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Monday, 08 September 2008

KAWABATA MAKOTO & MICHISHITA SHINSUKE - Basement Echo, Important Records
The Acid Mothers temple leader Kawabata Makoto teams up with fellow Japanese psych explorer Michishita Shinsuke of LSD March for this ear-melting guitar duel. It's an all-improvised affair with no overdubs, just fifty-five minutes divided into five tracks worth of dishevelled harmony, strips of feedback and a smart, restrained deployment of effects. Through whole sections of this record one guitar takes on 'melodic' duties, ponderously meandering through phrases while the other instrument summons up a wall of noise. There are other occasions where anything so ordinary … Read more
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KAWABATA MAKOTO & MICHISHITA SHINSUKE - Basement Echo, Important Records
ROKIA TRAORÉ - Tchamantché, NONESUCH

ROKIA TRAORÉ

Tchamantché

NONESUCH

Format_dot_cdCD // £14.99

WORLD

Cat. Number: 7559799345

A brilliant new album by one of Mali's greatest musical exports, Rokia Traore, who has been a well-known singer, guitarist and songwriter ever since her early associations with Ali Farkar Toure in the late nineties. In the five years since her previous album, Bowmboi, Traore has spent time touring in the USA and playing such high profile live events as 2005's Africa Live and the following year's celebrations of Mozart's 250th birthday in Vienna. Throughout her career Traore has been very much geared towards international collaboration, and perhaps because of this openness to music from beyond … Read more
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ROKIA TRAORÉ - Tchamantché, NONESUCH
SYD MATTERS - Ghost Days, BECAUSE

SYD MATTERS

Ghost Days

BECAUSE

Format_dot_cdCD // £11.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: BEC5772179

Review to follow shortly…
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TILLY AND THE WALL - O, Moshi Moshi

TILLY AND THE WALL

O

Moshi Moshi

Format_dot_cdCD // £11.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: MOSHICD25

Here's a splendid third full-length from Nebraskan indie-ists Tilly And The Wall, and it gets off to a great start: vocalists Neely and Kianna harmonise beautifully on opening track 'Tall Tall Grass', which for the most part keeps everything pared down and simple, combining plaintive yet absolutely memorable piano and acoustic guitar passages, before erupting into a well-judged noise and feedback solo. Next comes some classic Tilly And The Wall stomping on 'Pot Kettle Black', whose marching rhythm was recorded in an Omaha school gym with ten people stomping about the place. By now, the initial nov… Read more
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TILLY AND THE WALL - O, Moshi Moshi
BLACK BONED ANGEL - Bliss & Void Inseperable, 20 BUCK SPIN
Campbell Kneale returns under his grisly Black Boned Angel persona once again on 20 Buck Spin. It's all nebulous gloom and magnificently bleak droning, as Birchville Cat Motel's evil twin gets all gothic and nefarious on your case. Although layered, stretched out tones are the order of the day, metallic squeals only thinly cloak a dramatically charged piano motif clanging around in a not entirely discordant, but altogether eerie fashion. It's all very, very dark. If you feel the need to lighten the mood, just remind yourself that label name 20 Buck Spin rhymes with Teddy Ruxpin. Works for me.
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BLACK BONED ANGEL - Bliss & Void Inseperable, 20 BUCK SPIN

Thursday, 04 September 2008

RJD2 - Constant Elevation: The 'Say Word' Mix, BAMBAM

RJD2

Constant Elevation: The 'Say Word' Mix

BAMBAM

Format_dot_cdCD // £12.99

BEATS / HIP HOP

Cat. Number: BBCD007

Dope mixtape from RJD2 circa 2004 with a 24 track studio mix loaded with fine cut mix 'n blend styles and RJD2 compatible tracks from PBW and Madlib, Goblin, Z-Trip, MOP, Joe Cocker, Tears for Fears, El-P , Thomas Dolby, Jay-Z knitted together with a healthy dose of RJD2's own productions. Good clean fun.
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OKIE ROSETTE - Leap Second, Monotreme Records

OKIE ROSETTE

Leap Second

Monotreme Records

Format_dot_cdCD // £10.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: MONO34

Okie Rosette is the solo project of Felix Costanza, the frontman of disbanded San Francisco group Granfaloon Bus. On this album, Costanza is assisted by his former bandmates, Jeff Stevenson and Ajax Green, while also roping in Carrie Bradley of The Breeders and Dee Kesler of Thee More Shallows. Costanza's songwriting is a cut above that of a great many of his better known contemporaries, and it's all expertly brought to life by his co-conspirators, particularly on the likes of 'Sing The Hotel', which thanks to the Neko Case-esque accompanying vocals of Rachel Stevenson is reminiscent of The New Pornographers. Highly recommended.
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OKIE ROSETTE - Leap Second, Monotreme Records
JULIAN COPE - Black Sheep, HEAD HERITAGE

JULIAN COPE

Black Sheep

HEAD HERITAGE

Format_dot_cd2CD // £13.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: HH23

All you illicit downloaders of music out there are seriously missing out. Without the packaging and inlay booklet accompanying this new album by Julian Cope, you'd be deprived of the full impact of the sloganeering, lyric transcripts and photos of middle-aged men in leather trousers loitering around in stone circles. You might not even know that he had people is band with names like Holy McGrail or Big Nige. Cope's way with words is bound to be fairly divisive. His entirely noble commemoration of the Aberfan disaster (in which 116 children lost their lives to a rockslide caused by the local coa… Read more
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JULIAN COPE - Black Sheep, HEAD HERITAGE
MOTHLITE - The Flax Of Reverie, Southern

MOTHLITE

The Flax Of Reverie

Southern

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.99

DARK AMBIENT / DRONE / METAL

Cat. Number: 28147-2

Appropriately for a band named after a Stan Brakhage film, Mothlite's music is both cinematic and experimental, dabbling in epic, emotive songwriting and sculpting wonderful studio-spun soundscapes like 'The Untouched Dew', which within its eleven minutes takes in dark drones, abstract choral composition, gorgeous string sequences and noisy volume swells Sigur Ros could be proud of. each of these six pieces has its own distinct persona, whether it be the discord and suspense of 'The One In The Water', the Animal Collective styled esoterics of 'Neverbegoodwood', or the symphonic, segmented … Read more
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MOTHLITE - The Flax Of Reverie, Southern
VOLCANO! - Paperwork, The Leaf Label

VOLCANO!

Paperwork

The Leaf Label

Format_dot_cdCD // £12.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: BAY63CD

Chicago avant-rockers Volcano! have previously billed 'Paperwork' as being themed around "disillusionment in the workplace", but far from the office-bound drudgery that suggests, the album is filled with angular guitar-spun extravagance and Animal Collective-style uncategorizable whimsies. Erstwhile single 'Africa Just Wants To Have Fun' takes a math-rock slant on 2008's Afropop fad, but there's so much more to this record than mere trend-following, and however hard to follow some of the more frenzied prog-influenced shifts in style and tempo, at every turn there's something bizarre and lurid going o… Read more
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VOLCANO! - Paperwork, The Leaf Label
EMILIANA TORRINI - Me and Armini, Rough Trade

EMILIANA TORRINI

Me and Armini

Rough Trade

Format_dot_cdCD // £6.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: RTRADCD285

The full-length follow-up to Emiliana Torrini's much loved Fisherman's Woman, Me & Armini presents itself as a less introspective affair. The title track - the first single to be lifted from the album - was an indicator of this: it's a far more upbeat affair than the predominantly acoustic songs of her previous LP (the very fact that it has a beat at all is fairly notable, in fact), and similarly the electrified chords of 'Heard It All Before' and 'Jungle Drum' expand on Torrini's established musical vocabulary. 'Dead Duck' is especially notable, making overt use of electronics and digit… Read more
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EMILIANA TORRINI - Me and Armini, Rough Trade
TRIOSK - The Headlight Serenade (Special Edition), The Leaf Label

TRIOSK

The Headlight Serenade (Special Edition)

The Leaf Label

Format_dot_cd2CD // £8.49

JAZZ / FUSION

Cat. Number: BAY49CDJ

**SPECIAL EDITION OF THIS LEAF CLASSIC INCLUDES A BONUS LIVE DISC** The Headlight Serenade proved to be Triosk's final album, and a most splendid thing it was too, marking the very summit of the Sydney-based post-jazz trio's creative achievements. This reissue comes as a two-disc special edition, limited to a single pressing of just 500 copies for the world. The original album is coupled with a bonus disc, capturing the band's 2006 session for Australian broadcasting network ABC, four of which are otherwise completely unavailable. This second disc makes the purchase well w… Read more
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TRIOSK - The Headlight Serenade (Special Edition), The Leaf Label
CAPITOL K - Notes from Life on the Wire with a Wrecking Ball, Faith and Industry

CAPITOL K

Notes from Life on the Wire with a Wrecking Ball

Faith and Industry

Format_dot_cdCD // £10.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: FAI007CD

Following swiftly on the heels of recent Steve Lamacq single of the week 'Libertania' comes the accompanying full length from Kristian Craig Robinson. One of the first things that's likely to strike you about opener 'Diamond Skies' is just how much Robinson sounds like a less apocalyptic - more rave-centric - David Tibet. The half-spoken, half-sung vocal pans between stereo channels, eventually settling for a monologue about the early '90s, all fittingly accompanied by a dayglo acid house stabs. Things settle into a more songlike structure for 'Go Go Go' be… Read more
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CAPITOL K - Notes from Life on the Wire with a Wrecking Ball, Faith and Industry
RAGLANI - Of Sirens Born, Kranky

RAGLANI

Of Sirens Born

Kranky

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.99

MODERN CLASSICAL / AMBIENT

Cat. Number: KRANK124

'Krautrock' and 'kosmische muisk' have to be the two most overused phrases in any press release or review currently circulating in the field of electronic music or avant-rock. Perhaps more than ever before, everyone wants to sound like Harmonia, Cluster, Neu! Or Can. Inevitably, a Kranky artist is bound to occupy the more abstract, drone-based end of that current trend, and Joseph Raglani fits that bill. There's a high fidelity crispness to all this that's comparable to more contemporary acts, and you might hear the luminescent synth tones of Emeralds, or even the carefully tweaked analogue sign… Read more
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RAGLANI - Of Sirens Born, Kranky
PANTALEIMON - Heart Of The Sun, DURTRO JNANA

PANTALEIMON

Heart Of The Sun

DURTRO JNANA

Format_dot_cdCD // £9.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: DJ008

Heart Of The Sun is a remix album based on original Pantaleimon material from Andria Degens' 2007 album Mercy Oceans. The list of remixers ranges from the extremely well known to the downright obscure, but all contributors manage to preserve the essence of the original music to some extent, even if structurally the songs themselves might be radically re-imagined or thoroughly overhauled. Former Wolf Eyes member and present-day stadium rocker Andrew WK kicks off the album with a reworking of 'At Dawn (Vogel)'. In every respect it's a long, long way away from 'Party Hard'. Staying very m… Read more
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PANTALEIMON - Heart Of The Sun, DURTRO JNANA
KIMYA DAWSON - Alphabutt, K RECORDS

KIMYA DAWSON

Alphabutt

K RECORDS

Format_dot_cdCD // £10.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: KLP193CD

Review to follow shortly…
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Wednesday, 03 September 2008

LAURA - Yes Maybe No, ELEVATION

LAURA

Yes Maybe No

ELEVATION

Format_dot_cdCD // £8.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: EV04

Australian band Laura are one of the more notable instrumental rock bands around, mirroring Mogwai in terms of their ability to switch from meandering, mellifluous post-rock into fully fledged metal within a heartbeat. The individual performances are all highly praiseworthy, showing a great deal of technical accomplishment and a real smartness when it comes to interlocking as a band. Clocking in at under half-an-hour there's really not an ounce of fat on this excellent album - in fact you'll be cursing there isn't more on the disc, but it's all so finely balanced and sequenced you really wouldn't wa… Read more
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LAURA - Yes Maybe No, ELEVATION
SIMONE MASSARON / CARLA BOZULICH - Dandelions On Fire, LONG SONG

SIMONE MASSARON / CARLA BOZULICH

Dandelions On Fire

LONG SONG

Format_dot_cdCD // £12.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: LSRCD107

This album was conceived by guitarist Simone Massaron, who recruited the acclaimed alt. country singer Carla Bozulich alongside a supporting cast of improv musicians, namely drummer Zeno De Rossi plus Andrea Viti and Xabier Iriondo (the latter two both being formerly of the band Afterhours). The album mixes a variety of different songwriting styles, straddling a divide between folksy traditionalism and more unusual, experimental instrumental approaches. On the one hand you'll find weird, almost industrial sounding dirges like opener 'Never Saw Your Face', but on the o… Read more
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SIMONE MASSARON / CARLA BOZULICH - Dandelions On Fire, LONG SONG
SLOW CLUB - Let's Fall Back In Love, Moshi Moshi

SLOW CLUB

Let's Fall Back In Love

Moshi Moshi

Format_dot_cdCD // £4.49

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: MOSHI66

A new five-track EP from Moshi Moshi's Slow Club, in which the band just about avoid tweeness whilst sounding like the cheeriest bunch of people in the world. Opener 'Let's Fall Back In Love' is eminently likable, taking a choral vocal, a spot of acoustic guitar strumming and gospel-style handclaps. A more conventional, yet no less winsome piece of lo-fi indie fare, 'Come On Youth' has a bit of a Bright Eyes feel - something that's carried over to 'Dance Til The Morning Light', which is a simple enough quiet acoustic song, delivered with no short supply of charm thanks to vocalist and… Read more
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SLOW CLUB - Let's Fall Back In Love, Moshi Moshi
ANNA KASHFI - Procurement, LITTLE RED RABBIT

ANNA KASHFI

Procurement

LITTLE RED RABBIT

Format_dot_cdCD // £11.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: LRR007

No, this isn't an album by the actress and one-time Mrs. Marlon Brando Anna Kashfi, but rather an album by a band named after her. This quintet concocts a fine folksy brew of slow, languid country, acoustic ballads and even a bit of a drone rock on 'See The Good In Me'. It's all very laudable and beautifully played, with plenty of credit due to the measured and coolly delivered vocals, which sound especially good on 'Compass', a swirling, electrified piece of Brit-folk underscored by an odd, fiery crackle. Although the band throws in a great cover of Nick Cave's 'The Mercy Seat', the original c… Read more
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ANNA KASHFI - Procurement, LITTLE RED RABBIT
BOBBY WILLIAMS - Funky Superfly: His Greatest Hits, Jazzman
This record bills Bobby Williams as a "James Brown clone", and it comes to something when the label itself is making such suggestions. There's little denying it though: from the opening strains of title track 'Funky Superfly (pts. I & II)' there's little doubting just how strong the influence of the great man was on Williams, but hey, props to the bass player, who's on tremendous form throughout. Actually, props to Bobby too, who at least knew his lot in life, and it's not like he does himself a disservice on this fine set of recordings: the performances couldn't be any … Read more
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BOBBY WILLIAMS - Funky Superfly: His Greatest Hits, Jazzman
ZOMES - Zomes, Holy Mountain

ZOMES

Zomes

Holy Mountain

Format_dot_cdCD // £12.99

DARK AMBIENT / DRONE / METAL

Cat. Number: HOLY192319209111CD

Zomes is the new solo project of Lungfish guitarist Asa Osborne, who for this debut album strings together a number of misshapen lo-fi loops and miniatures across an album that references Vincent Gallo-style rundown melancholy, stargazing kraut rock, and a selection of organ-driven passages that bring to mind a miniaturised Religious Knives. Osborne is at his best on pieces like 'Night Signs', a beautiful, hiss-coated guitar phrase, repeated in a sombre, ambiguous fashion over a couple of minutes. It makes no associations or attempts at narrative, but there's undoubtedly something quite moving embedded wit… Read more
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ZOMES - Zomes, Holy Mountain

Monday, 01 September 2008

SARAH JUNE - This is My Letter to the World, HAND EYE

SARAH JUNE

This is My Letter to the World

HAND EYE

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: HE040

Review to follow shortly…
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LONELY GHOSTS - Don't Get Lost Or Hurt, One Inch Badge

LONELY GHOSTS

Don't Get Lost Or Hurt

One Inch Badge

Format_dot_cdCD // £8.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: OIB004

Review to follow shortly…

Thursday, 28 August 2008

DIANOGAH - Qhnnnl, Southern

DIANOGAH

Qhnnnl

Southern

Format_dot_cdCD // £10.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: 28146-2

In a world where the poor old White Stripes don't even have the one bass player, Dianogah are stockpiling them. A trio composed of two bassists and a drummer, this lot are essentially a glorified rhythm section, but they certainly make excellent use of their surplus low-end arsenal, linking up instruments in that ever-popular mathsy fashion on intricate, interwoven pieces like opener 'Oneone' and 'Puma', whist laying down more easily digested, fuzzed-up, heavy rock via the crunchtone riffing of 'Snowpants' and 'Qhnnnl'. Andrew Bird shows up with his violin, helping flesh out the frequency range on fo… Read more
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DIANOGAH - Qhnnnl, Southern

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

E.A.R - Beyond The Pale, Space Age

E.A.R

Beyond The Pale

Space Age

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.49

EXTREME / NOISE / COMPUTER MUSIC

Cat. Number: ORBIT031CD

A starry meeting of musical talents, this 1992 debut album by Experimental Audio Research features a line-up that finds mainstay and Spacemen 3 graduate Sonic Boom accompanied by AMM's Eddie Prevost, Kevin Martin (these days best known as The Bug) and none other than MBV's Kevin Shields. These otherworldly soundscapes have aged exceptionally well, which no doubt has something to do with the all-analogue sound sources in use throughout. The core drones and VCS3 ambience at the heart of this record find counterpoints in Prevost's bowed cymbal, Martin's saxophones and echo treatments, plus the unrec… Read more
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E.A.R - Beyond The Pale, Space Age

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

DON CABALLERO - Punkgasm, RELAPSE

DON CABALLERO

Punkgasm

RELAPSE

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: RR61242

That might be the worst album title of 2008 right there. Punkgasm. How dreadful. Still, no doubt you'll be able to forgive Don Caballero that indiscretion based on their standing within the ranks of influential math-rock pioneer types. You'd have a job to go a week without hearing an album that draws considerable influence from the sort of complex, interlocking guitar riffs that Don Caballero have made their own over the years, and they still do it an awful lot better than most, serving as a technical touchstone and all round 'chop benchmark' for any band too indie to take the plunge and actuall… Read more
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DON CABALLERO - Punkgasm, RELAPSE
AMAMPONDO - African Classics, SHEER WORLD

AMAMPONDO

African Classics

SHEER WORLD

Format_dot_cdCD // £9.99

WORLD

Cat. Number: SLCD148

Few bands can claim Nelson Mandela as a big fan, and fewer still have actually collaborated with the Archbishop Desmond Tutu, but Amampondo can make such boasts, clocking up thirty years of activity as one of South Africa's leading popular groups, combining marimba, drums, kudu horns (an instrument made from bits of antelope, apparently) and one or two more 'modern' contraptions such as trumpet, sax and accordion. This disc compiles the band's work during their stint with the Melt2000 label and brilliantly represents the percussive firepower of the band, which is just awesome on the likes of… Read more
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AMAMPONDO - African Classics, SHEER WORLD

Thursday, 21 August 2008

RACEBANNON - Acid Or Blood, Southern

RACEBANNON

Acid Or Blood

Southern

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.99

EXTREME / NOISE / COMPUTER MUSIC

Cat. Number: 28142-2

Racebannon have taken four years away from the business of recording, having previously belted out full-lengths for reliably excellent Secretly Canadian imprint. As rock bands go, this lot are about as blistering and visceral as they come without venturing into all-out metal. There's occasional dabbling in the field of death-grunting and such, but there's just as much of a hardcore influence at the root of all this, as exemplified by 'The Hard Way', 'Translucent Lifeforce' and incendiary thrash of 'Awaken'. Fearsome stuff, and all crisply recorded for maximum discomfort. Recommended.
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RACEBANNON - Acid Or Blood, Southern
PRINCE FAR I - Umkhonto We Sizwe (Spear Of The Nation), Tamoki Wambesi

PRINCE FAR I

Umkhonto We Sizwe (Spear Of The Nation)

Tamoki Wambesi

Format_dot_cdCD // £9.99

DUB / REGGAE

Cat. Number: TWCD1013

A wicked set from the original Voice Of Thunder, Prince Far I, acting as a perfect follow up to Blood & Fire's massive Silver & Gold collection a couple of years back. Far I could be considered in the same light as the late Isaac Hayes, a talent known for his slow, confident and ineffably rudeboy stance and lyrical content, backed up with a booming sonic imposition that separated their voices from the rest of the crowd. The tracks on offer were mostly recorded at Channel 1 recording studios in Kingston by the legendary Scientist, with the island's finest session music… Read more
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PRINCE FAR I - Umkhonto We Sizwe (Spear Of The Nation), Tamoki Wambesi