere Ubu. While not as well known as the any of those bands or the other bands like the Stooges or the MC5 that shared their sound/ideals (although fairly well known as the band that Rocket From The Crypt stole their name from) RFTT kicked serious ass, spitting out trashy, classic seventies anthemic punk. I LOVE this shit! 'Day The Earth Met' is a collection of rare and live tracks (great recording quality considering). Perhaps "The best record never recorded". Two Stooges covers and some songs that would later became Pere Ubu songs (RFTT's Peter Laughner's next band) The lyrics are desolate and depressing, hopeless and punk and stupidly brilliant (or brilliantly stupid).
To quote their song "Ain't it Fun": "Ain't it fun when you're always on the run / Ain't it fun when your friends despise what you've become / Ain't it fun when you get so high you can't cum / Ain't it fun when you know your gonna die young / Such fun / Such fun / Ain't it fun when you feel you just gotta buy a gun / Ain't it fun cuz your takin care of #1 / Ain't it fun when you just can't find yer tongue / Cuz you stuck it way to deep in something that really stung / Ain't it fun / Somebody came to me and they spit right in my face and I didn't even feel that / It was such a disgrace I broke the window / smashed my fist right through the glass / But I couldn't even feel it, it just happened to fast. / It was fun / Such fun / Such fun"
Definitely for fans of the aformentioned bands as well as anyone into dirty, scuzzy, nasty, snotty catchy garage/punk/rock!
RealAudio clip:
"Ain't It Fun"
RealAudio clip: "Life Stinks"
RealAudio clip: "Sonic Reducer"

album coverRUINS Tzomborgha (Ipecac) cd 16.98
Wow. Probably the best album from this band in a long time. And they're always really good. Still, their last two studio albums (2000's "Pallaschtom" and 1998's "Vrresto"), although amazing musically, might have actually taken their insane technicality to an almost detrimental, one-dimensional extreme, when compared to more melodic and memorable earlier Ruins classics like "Burning Stone". But, with this new release, we're really excited about the Ruins again. It's got more ideas, more variety, more inventiveness, more surprises -- and of course, more of that insane technicality.
Let's pause for a quick update for those not familiar with the band: Japan's Ruins are a drums and bass prog-core duo who play crazy, complex, heavy compositions and improvisations. Both members sing operatically in a made-up language, with one of 'em riffing and soloing w/ bass and effects to put most metal guitarists to shame and the other bashing the drums in an impossibly octopus-like fashion. Totally over the top masters of riff and timing they are. They worship French prog gods Magma, and are worshipped themselves equally and deservedly by fans and bands all over -- such as Mike Patton, who's just released "Tzomborgha" on his Ipecac label. And if you've never heard them before, this disc is in fact a great place to start (which is saying a lot).
"Tzomborgha" features weird (for them, even!) vocal stylisms, psychedelic fusionscapes, truly melodic and pretty parts, improv spasticity, and even some spacey atmospheric jamming, as well as plenty of the shredding bass/drums workouts with rapidfire, mindboggling changes like you'd expect. Continuing a Ruins tradition, this disc concludes with not one but two of their infamous medleys, the subjects of which in some way sum up the Ruins' appeal: one is devoted to the Mahavishnu Orchestra, the other to Black Sabbath! The later is particularily amusing when they attempt to approximate (or parody) Ozzy's vocals... Earlier in the disc you'll also find two cover songs, one supposedly an Olivier Messiaen theme even though it sounds like a Ruins original, and the other the Shankar piece "Chittam Irangaayo", which is especially great. Indian classical music meets jazz meets the Ruins!
Tempering their complexicore excesses with a show of some diverse musical interests (along with getting a heavier bass sound that harkens back to older Ruins albums/bassists) results in this disc being the most vital in-the-studio display of their genius since, say, "Hydromastgroningem" back in '95 or 1993's "Graviyaunosch".
Yep, "Tzomborgha" is definitely impressive. Think about it. These guys have been around for, like, almost 20 years!! (I believe Ruins debuted in 1985.) They're at that point in their career where their last three releases before this consisted of two live albums and a best of! Isn't that like some Blue Oyster Cult shit? Most bands like that you could write off, yet here comes "Tzomborgha" to kick our asses. Awesome.
RealAudio clip:
RealAudio clip: "Chittam Irangaayo"
RealAudio clip: "Tzomborgha"

SIGMARSSON, SIGTRYGGUR BERG A Long Wait Produces Nothing Further (ERS) lp 13.98

album coverSPOON Kill The Moonlight (Merge) cd 14.98
Okay, you're all probably just as anxious about this release as we are here. And you're probably wondering, as we were here, "just how the fuck are they going to top Girls Can Tell?"It's a tough thing for any band to take that next step after releasing a -- dare I fucking say -- perfect record. It's twice as hard since everyone is expecting to be blown away from the first beat. So is it as good as the last? Hmmm... Well, it didn't punch anyone's lights out on the first, or second, beats. But after listening through a couple times, 4 out of 6 lovers of the last album feel that this album kicks ass. And while it doesn't have as much immediate impact, or as many sure-fire "hits" on it, that doesn't seem as important. It feels like they're trying something new and completely different. Well, as different as they can be while still retaining their Spoon-isms. A customer new to Spoon described this as the record that Elton John would've made if he had the White Stripes and the Strokes as his backup band. Which is to say it's got a lot of swagger and incandescent hooks, but it's not trendy or prefab in any way -- more like Squeeze with their sparkling, precise, stripped down pop songs. Fucking fantastic. Kill The Moonlight seems like a much more introspective record than Girls Can Tell, rife with a greater amount of studio experimentation and instrumentation. Daniels and crew tinker around with piano, mellotron, *human beat box*, and a great multitude of effects. Which isn't to say that this is an "experimental" record at all. Nor is it all unstructured "jams". No, it's a lean machine with nary an ounce of fat on its almost brief 38 minute run time.
RealAudio clip:
"The Way We Get By"
RealAudio clip: "Something To Look Forward To"
RealAudio clip: "Jonathan Fisk"
RealAudio clip: "Someone Something"

album coverSTEREO, THE Rewind + Record (Fueled By Ramen) cd 13.98
We have been so excited for the release of this record. We were kind of late discovering the Stereo, but it took no time at all for their last two records to instantly become way too played, in the store, at home, in the car. Perfect kick ass power pop. Just the right balance of cheesy seventies FM radio catchiness and thick guitars, amazing harmonies, and hooks galore! So I have to admit to being a little bummed when I first heard this. It seemed much less catchy, and a LOT more Journey/REO Speedwagon. And while a few other Aquarians still feel that way, I wasn't about to give up that easily. And boy, was I ever rewarded for my tenacity. This has to be THE pop record of the year. You know how some records immediately hook you and you play the shit out of them until you almost can't stand to hear them anymore? And then there's some records (like the most recent Anniversary for instance) where on first listen, there's not the obvious hooks to hang onto so you sort of dismiss it as 'not as good' as their other records. But often when you return, you realise that albums like that often slowly reveal themselves to be the sort of records that become totally essential, and end up getting listened to way more than those immediately catchy ones. So what I'm getting at here, is that this is definitely the best Stereo record yet, and quite possibly the best pop record this year. The songs are more complex and more subtle, but they still rock, and still have amazing hooks! And this time around there's all sorts of extra unexpected additions: weird production, strange synthesizers and crazy drum programming. But those new elements only add to the pop brilliance these pop punkers can conjure up at the drop of a hat. I swear I have not gone a day without blasting this record since it came out. Think the Posies, Jellyfish, the Anniversary, the Get Up Kids, Superchunk, Weezer, Redd Kross, Silver Sun, Sloan. Totally good time, big guitar, clap along, driving with the top down, mix tape for that girl you like PEFECT POP. Buy this or you'll make Andee very sad.
RealAudio clip:
"Pay No Attention"
RealAudio clip: "You Better Believe It"
RealAudio clip: "Tell Your Football Dad No"
RealAudio clip: "Have I Paid My Debt To Mpls?"
RealAudio clip: "Turn Off Your TV"

album coverTHUJA Ghost Plants (Emperor Jones) cd 14.98
We're super-happy to herald the arrival of "Ghost Plants", the brand-new second album from San Francisco's Thuja! (That's pronounced "thoo-zhuh," by the way, and it's the genus name of the North American cedar tree.) We loved their debut cd "The Deer Lay Down Their Bones" (released on our own Andee's tUMULt label, in fact) and try not to miss their rare live performances, which in addition to their transcendental music also often incorporate video projections of trees, piles of branches, and other atmospheric, extra-musical additions. With "Ghost Plants", the four members of Thuja -- AQ-fave experimental sound artist Loren Chasse, pianist Rob Reger, and former members of ambient-psych rockers Mirza Stephen R. Smith and Glenn Donaldson -- have crafted another utterly lovely, improv instrumental masterpiece! In comparision to their first album, this disc seems darker and heavier, somehow more "rock" production-wise although Thuja are hardly a rock band. Thuja's music is very organic and "natural" sounding, with their quietly meandering, melodic guitar and piano explorations seeming set amidst wood, wind and water -- you can imagine a Thuja concert taking place on a darkened forest floor, with Chasse's crackling branches and stone rubbings.
At their most "rock" Thuja goes "kraut" with Chasse's drum-kit rhythms, and at their most "experimental ambient" the tinklings of percussion blend with ominous (yet pleasant) humming dronesc(r)apes of organ and bass and other things quite blissfully.
Whilst not exactly 'folky' you can still draw a connection between the woodland vistas of Thuja and the fractured folkpsych of Tower Recordings, or Finland's Kemialliset Ystavat (Thuja being more abstract than KY, who are more abstract than TR). We'd also cite the likes of Labradford, Richard Youngs/Simon Wickham-Smith, the
No Neck Blues Band, the Taj Mahal Travellers, Popol Vuh, Gunter Schickert, and :Zoviet*France: as fellow travellers in the psychedelic realms that Thuja carefully tread. This disc offers 13 untitled tracks in just under 40 minutes -- a very nice length indeed for an afternoon's reverie, perhaps one of the few improv-drone discs you'll find yourself hitting the "repeat" button on frequently. If you enjoy the solo work of Stephen R. Smith or L. Chasse (also of id battery and Coelacanth), or liked Mirza's drifting atmospheres, and haven't listened to Thuja yet, what are you waiting for? Everyone else, check ALL these guys stuff out, starting with this disc! So beautiful.
RealAudio clip:
"track 1"
RealAudio clip: "track 2"
RealAudio clip: "track 7"
RealAudio clip: "track 10"

album coverTOBIN, AMON Out From Out Where (Ninja Tune) cd 16.98
Brand new, fifth full length album (including the one he did as Cujo) from Amon Tobin. I recently raved about the pre-release cd single Verbal (that fucking great song appears here too), so I'll papraphrase a bit: Tobin's music, as typified by his two most recent albums Supermodified and Permutations, which are deeply beloved by just about everyone who works here at AQ, not to mention many many AQ customers such as yourself, takes samples of the most wildly diverse material -- no programmed beats for this Brazilian-turned-Briton -- and recombines them into a style utterly his own. That might not sound like much of a feat, and yeah sure everyone's doing it, but like fellow vinyl sampler DJ Shadow, Tobin really does make irrelevant the fact that the source material is sampled, so seamlessly and proficiently does he distill his own style. In fact, when Cup heard this record, even though the *elements* of the "Verbal" track -- cartoonish speed rapping courtesy MC Decimal R, flamenco-ish guitar -- weren't typically Tobin fodder, she correctly pointed out that the *sound* of the music made it nonetheless totally recognizable as his own. There's film noir-ish tension, thundering big beats, tumbling tomtoms, itchy chatterings and menacing flutterings amidst the jungly energy. So interesting, never repetitive or predictable.
If you're already into him, you know you need to get this now, and if you're new to Amon Tobin, start right here. You won't be disappointed, promise!
RealAudio clip:
"Back From Space"
RealAudio clip: "Verbal"
RealAudio clip: "Rosies"

album coverTONY, CARO & JOHN All On The First Day (Normal / Shadoks Music) cd 14.98
The amazing, beautiful, anarchic, DIY psych-folk-pop of Tony, Caro & John's terribly rare "All On The First Day" LP (originally privately released in an edition of just 100 copies) has now been revived on CD for, hopefully, a larger audience! This comes to us from the label that's been responsible for bringing us those fab "Love, Peace & Poetry" psychedelic rock compilations (y'know, the Latin American one, the Asian one, the Japanese one, etc.). Among the most recent installments in that series was a disc devoted to British psychedelic obscurities. One of that comp's highlights, we all agreed, was a cut by this trio. That track, the amazingly Neutral Milk Hotel-ish "There Are No Greater Heroes" appears here as well, on Shadoks' reissue of Tony, Caro & John's entire sole album, from 1972. Now, we know that a lot of the time it's true that a great track selected for a compilation doesn't a great album make from whence it came...after all, the compilers are likely to pick the BEST song off an album for their comp. So we were wary -- but curious -- when we heard this whole album was being reissued. Happily, there's actually a lot of other great songs on here besides "There Are No Greater Heroes", although that one still reminds us the most of Jeff Mangum's stuff. Taken together, Tony, Caro & John's songs manage to strike a balance between creepy melancholy and kaleidoscopic pysch silliness. Not only that, but they have more than just a nostaglic vibe going for them -- they are good songwriters/performers with some delightful, weird ideas. Fans of the Incredible String Band and other British hippie folk psych of the period definitely need to hear this. Kudos to Shadoks for digging this up, and doing such a nice job of it too. The booklet has some charming color photos of Tony, Caro and John in their garden, modeling the latest in hippy fashions circa '72. There's also complete lyrics and liner notes from the band, who are still active making music together! AND, five bonus tracks appended to the album make this an even nicer find, consisting of stuff from the period that didn't make it on to the original LP, but *should have* (unlike the general run of bonus tracks!).
RealAudio clip:
"Eclipse Of The Moon"
RealAudio clip: "There Are No Greater Heroes"
RealAudio clip: "The Snowdon Song"

album coverWHITMAN, KEITH FULLERTON Playthroughs (Kranky) cd 14.98
Of the aesthetic subset of guitarists-who-plug-into-their-laptops-to-drone, Keith Fullerton Whitman has certainly established himself at the top of the mountain above Rafael Toral and Oren Ambarchi, with only a handful of recordings including last year's "21:30 For Acoustic Guitar" cd-ep and this "Playthroughs" album. Like many of his fellow six-string code slingers, Whitman cites '60s Minimalism as the formal precedent and influence upon his guitarscapes (in particular Steve Reich's "Piano Phases" and Terry Riley's Time Lag Accumulator found on "You're No Good" and "Poppy Nogood"); yet Whitman elevates the references to Riley and Reich beyond the flourishes of intellectual ornamentation, through a superior compositional prowess with a restricted monochromatic palette and a sparing but effective use of digital glitch effects. Instead of dissolving the guitar into a mass of digitally corroded noise, Whitman carefully extracts specific tones and timbres from the guitar and stretches them out into Charlemagne Palestine like organ chords (how Keith turns a guitar into a church organ is beyond me, but it's spectacular!) or into beautifully aerosolized mists of suspended particles. Weightless, hypnotic, and ultimately majestic, "Playthroughs" is such a strong album that it is a little hard to believe that such droning ambience could come from the same individual who's responsible for the fractured drill 'n' bass of Hrvatski.
RealAudio clip:
RealAudio clip: "Modena"

album coverWILCO Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (Nonesuch) cd 16.98
Gosh there's a lot to say about this record.
[1] THE MUSIC: The sonic trajectory Wilco seemed to be on with their last album, Summerteeth, led us to believe the new one would be even more perfect pop-like. But they've gone and thrown us a curve ball. That's right, this is Wilco's weird experimental record. OK, it isn't *that* weird; and if you're an AQ customer then you have far more experimental records in your collection, but it *is* unusual for Wilco. Like a mix between the doleful Giant Sand and the fanciful Latin Playboys (Los Lobos' weird experimental side project), this new Wilco record doesn't have half as many hooks as previous efforts. While it certainly has the tried and true strummed acoustic guitars, lyrical piano, sad fiddles, and alterna-country tone that the group is famous for, they make you wait and wait and wait for the hooks and the melodies, or else they bury 'em in a scattered, cathartic wash of melancholy. Jeff Tweedy, leader of the band and one half of the late great Uncle Tupelo, is a-wanderin' and a-thinkin' out loud and he's a-lettin' the songs write themselves, so they meander a bit, but it's ever so heartfelt. If you can handle the assorted odd sonic elements that pop up all over -- wooden bonks 'n clonks, piano plinks, toys, static and scrapings, feedback, stereo separation novelties, strange rumblings that threaten to overtake the music, etc -- then you'll like this record. (Rumor has it several members of Wilco *couldn't* handle the weirdness, and quit the band.) And even though the ubiquitous Jim O'Rourke mixed the album and you'd think he brought in all random noises, actually the band claims the record was way more weird *before* O'Rourke worked on it. Huh.
[2] THE EXTRAS: Comes with stuff you can play on your computer: a video for one of the songs, plus links to the trailer for the upcoming doc being made about 'em, plus special access to a hidden webpage that's only for folks who've bought the album.
[3] THE SAGA: Wilco's shortsighted major label Reprise decides that sales of 162,000 copies of Wilco's last album isn't enough, and they don't like the new album, so they want the band off the label. Wilco buys back the masters for less than it cost to record them, and sign with Nonesuch (who btw also signed Magnetic Fields). In a nice example of corporate stupidity, Nonesuch and Reprise are owned by the same corporation, so in effect AOL Time Warner paid for the album twice. Ha. Before they signed with Nonesuch, Wilco made this new album downloadable from their website, and thus it even showed up, without ever having been officially released, on a few rockcrits' top ten lists from 2001. Ironically enough, now that the album's saga has been latched onto by the NY Times and NPR, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot will sell more copies than all of Wilco's previous albums, and someone at Reprise will get fired.
[4] CONET PROJECT ALERT: Hey all you fellow Conet lovers! Didja notice the title of this record? Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Yankee... Hotel... Foxtrot... Yes folks, this record was named after a track on the infamous Conet Project, the 4cd set that collects mysterious shortwave numbers station broadcasts. (We're kind of proud to have sold more copies of this than any other store -- 387 and counting!) And yep, there's a Conet Project sample buried near the end of the record. It's uncredited, which is kind of lame -- I mean if Wilco are such ardent fans of the Conet Project, wouldn't they want to turn other people onto it? Nor did we find Conet credit given on Boards of Canada's Geodaddi, for that matter, but the makers of Vanilla Sky did!
RealAudio clip:
"I'm the man who loves you"
RealAudio clip: "Ashes of American Flags"
RealAudio clip: "Heavy Metal Drummer"

album coverWILSON, GARY You Think You Really Know Me (Motel) cd 14.98
If ya ain't been paying close attention, you might erroneously think that our AQ collective aesthetic runs to whatever is "weird", for the simple reason that it's "weird". But you'd be wrong. Heck, there's obviously no integrity in just being anti for anti's sake. People who're into EVERYTHING weird, regardless of quality, usually are trying to prove something about themselves, it's got nothing to do with music. So, while I can totally appreciate the weirdness of this reissue of the legendary Gary Wilson album, and its first appearance on cd, I can't fully recommend it to you... because it's pretty bad. Not "so bad it's good." This is "so bad... period!" On the other hand, Neil Strauss from the NY Times thinks it's good -- he wrote that big article about Wilson that's largely responsible for the current hype and interest -- so if you actually trust Strauss or whoever, then go for it. If you trust AQ, save yer money. It sounds like a syrupy "slow jams" record made by a complete dork who's kinda bitter about some failed relationship(s). There's no pleasure to be found in listening to Wilson's pitiful attempts at songwriting and performing, no joy in knowing he feels worse than you ever did. The Langley Schools cd, with the Canadian kids singing pop hits, is a great example of rock performed by amateurs who're so earnest, super touching, and poignant... and thus the Langley Schools cd is (to *some* of the AQ staff) Good Listening. But I swear, the Gary Wilson just doesn't deliver. Did someone mash Bobby Conn through the Steely Dan filter?! Sigh. The only way to convince yourself that you like this record is to look at it ironically. And that's no way to listen to music! "Irony." Feh.
This review was written by someone who has owned the Gary Wilson record for, like, seven years. Go figure.

Marcy's alternate review:
First, be warned: every single AQ staffer but me HATES this record (you may remember the exceptionally negative review it received in our list earlier in the year). On the other hand, I absolutely LOVE it. And I know I'm not alone, because quite a few people I've played this for have also fallen head-over-heels for Gary Wilson's incredibly unique, bizarre, charming and disturbing blend of John Cage-inspired experimentalism and 70's chart pop. Almost entirely alone in his parent's basement, wrapped in magnetic tape and new-wave shades, Wilson crafted early synths, organ, tape freak-outs, funky bass and smoove beats into an impressive musical backing for his fucked-up stories of teenage lust. Puncuated by more "woo!"s and "yeah!"s than a Michael Jackson record, the lyrics display a tension between the sort of romantic naivete normally confined to 50's teensploitation films and a twisted, neurotic and dark view of love in an increasingly technological and isolating world. I not a big fan of joke records; I generally have better things to do than listen to records described as "so-bad-they're-good;" my opinion that "You Think You Really Know Me" is absolutely brilliant is as 100% sincere as Wilson's impassioned, pleading vocals. We have here a classic love-it-or-hate-it deal; my co-workers may grimace, but this record puts a huge smile on my face.
RealAudio clip:
"6.4 = Make Out"
RealAudio clip: "You Were Too Good To Be True"

album coverWISHBONE ASH Argus (MCA/Decca) cd 12.98
Back on list 126, I (Allan) wrote about my belated discovery of the greatness that is Wishbone Ash's self-titled 1970 debut. Well, now it's about time to follow that up with a rave review of another Wishbone Ash record, this being the newly remastered and expanded edition of their third album, 1972's "Argus". Giving this a few listens, I've come to the conclusion that while their first album is certainly somewhat more of a "heavy rock" outing (think Cream meets Thin Lizzy), "Argus" is equally great, and is actually destined to be one of my ALL TIME favorite albums! Seriously, I'm becoming kinda obsessed with listening to this, with its absolutely gorgeous, gentle melodies and its extended instrumental workouts. Some internet investigation reveals that I'm not alone -- this record is in fact considered by many fans to be Wishbone Ash's absolute masterpiece. They just got everything right on this release, from the evocative cover photo of an ancient sentry to the achingly beautiful, stirring music. I can't get enough of the three-part vocal harmonies, the dual guitar leads, or the melancholic power of the riffs. Favorite tracks include the beautiful British folk of "Leaf And Stream", the anthemic "Warrior", and the shoulda-been-a-pop-hit "Sometime World". The whole album has a timeless vibe. Maybe you could call their style "rural progressive" rock? It's melodic, mystical and complex in ways that make it sound simple.
In addition to being remastered, this new 30th anniversary edition includes three bonus tracks: the entire "Live From Memphis" promo-only EP. These live-on-the-radio versions of "Phoenix" (from their debut) and "Jail Bait" and "The Pilgrim" (from their second album, "Pilgrimage") add another half-hour to the disc, being even more jammed-out and epic than the original studio cuts! So even if you already have the old cd of "Argus", you should consider replacing it with this disc, these bonus tracks are worth it! The loud-soft dynamics and interlocking instrumental loveliness of the live "Pilgrim" are positively 'post-rock', but better of course.
Truly 'classic' rock that needs to be rediscovered. My advice for this week: pick up that new Champs album, and order a copy of this as well. You'll be set for a while then!
RealAudio clip:
"Leaf And Stream"
RealAudio clip: "Warrior"
RealAudio clip: "The Pilgrim (live)"

album coverWOVEN HAND s/t (Glitterhouse) cd 17.98
I hate to gush, but gush I must. This is my (Andee's) RECORD OF THE YEAR. Done deal. It doesn't matter what happens for the rest of the year. Kurt Kobain could come back from the grave and record a new Nirvana record. Laddio Bollocko could get back together. Earth reunion. It doesn't matter. This is it. THE ONE. It's magical, dark, mysterious, sinister, gorgeous and moves me like very few records do. But I digress.
Woven Hand is David Eugene Edwards from Sixteen Horsepower's solo project. If you're anything like me, you're always wondering why people have solo projects that sound just like their 'actual' band, and often not nearly as good. But fear not. While Edwards' Woven Hand is similar in many ways to 16HP, it takes things in a direction even darker, dreamier, creepier, and more religious (more on that later) ending up sounding EVEN BETTER than 16HP. Hard to believe, especially if you loved 16HP's 'Folklore' that we made record of the week a few weeks back as much as we did! Woven Hand is like a Cormac McCarthy novel put to music. "Blood Meridian" arranged for rock band. "All The Pretty Horses" sung by wandering minstrels. Desolate and dreary, violent and cathartic, but not obviously so, more like a creeping seeping sickness, death and destruction and human sin as it swallows souls and destroys lives. The instrumentation is similar to 16HP, a dark and dreamy gypsy swamp-folk, but more lush, with thicker, richer atmospheres, and murky, almost impenetrable instrumental backdrops, underpinning Edwards' tales of redemption and forgiveness, sorrow and apocalypse. The lyrics are way more blatantly religious, biblically themed, and aimed at touching our souls. Which for some reason doesn't bother me as much as you think it would. The words are poetic and symbolic, simple and timeless, just beautiful stories and poems, like much of the Bible. Removed from the Christian tradition (thousands of years of hypocrisy and murder and keeping people from thinking for themselves), Edwards' biblical testifying almost has me bowing prostrate hoping to appease a stern but ultimately forgiving God. It helps that Edwards delivers these parables in a rich, throaty rasp, a gorgeous gruff tenor, like a mix of Mark Lanegan, Chris Grigoroff (Souled American) and Nick Cave, that sounds like it has the power to make men sob and women swoon. It all comes together, sound and fury, voice and instrument, in a rich tapestry of fear and hope and death and the cycle of life and desperate dreams of an afterlife. It's rare to really hear music so powerful and so evocative that it manages to become more than just 'rock music' or 'that pretty cool band.' This record brings me to the verge of tears, makes me shiver...I feel it in my brain and in my heart and in my soul. Seriously. This is what music should be to me. Intense and emotional and heartfelt and brutally powerful. There's a creepy crawly version of Bill Withers' 'Ain't No Sunshine' that manages to be even better than the original, due in no small part to the dark, funereal treatment it gets from Woven Hand, that under the right circumstances (or wrong circumstances) could crush me into a weeping, sobbing heap, with my heart broken into a thousand pieces. I wish all music could do that...
RealAudio clip:
"The Good Hand"
RealAudio clip: "My Russia"
RealAudio clip: "Blue Pail Fever"
RealAudio clip: "Ain't No Sunshine"

album coverYO LA TENGO The Sounds Of The Sounds of Science (Egon) cd 14.98
Although this gal (Cup) is a huge admirer of the dreamy works of both Yo La Tengo and surrealist filmmaker Jean Painleve, she was absolutely crestfallen when she missed out on this very special evening at the fabulous Castro Theater last year. Yup, couldn't get a ticket to witness Ira, Georgia and James perform the soundtrack to Painleve's hypnotic sealife imagery on the big Castro screen. Sadly of course the visuals don't come along with the sounds on this cd, so you kinda miss the event's magical chemistry between picture and live sound. However, what you do get is an absolutely mesmerizing instrumental album. Please note: this is a fuller studio version of their performance. They've successfully captured the otherworldly wonder of Painleve's filmworks while still maintaining their distinct warm, enveloping Yo La Tengo sound. The first track titled "Sea Urchins" features sweeping feathery guitar and chiming tones that float along languidly to a steady bass and drum rhythm. If you removed the sealife cinematic context, it'd be just as suited for a sleek cocktail lounge, although I'd like to make note of the one odd thing about this particular track - the whirring sound that sort of made me think "is someone vacuuming next door?" Anyways, "Shrimp Stories" is a much more frantic, driving and almost funky segment. Sure caught me in their groove. Gradually it all descends into a more abstract tenuous viscose roar for "Liquid Crystals" and "The Sea Horse" resurfaces into a shimmery organ pulse. Breathtaking.
F.Y.I. This disc is also available at a lower price directly from the band at www.yolatengo.com and from a couple of other stores. But that's it! So don't delay.
RealAudio clip:
"Sea Urchins"
RealAudio clip: "Liquid Crystals"
RealAudio clip: "The Sea Horse"

YONKERS, MICHAEL BAND Microminiature Love (Destijl) lp 13.98
An obscure late-sixties ahead-of-his-time visionary gets his due with this LP reissue. A while back, the Get Hip label released two songs by Michael Yonkers on a 7" and a compilation and that started the buzz. Yonker's stuff was like nothing anyone had heard back then (or even now, really): fucked up garage psych with dementedly genius lyrics and crazy acid-fried guitar. Now Destijl has released the whole LP, that was originally recorded in 1968 but then quickly shelved almost before it had a chance to be heard. Yonkers, a legendary Minneapolis-area figure, built his own effects pedals, cut his Fender Telecaster down to a plank, and played like no one else ever. I'm at a loss of words on how to describe this. It's sort of like a fusion of stripped down Black Sabbath, The Troggs, Pere Ubu, and The Cramps?? Or something like that. Definitely something to check out. Vinyl only.

album coverV/A Do The Pop! (Shock) 2cd 18.98
50 songs of Australian garage rock 1976-1987, almost all of it fucking great! Most of us are familiar with the The Saints and Radio Birdman, but included on this compilation are a bunch of amazing lesser knowns running the gamut from dirty rock to jangly pop to crusty garage to Detroit influenced punk. Bands like The Hoodoo Gurus (one of Andee's favorite bands ever), Died Pretty, The Lipstick Killers, The Sunnyboys, The Scientists, The Lime Spiders, The Screaming Tribesmen, The Hard-Ons, The Celibate Rifles, The New Christs, The Eastern Dark, The Exploding White Mice, The Stems and more. 2 1/2 hours!! It's like Christmas or something, I (Sadie) already loved The Saints and Radio Birdman but hadn't heard any of these other bands and I'm freaked out at how much awesome garage rock I've been missing out on. Andee told me that the Celibate Rifles are rad, and they are! Other kick ass bands are the Scientists (who also have a collection on Sub Pop), the Lime Spiders, the Victims, oh I could go on and on! Just buy this. One of the best compilations we've heard in a long time! (Particularily great if you got that excellent recent Sub Pop Radio Birdman collection reviewed on list #118, and want to hear more from their scene, or the scene that they inspired.)
RealAudio clip:
THE SAINTS "Simple Love"
RealAudio clip: LIPSTICK KILLERS "Driving The Special Dead"
RealAudio clip: CELIBATE RIFLES "Back In The Red"
RealAudio clip: LE HOODOO GURUS "Leilani"

album coverV/A In the Beginning There Was Rhythm (Soul Jazz) cd 17.98
Wow. The London based Soul Jazz label does it again. They've already documented the global history of funk and soul in several astonishingly well-executed collections including the universally loved "100-500% Dynamite" series of Jamaican soul, rocksteady, and reggae; the Philadelphia Roots collection; the Nu Yorica albums; that ESG reissue, and even an Art Ensemble of Chicago album. Yet none of these albums has been as highly anticipated or so spot-on timely as this new one from Soul Jazz, "In The Beginning There Was Rhythm."
This compilation succeeds in encapsulating that heady time between the years 1978 and 1982, when the "second wave" of British punk bands found inspiration in both the musical and political power of reggae. As the situationist propaganda of Malcolm McLaren and the Sex Pistols spawned a global theater of anarchist shock tactics, even such right-wing idiots as the skinhead, white power, and neo-Nazi parties dared to embrace punk's celebration of chaos. Thus, those (mostly white) musicians within the punk movement who were *opposed* to such unsavory politics stood in solidarity both politically and aesthetically with their black brothers in Jamaica. Incited by the offbeat attack of The Clash and the huge dub bass production from Public Image Limited, the late '70s punk movement began a vast exploration into possibilities of bridging dance music with the revolutionary anthems of punk.
While neither The Clash nor PIL are included in this compilation, "In The Beginning There Was Rhythm" does collect some of the best tracks from the huge vaults of post-punk, many of which might have gone forgotten had it not been for this album! Even 20 years after their initial releases, the bands here -- including Gang of Four, Cabaret Voltaire, 23 Skidoo, The Pop Group, A Certain Ratio, The Slits, This Heat, Human League and Throbbing Gristle -- still sound fresh, often melding choppy rhythms with angular slash-and-burn guitar, spit out vocals, rubbery bass, and nascent forms of electronica.
We'll say it again -- the music here is simply perfect -- the punk holds back dance music's tendency to get too mechanical 'n boring, while the dance elements impart melody and groove to the punk. Highlighting the compilation are A Certain Ratio's urgent amphetamine funk on "Shack Up" and "Knife Slits Water", melding the unlikely combination of Joy Division's grim urgency with a George Clinton funk arrrangement. Gang Of Four's "To Hell With Poverty" marks their transition from the agitated punk grooves found on their classic (but impossible to find) debut "Entertainment" into a smooth dancefloor-friendly attack punctuated by Marxist rhetoric. The Human League -- who are unfortunately best known for their chart topping new wave singles -- had incredibly adventurous beginnings on the often forgotten punk label Fast (also early home for The Mekons and Gang of Four). Their early offering "Being Boiled" is a primitive piece of spartan electronics loaded with theatrical tension and dark arpeggiations more expected from people like Coil and Throbbing Gristle (who contribute their perverse fascination with ABBA in the subversive aesthetics of "20 Jazz Funk Greats").
But, why is this compilation so short? Judging from how few people today remember or even have heard Section 25, Tunnelvision, DAF, or Fad Gadget, there's plenty more work for Soul Jazz to do in compiling more compilations of this sort! Not just recommended, this is *required* listening. Strongly recommended to any and all!
RealAudio clip:
POP GROUP "She Is Beyond Good And Evil"
RealAudio clip: HUMAN LEAGUE "Being Boiled"
RealAudio clip: GANG OF FOUR "To Hell With Poverty"
RealAudio clip: A CERTAIN RATIO "Knive Slits Water"

album coverV/A Nothing Left To Lose: A Tribute To Kris Kristofferson (Incidental Music) cd 13.98
Let's face it, most tribute albums suck. I can count on one hand the number of tribute albums I have *loved*. (Well, actually on one finger, namely the Roky Erickson trib.) Now along comes this FANTASTIC collection of songs performed by a perfectly-chosen array of alt country musicmakers, all paying their respects to Kris Kristofferson with achingly gorgeous renditions of his songs. I'm hard pressed to even name highlight tracks, because *all* of them are lovely. The mood is consistently downer, the performances retain the flavor of the individual contributing bands, but let the brilliance of Kristofferson's songwriting show thru. And who doesn't love "Me and Bobby McGee", "Help Me Make it Thru the Night", and my personal fave "Sunday Mornin' Coming Down"? If you're not a Kristofferson fan (yet), get this anyway -- it serves as a wonderful intro to the perpetual outsider with the progressive politics who mopped floors at a Columbia's Nashville studios just so he could slip Johnny Cash tapes of his songs! (The liner notes go into his life story a bit -- quite fascinating -- he was involved in the Central American conflicts, visited the Sandanistas, is working to free Leonard Peltier, etc.)
Participants include Souled American, Calexico, Radar Brothers, Zmrzlina, Virgil Shaw (Dieselhed), Richard Buckner, Howe Gelb (Giant Sand), Grandaddy, Deanna Varagone (Lambchop), Court and Spark, Califone, Handsome Family -- all artists already established as wonderful. Hear them pay tribute. Take it from me, the picky tribute listener -- this one is GREAT. It will make you love Kristofferson while also providing a stunning snapshot of the current alt.country scene. Highly recommended!
RealAudio clip:
CALEXICO "Casey's Last Ride"
RealAudio clip: ZMRZLINA WITH MILK CHOPPER "Me & Bobby McGee"
RealAudio clip: DIANA DARBY "Jesus Was a Capricorn"
RealAudio clip: HANDSOME FAMILY "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down"

album coverV/A Wayang Golek: The Sound & Celebration of Sundanese Puppet Theater (Music of the Earth) 6cd 32.00
Let's see if I can do this set the justice it deserves and be as brief as possible. Wayang, or puppet theater, is the premier form of dramatic expression in much of Indonesia and exists in a myriad of forms, often unique to particular regions. It is performed for weddings, graduations, circumcisions and numerous other auspicious occasions and social events. Combining music, song, and story telling it can relate moral, historical, political, and puerile functions using stories taken from familiar classic tales (most often used are the Indian epics Mahabarata and Ramayana.) What's more, puppet theater is an event that combines high and low culture that could, in western terms, only be expressed analogously as a melange (which it is not) say, of Shakespeare meets Bach's "Matthew's Passion" meets Star Wars meets Wagner's "Ring Cycle" meets Bevis & Butthead and then some. As such, it is a dramatic form that can truly be grasped and appreciated by all members of society regardless of age or education.
Though puppet theater, like much performance in Java and Bali, is a synergetic event, it is the dalang, or puppeteer, that is the real star of the show. He must not only have an excellent story telling, comedic and musical ability (with loads of great improvisational skills), but must be able to bring the puppets to life as well -- often manipulating several at once -- and be able to do all this for very long stretches without a single break. A truly great dalang is also an excellent builder of puppets, the more ornate the better. The enclosed booklet details some of the recent developments in puppet technology, including puppets that actually squirt blood, puke noodles and that can be decapitated. The dalang is not only charged with controlling the puppets and the unfurling of the story, but by extension the gamelan and singers as well by giving them cues (often quite brief) to begin and end the musical pieces which frame events in the story or to accompany battle scenes and the like. Though the general framework of a story is fixed, the dalang's art is in his ability to embellish his narration of the tale, contextualizing it to the event at hand, often delivering witty barbs at the wayang's sponsors or members of the gamelan. The political possibilities of such an event are pretty much limitless and dalang often use the performance as a means of criticizing government corruption and oppression, which has even resulted in the persecution and imprisonment of dalang.
What makes this recording uniquely special is that it is the first time an entire live performance of wayang golek has been recorded and released. There have been plenty of cassette and cd issues of abbreviated wayang performances, many being done in a recording studio. But, clocking in at just under 7 hours (squeezed onto 6 cds), it's no wonder performances of wayang golek are not released in their entirety. This recording was made in 1994 and was sponsored by the national telecommunications company PTT Telkom. The dalang for the performance, Asep Sunandar Sunarya Giri Harja III, is considered one of the best living dalang in West Java and is heavily sought after for performances. Born into a family of dalang (not only was his father a famous dalang, but three brothers are also professional dalang) he received first prize in the annual wayang golek competition in 1985.
The performance begins with a 41 minute instrumental suite that serves to both warm up the musicians and draw guests to the performance area and is ended with a brief introductory speech over the P.A. system by the event's sponsors. Once the performance gets under way, the shrewd and minimal recording method reveals itself: with one microphone over the dalang and another 12 feet away, over the singers and musicians, the super-wide spaced stereo pair is able to pick up as much of the performance as directly as possible. This was important because apparently, just beyond the group was an archaic P.A. system through which the dalang (as well as the female singers) was being reinforced to the crowd of several thousand that were seated beyond the invited guests of a hundred or so. The resulting recording has a bizarre quality; combining the acoustic and unamplified instruments of the gamelan with voice of the dalang picked up by the microphone above him along with the delayed echo of the dalang's voice as it bounces back from distant walls like a bullhorn. The performance moves dreamlike between songs, dialog (with the dalang taking on various voices of the characters in the story), and combinations of both where the dalang will interrupt the singers in the middle of a song with humorous quips, generating mirth from the audience. Although a significant portion of the performance is merely dialog (in fact, during the requisite midnight "clown scene" the dalang sounds almost like a stand up comedian doing a routine at a West Java night club) it is in this writer's opinion that the recording still holds a certain fascination in texture alone. But you needn't worry about missing out on the fun here because the producer has painstakingly gone through the trouble of translating the *entire* performance into English and including it as a .pdf document on the sixth disc (it is also available in Sundanese and bahasa Indonesia if those suit better) which you can print out so you can follow along while listening. Along with the 7 hours of the wayang golek performance and the complete text translation, this set also comes with a detailed 44 page booklet. The very detailed and superbly researched notes cover the history of wayang golek, the puppets, music, plus information specific to this performance such as a story synopsis as well as its origin, and information on the performers involved. Andrew Weintraub, a professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Pittsburgh who specializes in the performing arts of West Java, put together the set (recording the performance, translating the dialog and writing the liner notes) and has done a remarkable job. Though some may find this a bit steep of an investment for an introduction to wayang or Sundanese music in general, it is a remarkable and unique production and one that's worth the bite into the old leather bi-fold. And given how cheap this set is, you're hardly paying much per disc. Highly recommended!
RealAudio clip:
"Tatalu (excerpt 1)"
RealAudio clip: "Tatalu (excerpt 2)"
RealAudio clip: "Kawitan"
RealAudio clip: "Murwa Pondok"
RealAudio clip: "Karatagan"
RealAudio clip: "Asa Tos Tepang"
RealAudio clip: "(Cepot Tells Jokes)"

----* New In Stock, Maybe Gettin' Reviewed Next Time... :

BEHEMOTH "Zos Kia Cultus (Here And Beyond)" (Avante Garde) cd 14.98
BOYNKIN, RONNIE "The Will Come, Is Now" (ESP Disk) cd 14.98
CIRCLE "Prospekt" (Static Caravan) 2lp 17.98
FREEFORM "Human" (Skam) cd 16.98
GOLD CHAINS "Live At The Beta Lounge" (MX Entertainment) dvd 19.98
GORILLAZ "Phase One: Celebrity Take Down" (Zombie Flesh Eaters) dvd 26.00
GZA / GENIUS "Legend Of The Liquid Sword" (MCA) cd 15.98
HAINO, KEIJI "Mazu Wa Iro O Nakuso Ka" (PSF) cd 21.00
IKEDA, RYOJI "op." (Touch) cd 14.98
JANDEK "Humility of Pain" (Corwood Industries) cd 8.98
KOENJI HYAKKEI "Live at Star Pine's Cafe" (Magaibutsu) dvd 22.00
KOUGEZAN KOUKIJI "The Live [11th] Final Hyakusenmansyuuraku" (Horen) 2cd 19.98
M., SACHIKO / KAFFE MATTHEWS / ANDREA NEUMANN "In Case of Fire Take the Stairs" cd 17.98
MAGYAR POSSE "We Will Carry You Over The Mountains" (Verdura) cd 14.98
MANILLA ROAD "Mark of the Beast" (Monster Records) cd 13.98
MASAYOSHI URABE / GARY SMITH (Paratactile) cd 16.98
MICROSTORIA "Invisible Architecture #3" (Audiosphere) cd 16.98
MOUNTAIN GOATS "Beautiful Rat Sunset" (Shrimper) cd 9.98
MULATU ASTATKE FEATURING FEKADE AMDE MASKAL "Ethio Jazz" (L'Arome Productions) lp 17.98
MYSTIC FOREST "Waltz In the Midst of Trees" cd 13.98
NAS "God's Son" (Columbia) 2cd 16.98
NEW COLONY SIX, THE "Breakthrough" (Sundazed) cd 12.98
RUINS / POCHAKAITE MALKO / CICALA MVTA / ABURADAKO "Let's Dance With Irregular Rhythms" (Magaibutsu) dvd 22.00
SATELLITE CIRCLE, THE "s/t" (Rage Of Achilles) cd 10.98
SATOKO FUJI / TATSUYA YOSHIDA "Toh-Kichi" (Victo) cd 15.98
SONNA "Smile And The World Smiles With You" (Temporary Residence Ltd.) cd 13.98
TIPPETT, KEITH GROUP "Dedicated To You, But You Weren't Listening" (Akarma) cd 16.98
TRAD GRAS OCH STENAR "Djungelns Lag" (1/2 Special) cd 14.98
TRAD GRAS OCH STENAR "Mors Mors" (1/2 Special) cd 14.98
V/A "Music of Our Time" (Wergo) 4cd 39.00
FUBAR (OST) (Aquarius Records Canada) cd 16.98
VALENTINE, MATT "Tonight! One Night Only! MV & EE In Heaven" (Time-Lag Records) lp 19.98
WINFRED E. EYE "A Bottle, A Dog, Some Milk, A Bottle" (Luckyhorse Industries) cd 14.98
WASSERSTOFF "Satie On Ecstasy" (Dire) cd 12.98
WILLIS, KELLY "Easy" (Ryko) cd 16.98
XASTHUR "Nocturnal Poisoning" (Red Stream) cd 12.98

----* Some Selected Upcoming Releases :

---( January 14th
Sole "Selling Live Water" cd/2lp on Anticon
Main "Transiency" cd on Tigerbeat6

---( January 21st
Supersilent "6" cd on Rune Grammofon
Kinski "Airs Above Your Station" 2xlp on Strange Attractors Audio House
The Sea & Cake "One Bedroom" cd/lp on Thrill Jockey
Brokeback "Looks At The Bird" cd/lp on Thrill Jockey
Butthole Surfers "s/t + Live PCPPEP" cd on Latino Buggerveil
Crooked Fingers "Red Devil Dawn" cd on Merge
Future Bible Heroes "The Lonely Robot" cd on Instinct (remixes of stuff from "Eternal Youth")
John Zorn "Masada Guitars" cd on Tzadik (guitar trio w/ Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, and Tim Sparks)
Bob Log III "Log Bomb" cd on Fat Possum
v/a "Mahagita: Harp And Vocal Music of Burma" cd on Smithsonian Folkways
Benumb "By Means of Upheaval" cd on Relapse
Delgados "Hate" cd

---( January 28th
v/a "Love, Peace & Poetry: Brazilian Psychedelic Music" cd on QDK
Coachwhips "Get Yer Body Next Ta Mine" cd version on Narnack
Com.a "Shot of Love" cd on Tigerbeat6
Converge "Unloved And Weeded Out" rarities collection cd on Deathwish Inc.
Electric Company "It's Hard To Be A Baby" cd on Tigerbeat6
Numbers "Death Remixes Vol. 1" and "Vol. 12" 12"s on Tigerbeat6
Sean Creamers "I Suck On That Emotion" cd/lp on Drag City
Friends of Dean Martinez "On the Shore" cd on Narnack
Guitar Wolf "UFO Romantics" domestic cd on Narnack

---( February 11th
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds "Nocturama" cd on Anti/Epitaph
Davis Redford Triad "Code Orange" cd on Holy Mountain (live + new)
Aislers Set "How I Learned To Write Backwards" LP on Slumberland, cd on Suicide Squeeze
Breast Fed Yak "Get Your Greasy Head Off The Sham" cd on Birdman (Controlled Bleeding + Tatsuya Yoshida)
Dwayne Sodahberk "Partying Without Inhibition Or Dignity" 12"/cdep on Tigerbeat6
Mickey Baker "The Wildest Guitar" cd on SepiaTone
Numbers "Death" remix cd on Tigerbeat6

---( February 18th
Cat Power "You Are Free" cd/2lp on Matador
Nobukazu Takemura "10th" cd/lp on Thrill Jockey
Cul de Sac "Death To The Sun" cd on Strange Attractors Audio House
Gray Market Goods "s/t" 12" on Thrill Jockey (dude from Directions In Music)
Steffen Basho-Junghans "Rivers and Bridges" cd on Strange Attractors Audio House

---( February 25th
Angels Of Light "Everything Good Here / Please Come Home" cd on Young God
Black Twig Pickers "Soon One Morning" cd on VHF
The Bug vs. The Rootsman feat. Daddy Freddy / DJ/Rupture split 12"/cdep on Tigerbeat6
The Red Thread "After The Last" cd on Badman (ex-Half Film)
Turbonegro "Ass Cobra" and "Apocalpyse Dudes" cd reissues on Burningheart
v/a "You Can Never Go Fast Enough" cd/2lp on Plain (tribute to Two Lane Blacktop the movie w/ Wilco, SY, many more)

---( March
Opeth "Damnation" cd on Koch
Woven Hand "s/t" domestic release on Sounds Familyre
Califone tba cd/lp on Thrill Jockey
Howe Gelb "Listener" cd/lp on Thrill Jockey
SubArachnoid Space "Also Rising" cd on Strange Attractors Audio House

---( also in the future
(Smog) tba cd/lp on Drag City
Calexico tba cd/lp on Quarterstick
Chik Chik Chik (!!!) tba cd on T&G
Circle "Taantalums" picture disc LP (and, eventually, cd w/bonus tracks) on tUMULt
Solar Anus "Skull Alcoholic: The Complete Solar Anus" 2cd on tUMULt
Clientele tba cd on Merge
P.G. Six "The Well of Memory" cd on Amish
Dan Matz (Windsor for the Derby / Birdwatcher) "Carry Me Over" on Amish
Dirty Three tba live cd/dvd on T&G
Gossip tba cd/lp on KRS
Microphones " Mount Eerie" cd/lp on K, plus 10" releases
Nobukazu Takemura "Assembler" cd/lp on Thrill Jockey
Oval tba cd/lp on Thrill Jockey
Songs: Ohia "Magnolia Elec. Co." cd
The Shipping News tba cd/lp on Quarterstick
Tortoise tba cd/lp on Thrill Jockey
Troum "Sigqan" cd on Desolation House
Ufomammut tba cd on TMC
Zion I "DeepWater Slang" cd on Raptivism

Happy Holidays -- Windy Allan Byram Jim Cup Sadie Marcy and Andee