Monday, December 31, 2007

Music I Liked And Didn't - 12/26/07 - 12/31/07

My List Of Personal Shame - Part Two:

Presented below is the second installment of several releases that I liked and have added to my library in 2007, but for which I have failed to publish a review. As time passes and, due to embarrassing good fortune in life, the new releases pile up (I currently have over 30 items that I haven't even listened to yet, let alone reviewed!), older items tend to lose the focus of my attention. So, knowing that I'll, regrettably, never get around to publishing any proper reviews for these items, and wishing to wrap up '07 in order to start '08 with a clean slate, I do wish to, at least, publicly acknowledge them in order to give them some of the kudos they deserve.

Adds -

ANGELS OF LIGHT: We Are Him DLP (Young God) - One of the year’s 10 best and one of Gira’s best (and most rockin’) efforts in years!

AI ASO: Chamomile Pool CD (Pedal) - “Chamomile Pool” is the third full-length release from ethereal pop chanteuse Ai Aso. Aided on this album by some of the Japanese underground’s most prominent figures, including her husband, legendary guitarist Michio Kurihara (Ghost, Stars, White Heaven, etc.) and You Ishihara (Stars, White Heaven, Pedal “mogul”, etc.), the ten tracks of beautiful, lysergic, dream pop and psych on “Chamomile Pool” clearly represent a more fully developed and highly-polished sound from Ai Aso.

CASTANETS: In The Vines CD (Asthmatic Kitty) - Another solid and enjoyable album of indie-leaning folk and lysergic-tinged pop sounds from Ray Raposa's Castanets.

FURSAXA: Alone In The Dark Wood LP (Eclipse) - Philadelphia resident Tara Burke has been intriguing us for years now with her solo project Fursaxa. On her sixth full-length release, “Alone In The Dark Wood”, Burke continues her acid folk explorations, making only minor modifications in her established sound.

GRAILS: Burning Off Impurities DLP (Temporary Residence Limited) - On their latest release “Burning Off Impurities”, Grails continue to build upon the sonic evolution they first displayed on their great “Black Tar Prophecies Vol’s. 1, 2, & 3”. Grails deliver the straight dope with this incredible blend of indiginous folk music, communal jamming psych, and, even, hints of the influences of dub and experimental jazz minimalism. Another of my 10 best for ‘07!

GROUP INERANE: Guitars From Agadez (Music of Niger) LP (Sublime Frequencies) - The Sublime Frequencies’ crew returns with their second vinyl only release documenting the authentic sounds of modern African music, this amazing LP by Niger’s Group Inerane. Led by guitarist Bibi Ahmed, Group Inerane has been active for several years now and these ten incredible tracks are a combination of amplified roots rock, blues, and folk in the local Tuareg style that, at times, borders on full-blown psychedelia with its mesmerizing, wild, electric guitar solos.

MV + EE WITH THE GOLDEN ROAD: Gettin' Gone DLP (Ecstatic Peace) - Another of my top 10 for ‘07, MV, EE, and their crew deliver their most cohesive and rockin’ effort to date!

ALAN PASQUA: The Antisocial Club CD (Cryptogramophone) - Pasqua, a big-time studio cat, recruits some of the finest players in the current LA improvised music scene (Cline, Amendola, and so on) to create this album of amazing contemporary fusion. Yes, I used the F-word, so often rightfully disparaged by the music cognisenti - fusion - but this disc is great, containing both cool jazz rulers and slammin', funky winners.

S. T. MIKAEL: Mind Of Fire LP (Subliminal Sounds) - After 11-years of silence, the mysterious and legendary Swedish psychedelic multi-instrumentalist. S.T. Mikael returns with this LP containing 5 lengthy tracks of surreal lyrics, detached, reverbed vocals, cool keyboards, heavy fuzz riffs, eastern influences and progish moves. A little too contrived sounding at times, perhaps, but still, an enjoyable dose of contemporary home-made psych.

SCORCH TRIO: Luggumt DLP (Rune Grammofon) - Guitarist Raoul Bjorkenheim’s Scorch Trio may be one of the most aptly-named groups on the scene today. Over the course of this album’s 10 tracks, the trio (completed by the all-world rhythm section of Ingebrigt Haker Flaten on double-bass, electric bass, and electronics, and Paal Nilssen-Love on percussion) combines the searing energy of a rock power trio with the broadest freedom and exploration that jazz has to offer to devastating effect.

SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE: Shelter From The Ash LP (Drag City) - Shelter From The Ash LP (Drag City) - I honestly haven’t had the opportunity to drop the needle more than once on this new one from Ben Chasny’s Six Organs Of Admittance, but I know I liked what I heard. On this outing, Chasny is backed by Tim Green, Matt Sweeney, fellow Comets On Fire member Noel Harmonson, and the Magik Marker’s Elisa Ambrogio. Despite the unusual amount of support, however, the material on “Shelter From The Ash”, in general, covers similar territory to that of his earlier work. No big surprises, not a watershed album, just more cool acid folk and psych sounds from Six Organs Of Admittance.

SMITH, STEVEN R.: Owl CD (Digitalis Arts And Crafts Editions) - “Owl” is the latest solo release from overlooked and underappreciated multi-instrumentalist Steven R. Smith, who delivers another excellent set of soundscapes of fractured, distorted beauty.

TERRITORY BAND - 6 WITH FRED ANDERSON: Collide CD (Okka Disk) - The Territory Band is an international collection of musicians that was first organized by Ken Vandermark in 2000 after being awarded a grant from the prestigious Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation Fellows Program. “Collide” is a suite in five parts that was recorded by the MK VI version of the ensemble live in Chicago on August 24, 2006, as part of the “Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz” concert series. Continuing in the tradition of such boundary pushing large ensembles as those led by Coltrane and Mingus in the ‘60’s, the material on this release features modern, large form composition and improvisation of a high order, highlighted by experimental electronics, incredible group freedom chases, and incendiary solos.

(VxPxC): Porchmass CD (Digitalis) - After many limited edition CDR and cassette releases in their brief two years of existence, the free psych improvisations of LA-based trio (VxPxC) will, hopefully, reach a larger audience of welcoming ears and minds with their first “proper” full-length release “Porchmass”.

VOICE OF THE SEVEN WOODS: The Journey CD-EP (No Label, Self-Released) - Another self-released CD-EP of material from Rick Tomlinson's Voice Of The Seven Woods project. Like most Voice Of The Seven Woods' efforts to date, "The Journey" focuses on a specific (and different) facet of the group's multi-dimensional sound. This time around, the six tracks on this release use sparse instrumentation to explore a fairly minimalist form of folk and pop sounds.

WEAVER, JANE: Cherlokalate CD (B-Music) - Talented vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jane Weaver has been a figure in the vibrant Mancunian underground music scene since the ‘90’s. Her latest release “Cherlokalate” contains 12 excellent tracks, ranging from beautiful acoustic-based pop and to lush, flowing psychedelia that reminded this listener of Cyann And Ben, for example. Another truly overlooked and underappreciated artist that is deserving of your attention and money.

MICHAEL YONKERS WITH THE BLIND SHAKE: Carbohydrates Hydrocarbons LP (Nero’s Neptune) - After years of doggedly pursuing his muse in relative obscurity, suddenly Michael Yonkers is seemingly everywhere. Recently there were a couple of new CDs and LPs in the shops and, if the many CDRs of material that my man Karl at Anopheles Records (you are encouraged to check out his cool label and distribution service via the link on the right side of this blog!) has played for me are any indication, there’s also a motherlode of additional potential releases for the future. This album, made with the support of Minneapolis’ heavies, the Blind Shake, features 14 tracks of driving, distorted, and, at times, experimental rock sounds. A mind-blowing revelation, to be sure!

V/A: Lipa Kodi Ya City Council LP (Mississippi) - The fine folks at Mississippi Records return with another collection of archival recordings (made between 1967 and 1972) of pan-African music. 12 tracks from countries such as Mali, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Somalia, Uganda and Rwanda featuring styles ranging from R&B (Moussa Doumbi) and pop (Kabushi & Mwenya) to highlife (Marehamu George Mukabi), Juju (Sami Kamar & The Black Diamonds) and beyond! Despite the raw nature of some of these recordings (and/or, to be fair and accurate, their transcriptions), this is, overall, a pretty solid collection of rare and real "world music".

V/A: Scream Loud!!! The Fenton Story 3LP (Music Maniac) - V/A: Scream Loud!!! The Fenton Story TLP (Way Back) - Although the internet, laptops, samplers, and a variety of modern noise makers have made it easier than ever for people to create and distribute their own music, the fact is that kids fueled by some combination of youthful energy, booze and/or illegal substances, a love of music, a desire for money and fame, and a lust for sex have flexed the D.I.Y. aesthetic for decades. Case in point, the 61 tracks on this collection which documents the obscure Fenton label. Based in a movie theater in Sparta, Michigan, Fenton (and its various custom imprints), was like hundreds of small, local record labels that operated throughout America during the 60’s, recording and releasing (on a fee basis) material from dozens of Western Michigan garage bands. And what a fertile ground for garage sounds Western Michigan must have been, as this collection is chock full of power pop pleasers and snotty garage punk ravers. One of the best collections of 7” releases by 60’s garage bands in this (or any) year!

For the record, I must admit my personal bias/tangental connection to this fabulous collection. Although I won’t claim to recall ever actually hearing any of these tracks played on local radio when I was a kid, I did grow up in the 60’s in Western Michigan where Fenton and these bands were based. It just blows my mind to think that in redneck, conservative, rural Western Michigan, bands such as the Mussies were shredding speaker cabinets just 15 miles up the road in South Haven! Furthermore, I now know that the writer of the liner notes for this box, Frank Uhle, attended the same college as I did (Kalamazoo College) at the same time I did and made his first discovery of Fenton (that incredible Mussies 7” of all things; no wonder it ignited an obsession for him!) at the radio station (WJMD) where I had my first radio show! Damn, six degrees of separation?!? More like two...

V/A: Songs From Dracula’s Dulcimer CD (B-Music) - A very cool collection of supernaturally themed exploito-psych-pop tracks from around the globe, as compiled by Andy Votel.

V/A: Thai Pop Spectacular (1960's-1980's) CD (Sublime Frequencies) - “Thai Pop Spectacular (1960's-1980's)” is the second (and lesser, in my humble opinion; the other, superior set being the “Molam - Thai Country Groove From Isan, Vol. 2” CD) of two CDs recently issued by Sublime Frequencies featuring authentic archival sounds from Thailand. It focuses on recordings of Thai Pop from the 1960’s-1980’s. As such, it contains 20 respectable, but fairly derivative, tracks of Thai pop, soul, and exploito-psych sounds, complete with killer fuzz/wah leads, blazing organs, tight, funky horn sections, and over the top vocal stylings.

Did Not Add -


Final Count For The Year

Adds 140/89%

Did Not Add 18/11%

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