A record that really defies any easy description – and a project that was done by Gareth Williams after leaving This Heat – put together with the sonic intensity of that groundbreaking group – but with all these other elements besides its trademark percussion! Instead, there's hardly any drums on here at all – and the record is a collaboration with Mary Currie – as both her and Gareth handle a range of instruments – from guitar, to piano, Casio, clarinet, bass, percussion, tapes, and all these other odd bits – often processed alongside other instrumental contributions from guests – so that there's all these weird sounds amidst the tuneful elements of the record! There's vocals at points, often processed too – and the whole thing is maybe in the farther reachs of the Swell Maps side of the universe – that sense of sonic free play between that group's more direct sounds, served up here with an equal amount of darkness. Titles include "It's Madness", "Golden Age", "Beguiling The Hours", "Another Flaming Tune", "Breast Stroke", "A To B", and "Restless Mind". LP, Vinyl record album
The Saravah Records debut from this amazing French singer – done with a wonderful sound that really links two generations of French music! At some level, the album's got a slightly more standard feel – bits of jazz, but inflected freshly – almost like the sublime Jeanne Moreau album on 60s Polydor. But at another level, there's already some of Fontaine's experimental spirit strongly at play – putting the songs together with a very creative, poetic approach. Pierre Barouh (of Francis Lai soundtrack & Saravah fame) handled the music, and the orchestrations have lots of cool little bits and weird twists and turns – and Brigitte's voice is strong and clear, more like other familiar female French singers than on her later work. Tracks include "L'Homme Objet", "Le Beau Cancer", "Il Pleut", "Je Suis Inadaptee", and "Comme Rimbaud". Totally worth having if you dig groovy French stuff! CD
Brigitte Fontaine & Art Ensemble of Chicago —
Comme A La Radio ... LP Saravah/SuperiorViaduct, 1970. New Copy Gatefold (reissue)...
One of the coolest albums ever recorded – a legendary meeting between the Art Ensemble Of Chicago and inventive French singer Brigitte Fontaine! The set was recorded at the end of the 60s in Paris, and it perfectly sums up all of the incredible energy bubbling out of the post-68 years – an openness to new music, new ideas, and new forms of expression – presented here in an open, honest way that only the Saravah label could muster! Fontaine's vocals are wonderful – soft-sung and spoken, with a style that's like that of a more artful and poetic Jane Birkin – and the backings from the Art Ensemble are some of their most sensitive ever – very balanced and conscious of sound, in ways that make us wish they'd recorded a lot more like this. There's never a dull moment on the record, and the set is honestly one of the reasons we first got into this business in the first place – the kind of life-changing record that's a real honor for us to stock. Frequent Fontaine partner Areski joins in on a few tracks, and titles include "Comme A La Radio", "L'Ete L'Ete", "Le Brouillard", "Tanka II", "Leo", and "Les Petits Chevaux". LP, Vinyl record album
Minimalist brilliance from Jon Gibson – a composer/musician who worked with some of the greats of his generation, and also made some wonderful music on his own! This package features music recorded in and around New York in the mid 70s, often recorded by Kurt Munkacsi, the engineer who made Phillip Glass' recordings sound so great – and the performances range from solo works on piano, organ, and solo soprano sax – to group performances with musicians who include Arthur Russell on cello, Barbara Benary on violin, and Julius Eastman on piano. All works are beautifully minimal and cyclical – and titles include "Equal Distribution", "Solo For Saxophone", "Melody IV", "Song 1", "Melody", and "Song 2". LP, Vinyl record album
Bert Jansch —
Jack Orion ... LP Transatlantic/SuperiorViaduct, 1966. New Copy (reissue)...
A huge leap forward for the mighty Bert Jansch – and a record that's somehow even more amazing than the ones that came before! Bert's maybe even more introspective here, but also on a personal journey that takes him down musical paths that seem broader than before – almost echoing a wider range of influences on his guitar performance, yet in a way that still comes across with a uniquely pointed vibe. There's some occasional shift in the instrumentation, too – as Jansch plays banjo on the leadoff track, but with the same chilling currents as his sublime acoustic guitar – and John Renbourn joins on second guitar for a number of tracks, prefacing the pair's collaboration to come. And as with all of Jansch's genius material at this point, there's a quality that's both ancient and modern, timeless and uniquely tied to its moment – flowering beautifully on tunes that include "Jack Orion", "The Waggoner's Lad", "Nottamun Town", "Black Water Side", "Pretty Polly", and "The Gardner". LP, Vinyl record album
Joe McPhee —
Nation Time ... LP CJ Records/SuperiorViaduct, 1970. New Copy (reissue)...
Wild early work from avant jazz genius Joe McPhee – and a set that's actually pretty darn funky too! This rare indie release features 3 long tracks – two of which were recorded live, with a tight combo that includes a very funky drummer! The album kicks off with the hard wailing "Nation Time", which begins with a shout from Joe, and which rolls into a vamping modal groove (almost Pharoah Sanders-ish) filled with spiritual tenor work from McPhee, and some nice electric piano that sounds very off-kilter – funky, but unusual too. Next up is "Shakey Jake", an excellent 13 minute funk number – with bubbling organ, vamping rhythms, and a nice extended jazz dance groove – one of the rare tunes that has kept the album at the top of collectors' lists for years! And last up is "Scorpio's Dance", a pretty raw and somber track, with a nice open-ended loft jazz quality – balancing things out with a bit of avant energy. LP, Vinyl record album
Unreleased music from an LA band that might have been revolutionary, had they got the proper exposure – a group who were distinctly post-punk, right in the birth year of west coast punk – and one who've got a lineup that's a lot more electronic than their contemporaries! The group uses two keyboard players, both using simple, stark versions of the instrument – so that there's a quality that's almost cold wave, but also has the rough around the edges charm of Suicide – and maybe shares some of the bold sense of fidelity too! Lyrics are more punkish overall, and there's definitely a confrontational vibe to the group. Titles include "Magazine Love", "Punish Or Be Damned", "Anything", "Mater Dolores", and "Peer Pressure". LP, Vinyl record album
The title certainly gets it right – as Spacemen 3 were legally-registered heroin addicts in the UK at the time of this recording – very unusual in the years before heroin chic of the 90s! The set came out after the group's first few landmark records, but actually features earlier demo material recorded in 1986 – really wonderful sounds that are a great change from the tighter direction the group were taking as the 90s moved on – as these sides still have them very much awash in fuzz, and probably pretty fuzzed-out themselves! Sonic Boom provides loads of wonderfully trippy guitar feedback, and the group's a quartet here – with guitar, bass, and percussion – on titles that include "Come Down Easy", "That's Just Fine", "Mary Anne", "Sound Of Confusion", "A-Men", and "Losing Touch With My Mind". LP, Vinyl record album
The first-ever full album of music from Tony Conrad – issued in the early 70s after years of Conrad's secret input to the global avant garde – including some key years in New York, where he influenced John Cale and a generation of others who rose to greater fame! This set really has Conrad breaking out with a boldness right from the start – moving away from the arty underground, and trying to hit some more creative interplay with the more adventurous rock scene – which, in this case, includes strong work on the record by the young Faust – who turn out to be a perfect vehicle for Conrad's ideas of minimal sound progressions and tonal textures! Each side of the record features one long track – with heavy drums at the core, ala Faust – mixed with guitars, violin, and other waves of sound – almost in a pulsing space that recalls Cale's work with Terry Riley, or which is a more serious take on modes that Can was experimenting with too – although with a starkness and darkness that really lives up to the cover image. Titles include "The Side Of The Machine" and "The Side Of Man & Womankind". LP, Vinyl record album
The Saravah Records debut from this amazing French singer – done with a wonderful sound that really links two generations of French music! At some level, the album's got a slightly more standard feel – bits of jazz, but inflected freshly – almost like the sublime Jeanne Moreau album on 60s Polydor. But at another level, there's already some of Fontaine's experimental spirit strongly at play – putting the songs together with a very creative, poetic approach. Pierre Barouh (of Francis Lai soundtrack & Saravah fame) handled the music, and the orchestrations have lots of cool little bits and weird twists and turns – and Brigitte's voice is strong and clear, more like other familiar female French singers than on her later work. Tracks include "L'Homme Objet", "Le Beau Cancer", "Il Pleut", "Je Suis Inadaptee", and "Comme Rimbaud". Totally worth having if you dig groovy French stuff! LP, Vinyl record album
Brigitte Fontaine & Art Ensemble of Chicago —
Comme A La Radio ... CD Saravah/SuperiorViaduct (France), 1970. New Copy ...
Out Of Stock
One of the coolest albums ever recorded – a legendary meeting between the Art Ensemble Of Chicago and inventive French singer Brigitte Fontaine! The set was recorded at the end of the 60s in Paris, and it perfectly sums up all of the incredible energy bubbling out of the post-68 years – an openness to new music, new ideas, and new forms of expression – presented here in an open, honest way that only the Saravah label could muster! Fontaine's vocals are wonderful – soft-sung and spoken, with a style that's like that of a more artful and poetic Jane Birkin – and the backings from the Art Ensemble are some of their most sensitive ever – very balanced and conscious of sound, in ways that make us wish they'd recorded a lot more like this. There's never a dull moment on the record, and the set is honestly one of the reasons we first got into this business in the first place – the kind of life-changing record that's a real honor for us to stock. Frequent Fontaine partner Areski joins in on a few tracks, and titles include "Comme A La Radio", "L'Ete L'Ete", "Le Brouillard", "Tanka II", "Leo", and "Les Petits Chevaux". CD
A fantastic soundtrack that's maybe even more legendary than the unusual animated film for which it was created – a funky French classic that stands strong in the best tradition of work by Serge Gainsbourg, Jean-Claude Vannier, and Michel Colombier! No surprise, Alain Goraguer is part of the same generation, and did some great early jazzy backings for Serge – but here, his style is much funkier, with lots of sweet keyboard lines, wah wah guitar, and soaring larger orchestrations that really put the whole thing together – clearly one of Alain's best musical moments – and filled with great tunes that include "Le Bracelet", "Deshominisation", "Mort De Draag", "La Femme", "Mira Et Ten", and "Ten Et Medor". LP, Vinyl record album
Brilliant minimal work from Steve Reich – pre-fame performances that really get to the core of minimalist composition from the start of the movement – played by a hip small group of musicians that includes Reich, Steve Chambers, Art Murphy, and Philip Glass! "Four Organs" is a wonderful combination of the instruments mentioned in the title – coming together with a cool drone-building quality, and driven by some very slight, soft rhythms on maracas – very cool, and relatively spare – but with a compelling sound that definitely shows that Reich and his contemporaries were onto a whole new groove. "Phase Patterns" has organs again - and is a slow, subtle exploration of Reich's early ideas on patterns of phase shifting – delivered here in a spare, stark, simple way that really hooks you into his musical ideas, in ways that some of the larger concept records sometimes fail to do. CD
Alice Coltrane —
Lord Of Lords ... LP Impulse/SuperiorViaduct, 1972. New Copy Gatefold (reissue)...
Out Of Stock
Beautifully high concept work from Alice Coltrane – the kind of record you'd use to announce the arrival of a new king – or lord, for that matter! The record features Coltrane at the head of a large group of string players – creating a full, rich sound that serves as the backdrop for the core group of musicians – a trio that features Alice on piano, organ, and harp, plus Charlie Haden on bass and Ben Riley on drums and percussion. The tracks are long, and at times very dark – extremely powerful in their sound, and with a sense of hope, life, and majesty that's extremely inspiring! Titles include "Sri Rama Ohnedaruth", "The Firebird", "Lord of Lords", and "Going Home". LP, Vinyl record album
Early art punk genius from Devo – the amazing underground material from the pre-WB years – when they were still Ohio college students! Hardcore Volume 1 features 4 track recordings made in the mid 70s, including some early versions of tracks they'd re-recorded later for their first proper album – including "Jocko Homo", "Mongoloid", "Soo Bawls" and their deranged cover of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" – and a whole bunch more that have only ever been heard by hardcore spuds. It has a cruder sound than their pop years and a darker, chillier vibe that's pretty incredible, but the concept is in full form, even at this early point! Other tracks include "Mechanical Man", "I'm A Potato", "Uglatto", "Stop Look And Listen"and more. LP, Vinyl record album
The Ex have had an amazing career over their many decades in music – forays into jazz, improv, and even global sounds – but here, right at the start, they're much more in the spirit of political punk contemporaries from the UK – especially Gang Of Four and Crass – both of whom are a good comparison to the nonstop energy and razor-sharp sound of this debut album! Lyrics are all in English, and these guys are clearly using their unique spot in the Dutch scene to soar out and challenge some of the more powerful acts of the Anglo world – coming on strong with scratchy guitar, hard-rolling basslines, and drums that drive the lead lyrics over the top – on titles that include "A Sense Of Tumour", "Sucking Pig", "Outlook Army", "The Sky Is Blue Again", "Map", "Rules", "Squatsong", and "Warning Shot". LP, Vinyl record album
(First time vinyl reissue – with bonus 7 inch & booklet! Single features the cuts "Introduction", "Human Car", "Punk", and "Horse".)
A masterpiece from Spacemen 3 – maybe one of the greatest psychedelic albums of all time – and one that we'd rank right up there with giants from the late 60s, and all those lesser-known acts that always seem to get rediscovered over the years! There's a definite 80s quality to the production, but there's also a timeless approach here that really sets the trio apart from so many of their contemporaries who'd reach for fuzz and echo, yet end up sounding completely dated just a few years later. Everything seems set to "rumble" – the Vox Starstreamer, the Fender Jaguar, the Telecaster, Rickenbacker, and other vintage instruments that made this drum-less record so wonderful right at the core – and although the vocals are part of the package too, it's really the guitars that do all the singing here. Titles include "Come Down Softly To My Soul", "How Does It Feel", "Let Me Down Gently", "Lord Can You Hear Me", "Suicide", "Honey", and "I Believe It". LP, Vinyl record album
Sublime minimalist experiments from Pascal Comelade – music that's kind of a more offbeat, low-fi take on the territory of Terry Riley – as Comelade performs these beautiful long lines on both piano and organ! Pascal is working here on one track with guitar from Richard Pinhas, another with trumpet from Philippe Beseme and drums from Ben Soussan, and another with guitar from G Ibanez and bass from JP Barreda – all instrumentalists used in different ways, in different shifting patterns of sound – on titles that include "A Few Reasons To Stay A Few Reasons To Split", "Schizo", and "Barcelona Tango". LP, Vinyl record album
(Individually numbered, limited edition of 750!)
Steve Reich —
Drumming ... CD SuperiorViaduct, 1971. New Copy 2CD ...
Out Of Stock
One of the earliest recordings of Steve Reich's seminal composition "Drumming" – an amazing blend of minimal percussion snatches, coming together to form a lyrical repetitive work of great beauty! This version is longer than most – stretching out wonderfully over the double-length set – with a raw power that's tremendous – as Reich works with the group first on eight small tuned drums, then opens the sound up to three marimbas and three glockenspiels, while also making space for male and female voices, a piccolo, and even a bit of whistling – all to create an extremely haunting sound that's still one of the best illustrations of minimalist at its height! The sound is incredible – a slow-shifting phase of sound from the percussion players – first conceived by Reich right around the time he was moving to work on keyboards from his tape projects – but, as a percussive performance, far more difficult to handle – especially given the extended time of the piece. CD
Fantastic – and one of Mingus' greatest albums ever! This one ranks right up with The Clown and Pithecantropus Erectus for sheer raw power and emotion – and Mingus' writing here is incredibly tight, giving soloists like Charlie Mariano, Jaki Byard, Richard Williams, and Jerome Richardson a real workout. The set's an extended suite of tracks with sort of a semi-ballet form. Don't let this fool you into thinking that the work's some sort of semi-classical snoozer, though – as Mingus uses the structure to hit some brilliant raw emotion, and the "dance" part of the piece gives the work a tight rhythmic form, pushing the soloists into raw urgent grooves, of a nature that never show up on Mingus' other work from the time. Titles include "Trio & Group Dancers", "Solo Dancer", "Group & Solo Dance", and "Duet Solo Dancers". LP, Vinyl record album
(Recent reissue on Superior Viaduct in the heavy gatefold cover.)