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Monday, 19 November 2007

THE DRIFT - Ceiling Sky (Four Tet / Sybarite Mixes), Temporary Residence Ltd.

THE DRIFT

Ceiling Sky (Four Tet / Sybarite Mixes)

Temporary Residence Ltd.

Format_dot_cdCD // £10.49

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: TRR122CD

Some of you may remember a limited mini LP from a few months back that brought together Four Tet and Sybarite remixes of original compositions by The Drift. If you failed to snap that up, here's a second chance: this disc compiles those two monstrous cuts alongside an assortment of other rare or vinyl-only tracks. Also lifted from a limited 12" are opening couplet 'Streets' and 'Nozumi', both of which successfully manage to integrate a number of different genres into a single, coherent musical hybrid. The Drift are able to throw together jazz phrasing, electronic elements a… Read more
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THE DRIFT - Ceiling Sky (Four Tet / Sybarite Mixes), Temporary Residence Ltd.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

PSAPP - Tiger, My Friend (2007 Edition), Domino Recording Co

PSAPP

Tiger, My Friend (2007 Edition)

Domino Recording Co

Format_dot_cdCD // £7.49

ELECTRONIC

Cat. Number: REWIGCD36

Now finally reissued on Domino, here's what we had to say about Psapp's "Tiger, My Friend" when it was first released a couple of years ago on the Arable imprint : "This incredible debut from Psapp marks the label's first foray into the grown-up world of full-length albums, and without any fluster or awkward self-awareness has delivered the loveliest debut you could possibly have the pleasure of listening to this side of summer. The band features Galia Durant and Carim Clasmann, who have managed to put together a recorf with all the structure of traditional songwriting but with the ro… Read more
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PSAPP - Tiger, My Friend (2007 Edition), Domino Recording Co
GOWNS - Red State, UPSET THE RHYTHM

GOWNS

Red State

UPSET THE RHYTHM

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: UTR016

Not to be confused with Andrew McGregor's outsider song project Gown, this duo's latest full-length provides its own take on restructuring ballad formats and bedroom recording projects. 'Fargo' is an incredible opener. Erika Anderson's wincing, spoken delivery is like altered state poetry, disjointed and occupied with images small town locations and lost summers, plotted out in her long lists of prescription drugs and droning sonic backdrops. Similarly bizarre, the lo-fi songscapes of 'Rope' is jagged yet rooted in more conventional song craft, like an alt. rock reincarnation of Charalambides. It's no c… Read more
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GOWNS - Red State, UPSET THE RHYTHM
DEAD RAVEN CHOIR - My Firstborn Will Surely Be Blind, AURORA BOREALIS
Black metal outsider project Dead Raven Choir reconvene at the tail end of a triumphant year for Wolfmangler, whose Cooking With Wolves album managed to be at once ferocious and very musical. Similarly, this album finds Digger Smolken's cello skills applied to a fusion of folk and country song templates and trebly, bass-deprived black metal sounds. Yes, My Firstborn Will Surely Be Blind is a covers album, featuring reinterpretations of songs by the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Richard Thompson and even Neko case. You'd be doing pretty well to identify the sources without… Read more
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DEAD RAVEN CHOIR - My Firstborn Will Surely Be Blind, AURORA BOREALIS
PANTALEIMON - Mercy Oceans, Jnana

PANTALEIMON

Mercy Oceans

Jnana

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: DURTROJNANA007

This, the second full-length album by Andria Degens features a number of fellow folk travellers taking up guest spots, with the like of Hush Arbors' Keith Wood, Isobel Campbell and Baby Dee all reporting for duty. Degens' instrument of choice is the Appalachian dulcimer, which combines with her lulling vocal style for one of the more ethereal sounds on the current avant-folk scene. Mercy Oceans is made a little earthier by the presence of her collaborators, and certainly Keith Wood's fingerpicked guitar brings pieces like 'The Sun Came Out' and 'At Dawn' back into a more familiar language, but … Read more
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PANTALEIMON - Mercy Oceans, Jnana
VARIOUS / MINUS - Expansion contraction, Minus

VARIOUS / MINUS

Expansion contraction

Minus

Format_dot_cdCD // £10.99

TECHNO / HOUSE

Cat. Number: M58CD

A new compilation on M_nus is always something worth getting excited about, and EXPANSION/contraction is no exception to that rule. As with the Minimize To Maximize and min2MAX compilations, this latest takes its theme from the binary relationship between the definitive minimalist concern: the relationship between sound and the absence of sound, or as the label themselves would have it "The act of finding inspiration from a sonic molecule or the inaudible space around it". In keeping with this theme, Plastikman's 'Risk Assessment' is a track that relies upon a skeletal configuration … Read more
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VARIOUS / MINUS - Expansion contraction, Minus
IMANI COPPOLA - The Black And White Album, Ipecac

IMANI COPPOLA

The Black And White Album

Ipecac

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: IPC-94

You might remember Imani Coppola from her top ten troubling hit 'Legend Of A Cowgirl' (now some ten years old). Showing no signs of curbing her weirdness, Ms. Coppola returns with her Ipecac debut (her eighth in total). Somewhere between Kelis and a far less embarrassing Chicks On Speed, Coppola breezes through tracks like 'I Love Your Hair' only to end up at 'In A Room' with a guitar riff that sounds like something from an acoustic set by The Who. The tone of the record benefits from an amalgam of R&B influences and juvenile punk riffing (as heard on 'Woke Up White', which sound… Read more
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IMANI COPPOLA - The Black And White Album, Ipecac
SAVAGE REPUBLIC - 1938, Neurot Recordings

SAVAGE REPUBLIC

1938

Neurot Recordings

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.99

DARK AMBIENT / DRONE / METAL

Cat. Number: NR053

It's been a full 18 years since punk mavens and Shackleton favourites Savage Republic offered up a full-length recording of new material, but here it is: 1938, the main course to the hors d'oeuvre that was the Siam EP from earlier on in the year. Like Einsturzende Neubauten, Savage Republic became known for their desolate scrap metal percussion and confrontational performance strategies, and thankfully there's plenty of evidence for those sorts of dark energies on this album. Even devoid of high tempos or conventional instrumentation, the passive-aggressive empty factory soundscapes of 'Breslau' co… Read more
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SAVAGE REPUBLIC - 1938, Neurot Recordings

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

BONNIE PRINCE BILLY - Ask Forgiveness, Domino Recording Co

BONNIE PRINCE BILLY

Ask Forgiveness

Domino Recording Co

Format_dot_cdCD // £7.49

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: WIGCD212

It's finally here, the Bonnie 'Prince' Billy covers record, or as it's become known, the record where our protagonist takes on R.Kelly's 'The World's Greatest'. He does too, and what's more he comes out relatively unscathed, something that's proven quite difficult to most alternative artists in the last few years. The novelty cover has been something of a fixture in the current musical climate, what with Jose Gonzalez going head-to-head with Kylie, The Nouvelle Vague attempting to 'lighten' just about anything and Susanna Wallumrod taking on Kiss (among others) but you should know th… Read more
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BONNIE PRINCE BILLY - Ask Forgiveness, Domino Recording Co
STEVE REID ENSEMBLE - Daxaar, Domino Recording Co

STEVE REID ENSEMBLE

Daxaar

Domino Recording Co

Format_dot_cdCD // £7.49

JAZZ / FUSION

Cat. Number: WIGCD206

Drumming legend Steve Reid returns to Domino with an ensemble of Senegalese jazz musicians backing him, plus a certain Keiran Hebden, who Reid clearly hasn't been able to shake off since their Exchange Session LPs. Although the album was recorded in Africa (under the musical direction of keyboardist Boris Netsvetaev), Reid entrusted the record's production to the Four Tet man, and Hebden's influence on the album is respectful but very much audible. In general terms you get the impression that Hebden's trying to steer the record towards a rich, vintage sound, and you can certainly hear that ef… Read more
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STEVE REID ENSEMBLE - Daxaar, Domino Recording Co

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

ELMORE JUDD - Angel Sound, RAWDOG

ELMORE JUDD

Angel Sound

RAWDOG

Format_dot_cdCD // £8.99

BEATS / HIP HOP

Cat. Number: JUDD01CD

Jesse Hackett originally released this debut Elmore Judd album on his own label back in 2005, even going so far as to peddle copies of the CD himself outside Camden's Rhythm Records. Since then Honest Jons snapped him up, releasing the latest Elmore Judd album Insect Time just a couple of months back. Considering Angel Sound was made largely as a one-man operation, there's an impressive level of finesse and polish to these productions with a kind of slow grooving digital hip hop bent that brings to mind Prefuse 73 or Dabrye on 'Intro To Judd World' and stuttering synth funk on 'You Said You Were… Read more
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ELMORE JUDD - Angel Sound, RAWDOG

Monday, 12 November 2007

THE NECKS - Townsville, ReR

THE NECKS

Townsville

ReR

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.49

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: RERNECKS8

Cult Australian experimentalists The Necks return with this follow up to last year's wonderful Chemist album. While that album proved to be a break in form for the band, wit the disc divided into discreet tracks, this new work returns to their more customary format of single, lengthy pieces. Townsville begins with a few tentative bass figures, paving the way for fluttering, sensitive cymbal textures and the introduction of Chris Abrahams' always-impressive piano improvisations. Starting with this fairly conventional jazz trio format the group avoid the more obvious route of wandering freeform elabo… Read more
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THE NECKS - Townsville, ReR
PAUL METZGER - Deliverance, Locust

PAUL METZGER

Deliverance

Locust

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.99

DARK AMBIENT / DRONE / METAL

Cat. Number: LOCUST103CD

Anyone who makes an album of solo banjo recordings and then calls it Deliverance is just asking for trouble. Presumably Metzger's larking around with us a bit there, because in truth this is no porch-mounted rocking chair noodle-fest, but rather a measured, meditative study of Metzger's own self-modified 21-string banjo performances, which have more in common with the revamped ragas of John Fahey and his fellow Takoma luminaries than any traditional, countrified usage of the instrument. Metzger takes his music far closer to the source than most open-tuned raga explorers, with some far-flung eas… Read more
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PAUL METZGER - Deliverance, Locust
HENRY FLYNT - Henry Flynt & Nova'Billy, Locust

HENRY FLYNT

Henry Flynt & Nova'Billy

Locust

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: LOCUST101CD

Country outsider Henry Flint assembled this weirdo fusion masterpiece between 1974 and 1975 with the assistance of a full-on rock band. As ever, Flynt's distinctively off-kilter guitar and fiddle sounds teeter on the brink of lunacy at all times, but the band help make some sense of the racket by switching from free jazz to funk to all-out garage rock at a moment's notice. The presence of Paul Colin's articulate sax work makes for a solid counterpoint to Flynt's more outlandish violin caterwauling on the opening 'Conga', while Communist anthem 'The International' is reconfigured as a … Read more
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HENRY FLYNT - Henry Flynt & Nova'Billy, Locust
THE FAMILY ELAN - Stare Of Dawn, Locust

THE FAMILY ELAN

Stare Of Dawn

Locust

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: LOCUST102CD

The Family Elan is the solo venture from Glaswegian Chris Hladowski (of Scatter and The One Ensemble) who showcases his skills as a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and scholar of mediaeval folk disciplines. Hladowski lays down some accomplished lute rags on 'All Around', which sit nicely alongside some sprightly fiddle work and a line in percussion that has more than a hint of maypoles and morris dancing about it. Hloadowski calls upon Hanna Tuulikki, his bandmate in side project Nalle, for some supplementary woodwind on a couple of tracks. Particularly effective is Tuulikki's contribut… Read more
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THE FAMILY ELAN - Stare Of Dawn, Locust

Thursday, 08 November 2007

BEESTUNG LIPS - Songs To And From An Iron Gut, CAPSULE

BEESTUNG LIPS

Songs To And From An Iron Gut

CAPSULE

Format_dot_cdCD // £6.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: CAPSULE002

This six-track EP from Birmingham noiseniks Beestung Lips is one of the most energised, bracing ventures into alt. metal and sludgy rifferama to grace these pages for some time. Throughout, the band clearly have no problem charging through unabashed heavy rocking song shapes without having to give too many nods to the underground. Only the band's fashionably frazzled taste in distortion pedal settings (and a bit of stray cowbell on 'Sick History') gives them away as hipsters: 'Men Not Worth Their Weight In Words' blasts forth with a guitar sound akin to Jack White soundchecking his way through the Pantera back-catalogue. Ace.
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BEESTUNG LIPS - Songs To And From An Iron Gut, CAPSULE
BLOC PARTY - Flux, Wichita Recordings

BLOC PARTY

Flux

Wichita Recordings

Format_dot_cdCD // £3.49

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: WEBB135SCD

Bloc Party are the latest band to release a single in conjunction with the NME, and this CD format is the accompaniment to the remix disc you get with the magazine. Here, you get the original version of 'Flux', a version recorded live at Madison Square Garden and B-side 'Emma Kate's Accident'. The A-side is one of the most electronically enhanced songs the band have ever produced with a thumping 4/4 beat and a rampaging synth bassline. It's interesting listening to the live version immediately after all this studio trickery, it somehow sounds far more energetic and impressive. Finally, 'Emma Kate's Adve… Read more
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BLOC PARTY - Flux, Wichita Recordings
VARIOUS / CAPSULE - SUPERSONIC 06, CAPSULE

VARIOUS / CAPSULE

SUPERSONIC 06

CAPSULE

Format_dot_cdCD // £6.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: CAPSULE001

The Birmingham-based Capsule label, curators of the Super Sonic Festival released this disc as a companion piece to the event itself, back in 2006, featuring such impressive contributors as Zombi, Circle, Alexander Tucker, Michael Rother and the John Carpenter/Halloween referencing Haddonfield Illinois. Also of note is the inclusion of one of Michael Gira's all-time greatest songs, 'My Sister Said'. Great selections all-round, even if it has reached us a tad late in the day.
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MARCEL DUCHAMP - Musical Erratum + In Conversation, LTM Recordings
Marcel Duchamp's Musical Erratum stems back to 1913, and forms the basis of his artwork La Mariee Mise A Nu Par Ses Celibataires Meme (that's The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Batchelors to you and me). The piano piece is based around the central premise that the piano keys are played in a sequence determined by randomly selected numeric sequences, and is a wilfully awkward and clunky thing: A very useless performance, in any event." as Duchamp imself would have it. This disc includes two different versions of the piece: one standard interpretation (if that's an appropriate t… Read more
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MARCEL DUCHAMP - Musical Erratum + In Conversation, LTM Recordings
VARIOUS / SUBLIME FREQUENCIES - Latinamericarpet: Exploring the Vinyl Warp of Latin American Psychedelia Vol. 1, Sublime Frequencies
The Sublime Frequencies audio colonialism carrack docks into South America, having fully exhausted Asia's musical resources. The focus of this latest compilation is Latin America's psychedelic rock and pop music, mainly from the '60s and '70s. The tracks have been collected from a host of lost and discarded LPs sourced from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Chile and Isle De Pascua (Easter Island) and vary wildly in style and genre, at times sounding rather folksy and traditional while at others coming across as dow… Read more
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VARIOUS / SUBLIME FREQUENCIES - Latinamericarpet: Exploring the Vinyl Warp of Latin American Psychedelia Vol. 1, Sublime Frequencies
MARCUS SCHMICKLER - Altars Of Science, Editions Mego

MARCUS SCHMICKLER

Altars Of Science

Editions Mego

Format_dot_cdCD // £12.99

MODERN CLASSICAL / AMBIENT

Cat. Number: EMEGO082

One of electronic music's most versatile voices, Marcus Schmickler is able to alternate between his dream pop persona as Pluramon and cutting edge contemporary electronic composition work like this, under his own name. Schmickler's instrument-based electroacoustic works have always been among the very finest within the genre, with releases like Param and Demos (Music For Choir, Chamber Quintet and Electronic Music) finding Schmickler every bit as adept within academic circles as he is in the electronic pop elite. This latest collection of music marks Schmickler's first solely electro… Read more
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MARCUS SCHMICKLER - Altars Of Science, Editions Mego

Wednesday, 07 November 2007

BEAR IN HEAVEN - Red Bloom of the Bloom, HOMETAPES

BEAR IN HEAVEN

Red Bloom of the Bloom

HOMETAPES

Format_dot_cdCD // £12.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: HT019

This adventurous album is a tangle of odd electronic tones, cello, acoustic guitar and very strange song structures: the extended noodlings of 'Arm's Length' turn into an extreme case of hiccupping staccato only to collapse into the neon excess of synthesizer noise and airy, vaporised vocals on 'Fraternal Noon'. The band start with a bang and gradually wind down into a more steady state of being, shifting towards the gorgeous, effect-laden hush of 'For Beauty' after the spluttering noise of 'Bag Of Bags' in all its drum-fuelled electro-psych glory.
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BOBB TRIMBLE - Harvest Of Dreams, Secretly Canadian

BOBB TRIMBLE

Harvest Of Dreams

Secretly Canadian

Format_dot_cdCD // £10.49

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: SC163CD

The second LP by the intriguing Bobb Trimble gets a reissue under the supervision of the Secretly Canadian label. Harvest of Dreams came two years after the odd, inventive jumble that was Iron Curtain Innocence, and in some respects Trimble sounds more at ease with himself: both the writing and the performances seem more fluent and self-assured, with firm-footed melancholy ballads like 'If Words Were All I Had' sounding at once vulnerable and theatrical, needing far less adornment than the often confusingly busy debut album. You'll find plenty of upbeat numbers amongst the thornier, noctu… Read more
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BOBB TRIMBLE - Harvest Of Dreams, Secretly Canadian
BOBB TRIMBLE - Iron Curtain Innocence, Secretly Canadian

BOBB TRIMBLE

Iron Curtain Innocence

Secretly Canadian

Format_dot_cdCD // £10.49

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: SC162CD

Secretly Canadian give Bobb Trimble's long lost, unreasonably rare LPs a reissue, starting with this hoard of buried treasure from 1980. Iron Curtain innocence sounds quite unlike any other singer songwriter: partly because his voice has an odd intonation somewhere between Geddy Lee, Kate Bush and Marc Bolan, and partly because his compositions far exceed the sort of simple acoustic structures that dominate the genre, instead referencing the borderline prog of Pink Floyd or the theatrical flamboyance of early Queen. Heck, even the album sleeve harkens back to a better time: Bobb's wi… Read more
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BOBB TRIMBLE - Iron Curtain Innocence, Secretly Canadian

Monday, 05 November 2007

BARZIN - Barzin, Monotreme Records

BARZIN

Barzin

Monotreme Records

Format_dot_cdCD // £8.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: MONO31CD

The eponymous debut album by Canadian songwriter Barzin gets the reissue treatment from Monotreme Records, who released the quite wonderful follow-up "My Life In Rooms". Like that record, this first full-length explores an aesthetic of incredibly warm slowcore country sounds, with slow flickering waves of tremolo guitar and vast pedal steel slides. While the elements that make up the album are fairly simple and the pace never really exceeds 'glacial', the album has moments of enormous emotional weight, carrying a kind of restrained, graceful force throughout. This is especially true of the sublime 'Pas… Read more
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BARZIN - Barzin, Monotreme Records
THE LADYBUG TRANSISTOR - Can't Wait Another Day, FORTUNA POP!

THE LADYBUG TRANSISTOR

Can't Wait Another Day

FORTUNA POP!

Format_dot_cdCD // £11.49

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: FPOP75CD

Can't Wait Another Day is the first album to be released by Elephant 6 band The Ladybug Transistor since the untimely death of San Fadyl, who passed away earlier this year. Fadyl still appears on this record however, playing drums throughout, and the ambitious, often very lavish bittersweet pop the band specialise in makes for a poignant tribute. 'I'm Not Mad Enough', for instance, is a supremely elegant piece of indie pop, with just the right amount of strings poured into the mix to sweeten things up. This same formula is applied to slow jam 'Terry', which sounds like some… Read more
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THE LADYBUG TRANSISTOR - Can't Wait Another Day, FORTUNA POP!
WHITE HILLS - Heads On Fire, ROCKET

WHITE HILLS

Heads On Fire

ROCKET

Format_dot_cdCD // £11.49

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: LAUNCH029CD

New York psych-noise loons White Hills unleash a follow up to their Glitter Glamour Atrocity album with this release for the UK's own Rocket Recordings. Regulars on the CD-R circuit, the band have already received a weighty endorsement from Julian Cope, but are bound to find themselves on the receiving end of far wider reaching endorsements from here on. Heads On Fire mixes the acid-trip propulsions of Hawkwind with the fuzzy aggro of The Stooges, resulting in some of the heaviest old-school rock manoeuvres around. These guys have one foot in the garage and the other on the moon, laying down k… Read more
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WHITE HILLS - Heads On Fire, ROCKET
KOOL KEITH - Sex Style (The Un-released Archives), Threshold

KOOL KEITH

Sex Style (The Un-released Archives)

Threshold

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.99

BEATS / HIP HOP

Cat. Number: TEG-THR3017CD

Although 'Dr. Octagon' wasn't released until 1996, KutMasta Kurt was busy producing music with Kool Keith as far back as 1993. A few of these tracks have been floating around on fuzzy tapes over the years and even a few have wound up on bootlegs, but now we officially get a chance to hear these archived tracks as intended. The CD is a 2,500 copy limited edition digipack, each individually numbered, including 12 page lyric sheet and is an essential companion for any fan of the 1997 release.
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MANI - Sketches, Important Records

MANI

Sketches

Important Records

Format_dot_cdCD // £12.99

WORLD

Cat. Number: IMPREC161CD

Mani Neumaier has been a part of Krautrock experimenters Guru Guru for some 35 years now, although more recently he's made a notable guest appearance alongside the Acid Mothers Temple crew on the Psychedelic Navigator album (also released on Important Records). Sketches has been a work in progress for the past couple of decades, taking the form of a kind of audio journal culled from countless expeditions across Asia. Neumaier incorporates his own inimitable free drumming style into field recordings and indigenous percussion sounds such as gamelan and bamboo marimba. There are a few instances of Neumaier's… Read more
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MANI - Sketches, Important Records
DANIEL A.I.U. HIGGS - Metempsychotic Melodies, Holy Mountain

DANIEL A.I.U. HIGGS

Metempsychotic Melodies

Holy Mountain

Format_dot_cdCD // £12.99

DARK AMBIENT / DRONE / METAL

Cat. Number: HOLY144CD

While the term 'freak folk' has been largely abandoned, that's precisely what Daniel Higgs' ancient Americana lunacy brings to mind - not because he affects a kooked up vocal intonation, or because he has a particularly outlandish beard (although that he can certainly lay claim to that), but simply because these four extended songs sound downright nuts. There's clearly a link to the American primitive references you'd hear in John Fahey's ragas or even the outsider wailing of Jandek, with Higgs alternating between impressive instrumental outings and vocally charged apocalyptic… Read more
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DANIEL A.I.U. HIGGS - Metempsychotic Melodies, Holy Mountain