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Tuesday, 06 May 2008

ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE & THE MELTING PARAISO UFO - Recurring Dream & Apocalypse Of Darkness, Important Records
Even by this band's high standards, Recurring Dream And Apocalypse Of Darkness is a crunchingly heavy record, taking some of the emphasis away from the psychedelics of old, instead favouring a detuned, predominantly sludge-fuelled guitar sound. Apparently, Kawabata Makoto has compared the album to the sort of low frequency intensive sound commanded by SunnO))) and there's certainly a case to be made for that, but it has to be said, you wouldn't find space echo theremin sounds flapping about the mix on a Stephen O'Malley project. Combine … Read more
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ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE & THE MELTING PARAISO UFO - Recurring Dream & Apocalypse Of Darkness, Important Records

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

VARIOUS / NUMERO GROUP - Soul Messages From Dimona, Numero Group

VARIOUS / NUMERO GROUP

Soul Messages From Dimona

Numero Group

Format_dot_cdCD // £12.99

DISCO / BOOGIE / FUNK

Cat. Number: NUM021CD

Always restlessly exploring the most obscure and otherwise forgotten detours taken during the evolution of soul music, the Numero Group offers up a compilation of recordings made between 1975 and 1981, when a group of Detroit and Chicago natives decamped to Dimona, Israel with the aim of combining their own musical influences with the textures and messages behind Afro-Israeli Hebrew culture. While devotional music certainly plays its role within this material (a cursory glance at the song titles will confirm that: 'Burn Devil Burn', 'Our Lord And Savior', 'Prince Of Zeal')… Read more
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VARIOUS / NUMERO GROUP - Soul Messages From Dimona, Numero Group
SIAN ALICE GROUP - 59.59, The Social Registry

SIAN ALICE GROUP

59.59

The Social Registry

Format_dot_cdCD // £9.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: TSR062

Formed by multi-instrumentalists Rupert Clervaux and Ben Crook with singer Sian Ahern, the Sian Alice Group have since gone on to incorporate musicians like John Coxon (of Spiritualized and Spring Heel Jack) and Gang Gang Dance's Brian DeGraw. Pinning down the band's sound is elusive to say the least: while on opener 'As The Morning Light' there's a airy, pastoral folk feel, 'Way Down To Heaven' takes on a gritty, stop-start blues riff as its central device, sounding like something from the darker recesses of Nick Cave or PJ Harvey's catalogues. Next there's an early interlude in the shape of... … Read more
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SIAN ALICE GROUP - 59.59, The Social Registry
TOKYO POLICE CLUB - Elephant Shell, Memphis Industries

TOKYO POLICE CLUB

Elephant Shell

Memphis Industries

Format_dot_cdCD // £4.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: MI0115CD

*Initial copies come with a UK-only bonus disc of remixes (by the likes of Dntel and Field Music) and original recordings 'Friends of P' and 'New New Song'*Given how much press this band has been enjoying (on both sides of the Atlantic) it's strange to think that this is only their debut album. Ever since the A Lesson In Crime EP hit shelves in 2006 there's been an enormous buzz around the Canadian quartet, and Elephant Shell does a decent job of delivering on the hype. The first thing to strike you about the band's sound is its chugging, Strokes-y approach to post-punk rhythms, packing… Read more
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TOKYO POLICE CLUB - Elephant Shell, Memphis Industries
DJ RUBBISH - Armageddon Session Vol 2, BARRY'S BOOTLEGS

DJ RUBBISH

Armageddon Session Vol 2

BARRY'S BOOTLEGS

Format_dot_cdCD // £10.99

ELECTRONIC

Cat. Number: BAZ013

More militantly mashed up hip hop from DJ Rubbish, who for this latest missive has managed to recruit the likes of Luke Vibert, Cassetteboy, Damian Taylor and The Elementz as producers. There's too great a density of nonsense to even start divulging the extent of DJ Rubbish's foolishness - not to mention his slanderous tendencies. This hour long session comes across as a stream of consciousness barrage of inanities, insults and word association. To give you an example of the sort of thing on offer here, Rubbish demonstrates a firm grasp on political commentary and refined satire on t… Read more
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DJ RUBBISH - Armageddon Session Vol 2, BARRY'S BOOTLEGS
THE WINCHESTER CLUB - Britannia Triumphant, Exile On Mainstream

THE WINCHESTER CLUB

Britannia Triumphant

Exile On Mainstream

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.49

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: EOM034D

It might only be five tracks wide, but The Winchester Club's Britannia Triumphant is nearly an hour long and could hardly be more intensively packaged. For a start you get some serious birch for your buck, what with the whole thing being housed in a wooden box, but once you break into the package you'll be greeted by a rather fancy red tray and a complementary beermat, which is all very much appropriate given the slightly awkward, nationalistic, working men's club vibe exuded by the album's presentation. Exactly how any of this fits in with the music remains a mystery. These fiv… Read more
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THE WINCHESTER CLUB - Britannia Triumphant, Exile On Mainstream

Monday, 28 April 2008

SCORCH TRIO - Brolt, Rune Grammofon

SCORCH TRIO

Brolt

Rune Grammofon

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.99

JAZZ / FUSION

Cat. Number: RCD2074

Thanks to their distinctive Kim Hiorthoy sleeves, Rune Grammofon releases are always finely turned out affairs, but this latest Scorch Trio album is a little more direct than usual. As it transpires, it's entirely befitting the tone of this album that such garish typefaces and exclamation marks should greet you on the cover: seldom does a recording so firmly grab you by the scruff of the neck. These raw, vintage-style analogue recordings (mastered by Deathprod) perfectly capture the unadulterated frenzy of Raoul Bjorkenheim's guitar, which at its most unhinged has a bit of a flailing Woodstock vibe to… Read more
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SCORCH TRIO - Brolt, Rune Grammofon
AWESOME COLOR - Electric Aborigines, Ecstatic Peace

AWESOME COLOR

Electric Aborigines

Ecstatic Peace

Format_dot_cdCD // £11.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: E104c

This band's eponymous debut album was one of the earliest signs that Ecstatic Peace! was not a label contented with following a purely avant-garde trajectory. Awesome Color are first and foremost a rock & roll band, slamming down classic rock with an overwhelming roughness and brutalism curbed only by a strong grip on the art of riff writing. As raw and powerful as this band is, at times you could be listening to a Kings Of Leon album - and that's no slur: 'Already Down' could make it to one of Radio 2's more open-minded playlists, and 'Step Up' for all its leanings towards heaviness d… Read more
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AWESOME COLOR - Electric Aborigines, Ecstatic Peace
GAVIN BRYARS - Hommages, LTM Recordings

GAVIN BRYARS

Hommages

LTM Recordings

Format_dot_cdCD // £11.99

MODERN CLASSICAL / AMBIENT

Cat. Number: LTMCD2503

Back in stock! A reissue of the album originally released by Les Disques Crepescule in November 1981, Gavin Bryars' Hommages was produced by the celebrated Belgian composer Wim Mertens, The earliest of the pieces here (appropriately titled 'My First Homage') was penned in 1978 for a performance at The Kitchen in New York as a tribute to the work of jazz pianist Bill Evans, and features some beautiful harmonic exchanges across its captivating quarter-hour duration. Both 'The English Mail-Coach' and the quite stunningly beautiful piano and percussion of 'The Vespertine Park' were inspired by Ferrucc… Read more
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GAVIN BRYARS - Hommages, LTM Recordings

Thursday, 24 April 2008

ISIS - Holy Tears, Ipecac

ISIS

Holy Tears

Ipecac

Format_dot_cdCD // £4.99

DARK AMBIENT / DRONE / METAL

Cat. Number: IPC-95

You probably wouldn't necessarily have Isis down as a 'singles' sort of band, but this release of 'Holy Tears' features not only the original studio recording of the song, but an additional live performance (at the Continental Airlines Arena in New Jersey) the Dominic Hailstone (of Warp Films, apparently) directed video and best of all a remix of 'Not In Rivers, But In Drops' as reworked by a tag team of The Melvins and Lustmord. The end result is predictably gloomy, and predictably excellent. Recommended.
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WINSTON TONG - In A Manner Of Speaking (Best Of), LTM Recordings

WINSTON TONG

In A Manner Of Speaking (Best Of)

LTM Recordings

Format_dot_cdCD // £11.99

INDUSTRIAL / WAVE / ELECTRO

Cat. Number: LTMCD2520

This San Franciscan singer-songwriter is probably best known as the frontman in Tuxedomoon, although - brace yourself for some pop trivia - he's also an award-winning puppeteer. This is not a statement you could apply to most recording artists. To those new to the Tong/Tuxedomoon oeuvre: if the title-track of this collection sounds a bit familiar, it might be due to the Nouvelle Vague version that did the rounds on all kinds of TV shows a year or two ago. In amongst the classic tracks culled from throughout Tong's career you'll encounter some rarities that previously only su… Read more
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WINSTON TONG - In A Manner Of Speaking (Best Of), LTM Recordings
DEVON WILLIAMS - Carefree, Ba Da Bing!

DEVON WILLIAMS

Carefree

Ba Da Bing!

Format_dot_cdCD // £12.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: BING057

New Ba Da Bing! acquisition Devon Williams called his album Carefree, although iTunes (or the CDDB or whatever) seems intent on satirising him, re-titling the record as 'Careerfree' when you insert the disc. Wow. That's pretty cold. Williams is clearly a bright talent for the future however, fashioning glorious, string-soaked croons like 'Please Be Patient' alongside urgent '80s-style alt. rockers like 'Stephanie City'. 'Elevator' meanwhile sounds a bit like something from the first Arcade Fire album, and there are further hints toward Owen Pallett's string sounds on the excellent 'A Truce'. Ano… Read more
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DEVON WILLIAMS - Carefree, Ba Da Bing!
BEN NASH - The Seventh Goodbye, AURORA BOREALIS

BEN NASH

The Seventh Goodbye

AURORA BOREALIS

Format_dot_cdCD // £11.99

DARK AMBIENT / DRONE / METAL

Cat. Number: ABX024CD

Ben Nash is bound to accumulate comparisons to Six Organs of Admittance with this debut album proper - a follow-up to the Sheffielder's eight cassette and CD-R releases to date. The Seventh Goodbye is mainly focussed on Nash's acoustic guitar compositions, though classy psych excursions like intro 'Kuad 9873' weave together a variety of different instrumental elements, bringing to mind the Voice Of The Seven Woods LP from last year. After the mystical drone trappings of 'Night Call' Nash returns to some period psychedelics on the thoroughly zoned-out 'The Seventh Goodbye' which eventually e… Read more
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BEN NASH - The Seventh Goodbye, AURORA BOREALIS

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

BEIRUT - The Flying Club Cup, 4AD
Featured CD

BEIRUT

The Flying Club Cup

4AD

Format_dot_cdCD // £8.49

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: CAD2732CD

Back in stock. Beirut mastermind Zach Condon has been no stranger to the indie press since the release of his surprise smash 'Gulag Orkestar' last year, which appeared out of nowhere and captured our hearts, coming high in almost everyone's end of year charts. After touring extensively (to the point of exhaustion) Condon retreated to his home in New Mexico to regroup and use his new experiences to conjure up a record every bit as exhilarating as his debut. 'The Flying Club Cup' is a grandiose affair from start to finish, lavished with epic string arrangements (from none other than Final Fanta… Read more
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BEIRUT - The Flying Club Cup, 4AD

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

AETHENOR - Betimes Black Cloudmasses, VHF
A second full-length outing for all-star metal side project Aethenor, featuring Stephen O'Malley, Daniel O'Sullivan of Guapo, and Vincent De Roguin of Shora, "Betimes Black Cloudmasses" explores a death ambient aesthetic that isn't merely dominated by booming sub-bass drones. The album is divided into three pieces, each over ten minutes in length, and within these pieces the music shifts towards a variety of unexpected musical forms. While the conventional language of doom metal is always present in the record's lower frequency emissions, you'll hear experimental electronic elements j… Read more
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AETHENOR - Betimes Black Cloudmasses, VHF
ERIC CARBONARA - Exodus Bulldornadius, Locust

ERIC CARBONARA

Exodus Bulldornadius

Locust

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: L104

Locust Music's reliably excellent Wooden Guitar series returns with this contribution from Philadelphian guitarist Eric Carbonara, whose weapon of choice is the nylon-strung guitar as opposed to the steel-strung variety that's dominated the series thus far. Blissfully, these ornate solos couldn't have less to do with the ubiquitous raga style that characterises just about every other solo acoustic guitar recording out there, calling instead upon flamenco and classical techniques - never more successfully than on the furious right hand control of 'Dead Trees In The Life Of Speed'. Far… Read more
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ERIC CARBONARA - Exodus Bulldornadius, Locust
HELLO, BLUE ROSES - The Portrait Is Finished And I Have Failed To Capture Your Beauty, Locust
Review to follow shortly…
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Monday, 21 April 2008

MISSION OF BURMA - Vs., Matador

MISSION OF BURMA

Vs.

Matador

Format_dot_cdCD + DVD // £13.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: OLE 731-2

Vs. was Boston post-punk band Mission Of Burma's debut full-length album, dating back to 1982. The album has since been described as a classic of the new wave movement, though the band's career was soon to be aborted: they split not long after the release of Vs. when it became clear that principal songwriter couldn't continue with the band due to an ongoing struggle with tinnitus. A follow-up to this debut studio LP didn't arrive until 2004's OnoffON, although there was a compilation of unreleased recordings published in 1988, and prior to that a 1984 live LP called The Horrible Truth About Burma. T… Read more
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MISSION OF BURMA - Vs., Matador
MISSION OF BURMA - The Horrible Truth About Burma, Matador

MISSION OF BURMA

The Horrible Truth About Burma

Matador

Format_dot_cdCD + DVD // £13.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: OLE 732-2

Originally released in 1984, "The Horrible Truth About Burma" was Mission Of Burma's posthumous live album, featuring a selection of songs performed on the band's farewell tour of 1984, many of which were never formally recorded. The album comes remastered with a track unreleased on previous reissues and a DVD that houses the entire evening set of the band's final show, in Boston, March 12th 1983.
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BURIAL HEX - Initiations, AURORA BOREALIS

BURIAL HEX

Initiations

AURORA BOREALIS

Format_dot_cdCD // £11.99

EXTREME / NOISE / COMPUTER MUSIC

Cat. Number: ABX022

Burial Hex is a one-man black noise project by Wisconsin's Clay Ruby, who throws together homemade oscillators, scraps of metal, various effects and organs (presumably more of the Hammond variety than spleen and liver, but who knows?!). As dark ambient, ceremonial noise goes, this is of the very finest order, sounding genuinely unsettling and sonically adventurous, while being absolutely soaked in atmosphere - right down to the creepy artwork and packaging. Production wise, Burial Hex is a more developed and varied sounding clamour than most, from the incinerated orchestral racket of 'Will To The… Read more
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BURIAL HEX - Initiations, AURORA BOREALIS

Thursday, 17 April 2008

JAY DENHAM - The Truth, Disko B

JAY DENHAM

The Truth

Disko B

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.49

TECHNO / HOUSE

Cat. Number: DB143CD

One of Detroit's lesser-known techno heroes, Jay Denham first surfaced on Transmat and has maintained a productive profile right through the '90s and '00s. It's been some three years since Denham's last release under his own name, and that was a DJ mix rather than a set of new productions. On 'The Truth' Denham draws influence from house and disco, laying on thick synth strings and - typical of house music - meaningless yet well-intentioned hippyish vocals on the title track. 'Come On' keeps the pace up, injecting a healthy does of funk from some sampled guitar and jangling percussion, a feel that'… Read more
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JAY DENHAM - The Truth, Disko B
THE LAST SHADOW PUPPETS - The Age Of The Understatement, Domino Recording Co

THE LAST SHADOW PUPPETS

The Age Of The Understatement

Domino Recording Co

Format_dot_cdCD // £6.99

INDIE / ALTERNATIVE

Cat. Number: WIGCD208

This debut LP by all-star side-project The Last Shadow Puppets finds Arctic Monkey Alex Turner encroaching on old mate Richard Hawley's turf, fashioning big band '60s-style pop music that's got more in common with the pomp and excess of Scott Walker than modern indie rock fare. Turner is joined by his pal Miles Kane of The Rascals, who if at all possible, looks even more like a small child than the chief Monkey himself, all of which conspires to make the incongruity between the band's tender age and its grandiose, old-fashioned sound the more apparent. There's an im… Read more
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THE LAST SHADOW PUPPETS - The Age Of The Understatement, Domino Recording Co
BORIS - Smile, Southern Lord

BORIS

Smile

Southern Lord

Format_dot_cdCD // £13.99

DARK AMBIENT / DRONE / METAL

Cat. Number: SUNN92

One of the most hotly anticipated albums in the history of Southern Lord, this latest from J-Metal behemoths Boris lives up to the hype. Cards on the table, this lot have a more chequered discography than their considerable following might suggest: for every outstanding album they've made there's been something not quite right that's upset the applecart - usually the slightly dodgy drumming, or lacklustre, over-ambitious soloing. That's probably why last year's 'Rainbow' album with Michio Kurihara of Ghost was such an outstanding release in Boris' career: with a proper guitarist on board the trio could fina… Read more
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BORIS - Smile, Southern Lord

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

VARIOUS - Imaginational Anthem (Vols 1-3), TOMPKINS SQUARE

VARIOUS

Imaginational Anthem (Vols 1-3)

TOMPKINS SQUARE

Format_dot_cd3CD // £18.49

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: TSQ1899CD

*DELUXE, LIMITED EDITION* The definitive, one-stop Imaginational Anthem collection from Tompkins Square, this three CD set houses all three volumes in the acclaimed series and probably stands as the single most significant body of solo acoustic guitar music to be published in the 21st century so far. There's no shortage in compilations of this ilk, but no other label has gathered such a comprehensive, diverse set of artists as this one. From the ubiquitous Jack Rose and James Blackshaw to the greats like John Fahey, Robbie Basho and Peter Lang, Imaginational Anthem gathers all the … Read more
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VARIOUS - Imaginational Anthem (Vols 1-3), TOMPKINS SQUARE
YELLOW 6 - When The Leaves Fall Like Snow, Make Mine Music

YELLOW 6

When The Leaves Fall Like Snow

Make Mine Music

Format_dot_cd2CD // £13.99

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: MMM046

A bumper double disc album by Leicestershire's Jon Attwood, When The Leaves Fall Like Snow is probably the most accomplished work to date by the Make Mine Music regular. The first CD strives for a droning electroacoustic ambience, the like of which you might expect from one of Kranky's key artists. All the pieces are around ten minutes in duration, so consequently Atwood might be accused of approaching each composition with the same structure and the same goal in mind. This isn't necessarily a bad thing though, because this first CD feels like a series of different images all att… Read more
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YELLOW 6 - When The Leaves Fall Like Snow, Make Mine Music
VARIOUS - Imaginational Anthem (Volume Three), TOMPKINS SQUARE

VARIOUS

Imaginational Anthem (Volume Three)

TOMPKINS SQUARE

Format_dot_cdCD // £12.49

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: TSQ1905

The long-awaited third instalment of Tompkins Square's Imaginational Anthem series doesn't drop the ball. After the previous two garnered considerable critical plaudits and found a crossover audience (thanks to rave reviews from Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and Uncut) this compilation quite reasonably doesn't change the formula, though you will find a line-up of new artists tackling the instrumental acoustic guitar theme in new, challenging ways. Greg Davis' 'Sleep Architecture' approaches the task in a similar fashion as Jim O'Rourke did on Bad Timing, combining rag-style open tun… Read more
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VARIOUS - Imaginational Anthem (Volume Three), TOMPKINS SQUARE
FOUR TET - Ringer, Domino Recording Co

FOUR TET

Ringer

Domino Recording Co

Format_dot_cdCD // £5.49

FOLK / ROOTS

Cat. Number: RUG295CD

Marking something of a stylistic departure for Kieren Hebden, Ringer seems to draw its primary influences from krautrock and early synthesizer music rather than the more explicitly beat-driven, hip hop and jazz-informed sounds of previous Four Tet albums. 'Ringer' itself I centrally concerned with a series of arpeggiating synths all underscored by simple 4/4 kicks and soft, hissing cymbals. It sure is a far cry from the noisy freeform improvisations of Hebden's collaborations with Steve Reid. Next up, 'Ribbons' features some delightful, vintage-sounding electronic bloops, taking a good 90 seconds or so … Read more
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FOUR TET - Ringer, Domino Recording Co

Thursday, 10 April 2008

VARIOUS / LTM - Moving Soundtracks, LTM Recordings

VARIOUS / LTM

Moving Soundtracks

LTM Recordings

Format_dot_cdCD // £11.99

EARLY ELECTRONIC / SOUNDTRACKS

Cat. Number: LTMCD2514

Another key Crepuscule release reissued by LTM Recordings, this compilation finds a number of the label's key acts taking on their favourite cinematic and televisual soundtracking moments, beginning with Tuxedomoon's Blaine L. Reininger taking on Georges Delarue's classic 'Le Mepris' from the film of the same name. It's a fine rendering of the piece, drenched in the all-encompassing reverb effects you'd expect from an early eighties recording (the compilation was commissioned in 83/84). The Pale Fountains come up with a decent rendering of 'We Have All The Time In The World', while Cosy C… Read more
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VARIOUS / LTM - Moving Soundtracks, LTM Recordings
APPARAT - Things To Be Frickled, Shitkatapult

APPARAT

Things To Be Frickled

Shitkatapult

Format_dot_cd2CD // £13.99

ELECTRONIC

Cat. Number: STRIKE89

I'm not familiar with the verb 'to frickle', but presumably it's got something to do with the act of remixing, because this release collects one disc of remixes BY Apparat, and one disc of remixes OF Apparat. I hope that's clear. Scanning over the tracklist here, it's evident that Sascha Ring's worked with plenty of illustrious producers and artists over the years: Monolake, Modeselektor, Thomas Fehlmann, Telefon Tel Aviv and Paul St. Hilaire are all embroiled in this, and that's just a relatively curtailed overview. Starting off the first disc, Apparat tackles Francesco Tristano's version… Read more
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APPARAT - Things To Be Frickled, Shitkatapult
GOLDFRAPP - Happiness / Road To Somewhere (Acoustic Version), Mute
This week's appearance on Jools Holland saw Alison Goldfrapp wear nought but a clown's nightie and a pair of novelty slippers - you know, the ones that look like a dog's head with flappy ears. I'm fairly sure that's not what they were, but my brain registered them as such, which ultimately is just as worrying. This single sounded pretty decent on the show, but it benefits no end from the studio polish on this rendition, which was one of the very few recordings on Seventh Tree that had some trace of the last two albums on it. This format features the single version … Read more
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GOLDFRAPP - Happiness / Road To Somewhere (Acoustic Version), Mute