Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nirvana - "Bleach" (Sub Pop Records, 1989)

File this one under classic - I was shocked no one had posted it yet. Nice Kurdt Kobain (as he spelled it then) lettering on A, Dante's "Circles of Hell" on B. I've had this one so long I don't quite remember when or where I got it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pink Slip Daddy - "L.S.D." (Apex, 1988)

While the "Apex" logo is neat, this label is notable for its strange accompanying instructions: "This Side Starts At Inner Groove" / "This Side Plays Twice". Meaning, yes, Side A will play inside (near the label) to outside. Meanwhile Side B uses parallel grooves, meaning there are actually two tracks within each other - it's almost impossible to choose which one you'll get when starting Side B. For being a hand numbered release of 2000, I come across this record all the time in used bins. Pick it up next time you see it for a cheap record nerd party trick. Purchased 2009 at Record Exchange in St. Louis, MO.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Whines - "Hell To Play" (Meds, 2010)

I like this label for a couple of reasons: 1) it's a hand drawn label that's designed as if it weren't and 2) no where does the band's name appear - just the label name (and prominently so). Purchased 2011 from Forced Exposure.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ty Segall - "Spiders" (Drag City, 2011)

Actually, the last record I bought. This one's designed by William Keihn (just like that Oh Sees label I posted last time). The B side looks especially neat spinning at 45rpm.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tom Recchion – "The Incandescent Gramophone" (Poo-Bah Records, 2007)

The only 78 rpm in my collection, this record by Tom Recchion of the Los Angeles Free Music Society presents an audio collage made by layering various 78s (along with MP3s of 78s) and mixing/processing them over multiple times. 78 rpm proudly displayed in a throwback to a bygone era. Purchased Summer 2009 at Poo-Bah Records in Pasadena, CA.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Rob's House (2009-10)

Rob's House is another Atlanta label releasing mostly 7 inches. The top label was their old design and has appeared in several color variations. The middle label seems to be the newer design found on their records now-a-days - it looks like they have left behind Atlanta for New York (as evidenced on the label). The bottom label comes from Side B of RHR-045 (live at Rob's House Black Lips / Carbonas / Gentleman Jesse / Predator + DVD) and actually shows a picture of Rob's House, the basement venue.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Die Slaughterhaus (2009)

I'm back in Georgia for the Thanksgiving holiday so I thought I'd post some related labels. Over the last decade or so the Atlanta music scene has been very strong (for better or worse chronicled in the documentary "We Fun"). Several prolific Atlanta labels release almost exclusively on 7-inch vinyl - Die Slaughterhaus perhaps being the most visible because of its relation to the Black Lips. This classic red/black design (and star logo/flag) is ubiquitous in the ATL music scene. Purchased 2009 at Wax 'N' Facts in Atlanta, GA.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

AFCGT - Korin b/w Niche (Sub Pop Records, 2010)

I think this design fits nicely with the self-described "Sea Urchin Psychedelia" of AFCGT (A Frames + Climax Golden Twins). The nice fold-out packaging of the sleeve matches with even more abstract patterns. All too weird for 2000s Sub-Pop? Purchased Winter 2010 at Red Onion Records and Books in Washington, DC.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mono Men - Mystery Girl b/w Sin & Tonic (Estrus Records, 1994)

Thanks to Alexander for asking me back to do some more posts. I think I'll actually throw up some 45s this time and be warned: most of them will lean towards newer releases. Anyway, let's kick it off with this single from the Mono Men circa early 1990s garage rock revival. Purchased 2009 at Criminal Records (R.I.P.?) in Atlanta, Georgia.

Keysound (2011)

So yeah, I wanted to go out with a bang. Hence this kaleidoscopic image from the label on Damu's Ridin' EP. Plus this hypercolor jawn lets me wrap things up the way I started with a Keysound joint. One of my favorite memories is from July 4 a couple years back -- I was on an evening flight from Florida to D.C. I scored a window seat on the left side of the plane (a must for arriving at DCA because you get that nice view of the Car Barn at Georgetown and all the D.C. monuments coming in over the Potomac River). As we started heading east I peered out and saw fireworks going off all over the place below. Anyhoo, not only does this label remind me of that night, but it is a perfecto fit for Damu's chunes. This release is on some jump up say yeah let the games begin bass action. Maximal is the word that best characterizes the music for me. If you were driving the Rainbow Road in Mario Kart and instead of having to start over when you fell off the track, you got warped into some other next dimension -- that's what this sounds like. Hands down one of my favorite releases from 2011. Damu also has a full length that just dropped in October, peep the lead single, Breathless, quite a lovely one.

And like that I'm out. Thanks much to
Zander Stewart for cranking this blog back up -- definitely been a joy to participate.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Beat Master Records / Vision Records (1989)

There's a lot to like about this label, starting right off with the baby blue (I've read that the labels on the first pressings were light green) and the slightly off-kilter print job. The true beaut though is the logo for the Beat Master Records label itself, which looks like it only released this jam and one other Clay D 12-incher, "Give Me Head." I like how the logo uses three different fonts: 1) the pseudo hand written style for "BEAT," 2) the big blocks of "MASTER," and 3) the straight-ahead sans serif for "RECORDS." The line drawings of what look to be a variation on dueling Akai MPCs go for the win every time. It's a bit curious to me that the label went with MPC samplers given that Florida bass music is often associated with the Roland TR-808 drum machine, which looks quite a bit different.

I'm always on the hunt for Miami Bass-related records, which probably has a lot to do with the fact that the first music video I ever saw was for 2 Live Crew's "
Pop That Coochie." After a typical middle school day of getting yelled at by 8th-graders for wearing a bicycle helmet (a couple of enlightened dipshits liked to serenade me with the "Wong Fong the Helmet Mon" moniker), avoiding a "troubled" white dude who always tried to slam kids' fingers in gym lockers, and aimlessly daydreaming through Miss Bliss's science class about maybe sorta kinda trying to "go out" with a girl who played the saxophone and wore combat boots with short shorts, I'd kick back and relax at home by microwaving up some of that awful Velveeta cheese for nachos and plopping down to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation. One fateful afternoon I decided to manually flip through the channels and my life was never the same after I stumbled on The Box. It probably didn't help that immediately after pulling my eyeballs off the ceiling from observing the antics of Luke, Mr. Mixx and Fresh Kid Ice, I was then treated to the trip that is the Geto Boys doing "Mind Playing Tricks on Me." Up until that moment, hip-hop in my mind had really only consisted of Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" and this one girl back in Oklahoma that had a Public Enemy t-shirt. But aw man homey, seeing Bushwick punching his hands bloody on the concrete and ladies shaking it all over in Miami was a real instance of education as to what else was out there.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Discos Gas (1979)

Before I moved out west, I had to do a concentrated purge of my collection (downsized by at least 1000 pieces) and before I bought anything at the flea market I had to do some serious self reflection on whether or not I "really needed" it (as opposed to "really wanted" it). This was one that almost ended up on the chopping block as I was trying to break my habit of springing simply based on covers, especially cheesecake like a naked Mexican woman with one heckuva perm trying unsuccessfully to cover herself with an acoustic guitar (sorry, this is the one time Google image search has failed me, even with SafeSearch off). I know I know, shoulda been a no-brainer, but then I pulled the vinyl out of the sleeve, saw this label and the deal was done. The colors here are great -- the gray base and then what actually look like blue, silver, red and yellow bursts of light gas shooting out of the lower-case gas name. To give respect where respect is due, the direccion artistica was done by one Guillermo Acosta S. Unfortunately I'm pretty sure that the title is misspelled on the label as according to my bobo high-school knowledge of espanol, "serenata" is the correct spelling for a serenade.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Spitball Records (1977)

I haven't done any double postings this rodeo, but for this record I couldn't decide which sideburn shot was better. Side one gives you get a profile glimpse of just how enormous that caterpillar is, as well as that teethy oh-yeah-I'm-burning-this-solo expression. On side two it's all about how feathery those wings are. I wonder how hard it is to be a guitar player without any ears. All joking aside, the musician in question is Joe Diorio, who is one of those guys from the '60s that, as Jazz Times puts it, "has flown under the radar of the vast majority of jazz fans." The album is called Peaceful Journey and while I can't say I get down with these tunes, I am with the labels and the design work. Check the front cover for a look at that late '70s style.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cold Mountain Music / Sufi Islamia Ruhaniat Society (1975)

I appreciate that this record puts the Sufi dance before the song, but I think the vibe is a bit hard to capture on vinyl. There's a bunch of chanting of mantras and the like that you can hear, but it doesn't quite capture the hypnotic visual of the circular trance-like whirling (see this short clip from the film Decasia for a sense of what I'm talking about). The label here tries to do some of this work, but the first time I pulled this one out of the sleeve I mistook these two whitey dervishes as being awkward sleepers. I wonder if that's partly because whoever designed this didn't bother to trim out the space between them. Also, where the heck did their other feet go? I guess they can just kinda plant with the stump and then twirl.

PDU / Die Kosmischen Kuriere (1975)

This has always been sort of a mystery record for me. I hooked this one up in Baltimore in the same batch that included the Dream Laboratory/Auditory Assault LP, so obviously a strange confluence of records that day. Even after doing some serious Internet sleuthing, there's still quite a bit that I don't understand or know about this one. Maybe it's all in my head, but I think part of the puzzle might have to do with this label. You have what appears to be double Don Quixote looking character (take a closer look for the facial hair and eyeball variations), an Ouroboros (snake eating its tail), stars and squiggles and stick figures, and the Die Kosmischen Kuriere with some kinda ornamented serifed font. If you know what's happening, please fill everyone in in the comments.

Mutant Sounds has a pretty decent write-up taken from the web site of Roberto Cacciapaglia, who played the head cosmic courier here, about the concepts behind the music. I'm guessing it's a translation of the Italian text that's on the inner sleeve. I thought this passage was particularly mystifying: " I am aware, unfortunately, to be late by a couple of millenniums with respect to how I would like music to be intended and that in this day and age I find it diluted in its primary powers, in a time period that destructing essential values. For this very reason, I want to search deeply and not superficially for it, possibly altering the knob of a synthesizer to that of a marranzano." The last bit is a reference to the mouth harp on the front cover. Still don't get it? Yeah, neither do I. But the synthesizer sounds are nothing less than what you'd expect to be delivered by Cosmic Couriers.

For extra listening, I'd recommend Cacciapaglia's
The Ann Steel Album from 1979, which features this weird and great proto-Italo-disco clanker of a track, "My Time." Dr. Einstein, we're going supernova and there's not a single thing you can do.

Monday, November 14, 2011

American United / Cinema Educational Guild (1967)

So this is a case where the label really sets up what you're about to listen to what with the heavy impact font in black on the red background. Myron Fagan may come off all kooky like a crotchety old man who speaks through his nasal cavity, but damn he comes hard with the conspiracy theories. In this case, the C.F.R. is the acronym for the Council on Foreign Relations, which our dramatic speaker claims was created by the ILLUMINATI (they're big and scary enough to warrant all caps at all times evidently) "to control our elected officials to gradually drive the U.S. into becoming an enslaved unit of a 'United Nations' One-World Government." This was a three-record set, of which I only have the first. You can download all six parts on this web site, where you can also find "the truth" about the misinformation concerning global warming, Skull and Bones, and The Matrix.

One of my favorite LPs from back in my underground hip-hop days was
Outer Perimeter by Presage, a supergroup consisting of Mr. Dibbs, Jel and Dose One. The opening track is called "The Illuminati" and it has a healthy dose of Mr. Fagan telling it like it is along with Jack Van Impe and some other conspiracy-mongers that will remain untraceable for now until you know, like, new shit comes to light dude.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Diamond Records (1989)

This is one of those flea market finds that I debated over picking up (I was about to spring for two crates of OG Baltimore House singles), but I'm glad the older gent at the booth threw this in for free. The a-side is pretty straightforward with track titles in eggplant print. The b-side is where it's at for me though. Instantly reminded me of the Liquid Sky OST cover, but the black and white job works in this case. The "You are invited to expand your total self" charge always gets a grin. In my mind I always think, "Why yes, I would like to expand more than just a particular part of myself." Totally total. My favorite days at the flea market were when DJ collections would come through because a lot of times I'd find stuff with notes written on the sleeves. I've ended up with a number of singles from the collection of "CERONE."

As for the music, this is one erotic workout. "French Kiss" was
Lil Louis's best known hit. The full 10-minute version starts out just chugging and chugging along but around minute six or seven the sex styles kick in. Shawn Christopher gets her moan on in concert with a complete slowdown of the beat. Ish reaches a crawl and actually comes to a complete halt as she reaches her peak. Then the beat just comes in as furious as ever for another couple minutes. Yup, a burner. Check this video for a sample of what I'm talking about. The comments are worth a peruse too what with all the shout-outs from former strippers who say they used to poledance to this.

Presspop Music (2010)

One of the nice things about contributing to this blog is that it is forcing me to cull through my collection and find some nice labels -- but a side effect of all this is that I'm rediscovering some records I hadn't listened to in a while. This one, which features recordings of two collabos between Arthur Russell and Allen Ginsberg from the 1970s, stood out primarily because the packaging is really tight. It's a 10-inch and both sides of the cover have been letter-pressed for a textured but super clean feel. Looks like Archer Prewitt of the Sea and Cake did all the artwork, including the drawings of Russell and Ginsberg that ended up on the labels.

I choose the Arthur a-side because I thought it was a bit unusual to get such a close-up on his face. A couple years ago I attended the
Arthur Russell Symposium, a pretty amazing event just based on the attendees and speakers (Russell's family, former bandmates, producers and engineers he worked with, writer Tim Lawrence). While we were treated with a number of entertaining stories and performances, one of the details I remember now is that Russell wasn't all that comfortable with his face as he had a lot of residual scarring from acne. I thought the treatment on this label was tasteful -- and it captures a sort of haunted, or maybe concerned, look. I also choose the Russell side because frankly his music does a lot more for me than Ginsberg's yowling. Although I have been known to rock the Kaddish joint on occasion. For those who don't know much about Russell, well, it's about time you got familiar. I'd start with Calling Out of Context and World of Echo. For now, "Let's Go Swimming."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

More Record Company (1968)

So we were looking at blaxploitation in one my classes last week and someone began questioning the "authenticity" of phrases such as "you dig it," "don't take no jive," "right on," etc. in Foxy Brown. The subtext here is that the director, Jack Hill, is white, so there was some off-the-cuff pondering of whether or not a white person can effectively write dialogue for black characters. Um yes, this is what grad school can be like, but unfortunately no, it's not like this every class. Usually there's a lotta more talk about Adorno and Benjamin and Kant and shit. I finally had to speak my piece, saying that yes, the dialogue may come off stilted (for a taste just listen to the language in the trailer), but that it certainly didn't strike me as unauthentic. That's probably because I had been listening to Eldridge Cleaver of Soul on Ice and Black Panther Party fame laying it down in this speech from 1968 just hours earlier. In his write-up on the back cover, Reginald Mayor states: "Speaking and writing in that eloquent all balls language understood by black people, Cleaver speaks to all people with the insistence that they chart their own destiny..." All balls indeed.

This has become one of my favorite labels this past year. I dig the silhouette image of Cleaver speaking and the high contrast black and white works for me. Plus I think the logo for More Record Company, which as far as I can tell only released this LP, is pretty snazzy. The black and white fill on the label is actually the reverse of how it appears on
the front cover.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jihad Productions (1968)

I thought this would be a somewhat appropriate counterpoint to yesterday's label. Nothing too complicated in terms of design. Orange is my top color. Unfortunately the scan isn't quite up to snuff in terms of capturing the brightness. I do appreciate how there appears to be an attempt at centering all the text, but the song titles are off by a good quarter inch at least. But what song titles they are. For a taste of what this sounds like, you can check out this fanmade YouTuber of "Beautiful Black Women."

I did some digging on
Jihad Productions -- it's a hell of a name and not one I'd imagine would really go over so well these days. From what I understand poet Amiri Baraka aka LeRoi Jones (he's in the center on the cover) started this label but then only released three albums. Soul & Madness was the third. The second, A Black Mass, is one I've been searching for since I was in high school because this one old head at the local record store who managed for Sam Rivers was always getting me hyped about obscure Sun Ra records. I picked this up on the cheap at a D.C. flea market along with a handful of free jazz and Angela Davis LPs. Soul and madness for sure.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Western Electric Company, Inc. (1970)

So this one seems to be pretty complicated, or at least more than I'll have space to do justice to in a single post. The basics are as such: "The Dialect of the Black American" is an LP that ultimately argues for "the speech of black Americans" to be granted the same consideration as is "automatically" given to "the languages of other lands." The description on the back cover mentions how "the black man" was "wrenched" from "his African soil" and brought to America as a slave and goes on to to characterize the black experience in America as one that has been "slighted." The language here is all pretty laughable (to keep from crying that is). I guess one could argue that it was written in 1970, but that doesn't make it go down any easier. The lines that really had me cringing: "America accepts the preservation of her settlers' pasts. From Williamsburg to Chinatown, from Saint Patrick's Day to the Jewish New Year, she recognizes the wellsprings of her subcultures. This the blacks now require."

The kicker in all this weirdness is that the record was released by the community relations arm of Western Electric. Baffling, huh? You can listen to the record here, although as evidenced by everything above, I'm not quite as optimistic as the writer there about what this LP might represent. From the get-go the listener is presented with audio of "authentic" black talk, mainly angry women hollering at "Leroy" who is too lazy to get out of bed and yelling at their kids to "shut-up" and "don't slam that door." Check out the cover at the very least. I'm not going to say it's "fantastic." Regardless of any well-meaning intentions with the design, there's definitely something off-putting about a graphic of a black boy's head with a photograph of "the ghetto" superimposed over where the mouth should be.

I prefer the take from Detroit's Theo Parrish on all this with his house track "Ebonics." He samples some bits and pieces of dialogue, then lets the question of "How little have we gained and how much have we lost?" become a refrain. Now this is genius stuff, and Parrish does a mean ODB to boot.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

E.F. Hutton & Company Inc.

As the Wu-Tang maxim says, cash rules everything around me. This musty flea market find is ostensibly about exploring "contexts" for "the effective use of money through investments to improve your life." In other words, just get thee to your local E.F. Hutton branch stat and give them your dough. Oh wait, that joint is now Smith Barney, which is partially owned by Citigroup but 51% of that is owned by Morgan Stanley, making it Morgan Stanley Smith Barney formerly a division of Citi Global Wealth Management. Yeesh, I think we may need Mark Lombardi, much respect, for this case.

This features a lady offering sage advice such as, "Ask not what you can do for your brokerage firm, but what your brokerage firm can do for you," as well as a variety of suits talking with a weird slight echo on their voices about how the stock market works, etc. There is a short jingle at the end of the first track that starts out a bit cheeseball library-ish, adds some light synths and then what sounds like a recording from a trade room floor. Someone blurts out "100!" and then the tune ends abruptly.

Design-wise, I do find it hard to not get behind this blue even though blue isn't my color. The huge ass title and font makes it pretty clear what this one is all about. I also like the pretty prominent tag line hanging out at the bottom. I did a quick YouTube search because evidently the phrase was somewhat iconic during the '80s. This looks like
the standard premise for an E.F. Hutton commercial. I also stumbled on the Cos shilling for them. Too bad he doesn't actually utter the "people listen" phrase, but come on, that dude has always been for the kids.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc. (1958)

Continuing on with the sound theme, here's one with the ill communication from Ma Bell that gets right down to the real nitty gritty of how sound works. The description on the cover says that the record was produced "as an aid in understanding how sound is put to work for the benefit and pleasure of man." So not so much Sonic Warfare happening here. More like the entertaining roars of racing cars, selections from Pictures at an Exhibition and your standard stereo test sounds.

I like how most of the label is centered up, real clean and balanced. Always kinda cool to see the word "microgroove" printed. The left-justified track titles are straight-forward, I prefer the b-side with "Echo and Reverberation" and "Delay Distortion." Oh wait, phone is ringing, oh my god.

Radio Canada International (1972)

I thought this would be an appropriate label to follow something from Kode 9, who as Steve Goodman published a book called Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect and the Ecology of Fear in 2009. I got to thinking about this recently when some classmates brought up the "Operation Wandering Soul" psyop tapes deployed during the Vietnam War (this was in conjunction with reading the allusive and elusive Operation Wandering Soul by Richard Powers).

This gem popped up in Baltimore on one of my last digging trips before I moved out to the Left Coast. The minute I saw "THE DREAM LABORATORY" and "AN AUDITORY ASSAULT" handwritten on a plain white cover I was in like Flint. The vinyl itself turned out to be pretty dusty but possibly unplayed. There's no escaping the three shades of pink and it was hard not getting excited about the prospects of electronic effects when you see "(Fade out electronic effects)" printed on the label itself. In short, the story entails a doctor in "The Lab" who "probes and remixes the dreamlife of his subjects," which as you might expect involves some spaced out shit and electronic sounds. If you're interested, take a listen
here. Looks like the mastermind behind all this, Paul A. Green, has a couple other projects up here.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hyperdub (2009)

In my book, Hyperdub was king from 2007-2010. Every release, from "Archangel" to "Spliff Dub (Rustie Remix)" to "Need You" to "Please" to "Boomslang" to "You Don't Know What Love Is," was a sonic bomb. "Black Sun" was of course no exception what with label-head Kode 9 taking all the tension from Memories of the Future and reworking it into a synthesizer pressure cooker for the dancefloor. Every time I listen to this track I'm struck by how it seems to move forward and up and down simultaneously.

The label reminds me of a
Fennesz landscape on Touch Records from a while back. While that one was way gray, this one is much more of an apocalyptic after-future with a sea and atmosphere turned a hazy yellow. Certainly reminiscent of another Ballard short-story, "The Day of Forever."
I also dig the fonts used here, which were pretty much standard Hyperdub issue.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sonet (1977)

This is the second Sonet that I've put up on the blog, but as I sat down to do this write-up it dawned on me that I didn't know a daggone thing at all about this record company. So I hopped on over to the Discogs wiki and turns out it's one of those entities that's been bought and sold a number of times. Hence, releases ranging from jazz guitarist Tiny Grimes to Depeche Mode to George Thorogood to Bomb the Bass to Wilson Pickett. Curious.

As for the label, for comparison's sake you can peep a 1976 iteration I put up last year. Quite a difference eh? I do enjoy that they stuck with some sort of large pointed shape as the centerpiece. I dig the pseudo-surrealish plane and shapes and brick label name. Anyone for a game of Simon? I've really lost my taste for straight-ahead jazz these days, but damn, these song titles take the cake. "Romance Without Finance"? That's my kind of dating. Sorry love.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mo' Wax (1998)

When it comes to the record game I try to live with few regrets. It could easily get way depressing mourning all those joints passed over at the thrift store only to realize what they were later, getting to crates at shows a second too late and seeing dudes pull heavyweight shit, and the countless eBay auctions lost at the last minute. Right now I can only think of three moments that still bug me: almost hooking up the Sun Ra Batman novelty record at a flea market, spending way too much for a Solaris OST that turned out to be an '80s reissue (awesome cover though), and not buying OG pressings of the major DJ Krush Mo'Wax releases in one fell swoop during my froshmen year of college.

In terms of hip-hop shit, 1998 was still a real good year for me, Doomsday, Aquemini, Book of Human Language, countless promo singles from Slip N Slide. But Mo' Wax records were still where it was at as "trip-hop" hadn't quite become a dirty word yet. I will never forget pawing over still sealed import copies of Meiso, Milight and Holonic 'The Self Megamix' at my local record store. The prices of course were way too much for my non-job-having student self. I think I bought the OG Doomsday instead, which in the long run wasn't a bad move. After I got home I decided I was going to save up some loot to get the Krush LPs, but like an idiot didn't think to call and have them held for me. Two weeks later and a couple chicken sandwiches and required books lighter I returned to no avail -- they were long gone.

Twelve years later, I found myself in another record store in the same town. Lo and behold there was a copy of Holonic, and, even better than scoring the other Krushes, copies of both the Headz 2A and 2B boxsets. I can understand the argument that the music and the whole vibe that came with it hasn't aged very well, but I guess I'm still like fuck that this was my shit. Krush beats are still my music for long drives at night and Ben Drury's layouts of the Futura 2000 installation are still unbeatable. Mo' Wax please.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Public Information (2011)

This is one of my favorite records this year, partly because of the photographs on the covers and the label. The image above must be of the lobby of Robert Rathburn Wilson Hall, a high-rise laboratory that's pretty much become the symbol of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, or Fermilab, in Batavia, Illinois (take a virtual tour here!). It was the world's second largest energy particle accelerator until September 2011 when it ceased acclerating energy particles -- right on time for this release by ADR, Solitary Pursuits, on the new but already baddass label Public Information.

The photo on the label, taken by Michael Vallera, quickly got me thinking about The Drowned World, a science fiction novel by J.G. Ballard in which the polar icecaps have melted, turning a lot of the great cities of the world into tropical swamps that are partially submerged and completely overgrown with vegetation. There's pirates and lagoons and dreamscapes and, yeah, it's on some dystopian type vision of the future or maybe the present. (As a related aside, in reading about Fermilab, I came across this detail: "Weston, Illinois was a community next to Batavia voted out of existence by its village board in 1966 to provide a site for Fermilab." A world literally wiped off the map...)

I could try to run through all the biography and etc. on ADR (honestly it would be info I scrounged up via DJ Google anyway) but I'm more interested in the music and images. Suffice to say these are some synthesizer jawns that's on the melancholic tip. Kinda reminiscent of Aphrodite's Child, especially the vibe of "Aegian Sea." Some of this seems to be about space, not actually interstellar, but more so in an antiquated planetarium or shuttered particle accelerator experience kind of way. The track titles include "Post PC," "Mercury Retrograde" and Jupiter Rising," which should give you an indication of what we're dealing with here. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Keysound (2010)

With this label you get thrown directly into the city mix. Admittedly, we're just spectators standing on the curb, but this immediate slice of a scene is one of nighttime LDN in transit what with the bus zooming by. On the this side of this vinyl, there's a quote, "You, me, everbody on the 38 bus," and with the "38 EP" title, it's pretty clear that this release was made with a particular locality in mind. The picture has both movement and a sense of place, which I think works perfect with the music. The LV boys are locked into some forward tilted beats and unexpected sounds, while poet Josh Idehen rips it and I don't mean in a 1999 slam poetry kinda way. Also, their Routes full length is worth checking for with its get on the get on the get on the get on the get on the "Northern Line" track.

Recently there's been a palpable backlash against the concept of music or DJs taking you on a journey. I can think of a couple reviews in the last month or so, only one of which I can find, that try to reject "the journey" notion as cliche -- but then go ahead and fall back on it anyway. Anyhoo. The ideas of locale and travel in relation to music are recurrent themes with almost all of the releases on Keysound, which I have definitely come to appreciate. One of the label heads, Martin Clark, wrote a while back about how he was really proud that so many of the labels on Keysound had pictures of locations that were somehow associated with the recordings or artists. In a moment when it's so easy to fall into feeling like all music is becoming increasingly deterritorialized, it's pretty dope to stumble on sounds like this that are so firmly rooted in place.

And all of this is to say hold on to your hats. Now that I got Halloween out of my system yesterday, it's time to get on the bus, we're going on a ride with some of my favorite labels.