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Sal Klita Blogger

Tuesday, January 31

Three Books About Urban Myths.

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Year 1993

The people of New York City who live underground are most commonly known as Mole People. And it is no accident that the term conjures freakish images. I hope this book will reverse the horrible and striking image of "mole people" simply by showing what I saw & found. I hope the stories from the tunnels will bring a better understanding of the underground people. By writing their stories, I hope to dismiss the myth of animal-like underground dwellers, so that you, the reader, can come to know that mole people don't exist beneath the surface of New York City, but people do.

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Year 1997

Having recorded more than 60 albums over a thirty year period, Tangerine Dream are indisputably among the most prolific groups of our time, yet they remain obstinately resistant to categorisation and analysis.To some, they will forever remain part of the Krautrock phenomenon which spawned them. Many newer fans will be more familiar with the group through their soundtrack work for Hollywood movies. To others, the dreamy soundscapes of their mid-seventies period both predated and influenced the Ambient and New Age music of recent times.

In this critical discography, music journalist Paul Stump picks his way through a veritable minefield of releases, determining both the explosive and those which fail to ignite. Starting off by tracing the development of electronic music, he then assesses the shifting musical stances and varied line-ups which constitute the long career of Tangerine Dream and for the very first time places their mammoth output within an ordered perspective.

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Year 2001

From his first feature film, 'Fear & Desire' (1953), to his final, posthumously released 'Eyes Wide Shut' (1999), Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) excelled at probing the dark corners of human conciousness. In doing so, he adapted such popular novels as 'The Killing', 'Lolita', 'A Clockwork Orange', and 'The Shining' and selected a wide variety of genres for his films - black comedy ('Dr. Strangelove'), science fiction (2001 : A Space Odyssey), and war ('Paths Of Glory' & 'Full Metal Jacket'). Because he was peerless in unveiling the intimate mysteries of human nature, no new film by Kubrick ever failed to spark debate or to be deeply pondered.

Unlike many other filmmakers he was not inclined to grant interviews, prefferring to let his movies speak for themselves. By allowing both critics and moviegoers to see the inner workings of this reclusive filmmaker, this first comprehensive collection of his relatively few interviews is invaluable. Ranging from 1959 to 1987 and including Kubrick's conversations with Gene Siskel, Jeremy Bernstein, Gene Phillips, and others, this book reveals Kubrick's diverse interests - nuclear energy and its consequences, space exploration, science fiction, literature, religion, psychoanalysis, the effects of violence, and even chess - and discloses how each affects his films. He enthusiastically speaks of how advances in camera and sound technology made his films more effective.

Amazon Com

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A Reminder - When Hip Hop Was Still Innovative & Not The Trash Can Of Millions Of Rappers iT Sound Like That - Main Source "Breaking Atoms" 1991

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Album Review

Main Source's debut album, Breaking Atoms, is one of the quintessential cult classics in hip-hop history. Underappreciated compared to peers like A Tribe Called Quest, Gang Starr, or even Brand Nubian, the album probably doesn't get wider acclaim because it was recorded for the ill-fated Wild Pitch label, and thus remained out of print for much of the time its reputation was spreading. Group focal point the Large Professor is a fine rapper, but the album's legend rests more on his production — he debuts one of the most influential styles in hip-hop here, popularizing a number of now widely imitated techniques. Luckily, you don't have to know how to operate an SP-1200, or exactly what panning, chopping, and filtered basslines are, to appreciate the vibrant-sounding results. His intricately constructed tracks are filled with jazz and soul samples, layered percussion, off-kilter sampling effects, and an overall sonic richness. That's doubtlessly enhanced by the presence of two DJs in the group, who contribute lively scratching to the proceedings as well. The album is rather brief, clocking in at around 45 minutes even with a bonus remix, but there's also no wasted space whatsoever. The brightly soulful "Lookin' at the Front Door" is perhaps the best-known single, but there are plenty of other highlights. "Just a Friendly Game of Baseball" is anything but, with its moody backing track and extended lyrical metaphor about police brutality and racial profiling. Meanwhile, "Live at the Barbeque" is one of the most legendary posse cuts ever recorded, featuring guests Joe Fatal, Akinyele, and Nas (the latter two make their recorded debuts here). Aficionados hype Breaking Atoms as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time, and at least musically speaking, they're not far off. [A Wild Pitch reissue program was underway in the new millennium, but despite rumors, Breaking Atoms still hasn't been a beneficiary.]


Extremely significant for 1991's Breaking Atoms alone, Main Source's effect on hip-hop is nearly impossible to gauge, especially when considering Large Professor and K-Cut's contributions outside of the group. Consisting of MC/producer Large Professor (born Paul Mitchell) and twin DJs/producers K-Cut (born Kevin McKenzie) and Sir Scratch, the New York group came together in 1989 and debuted on Wild Pitch with Breaking Atoms — an undeniably classic album, regardless of its field — two years later. The group's production work, combined with Large Professor's masterful wordplay (from the brilliant baseball analogies drawn throughout the police brutality-themed "Just a Friendly Game of Baseball," to the disheartening romantic strife depicted in "Looking at the Front Door"), set a standard. While Gang Starr's DJ Premier is commonly heralded as a groundbreaking sampler and beatmaker, it was Large Professor and K-Cut who schooled him on how to master the SP1200. Not only that, but Breaking Atoms' "Live at the Barbeque" helped establish the careers of both Akinyele and Nas.Large Professor left the group due to financial issues and began to concentrate on production work. K-Cut and Sir Scratch continued the group and installed MC Mikey D. for 1994's F*ck What You Think. Though it hardly holds a candle to Breaking Atoms (to be fair, it would've been tough to build on that record, even with Large Professor's presence), the album was hardly an artistic failure, but it came and went without much notice. Without their greatest weapon, the group's second go-round wasn't given much of a chance. It didn't help that it took three years to reach fruition. Meanwhile, Large Professor was racking up production credits for Eric B. & Rakim, Akinyele, Mobb Deep, Nas, and Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth. He didn't make his proper solo debut until 2002, with the disappointing 1st Class.

Bio & Review By AMG

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Go To D L The Full Album - Thanks To The White Barry Blog

Sergio Mendes Is Still Alive....? mmm...Aint The Man Is Timeless Kind Of Guy? Well, No Doubt. At The Age Of 65, He Hit Again

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Timeless is the magnificent new album by the legendary Sergio Mendes. Produced by and featuring Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas, this album is a wholly original synthesis of music from the man who--40 years ago--brought Brazil 66 and "Mas Que Nada" to the world. Timeless beautifully blends the urban culture of Brazil, samba and bossa nova with the urban culture of America, hip hop and rap, the results of which are truly Nice. Putting together the project, Will and Sergio, of course, brought in the Black Eyed Peas. They also recruited some of the biggest urban-pop artists of the last several decades, each a Sergio fan, to contribute to various tracks. Featured artists include Erykah Badu, Justin Timberlake, India.Arie, Q-Tip, John Legend, Jill Scott, Stevie Wonder, and members of the Roots and Jurassic 5. (Info By Amazon)

Sergio Mendes

1. "MAS QUE NADA": Sergio & thought it was a great idea to remake it in a bossa nova/hip hop style, to expose it to a new generation on the 40th anniversary of Sergio's first recording of it.

2. "THAT HEAT": Contains a sample of "Slow Hot Wind" and it was Will's idea to sample it and bring Erykah into this very catchy track.

3. "BERIMBAU/CONSOLACAO": These two songs were written by legendary virtuoso guitarist/composer Baden Powell, a friend of Sergio's from the beginning of their careers, and Vinicius de Moraes. Gracinha Leporace, who is Sergio's wife and also a singer in his band for many years, is the lead singer on this track.

4. "THE FROG": Also recorded by Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66, this song, written by popular pianist /composer Joao Donato. Will's choice of Q-Tip for the track was a perfect one.

5. "LET ME": Also written by Baden Powell with English lyrics by the extraordinary Norman Gimbel (who also wrote English lyrics for "The Girl from Ipanema" and many other Brazilian classics) and Jill Scott brings her very special touch to this bossa-nova classic.

6. "BANANEIRA": Also written by Joao Donato, this time partnered with very popular singer/composer Gilberto Gil, and features a performance by Mr.Vegas.

7. "SURFBOARD": It is impossible to speak of the great Brazilian songbook without mentioning the gems written by Jobim. It was a perfect vehicle for this "marriage" between bossa nova & hip hop.

8. "PLEASE BABY DON'T": Written and sung by John Legend with a wonderfully warm, sensual vocal and superb bossa nova arrangement; this song is one of the jewels brought in by Will.

9. "SAMBA DA BENCAO"(Samba Of The Blessing): In another song by Baden Powell, also co-written by Vinicius de Moraes, Sergio and Will bring in the #1 rapper from Brazil, Marcelo D2.

10. "TIMELESS": In this wonderful collaboration between Sergio, who wrote the melody, India.Arie, who wrote the inspired lyrics, in which she reminds us that "kindness is timeless", and Printz Board who brought in the rhythm track.

11. "LOOSE ENDS": Sergio had the idea to use the intro to his own song, "So Many Stars", recorded in 1967, with a beautiful orchestral arrangement by Dave Grusin. Justin Timberlake started singing over it, creating a great melody, with very strong lyrics. Later Will invited Pharaoh Monch to share rapping duties with him.

12. "FO-HOP": Written by Guinga, probably the most important Brazilian composer of his generation, who is also a very close friend of Sergio's, this song is a rhythmic gem. It features Guinga, Gracinha and again Marcelo D2.

13. "LAMENTO" (No Morro): This song was one of the many jewels written by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes. The guitar arrangement was written by one of them, Marcus Tardelli.

14. "E MENINA": Written by Joao Donato, this time with lyrics by Gutemberg Guarabyra.. The vocals are again done by Gracinha.

15. "YES, YES, Y'ALL": This song was originally recorded by Sergio in his album entitled "My Favorite Things", which came out on Atlantic Records, in 1968. It works perfectly as a background for the very powerful raps by Black Thought, Chali 2na, Will himself, and sensual vocals by Debi Nova.

Listen At Amazon

AMG Page

Monday, January 30

Mt Fuji Records Released Debut 5 Track EP For The Triple > Wintergreen.

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In today's music world it's getting harder to find a band that takes an honest original approach to rock n roll. It seems like it's been a while since a new band has come along with music really worth getting excited about. The four unknown Midwestern transplants that form Wintergreen are working to change that. Writing complex quality pop songs void of gimmicks and clichés, their sound is a balance of high energy and melancholy atmosphere. Wintergreen teamed up with producer/mixer Niko Bolas (Neil Young, Keith Richards, My Morning Jacket, Fiona Apple) to put the final touches on their debut EP. With their first release, Wintergreen showcase refreshingly elaborate guitar work, catchy vocal melodies, and strong rhythmic backbone. Creating a heartfelt sound that is truly timeless, original yet subtly familiar, every note is played with a precise passion that shakes listeners to the core. Hard working and humble, the taste and talent demonstrated by LA's Wintergreen is giving people reasons to remain in love with music. Give it one listen and you'll be hooked. (From Their Own Space)

More Info About The Band Here > Here & There

First Video >
"When I Wake Up"

Their Space

Label Page

Label Space

AMG Page

Amazon Page

Thursday, January 26

Brand New Single By The Rakes!

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You'll be pleased to know that The Rakes release a brand new single All Too Human on 27th Feb 2006. The single is the bands first new material since the release of their debut album Capture/Release in August 2005. All Too Human was recorded at Livingstone Studios in London and produced by Elliot James and features brand new tracks Vitamin V and Watford the bands ode to the town!

Listen To "All Too Human"

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Their Space

Wednesday, January 25

A Reminder - Most Overlooked Hip Hop Release Of 2005 - "The Find" By Ohmega Watts.

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With a humble B-Boy swagger and original hip hop values Ohmega Watts first release on Ubiquity was a soulful and DJ friendly solo 12” featuring his group Lightheaded and Quannum Recording Artists The Lifesavas. “A Request” was an up tempo J5 party-style hip-hop banger with beats to rock dancefloors from coast to coast. While “Illuminate” provided a smoother buttery sound, and “Wind It Up” an instrumental mid-tempo flava…Most of the music on this 12” came together in a live, random, spur of the moment session. “A Request” turned heads worldwide including internationally respected DJs like Mr. Scruff, Gilles Peterson, Greyboy, and the Los Angeles-based Heavyweight Record Pool. Earning comparisons to Digital Underground and Pete Rock it also scored Ohmega Watts an album deal with Ubiquity.

“That Sound” is the massive follow-up single to his 2004 sell-out debut. It features up n’coming West Coast MCs the Procussions with Noelle from The Rebirth on the hook. The Quantic Soul Orchestra step up with a super tasty funk remix. “That Sound” is a bouncy party track sounding like vintage Tribe Called Quest or Leaders of The New School ala 'Scenario.' The Quantic Soul Orchestra mix has an infectious summer funk vibe, with instantly catchy guitar licks and Hammond organ adding a wicked organic vibe.

Producing since 1997 and MC’ing since 1993 the Ohmega Watts resume includes tracks produced for Mars Ill on Ill Boogie, for Listener on Mush, plus he’s recorded as Lightheaded for Day By Day Ent, and as Return To Sender on the Piece of The Action compilation. Hailing from Flatbush, Brooklyn, brought-up by Jamaican parents Campbell moved to Florida for college and then settled in Portland, Oregon. He is now part of a bustling North West independent scene that includes the Lifesavas (who appeared on his debut single), Boom Bap, Soul Plasma, Libretto, Lightheaded and The Blacknotes.

This Fall MC and producer Milton Campbell aka Ohmega Watts will come correct with organic and energetic hip hop, funk and soul on his debut album “The Find”. His sound is original, from the heart, straight no chaser music. The Find refers to both musical and personal inspiration and track themes span from crate diggin’ dreams and musical reminiscing, social commentary and spiritually charged story telling. Inspired as much by hip hop legends like Eric B & Rakim and Premier as contemporary electronic producers like RJD2 and The Herbaliser, and old school experimentalists like Shuggie Otis The Find pushes current industry-standard boundaries. “Sick of the monotony, we got the remedy” he declares in “Long Ago.” Most of the music is played live and re-sampled by Watts and a cast of supporting musicians - there are no loops or played-out samples and within tunes he often switches beats up moving from one musical vibe into another.

In addition to both MCing and Producing this album Ohmega Watts also knocked-out the cover to The Find. An avid designer he’s also completed work for Pigeon John, Adidas, Lightheaded, and even for the Ubiquity clothing line. (Description By The Label)

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"Mind Power"

"A Request"

"The Find"

"Where It All Started"

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His Space

Sunday, January 22

A Reminder - Hotels - "Thank You For Choosing..." Self Released Amazing Debut Album.

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Had my quarterly local music CD overdose on Sunday (it happens every time I have to assign CDs to our writers for an upcoming issue). Admittedly, it's not an appointment I look forward to with great enthusiasm, as it triggers several symptoms of various nature, including ear fatigue and feelings of guilt related to the excessive amount of NYC based bands and the inability to cope with them all in the magazine... Instant relief - of course - is provided by surprisingly good acts like Hotels. A band that will inspire those of you into sophisticated songwriting that also focuses on texture and arrangements. An emotionally detached voice tells you something in a casual way, while the up-tempo pop arrangement develops through catchy keyboards and tiny guitars with a surf edge. Between The Magnetic Fields and Stereolab. (By The Deli)

MP3 > "Atlantic"

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A Reminder - 16 Horse Power Live - "Hoarse" Out Now, Again.

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After being out of print for WAY too long, this amazing live document finally sees the light of day once more. Or more appropriately maybe, the dark of night. Even more appropriately, the star flecked deep dark night, viewed through the dense canopy above the deep dark swamps of the South. This is 16 Horsepower after all, southern fried, revivalist, back woods countrified gothic stomp. Bleak tales of salvation and damnation. And what better way to experience the fire and fury of 16HP than live, beneath the ol' patched up tent, set up on the side of a road in the middle of nowhere, pouring rain, with mudcaked boots and huddled townsfolk jostling for a chance to be saved, a night of testifyin' for sure, live and sweaty and fearsomely intense, fierce as fuck, but still moody and dark and really, really creepy. Sort of like Deliverance:The Musical or something. Squeezebox, acoustic guitar and drums never sounded so good. Or so menacing.

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Those of you who know 16HP know exactly what this disc has in store for you. For those of you who have yet to discover the dark joy of 16 Horsepower (now sadly defunct) you just might just find your musical souls saved. Or damned. Either way, a treacherously brilliant musical path lies ahead, numerous 16HP releases all amazing, two Lilium records (2/3 of 16HP), as well as several Woven Hand records (the even MORE Biblically brutal and emotionally menacing post-16HP efforts by mainman David Eugene Edwards).

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A handful of covers get the 16HP makeover. John Fogerty, Gun Club, and Joy Division all have their tunes somehow made even darker and more bleak.
Fans of Nick Cave, who were disappointed with his new shinier direction of late, and who still yearn for that misanthropic gloom, might find just what they're looking for with 16 Horsepower. And of course essential for fans of all things dark and swampy, who want their music steeped in fire and brimstone, confusion and misery, death and misery and the long hard road to salvation and the inevitable fall into damnation!
(Review By Aquarius)

Listen, Audio Clips:
- Mpeg & Real Player -

1. American Wheeze
2. Black Soul Choir
3. Bad Moon Risin`
4. Low Estate
5. For Heaven`s Sake
6. Black Lung
7. Horse Head
8. South Pennsylvania Waltz
9. Brimstone Rock
10. Fire Spirit
11. Day Of The Lords

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Sunday, January 15

Chan Marshall stops time. Cat Power Knock's On Y'r Door Once Again. Open It.

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Chan Marshall stops time. She sits at a piano or lays her guitar across her lap, and whether it’s a noisy club overflowing with drunks or a coffee house full of laptoppers, Chan Marshall draws all the attention in the room and makes the world stop spinning. As Cat Power, Marshall’s music seems to rise from nowhere, envelop the room, then vanish; listeners know they’ve been hit by something but they’re not sure what.

For 'The Greatest' (not a greatest hits, but the brand-new studio album), Marshall returned to Memphis, pursuing this time the slinky Hi Records sound of the 70s, famed for its sensuous feel and beguiling rhythms. She got Al Green’s guitarist and songwriting partner Mabon "Teenie" Hodges to play guitar on the whole album (Teenie co-wrote "Love and Happiness" and "Take Me to the River," among other soul classics). With Teenie came his Hi Rhythm bandmate (and brother) Leroy "Flick" Hodges, who plays on half of the album (Memphis A-team bassist Dave Smith supplements). Anchoring the band is Steve Potts, whose reputation on drums was solidified when the surviving members of Booker T. and the MG’s asked him to replace their late drummer, Al Jackson. Other top Memphis musicians guest on keyboards, horns and strings. Cat Power went right to the sources, and has created her own paean to the songs and styles she grew up on.

'The Greatest' adds to Cat Power’s singular sound all the elements that make an Al Green record great: Memphis horns, funky string arrangements, smooth background vocals. "Lived in Bars" is a hypnotic song that seems to start in the middle of the night and flow backward like water upstream to the source of a good time. Many songs hearken back to earlier in Cat Power’s career, like the surface simplicity of "Willie"—much more complicated upon deeper listen—and like "Where Is My Love," which sounds like it could be the first song she ever wrote, and also the one to which she has always aspired. "Living Proof," on the other hand, has an almost gospel-like swing that stands in contrast to the quieter songs. The ethereal title track is the missing link between Big Star 3rd and the 21st century; if Alex Chilton were today a beautiful young woman, he’d sound like this.

Recording in Memphis is actually a return performance for Chan Marshall. She first came to the city of Southern Soul in February 1996 to record her second album, 'What Would The Community Think?' The engineer on that session was Stuart Sikes, who recorded many sessions at the Easley-McCain Studio. Sikes leapt from indie-rock notoriety to mainstream prominence with his work mixing Loretta Lynn’s Jack White-produced Van Lear Rose, which won a Grammy.

This album was recorded at Ardent Studios, the renowned home to the Big Star legacy, also used by Stax as their alternate studio, and graced by everyone from Bob Dylan to the North Mississippi All Stars. And now, also, Cat Power. (Bio By The Label)

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Her Space

Matador Records

Discography & Lyrics

AMG Page

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'The Greatest' Lyrics:

Once I wanted to be the greatest
No wind of waterfall could stall me
And then came the rush of the flood
Stars of night turned deep to dust

Melt me down
Into big black armour
Leave no trace of grace
Just in your honour
Lower me down
To culprit south
Make 'em wash a space in town
For the lead
And the dregs of my bed
I've been sleepin'
Lower me down
Pin me in
Secure the grounds
For the later parade

Once I wanted to be the greatest
Two fists of solid rock
With brains that could explain
Any feeling

Lower me down
Pin me in
Secure the grounds
For the lead
And the dregs of my bed
I've been sleepin'
For the later parade

Once I wanted to be the greatest
No wind of waterfall could stall me
And then came the rush of the flood
Stars of night turned deep to dust

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Saturday, January 14

Mr. De' Release "Renaissance" On Submerge.

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Mr. De' a.k.a Ade Henderson-Mainor Profile: After over ten years of work as a producer and nearly twenty years of making electronic music, Mr. De' has a sound drawn from a number of funk-based urban sounds, blending them together into a composite whole that emphasizes up-tempo booty shakin' over the chin-stroking styles of techno. Following the release of his debut album and the continuing success of Electrofunk Records, Ade has solidified his position at the forefront of Detroit dance music.

Among the post-industrial decay of the once mighty Motor City Detroit he began to revel in the enriching world of music, first learning to play the piano from his mother, a gospel singer and piano teacher. Soon he began toying with drum machines and turntables, producing skeletal hip-hop tracks as a young teen.

Today, Mainor is the originator of pure ghettotech. At the helm of Electrofunk's distribution arm, he also controls the destiny of his fellow ghettotech peers in Detroit as they try and spread their sound outside of the city. Whether or not the rest of the world is ready for this Detroit-bred, post-modern style of urban music is an unanswered question, but there is no questioning the fact that Mr. De' may just be the most important man in that crusade. Starting 2005, Ade Mainor is now the President of Submerge Recordings. (Info By

'Renaissance' Tracklisting & MP3:

'Full Circle'
Eastern Harp - Alladin
Guitar - Greg C. Brown
Percussion - Raphael Merriweathers Jr.
Rap Chorus - L.O.G.I.C.


'Stechin' Out'

4. 'Sweetest Pain' (Album Mix)
Background Vocals - Mike Harris
Drums - Raphael Merriweathers Jr.
Drums & Percussion Arrangements - Tek Brothers, The
Guitar - Greg C. Brown
Percussion - Andre Womack
Vocals - Tori Jordan

Background Vocals - Mike Harris , Tori Jordan
Congos - Raphael Merriweathers Jr.
Lead Vocals - Andre Delanor

'On The Floor'
Lead Vocals & Guitar - Greg C. Brown

'Woodword Ave.'

'The Vine'
Drums & Percussion - Raphael Merriweathers Jr.
Guitar - Greg C. Brown
Sax - Darren McKinney

9. 'Space Odyssey'

'The Blues Pt. 1'
Guitar - Greg C. Brown
Percussion - Raphael Merriweathers Jr.

11. 'The Blues Pt. 2'
Guitar - Greg C. Brown
Percussion - Raphael Merriweathers Jr.

'Beyond Thunderdome'

13. 'Star Of The Story'
Drums - Raphael Merriweathers Jr.
Drums & Percussion Arrangements - Tek Brothers, The
Guitar - James Ford (3)
Percussion - Andre Womack

'Song 4 Sydney'
Drums & Percussion - Raphael Merriweathers Jr.
Guitar & Vocals - Greg C. Brown

'Do It To It'
Drums - Raphael Merriweathers Jr.
Drums & Percussion Arrangements - Tek Brothers, The
Guitar & Vocals - Greg C. Brown
Percussion - Andre Womack


17. 'Time Space Scrilla'

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Friday, January 13

The Cellar Door Sessions 1970...By Miles Davis...Pure Art Form. Eternal Exploratory Of Jazz, Funk, And Rock.

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When Miles Davis released Live-Evil in 1970, fans were immediately either taken aback or keenly attracted to its raw abstraction. It was intense and meandering at the same time; it was angular, edgy, and full of sharp teeth and open spaces that were never resolved. Listening to the last two CDs of The Cellar Door Sessions 1970, Sony's massive six-disc box set that documents six of the ten dates Davis and his band recorded during their four-day engagement at the fabled club, is a revelation now. The reason: it explains much of Live-Evil's live material with John McLaughlin.

These discs finally reveal the crackling energy and deep-groove conscience that Miles Davis was seeking in his electric phase. First and most startling is that John McLaughlin only appears on the final two discs. The first four discs feature a new lineup, one with Keith Jarrett who, in a first for Davis in the electric era, was the lone keyboardist after Chick Corea's departure. Airto Moreira and Jack DeJohnette are holdovers from the Live at the Fillmore East and Tribute to Jack Johnson sessions, among other concerts and sets that have appeared on many different records, from Big Fun to Get Up with It to Directions. The new players here include Gary Bartz on alto and soprano saxophone (he replaced Steve Grossman), and 19-year-old bassist Michael Henderson — fresh out of Stevie Wonder's band — replacing Dave Holland.

Davis was keen on having Columbia record his live sets, and pressured them to do so for these four nights, just a week before Christmas in 1970. This set is a solid look at what's in-the-can, since the vast majority of these tracks — three hours' worth of them — have never seen the light of day in any form. As Adam Holzman wonderfully states in his liner notes, this is truly the missing link between Bitches Brew and Dark Magus. This music reveals a truly muscular Miles Davis at the top of his form as an improviser and as a bandleader with the most intense and nearly mystical sense of the right place-the right time-the right lineup. These shows, played in a club instead of a concert hall, provided a virtual laboratory for possibilities Davis was exploring. The money for the gig was nearly non-existent compared to what he was used to making playing halls, so he paid the band out of his own pocket.

The music here fades in with Joe Zawinul's "Directions." There is a five-note bass figure that repeats almost constantly throughout, offering DeJohnette a solid bass from which to enhance the groove and dance around. From the beginning, Davis is blowing his ass off, soloing furiously in the middle register. Jarrett is filling the space, playing both a Rhodes and an organ at the same time. When Bartz begins to solo on soprano, the deep, funky groove is well-established, giving the musicians room to dig in and let loose. Jarrett's solo is like a spaced-out Sly Stone, offering back the groove and then building on it like a man possessed. He matches both DeJohnette and Henderson with a slippery, utterly rhythmic sense of pure groove and then moves them somewhere else until Davis brings them back.

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Disc two opens with Jarrett, Henderson, and Airto locking horns in a ferocious groove on "What I Say" that has the members of the audience showing their appreciation with shouts of "Yeah!" and "Blow!" and "You Go!" Jarrett's solo at the beginning is unlike anything he has ever played — before or since. As they move through the set and get to "Inamorata," the gate to heaven and hell is wide open. The spaced-out blues in "Honky Tonk" reveals Davis' total mastery of the wah wah he employed in so much of his material of the time. "Inamorata" is wildly funky, dirty, and outright nasty in places. But the middle sections offer, as Bartz notes in his liner essay, the kinds of vocalese concepts that are reflected in his solo, Davis' solo, and in the actual voices of Airto and Henderson.

What happens as the band plays each night is that the sense of adventure grows, while the utter relaxation and confidence in each member is carried through to Davis who pushes the buttons and in strange, nearly wordless ways, communicates what he wants on-stage, and the other players give it to him. There are so few rough moments here where someone drops a line or doesn't quite make it; when it does happen on that rare occasion, some other member picks it up and goes with it. And DeJohnette's drumming, in his virtual mind-lock with Henderson, is some of the best playing of his career.

The final surprise is when McLaughlin joins the band for the final two discs — he came down on Saturday night after an invitation from Davis and had not rehearsed with the group at all. The first set is not here, so who knows what transpired, or how the band got comfortable with McLaughlin. But the final two sets are here, and what transpires is revelatory because one can hear what was missing on Live-Evil: melody. Teo Macero and Davis edited the melodies out for that release. The intensity begins quickly with "Directions" on disc five. Henderson is a bit tentative at first, but Jarrett eggs him on and soon enough he responds with a vengeance. Bartz carries the wave in his solo, and Airto is singing the groove in the back. McLaughlin fills the backdrop with big, ugly chordal figures until it's time for his solo, and then he simply goes for it, digging into that bassline and DeJohnette's circular groove and he just throws notes at them, gunshot-like in the cut, and then moves out enough to carry it all somewhere else. "Honky Tonk" meanders a bit, but when "What I Say" shows up it's all aggression, hard-edged dare, and daunt. It's almost a challenge to the audience because the playing is so fast and raw.

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Ultimately, on disc six, recorded in the third set later that evening, again it's "Directions" that gets the nod, but this time, in spite of the trance-like bassline in the tune and Davis' driving, whirlwind playing, Jarrett gets it spacey, sinister, dark, and strange. Bartz's solo comes from the blues and is in stark contrast to Davis', but when McLaughlin takes his cue, it's all knots and folds, razor-sharp and driven, torn between fun and free improvisation. The tension is killer; Bartz's storm of grace and rage in his solo, coming immediately before, throws McLaughlin off for a bit at the beginning of his own solo on "Inamorata," but he finds a place to walk the razor's edge and does just that. The box closes with a fine, freaky version of "It's About That Time," where Bartz goes back to the blues and Davis sinks into the melody of the tune and quiets everything to a hush, slowing it way, way down to a whispering finish.

The Cellar Door Sessions set is like a combination of the Tribute to Jack Johnson set and the complete It's About That Time disc, with a watershed of information providing a complete bridge from one phase of that exploratory period in Davis' career to another. As Jarrett observes in his liner essay (each bandmember has one) after this date, Davis never played with a group as musically sophisticated again. And for all the ego displayed in stating this, one may tend to agree with him. Lavishly packaged and annotated, The Cellar Door Sessions is the last great reissue of the year 2005, and an essential testament to the genius Davis displayed in weaving together exploratory jazz, funk, and rock.

Review By AMG

Some Spoken Word About The Release

MP3 - "Directions" - 8:55 (cd no' 1)

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Thursday, January 12

10 Years To The Leaf Label...

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Celebrating the anniversary of any record label is always a strange thing, as the quality of releases are down to the bands the label chooses to work with. Still, ten years feels like a bit of a milestone. That’s especially true for The Leaf Label, which was launched by ex-4AD press officer Tony Morley in 1995 with no defined goal to even exist beyond the first 12", and whose 100 releases over the past decade hold little in common besides a united focus of artistry and innovation, exploring the places where electronica, jazz, classical, rock, folk and pop music meet. Leaf has continually offered up some of the most interesting music from across the planet, always celebrating artistic individuality, and was recently honoured by the influential US publication XLR8R as one of the 25 Best Independent Labels in the world.

A double CD retrospective compilation available at a special price, Check The Water is a celebration of The Leaf Label, and is released to coincide with a series of anniversary shows in London (October 25-29, 2005), featuring many of the musicians who have moulded the label’s sound over the years. Sequenced broadly chronologically, the album includes a stack of unabashed classics from the recent catalogue, including A Hawk and a Hacksaw's emotional cover of the anti-war folk standard ‘Portlandtown’, Murcof’s deadly 'Mir', Colleen’s found-sound lullaby ‘Babies’, the upbeat electronic pop of Psapp's 'Curuncula', Efterklang's uplifting 'Step Aside', Hanne Hukkelberg's honeyed 'Ease', and 'Apple or a Gun', a taste of what's to come from the label's latest signing, Chicago trio volcano!.

They’ve also taken the chance to dip a little further back, pulling a few long-deleted gems from the vaults, including Boymerang's still sensational 'The Don' (Graham Sutton's first post-Bark Psychosis outing, and the reason the label's here in the first place), Caribou's party-rockin' 'Tits & Ass' (originally a B-side), Four Tet's 'Field' (Kieran Hebden's first ever release under the Four Tet name), a hard-to-find piece by the more experimental Icarus (from their self-released Misfits album), and an unreleased mix of 'A Grain Of Sand' by the wonderfully peculiar Sons Of Silence, as well as our favourites from Susumu Yokota, Faultline, Boom Bip & Doseone, PJ Harvey sideman Rob Ellis and, as they say, many, many more. Twenty-nine tracks in two and a half hours.

There's enough warmth, melody, playfulness and passion here to distinguish Leaf from its contemporaries. Hell, a lot of this stuff still sounds like nothing else. The label continues to evade classification and build on its enviable reputation, with an ear for a tune and an eye on a desirable artefact. (Description By The Label)

To Get Into The Leaf Label U Will Have To Click On The Leafy Down The Page

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Wednesday, January 11

A Reminder - V. A "The Now Sound Redesigned" (CD) The Supervenient Project Dedicated To The 60's Perfect Baroque Pop Band - The Free Design.

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The Seattle label Light in the Attic began reissuing Free Design records in 2003, an overdue and most welcome development. Around the same time with the help of Peanut Butter Wolf they began roping in artists to remix and reimagine Free Design tracks. Originally issued as a series of 12" singles, the results are collected on The Now Sound Redesigned. A nice mix of hip-hop heads like Madlib, Danger Mouse, Murs, Kid Koala, and PB Wolf, electronic boffins like Caribou, Nobody, and Sharpshooters, and indie poppers like Stereolab, the High Llamas, Chris Geddes from Belle & Sebastian, and Super Furry Animals contributed to the effort, and you can gauge the reputation of the Free Design by the high quality of names who dug the group enough to be involved. Most of them kept large chunks of the source material, whether the pristine vocal harmonies or the ornate orchestral backings. Only a few deliver mixes that really hijack the originals, namely Danger Mouse and Murs (who turn "To a Black Boy" into a fiery condemnation of the prison sentence of a young athlete), Peanut Butter Wolf (who splices bits of Steve Miller's "Fly Like an Eagle" on his alternately head-scratching and head-nodding demolition of "Umbrellas), and Caribou (who stretches "Dorian Benediction" into an epic-length electronic symphony with lots of clanking bells). Otherwise the feeling is playful but reverential with numerous standout tracks.

The Stereolab/High Llamas collaboration mixes five or six Free Design tunes into a sparkling chamber piece. Madlib adds filthy funk bass and stuttering drums to "Where Do I Go," sending it straight to a place you never thought you'd hear the Free Design, the dancefloor. Chris Geddes and Hush Puppy add a heady sense of humor and energy to their hilarious and energetic take on "2002 - A Hit Song." Kid Koala and Dynomite D. essay a suitably restrained, scratch-filled, and doomy trip-hop version of the Free Design's most emotional song, "An Elegy." Surprisingly with a project like this, there are only a few dud tracks, Stryofoam and Sarah Shannon (ex-Velocity Girl) turn in a hammy guitar rock version of the wonderful "I Found Love" and do what had seemed impossible: they manage to strip the joy right out of it. Mellow likewise remove all the fun from "Kites Are Fun" on a cover version that should be titled "Kites Are Bland." And for some reason, Dudley Perkins thought it would be a good idea for him to ramble on and on uninterestingly over Kousik's bouncy and sweet mix of "Don't Cry Baby." These moments are easy to overlook when the rest of the album is so nice, sweet, and interesting. A fitting tribute to the group, and if it gets a hip-hop fan or indie kid to discover the original beauty and wonder of the Free Design, the collection will have done its job.

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The commercial failure of the Free Design remains one of the most baffling mysteries in the annals of pop music -- with their exquisitely celestial harmonies, lighter-than-air melodies and blissful arrangements, the group's records were on par with the work of superstar contemporaries like the Beach Boys, the Association and the Cowsills, yet none of their singles even cracked the Hot 100. The Free Design originally comprised siblings Chris, Bruce and Sandy Dedrick, natives of Delevan, New York whose father Art served as a trombonist and arranger with Vaughn Monroe; when Chris moved to New York City in 1966 to attend the Manhattan School of Music, he recruited Bruce (now living on Long Island) and Sandy (a teacher in Queens) to form a folk group, and soon the trio emerged as a popular attraction on the Greenwich Village coffeehouse circuit.

In time Chris began composing original material for the Free Design to perform, and with the assistance of their father, the siblings cut a demo, ultimately signing with producer Enoch Light's audiophile label Project 3. The title track from their 1967 debut LP Kites Are Fun was also their first single, cracking the Top 40 on the Billboard adult contemporary chart but reaching only number 114 on the pop chart -- somewhat amazingly, it was the Free Design's biggest hit. Another Dedrick sister, Ellen, joined the group after graduating high school, making her debut on 1968's You Could Be Born Again. "2002--A Hit Song," from 1969's Heaven/Earth, satirically addressed the Free Design's continuing inability to make a commercial impact, but still the group's chart woes continued, and with their next effort, 1970's Songs for Very Important People, they targeted a new audience -- children.

Stars/Time/Bubbles/Love, also released in 1970, returned the Free Design to their adult constituency; after issuing One by One two years later, the group was dropped by Project 3, at which time they relocated from New York to Canada. There Chris Dedrick recorded a solo album, Be Free, which went unreleased; signing to the Ambrotype label, the Free Design recorded one final LP, 1973's There Is a Song, before disbanding in 1975. In the years to follow, Chris remained the most musically active sibling, forming the choral ensemble Star Scape Singers as well as arranging and composing for the Canadian Brass. He also won a series of Gemini Awards for his scores for Canadian film and television productions. By the 1990s, hipster favorites including Cornelius, Pizzicato 5 and Louis Philippe were regularly citing the Free Design as a key influence, resulting in the 1998 release of Kites Are Fun: The Best of the Free Design. The new millennium saw the Free Design convene for another album -- 2001's Cosmic Peekaboo -- which gathered Sandy, Chris, and Bruce Dedrick back together again.

Album Review & Bio By AMG

LABEL PAGE (go to listen)

Review On "Cosmic Peekaboo" Comeback album From 2001

Austin TX Keeps The Attack Determinedly With The Amazing Debut EP By The Black Angels. The Full Album Will Come On Mars.

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Armed with the home-grown mantra "Turn On, Tune In, Drone Out" from deep in the heart of Texas, The Black Angels ring real and rugged like a red moonlit night. Formed in May of 2004, the band's sanctimonious holy racket was born out of life-long friendships drawn up in blood and sealed with a kiss. Their self proclaimed "Native American Drone 'N' Roll" genre has progressed from communal living and the members eclectic upbringings; Bassist Ryan was born on a cult compound, guitarist Bland is the real deal son of a Texas preacher man, organ player Raines grew up in a mortuary, and drummer Bailey and vocalist Maas believe a little girl in a red linen dress haunts the group's home.

Stephanie Bailey - Drums & Percussion
Christian Bland - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Alex Maas - Lead Vocals, Guitars
Jennifer Raines - The Drone Machine/Organ
Nate Ryan - Bass, Guitar
Richard Whymark - Projection

Taking their name from the classic Velvet Underground tune "The Black Angel's Death Song", these Angels are far more than classic revisionists with extensive record collections. This is heavy-duty psychedelic rock with an incessant primitive beat that echoes the spirit of the 13th Floor Elevators and early Stones as witnesses to one of their epic 3-hour multimedia hometown performances will attest. The Black Angels reverberate madly with shards of fuzzed out guitar, submarine bass lines, tom-tom fuelled drumming, kaleidoscopic keys, and world-weary singing.

With strong success in and around the out-skirts of Austin, a city literally exploding with music, it was the prolific hard working band's sold-out west coast summer 2005 tour that generated increased domestic and overseas buzz; including solid press coverage and exclusive spins on BBC Radio by Zane Lowe. Ready and willing to embrace the task at hand, The Black Angels will begin constant touring of North America, UK & Europe throughout 2005-06 in support of an EP scheduled for release October 18 and a promising debut album that will hit the street early next year. (Description By The Label)

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Tuesday, January 10

AM Syndicate, The New Eclectic & Magnetic Voice Of Intelligent Austin TX Musicians.

AM Syndicate should ring few British residents' bells – they are, after all, a relatively recently assembled ensemble from Texas with no more than a pair of demos behind them (that said, one of those exquisitely packaged demos did find itself reviewed here). Bells, though, should be sounded at once: come one, come all, to this little Empire, through the gates before thee, where mighty champions of the prog-rock cause weave mysterious riffs while a heavenly string section slices the air with bows ablaze. A place where flowers suckle on the juices of butterflies, where trees fall from oversized acorns like a shopping bag split open on a high street, painting the paving slabs pink with spilled strawberries, crushed underfoot by something beastly. A place staggering so slightly from the straight and narrow of the normal that some mightn’t notice any difference; those with magpie eyes, though, will soak everything in like a sponge before squeezing their collected experiences – tales of the strange and obscure, the frightening and alien – over each and every fellow that treads the same path they walk so carefully. A veer awry and all is lost to the demons in the depths of the forest, the red eyes in the black scrub coming alive and stealing back whatever they left exposed over the course of nine songs, of nine adventures into a world of the fantastical.

It’s in every sense deliberate, you understand: AM Syndicate give these songs as gifts, knowledgeable that the weak will succumb to their subliminal whims. Come to the forest of the Empire, do; bring with you only water enough for one way; you’re ours to keep as we will. The weak will come on the back of hooks designed to hang a selection of comparisons upon, hooks to which no real comparison can ever really attach itself. But, since without such measures no good can come of the otherwise rambled: AM Syndicate drink from the same tainted streams as ...Trail Of Dead, and their ambition beyond the constraints of what will sell – of what is deemed fashionable in the world they only co-inhabit – is on a level with any long-forgotten prog-rock beast; their minstrels sing a song born of folk’s own lore, too, when it suits them. Hear: ‘Textura Aspero’ is Espers by way of Dead Meadow, strings sighing their last as a cloaked assailant, who tempted them into its lair with Pied Piper precision, gently buries a blade deep and clean. Listen hard and the sound of blood falling onto a floor of stone and skin can be heard, against the crackle of a record’s final groove and its arm’s return to the point of origin. ‘Love Dumpster’ matches lullaby piano and wonderful violin work with words of a soul lost to wander alone, forever; its fate in its own sinewy-fingered hands.

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Humour is not lost, whatever horrors await wayward souls: AM Syndicate tells us that a song is called ‘Ode To The Office Goat’, when it’s apparent that they know not what an office is. Goats, they understand: in times of hardship they slay them for all they offer forth. A voice – perhaps, although it does not seem of this world – sings for all a call, like a siren wishing passing sailors onto rocks unseen beneath apparently calm seas. Then, drums. Then, what sounds like a transmission from the other side of the sky; its message is muddled, reduced to chimes and chirps, but it surely carries word of warning. Pace is gained, tension builds, volume increases; every nerve burns. And then everything collapses – the soil about you disintegrates; the sky above falls, bringing with it every star upon which you once wished; the underworld calls but your waking hour battles valiantly against talk of children dying and the washing of blood from hands that have become so used to the staining, day in day out. A cackle echoes as eyes accept the light once more, pupils aching as retinas become accustomed once more to the realm of reality.

Flinch, realisation, progression: tasks are resumed but the blood remains cold, the senses remain heightened, a state of alert a residual effect that’s impossible to shift. The foxhole is lined, forever – return journeys will only see it contract, trapping one within its silken grip, its spears retracted until fluids require replenishing. No more trips on a whim, no more background-only airings. Development is no longer arrested, a dead stop straightened, and the writer can attempt to tackle the record that’s not at hand’s but arm’s length, just in case.

‘Attempt’ being the operative word. (Review By Drowned In Sound)

Mp3 > "Kicking A Sailor In The Teeth"

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What's Wrong M.I.A? It's Only The Small Jahcoozi BliP hOP SOUND!

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Blip hop, ragga-tech, RnB punk, click pop illectronica? Pop? A Shakespeare’s Sister - Neptunes collabo?!! These are just a few the ways in which people have tried to even begin to describe Jahcoozi. In 2003 Jahcoozi starting playing on the Berlin underground circuit. Cult gigs include their first ever in the former squatter institution the ‘Eimer’, the legendary ‘Neu Kצlln Dresses’ Show at Camp Tipsy and their infamous Doner Lounge gig, which of course took place in the back of a Doner Kebab shop in Kreuzberg. Even a prevously squatted East German fishing trawler haboured in Poland has hosted a Jahcoozi show! Jahcoozi gained respect for their freaky live shows. They also made a name for themselves with their debut ‘Fish’ EP which came out on the Berlin club label WMF Records in July 2003. After John Peel played Fish a few times on his BBC radio show and the De-Bug listed the EP as one of its favourites, Jahcoozi were invited to play at Marke B, a Berlin music festival presented by the Wire magazine. ‘Jahcoozi’s homemade surrealism was marked by a cross-dressing, bass-playing Rasta and a girl crooning ‘Fish, Fish, Fish’ from underneath a safety helmet sporting stick-on bear ears’ (By The Wire Magazine)

Jahcoozi have gone on to play gigs all over Germany, Switzerland, Italy and the UK at clubs, open-airs, nerdy digital arts festivals and yes, even at truly crusty neo-hippie raves. They have felt at home supporting the likes of Big Dada Soundsystem, Aphex Twin, DAT Politics, Chicks on Speed, Airborn Audio, Kevin Blechdom, Jamie Lidell, Tiefschwarz and Mocky. Remixes by Modeselektor, Beige, and DJ Highfish have also firmly rooted Jahcoozi in electronic club szene. They have worked with a wide range of artists such as Braun and the Mob (Jahcoozi being part of the mob), Alhaca Soundsystem, Stereotyp and have even done a recording session with grime kids Kano, Lethal B, D Double and Jammer. Robot Koch’s side project The Tape vs. RQM is out on KYO (Kitty-Yo’s idm-hip-hop sublabel) and Sasha Perera has recorded vocals with the likes of MC Soom-T & DJ Maxximus, Modeselektor and Tolcha.

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2005 Indie Albums i Was Just...Forgot About.

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"The Adeen EP"
Genres: indie rock, rock

ailing from seattle wa, thaelo consists of two guitars, bass, drums and vocals. with the release of the adeen ep, thaelo delivers a barrage of melodic soundscapes entwined with quiet guitars, feedback, and airplanes. with only 5 songs, the adeen ep lands on a full length track by running over 30 minutes, yielding an unapologetic wall of sound. formed in the fall of 99, brent finch (drums), darcy hudelson (vocals/gtr), bobby Lewis (gtr), and chris ford (bass) literally met each other in passing. together for just over a year, thaelo recorded over 2 full discs of material that buried itself into what would later become a turning point for the band. a series of ridiculous events (playing a major label showcase on a pallet in front of a bunch of cows), naiveté of comic proportions, and the departure of bassist chris ford brought the band to an end in early 2001.

17 months and 2,000 miles later, bobby discovered the forgotten discs while sorting through a box of recordings. saddened by the obvious, a phone call was made to seattle. in august of 2002, brent flew to texas, bobby quit both of his jobs, and darcy went on a secret vacation from her secret job. the trio reunited for an impromptu recording session resulting in sleep deprivation, mass burrito consumption, and 8 songs. days later, brent returned to seattle, darcy returned to her job at, and bobby started working for a helmet-haired evil doer.

12 months, 2,000 miles, and one barista god later, the band reformed with jeremy summer on bass guitar. within close proximity to both the space needle and darcy's boyfriend, the new line up converged with a second chance determination at heart. a communal sigh of relief resulting from the opportunity to play once again substantiated a series of aural reflections via the manufacture of the adeen. in other words, the band turned up their amps louder than ever and dove headfirst into the dangerous world of flying drumstick shards and sonic eruptions.

unified by a love for each other and the music, thaelo’s art of rock isn’t typical in music today. if there is a message in the music, it is to be found in the viewpoint that humanoids are ego parasitic and are responsible for any lack of hope in this world. the band calls bullshit on today’s music industry, and snubs the hypocritical elite who are self-crowned with the non-individualistic notion of indie cred.

it is time for a musical revolution. (Description By The Label)

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Self-titled Album
Serious Business Records
Genres: dance punk, indie rock

DraculaZombieUSA are four nice young people. Will Schachterle sings and uses a laptop to kick out unique skitters and breaks. Travis Harrison plays drums with the mercilessness of a methamphetamined puma. Versatile Andy Ross plays bass, guitar, and sings. And Danielle Pickett helps out with the vocals and the getting-down. At drum and bass tempos (Aphex Twin, Lightning Bolt, Death From Above 1979), they play psychedelic party jams (Daft Punk, LCD Soundsystem, Talking Heads) with fancy and fetching lyrics. They sing about space travel, the frustrations of fecklessness, and leading a colony of bears against a gang of medieval monsters. At their hyper live shows, our heroes are out to get everyone shaking it. Ask for some moon-walking- Will will bring it. (Description By The Label)

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"Insults and Insights" EP
Kittridge Records
Genres: indie pop, lo-fi
Kittridge Records

The more recordings boyracer releases, the more i understand how someone could become an obsessive boyracer collector, hunting down every song and recording no matter how obscure (every last cassette, lathe cut 7", split EP and compilation track). the more i hear, the more I want to hear, and that's especially the case with insults and insights, a firecracker disguised as an ep. by 'firecracker' i don't mean to suggest merely that the ep showcases the band's ability to run full steam ahead through noisy, ragged pop songs like the punk superstars that they are. they do that, certainly, but insults and insights also displays the diversity of their talents, their melodic sense and emotional breadth. lead racer stewart anderson is brilliant at channeling not just indignation and rebellion, but also a bittersweet feeling of longing. the ep's shining moment – indeed, one of the best songs i've heard all year – manages to tap into all of these strengths. "the sadness in you" begins with an open-hearted line, "there's a sadness in you that may never leave…", but before that even there's a snazzy guitar part that's central to the song's infectious melodic shuffle. the song overall marries its catchy hooks to a generally uplifting sentiment, encouragement to a sad someone. "the second fiddle"'s center of gravity is a bit less optimistic, containing a lot of anguish and heartbreak, which comes out both as impassioned pleas over acoustic guitar and as electric cries and screeches. In their own, beautifully messy way, boyracer are jacks-of-all-trades, using whatever tool it takes, be it melody or feedback, to fill a song with raw, genuine feeling.
(Review By

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Charlie Schmidt
"Xanthe Terra"
Strange Attractors Audio House
Genres: American Primitive guitar, acoustic folk, instrumental folk
Strange Attractors

Charlie Schmidt was a contemporary of his friend and mentor, the late John Fahey, and his own personal universe collided with the master of the acoustic steel string in a very interesting and bemusing manner. Schmidt befriended Fahey as a young man, after meeting him backstage at a performance in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1981. Ever the iconoclast, Fahey vigorously encouraged Schmidt to follow his own musical path and discover his own voice. It came to pass, in the early 1990's, that Fahey was requested to re-record his second album Vol. II: Death Chants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes for re-release. As a ruse, Fahey had Schmidt record all of the songs ostensibly as Fahey himself! In order to be compensated, four new "bonus" tracks were included, which happened to be Charlie Schmidt originals. The project was shelved; fast-forward to 2004, three years after Fahey's death, and the release of The Best of Fahey Vol. II on Fantasy. Included were three titles billed as previously unreleased, newly uncovered Fahey gems. Lo and behold these are actually Schmidt's performances, and one of the pieces is a Schmidt composition that Fahey admired ("Hyattsville Anti-Inertia Dance"). Bewildering to be sure, but the point is clear: Charlie Schmidt is a fantastic talent of the steel string guitar, and the time is nigh for the world to hear and experience this very well-kept secret.

Long in the making, Charlie Schmidt's debut Xanthe Terra is finally seeing the light of day, and it is a stunner; melancholic musings and gorgeous melodies are offered like midnight prayers through ringing and singing wood and steel. Technique for Schmidt is always at the service of feeling, and the pieces on Xanthe Terra are awash in a raw depth of emotion, shuddering to the very core of the music. Like the scorched desert-like landscape of Mars referenced in the album title, images of vast empty expanses and regions sucked dry of humanity weep from Schmidt's guitar. From the delicate, somber melodies of opener "Salem Journeys", past a particularly rollicking version of Fahey's "Dance of the Inhabitants of the Palace of King Philip XIV of Spain" and onwards, closing with the introspective subtlety of "Hymn", American folk styles brush up with classical guitar and "deltadelica" to form compositionally rich and radiant acoustic dramaturgy.

Following firmly in the American Primitive footsteps of John Fahey, Peter Lang, and Robbie Basho, Xanthe Terra is glorious guitar soli, an important new work to the new acoustic movement. (Description By The Label)

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Monday, January 9

Interview With The Clientele By Pitchfork.

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Interview With The Clientele

By Pitchfork media

The Clientele are almost the definition of a cult band: They possess a singular, homemade sound, their songs reward close examination, and they've earned a small but devoted audience. The band is criticized for bordering on the monolithic-- its tracks have both a repetition of lyrical themes and often draw from a common sonic well-- but the revisiting of familiar scenes and locales seems to function as an organizing principle, a window into the everyday through which the mundane can be transformed into either dreamy escapism or a source of dread. In 2005, the band enjoyed its best year yet, releasing a well-received second studio album, Strange Geometry, as well as a collection of early demos, It's Art Dad, and going on two lengthy jaunts across the U.S., one opening for fellow Merge artists Spoon and one as headliners.

Pitchfork met the Clientele in Chicago near the end of a lengthy, eight-week world tour, the band's longest to date. We initially sat down with singer/guitarist Alasdair MacLean and were eventually also joined by bassist James Hornsey and drummer Mark Keen while discussing Harry Potter and magical realism, the post-Britpop conservatism of UK indie, and the possibility that every Clientele record could be their last.

Pitchfork: You've been out on the road for about seven weeks now-- this must be the longest tour of your career.

Alasdair MacLean: This is the eighth week. We don't have day jobs anymore, so we're free to tour, but this was the longest we've ever done.

Pitchfork: Did you quit your day jobs before this album came out?

Alasdair: Just before we toured with Spoon, we got a publishing deal with Chrysalis. Publishing and the advance from that meant we could not do our work for a year, and just try and promote this record.

Pitchfork: Where had you been working?

Alasdair: I had a desk job in an advertising agency. I was writing copy for them. Mark worked for a computer company, writing programs. And James worked for the largest merchant bank in England, where the Queen banks. So we all had-- well, my job was crap, but the other two had pretty good jobs.

Pitchfork: Was there any doubt in their mind about stepping away?

Alasdair: Absolutely not.

Pitchfork: How long had you been doing the ad copy writing? That's quite different from lyric writing.

Alasdair: For about four years. I used to do books before that. I worked for a book publisher, and actually attempted to turn down Harry Potter. The first Harry Potter title came in, and we had an editorial meeting about it, and I said, "This is just absolute rubbish. There are so many better children's books that aren't being published." And I was overruled. So, they published the book, and all my bridges are burned. I was a bit harsh on it at first. I wanted them to do a biography on Arthur Lee, and everyone said, "Who's Arthur Lee?" So I was never happy in that job.

Pitchfork: Have you read the 33 1/3 Series' book on Forever Changes?

Alasdair: It's pretty interesting actually, but it's kind of a grad student view. They talk about the American tradition of prophecy, and how it leads into Arthur Lee's heroes, and kind of the disjointedness of the music, and they link it together with quotes from Henry Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson and people like that, Walt Whitman. So it's pretty interesting.

Pitchfork: What was your primary criticism of the Harry Potter series?

Alasdair: There were other books, like The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper, that this book ripped off, in a really cast-iron, populist way. And it lost all the beauty of that Through the Looking Glass type book. But I suppose I get protective about it because I grew up reading those books, these really beautiful evocations of ancient British myth. Those books totally shaped my imagination, as a writer. And I just thought this book had a thin and silly way of stealing those ideas.

They didn't care at the publishing house, they just wanted to know will it sell, and I said "Oh yeah, it probably will." And it did actually. By the millions.

Pitchfork: That sort of evocative language and magical realism is obviously a big part of your writing today.

Alasdair: Totally. I mean I still read those books. They're books of literature, they're not just children's books. I suppose they are magical realist-- the best that British magical realism got at the time when the Latin American authors were writing magic realism. So it wasn't an academic thing that happened a generation later. I don't know if they were reading people like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but they're just as good in my opinion, those books. And I can recognize the roles that I lived in as a child in them as well.

They're full of dread, as well, you know, they're not cozy books to read, they're really scary fairy stories, and they're set in a realistic way in the English suburbs in the 1970s, which is exactly where I grew up, so the sense that in these new little housing estates, there are bulldozers that aren't doing anything, waiting around for new houses to be built, but through this there's a kind of fault line in the continuum, where this magical sense of another world opens up. And I couldn't have read it at a better time, or in a better place, because it described my reality.

Pitchfork: Same kind of heightened sensory feeling-- especially from the Latin authors-- which is translated into your music.

Alasdair: I came across the Latin magic realists much later, but I could see that it was the same kind of imaginative roads being taken.

Pitchfork: How has the response been on the U.S. tour?

Alasdair: Really good, better than any of the other times we've come here. There are a lot of people coming to see us who don't know our old albums, which is always a good sign. If we play an old song, we get somebody who'll really cheer, because Suburban Light is such a favorite with a certain circle of indie people here, but there are a lot of people who seem confused by the old songs, and if we don't play enough of the new songs, they'll come up and say, "You played loads of stuff we didn't know." We've sold more records in the past four or five weeks than we did in the past four or five years in this country.

Pitchfork: How did you end up with Spoon? You obviously are both on Merge here, but some people considered it an odd match.

Alasdair: As I understand it, this was their big tour, where the album was in the top 50, and Britt Daniel wanted to get a band he liked, so he imported us from England.

It was kind of a weird mismatch of bands, because they're such a crowd-pleasing band, and we really need people to listen-- we ask a little bit more from the listener than they do. Some nights we won the audience over, some nights we didn't. We'd never done a support tour before, we didn't know what to expect, and they treated us so well, we thought all support bands were treated that well until we talked to some people and they said, "Oh you guys were treated like royalty," like using their equipment and being paid a reasonable amount for playing a show, so it was very nice for us.

Pitchfork: In Europe, why don't you think the connection is as strong?

Alasdair: Strange enough, in France and Germany, it is these days. And we played in Paris, and these Parisian girls are screaming when we played the first notes of this song, and we were astonished. It's really taken off in France. I think the main place we have trouble in is England, and I don't even mean Scotland, I just mean England. We can play to a lot of people in Glasgow, or in London, but outside of London, it's very slow for us. Some people have asked me why that is, and I really don't know. It just doesn't seem to catch people's imagination there in the same way it does in other countries.

The kind of music we make has been really unfashionable in Britain since the late 1980s, early 90s. [Then] a lot of bands broke through playing really similar music, bands like Felt and the Razorcuts. And that eventually became Britpop, and Britpop spoiled everything in a way, cretinized the whole guitar underground. People who write about or play guitar music don't want to go back to the trouble of playing upstairs at the top of pubs and writing fanzines, they want the next Oasis. There's a lot less room for subtlety and off-kilter poetry. It's not fashionable to do those things.

Pitchfork: Is it mostly press driven? It seemed as if once NME were able to lift bands into the mainstream that became its goal: Instead of pushing quality, they pushed bands that could hit the top 10.

Alasdair: I think it's even more crass than that. It's just bands that have money. It sounds like I'm being bitter about it, and I'm not. I just feel lucky we have an audience. But I think a lot of it has to do with major labels and publicists. The whole British music scene has always been driven by press anyway, so when the nature of the press changed, the nature of the music changed as well.

I remember reading NME when I was like 16 and 17, and they would give stunt reviews and silly reviews to bands and they would color these bands excessively, and that's what drove people's popularity a lot of the time, but their manner of choosing has become much more conservative, they only go for the bands that they think are going to break through. We get really respectful and good reviews in the English press all the time. Any time we're going to release a record, we get good reviews. But never a feature, you know, never anything more than that.

Britpop polarized people to such an extent. A lot of people say guitar music is just old fashioned now. People have just given up on it really. I mean I would too if I wasn't in the band. I wouldn't listen to any new guitar music, I don't think. Through the band, I hear lots of really great guitar music, but I wouldn't know it was there, if I wasn't in a band.

Pitchfork: Most people assume that you guys are old-fashioned, even calling you revivalists.

Alasdair: It's always disappointing when people say the Clientele are trying to recreate the 60s, because what 60s band do we actually sound like? The musical education I have from the 60s is more the really square end of the decade, like Paul McCartney ballads, About Moons and Junes, Neil Diamond, the Mamas and the Papas, that kind of thing. Maybe we take the formal beauty of those ballads and maybe excise some of the silliness from them, some of the dated syrupiness, but that's really it.

Pitchfork: Listeners can be trained to think of bands in relation only to other bands. Particularly at a time dominated by revivalists.

Alasdair: That just misses the point. So many good bands already have their own unique sound. So to compare bands to other bands seems to miss the point of what is good about music.

Pitchfork: You also seem, more than most contemporary bands, to be influenced by other forms of art other than music.

Alasdair: Yeah, it's about getting the way that those types of art make you feel and transport you, and translating that to music. So as a result it can be quite subtle. Some people miss lyrics, some people just don't care about lyrics. You could be quoting a big passage of a Robert Browning poem, in a way that, to me as a writer, juxtaposes this pop song with a Victorian poem about depression in an interesting way, but people aren't necessarily going to realize that's what's being done. Some people will understand it, some people won't.

Pitchfork: Do you think you consciously take a Situationist approach to mixing life and art?

Alasdair: I don't have any control over my life in the way I have control over art, so that approach never really made a lot of sense to me.

Pitchfork: Do you use art to make sense of your life?

Alasdair: I think so, yes, using it as a sort of prism to see a life through.

Pitchfork: In that sense you often seem to use it as an organizing principle, returning to familiar scenes and places over and over. Was it then difficult working with an outside producer, in this case Brian O'Shaughnessy? Was it difficult to let someone else do the organizing?

Alasdair: Yeah, it was. But I couldn't make another record like the first two. We could do it, but we couldn't justify doing it. I was just like, "Fuck it, he's going to produce the record, and if it's crap it's crap, and I'll just go and get a day job and stop making music," because it got to the point where we couldn't carry on any further down the road we're going.

It was a different approach to recording, everything one or two takes, had to be done in two weeks, but we had rehearsed so much and we'd done so much working out the arrangements and the words and everything, there was no improvisation at all. Normally when we record, it's a long process of improvising and seeing what fits. This was just like, bang, straight down really fast. That was really interesting. We didn't have to worry about any of the stuff an engineer or producer worries about. It's very easy to make a record that's unlistenable if you're not on your toes. But we didn't have to be on our toes, all we had to do was just play and sing. Which was for me like a massive liberation. I loved it.

Pitchfork: Will you work with him in the future? Was it Brian specifically who made you feel liberated or just the set-up itself?

Alasdair: It would be nice to work with other people. The problems came with him when we mixed, because that was the point when we're going to control how the record sounds. And he wanted a very slick production like the other records he's produced, and we wanted things a little bit more simple, just the sound of the instruments coming from the amps through the microphone with the drums. I got my hand slapped a few times when it was on the reverb dial.

But I think we came out with something that everybody really loved. He's a hard man to impress. I didn't know whether he even liked our music until we were mixing "(I Can't Seem to) Make You Mine" and he said, "I could just listen to this forever." I said, "Oh, so you actually like the Clientele then?" and he says, "Yeah, yeah, yeah."

And Brian's got a really interesting imagination and knows lots of arcane facts and things, about London, so just going for a drink with him is a real pleasure, and that's really the point, because I think we thought if we can have a drink with a guy and he's interesting, then we can probably make a record with him that's interesting. He's also a really good friend of Lawrence [from Felt and Denim], which also made Brian seem like the kind of person who we would be able to work with.

Pitchfork: Did you meet Lawrence?

Alasdair: Lawrence is a very reclusive man, we've heard so many stories of him, but we've never met him.

Pitchfork: It might be better to keep the mystery intact.

Alasdair: From the stories I hear, it would be, yeah.

Pitchfork: You're records sound very homemade, were you worried that working in a professional studio would make you sound like a different band?

Alasdair: We've recorded in studios before, but always with completely disastrous results, and always junked the recordings because they were awful. It just comes out sounding really bland and washed out. No highs and lows, just everything clicked, everything dead on and boring. I didn't know if my voice would be good enough, if I could even sing in key, without a big mask of reverb.

Pitchfork: Your spoken-word track, "Losing Haringey", was something you weren't planning on, right?

Alasdair: I wrote a song that had that music, and I wanted just to do an instrumental, and it was pretty and everything, but everyone was like "No, you should sing on it." And I wrote some lyrics that were just awful, and it was the most awful tune, and I hated it so much. As soon as I recorded it, Brian came to me and said, "It sounds like Leonard Cohen, it's amazing," and I said, "No, it sounds awful." I knew I'd have a fight on my hands to not have the vocals on there, so one day I just came in and I was like, "Right, what can I do?" And there was a story I had written years before, and I thought, "Fuck it, I'll just read the story over it," and that would divert everyone away from the vocals, so I read it and Brian was like "The boy can write." So that was how that ended up, it was just a spur of the moment thing, a moment of desperation.

Pitchfork: Had you wanted to do a spoken-word piece for a while or was it purely a stopgap?

Alasdair: For ages, but I never really had the guts to do it because it lays you open to so much criticism. If it hadn't been 20 instruments on that track, and strings, and if I hadn't had an immediately good response from everyone in the studio right after I read it, I think it would have just disappeared. So it took quite a lot of coaxing. I just didn't want to make the sort of track that someone would hear the first few words and burst out laughing. And I thought we need a Bouzouki and a string quartet and Fender Rhodes to stop that from happening

Pitchfork: The spoken-word track and references to proper names seems to mark this as more of a personal record, or at least strip a few layers from between you as author and performer.

Alasdair: Suburban Light is a very personal album, but it's of a person I don't even recognize anymore, almost a choirboy innocent-type person, which maybe is what some people like about it. On this one I didn't want to hide under layers of allusion or atmosphere or anything. I wanted to write something that was a bit braver and more honest.

I thought we've just got to try, and if it's stupid, and we look stupid, like melodramatic, then so be it. We've got to risk falling flat on our faces. Because that was the kind of music I wanted to write. That was what I was feeling like, sitting in cafes, on my lunch hour at work, there wasn't really anything else I could write at this point.

But these songs have been written with very constant themes of dread and worthlessness, along with a kind of heightened sensory thing, that's more transcendental, that bittersweet pull between the two of them. And I think there were hints of that in the stuff we did before, but it really flowers in Strange Geometry.

Pitchfork: This record was also put together much quicker than your others. Did you stall before because you had the freedom to keep going over things?

Alasdair: I think so. We knew exactly what we were doing before we went into the studio, and Brian really hated improvisation or any kind of dissonance or anything like that. So we had to have the arrangements already worked out before we did it. Otherwise, he would get very upset with us.

Pitchfork: He was worried it would get overcooked? Was it the process or the results he didn't like?

Mark Keen: He was just being practical in the studio; he knew we only had a certain number of hours to work with. And I think, being a producer, you don't want people humming around on instruments. You gotta have quite the tight drill. Obviously it was frustrating, because you could feel it if you were improvising.

Alasdair: Yeah the worst nightmare from [Brian's] point of view is someone who is sitting at a guitar or a piano, just going, "Oh, let me just record that again. I think I've got it now."

Pitchfork: I imagine that was even more true with Louis Phillipe, who arranged your strings.

Alasdair: With string players, they're hired for 2-3 hour sessions, and a lot of classical musicians will play for three hours and they're halfway through a song, and they'll start packing up, and the guy recording the quartet will be like, "What're you doing?" "It's three o'clock, we're out now. If you want us to play the second half of the song, you're going to have to pay us for another three hours." They weren't like that for us. We couldn't get the BBC Orchestra or anything, we just had to get custom musicians or friends to play.

But Louis and I didn't go into the studio together. He's a very tightly drawn individual, and he expects absolute perfection from the recording process. The relationship we have with Lou is he's like a kindly uncle whom we look after, and if he gets upset, it's like, "Would you like some wine, do you want us to go and get you some cigarettes, do you want us to get you some food?" And I just didn't want to be in that position, because I knew he would be getting upset. The studio was very cozy, and he's used to working with the Prague Philharmonic at places like Abbey Road. I knew it would be a culture shock for him. And it was.

I took him for a pint afterward, and he completely ignored me and talked to Brian all night about how to record handclaps.

Pitchfork: When you were recording your own work, were you writing in the studio?

Alasdair: When we did The Violet Hour, that was very much arranged like, "Oh the drums sound good with this instrument, so let's put this instrument in." Just trial and error. That took a year to make, you know, just on weekends. So, yeah, we've always worked in a very improvisational way before. I mean, the song structures are generally there before the songs get recorded, but the arrangements are completely up for grabs. We were like, "We've got this keyboard; what can we do? Oh, we can get this string sound on it. Okay, well I think my father-in-law has a lap steel, so let's get that. How do you tune a lap steel?" There was just no time for that this time around. And if you try it in that studio, you look through the glass and you see the producer, and the look on his face would say "You stop that now," and you just say "Okay, I'm gonna stop it now." It was very different.

Pitchfork: The It's Art Dad CD that you're selling on tour, were those demos you had sent out some years ago?

Alasdair: Yeah, that was me and James, Innes [Phillips] from the Relict, and a guy called Daniel who played drums. We were all sort of childhood friends from Hampshire. We made these recordings and sent them off to various labels: Sub Pop UK-- back then they had a UK office, when they had the money from Nirvana-- and Fire Records, as well. And there was no real response. By the time we got a record deal in London, the other two were really pissed off at the whole thing, playing shows with crappy goth bands, going on at 7 p.m. to 20 people. So that band dissolved. [To Mark] And it was like 2000 when you joined wasn't it?

Mark: Yeah.

Alasdair: So there was a little interim period where we had another drummer; he was like a jazz drummer who didn't really fit in very well at all. So nothing happened during that period at all.

Pitchfork: Did he end up on any records?

Alasdair: He plays on "Joseph Cornell", "As Night Is Falling", and "(I Want You) More Than Ever". He was very into post-rock. He was in a band called Billy Mahonie. He's currently playing with Joy Zipper. He's a really good friend and a really great drummer, but his sensibilities-- he thought we were kind of old fashioned and obscure.

Mark: He could easily make a song 10 minutes long that should have been two.

Alasdair: So he didn't really work out.

Pitchfork: Are you and Innes still pretty close?

Alasdair: Well, not geographically because he's in Australia, but as friends, totally, yeah.

Pitchfork: Is he still doing Relict things?

Alasdair: Well everybody is trying to convince him to do another record, but he doesn't really want to, I don't think.

Mark: He's happily married now, just got a job, so I don't think he could instantly pick up a guitar. But he'll be miserable once the job slows down.

Alasdair: The Cannanes asked him to play with them, and he said no, because he was just like, "I don't think I'm good enough." And we were just like, "You just moved to Australia, you don't know anybody, and the Cannanes just asked you to play on their records. And you're saying no? What are you doing?" That's the whole thing with him, he just doesn't really have much confidence about him. His record's been re-released by Pehr Records in L.A. If there's some interest from that, it might spur him on, I don't know.

Pitchfork: Did you have a conversation with him before putting out this compilation?

Alasdair: Oh yeah, he listened to it, and he was involved in choosing the tracks. He said, some he didn't want to put out. Some mixes he wasn't happy withֹyeah he was totally involved.

Pitchfork: Why did you decide to do that now?

James Hornsey: We just found the tapes.

Alasdair: We had forgotten about the tapes for 10 years, and I was around Innes' house just before he moved to Australia, and he said, "Listen to this," and then played an old C-90 tape. We were all really drunk, and we thought "This is all right," and we were getting really nostalgic about the old days, so we found all the master tapes and remixed them, and we were like, "Some of this is actually better than what we're doing now." It was our little project while we weren't working, in between the Spoon tour and the album being released, we were just sitting in our studio, going through the tapes. We mixed about three or four hours of music and picked the best 16 tracks.

Pitchfork: So it was the first time you'd heard that stuff in the years, but it's obviously recognizable as your work. Were you conscious of having solidified your sound so long ago?

Alasdair: That took me by surprise. I was like, there's just no other way we can play instruments and sing.

James: We took some time to try other things, amongst these tapes, and it just turned out really bad.

Pitchfork: What sort of diversions did you take?

Alasdair: There was more of a kind of folky feel-- not folky in a pop way, folky in a folk way. It was pretty grim, to be honest. A few indie rock moments, a few totally Spacemen 3 songs, ambient, weird noises. There's one drum and bass tracks, and I overdubbed a lot of spooky sounds, and its totally laughable. It's hilarious. Just a lot of stuff that was too obviously influenced by the bands we were listening to-- too Byrdsy or Beatleish or too garage punk, listening to the Pretty Things and doing a Pretty Things-like song. Just laughably bad.

We always recorded vocals through guitar. We rehearsed that way because we didn't have a PA. And we really got to like the sound, and so when we recorded we'd use the same sound. And that sound, that's become the Clientele sound. And playing the guitar Spanish-style as well, with the fingers, rather than a pick, and doubletracking the vocals. All those things have been there from the start. We do it any other way and it tends to be awful.

Pitchfork: After a few months, you've only got a couple of more days out on tour: What are you going to do next?

Alasdair: A lot depends on certain business machinations back home, whether we get more money. We'll have to wait and see. It's really uncertain at the moment. The publishing money comes in options, and they can take up the option of another album, if they think this one's done well enough. We have no idea whether they're going to or not.

Pitchfork: Did they give you guys any idea at the time what their expectations were? Purely a sales thing?

Alasdair: They really like the music, so hopefully they'll carry on that belief. If it's purely a sales thing, then we're probably in trouble.

Pitchfork: How did you go about setting up a publishing deal?

Alasdair: People have just come to us. We've never really promoted ourselves in any way. Every opportunity we've had has just been people finding us and asking us to do stuff. We had offers from Merge and Sub Pop at the same time, and I think we just preferred Merge. We saw Lambchop and the Magnetic Fields, and we thought, "Oh, this label's great."

Pitchfork: Sub Pop had Eric Matthews.

Alasdair: We really wanted him to play trumpet on the album, and he offered, but we had just finished recording. It would have been a case of putting everything in a parcel, sending it to him, him recording over it, and sending it back.

Pitchfork: Which track did you anticipate him working with? Alasdair: All of them. We're still in touch with him, so hopefully one day, you know. He's a wonderful trumpet player.

Pitchfork: Have a lot of things you've written for the future?

Alasdair: About five songs, so the holiday seaside homes are going to come in handy.

Pitchfork: Are you changing your writing approach, thinking about potentially larger arrangements and albums rather than self-recorded singles?

Alasdair: The Violet Hour has three or four song cycles, and it's very much arranged that way. I think that's something that interests me about making records. Now that we're not making singles anymore, because singles are just great little pop art things, that you put out on vinyl, and EPs as well, to an extent. But albums, I think you can go deeper, and you can just bring together more contrast, more light and dark, I suppose.

Pitchfork: There seems to be a logic that says your music works better in singles. Do you still hear that?

Alasdair: We haven't so much with this record, but we did at the time of The Violet Hour. People really didn't like the fact that we weren't releasing 500 7" singles on yellow vinyl every now and then, so they could show it to their friends. But we've done that, so it's time to move on.

Pitchfork: With indie pop people still seem to gravitate to smaller, more personal packages. So what is the timetable for a next record?

Alasdair: Well, we don't even know if there is a next step. We'll have to wait till we get home. It might be that this is our final record, but there are new songs, so hopefully we'll get a chance to record them, but at the moment things are just totally up in the air.

Pitchfork: It hinges solely on the advance?

Alasdair: It partly hinges on that, and partly we've got to sit down and think whether it's still fun. I mean, I'm having fun, but we need to think that if it stops being fun, then it's not worth doing.

Pitchfork: So before Chrysalis came to you, which was a happy accident, was there a feeling that you had already reached the end?

Alasdair: No, we wanted to make another record for Merge, because no matter what happens at home, we've always got that label here. They're very nurturing, and the best possible label you could have. We don't even say to them when we see them in Chapel Hill, "Do you want to do the next record?" because we know the offer is implicitly there. There was always that, but the Chrysalis thing helped us try and take things up a level in terms of recording.

Pitchfork: What has changed from then to now that makes you question whether it's worth it to go on?

Alasdair: You have to go through a constant reappraisal of yourself, because otherwise, you end up putting out boring records. If you make records for the sake of making records, what's the point? You should only make records if you've got something to say. And so you have to go home and think to yourself, "Have I actually got something to say?"

Pitchfork: Is this the first time you've felt like that?

Alasdair: No, I felt like that after every single record we've made, even the 7", because each, for all we knew, was our last record. I guess that attitude has carried through. You can make a 7" single in a studio for £100. The budget for Suburban Light was £200, and The Violet Hour was something like £5,000. Strange Geometry must have cost something like £15,000. So going back to having £200 to make a record, it's too depressing to think about.

It fills me with dread, to be honest. The thought of going back into the studio for an intensely stressful two weeks when we get back, and then touring for another eight weeks without proper sleep, and as soon as the sun goes down we're in the van and I can't read my book anymore. I'm trying to get through Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust at the moment, and every time the sun goes down, it shuts him up, I can't read it anymore.

Pitchfork: What else would you do? Go back to the ad job?

Alasdair: No, I don't think so. I'd like to do something like be a night watchman, but I think there's a lot of aspiring authors making it a very competitive job. That's the thing. I'm not qualified to do anything, really. I've no idea what I'm going to do when I get back, so it's just total uncertainty.

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