February 26, 2016

Love, Peace, & Trance - Love, Peace, & Trance, 1995

Apart from the Discogs entry which lists its participants, I can't find any information about this house-influenced 1995 release produced by Haruomi Hosono. It sounds as if it was stitched together from a month-long experimental jam session somewhere amazing. Synthesizers, thick references to Indian classical music, and feathery vocals dominate, with flute, sitar, thumb piano, and gentle samples drifting in and out. Ambient and dreamlike, with slow building of beats. Other notable participants include dip in the pool's Miyako Koda, vocalist Mishio Ogawa, and Yasuhiko Terada, a recording engineer who worked on countless Yen records releases. An underheard release from an under-celebrated but prolific era in the career of the great Haruomi Hosono!

February 22, 2016

Ippu-Do - Night Mirage, 1983

Ippu-Do was founded by Masami Tsuchiya in 1979 alongside Akira Mitake and Shoji Fujii. The band released five records, but Tsuchiya went on to release a slew of solo records as well as tour as a guitarist with Japan. With Steve Jansen replacing Shoji Fujii on drums, Night Mirage is a hulking play between towering new wave guitar, skewed synth pop, and avant-garde synth murk, with shades of calypso and a nod to Erik Satie.

The version I'm sharing is the 2006 Japanese re-issue, which includes Masami Tsuchiya's six-track experimental mini-album, Alone (1985). They're entirely instrumental, brooding, and very, very beautiful. Enjoy!

February 19, 2016

Roland Bocquet - Paradia, 1977

French composer and bandleader Roland Bocquet's sprawling library/soundtrack masterpiece is a fantastic exploration of chanson, samba, flamenco, space pop, and European folk. Although diverse, the sound is unified by a light-footed sense of humor. A standout is the title track (below). I love the whispered vocals on this one. Enjoy!


February 16, 2016

Susan Cadogan - Susan Cadogan, 1976

An unusually romantic record from master Lee "Scratch" Perry. Sunny, sensual vocal layering from Susan Cadogan, whose voice I can't get enough of. Perfectly gritty reverb. Apparently this didn't attract much attention in Jamaica at the time of its release but it did well overseas, especially in the UK. I can't really think of anyone who wouldn't love this. Thank you Isabel for the tip!

Note that there are a couple small glitches in this copy--this is the highest quality I could find. Enjoy!

February 12, 2016

Richard Burmer - Mosaic, 1984

Complex, diverse, and engaging, this series of electronic vignettes is the debut from American composer, engineer, sound designer, ethnomusicologist, and musician Richard Burmer. It's a classic example of space music, a genre-scene popularized in the 80s by the nationally syndicated radio show Hearts of Space produced by Stephen Hill. When Burmer died in 2006, Hill dedicated a show to him entitled "Across The View."

Mosaics is a decidedly dark, cinematic journey to the ends of the earth. Every track is masterfully orchestrated to evoke strange landscapes and a cosmic nostalgia. At first glance you might think the Fibonacci-inspired album art hasn't loaded properly, but the image is in fact low pixel density as if to suggest that everything is an assemblage of small pieces arranged in repeating patterns (also, early self-reflexive digital art!).

February 10, 2016

Prefab Sprout - Jordan: The Comeback, 1990

Guest post by Nick Zanca (Mister Lies)

Anyone who has heard Prefab Sprout’s music at length knows that they are a band with zero-percent middle ground. You’re either enamored by their theatricality and ebullience or you find it incredibly irritating – but that’s not to say they aren’t a taste worth acquiring. For those uninitiated, the band was at the forefront of the British “sophisti-pop” movement alongside Scritti Politti, The Blue Nile and Aztec Camera – meaning heavy use of MIDI programming and plenty of early digital production gymnastics. What set them apart from their peers was frontman Paddy McAloon’s consistently highbrow songwriting chops – which, at their best, were wittier than Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter combined. Admired by the likes of Phil Collins, Arthur Russell, and Stevie Wonder (who would contribute harmonica on their song “Nightingales”), they are easily one of the UK’s best kept secrets.

On first listen, Jordan: The Comeback can be overwhelming – it’s deeply intricate, it covers a lot of ground sonically (gospel, samba, doo-wop and vaudeville) and plays more like a original cast album of a forgotten musical than a conventional pop record. For a songwriter who refers to himself in his own music as the “Fred Astaire of words,” McAloon dances around ambitious subject matter like nobody’s business – over the course of 19 tracks there are songs about the fall of Jesse James and the resurrection of Elvis before he assumes the character of God (!) on “One Of The Broken.” Along for the ride is the band’s longtime friend and producer, Thomas Dolby, contributing the technicolor digital synthscapes that act as the record’s constant.

This is an album full of surprises by one of my all-time favorites. Anyone who isn’t down to get cheesy might want to skip, but fair warning – you’ll fall head-over-heels for this album if you let yourself. Easily up there with Clube da Esquina or Selected Ambient Works Vol. 1 as one of the most rewarding deep listens over an hour long.

(For anyone who hasn’t dived into their work yet, I might suggest checking out their album Steve McQueen first as it’s a little easier to digest – but know that most of the Prefab die-hards I know consider Jordan to be the magnum opus, myself included.)

February 4, 2016

Carlos Maria Trindade / Nuno Canavarro - Mr. Wollogallu, 1991

Not really sure how to write about this one. Mr. Wollogallu is pretty slippery and there's very little information available about it online. It's split into two sections, with side A made up of songs written by Carlos Maria Trindade and side B of songs written by Nuno Canavarro, both Portuguese musicians, and both of whom contribute instrumentals through both sides. Songs range from the churning, Sakamoto-esque opener "The Truth" (which includes a sample from Network) to fourth-world, densely percussive "Blu Terra" with silvery sparse mood pieces in between, punctuated by spoken word samples. Somebody should make a movie just to have this as the score. Singular, transportive--this feels magical, in the truest sense of the word. Definitely an on-repeat record. Thanks to calm in trees for the tip-off.

February 2, 2016

Laraaji - Essence/Universe, 1987

Shimmering beauty from new age legend Edward Larry Gordon. 100% essential.