Monday, July 30, 2007

Arthur Russell

Music beyond description -- a unique blend of disco, funk, avant garde, and dub -- the wonderful world of the late Arthur Russell! Russell was a bass player by trade, but he was schooled in both classical and Eastern music forms -- and brought an incredibly fresh vision to his work in New York in the late 70s and early 80s. To some, Russell was a groundbreaking disco pioneer -- with an offbeat production style and unique conception of rhythm. To others, Russell was a performance artist and avant garde musician -- working in circles that included Phillip Glass, David Byrne, and Robert Wilson. This mix of modes was very much a part of the post-disco, post-punk sound of New York at the time -- and nobody summarized it (or allowed it!) better than Russell himself. This excellent set from Soul Jazz is one of the first to truly give him his due -- and it brings together a large amount of his disco-related projects, plus a few more introspective numbers cut under his own name. The sound is incredible -- unlike anything you could categorize -- especially on the Russell-titled numbers -- and as always with Soul Jazz, the whole thing's beautifully packaged, with rich notes on the music and the person behind it! Titles include "Go Bang (Francois K mix)" by Dinosaur L, "Wax The Van" by Lola, "Is It All Over My Face (Larry Levan mix)" by Loose Joints, "In The Cornbelt (Larry Levan mix)" by Dinosaur L, "Pop Your Funk" by Loose Joints, "Schoolbell/Treehouse (Walter Gibbons mix)" by Indian Ocean, and "Let's Go Swimming (Walter Gibbons mix)", "A Little Lost", "In The Light Of The Miracle", and "Keeping Up" by Arthur Russell himself!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Jesu/Eluvium Split

For the second installment in the collaborative series of split albums between Temporary Residence Ltd. and Hydra Head Records, we find a match made in heaven with the ethereal, grandiose dirge-pop of Jesu splitting sides with stately, deserted majesty of Eluvium. Already fans of each other's music, the two artists sought to compliment each other and in the process stretched their individual sounds to their outermost limits. Jesu shoots for the moon with a trio of fuzzed-out tunes that owes more to first-wave British shoegaze groups like Swervedriver and Ride than Broadrick's own roots in Godflesh and Napalm Death. It's a beautiful and brilliant evolution in Jesu's already accomplished career. Eluvium aims for the heart of the sun with his magnum opus, a three-part collaboration with Jeremy deVine that stretches Eluvium's contemplative drones to a staggering twenty-one minutes, in which time the song transforms from a lonely rattle to a seismic, swirling storm of sound that grinds the piece to haunting quiet. As with all records in this series, this is strictly limited to 4,000 copies - 2,000 Hydra Head versions and 2,000 Temporary Residence Ltd. versions. The music and the artwork is the same on all copies, but the vinyl colors, label colors, and outer sticker colors will vary. We live to comfort you with our music, and confound you with our methods.

1. JESU: Farewell
2. JESU: Blind & Faithless
3. JESU: Why Are We Not Perfect?
4. ELUVIUM: Time-Travel Of The Sloth Parts I, II, & III

Arthur Verocai

"Music Is My Drug!" Arthur Verocai.

In 1972 a repressive Brazilian military dictatorship frowned on artistic impression that might influence the youth of the country. However, producer, arranger and guitar player Arthur Verocai released a self-titled album on Brazilian based Continental Records that challenged the musical conventions of the day. His subtle protest experimented with new musical directions, and used figurative language to sneak under the censorship radar.

Luv N'Haight records is honored to release its first full-length Brazilian album. It's super rare and will appeal to fans of the folksy soul and lo-fi electronic experimentations of American artists like Shuggie Otis or the orchestration of producer Charles Stepney. Closest Brazilian comparisons would be to Tim Maia and Jorge Ben. This unique recording has a touch of folk, more than a hint of funk, jazz style soloing, amazing 20 piece string arrangements, blending of electronics and keyboards with organic sounds,
and superb soundtrack style music.

"I used to listen to Blood Sweat and Tears, Chicago, Stan Kenton, Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Web, Frank Zappa, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans and Miles Davis, Milton Nascimento, Bossa Nova, among others," explains Arthur Verocai. "In Brazil we had many musical influences, and by that time there wasn't a hegemonic one in the market. In this way my album reflected a search and musical experimentation. I was in an adventurous mood on this album and that led me to explore new melodic, harmonic and rhythmic paths.

Verocai arrived at the 1972 album with a number of accomplishments under his belt. He'd produced the Ivan Lins 1971 album "Agora" which was influenced heavily by the sound of North American soul. He had contributed string arrangements to Jorge Ben releases, too. "I also produced two albums by a singer named Célia for Continental and the president of the company was delighted with the results. He invited me to produce an album using my own compositions and I agreed as long as I was able to choose the musicians to perform with me. All the strings sessions featured 12 violins, 4 violas and 4 cellos, always with one or two percussionists. The idea of mixing strings with contemporary sounds came from my desire of searching for new paths. I think this album was very rich in terms of both quantity and quality of musicians!"

Verocai wasn't messing around with his line-up of musicians, which included Brazilian legends like Robertinho Silva, Pascoal Meireles, Luiz Alves, Paulo Moura, Edson Maciel, Oberdan Magalhães (Banda Black Rio), Nivaldo Ornelas (Milton Nascimento band) and Toninho Horta.

Born Arthur Cortes Verocai in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 17/6/1945, he studied music with Léo Soares, Darci Villaverde, Nair Barbosa da Silva, Roberto Menescal and Vilma Graça. In 1966 Leny Andrade included his song "Olhando o Mar" ("Looking at the Sea") on her "We Are There" album. Two years later Verocai participated in Musicanossa an event that brought together composers, musicians and singers in presentations to play live in the Santa Rosa Theater in Rio de Janeiro, for which he wrote his first arrangements. The live recording of the event included the songs "Madrugada" and "Nova Manhã", composed in partnership with Paulinho Tapajós.

By 1968 his main gig was working in Civil Engineering in Rio de Janeiro. He still managed to perform and participate as a composer at many of Brazils famous Festivals of Music. He was working with artists like Paulinho Tapajós, Elis Regina, Creuza Maria, the Golden Boys, and Evinha. In 1969 Arthur Verocai began his professional career as musician and arranger. He scored the music for the theater show "Is The Greater", and wrote his first arrangements for orchestra. He arranged records by the Terço, Jorge Benjor, Elizeth Cardoso, Gal Costa, Quarteto em Cy, MPB 4, Célia, Guilherme Lamounier, Nélson Gonçalves, Marcos Valle, and others. His music also appeared in the musical "The Life of Braguinha", alongside Elizeth Cardoso, Quarteto em Cy, MPB4 and Sidney Magal. By 1970 he was writing for other groups and regularly composing music for multiple TV shows and incidental music for TV series.

The 1972 self-titled album allowed Verocai to take his interest in instrumental music even further. "I always wanted to compose soundtracks in great style, as in the cinema, but this wasn't possible with television work," he says. "My opportunity came when I was recording this album. I created a rhythmic cell in the acoustic guitar with the harmonic line. I added bass and the non-conventional drums and the percussion with a very smooth orchestration in blocks (four trumpets and a flute) plus the delicate touch of the strings (12 violins, 4 violas and 4 cellos). At the end of the song, Oberdan Magalhães played and sang with his flute." The resulting track is "Sílvia".

"Presente Grego" is perhaps the funkiest track on the album. "This song was influenced by American soul and funk," says Verocai. "By 1972 many of the musicians of my generation were feeling the same influences. Because of our exposure to all many musical influences, we put a distance between us and the conventional recording styles. "Presente Grego" means "Greek gift." It is an expression that comes from the horse of Troy, a gift from the Greeks that hid the warriors that defeated the Troyans. Likewise, the military dictatorship, under the appearance of a good government, practiced censorship and oppression", he explains.

In addition to the funky soul elements the album features many solos from artists obviously well schooled in Jazz. Check the soloing in "Pelas Sombras" or "Karina", where saxes blow hard and true against the backdrop of Brazilian rhythms. "My musical preferences go from J.S. Bach and Villa-Lobos, to jazz musicians like Tom Jobim, Milton Nascimento, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Oscar Peterson, Wes Montgomery and Bill Evans," explains Verocai. "I remember Edson Maciel, was invited to a studio session at 9 AM and was to perform a solo on "Karina." He asked us to wait for a while because he wanted to be inspired by some "cachaça" (a Brazilian liquor made from distilled sugar cane juice). While rehearsing, he asked for a little more "cachaça" to bring on some more inspiration. This happened twice until he found his inspiration and performed a tremendous solo!" remembers Verocai.

In the years after the album release Arthur Verocai became a music advertising executive, creating and producing albums for customers like Brahma, Fanta, Petrobra's, South America, Souza Cruz and was even honored with the Colunistas Prize in Advertising. Since 1983 he is the main proprietor of Studio "V" - House of the Sound and in 2002 he released a solo album "Arthur Verocai - "Saudade Demais" featuring a collection of his work as composer, including some unreleased songs.

Arthur Verocai's musical peer Ivan Lins has this to say about his great friend, "Arthur is a very dedicated musician. He has always been. Not only dedicated but very talented also. He made this record years ago just for the fun of it without much publicity. And now will strike back. That's great!"

Monday, July 23, 2007


This is one of the gems lurking in amongst the second line of Krautrock worthy of investigation after your Cans, Neu!s and Cosmic Jokers have permanently lodged themselves into your swirling brains. There are pitfalls aplenty when digging around in the piles of this stuff that are now available. Some German rock gargoyles have given me several moments of gut-wrenching disappointment – normally when they’ve let tepid, very white jazz-fusion enter into the equation. Infact the more I’ve scrabbled around, the more I’ve formulated a line in my head with mind-blowing Kosmische at one end and Toe-curling Jazz-prog at the other.

This Eroc album is one of the reasons I persist in running the gauntlet and taking gambles on the next Krautrock obscurity maybe coming up with the goods even after sometimes getting burnt fingers just as they’ve healed from the last time. The Eroc album is a record which seems to have missed re-appraisal even with the last decade’s resurgence of interest in Krautrock. This may be because this is a solo side-project of the drummer from Grobschnitt, Joachim Heinz Ehrig. By their nature solo side-projects don’t usually attract avid attention, particularly when they’re by a band’s drummer, but especially when that band is, from what I’ve read, a Yes-styled progmare of Jurassic proportions. However, in this case these factors actually seem to have conspired to produce an album of true beauty.

The fact that Eroc was born from Grobschnitt’s drumstool might make you think that this record will be all self-indulgent, bombastic Keith Moon flailing. This could hardly be further from the truth. The whole of the first side of the record contains no drums at all. Recording material for a solo album seems to have given Ehrig a sense of liberation which resulted in a record which adventurously explores the possibilities of all sorts of instrumentation and studio wizardry. The result manages to be a great mixture of music and moods whilst retaining focus by virtue of a slightly claustrophobic quality which could only come from this being the vision of one person.

The album’s opener starts almost imperceptibly as a discrete playground synth line slowly fades in. It starts to modulate until each note results in a full elastic-band stretch. Then in comes a beautiful playful little monophonic synth line, which can only be an impressionistic view of a little child at play (the track is called ‘Kleine Eva’ – Little Eva). Now that might sound mawkish, but it manages to avoid gooeyness because the synth playing is gorgeously restrained, steering clear of unnecessary virtuoso filigrees. Its repeated tune slowly accumulates rather than sailing away into noodle land. Then in comes a spinning set of modulating synth sounds which sound just like the most spaced out section of the ur-KLF/Orb album ‘Space’. This gives way to the playground spirit again. You can’t fail to be seduced by this track if you like Cluster’s playful ‘Zuckerzeit’ (Sugar Time), which could indeed have appropriately titled this track too. It’s almost 12 minutes long, but when it fades out it makes you want to petulantly stick your bottom lip out, like a child being told it’s time for bed: “No fair!”. However, the following track ‘Der Zauberers Traum’ (The Magician’s Dream) is just as gorgeous, except that the child has grown into an adult, but still hung-up on an entranced view of the beauty of the world. The track starts off sounding like the beginning of a ‘Phaedra’-era Tangerene Dream track, but then the sequenced synth line starts to sound more like it’s come from Irmin Schmidt’s systemic train-ride album ‘Toy Planet’. Then in comes a meandering monophonic synth sounding like some snake-charmer’s rare woodwind. The sequencers bubble away underneath, continually rising into view, then disappearing over the brow of the hill. It’s honey-sweet and delicious. The track is then interrupted by some German-spoken hilarity in the studio. ‘Die Music Vom “Ölberg”’ Is a tiny and silly marching synth theme, which I can imagine satirically sound-tracking sped-up film of Nazi soldiers marching around wartime Europe. It’s reminiscent of La Düsseldorf’s ‘Individuellos’ album, especially as Eroc stops it in its tracks by smashing a pane of glass then running away. ‘Norderland’ begins with smooth synth and gusting arctic winds. We’ve gone from child to adult again. Just as you’d begun to think this was another all-synth track, in crashes a fully-formed instrumental rock tune with drums, bass, and guitar. The tune is a plodding, drunken sounding thing, sound-tracking the slow progress of arctic explorers, but when the lead guitar joins in the aurora borealis appears and the explorers stare up at the beauty before them as the biting arctic winds tear around them, ignored. The ego-less Karoli-sounding guitar lines klang together in metallic harmonies. At points it sounds like a punk version of The Shadows mogadonned on Venus playing ‘Albatross’. That sounds awful, but this track transcends those references to create something which is all lush swaying gorgeousness way beyond anything The Shadows or Fleetwood Mac were capable of even imagining. It’s beautiful in its simplicity and has a right to find itself jammed right up on the Kosmische end of that line I was talking about earlier. The following track ‘Horrorgoll’ is a collaged Faust Tapes weirdathon shoved through a delay and morphed into a bizarre lysergic radio play. German spoken word fragments fly about as all sorts of electrickery is used to pull as much otherworldliness as possible from the material fed into Eroc’s aural mincing machines. Occasionally, especially when electronic sounds are involved, this sounds like Stockhausen’s tape work, but with a more blatantly psychedelic goal. A German ‘Revolution 9’ perhaps. Uncompromising, and successful because of it. The final track ‘Sternchen’ (Little Star), starts off with wobbly, watery sounding guitar, then in comes the bass and the other guitars which play a pretty, but melancholic instrumental song which would have any vocalist who’d tried to sing on it in floods of tears. This tune wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the most Krautrock-influenced bits of Blur’s ‘13’ album. An accordion even joins in, low in the mix as if to give your heartstrings a final subliminal little tug, if they needed it. Oh, and no drums. The final crescendo strum ends a two minute track which, as it dies away, resurfaces in a backwards coda, which sounds just as haunting as the tune did forwards. A great ending which leaves the mind wistful, but uplifted.

Eroc’s first album is brilliantly infused with the wonder of childhood AND adulthood. It’s a totally unselfconscious record, whose egoless 35 minutes let sincerity and simplicity shine through. And it’s got lovely tunes on it too. It brings smiles to my face and just makes me want to hug the man who made it.
review by Julian Cope

Friday, July 20, 2007

Future Conditional

Future Conditional is the sleek electro-pop side-project from Glen Johnson and Cedric Pin of Piano Magic. Drawing inspiration from classic analog synth-pop by the likes of New Order, Kraftwerk, OMD and Section 25, the album We Don't Just Disappear updates the retro-futurist mix with a stellar selection of guest vocalists, including Melanie Pain (Nouvelle Vague), Bobby Wratten (Field Mice/Trembling Blue Stars), Angele David-Guillou (Klima/Piano Magic), Carolyn Allen (The Wake) and Dan Matz (Windsor for the Derby).

The 10-track album was produced by Glen and Cedric in 2006. Glen explains: "Future Conditional isn't just an exercise in nostalgia. We are, in some way paying homage to the groups we love and inspire us, but we're also experimenting with the glacial electro/human emotional interface. The future is a robot with a human heart."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Following a four-year-long absence since their ‘By The Roads and The Fields’ album, Bristol-based Crescent return with their fifth LP. Slowly given form over the past few years, Little Waves is a quiet, eccentric, and charmingly rough-edged record, influenced by 1960's psych and folk, and by 1930's gramophone records. A set of largely acoustic songwriting and improvisations for guitar, worn-out voice, horns, organ, (home-made) double bass, and drums, it was recorded at home, in a cinema, and in a forest, and recalls the likes of Galaxie 500, Maher Shalal Hash Baz, Bill Wells, and The Pastels.

Far from prolific, Crescent’s 14-year existence has taken place outside of the hype of transitory musical fashions and has seen them doing very much their own thing in their own sweet time. Emerging from the close-knit and highly fertile Bristol post-rock scene of the early- ‘90s that also included Flying Saucer Attack, Movietone, Foehn and Third Eye Foundation, the band is currently a six-piece with occassional outside contributors, and includes members of Movietone. Whilst Crescent started out as a ragged, occassionally explosive, lo-fi punk-inspired outfit, ‘Little Waves’ continues the trend of the last couple of albums in radically reducing the pace and the rage. If anything, it’s even quieter than their last album, featuring more outdoor recordings, more trumpet and saxophone. Low-key and intimate, it richly rewards close listening, slowly surrendering its secrets.

Crescent have always been both earthy and adventurous in their recording process. Whilst they’ve upgraded from the reel-to-reel tapes of old, laying down the majority of this album onto digital 16-track, the recorded content remains very much anchored in the real world of physical objects and locations. Theirs is a warm, honest approach, openly admitting environmental noise, human errors and idiosyncracies. Half of this album was once again recorded in the band’s home, whilst one track was recorded in an ageing arthouse cinema, another out in the woods, and one on an abandonned railway line beneath a motorway flyover. Elsewhere can be heard a clarinet improvising with geese on a French farm, or waves on a beach in Greece. Besides a very real / acoustic instrument list (with no use of digital FX) and the various environmental noises, other sound-sources deployed include wind-up gramophones playing old 78 rpm discs (classical, old poetry records, odd sound recordings) as well as sounds gathered via contact microphones and record player cartridges.

Singer / lead member, Matt Jones cites the dominant influences on ‘Little Waves’ as coming from an immersion in older musical sources like popular 1930s gramaphone music, in old gospel / folk / blues x%x%8s and compilations like ‘American Primitive’ and Harry Smith’s ‘Anthologies’, in the rural folk / blues of Mississippi John Hurt and Elizabeth Cotten; in 1960s oddities like Skipp Spence’s ‘Oar’or Pearls Before Swine’s ‘One Nation Underground’; as well as in Indonesian Gamelan and more clicky / glitchy modern electronica like Lithops or Microstoria.

With much of this music coming to us already mediated through a grainy patina of ageing and decay, Jones’ world-view is likewise seemingly at odds with the increasingly-pervasive modern cultural landscape of instant gratification, obsessive cleanliness, speed, shrinkage and the virtuality of new media. Beautifully articulated through his grainy vocal delivery and skillfully descriptive lyrics, the album creates a intricate, shifting web of sense-impressions, navigating a path through memory and the real world. In touch with nature and the elements, it describes a dog-eared, highly tactile reality where ageing and processes of decay are accepted and welcomed rather than being obsessively fought off and cleansed. Fragile, at times threatening to collapse or drift apart, ‘Little Waves’ is sedimentary and subtly-layered, an album rich in tiny, textural details - from the clatter and clutter of a tape delay, to acoustic guitar picking that at times sounds like the indeterminant patter of rain falling from a drainpipe, or the speeding up gamelan rhythms of ‘Drift’.

Empathetic to its contents and very much in true Crescent style, the album’s artwork is based upon hand-cut-and-pasted paper collaged onto old 78 sleeves, with hand-written pencil text, and entirely without the use of computer fonts or processing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend are a band from New York. They play silly songs and clearly don't give a fuck! If you are into twee-caribbean-indie-goodtime-songs! with a little Paul Simon thrown in. Enjoy...

King Khan & The Shrine's

WHAT IS?” the exile Canadian Enfant Dingue, KING KHAN, inquires platonically as well as categorically through the brand new LP from the SHRINES and snatches the master question right out of the astonished community’s mouth. While it’s predecessor, Mr. Supernatural, dug itself knee deep into the suds of the seventies, this newest piece reaches, at least, one decade further back and decorates the garage with psychedelic iridescent wallpaper composed of uninhibited multi-colored dazzling sixties fragments. Between clashing, clanking Keith, Lou and Iggy flirtatious guitar psychodelica, the MAHARAJA OF SOUL unexpectedly mutates into the RAJA OF SONG and spits out fourteen manically affected unforgettables into the airwaves, singalongs like monoliths – stoic, bewitching, unmistakable. Starting in May 2007, the SHRINES will be milling away through Europe’s stagescape with a brutal charge of musical dynamite in their hand baggage and are going to leave behind them a colorful cleft of amazement. Its nice that the KING, besides the filming of his own MTV show and the US-Jet-Tour with his alter ego BBQ, found the time to carve the fury of an album into it’s grooves. Also enclosed on the CD is the stupendous short film from the young director MIRIAM GLASER, a cinematic gem that enlightens one with an understanding of KING KHAN’s transendental Utopia that is within everyones reach.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Skull Defekts

blood spirits & drums are singing is the skull defekts first record recorded in a professional studio. it is also their first one for the avant rock sound, previous releases included heavy sound experimenting, doom variations and electronic noise stuff. it is all about the rhythm. the circle, repetition. the sound. the noise. sweat. funk. sex. the skull defekts sound is a beast going for your brain, feet and the place in between. beware.

the skull defekts was formed by henrik rylander and joachim nordwall in early 2005 when nordwall’s band kid commando decided to end their eight-year carreer as knights of the sweatiest avant rock existing. rylander had been experimenting with feedback for a few years after the death of the infamous swedish garage rock outfit union carbide productions where he was the pulse, rhythm and founding member. quickly they teamed up with legend jean-louis huhta who’s been a key character in the swedish underground music scene since the mid 80’s, and the quartet was complete when daniel fagerström joined after eric olofsson left the band after the recording of blood spirits & drums are singing.

inspired by bands like section 25, lungfish, pil, 23 skiddoo, arthur russel, cabaret voltaire, a certain ratio, brain bombs, dub, noise, funk, and tribal ritual drumming – the skull defekts are kings of their own sound. and my god. the sound.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Map of Africa

After releasing a small batch of highly sought after singles for the guys originally appearing in the lyrics of LCD Soundsystem's "Losing My Edge", Harvey Bassett (better known to the DJ world as DJ Harvey) and Thom Bullock (one half of Rub N Tug) present their first full length release for their Map of Africa project.Make no bones about it, this really isn't dance music in the conventional club sense that many dance fanatics have become accustomed to over the past fifteen years. Many of the tracks harken back to an era where drum machines were prototypes in electronic laboratories or used mainly by academic computer composers. Indeed most of these tracks feature exclusively electric guitars, bass and drums as the anchor and emulate many of the bands the duo have chosen to emulate (Pink Floyd, Sabbath, various prog rock and white blues bands of the 70s). The album does have its lackluster moments, but they are few and far between. But the best surprise of all is just how good a singer Harvey is. At times he sounds a bit like a very young Ozzy Osborne during the first Black Sabbath sessions (especially during their cover of the Equals "Black Skinned Blue Eyed Boys"), and there's no doubt that he's having a blast living out his rock star fantasies. Like everything else in their collection and on the Whatever We What imprint, this is in a limited pressing, so hesitation might be your worst enemy if you don't purchase on site.