Chad VanGaalen / Diaper Island - SP871
Every so often, Chad VanGaalen emerges from his bunker in Calgary with a batch of songs, giving us a window into the private world of this reclusive and enigmatic songwriter. With Diaper Island, VanGaalen distills his approach, producing his most sonically cohesive album to date, and the closest thing he has done to a rock album.
If you’re among the first 200 people to pre-order Diaper Island by May 17th from Sub Pop, you’ll receive a limited edition (of 500) Chad VanGaalen print signed and hand-numbered by Chad himself! Oh, and stickers, also stickers.
Released: May 17, 2011
Hunx & His Punx / Too Young To Be In Love - SBL-73034
Too Young To Be In Love is the first fully-realized Hunx and His Punx album, and the group’s first for Hardly Art. It was recorded in New York City by Ivan Julian—one of the founding members of inimitable NYC punk legends Richard Hell and the Voidoids. This record was made in the same studio that one of Hunx’s idols, Ronnie Spector, once recorded in. While it is preceded by the Gay Singles LP (True Panther Sounds/Matador Records, 2009), a collection of hard-to-find and out-of-print 7" singles, Too Young To Be In Love is the first proper studio record from Hunx and His Punx.
Released: March 29, 2011
Black Mold / Snow Blindness is Crystal Antz - 4068097
Words courtesy of Flemish Eye Records:
A warped and mutated blend of the futuristic and the organic, Snow Blindness is Crystal Antz is the debut album from Black Mold – the electronic alter-ego of songwriter Chad VanGaalen. With Black Mold, VanGaalen has the freedom to explore the wildest tangents of his instrumental work, using a broad palette of glitches and noise married with the warm hues of acoustic instruments. Guided by a free-associative approach to songwriting, the songs show the full-blown instrumental side that VanGaalen hinted at sparingly on his own albums.
The product of several years of late-night instrumental experimentation, mainly on vintage analogue and hand-built modular synths, Snow Blindness… is at times glitchy and unpredictable while at other times Teutonic and sparse. The album opens with a baffling and beautiful composition, “Metal Spider Webs”, a lattice of cello and clarinet complemented by shifting electronic pulses. In the dreamlike and metamorphic title track, subtle oscillations and erratic surges build before settling into a simple layering of acoustic guitars and drums. Elsewhere, other songs utilize 8-bit beats & warped synthesis to create multi-layered rhythmic patterns. Snow Blindness… comes from a basement stacked to the ceiling with broken and discarded devices and poorly wired technology fused with organic instruments, all jury-rigged to somehow work together in sequence – and often acting with no masters.
Fans of VanGaalen may draw immediate parallels between Black Mold and the early electronic groundwork of “J.C.’s Head on the Cross” (Infiniheart, 2004), the enigmatic synthesizer lines of “Red Hot Drops” (Skelliconnection, 2006) or the quasi-literate dance styling of “TMNT Mask” (Soft Airplane, 2008). While many songs embody the spirit of the more accessible pop-based leanings of VanGaalen’s solo work, the debut album from Black Mold is the product of an artist bent on creating a personal soundscape.
Sometimes re-working the tradition of modular synthesizer pioneers such as Wendy Carlos, Tomita or Jarre, at other times cutting a swath through contemporary sample-based territory, the album is strewn with musique concrete pastiches, creative use of circuit bending and manipulation, and an intuitive and intelligent understanding of rhythmic minimalism. Snow Blindness is Crystal Antz will be driving late-night parties as well as providing the hung-over soundtrack to the aftermath.
Released: March 25, 2011
Hype Williams / Find Out What Happens - 4000392
Pilfered from the De Stijl website
What do we actually know about London duo Hype Williams? We can confidently assert that Roy Blunt (aka Roy Nnawuchi) and Inga Copeland (who may or may not go by the name Karen Glass) have released a handful of disarmingly excellent tracks over the past year or so, essaying an obscure, lo-fi form of dub-inflected half-pop as much akin to the post-Industrial funk of 23 Skidoo and early Cabaret Voltaire as the scratchy psych of The Skaters et al. We can accept that they have also operated under the names Bo Khat Eternal Troof Family Band and Paradise Sisters. But can we honestly believe that they’re the latest incarnation of an 18 year ‘relay project’ that was “conceived in 2005 by husband and wife motivational speakers Father Ronnie Krayola and Denna Frances Glass” and passed on to the duo for safekeeping? Given the pair’s tendency to confront straightforward questions with sarcasm and hiphop namedrops, it’s probably best to think of this tale as a ‘possible truth’.They’re even harder to pin down in sonic terms, slipping out from under your finger with reptilian agility. The description given above doesn’t take into account their deconstructions of Sade songs, the cavernous delay, the 20 year old synth presets, the use of everyday objects. None of the songs on their debut album appears to have a title, which only adds to its enigmatic charm. Its opening number brings to mind the sounds issuing from Olde English Spelling Bee, its clunking delayed rhythm, wobbly synths and opiated Eno/Sakamoto/Dolby melodies contriving a balmy, lo-fi art-pop atmosphere. But the duo subvert this glassy bliss with samples of a woman sobbing inconsolably, as if to gesture at a fly in the New Age tincture. Still, their capacity for off-base loveliness should not be underestimated. The third track proceeds at a dragging pace with an insidious, glutinous bassline and 1980s soundtrack keyboards, disrupted by coiling squalls of noise. Track four comes on like chopped ’n’ screwed Ofra Haza, her vocal cruelly replaced by mangled voice simulation software. It is sweaty, slick and sexy in a slightly soiled and compromised fashion, like unfinished coitus.A pitched down sample of Leonard Ravenhill introduces the fifth track: “There’s nothing this generation needs more than a baptism of old fashioned hellfire preaching… I’m sure of that.” The late British evangelist’s voice recalls that of right wing demagogue Unity Mitford’s on 23 Skidoo’s “Porno Base”. Like Mitford, Ravenhill’s words are set up for derision, yet nevertheless suggest a warning. Hype Williams express contempt for what they’ve called mystical shit, so perhaps this, along with recent download “Karen Hates The Forest”, is their rebuke to the esoteric symbolism entered into by peers such as Sun Araw, James Ferraro and Pocahaunted, whom their music so often recalls.Hype Williams are unmistakably concerned with physicality, pleasures of the flesh, and while their weed intake is allegedly prodigious, it offers no portal to another realm, merely an additional perspective on this one. Roy has said of the resurgence of New Age-informed music: “It’s got too much reverb and noise… I can’t talk dirty to my clients over the clink and clank of magic and rainbows.” The materialist mocking is all too familiar to those who can still bear to leaf through the pages of Vice, where libertarianism born from privilege bleeds into cruelty. Perhaps this is a necessary counterweight to the crystals and mandalas currently doing the rounds, but what makes much of today’s lo-fi intriguing is its flight from spiritual anomie towards an idea of the sublime, however ill-defined.Perhaps this vacuity provides the duo with the will-to-flux. At no point do they settle into a fixed style. There’s a softly padding drum machine, a vocal that is entirely submerged, simulated whalesong and more weeping on the seventh track, suggesting a sickened version of Tom Tom Club’s 1981 punk-funk classic “Genius Of Love”. The closing piece sashays in on a smooth, soupy groove like Sade’s “Smooth Operator” derailed by ill-fitting guitar and artificial flute. It’s like somebody flooded the wine bar with cough mixture.It’s fast becoming a meme for lo-fi savants to express a kinship with hiphop and R&B, from Daniel Lopatin’s recent canonisation of DJ Screw to 20jazzfunkgreats blogger and Tri Angle label founder Robin Carolan’s breathless ? and slightly suspect ? declaration that these forms produce what is “sonically at least really strange music. And there’s so much you can do with that.” Sometimes these claims ring true, as with Christopher Dexter Greenspan’s oOoOO; at other times they smack of coat-tailing. Hype Williams are in on the game, too. Their name is a dead giveaway, of course, deriving from the renowned director of videos for Busta Rhymes, Q-Tip and Nicki Minaj. Then there’s the namechecking of Cam’ron in interviews and the shout out to Sadat X in the title of a recent split with themselves as Paradise Sisters. While it’s true that some of their other work does indeed resemble severely water-damaged R&B, barely a single note of this album, or their recent Han Dynasty 7" for De Stijl, for whom a second album is apparently forthcoming ? sounds like hiphop as we know it. The only real overlap would be with the duo’s hazy nihilism and sensual flow. Perhaps those are the only elements Hype Williams require, stirring them into the pot along with similarly disconnected fragments, yielding music which fascinates largely because of its refusal to commit?
~ Joseph Stannard
Released: March 24, 2011
Charlie Nothing / Inside Outside LP - 4000388
From the De Stijl website:
Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted.
The issuance of The Psychedelic Saxophone of Charlie Nothing by Takoma Records in 1967 marks a point of interest on the time-line which runs thru the 1960’s folk music boom. Home to then emerging acoustic guitar players John Fahey and Robbie Basho, Takoma had also published recordings by bluesmen Bukka White and Robert Pete Williams, a roster which situated the small Berkley imprint alongside bigger fish like Vanguard and Folkways as one of the era’s premier folk and blues oriented labels. While each Takoma release was presented with increasing esoteric flair, The Psychedelic Saxophone of Charlie Nothing quite simply ignored any standards of legitimate presentation. A near formless sidelong title track was backed w/ the slightly more ominous “In Eternity with Brother Fred”, both essentially sax instrumentals w/ touches of flute and swelling cymbals. Housed in a homespun black and white op-art jacket, these titles were the only information provided to accompany 35 minutes of music that despite it’s instrumentation owed little to jazz, and was certainly not folk. Seeming like a West Coast answer to the then fledgling ESP label in New York , the LP marked a departure for Takoma, who would go on to issue other non-folk/blues LPs (notable were two by Phil Yost, Bent City and Fog Hat Ramble, both also horn-oriented, eclectic instrumental records, albeit slightly more conventional than the Nothing LP). Perhaps a sign of the times, The Psychedelic Saxophone of Charlie Nothing remains the most enigmatic release in the original Takoma catalog, one that seemed destined to obscurity even in it’s inception. An anomaly in it’s setting and a seldom seen artifact.
So who was Charlie Nothing?
Considering an auspicious debut such as this as an indication of things to come, tracing the “career” which was to follow is nothing short of an invisible history lesson. A 7" single was made in ‘68, followed by a second LP in ’69, though gone now for good was the saxophone, along with the affiliation with Takoma. The We Are You EP was issued privately, documenting a barely discernable scat testimonial accompanied by plucking, bongos, and bells. Again, two sidelong instrumentals, this time flute-based, comprise Outside/Inside, the second and only other Charlie Nothing LP, issued by Everitt Enterprises. As to what extent either of these titles saw the light of day, it is difficult to gauge. With Venice Beach ca. ’60’s as the backdrop, a California Assemblage feel can be seen register in the presentation of these and subsequent releases. It would be likely, were you ever to actually see an original Charlie Nothing release, that it would bear the markings of having been mailed, addressed and otherwise customized by Charlie right on the jacket or sleeve. The resemblance of this practice to that of collage artist Wallace Berman & co. at this time helps to place Charlie’s operation in context, and sheds some light on the otherwise shady reasoning for committing this music to posterity. Suffice to say that as an indication of the goings on in certain West Coast sleazenick poetry circles, the documentation is invaluable. While in the case of David and Tina Meltzer’s Serpent Power lp, as well as Malachi’s Holy Music, there are certainly indications, nowhere on wax will you find more palpable preserved air of a real-time dropout scene than with these sides of Nothing. It is a wonder that these records circulated at all outside the vacuum in which they were created. Nothingness, a California existentiality looping back on itself, preserved and disseminated as evidence. There are indeed very few records like these.
There would not be another Charlie Nothing release until 1974, a lone single, and then again not until ‘79, when he would publish his first cassette, featuring a 10 minute field recording of honeybees. Another single and a string of cassettes followed. Not surprisingly, the cassettes exhibit a Punk influenced packaging aesthetic, and it is rumored that the single was only sold at a grocery store. It’s title, “Ain’t No Fascist” is reminiscent of Woody Guthrie’s “This Machine Kills Fascists”, which in the case of Charlie Nothing would refer to the Dingulator, a hybrid guitar made from car parts, which became Charlie’s weapon of choice in the field. Living outside Santa Cruz, he recently did his first ever Chicago gig, playing Dingulator and offering sociological observations. There was no indication that based upon this appearance anyone knew anything more, or anything at all about Charlie Nothing, other than that he had something against bucket seats, and that he did apparently exist. After the gig it was as if nothing had happened. And perhaps it had. And perhaps this was what Charlie wanted. It may be, in the words of Michael McClure, still “poised on that same crack, outside the consumer loop.”, and if so, then perhaps it is not you who have found nothing, but Nothing that has found you. And that kind of Zen is hard to come by.
Released: March 24, 2011
The Head and the Heart / The Head and the Heart - SP915
Recorded in early 2010, this is the debut full-length by The Head and the Heart. Self-released in June 2010, the album helped build an impressive head-of-steam for the band through the second 1/2 of the year, gaining fans at influential Seattle station KEXP, local record shops (a consistent top 10 seller for Easy Street and the #1 album of 2010 at Sonic Boom), and venues up and down the West Coast, culminating with signing to Sub Pop Records in November. For this 2011 re-release of the album, “Sounds like Hallelujah” has been re-recorded, live favorite “Rivers and Roads” has been added, and the album has been remastered.
The vinyl version comes in a deluxe gatefold jacket with gold foil printing and includes an MP3 download (320k) of the album. The cover of the vinyl version is different from the CD: it has an off-white border framing the cover image that appears on the CD.
The digital version is presented at a glorious 320k bit rate.
Released: 2011-01-11 (MP3s), 2011-04-16 (CD), 2011-04-16 (LP), 2011-04-16 (CD + t-shirt adult s bundle)...
The Head and the Heart full length + orchid t-shirt
The CD or LP plus an orchid colored American Apparel tri-blend t-shirt featuring the band’s name artfully rendered.
The Head and the Heart full length + cranberry t-shirt
The CD or LP plus a cranberry colored American Apparel tri-blend t-shirt featuring the band’s name artfully rendered.
The Head and the Heart full length + blue t-shirt
The CD or LP plus a blue American Apparel tri-blend t-shirt featuring the band’s name artfully rendered.
Sub Pop / SP20: Casual Nostalgia Fest - SP879
We at Sub Pop Records celebrated our 20th anniversary in 2008 with, among other things, a 2-day music festival July 12th and 13th at Marymoor Park, somewhat unimaginatively called SP20. We’ve collected here some of our favorite performances from the SP20 festival. Sub Pop will be donating all of the profits from the sale of this CD to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.
1. Green River: “Leech”
2. Wolf Parade: “Fine Young Cannibals”
3. The Vaselines: “Dying for It”
4. Obits: “Run”
5. Les Thugs: “Dirty White Race”
6. Eric’s Trip: “Smother”
7. Beachwood Sparks: “You Take the Gold”
8. Blitzen Trapper: “Furr”
9. Flight of the Conchords: “Carol Brown”
10. Iron & Wine: “Woman King”
11. Constantines: “Why I Didn’t Like August ‘93”
12. Seaweed “Baggage”
13. Grand Archives: “Dig That Crazy Grave”
14. Low: “Silver Rider”
15. The Helio Sequence: “Lately”
16. Kinski: “The Wives of Artie Shaw”
17. Pissed Jeans: “Caught Licking Leather”
18. Mudhoney: “The Open Mind”
19. Comets on Fire: “Dogwood Rust”
Released: April 17, 2010
The Moondoggies / Tidelands - SBL-73019
There is something inherently calming about large bodies of water. In times of emotional duress, standing at the edge of an ocean watching the waves roll in and out, centers the spirit in a way that standing on terra firma cannot. Kevin Murphy (lead vocals, guitar) chose to title the Moondoggies’ new album Tidelands in part because of a remote area outside his old stomping grounds of Ketchikan, Alaska where he used to go to escape from civilization. More importantly, as the sly recurring themes of water throughout the Seattle quartet’s second full-length underscore, these are songs crafted to provide solace, sense, and cause for celebration in a world fraught with turmoil. …
Released: October 12, 2010
Fergus & Geronimo / Unlearn - SBL-73028
Unlearn—an 11-track doo-wop spiked salute to the anti-establishment—is the first-ever of all time full-length from the duo Fergus & Geronimo.
Released: January 18, 2011
A wise man once said, “sometimes you gotta say ‘what the fuck,’ make your move… saying ‘what the fuck’ brings freedom.” Carissa’s Wierd took those words to heart. Over the course of three studio albums and several cross-country tours, that WTF spirit informed their every move, yielding some of the most distinctive music to emerge from Seattle, anthologized for the first time on They’ll Only Miss You When You Leave: Songs 1996-2003.
Released: July 13, 2010
Carissa's Wierd / You Should Be at Home Here - SBL-73021
Long OOP, now back in print, this is the second release from seminal northwest band Carissa’s Wierd.
Released: October 12, 2010
Carissa's Wierd / Ugly But Honest - SBL-73020
Long OOP, now back in print, this is the first release from seminal northwest band Carissa’s Wierd.
Released: October 12, 2010
Obits / Moody, Standard and Poor - SP857
The answer to the question, “Are Obits ‘indie rock veterans’?” is yes and no. Yes, they are accomplished musicians who once fronted Drive Like Jehu, Edsel, Hot Snakes, and Pitchfork. But also; No, they are not active or retired members of the United States military. It’s good to get these things sorted out. Don’t worry—there are no dumb questions.
Are Obits a young band? They are. Another good question. A child born in 2007, when Greg Simpson joined as bassist, would not yet be in kindergarten. Obits didn’t self-release their first single (“One Cross Apiece” b/w “Put It in Writing”) until late 2008. Their debut LP (I Blame You, on Sub Pop), wasn’t released until March 2009. Does their stripped-down rock incorporate elements of surf and garage? Absolutely it does. The members of Obits are fans of oldies. They generally dislike newies. But their influences simmer in the crock-pot of human creativity; you will find only disappointment if you try to deduce the muse of any given song.
What of Obits’ new record? Well, for starters, it’s their second full-length, and it’s called Moody, Standard and Poor. It was recorded at Brooklyn’s Saltlands Studio by Eli Janney and Geoff Sanoff. Sub Pop will release it on March 29, 2011. And how will Moody, Standard and Poor make you feel? The short answer is: great. Not Smoking-An-Eightball-Of-Coke great. But Alive-To-New-Listening Experiences great. The long answer is that these twelve songs will take you on a series of emotional road trips. Some will be as brief as a walk to the fridge. Others will be epic pilgrimages to the shady hinterlands of your subconscious. Great records can do this. Moody, Standard and Poor is no exception.
Released: March 29, 2011
The Dutchess & the Duke / Sunset / Sunrise - SBL-73009
Sunset / Sunrise, a slump-dodging opus that takes the dark, raw beauty of the band’s debut and scales it up to distinctly luminescent heights, thanks to a graceful synthesis of painfully earned creative maturity and thoughtful production under Greg Ashley’s adroitly tuned ears. The Gris Gris frontman’s analog-equipped, Bay Area studio was the ideal space for Jesse Lortz and fellow vocalist and guitarist Kimberly Morrison to arch their intimate musical dialog into the larger shape they had envisioned. Much of what colors Sunset / Sunrise‘s ten tracks is the confidence the duo acquired during extensive touring throughout 2008 in support of their debut, _She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke_.
Released: November 12, 2009
The Dutchess & the Duke / She's the Dutchess, He's the Duke - SBL-73003
The DUTCHESS and the DUKE: Kimberly Morrison and Jesse Lortz. Two kids hanging out together, growing up together, having fun together. Two kids pissed off at each other, picking on each other, blaming each other, calling each other’s bullshit. Two kids playing in all sorts of bands for years. Sometimes together, many times apart. Through all the years they’ve known each other, however unforeseen, however ridiculous, the result has always been inevitable……
Released: July 7, 2008
C’mon is the shortest title of any Low album, which seems fitting, as it also ranks among the most succinct and straightforward entries in their variegated discography. Singer-guitarist Alan Sparhawk has even perfected the “elevator pitch” for C’mon: “Recorded in an old church in Duluth, MN and mixed in an apartment in Hollywood, CA.” But that brief synopsis hides universes.
Comprised of new material written on and off the road, the ten-song set was recorded in a former Catholic church, aka Sacred Heart Studio (where the band previously crafted 2002’s Trust) and co-produced and mixed by Matt Beckley. The band took full advantage of Sacred Heart’s high, vaulted ceilings, natural reverb, and audible affinity for organ sounds and group singing. The thunder-crack percussion that peppers the final minute of the slowly unfolding “Majesty/Magic” is just one example of this dynamic in action. With its jangly guitars and sweet vocal harmonies, opener “Try to Sleep” sets the album’s tone: Warmer, fuller and more introspective. Whereas 2007’s Drums and Guns railed against the war in Iraq, C’mon feels like a plea for humanity, decency and common sense in a world gone mad. Sparhawk concurs. “With the last couple of records, we were grappling with something outside of ourselves. This one feels more like, ‘Well, forget that. I’m looking in your eyes right now, and we need to figure out how to get through the next moment, together, as human beings.’”
Without curtailing their artistry one iota, the trio has made one of its most accessible, affecting albums to date. And while the origins of C’mon may lie in a church in Minnesota, Beckley’s apartment in CA and the hearts of the modest individuals who created it, the resulting music has the capacity to resonate deeply with audiences everywhere.
Released: April 12, 2011
Jaill / That's How We Burn Cassette - 4089194
The cassette version of Jaill’s 2010 opus, That’s How We Burn!
Released: January 31, 2011
J Mascis / Several Shades of Why - SP859
In the quarter century since he founded Dinosaur (Jr.), J Mascis has created some of the era’s signature songs, albums and styles. The laconically-based roar of his guitar, drums and vocals have driven a long string of bands—Deep Wound, Dinosaur Jr., Gobblehoof, Velvet Monkeys, the Fog, Witch, Sweet Apple—and he has guested on innumerable sessions. But Several Shades of Why, recorded at Amherst, Massachusetts’ Bisquiteen Studios, is J’s first solo studio record, and it is an album of incredible beauty, performed with a delicacy not always associated with his work.
Nearly all acoustic, Several Shades of Why was created with the help of a few friends. Notable amongst them are Kurt Vile, Sophie Trudeau (A Silver Mount Zion), Kurt Fedora (long-time collusionist), Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene), Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses), Pall Jenkins (Black Heart Procession), Matt Valentine (The Golden Road), and Suzanne Thorpe (Wounded Knees). Together in small mutable groupings, they conjure up classic sounds ranging from English-tinged folk to drifty, West Coast-style singer/songwriterism. But every track, every note even, bears that distinct Mascis watermark, both in the shape of the tunes and the glorious rasp of the vocals. Ten brilliant tunes that quietly grow and expand until they fill your brain with the purest pleasure.
Released: March 15, 2011
Fleet Foxes / Helplessness Blues - SP888
Helplessness Blues is the new full-length from Fleet Foxes. Helplessness Blues was recorded over the course of a year at Avast Recording, Bear Creek Studios, Dreamland Studios, and Reciprocal Recording. The album was recorded and mixed by Phil Ek and co-produced by Fleet Foxes and Ek. The piece that appears on the album cover was illustrated by Seattle artist Toby Liebowitz and painted by Chris Alderson. Fleet Foxes is Robin Pecknold, Skyler Skjelset, Christian Wargo, Casey Wescott, Josh Tillman and Morgan Henderson.
Released: May 3, 2011
Helplessness Blues CD/LP + Helplessness Blues Natural Shirt
Fleet Foxes’ “Helplessness Blues” on CD or LP + “Helplessness Blues Natural” Shirt
Helplessness Blues CD/LP + Helplessness Blues Forest Shirt
Fleet Foxes’ “Helplessness Blues” CD or LP + “Helplessness Blues Forest” Shirt
Michael and the Mumbles / Michael and the Mumbles - SBL-76074
Before Michael Yonkers would revise the history of recorded music with the clarion chords of Microminiature Love he was in a band called Michael and the Mumbles and they made this self-titled LP in 1966. Upon immediate spins, their would-be debut comes off as a naive, teenage trip thru the typified garage band moves of this era. But repeated spins reveal a darkness beneath what some dullard might only perceive as its crisp, winsome visage. It’s only to a slightly less visible degree that the Mumbles LP has the same characteristics that would make Micro the singularly original piece it is; its emotionally bleak themes, dissonant undercurrents, and recklessly wild performance.
So, once again we have a Michael Yonkers LP that is going to turn the world upside down, make the college girls scream, and leave you wondering how many more times this can happen. Seriously, Pigeon Falls up here looks like a Riot on the Sunset Strip. Indulge yrself.
PS: Michael and the Mumbles is on the king of all known formats (with a digital download coupon, natch). The mastertapes used herein are 45 yrs old and aside from the glitch on “Cold Town” they sound amazing.
Released: November 3, 2009
The first public appearance pairing Christian Henjes and Juergen Gleue (inspired by and with names derived from LSD-25, they would become CH-39 and JG-39) was in 1976, at the Dada Nova (a space occupied by Otto Mühl’s AAO commune) in midtown Hannover, Germany. Dada Nova would be a space of enduring clash. From the subtlety of a shat upon organ to the ejection from communal meetings by bodily force, the AAO would display that the presence of the 39 Clocks was one of their constant grief.
Known for pranksterism and the destruction of the clubs in which they would perform, friction in every form would continually follow the band. In 1979 they were thrown out of a show in Kassel at Dokumenta (their sounds had disturbed Joseph Beuys). They created an outrage (they wrote a tune with the title “Art Minus Idiots”) at the Filmtage Hannover with their avant-garde Super 8 movies made under the disguise of director Zachius Lipschitz. Rumour claims that at a Hannover show at the Cafe Glocksee, they played the vacuum cleaner and a circular saw instead of guitars, and there was even a knife throwing incident in Bremen.
Inspired, then, clearly, by protest in the broadest and most romantic sense (they wrote a tune with the title “Radical Student Mob In Satin Boots”) theirs was a sound attuned to classic American Punk / Nuggets. Although, this is not Bomp Rock; theirs was a thrust that purposed deconstruction and reassembly in the most modern sense. This collection was put together with the non completeist in mind (originals of some of these records are as rare as Italian underwear), intending to display the general 39 Clocks vibe, but also some of their more curious wrinkles. And as the Clocks were always interested in where they were going and not where they’d been, the chronology here is strictly reversed. Diedrich Diedrichsen wrote the first review of the band (in Spex), and we at DeStijl are very pleased to have had him scribe liner notes.
Released: January 1, 2010
Orange / In the Midst of Chaos - SBL-76064
Recorded in 1978, In The Midst of Chaos is this western CT free-jazz group’s only release. It would become improv jazz sax player Paul Flaherty’s 1st record, who, as a youth, was smitten by the world, its creator and Pharoah Sanders. Chaos is also the only release of legendary guitarist Barry Greika, who, along with bassist Bob Laramie and drummer Glen “Hobbit” Peterson, remain the most under-recorded trio in history. A screamin’, howlin’, blisterin’ slap of a record that defies categorizations as it pushes the 70’s into uncharted confusion.
Pressed in a quantity of only 200 copies, it received the notice of almost no one. Two heard it though; one sailed it out the kitchen window, the wife of the other said to get the fuckin’ thing out of the house.
So here it comes again. Hardcore freeform shit, rejuvenated without shame.
- Charles F. Destruction
Released: January 1, 2010
Mark Tucker / In the Sack - SBL-76061
Amongst connoisseurs of revelatory/off the map private press sides, the recordings of Mark Tucker have long provided a functional model of the genre at its most beautifully fucked. Tucker’s second album, 1983’s In the Sack, was an apocalyptic/dystopian concept album that centred on the American postal system and that sounded something like a cross between a teenage Van Dyke Parks and a slightly less disobedient Half Japanese. But his debut album, Batstew, released on his own Tetrapod Spools label in 1975, is widely regarded as his masterpiece. The whole concept for this fantastically unlikely recording seems to have been birthed via the conflation of a bunch of Tucker’s obsessions at the time, namely his car (which he referred to as ‘The Bat’) and his “She”, Eva Bataszew, an early girlfriend with whom Tucker had a relationship “riddled with paranormal phenomena”. The death of that relationship would later contribute to the deterioration of Tucker’s mental health and three bouts of hospitalisation for severe depression. The album was released in two runs of 100 copies each, including one personalised edition for Eva, where the title read Bataszew. “She never commented on it,” Tucker relates in the newly penned liner notes, “except to say that she played it for her cousin and he ‘didn’t get it’”. Tucker’s parents were similarly unresponsive. His father “never commented on any aspect of it but several years later, my stepmother asked me if I had written a song about a homosexual relationship, so apparently she had heard it. My mother, who had dreamed of me becoming a concert pianist—the next Rubinstein or Horowitz—hated Batstew in its entirety from the first minute to the last. She never wished to own a copy. After hearing the master tape of the proposed album, she told me ’You’re selling your craziness’. I replied, ‘So was Beethoven.’” Batstew draws on a number of sonic strategies, all of which are satisfyingly bent. The core of the material is based around recordings of his car, a 1964 Cadillac—ticking over, revving up, its engine dying—that predate the orchestrated mechanics of David Jackman and Vagina Dentata Organ. These sections are cut up with beautiful songs, all executed with a level of unself-conscious exuberance that is extremely poignant. The closest parallel is definitely the kind of benign DIY current loosed by the Department Store Santas LP and the themes are just as odd, with a beautiful gay love song centred on two young kids—“Sideways Love Forever”—sandwiched between damaged folk rock blasters, pre-lapsarian jigs, field recording from deep inside the void of 1970s suburbia, snippets of Tucker talking to his car, piano led lost-teen ballads and huge zones of “car-sounds-run-through-tremolo-pedal effects and tape manipulation”. “Some listeners have pointed out that much of what is on the album, particularly the long, disjointed, droning, melting, nightmarish ‘Submerged Bat Vortex’ strongly suggests mental illness,” Tucker confesses. Eva herself contributes vocals to “Honey Tree”, while Tucker’s armoury is bolstered by co-conspirator Shakey T. Colley on blues harp, electric guitar and tape manipulation as well as Chris DeMuynck on electric bass, John Vignola on acoustic guitar and Tom Von Ebers on electric guitar. “The last time I saw Eva Bataszew was on her 24th birthday: September 4, 1979,” Tucker relates. “She died, apparently by her own hand, in 1987. I didn’t hear about it until 1990. Shakey T. Colley died at age 40 in 1996 of what appeared to be an accidental overdose of drugs. They had both been alcoholics. For personal and professional reasons, I legally changed my name in 1991 to T. Storm Hunter. From 1979 to 1993, I continued to write and record, eventually issuing most of this material on CDs and posting downloadable songs on the Internet. Yet, this album—which most people found incomprehensible and unlistenable in 1975—is the one work in my discography which, after more than a quarter-century of obscurity, is finding an audience. Go figure.” As a document of the singular experience of a star-crossed group of friends, lost somewhere in mid-century America and fully committed to the defiant arc of their own tongues, Batstew remains unparalleled. Highest possible recommendation.
Released: January 1, 2010
Mark Tucker / Batstew - 4000399
This is one of those LPs that I’ve heard about for years. People’d say to me “Roland, it’s right up your alley” or “Roland it’s terrible. You’d love it!” But when I’d ask’em to describe it they’d go doe-eyed & get all pickle faced ‘n say “you just have to hear it for yourself.” Well finally, thanks to the De Stijl label, I have. And let me tell you something: I am perplexed about what I heard. Mostly, I guess, ’cause I ain’t hearin things what other scribes have insinuated I should. Department Store Santas? Desperate Bicycles? Not in my kung fu village! To me this LP teeters on a precipice between euphoria & anguish. It is certainly the work of an unstable mind & tortured soul. I mean, you can almost feel Tucker’s circuits shorting out as the record progresses. You don’t need to read the insert to hear that! There’s a lot of sadness & confusion goin on too. It’s a record about a guy’s love for his car. It’s a record about a guy’s love for his girl. There’s a song that’s evidently an ode to homosexual love (not that there’s anything wrong w/ that). The guy records himself talkin to his car, slammin the doors, the girl whispers & sings along sometimes. Yeah, it has it’s moments. Like the naif, art brut-ish noisescapes that Tucker occasionally creates or like the dingaling song at the end of side 2 that’s about a Cadillac (among other things) that eventually crumbles into a fuzzy guitar “freakout”. It is one odd fucker of an LP, there’s no denyin that. But how someone—& I won’t say who—winds up comparin it to the albums by Department Store Santas & Desperate Bicycles is beyond me. Oh sure, those’re nice lures you’re tossin out there, but they’re inappropriate. Those bands LPs are challenging. Tucker’s is more challenged. Maybe what they meant to say was that one day Mark Tucker saw someone dressed as a department store Santa, went bananas, then desperately rode a bicycle to the mental institution. I dunno. I wasn’t there. If I was to sell you this record I would say “imagine a record that sounds like someone who claims to be Daniel Johnston who rerecorded Smile” or “imagine if Larry Fischer had been commissioned to do the Pink Moon LP as literally a Volkswagen commercial”. Would you buy it? I know I would because that sounds like something that’s right up my alley & the descriptions are terrible enough that I’d probably love it. That said, Batstew is certainly a unique album. I dunno about a masterpiece, but shorter people are prone to exaggeration. And that’s a fact! I’m glad I got to hear it & props to De Stijl for reissuing it.
~ Roland Woodbe / siltblog
Released: July 31, 2008
The Twilight Singers / Dynamite Steps - SP844
“Whenever you’re here, you’re alive” are the first words sung on Dynamite Steps, the fifth album from Greg Dulli’s Twilight Singers collective, and the group’s first in five years. The Twilight Singers’ previous release, the acclaimed confessional opus Powder Burns, came out in 2006. Dynamite Steps is clearly the next chapter, a whole new level of catharsis and progress, evocatively cramming all the highs and lows of the maverick singer-songwriter’s past half-decade into unexpected sonic trapdoors. “Shot on location” at various locales significant to Dulli’s life, you can hear the sense of place emanating up from the grooves of Dynamite Steps. Here, the weary nighttime decadence of New Orleans rubs up against the oppressive sunshine of Los Angeles and the desolation of Joshua Tree’s desert vistas. Dynamite Steps explores the thin line between life and death, mortality and immortality, resignation and celebration—that mythical moment when your life flashes before your eyes, drawn out here over the course of eleven songs. The album’s forty-three minutes prove an unflinching odyssey through the dark side, but one that’s ultimately redemptive in its scope and power.
If you pre-order Dynamite Steps by February 15th, you’ll receive a free, limited edition CDR featuring two non album Twilight Singers tracks!
As of February 10th, we have no more Twilight Singers Bonus CDRs to give away with pre-orders. The amount of pre-orders we received was overwhelming, but appropriate for the level greatness that Dynamite Steps exudes. What I’m sayin’ is, it’s great.
The LP version is a double LP on white vinyl!
Released: February 15, 2011
Phantom Payn Days / Phantom Payn Days - 4000393
While in the widely neglected 39 Clocks, he made records that never sold and played gigs that few ever saw, Juergen Gleue has arguably been the most important exponent of electrified German sound since the late 1970s. Phantom Payn Daze was made in the mid to late 90s and has never been released. It’s his final LP and is overflowing with all the elements that romanticized, loner / stoner music claims, an encoded expression of highly private feelings, an ambiguous, emotional quotient, and a dark, murkily melodic vibe. It’s a record that first and foremost lives and breathes with an endless stream of great songs. But perhaps it’s most curious component is it’s amazingly prescient sound, a precursor to so many of today’s lo fi acts, all wrapped up in their San Francisco hair.
Released: January 11, 2011
Papercuts / You Can Have What You Want - 4088599
Papercuts’ You Can Have What You Want is the newest phase in Jason Quever’s ongoing pop investigations. The relatively earthbound happy/sad pop of Mockingbird and Can’t Go Back has been launched into the vault of the skies. Here, Quever delves further into epic dream-pop using mostly vintage organs, pulsing bass, and Kraut-via-Ringo-inspired drum rhythms. Intact from those earlier efforts is Quever’s sense of arrangement and drama, as well as his soaring vocals, draped in reverb gauze. The words reveal a fascination with mortality and things cosmic, while sonically the voice acts as another instrument. This obsessively all-analog effort (no computer processing here whatsoever!) cuts across several eras of dreamy sound: ‘80s/’90s Creation and 4AD Records, The Zombies, ‘60s French pop, even Can’s Future Days—and then there’s the inevitable connection to former tourmates Beach House and Grizzly Bear. Indeed, Beach House’s Alex Scally helped with some of the arrangements, though You Can Have What You Want is its own strain of addictive pop. For many, it will be the blissful/melancholy jam of the spring and summer.
Released: January 11, 2011
Papercuts / Can't Go Back - 4088598
Papercuts is Jason Quever’s cathedral of sound, stemming from a desperate analog worship and respect for musicianship of the old world. This album, for Gnomonsong, Can’t Go Back, is a marriage of timeless songs, richly textured studio sounds, classic rock/pop hookery, and focused narratives — all delivered with Quever’s warm voice and wonderfully layered melodies.
Released: January 11, 2011
Papercuts / Fading Parade - SP885
Papercuts prinicipal Jason Robert Quever’s beautiful songwriting is thoughtful, evocative, subtle, and simultaneously ambitious. And the new Papercuts album, Fading Parade,—the band’s fourth overall—is dream pop of the highest order. Crafted over the course of several months at The Hangar in Sacramento, with Thom Monahan, and at Quever’s own Pan American Recording studio, Fading Parade is meticulously designed pop music, with a fully developed sense of space and a sturdy wall of sound. With the aid of strings, autoharp, Mellotron, Moogs, 12-string acoustic guitars, piano, echoplexes, analog and digital recording methods, this new album is wide-ranging and adventurous, through the up-tempo jangle of “Do You Really Wanna Know,” the soaring and resonant “Do What You Will,” the moody swirl of “I’ll See You Later, I Guess,” the folky, piano-driven “Winter Daze,” and on. Imagine Belle & Sebastian teaming up with Slowdive and recording with Phil Spector back when he was killing it in the studio rather than, well, you know. Fading Parade is Papercuts’ first album for Sub Pop.
If you pre-order Fading Parade by March 1st, you’ll receive, for free, a limited edition CDR featuring “Boys of Summer” (yes, that “Boys of Summer”, “Perfect”, and “UFO”. You’ll also get a couple stickers!
Released: March 1, 2011