Monday, July 25, 2005


Break Through in Grey Room

William S. Burroughs

Hear cool sound recordings and early tape experiments from WSB and Bryon Gysin from this seminal period of their careers. It's a perfect backdrop for reading Soft Machine, The Ticket That Exploded or maybe even the Word Virus anthology.

See comments for details.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


The Power to Believe

King Crimson

A slab from this nearly 40 year old prog rock band that proves it can still take on all newcomers to the field. As Fripp has often stated, King Crimson comes together when they have relevant music to play and/or things to say. And this time around this thematically tied together album seems to be about our beliefs and perceptions, faith and the mass spectacle society. Level Five, the album's opener after a brief a capella of the thematic motif, is a Lark's Tongue-ish scorcher that proves that no one but Robert Fripp can coax cello-like nuances from his guitar at one moment and frenzied, terror shrieks the next.
In fact, this whole album hearkens back to an earlier period of KC's history. The device of stringing this outing together with the Power to Believe I,II and the Coda are reminiscent of the Peace chorus on In the Wake of Poseidon. Level Five somewhat resembles the title track from 1974's Red. And the inclusion of the beautiful artwork of P.J. Crook throughout brings to mind the Peter Sinfield era of this band's back catalog.
Not that this is a derivative or nostalgic album by any means; there is enough here that would give Tool, mars Volta, et al, a run for their money. The pastoral sounding Eyes Wide Open is one of Adrian Belew's most beautiful songs yet, and seems to be about where the individual finds himself today.The very aggro-sounding Facts of Life sounds like Ministry on a very good day, transcribing the rationale of the Project for the New American Century with the lyrics:
Six billion ants, crawling on a plate/ Six billion ants, crawling on a plate, /none of them give back as much as they take.
The very post-modern (for a prog-rock band) Happy with What You Have to Be Happy With, complete with amusing placeholder fill-in-the-blanks lyrics, has one of the catchiest, most life affirming choruses to date.

Saturday, July 09, 2005



DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist

Here's an album that I'd been looking for for years, after hearing it played over the sound system at the dearly departed Django's Records (RIP). The clerk at the counter told me the story of the album's creation and the legal difficulties with a certain convenience store chain and of the album's subsequent deletion – all the while refusing to sell me his personal copy- so I've been looking for it ever since. Bootlegs abound and I'm overjoyed to have found it at last.
Contained on it's two sides is one hellacious throwdown between DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist, recorded live in the studio, using some of the coolest, funkiest R & B and funk 45s from the seventies and eighties. The execution is seemless. Although it's sad to think of all of the classic sides that were demolished in this scratchy melt-down, the end results are well worth it.


The Isness

The Future Sound of London

I don't know which musical experience is more satisfying; buying an album and immediately falling in love with it and every song on it, to the point that you play it over and over non-stop – or, buying an album, taking an immediate dislike to it and having it grow on you over a period of time, till you find it one of your favorite albums.
The latter was certainly the case with FSOL's latest album, where I purchased it retail after being unable to find it used or at least hear samples of it.
The first track, The Lovers is pretty straight-foward mellow FSOL. But subsequent songs had my jaw dropping to the floor ( or floorboards of my car, as the case may be) as the arrangements of the tunes unfurled.
Sitar!? - acoustic guitar!? - FRENCH HORN!? - SINGING!?
This is nothing like Dead Cities!
This is a full blown psychedelic album, with heavy nods to Donovan (who wrote the liner notes – which shoulda served as a warning), Prog-Rock and other relatively unknown British psychedelic musicians. It's obvious that Garry Cobain and Brian Dougan and have been been listening to lots of long lost singles from that era, as is evident from some of the DJ sets they've done for the BBC and Resonance FM.
It's hard not to compare this to Pink Floyd – especially for us Yanks.
But I'll be damned if it didn't grow on me and continues to be an album I sit and intentionally listen to, from beginning to end. It's the perfect album to listen to on a lazy Saturday afternoon, with the curtains drawn and your jukebox's lightshow turned on.

Friday, July 08, 2005


When I Was Young

Genesis P. Orridge and Astrid Monroe

A spoken word trip-hoppish outing of sorts for GPO and DJ Astrid Monroe, whoever that is.
You know someone's been around for awhile when their distinctive voice has the same resonance as William S. Burroughs did in the last couple of decades. Genesis' voice is one of those I'll always associate with high evolutionary change, even if I don't follow where he's currently headed.
There's loads of Theremin to spare in this album, and the beats are smooth and mellow. Comparisons to Portishead are inevitable. GPO doesn't really reveal anything too revelatory here and his voice is oddly distorted, time stretched or cut up.
But it is interesting to hear from this still vital, creative force.

Monday, July 04, 2005


20 Jazz Funk Greats

Throbbing Gristle
Mute/Grey Area

What a stoop I was to have never bought this album until now!
I even enjoyed the few cuts from it that I heard on compilations, but never got around to buying it. I was more or less put off from it by reviews calling this TG's most accessible record, rather than nearly every other critic's misapprehension over the title; I may not have been the sharpest knife in the drawer in the early eighties, but even I knew the name of that album, coupled with the faux-easy listening cover photo was a clever gag from GPO and crew.
No, I had no real valid excuse for not adding this wonderful album to my collection, none at all. I
'm glad I did though, and find it's a perfect middle ground between the gritty minimalism found on earlier releases and the pop sounds of their later singles and Chris N' Cosey's post TG albums. The instrumental pieces really paint a frightening, post industrial landscape that hearken back to the days when Burroughs and Phil K, Dick were what we thought the future would look like.
It does and it doesn't, but this is a fine record. Don't wait 20+ years to buy it like I did.


The Wall of Sacrifice

Death in June

I've avoided DiJ all these years, but have been intrigued by singer/guitarist Douglas P.'s contributions to other people's work and his taste in music via a podcast he did for Brainwashed. I'd always written them off as another dark industrial band that flirted with fascistic imagery and had a misanthropic lyrical bent. Whereas bands like Test Dept. and Laibach openly displayed aesthetics of fascism or nationalistic motifs, they, for the most part are doing it in a sort of political and artistic detournment, and have aspects to their art and music (Futurism, Deconstructivism, Surrealism, etc.) that would never have been tolerated by a genuine fascist government such as Nazi Germany. Death in June, complete with creepy WWII Fallschirmjager jumpsuits and scary looking gargoyle masks, have a tougher go of shaking Nazi allegations. It doesn't help that frequent collaborator (and often similarly attired) Boyd Rice makes an appearance, a spoken word piece where he intones about destruction being an essential part of the wheel of life (Bring on the Night). That little ray of sunshine aside, the rest runs the gamut from smooth death folk (Fall Apart, Giddy Giddy Carousel), industrial loop melt downs (Wall of Sacrifice, Death is a Drummer) and death drones (Heilige Leben) for an alternately beautiful and desolate listening experience.



Goran Bregovic
Mercury, France

An excellent soundtrack to one of the greatest movies of all time, Emir Kuristika's Underground, aka Once Upon a Time There Was a Country.
If you've ever had the pleasure of seeing this film from the former Yugoslavia, the sound of the Gypsy brass band that is in virtually every other scene will be stuck in your head for months. The raucous sounding Kalasnjikov, which is heard throughout the film, is here, as is the haunting War, complete with a tragic children's choir.
Here, rather than simply lift the songs from the soundtrack, many have been recreated and in some cases rearranged completely by Bregovic and his band.
Some songs are a beautiful fusion of Balkan folk with electronica, such as The Belly Button Of The World with great sounding Middle Eastern percussion as well as a pulsing electronic beat, which sounds oddly appropriate for a film that covers fifty years of the history of Yugoslavia.
Missing in action is the German hit song Lili Marleen that crops up throughout the film. First heard when the protagonist's city falls to the Nazis and later when the Allies defeat them, it's used throughout the movie to a humorous effect. Part of the joke is that that song was an enormously popular song in Nazi Germany. So much so that the Allies, including Yugoslav partisans, began playing it. Eventually it was banned by the Nazi government and was played every night at 10 o' clock by the Yugoslav resistance. It's just one of hundreds of symbols and allegories to be found in this wonderful film.
Lovers of traditional Balkan music, Euro-Folk, Klezmer or any exotic music will find this soundtrack enjoyable whether they've seen this film or not.




This is more like it. A purely ambient album from Laswell project Divination.
Divination seems to be his electronica/ambient/dub vehicle. I say his lightly, as Laswell tends to underplay himself instrumentally, his role chiefly is to bring together disparate musicians and elements. Like his outfit Material, the personnel and music style here varies from album to album.
On this album, electric zither player Laraaji peels off shimmery chords and lets them sail around in the aether. The effect is a lot like the wind playing on the water. Laswell's understated bass makes an occasional appearance on the horizon, in a call and response to Laraaji's zither.


Cymatic Scan

Bill Laswell & Tetsu Inoue

After really enjoying most of Laswell's ambient stuff, especially his collaborations with M.J. Harris (Somnific Flux, Divination) I was exited to hear about this hour long piece featuring Tetsu Inoue.
Although it does create quite the sonic landscape, it's not very well defined and fuzzy. I don't know if it's the mix, or if Laswell intended the sound to be just out of reach. It's often said that good ambient music should be like wallpaper and enjoyed in the background. For some of us relaxation junkies, especially those raised on Phil K. Dick, Ballard and Burroughs, we tend to like music that wallpapers us into a sci-fi like setting.
Although my initial feelings on this disc will probably improve with subsequent spins,
It seems that the promising soundscape hidden in the mix seems to be buried under the wallpaper.

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