December 30, 2016

Mr Fingers - Ammnesia, 1988

Was on the fence about posting this one, as its origins are dubious, but it feels like the best full-length collection of Larry Heard's genius, and if I had to pick one record to dance to tomorrow night, it might be this one. Happy new year!

December 28, 2016

Piero Milesi - The Nuclear Observatory Of Mr. Nanof, 1986

Guest post by Adam

I found this lurking at the back of a box of records in a charity shop in a nondescript part of north London. I’d never heard of Piero Milesi, but was drawn to both the title and the image on the sleeve, which turns out to be a still from the film to which this is a soundtrack. It depicts an enormous engraving outside a Volterra psychiatric hospital by patient Oreste Fernando Nannetti, who referred to himself as Nanof-11, an "Astronautic Mineral Engineer of the Mental System." While I’m keen to track down the movie (which doesn’t even have an IMDB page!), in the meantime I make do with the music, which is characterized by lush synthesized themes interspersed with moments of meditative calm. Personal favourites are "The Presence of the City" and "Mr. Nanof’s Tango" (which really begins to soar about half way through, so stay with it). Originally an architect, Piero Milesi created musical installations as well as soundtracks, so you can see why the story of a vast stone book recounting life in a psychiatric institution appealed. Earth to Nanof-11, are you out there; can you hear us?

December 24, 2016

20 Favorite Releases of 2016

In the spirit of the season, I wanted to share some of my favorite releases of the year. Obviously not exhaustive; just some personal highlights. Let me know if links are broken. Happy holidays!

Arthur Russell - World Of Echo, 1986
Bill Nelson - Getting The Holy Ghost Across, 1986
Cocteau Twins - Victorialand, 1986
Cocteau Twins & Harold Budd - The Moon And The Melodies, 1986
buy / download
Coil - Horse Rotorvator, 1986
David Hykes - Harmonic Meetings, 1986
buy / download

Double Fantasy - Universal Ave, 1986
buy / download
The Feelies - The Good Earth, 1986
buy / download
Felt - Forever Breathes The Lonely Word, 1986
buy / download
Geinoh Yamashirogumi - Ecophony Rinne, 1986
buy / download
Hiroshi Yoshimura - Soundscape 1: Surround, 1986
Isabelle Antena - En Cavale, 1986
buy / download
Janet Jackson - Control, 1986
buy / download
Just-Ice - Back To The Old School, 1986
buy / download
Linda di Franco - Rise Of The Heart, 1986
Nu Shooz - Poolside, 1986
buy / download
Riccardo Sinigaglia - Riflessi, 1986
Toshifumi Hinata - Reality In Love, 1986
Virginia Astley - Hope In A Darkened Heart, 1986
Zavijava Orchestra - Rivers Of Light, 1986
buy / download

December 20, 2016

Interior - Interior, 1982

A classic. Interior was first released on Yen Records, then later issued on Windham Hill with two of the more post-punky tracks omitted, and the addition of the excellent "Hot Beach." Confusingly, both the artist and album title are written as "Interiors" in several of the later pressings, and when you try to purchase the mp3s on Amazon it presents you with an unrelated album by "The Interiors." Because of the un-googleability of the album title, I'm not actually sure if there's a current version for sale anywhere--please let me know if you know. The version you can download here includes all tracks from both the Yen and Windham Hill releases. As an aside, the group's lineup includes Toshifumi Hinata's brother, Daisuke Hinata.

Having said all that, holy cow, whadda record. This seems to have one of the stronger cult followings of the Yen catalogue, and with good reason. Still feels bonkers that this came out in 1982. It's about as icy slick as they come, with a synthetic veneer that steers just clear of being too cheesy. As the name would suggest, it's particularly evocative of certain spaces: Hyatt lobbies, futuristic elevators, waiting rooms. (The cover art for the Windham Hill pressings seems well aware of that, er, interiority.) There's enough acoustic guitar and piano to ensure that you can't forget you're listening to a Windham Hill release, although I don't entirely follow the insistent categorization of the record as "new age"--it's too plump and plastic, too winking and too done up. (All good things.) I can't really think of anyone who wouldn't like this. Enjoy!

December 16, 2016

Patricia Escudero - Satie Sonneries, 1987

Another one from the Grabaciones Accidentales treasure trove. Virtually nothing online about the artist or the record, but suffice it to say that these are synthesizer reworkings of Satie compositions, except the synths sound more like music boxes that have been splashed around in dirty puddles in a dark alley. Hard to say how much of the murkiness is a product of deliberately damp reverb vs the quality of the rip, but either way, the crackly, sinister nostalgia is a major selling point. For fans of synthetic reworkings of classical pieces in the vein of Tomita or Wendy Carlos, except this one is way less shiny and could easily score an art horror movie.

Note that I spliced this together from two different rips of differing quality, and the tracklisting on Discogs is a little confusing (and possibly incorrect), so let me know if you notice anything off about the song titles.

December 12, 2016

Roberto Mazza - Scoprire Le Orme, 1991

Lino Vaccina and Vincenzo Zitello collaborator. Bardic harp, oboe, and synth all composed and played by Mazza. I hesitate to call Scoprire Le Orme (roughly "discover the footsteps") minimal, though it does get thrown around as such--it feels denser and warmer than what I typically associate with Italian minimalism. To me it feels like far eastern baroque; very courtly--my guess would be that Mazza tuned his harp to scales more typically associated with instruments like the koto or even the sitar. There's a dusty exotica sentimentality that reminds me of Finis Africae. A lot to love here. Hope y'all are having a very harpy winter.

December 6, 2016

[Mix for NTS Radio] Getting Warmer Episode 7: Voices Special

I made a two hour mix for NTS Radio of songs with vocals that are significant to me. I had originally set out to focus on experimental vocals, but I realized that so much of what might sound experimental to western ears—Tibetan chant, Inuit throat singing, Chinese folk—is deeply traditional, not experimental at all. Instead, I approached this as two hours of vocal milestones, be they from technical, stylistic, or emotive standpoints. It’s not possible to make a two hour comprehensive survey of strong vocal traditions, nor of the most important singers, though there are quite a few of both categories in here. Putting this together was hard, and while I could easily have spent years digging and rethinking, I set a month time limit to ensure that I would finish it at all.

As I was making this I also thought a lot about how Björk framed her almost entirely vocal record Medúlla as a response to September 11th--both the event itself and the subsequent wave of patriotism and xenophobia that she experienced as a foreigner living in New York. Making an all-vocal album was, for her, a coping mechanism and a means of trying to reconnect with what it means to be a human.

Lastly, a note that this isn’t as listenable or poppy as the mixes that I typically make, though I did try to arc it in a way that feels good. I’m not really sure what its ideal listening environment is--it probably involves headphones--so I hope that you enjoy it all the same! If you'd like an mp3 version you can download it here. Thank you for listening 💜

1. The Impressions - For Your Precious Love
2. Meredith Monk - Strand (Gathering)
3. Geinoh Yamashirogumi - Genesis (abridged)
4. Bessie Griffin & The Gospel Pearls - Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child
5. Philippine Madrigal Singers - Pamugun (comp. Francisco Feliciano)
6. Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes - Jusqu'à Ce Que La Force De T'aimer Me Manque (excerpt)
7. Emma Kirkby & Gothic Voices - O Euchari (comp. Hildegard von Bingen)
8. Björk - Pleasure Is All Mine
9. The Ronettes - Baby I Love You (Isolated Vocals) (excerpt)
10. David Hykes & The Harmonic Choir - Arc Descents
11. Unknown Artists - Sumi Yeinyo (Hani Crying Song) (Southern China)
12. The Beach Boys - Surfer Girl (Alternate Version)
13. John Jacob Niles - Go ‘Way From My Window
14. The Tallis Scholars - Spem In Alium, Motet for 40 Voices (comp. Thomas Tallis)
15. Geinoh Yamashirogumi - Doll’s Polyphony
16. Young Thug - All Over
17. Ghédalia Tazartès - Une Voix S’en Va
18. Yma Sumac - Taita Inty (Virgin Of The Sun God)
19. Arthur Miles - Lonely Cowboy, Pt. 2
20. Angkanang Kunchai With Ubon-Pattana Band - Isan Lam Plearn (excerpt)
21. The Hilliard Ensemble - Viderunt Omnes (comp. Pérotin)
22. Ustad Ghulam Ali & Asha Bhosle - Salona Sa Sajan Hai Aur Main Hoon
23. Patti Page - Confess (excerpt)
24. Monks of Gyütö Tantric College - Sangwa Düpa (excerpt)
25. Amália Rodrigues - Gaivota (excerpt)
26. Unknown Artist - Akazehe Par Une Jeune Fille (Burundi)
27. Anna Homler & Steve Moshier - Sirens (excerpt)
28. Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir - Stani Mi, Maytcho (Get Up, My Daughter)
29. David Hykes & The Harmonic Choir - Rainbow Voice
30. Lucy Amarualik & Mary Sivuarapik - Song Of A Cooking Seal Flipper
31. Dr. Octagon - Halfsharkalligatorhalfman
32. Judy Henske & Jerry Yester - Rapture (excerpt)
33. The Hilliard Ensemble - Sabbato Sancto - Responsorium 5 (comp. Carlo Gesualdo)
34. Linda Jones - Your Precious Love (excerpt)

December 5, 2016

Gino Soccio - Face To Face, 1982

Feeling heartbroken for peers, friends, musicians, and artists who have been affected by the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland. Like so many others, I'm unable to imagine what my life would be like without DIY, and often illegal, spaces for art, music, and living. These spaces are increasingly vital as cities become prohibitively expensive, and the news coverage that blames the victims of such a terrible loss is deeply upsetting. To echo others: this could have been any of us.

In the spirit of cultures that will, by necessity, continue to build beautiful things in marginal places, I wanted to share a favorite disco record (though to be fair, this record was a heavily produced chart-topper, not a homegrown experiment). This is one of my favorite records to dance to, and is also a rare instance of a disco LP that's solid all the way through. Impeccably tasty production--hard to say no to this one. Happy to keep dancing with y'all.

December 2, 2016

dip in the pool - Silence, 1986

Debut from Japanese duo dip in the pool. Fairly minimal, often baroque-leaning synth and voice arrangements, with deep, widely spaced drums that, in such a synthetic context, takes on a cyber-medieval quality. Standouts are the title track and the stunningly beautiful "Rabo del Sol," the music video for which is previewed below--it comes from their 1991 laserdisc release of music videos. Both those tracks evoke a similar mystical gravitas, a perfect vessel for Miyako Koda's straight-tone vocal sobriety. (Interestingly, though a handful of tracks pick up to a spronky trot--like "Hasu No Enishi" and "View"--and feel like obvious video game scores, it was a slower, more ceremonious track called "Ismeel" that was later used in the PlayStation game Omega Boost.) The duo recently released a collaboration with the Visible Cloaks geniuses on RVNG, and unsurprisingly, it's very good.