Currently Listening to……

Milan W. – Intact

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I received this from my subscription to ‘That Special Record’, which no longer does that sort of thing, a shame as they introduced me to some really interesting and varied music. I wrote about it here.

Somebody uploaded the whole thing to youtube since I last mentioned this album, so if you are interested at all, have a listen. I love the bloody thing.

That Special Record Closes (Pt 1)

I received an e-mail earlier in the week from Miguel, who runs ‘That Special Record’ to let me know that my subscription was now cancelled and the vinyl subscription service was closing after almost 4 years.

It may seem surprising that a seemingly successful startup could fail, but it happens all the time. Unfortunately we didn’t reach enough subscribers, our profit margins were too low and we couldn’t quite crack the business side of things. One of the most important skills we all have to learn in life is to learn when to give up. When to let go. And when to make space for something new. That day has come for That Special Record.

It’s a real shame as I’ve been introduced through the subscription service to many different genres and artists that I would almost certainly never have otherwise considered. So here is a look at the records I both received as part of the service and bought because they looked interesting over the year of my subscription to ‘That Special Record’

The first record I received was The Gods Planet – LP2

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Next was ‘FP-Oner’ with ‘6’

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Carl Matthews
 ‎– Mirage-Tape-Years

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Unearth Noise – Prayer and Resonance

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There was also a 12″ single included ‘Various ‎– Maizena Boys’

Saåad ‎– Verdaillon

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Milan W. – Intact

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Senyawa ‎– Brønshøj (Puncak)

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So ends part 1, the rest will be in part 2 along with what I subscribed to next.

 

Claude Lombard

The August ‘That Special Record’ offering is the self titled album by Claude Lombard. As usual, I was completely in the dark about this and, to be honest, having read the blurb I didn’t have high hopes as it felt like a long way outside the sort of music I would listen to. I bit the bullet so to speak and really quite enjoyed side 1 and then read a post at Dereks Music Blog, this post in fact, which says everything I could possibly say and more, so go and read it. Side 2 was just as enjoyable and I surprised myself somewhat by liking it. I included a track in Show 5 of 33 1/3 Radio, along with some other bits and pieces it led me on to listen to that I probably wouldn’t have normally.

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Here is a sample for you:

 

 

Voigt/465 ‎– Slights Still Unspoken

This post is also available as an audio version:

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July’s offering from ‘That Special Record’, Voigt/465 ‎with ‘Slights Still Unspoken’. I don’t think much of it to be honest. It sounds like 1 of 1000 bands that were about in the late 70’s and early eighties that I’ve heard and liked, but that was then and I can’t see myself starting to like this retrospectively. The bands I like from that era are because I liked them at the time, there are loads of bands that were probably great but I didn’t like them or maybe know of them at the time so that is that. I can’t be nostalgic for something I never knew. That is not to say that this album isn’t any good, I just can’t see myself giving it more than the couple of plays I’ve already given it. Having said that, I’ve been wrong before.

Wiki: Voigt/465 were an Australian post-punk band based in Sydney. They were a feature of the Sydney inner-city music-scene during the late 1970s and their music was critically acclaimed. Their sound was influenced by Krautrock and has been described by a band-member as an “unsettling mixture of song-driven rock elements and free-noise experimentation”. Voigt/465 recorded an album, Slights Unspoken, before they disbanded in late 1979. With their self-funded recordings and determinedly uncompromising music Voigt/465 epitomised the do-it-yourself ethic of the alternative music scene of the late 1970s.

Here’s a taste of the album so you can make your own mind up:

Tracklist

A1 State
A2 Voices A Drama
A3 A Welcome Mystery
A4 Red Lock On Sea Steal
A5 Imprint
A6 Many Risk
B1 A Secret West
B2 Is New Is
B3 4 Hours
B4 P
B5 F1
B6 Winchsoul

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Jonas Reinhardt, Jürgen Müller ‎– The Encyclopedia Of Civilizations Vol. 1: Egypt

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A monthly selection from ‘That Special Record’, I’m a little behind so this was probably for the month of July, I’ll catch up soon as I have a couple of others to talk about. I’ve never heard of either of the contributors who share a side each of this album but it is a fascinating listen. The album is also available from Bandcamp, so reproduced below is the blurb that accompanied the release and before that, you can set it playing via Soundcloud.

The LP is the first volume on “The Encyclopedia of Civilizations”, a collection of split LP’s just started at Abstrakce where selected artists offer their own insight into fascinating ancient cultures. In this volume music is inspired by ancient Egypt and comes with a 10-page booklet with images and texts explaining historic facts. The texts written by Juan Ruiz -an Spanish archeologist and researcher- in a half scientific/half poetic way rounds the music and transports you to the Ancient Egypt to get the whole listening experience. The careful design of the edition also helps: Egyptian colors (sand, electric blue, gold) and a sleeve printed in the old way, letterpressed with metal movable type as Gutemberg used to do it. 

Jürgen Müller is the pseudonym previously used by Norm Chambers (aka Panabrite) for the album “Science of the sea”, presented as an archival find by Digitalis Recordings in 2011. The album was supposed to be a reissue of early 80’s songs recorded by a a self-taught composer who was studying oceanic science and playing some music on his houseboat, dreaming to sell the compositions to film and TV companies. Now Jürgen comes back and this time there’s no romantic misterious story to tell, just some astonishing modular ambient songs influenced by library music, kosmische, minimalism or new age. Songs that refer to artists such as Mort Garson or contemporaries as M. Geddes Gengras or Jonathan Fitoussi.

Jonas Reinhardt is a Brooklyn based musician with releases in labels such as Not Not Fun, Kranky, The great pop supplement, Further or VCO records. His side is also influenced by kosmische but in a different code, more trippy and psychedelic. Deeper and darker atmospheres that remind to musicians such as Klaus Schulze, Steve Hauschildt or synthetist Steve Moore. Songs full of synth arpeggios and reverbered sound waves that create Egyptian dream visions.

Artwork by Israel Pinilla & Guillermo Cerdá. Printed at Obsolete Letterpress.

The artwork is really quite lovely. I did some letterpress many year ago and getting it as good as this is really difficult, I never managed anything even close.

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If you want your own copy then you can get it here.

 

 

Cozmic Corridors

I received this album, the self titled Cozmic Corridors from ‘That Special Record‘ a couple of months ago and haven’t had much time to listen to it until recently. From my perspective, it’s a mixed bag, with the 10 minute track ‘The Summit’ sounding very much like sitting in an otherwise empty church while the organist jams to himself before people start wandering in and the service begins, while ‘Mountainside’ with its monastic vocals is much more interesting.

There is some debate that the whole thing was actually recorded in the 90’s and was not a long since lost Krautrock classic but an attempt to cash in on the increased interest in the genre. The official notes say:

Underground Kraut-Kosmische monster, recorded / produced circa 1972-73 in Cologne by Toby “The Mad Twiddler” Robinson for his Pyramid label. Originally released as an ultra-limited handmade edition, original copies are lost forever in the mist of time. 

Featuring Mythos drummer Hans-Jürgen Pütz on percussion & effects, alongside synth / keyboard freak Alex Meyer, poet / vocalist Pauline Fund and mysterious guitarist Peter Förster. 
To be honest, that does sound a bit made up. One of the doubters, and there are many, had this to say:

If you’re the sort who believes in Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster, then you will believe this album was released in Germany in 1972. Despite multiple claims of sightings at art museums and record fairs, actual hard data seems to still be missing. Funny that. Most likely these were recorded in the Acme studio (UK) in the mid 90s along with the other Prescription Drug series albums coming from the same studio, and that contained the premise of utilizing only analog equipment from the early 70s. Why the need for the ruse is anyone’s guess, as the music holds up well without the made-up pretext. These albums will always be judged accordingly, and it’s their own fault. After all these years, they should come clean.

Oh, the music you ask? A fine electronic album made with organ, Moog, Rhodes, guitar percussion, and wordless voice. Sounds like something that would have been released in Germany in 1973 – and so they did accomplish their ultimate goal. They should have just stated it as such.

Does it matter either way? Well it would be preferable to understand the authenticity of what one is listening to and it’s not nice to be duped, on the other hand is it really down to whether you like it or not and the origin story is not really all that relevant? Hard to say as it does depend on the individual, for me, I’m OK with this album, in fact there are some parts I really like, I don’t think I will ever grow to love it, but I’ll give it a spin now and again maybe, when I’m in the mood.

I think maybe the authenticity bit does actually bother me a little.

1. The Summit (0:00)
2. Mountainside (10:01)
3. Dark Path (13:05)
4. Niemand Verstent (21:51)
5. Daruber (29:50)

 

Run Dust – Serf Rash

Also in the ‘That Special Record’ sale I picked up ‘Serf Rash’ by Run Dust, which is an absolute corker of an album, well, it is if you like this sort of thing, and I do.

Label: In Paradisum ‎– IP018
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Limited Edition
Country: France
Released: 16 Mar 2015
Genre: Electronic
Style: Experimental, Industrial, Techno, House

This is another release from the ‘In Paradisium’ label, so I have 3 now. This album is a limited run of 300 and there are very few left according to the label. Speaking of which, here is what they have to say about this album:

We discovered Run Dust through the demos that became the amazing Zeckenentferner tape on Opal Tapes. If you’re familiar with Opal Tapes, it’s fair to say this release stands out, as Run Dust music stands out generally, and that’s why it finds its place within our label. This eleven track album covers plenty of ground from proper songs to brutal techno, romantic melodic stuff to dystopian minimal and does it all with a unique sense of texture and storytelling.

Things kick off with the frosty bleeps and gauzy textures of ‘Saddle Maker’ and the gallivanting, brutal techno beats of ‘Wharf Rat’ before unsettling ambience and sparse drums characterise ‘Sterling’s Yard’ with its squealing bleeps and industrial menace. Run Dust can do more soothing soundscapes, too, as shown on the dubwise ‘This Is A Lovely Sign’ and the blissful echo chambers of ‘Doctor John Dee’. Cuts like ‘Scythe Toon’ pick up the pace again and hit you over the head with alarming sirens and rough drums and ‘Tour of College’ gets all lo-fi, housey and bittersweet.

With its powerful sense of melancholy and fragile energy, Serf Rash brings us back to the first generation of beautiful albums in electronic music by artists like Aphex Twin, and conjure up a great spirit of escape. So get stuck in and enjoy the ride…

credits

released March 16, 2015All tracks written and produced by Run Dust. Mastering by James Plotkin. Graphic Design by Thibaut Proux and Jules Estèves


Tracklist:

AI Saddle Maker 2:45
AII Wharf Rat 2:04
AIII Serling’s Yard 2:10
AIV The Lovely Sign 2:22
AV Doctor John Dee 4:40
AVI Oil and Gas 2:24
AVII Scythe Toon 3:52
BI Open Anchorite 3:58
BII British Jump Suit 3:24
BIII Tour Of College 6:22
BIV Mitigator 5:22

The music is crashing metal, beeps, bloops, beats and, if you take a close listen, pretty complex at times with discordancy overlaying a more melodic base. There’s some rather nice repetitivnes at times as well which becomes familiar, something to hold onto while an electronic progression trills off in the opposite direction.

It took me a little while to ‘get’ this release but having streamed it several times and having grown to really love it, getting a vinyl edition was no big decision really, and taking off the earphones, putting the disc on the turntable and turning up the amp is a different, and better experience.

Mondkopf ‎– They Fall, But You Don’t

Mondkopf ‎– They Fall, But You Don’t
Label: In Paradisum ‎– IP028
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album
Country: France
Released: 21 Feb 2017
Genre: Electronic
Style: Abstract, Ambient, Dark Ambient, Drone

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This was last months offering from vinyl subscription service, ‘That Special Record” and, after some initial delays in actually listening to it and then some reservations around whether I actually liked it or not, everything changed.

Sometimes I will be doing something entirely unrelated to what \i m listening to and just keep playing a record over and over, often becasue I’m just too bloody lazy to go and get another off the shelf, and sometimes, something clicks. This is what happened here, all of a sudden I just found myself liking it, and not just liking it but loving it if truth be told. The murky electronics, disembodied voices, ethereal vocals and the atmospheres, bathed in a half light where figures are reconisable shapes but features are hidden.

The tracks, all six of them are all called Vivere, which I think means ‘live’ in Italian, but my Italian isn’t up to much so I might be wrong.

Tracklist
A1 Vivere, Parte I 8:04
A2 Vivere, Parte II 5:36
A3 Vivere, Parte III 4:48
B1 Vivere, Parte IV 9:36
B2 Vivere, Parte V 5:26
B3 Vivere, Finale 6:37

Here is the album in full, give it a little time, it will turn out to be worth it.

Credits:
Mastered By – Lawrence English
Mellotron, Synth – Frédéric D. Oberland
Recorded By, Mixed By, Synth – Paul Régimbeau

Notes:
Performed, recorded & mixed by Paul Régimbeau at The White Desk Studio between November 2015 and May 2016. Additional arrangements (Mellotron & Critter & Guitari Pocket Piano) performed & recorded by Frédéric D. Oberland at Magnum Diva Studio on May 2016. Mastering at 158.

I believe that most of the instruments on this album are analogue, and I like that, I like most things analogue over digital, it seems to add an air of authenticity to things and the impression that more effort has to be taken to produce a final result, as well as the probabale introduction of random happy accidents. Here there is much that is discordant but it is allied with an underlying harmony which always seems to truimph and shine through.

But what is ‘Mondkopf’? Well essentrillay it’s a French chap called Paul, but the the name itself as explained by him is: “People were saying that I always had my head in the clouds (« avoir la tête dans la lune » literally means « to have one’s head in the moon ») and that I wasn’t able to concentrate. I finally came up with this german word (« Mondkopf » literally meaning « moon head »)”

Part IV is a particular faviourite of mine and I’ve included it seperately below:

When all is said and done, another great reccomendation from Miguel at That Special Record.

CHECK OUT – Hornschaft

That Special Record were having a sale, so I picked up a few things, one of which was ‘CHECK OUT’ – by Hornschaft who are, or which is, the collaborative projects of Alessandro Incorvaia & Giordano Simoncini who met 12 years ago in Rome and now live Birmingham (UK) and Berlin (DE) respectively. The release is a 10″ vinyl housed in a 52 page book of photographs which were taken with film (which is one of my other great loves so it’s win/win for me with this one!)

It is a beautiful artefact, originally priced at €50 but I think it’s now reduced to €20, which is an absolute steal, particularly as it’s limited to 500 copies. You can see the contents of the book in the video below and I believe you can listen to the vinyl on soundcloud, possibly from the link I put below:

https://soundcloud.com/hornschaft/sets/check-out

 

Tracklist

A1 A morning session of Q & no A 07:20
A2 Cornwall August 2012 06:09
B1 I do not understand lakes 02:25
B2 Tides / happiness / excess 01:28
B3 Afternoon today 09:35

Richard Pinhas ‎– Reverse

bb249_cover_rgbLast months vinyl from ‘That Special Record’ lay un-played for several weeks due to other commitments, which have left me unable to play very much of anything really, until there was a break in the clouds last week and there  was a shower of vinyl, not a downpour, but at least it was something. This was the first album I played, again, I was pretty much in the dark about it but after a bit of interweb research I was enlightened somewhat.

Pinhas was a member of ‘Heldon,’ a French electronic rock band created in 1974. The name of the band having been taken from the 1972 novel, ‘The Iron Dream’, by Norman Spinrad. Prior to that Pinhas was a member of the band ‘Schizo’, but both bands were led for the most part by Pinhas, who also released a host of albums under his own name.

Influenced by the work of Robert Fripp and Brian Eno, the music of Richard Pinhas and Heldon is sui generis and innovative and has in its turn greatly influenced the field of electronic rock.

I had to look up sui generis as I had no idea what it meant, apparently this is the definition:

Sui generis (/ˌs ˈɛnərɪs/Latin: [ˈsʊ.iː ˈɡɛnɛrɪs]) is a Latin phrase, meaning “of its (his, her, or their) own kind; in a class by itself; unique”. In the creative arts, where an artistic work goes beyond conventional genre boundaries.

So now I know. If you head over to the Bureau B website, there’s a nice press kit you can download should you be of a mind to, it’s here. Where they also share some snippets of the tracks so you can get an idea what it sounds like.

So what do I think of it? How do I feel my subscription to ‘That Special Record’ performed this month? Well, I think it’s bloody brilliant actually. It is not, as suggested, a series of 4 drones, it is much more than that and it is far too complex and interesting to be just called a drone. It is a fusion of different, interesting ideas into a new whole with elements of prog, kosmiche (Krautrock) and post-rock among the points of reference. It feels, at times, urgent and alive, with the percussion lifting the whole thing from a very interesting noise to something that is more tangible, more easily grasped, and the drums have a great live feel about them. The line up for this album, along with Pinhas is Arthur Narcy (drums), Florian Tatar (bass), Masami Akita (analog synths, recorded in Tokyo), son Duncan Nilson-Pinhas (digital synths), and William Winant (percussion, recorded in Oakland, CA, USA). At times they somehow manage to sound like an Orchestra so full is the sound.

Now this sort of thing, like many of the albums I like to listen to, isn’t for everybody, but there are times when taking a moment to just listen, to lose yourself in a vast landscape of sound, can bring you to a place you weren’t expecting and which you may just like. With this album I find myself at times listening to the intricacies of the performance and at others allowing the whole thing to wash over me, and this is a good thing as, to me, it means that it works on more than one level.

It’s not just me telling you, my two or three regular readers, that this is good stuff, other people are as well:

“Ecstatic psych burnouts from French prog visionary and friends” 8/10, Uncut (UK)

“Maverick French guitarist turns negative headspace into a kosmische positive” ****, Mojo (UK)

“Reverse sounds like rock music echoed out into the stratosphere” 7.2, Pitchfork

“This is music that demands and deserves our attention.” (The Quietus)

Life Garden – Songs From The Otherside Of Emptiness

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Last months vinyl from ‘That Special Record’ was ‘Songs From The Otherside of Emptiness’ by ‘Life Garden’ who were formed in 1989 from the ashes of Maybe Mental whose two core members were David and Su Ling Oliphant. They invited poet George Dillon to the group, but tragically he passed away by the time they released their debut “Caught Between the Tapestry of Silence and Beauty” (1991). Subsequently, Life Garden added Peter Ragan and Bill Yanok, who eventually departed in 1995. Life Garden broke up in 1999.

I had to look the above up as I had no idea, which is usual. The music is breathy, spectral 80’s electronic experimentation, probably post-industrial if it must be categorised and the album is a compilation of releases between 1991 and 1994 from the albums

Following the passing of  George Dillon the band began to shift from using synths and samplers to an all acoustic approach. Over several months, Su Ling and David developed a unique improvisational style using digital multi-effects and loopers to process Su’s vocals and a variety of percussion, string and wind instruments. This became the foundation of the Life Garden sound and forms the majority of tracks on the LP. It also comes with a 7″ single, which I haven’t had a chance to listen to yet, mostly because I haven’t had a chance to listen to very much of anything lately but also because the switch from 33 1/3 to 45 requires the adjusting of the drive belt, which is a pain. In hindsight I should have picked up a turntable with a switch for that, as I end up playing a load of 45’s & 12″ singles together, or a load of albums, and some of the albums are 45 rpm and some of the 12″ singles are 33 1/3, it’s just a bit restrictive. I actually listened to a PJ Harvey album at 33 1/3 and quite liked it, even though it all sounded rather depressing, it was much better at the correct speed.

I was quite surprised by this album when I finally managed to find the time to play it. It didn’t sound to me as though the music was 25 years old, perhaps because it has a timeless quality to it. I’ve included track 4 below, “I Comeforth By Day Singing”, which is a favourite of mine already from this album. In it I can hear elements of Dead Can Dance, A touch of Cocteau Twins overlayed with  sense of adhan, the Islamic call to worship.

Tracklist

A1 Zhen
A2 Du
A3 Seed
A4 I Comeforth By Day Singing
B1 Saura
B2 Three
B3 Marut
B4 Sem
7 inch 8
7 inch 6

This was a great pick by ‘That Special Record‘ I think as it is new to me, interesting and opens up new avenues for me to explore. I also really like it, which is the most important thing.

That Special Record: ADELBERT VON DEYEN – Atmosphere

I’m a bit behind at the moment and haven’t played any vinyl for 4 weeks, not a single record has been on the turntable, I’ve been all digital for 4 weeks. The reason for this neglect is that, as a family, we adopted a shit and piss machine. Said machine is the subject of the picture below:

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Don’t be fooled, he’s a menace. He calls himself Orwell and he has made it his mission to to disrupt my life in as many interesting and varied ways as possible. So not many records played, his fault. While he did arrive around Christmas time, please don’t worry, I’m a firm believer in ‘a dog is for Christmas not for life’.

He is why I have not had an opportunity to mention my vinyl subscription to ‘That Special Record’ since the beginning of December. I believe he knows this and finds it all rather amusing.

So, Decembers record from ‘That Special Record’ was ‘Atmosphere’ by Adelbert Von Deyen. As is quite common, I knew nothing about this, literally nothing, I didn’t know either he or the record existed. Bearing in mind that I do like good Tangerine Dream (I emphasise good because not all of it is) and have referred to them positively here several times in the past, this album is a logical choice to send to me, and I do rather like it.

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Tracklist

A1 Time Machine
A2 Silverrain
Atmosphere Part I
A3a Sunrise
A3b Altitude Flight
A3c Astralis
Atmosphere Part II
Ba Skywards
Bb Spaces Of Infinity
Bc Crystal Clouds
Bd Voices Of Infinity
Be Dawn

Further Info:

  • Remixed At – Star Studio Hamburg
  • Mastered At – Star Studio Hamburg
  • Recorded At – Studio Norgaard

Credits

  • Composed By, Performer [Played By], Recorded By, Arranged By, Mixed By, Producer, Liner Notes, Design, Keyboards, Synthesizer – Adelbert Von Deyen
  • Drums – Wolfgang Zabba Lindner (tracks: A1, A2)
  • Mixed By [Remixed], Mastered By – Lars Hidde
  • Painting [Cover] – Urs Amann

Notes

  • Recorded August 1979 to June 1980 at Studio Norgaard.
    Remixed and mastered at Star-Studio, Hamburg.
    Originally released 1980 on sky041
    (P) + (C) 2016 bureau B under exclusive license from sky records

From what I’ve read this is regarded as Von Deyen’s best work by many, and yes, while it is very reminiscent of Tangerine Dream that does not mean it is a second rate copy. It stands up well in it’s own right although, personally, I do think it tails off a little and I prefer side A to Side B.

Here is a classic synths on the beach image of Adelbert which was a requirement back in the late 70’s/early 80’s to have any credibility at all.

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I’m sure that there are people out there who will throw around terms like ‘Classic’ regarding this album, but I think you had to be there listening to it at the time to feel that way, the best I have to offer really is, I like it.

 

Vinyl Subscription Services

I’ve spoken before about being a member of a record club many years ago, this was for cassettes at first and then, later, CD’s. This model has been resurrected for vinyl lovers in various different flavours.  I subscribe to just the one, ‘That Special Record‘ , which I have mentioned numerous times and will again shortly, but there are several out there, so let’s have a look at them.

Wax & Stamp

Price: £26 a month

Wax & Stamp is a British subscription service that selects two records every month, one is an LP and one is a single and each week a guest selects one of them. These are selections that are outside the mainstream, as they say on their site: Wax & Stamp send out a wide range of genres, textures and styles. The only thing we shy away from is the mainstream. Every month is a surprise, as we don’t let anyone know what we’re sending out.Last month Wax & Stamp selected ALBERT / PERSON OF INTEREST -EDR002, the guest,  Martin Fitzgerald (RamAlbumClub), selected THE PARROTS – LOS NIÑOS SIN MIEDO which is a Spanish Garage Rock album.

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Here is a track from The Parrots album to give you an idea of what they sent out last time:

Flying Vinyl

Price: £20 a month, £216 a year

Another British service, but this time for exclusive 7″ singles. Focused on the Indie band end of the music spectrum, these 5 singles arrived boxed and with a booklet, explaining what’s in the box. There are alos often prints and lyric sheets included and at least one of the 7″ singles will be on coloured vinyl.

The last box sent out (October 2016 according to the web site, at the time of writing) contained the following:

Jaws – Right In Front Of Me / What We Haven’t Got Yet (On purple vinyl)
Annie Bea/DA7 – Luxury Kills / Dopamine Fiend (On colourless vinyl)
The Bay Rays – New Home / Four Walls
Swimming Tapes – Set The Fire / Souvenirs
Alex Lahey – You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me / Let’s Go Out

Jaws got the coloured vinyl treatment so, as an example, let’s have a listen to that:

Trax & Wax

Price: From £21.90 a month, £180 a year

Trax & Wax appear to be for lovers of the 12″ single which they offer in 5 different box options, Trax & Wax, Disco, Old School, Nu Skool and Techno boxes. You have a choice of 2 or 4 12″ in a box which depends on how much you are willing to pay, the standard 2 is the £21.90 option. As far as I can see you can change which box you wish to receive month on month, oh, and they are also British. Below is a selection of tracks they’ve listed as being in the boxes recently.

Vinyl Me, Please

Price per month: $23 (month-to-month), $25 (3-month) or $27 (annual)

This is probably the best known service of all of them. Vinyl Me Please delivers a surprise album every month and are focused on the deluxe re-issue aspect of the market, providing a piece of art and a cocktail recipie with every album (Nope, I have no idea why anybody would want a cocktail recipie but I guess some do). It appears that they are now 47 records in, and there are some there I’d like for sure, but some I would have no interest in at all. I guess that’s to be expected though. The latest issue, No.47 is The Books – The Lemon Of Pink, originally released in 2003, and it is a very desirable looking thing:

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Here is the track ‘Tokyo’ taken from this album:

Side note: they are actually on No.48 which is Nina Simone – Sings The Blues

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Price per month: $39 (month-to-month), $37 (3-month) or $35 (annual)

The above prices may seem quite steep compared to the others but this service offers 3 LP’s a month for that price based on what you like. You select a #vibe, which I assume is then based on your pre-specified music tastes and you receive records that are broadly within that category. They also do their own branded turntable and have a physical store (it’s in Santa Barbara, California. For people outside the U.S.A you will have to pay postage.

Vinyl Moon

Price per month: $30 (month-to-month), $29 (3-month), $28 (6 Month) or $27 (annual)

Vinyl Moon offers a rather different service by creating a compilation LP of 10 tracks every month. This is what they say is included as part of the package:

  • A compilation/mixtape of ~10 songs by great new bands/musicians.
  • Pressed on gorgeous colored vinyl.
  • Ultra premium record jackets designed by amazing visual artists.
  • A gatefold art sheet that features band info, lyrics, and single artwork for each track.
  • A members-only note about the music, art, and that month’s experience.
  • VIP access to the monthly record release party (Held in different cities)

Each monthly volume has a limited pressing, which must depend on the number of subscribers, so membership is, presumably, closely managed. The last volume to be shipped out contained the tracks below:

Volume 14:
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Side A

  1. Everything Is Green – “Drip Dry”
  2. Mallrat – “For Real”
  3. BF/C – “Temple”
  4. Pleasure Principle – “Let Me Hear It”
  5. PAIDEIA – “Restless Child”

Side B

  1. Arthur Wimble – “Hearts”
  2. Noble Oak – “All I Said”
  3. beGun – “NARI”
  4. Vimes – “Rudal”

 

Numero Group Project 12

Price: From £100 – £375

This is an interesting idea, which will be explained directly by the text from their website:

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These records won’t be available in stores and they won’t be repressed. We’re not issuing them on CD and the only way you can buy them is by joining the club. And that club? It’s limited to just a thousand members.

For listeners of a certain age, the recent news that Columbia House was at last filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection was met with a mixture of amusement and sadness. Columbia House thrived in a now-vanished monoculture of limited choices, offering seven (or eight or twelve or twenty) albums for a penny and following up with poorly designed full color catalogs full of a few hits and a lot of misses. Once hooked, a game began in which the warehouse would dispatch a record or tape each month—a surprise, almost always something unwanted— forcing the “club” member to choose between paying up or sending the thing back. And as crazy as it seems now, if you were from Terre Haute, Indiana, or Billings, Montana, this is probably how you got your music.

The 21st century is defined in part by an overwhelming panorama of choices. Especially in the world of recorded music, of which the near-complete history is available in two or three clicks. Want to hear Carly Rae Jepson’s Emotion? Or Ray Charles’ complete Atlantic recordings? You can, and you should. But the question remains—how will you find out about Jimmy Carter & the Dallas County Green’s undeniable 1977 private country-rock masterpiece? And how will you experience it with something resembling the sense of excitement that accompanied those seven Columbia House selections for a penny, the ones you actually wanted? Isn’t the predictability of unlimited choice part of what’s turning us all into such jaded monsters? In a world of unlimited access, we’re exercising some small degree of restraint. Like some poor kid stuck in 1991, we want you waiting by your mailbox. We want you to love every record so much that you keep the custom box it came in.

It’s cheaper in the US and about 50% more for outside the US, so 12 albums would cost you $150 in the UK (or $375 (rather than $450)if you signed up for all three series)

 

That Special Record

Price: From €28 per month with discounts for 3 Months etc.

OK, so this is my faviourite, which is fairly obvious as it’s the one I subscribe to on the 1 LP a month plan. I did look at most of the other services but this just suited me more than the rest and I can’t fault the service I have received from them. Although I have had major concerns about the records I’ve received before actually listening to them, they’ve all always turned out to be something that I liked (Which is a surprise in itself as I’d never heard of any of them). Miguel does a great job over there in Portugal and sometimes offers a more personal touch with a handwritten note or even a free 12″ included. I’ve been a subscriber for 6 months now and at no point have I considered cancelling my subscription, the surprise element of what will be in that months package is really rather fun and I do look forward to it arriving every month. I’ve also recently bought some LP’s from the store as That Special Record is most aligned among all the subscription services with what I am looking for.

As Miguel says: “That Special Record is here to help you discover the best outsider electronic music that’s currently being released on vinyl. I’m a record collector…literally obsessed with weird, obscure, interesting, outsider electronic music so I won’t sell you any records I wouldn’t buy myself. Less is more, that’s why our selection is small but carefully curated.

I also received an album by ‘Unearth Noise’ called ‘Prayer and Resonanace’ which has one of my faviourite cover images ever, so much so that it is in a frame on the wall above my turntable.

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There is also:

The Third Man Records Vault

Price per quarter: $60 for Platinum, $20 for Gold

Mississippi Records’ Community Supported Records

Price: Between $68 and $300

Did I miss some? Let me know and I’ll add them

Brannten Schnüre ‎– Sommer Im Pfirsichhain

The other LP I picked up in the That Special Record black Friday sale was Brannten Schnüre ‎– Sommer Im Pfirsichhain. Before I say anything more, I have to point out that all lyrics are in German, which I don’t understand, but don’t have a problem with. I was listening to Xmal Deutschland back in the late 80’s and had no idea what they were singing about either, but it didn’t really matter to me. I also had a great love for a track by Barbara Morgenstern, ‘Die Liebe (R. Lippok: Schneekristall Mix)’ which was on the album ‘Rough Trade – Electronic Volume 1’. So this Brannten Schnüre album being in German is absolutely fine with m, sometimes it’s better not to know.

Back when the Eurovision song contest wasn’t almost entirely sung in English I used to watch it just to put the subtitles on and see the translations of the lyrics, some of them were hilarious. Take the 2001 Bosnia & Herzegovina entry ‘ Hano’:

Even if the sun came out promptly at half past two
Even if from a clear sky thunderbolt struck me
You wouldn’t care, you wouldn’t wink
Much less when I call you, turn you head

Not picking on this song in particular, there are loads with terrible lyrics, it’s just the first one I found that I though mildly amusing. Here it is (I think) in all it’s glory ** WARNING – Catchy Chorus, you have been warned **

I’ve now wandered miles off track, so let’s get back on topic. The album was released in 2015 on Aguirre Records and is listed as Genre: Electronic, Folk, World, & Country – Style: Experimental, Drone, Folk. Can’t really argue with that, it does sometimes reminds me of a German Cocorosie. The album was a limited run of 300, which brings me to another topic, which is valuable albums of the future. There are a number of mail order vinyl companies in existence now that create album versions specific to them or supply the lions share of limited runs and it is these that are predicted to be the albums that will carry the most value in the future, but more on that another time, I’m drifting off again.

The record label, which you can find here, had this to say about the album and the group:

r-7472869-1442173248-1407-pngBrannten Schnüre is an experimental dark folk group out of Würzburg, Germany. Christian Schoppik composed and played all the music, Katie Rich whispers, recites and sings. Together they make astoundingly beautiful folk with a rich instrumentation leaning towards the atonal spectrum. Instrumental wanderings stand alongside Nico-esque poetry tales. Christian plays the accordion and in some songs guitar and flute. Inspired by hierophants like Nový Svět and David Jackman, solemn song fragments (a lot of old greek rembetiko-recordings) are modified and looped, with additional instruments and voices being integrated later on. His music has been described as “surreal folkcollage” and “german hauntology”.

With the emergence of Schoppik’s second project, a dada cabaret called Agnes Beil in 2010, Brannten Schnüre moved closer to the song structures of its frivolous sibling. The songs of Schoppik’s latest creation Sommer im Pfirsichhain are further accompanied by a female singing voice, lending the pieces the voluptuous quality of a stickily tense midsummer.  Sommer Im Pfirsichhain (Summer In The Peachgrove) is the second part of a quartet of releases. The first being Aprilnacht which got released on Sic Sic Tapes last year. Part three Geträumt hab’ ich vom Martinszug and part four will follow later.

Reference points are bands like Winter Family and Twinsistermoon. Music etched on folkloric, ritual elements transferred into the 21th century. Also worth mentioning is the hand-drawn artwork which is made by artist Gwénola Carrère. 

It does have a childlike quality at times, although more on the darker side of childhood, possibly because of the atonal German it is sung/recited in but also the music itself is sparse. It’s a strange mix at times, ambient, folky, electronic, drony and, as with ‘Lichter Am Wehiher’, looped, on this occasion a looped backwards vocal that merges into a monk like chant.

To give you some idea, below are three tracks from the album. I like it’s quirkiness, it’s strangeness. This music isn’t going to go shooting up any charts, it’s not going to be super popular, but, in some ways, that enhances its value as it exists far outside popular culture in a place where few wander, but it is very much worth the discovery.

Tracklist

A1 Vom Baum Im Hof 02:23
A2 Schweiss 04:05
A3 Urwald Auf Verkehrsinseln 03:58
A4 Feldweg 03:20
A5 Lichter Am Weiher 03:32
A6 Auf Dem Hohen Meissner 02:21
B1 Nachtmittagsschwüle 03:24
B2 Die Verwunschene Quelle 02:25
B3 Mithra Im Jardin Botanique 05:37
B4 Brüderchen und Schwesterchen 03:01
B5 Der Seegeist 03:43
B6 Pfirsiche 03:01

Baumann / Koek – That Special Record

That Special Record had a black friday sale with 40% off so it took advantage of that and picked up a couple of albums, one of which was a re-pressing of the 1978 self titled album by Baumann / Koek (Wolfgang Baumann & Ata Koek).I had a listen to most of it before I decided to buy it and without really knowing anything about it or them. It wasn’t until it arrived that I realised that it was from 1978. I’ve listened to it several times since it arrived this week and absolutely love it. To me it feels very much at that cross over point from Krautrock to Electronic, and the story below sort of confirms that.

The following is from Boomkat:

Bureau B give new wings to Wolfgang Baumann & Ata Köktürk’s overlooked Berlin school kosmiche opus, mixed at Conny Plank Studio, Cologne 1979. 

“Wolfgang Baumann was 15 years old when he learned to play the electric organ. Some ten years later, he had grown tired of the limited range of sounds the instrument offered and he sold it on the spot. Wolfgang and his friend Ata were determined to explore new tones and musical structures— with a synthesizer. Together, they made the trip from Kempten to Bonn with the singular aim of visiting the legendary Synthesizer studio Bonn, the very same store where Kraftwerk and countless other electronic icons went shopping for their equipment. The duo purchased a secondhand ARP 2600 and immediately began experimenting with the synth. They soon realized, however, that they needed more gear to create the music they dreamed of. Before long they had added an ARP sequencer, a Solina String keyboard and an EKO Compurhythm drum computer to their arsenal. Last but not least, they acquired a four track recorder and were ready to commit their music to tape.

baumann-koek-gerWithout a record label to back them, they pressed up 1000 copies and paid the production costs themselves. Having recorded all the music on the four track machine at home, the pair went to the expense of booking Conny Plank’s studio for the mix. The album was well received and the Swabian wholesaler Jaguar Records stepped in for worldwide distribution pressing another 5000 LPs. Japan proved to be a particularly popular territory, with radio stations picking up on the record. Sadly, Jaguar Records went bankrupt shortly afterwards. Baumann and Koek were disinclined to take on any further financial risk and decided against a follow-up record.

The music clearly references the Berlin School: a hypnotic maelstrom of sequencer patterns and swirling tapestries of mostly minor chords, underpinned at times by a computer beat. What really sets the music apart from comparable productions is the subtle influence of Arabian tonality which saw Ata Koek consciously introduce just a hint of Oriental flavour. If Baumann and Koek considered their “modest” equipment to be a hindrance, their music sounded all the better for it. There is a raw, unpolished quality to the tracks, a clarity which draws the listener closer, far more so than the bombastic productions of contemporaries like Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze et al.”

 

 

That Special Record – November

This will be a two part review, as I have received the ‘That Special Record’ LP for this month at work and can’t actually play it until I get home. So while I have 15 minutes of my lunch break left I will tell you that it is with some trepidation that I will be putting this on the turntable tonight. Why? well, let me explain. Once again I’d never heard of the Artist, which is not a bad thing, so I did a little search online and found some other tracks by them. The artist is ‘Senyawa’ and the album is called ‘Brønshøj (Puncak)’, which I didn’t find but the other tracks of theirs I listened too were really not to my liking at all.

To quote from Discogs: Pushing their powerful experiments further into uncharted waters Wukir Suryadi and Rully Shabara Herman has once again joined forces on a new Senyawa album. The combination of Rully’s extreme vocal techniques and the curious output from Wukir’s homemade string instrument, the bambu wukir, still sounds like nothing else on Spaceship Earth.

This is what I found online as a taster for what I was to listen to this evening:

Mostly nope nope nope. Not my thing at all. It’s all a bit emperors new clothes to me, some people say it’s amazing, pure art, magic, spiritual, exceptional and who am I to disagree? Except I do. It feels like a bit of performance art to me, which is interesting for a little while but once the performance is over there’s no desire to hear it again.

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The above was disappointing for a new LP.

So I will listen to the album tonight and, well, I may have a completely different opinion then. You’ll find out in the next paragraph.


Later the same day:

Godamnit Miguel at That Special Record, seriously, what the hell is this? I’ve clearly set the whole thing up above to lessen the blow when I hate the record you sent, except I don’t, you’re playing with my mind.

It’s not really like the video above at all, it’s much more produced, smoother around the edges and, I have to say it, the first track of Side 2, Brønshøj 4, is an absolute corker. The track list is pretty easy, it’s Brønshøj 1-3 on Side 1 and Brønshøj 4-5 on Side 2.

The bambu wukir is cello like at times and at others it’s percussive, and occasionally the dissonance is borderline nails down a blackboard, but not so often that it grates. There’s a nice ambience to the sound and to the music, drone like at times, occasional melodies, but most of all interesting, and surprisingly listenable.

I really don’t know what to say now, I wasn’t prepared for this. OK, so, it’s a nice artefact, a limited edition of 300 with a small print on the inside with some explanatory text and a photo, a screen print around the cover by Danish visual artist Kasper Lynge Jensen and, of course, the postcard from Miguel.

I was surprised, I always am, but having been prepared to hate this album, never more so than today.

Still slightly peeved about the cover damage though, which I blame on the materials used, it’s un-laminated cardboard, so it was almost bound to happen.

 

Saåad Interview

You may have seen my post on the album ‘Verdaillon’ by ‘Saåad’ that I posted in September, if not here’s the link:

https://verian.wordpress.com/2016/09/27/that-special-record-september/ 

Below is a link to an interview with ‘Saåad’ from ‘That Special Record

http://www.thatspecialrecord.com/blog/10-questions-with-saad

I really liked this album and still do.

That Special Record – October

There really isn’t much I can tell you about Milan W. other than that the W stands for Warmoeskerken and that I believe he is from Belgium.

I can tell you about the record I received though, titled ‘Intact’ and limited to 500 copies. With the benefit of just my own ears and no actual research it sounds to me like a mix of analogue and digital instruments, though I can’t guarantee that’s true, I believe it is and what this results in is something rather interesting. At times while listening to the album it feels like a soundtrack to a film I’d rather like but will never see, or perhaps a TV series, think ‘Ex_Machina’ for film or ‘Stranger Things’ for TV, maybe even ‘Humans’, actually, perhaps particularly ‘Humans’ as it is based around the digital becoming analogue, or robots becoming human (as is Ex_Machina of course).

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With instrumental music we build our own stories around what we are aurally experiencing, sometimes this fits the vision of the artist, but sometimes it doesn’t and it is entirely something of our own creation. As I know nothing about this album, the story I build whilst listening is mine and yours will be yours. This is a good thing. Also, I can hear influences, not necessarily deliberate, but I pick up Kraftwerk, some Tangerine Dream, Giorgio Moroder and I’m even, strangely, reminded of Ennio Moriccone at certain points, though this is mostly around the track ‘Data’ and is a bit of background whistling which is almost certainly an unintentional connection but it’s something I take from it anyway (it also reminds me of the 1956 film ‘Forbidden Planet, so it really is all in my head I’m sure).

I’ve enjoyed the album, I need to find more time to have a longer and better listen but yes, here is something I simply would never have considered listening to, or even known about, sent to me by ‘That Special Record’, it’s what they do.

A1 Venice (5:21)
A2 Data (4:01)
A3 Aurora (5:12)

B1 Hall (3:55)
B2 Drummer One (4:24)
B3 Capella (3:44)
B4 Contender (5:09)

That Special Record – September

Another month goes by and another surprise arrives in the post. This month the album I received from ‘That Special Record‘ was ‘Verdaillon’ by ‘Saåad’. Why not press play below now before you read any further so you can hear exactly what I’m talking about.

 

Listening? Good, then I’ll begin.

This current incarnation of Saåad consists of Romain Barbot and Gregory Buffier, who were once part of the Toulousian post-hardcore scene and have produced about a dozen albums so far. I did not know any of this before the album arrived this morning, frankly, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as post-hardcore scene anywhere, which is one of the great pleasures of allowing somebody else to choose an album for you. As I am quite a few months in now I feel that I can trust Miguel at ‘That Special Record‘ not to send me anything bad as there isn’t a single release I’ve received that I haven’t liked, to varying degrees admittedly, but I’ve never not played an album multiple times and enjoyed the listen.

I find the back story of this album really rather interesting, and I’ll quote it from the official release: ‘ Upon invitation of the local Les Orgues festival, giving them access to the Puget organ located in the Church of Notre-Dame de la Dalbade, they composed an original creation that In Paradisum is proud to publish under the form of the album Verdaillon.’
My only frame of reference  for the music is the above paragraph and the sleeve of the album:
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The front cover (above) depicts building works on a Monastery in Boulogne taken in 1954 by Henri Barbot and the back cover (below) depicts the 1926 collapse of a steeple on Eglise Notre Dame de la Dalbade taken on April 11th 1926.

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As a result, through my own imagination or by design, I am transported to catacombs, to a room in the back of a church where there is water being scooped from a font, to the end of a service where a full house lays their bibles down on the pews in unison. Workmen repair something broken in an out of the way apse, monks, hoods up with faces hidden in shadow chant as an old but magnificent church organ sustains long chord changes. And then there is the ambience. It sounds almost ridiculous to me as I write it but much of this music is constructed around a church organ, an instrument I never thought would dominate any album I would ever own, but the sound of it, in it’s original setting with giant reverberations make it a powerful, dark, brooding thing at times, but at others it invokes all those memories of church services attended as a boy where everything was so very serious, and mysterious, to the child dressed up in his Sunday best and not knowing what was going on, only that it must be very important. At other times the organ is uplifting, spiritual even, bringing light to the dull lives of the listening congregation.

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Puget pipe organ in the Church of Notre-Dame de la Dalbade
If you did press play a few hundred words back then hopefully you will, by now, hear exactly what I’m getting at. This is music that would sit comfortably as the score to a Gothic film thanks to it’s mood but although categorised as Dark Ambient, Drone and others, it doesn’t seem typical of those genres to me. It has a fullness about it, textures, layers and, with the field recordings, seems to be set very much in a place, in a way of life, that is fading still.
It isn’t for everybody but, to my surprise perhaps, it is for me. It’s been on repeat all day and each cycle presents something new for me to savour.I am not religious, and this is not religious music, but it is both spiritual and secular, simultaneously of yesteryear and of tomorrow.
Tracks:
1. Egregore – 2:26
2. Marsyas (Ad Lib) – 1:32
3. The Harvest – 7:07
4. Incarnat I (Subèrn) – 3:31
5. Opaque Mirror – 5:24
6. Incarnat II (1888) – 2:05
7. Eternal Grow – 6:01
8. Incarnat III (The Invisible Steeple) – 4:46
9 .Vorde – 7:50
Credits:music by Romain Barbot & Grégory Buffier .
Romain Barbot : grand orgue, aulos, vocals, grand orgue samples, field recordings.
Grégory Buffler : grand orgue, aulos, guitar, acoustic laptop, field recordings.
additional aulos on The Harvest by Patrick Faubert.
Grand orgue recorded by Patrick Faubert on 18th & 19th June, 2014 (Toulouse, France), additional recordings by Romain Barbot & Grégory Buffier (2014-2015).
mixed by Aurélien Prévost at BillyPan studio (2015)
mastered by James Plotkin (2016)

That Special Record – Unearth Noise LP & Maizena Boys 12″

It was great to receive another 12″ with my ‘That Special Record’ subscription, because it was a great 12″from Danish label ‘No Hands’. I guess it is a sampler of sorts as it has 4 different artists on it but they sit side by side really well and the listening experience is very consistent. By this I mean that the the chosen tracks flow from one to the other without noticeably effecting the listener, breaking one out of a mood so to speak, it flows.

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While I would like to present a rather more glamorous view of myself, I listened to this 12″ nice and loud while washing the dishes, which gives me an idea for a suite of music similar to ‘Music for Airports’ by Brian Eno. ‘Music for Washing Dishes’ doesn’t sound quite as intriguing though.

I can’t recommend the Maizena Boys 12″ highly enough. It’s a corker

Tracklist

A1 DJ Sports Emotional Endeavour 6:02
A2 Manmade DeeJay & Palta Improvise In Order 8:55
Fake Picasso Side
B1 C.K Log On 5:22
B2 Patla Fingerdansen 8:19

This months album is ‘Prayer and Resonance’ by ‘Unearth Noise’ which is an odd one. It’s a double LP with a wonderful cover, which makes me feel slightly odd if I stare at it for too long. Here it is:

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I haven’t had a lot of time to give this album a proper listen but I can tell you that on first listen I frowned a lot, either from concentrating or wondering what I was actually listening to. Then I took closer note of the album title and track names and things began to make a little more sense. ‘A place where prayers are heard’, for example is, musically, a perfect embodiment of the title. To provide some reference point, if you have watched the Netflix series ‘Stranger Things’ (which is a great series) and know the part where they are walking through the woods in the upside down world, then this track would slot in there quite nicely. It is both creepy and joyous, depending on how you choose to think about it. Have a listen and make your own mind up (but I am coming around to the idea that I like this track a lot):

Juno Records website had this to say:

In March, Izabel Caligiore decided to launch a label named after her superb Lullabies For Insomniacs show on Redlight Radio, with its debut release coming from the excellent Sugai Ken. Lullabies For Insomniacs now returns, proffering a debut LP from the impeccably obscure Unearth Noise. Full of clandestine mood pieces, droning textures, unsettling pitched-down IDM rhythms, mutant wind chimes and deep space explorations, Prayer & Resonance does a fine job balancing dark and maudlin material, with tracks that feel more gently positive. At 17 tracks deep, it takes a little time to fully take root in your consciousness, but the musical rewards are more than worth the effort.

They say it better than me. I feel like this is a grower, and it’s not all weirdness, ‘Sacred Souls’ for example, is a much more instantly accessible track, well, to my ears it is at least.

There’s still something unsettling about it though.

Tracklist

A1 Soul Surgery
A2 Ayahuasca
A3 Divining Rod
A4 Decoding the past
A5 A Place Where Prayers are Heard
B1 Message from the Dead
B2 Redemption
B3 Sacred Soul
B4 The Sound Is God

Violin – Gautam Karnik

C1 Eulogy
C2 The Mist

Violin – Gautam Karnik

C3 Sceptres
D1 I Have a Dream
D2 I Surrender
D3 Like Meeting God

Words By – Tanisha Jackson

D4 Another Dimension

Credits

  • Artwork By – Mario Martinez
  • Composed By – Roger Berkowitz
  • Design – Steele Bonus
  • Mastered By – Wouter Branderburg

There a soundcloud preview and a nice write up here:

Soundcloud

Overall I think I’m going to enjoy getting to know this album, it has some nice textures and odd dissonance which are a couple of the things that really appeal to me in music, even if that music has the ability to make me a little uncomfortable.

Another thumbs up to ‘That Special Record‘ from me.

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