Another Muslimgauze post. This material was recorded 6 July 1993 in Manchester, but didn't get a release until 2003, when Soleilmoon put it out as a limited edition of 500 CDs packaged in a handmade tin box from India, then in another less-limited edition of 1000 CDs in a normal jewel case. I own the metal box one, so be jealous. This was the first Muslimgauze album I ever heard, and although I don't think it's the best to start with, it is probably top fifteen or so. Not very abrasive at all, very droney with a lot of shimmering keyboards and water samples. Long, hypnotic jams, with a very smooth electronica feel that you don't get on many other Gauze releases. When I first heard it as a dumb kid, I fell asleep to it a bunch of times, I liked it but didn't really get into the music until I heard Lo-Fi India Abuse. I was pretty dumb back then though, I thought psytrance was the pop of the future and that My Bloody Valentine's second album was the soundtrack to some sort of futurized "space-Vietnam" the same way the Stones' "Paint It Black" became a soundtrack to normal Vietnam. I mean, what the fuck?
The title track is the only song on this album that I don't like too much. The rest is excellent.
Muslimgauze - Arabbox (2003) 1/30/2009
Angus MacLise - Astral Collapse (2003) 1/29/2009
Shadowy weirdo and adventurer Angus MacLise was a member of La Monte Young's Theater of Eternal Music and later, on the recommendation of his roommate John Cale, the first drummer for the Velvet Underground. MacLise was not present at any of the band's recording sessions, and he quit in late 1965 when the band got its first paying gig (because playing music for money was selling out). He tried to rejoin after the VU started getting some underground credibility, but Lou Reed wouldn't let him. MacLise traveled the world experimenting with percussion and religion and eventually found his home in Nepal, where he explored various elements of Tibetan mysticism through poetry, drum loops and droney textures made with organs and found sounds. He died of tuberculosis in Katmandu in 1979, having probably the second best life of any member of the Velvet Underground (the first being that of Sterling Morrison, who quit the band to get a doctorate in Medieval Studies and then spent a decade as a tugboat captain).
Although MacLise left behind a large body of recorded work, most of it remained unreleased until 1999. This album from 2003 is representative of some of his weirder outings; it begins with some of his Tibetan mystic beat poetry and contains some of the most beautiful drones ever.
Astral Collapse (2003)
This is a weird one. Experimental space-opera recorded live on German radio in 1997, reinterpreting The Odyssey within the context of space exploration, the frontier as frightening and mysterious to us as islands of the Mediterranean were to the epic singers who preceded Homer. Odysseus becomes an astronaut, the Ithican characters his ground control, the monsters and gods that haunt him are constellations and the ghosts of space (such as Laika, the Moscow puppy who became the first mammal blasted into space, and who died very alone and confused in her orbit).
This was the sweet song
that the sirens sang
But my head was filled
with the sound of Big Bang
The opera was written by the poet/playwright Andreas Ammer and the music was arranged by Ulrike Haage and F.M. Einheit (of the group Einstuerzende Neubauten, see here and here; this recording also features Neubauten member Alexander Hacke as the voice of Telemachos). The liner notes credit Haage with keyboards and Einheit with "schlagwerk," which Babelfish renders as "rammer," but I gather to be some sort of percussion. Lots of the sort of tape-manipulated drumming you hear on middle-period Neubauten albums, quite a bit of creepy chamber-opera atmosphere and a lot of cello and theremin too, of course. It doesn't always succeed as an album, though some of the individual tracks are really great; the others probably make more sense if you understand German, which I don't. It's a pretty bizarre experience and definitely worth a listen at any rate.
Blind Guardian - Nightfall In Middle Earth
What is power metal? Well, just think soft-metal: falsettos, fairies, and ridiculous solos and you've got the right idea. Some fans would argue against this depiction, but you can ignore them. They play D&D, they own several swords, they have never know the touch of a woman: POWER METAL.
Now, this here is the only power metal album you should bother checking out, ever. "Nightfall In Middle Earth" tells the entire story of the Silmillarion by J. R. R. Tolkien. Here Blind Guardian tones things down a bit, turning out an hour's worth of mid-tempo power-metal epics, with surprisingly professional spoken-word passages throughout.
When I first started listening to this album, I thought it was funny. I also thought it was corny, slow, overblown, meandering... but.... Then I listened again, and again, and again, and then I started to love it in a completely un-humorous way.
Maybe it's the amazing choruses in "Nightfall" and "Blood Tears," maybe it's the guitar harmonies in "When Sorrow Sang", I don't know. I can't say enough good about this. Check it out if you're feeling virginal.
Pissed Jeans - Shallow (2005) 1/24/2009
Pissed Jeans - Shallow
Punk band from the philadelphia area. I read an interview with one of these guys and they know their 80's hardcore like nobody's business. Pissed Jeans has a sizable hipster following thanks to pitchforkmedia's glowing reviews, but they are legit. They're pretty weird, I can't think of any bands to compare them to.
Ghédalia Tazartès is an ultra-obscure French musician of Turkish parents, though not much else is known about him. He performs rarely and issues recordings infrequently. Musically, his style is a sort of absurdist opera characterized by alien soundscapes with bizarre vocal arrangements (both his own voice and samples). The voices on Ghédalia Tazartès recordings scream, whisper, cry, laugh, chant, pray, preach, lament and proselytize. They speak in many languages and in some sense channel all of humanity into a conversation that transcends them all.
The musical accompaniment is diverse, ranging from Middle Eastern strings and industrial drones through fuzzy psychedelic guitar and lo-fi synths that sometimes remind of the Residents' earliest creations. But the best reference point for me is :zoviet*france:, because this music, like that of ZF, is a sort of reinvented primitivism that doesn't just build on the musical traditions of the past but imagines the musical traditions that might have been. This is the kinda stuff that would be filed under "World" in an FYE in an alternate universe or another galaxy.
In my world it's really the perfect music and I'm not sure how I survived so long without it. Both of these albums are absolutely brilliant.
Une éclipse totale de soleil (1982)
Mare - s/t EP (200?) 1/19/2009
Flower Travellin' Band was one of the granddaddies of the Japanese psych scene, though their sound had more in common with their English and German psych-prog contemporaries than with their noisy Japanese successors like Fushitsusha and Les Rallizes Denudes. These albums aren't difficult to find, but I figured I would put them up here in anticipation of the band's upcoming North American shows (the band reformed after 30 years in January 2008; they were scheduled to play their first-ever US appearance in December but it's been postponed to the spring).
The most famous and essential piece by the band is unquestionably Satori, a startlingly original piece of cohesive prog that sounds like it was recorded on another planet. I'm also including Make Up, a live double-album that showcases the band's less bizarre (but still innovative and unique) proggy blues sound. It also happens to feature an abridged (24 minutes!) live version of the music from Satori, under the name "Hiroshima."
Make Up (1973)
Johnny Thunders - So Alone (1978) 1/17/2009
Johnny Thunders - So Alone
So Alone is a 1978 album by Johnny Thunders, then leader of The Heartbreakers and formerly lead guitarist for the New York Dolls.
After recording L.A.M.F. with the Heartbreakers, Thunders returned to the studio and recorded his first true solo album, So Alone. The album featured Heartbreakers Walter Lure and Billy Rath, as well as several well-known guest musicians, including Chrissie Hynde, Phil Lynott, Steve Marriott, Peter Perrett, Steve Jones and Paul Cook. The album contained a mix of originals, standards from Heartbreakers live shows, and covers, including the Chantays' surf classic "Pipeline," the Shangri-Las' "(Give Him a) Great Big Kiss," Otis Blackwell's "Daddy Rollin' Stone" (done as a duet with Lynott), and the New York Dolls' "Subway Train."
Trouser Press called the album "Thunders at his best." 
Great stuff here. I've been listening to "you can't put your arms around a memory" all week. My girlfriend is starting to get pissed off.
"So Alone" is not quite as good as L.A.M.F. but damn near close. Johnny Thunders did a lot of heroin, it's sad to see how bad he looked at the this point in his career. I would love to have another Johnny Thunders solo album as good as this one.
Exhibit A: his creepy, doped up lip-sync to "You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory"
Laibach - The John Peel Sessions (2001) 1/16/2009
It might make me a disloyal fan, but I think this and the live album M.B. December 21, 1984 are my favorite Laibach recordings. Neither are constructed as wholly cohesive concept albums, and on the contrary seem to deconstruct the Laibach ethos and humanize its members. M.B. December 21, 1984 preserves a moment when that ethos was just being founded, when the future of the group as underground political commentators was very much in doubt, and the free-jazz clarinet on that recording provides a funny but very fitting element; it goes with the martial drums and howling vocals perfectly, but also links the group to other avant-garde scenes of the time. It makes them seem less like the perpetual insider-outsiders they want to be ("we are the mirror image of the deadly curse") and more like the arty nerds they always have been. Likewise with The John Peel Sessions, recorded in two sessions ten months apart in 1986 and 1987, but not released until 2001. It features Dare Hocevar as bassist, who left the band not long after; guest musician Oto Rimele handles guitar. They sound like a young punk band here, and it's good. The longer version of "Life is Life" is especially great, gritty, crushing the cleaner and more anthemic version that made it onto Opus Dei. This is where Milan started to transition from the plain aggression of his punk-metal vocals to the bleak narration of his dictator-voice. The birth of a new sound out of nihilistic garage rock and military marching tunes: every minute of the future is a memory of the past.
The John Peel Sessions (2001)
Amon Düül II - Wolf City (1973) 1/14/2009
I put up two other ADII albums a while back, Yeti and Hijack, because they represented opposite instincts in the band: Yeti for ambitious experimentalism and improvisation, Hijack for more accessible and competent musicianship. This album, Wolf City, lies in the middle both chronologically and stylistically. It's definitely got that eccentric something that Hijack doesn't quite have, but I also probably listen to it more than Yeti. Check it out.
This is ripped from the CD reissue that includes three bonus tracks.
Wolf City (1973)
Britpop isn't cool anymore, or never was, particularly when it's as unabashedly 60s-nostalgic and embarrassingly Hinduphiliac as Kula Shaker, who achieved fame in the 90s as a sort of radio-friendly version of Tripping Daisy or the Flaming Lips. Those bands have kinda fallen by the wayside too: Tripping Daisy destroyed by the drug-related death of its guitarist and subsequent metamorphosis into the Polyphonic Spree, whose shtick was so earnest and vulnerable that even VH1 felt superior enough to make fun of them; the Flaming Lips burned out and overexposed, ruined by one too many lame Zaireeka parties held by stoner chicks with every Jethro Tull album on their laptop.
As for Kula Shaker, they were easy targets. Stoned and disconnected from reality enough to tell the British tabloids they wanted to perform with huge burning swastikas behind them on stage, not realizing that most of the Western world doesn't see these symbols as ancient Indian peace signs anymore. At the same time, contemporary enough in their sound that they got swept away with the backlash against Oasis and mid-90s rock as a whole, Britpop in particular. And they didn't have the indie cred of Tripping Daisy or the Flaming Lips to save them. People like me gave them up, switched our favorite 9th grade Doors t-shirt for a Velvet Underground long-sleeve, started following politics and went to college.
But there was a time, before the internet ruined music forever, that Kula Shaker and Morphine were probably my two favorite bands, and I'll never be able to fully escape Kula's best offering, Peasants, Pigs & Astronauts. The songwriting is solid. The production and arrangements are great. The cheesy token Indian music tracks work in the background for atmosphere, like tedious hip-hop skits. No matter how easy this music is to mock, it's inventive, and nothing then or since has sounded quite like it (including the album they released last year after their reunion). Highly recommended if you like the Lips, Tripping Daisy, or the really over-earnest 60s bands like Love.
And, I mean, it's better than fucking Animal Collective.
Peasants, Pigs & Astronauts (1999)
300 Visits 1/13/2009
We topped 300 unique daily hits on Sunday this week. Also, big thanks to Google Germany, who has us on the 2nd page of results for "japanese puke torrent." What an achievement!
Billy Childish & Holly Golightly - In Blood
Billy Childish is a songwriter man that you could compare to an extremely prolific hillbilly version of Billy Bragg.
Holly Golightly is a girl from Thee Headcoatees, the all-female counterpart to Childish's band Thee Headcoats. She also sang a song with the White Stripes and had two songs on the soundtrack to Broken Flowers.
I'm not sure what either of them sound like individually, but this album is pretty cool. Lo-fi Rock/blues with about 1 chord per song.
Here's a youtube of billy childish
Cluster - Sowiesoso (1976) 1/11/2009
Pioneering space-rock from one of the most underrated krautrock bands. This is a subtle, bewitching listen, a little bit sleepy but flawless in its execution.
High Rise - Psychedelic Speed Freaks 84 - 85
I saw this band listed as for fans of "Les Rallizes Dénudés," the sweet japanese psych band that tpot posted a while ago. (here and here)
These guys are also Japanese psych, but where Rallizes plays slow, trance-like psych jams, High Rise play extremely loud, sloppy, and insane crap. You're going to have to listen to understand the rest. It's really fantastic.
I don't know anything about this band so I'm not going to say much more. I would like to say that the production on this album pushes the limits of good taste, even for a "garage/psych" band. It sounds like it was recorded in a aluminum trash can, sent through the shittiest distortion pedal on earth, and then recorded with a contact mic strapped to a tin can... which I guess is pretty sweet actually.
This CD is a comp of their early material
Check 'em out
Coalesce / Napalm Death - In Tongues We Speak
4-song EP from two great metal bands. Coalesce's "Harvest of Maturity" is a fantastic shit-talk on straight-edge hardcore, and is only available on this EP right here.
This video gets pretty insane about a 1/4 into it
Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker (2000) 1/09/2009
Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker
His first solo album, and his only consistently great one. This is how country was meant to be played: by a New York City hipster.
Of the eleven albums he's released in the past 9 years, the only other one I'd recommend is Jacksonville City Nights.
Zero Boys - Vicious Circle (1982) 1/07/2009
Despite the fact that I do not know much about this band, "Kevätrumpu" was my favorite song of 2008. Here is some info from their Web site:
"Good to know
1. Paavoharju is from Savonlinna, Finland
2. We are not new-age hippies
3. Paavoharju is mostly brothers Lauri Ainala & Olli Ainala
4. Lauri Ainala is not female (or shemale)
5. Joose Keskitalo is not the chief lyricist of Paavoharju
6. No shirts, no shoes.
7. Paavoharju is against drugs
8. Our studio's name is Saunamaja
9. Ragnar Rock invented Paavoharju's name
10.We believe in King Messiah Jesus our Righteous Branch coming from David"
Laulu Laakson Kukista
2008 sucked for movies. Really sucked. Lots of over-hyped, disappointing crap (burn after reading, pineapple express, etc.) But there were a few good ones. I still haven't seen Syncedoche, JCVD, and a few other well-regarded ones. But anyways, here are my favorites:
Gay mayor, gets shot. Gus Van Sant.
2. Slumdog Millionaire
Wow, it sucks to be poor in India.
3. Man On Wire (documentary)
Clearly insane Frenchman tight-rope walks the World Trade Center
4. The Wrestler
Dude wrestles, Marisa Tomei shows boobies
Cute wittle wobot does cute wittle fings in post-apocalypse U.S.A.
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