Folk / Roots

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Twin Cosmos - Double Action (LP)Twin Cosmos - Double Action (LP)
Twin Cosmos - Double Action (LP)Left Ear Records
Twin Cosmos’ – ‘Double Action’ is a conceptual album by Japanese twins released in 1982, with each brother contributing to one side of the LP in a Yin & Yang approach. Side A, recorded by Morihito sounds like something that Brian Wilson might have created in the early 1980’s, after visiting Brazil and learning Japanese. In Contrast Side B, recorded by Yasuhito is a darker self-reflective and experimental work that mirrors his time living in NY & LA during the late ‘70’s and sounds like something Lou Reed might have made while going gown a David Lynch spiral. Twin Cosmos is not only the name of the musical output of fraternal twins Morihito & Yasuhito Ito, but more philosophically, an album that encapsulates, “the universe of twins”. The pair were born 1953 in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture. A port city 50 kilometres west of Nagoya, famous for its chemical plants. Despite their surroundings, they grew up in an environment that fostered learning and self-expression. From an early age, they began to carve out their own paths. Morihito was fascinated with scientific endeavours, space travel and spirituality. His father, an electrician by trade - motivated him to build his own musical equipment. This led him to attend an acoustic engineering school in Tokyo from 1972-1974, after which, Morihito returned to Yokkaichi where he worked in the instrument and audio section of a department store. This helped him keep up to date with the latest equipment, while allowing him to simultaneously work on his own musical endeavours. Morihito’s side of the ‘Double Action’ LP is a cohesive piece, which effortlessly drifts from one song to the next through samples of flowing water and rockets launching into space ,that were recorded while visiting his brother in the States. His music is carried by flowing vocal harmonies, guitar strums, and floating synths to create an eternal dreamlike ambiance. In contrast, Yasuhito gravitated towards philosophy and the arts and in 1976 followed his Englsih teachers’ advice and moved to the ‘foreign world’ of the United States. It’s here that he further explored his interests in Christianity, sadomasochism and poetry. He was exposed to artists like John Cage and Sun Ra, as well as a variety of ‘Do It Yourself’ recording techniques that enabled him to record remotely. Using samples, poetry, and an original approach to traditional folk & rock songs, he recorded his side of the LP. The outcome being provocative, dark and confronting realisations, which solely used English lyrics to represent his experiences in the ‘Western world’. In 1980, Yasuhito was wooed back to Japan by his brother and the prospect of a combined record release. The self-released album ‘Double Action’, was completed at Victor studios in Japan. Without a distribution network, the release was sold mostly to family and friends and fell into obscurity. Despite not reaching commercial success, the pair have continued to make music over the past four decades, crediting it as their driving force in life.
Carmen Villain - Infinite Avenue (LP)Carmen Villain - Infinite Avenue (LP)
Carmen Villain - Infinite Avenue (LP)Smalltown Supersound
We’re all on our own unique emotional road trips. Infinite Avenue happens to be Carmen’s. Here she is, holed up in the Motel Nowheresville, unpacking a suitcase full of stories of guilt, desire, rage, apathy, love and friendship, loneliness, nature, inner demons and other tales of twenty-first century womanhood. Carmen Villain is half-Norwegian and half-Mexican, born in the USA and now living in Oslo, Norway, having moved back after living in London for a few years. She has a lot of stories to tell. Writing, recording and producing alone, Carmen’s intensely personal songs are entirely self-created in her makeshift studio, made up of tapestries of guitar, piano, programmed drums and synths, making the most she could out of her limited gear. Once she had arrived at more than enough tracks for a follow-up album to 2013’s 'Sleeper,' some of them were mixed with experimental house producer Matt Karmil and ‘Quietly’ was treated by noise improviser Helge Sten (aka Deathprod). Taboo-busting Norwegian artist Jenny Hval contributes lyrics and vocals on ‘Borders’, a song especially relevant among today’s tightening frontiers in America and elsewhere. ‘Red Desert’ is titled after the legendary Antonioni movie about a woman’s survival tactics in a surreal industrial landscape full of existential crisis. ‘To me the movie feels like a perfect visual representation of what it can be like to be anxious and uncomfortable in your head sometimes,’ says Carmen. Musically, 'Infinite Avenue' has a similar effect. With 'Infinite Avenue,' Carmen Villain’s songwriting and production skills have taken a major leap forward, and on the final, ethereal ‘Planetarium’ her voice shoots into the stratosphere, riding the comet tail of a Korg bass drone. It’s about acknowledging the immensity of the universe, while remembering that we’ve each got our own private constellation of issues to deal with down here. It’s a typically Villainous contrast of rapture and irony, with a murmured coda recorded as she was falling asleep one night. ‘Everything I write has to be true,’ she says, ‘even if I sometimes find it’s too confessional. Whatever was my truth at that moment.’ The hollow-eyed woman on the cover, that’s Hollywood actress Gena Rowlands, partner of the late director John Cassavetes – a heroine of Carmen’s because of the way her face and body can so brilliantly express psychological states, nervousness, being stressed out, desperation, anxiety, joy without necessarily using words. A freakish dream sequence in 'Love Streams,' where she gambles with the love of her estranged husband and child and desperately tries to make them laugh with a bunch of practical-joke toys, is manic genius – and one of Carmen’s favourite film scenes. Ms Rowlands, by the way, personally approved the use of her image for this project. A famous movie maker once called film ‘truth at 24 frames per second’. With 'Infinite Avenue,' you get an earful of truth at 33 1/3 revs per minute.
Eerie Wanda - Internal Radio (Lavender Vinyl LP)
Eerie Wanda - Internal Radio (Lavender Vinyl LP)Joyful Noise Recordings
On Internal Radio, the new album by Eerie Wanda, visual artist and musician Marina Tadic welcomes you to her inner world. Guided by intuition, Tadic's songs use haunting, ethereal space, growing whole universes from the seeds of ideas. Internal Radio documents Tadic becoming the artist she wants to be, working through some things, and even exorcizing a few demons. The result is the most realized Eerie Wanda album yet, building on the project's guitar pop past for a more experimental, otherworldly, serious grown-up affair that ventures into sensitive, emotional territory.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Blue Record (12")
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Blue Record (12")Jagjaguwar
The ​'Blue Record' is a 5 track acoustic mini album expanding on 'II' and including a cover of Dirty Projectors' 'Swing Lo Magellan' and Beck's 'Puttin' It Down' . Everything was recorded straight to tape in a basement with a one mic set up.
Marlon Williams - Make Way For Love (LP)
Marlon Williams - Make Way For Love (LP)Dead Oceans

New Zealand’s Marlon Williams has quite simply got one of the most extraordinary, effortlessly distinctive voices of his generation—a fact well known to fans of his first, self-titled solo album, and his captivating live shows. An otherworldly instrument with an affecting vibrato, it’s a voice that’s earned repeated comparisons to the great Roy Orbison, and even briefly had Williams, in his youth, consider a career in classical singing, before realizing his temperament was more Stratocaster than Stradivarius.

But it’s the art of songwriting that has bedeviled the artist, and into which he has grown exponentially on his second album, Make Way For Love, out in February of 2018. It’s Marlon Williams like you’ve never heard him before—exploring new musical terrain and revealing himself in an unprecedented way, in the wake of a fractured relationship.

Like any good New Zealander, Williams doesn’t boast or sugarcoat: songwriting is still not his favorite endeavor. “I mean, I find it ecstatic to finish a song,” he explains. “To have done one doesn’t feel like an accomplishment as much as a relief and maybe a curiosity, you know? To have come through to the other side and have something. But it certainly always feels messy.” In the past, his default approach to was storytelling. On 2015’s Marlon Williams, the musician took a cue from traditional folk and bluegrass, and wove dark, character-driven tales: “Hello Miss Lonesome”, “Strange Things” and “Dark Child”. But when it came to sharing his own life in song, he was more reticent. “I’ve always had this sort of hang up about putting too much of myself into my music,” he admits. “All of the projects I’ve ever been in, there was a conscientious effort to try and have this barrier between myself and the emotional crux of the music. I’ve loved writing characters into my songs, or at least pretending that it wasn’t me that it was about.”

Sensing that people wanted more Marlon from Marlon, on album number two he was determined to deliver. And while he’s still a firm believer in the art of cover songs—his live shows regularly feature covers of songs by artists ranging from Townes Van Zandt to Yoko Ono—Williams wanted the new record to be all original material. By the autumn of last year, with a recording deadline looming the following February, it was crunch time for the musician, a reflexive procrastinator. “I hadn’t written for two years!” he recalls. What was needed was a lyrical spark. A triggering event, perhaps. As it turns out, life delivered just that.

In early December, Williams and his longtime girlfriend, musician Aldous (Hannah) Harding, broke up—the end of a relationship that brought together two of Down Under’s most acclaimed talents of recent years, who’d managed to navigate the challenges of having equally ascendant—though separate—careers, until they couldn’t. While personally wrenching, the split seemed to open the floodgates for Williams as a writer. “Then I wrote about fifteen songs in a month,” he recalls. The biggest challenge? Condensing often complex, conflicted emotions and doing them justice. “Just narrowing the possibilities into a three-minute song makes me feel dirty”, he explains. Also, not making a breakup record that was too much of a downer. “I had a lot of good friends saying, ‘Don’t worry about sounding too sad,’” he says. “They were saying, ‘Just go with it.’”

Sure enough, while Make Way For Love draws on Williams’ own story, in remarkably universal terms it captures the vagaries of relationships that we’ve all been through: the bliss (opener “Come To Me”); ache (“Love Is a Terrible Thing”, a ballad that likens post-breakup emptiness to “a snowman melting in the spring”); nagging questions (“Can I Call You”, which wonders aloud what his ex is drinking, who she’s with, and if she’s happy); and bitterness (“The Fire Of Love”, whose lyrics Williams says he “agonized over” more than any).

On “Party Boy”, over an urgent, moody gallop that recalls his last album’s “Hello Miss Lonesome”, Williams conjures the image (a composite of people he knows, he says) of that guy who has just the stuff to keep the party going ‘til dawn, and who you might catch “sniffin’ around” your “pride and joy.” There’s “Beautiful Dress”, on which Williams seems to channel balladeer Elvis on the verse and the Future Feminist herself, Ahnoni, on a lilting, tremulous hook; in contrast, the brooding “I Didn’t Make A Plan”, casts Williams as the cad. In a deep-voiced delivery akin to Leonard Cohen—unusual for the singer—he callously, matter-of-factly tosses a lover aside, just cuz. It’s brutal, but so, sometimes, is life. And there’s “Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore”, a duet with Harding, recorded after the two broke up, with Williams directing Harding’s recording via a late-night long distance phone call. “It made the most sense to have her singing on it,” he says. “But it wasn’t that easy to make that happen.”

Williams flipped the script recording-wise as well. After three weeks of pre-production five doors from his mother’s house in his native Lyttelton, New Zealand (for several years, Williams has made his home in Melbourne) with regular collaborator Ben Edwards—“really the only person I’d ever worked with before”—Williams and his backing band, The Yarra Benders, then decamped 7000 miles away, to Northern California’s Panoramic Studios, to record with producer Noah Georgeson, who’s helmed baroque pop and alt-folk gems by Joanna Newsom, Adam Green, Little Joy and Devendra Banhart. “I was a really big fan of those Cate Le Bon records he did [Mug Museum, Crab Day],” Williams says. “I was obsessed with those albums.”

If the idea in going so far from home to make the new record was to shake things up and get out of his Kiwi comfort zone, Williams succeeded—to the point where at first he wondered if he’d gone too far. “The first couple of days I nearly had a breakdown,” he recalls. “Just cause I got there and I’m working with Noah on this really personal record having only met twice before over a coffee. I was like, ‘I wish we’d talked about it a little bit more’ and figured out exactly how the dynamic was going to work.” Williams is a worrier. But he needn’t worry. He and Georgeson settled into a zone over twelve days of recording, helped by the bonding experience of what Williams describes as the “greatest prank of all time”, with Georgeson convincing both Williams and multi-instrumentalist Dave Khan that there was a ghost in the studio, using an effect on his keyboard. Georgeson made his mark on the record as well, adding a fresh perspective on songs that had been well developed in pre-production, and alongside the incredible performances by The Yarra Benders, they have, in Make Way For Love, a triumph on their hands.

The record also moves Williams several paces away from “country”—the genre that’s been affixed to him more than any in recent years, but one that’s always been a bit too reductive to be wholly accurate. Going back to his high school years band The Unfaithful Ways and his subsequent Sad But True series of collaborations with fellow New Zealander Delaney Davidson, and on through his first solo LP, Williams has proven himself plenty adept with country sounds, but also bluegrass, folk, blues and even retro pop. “I think I’ve always been sort of mischievously passive when people use that term [“country”] to describe me,” he says. “I like letting labels be and sort of just play that out.” Make Way For Love, with forays into cinematic strings, reverb, rollicking guitar and at least one quiet piano ballad, is more expansive—while still retaining, on “Party Boy” and “I Know A Jeweller”, some cowboy vibes, the record will likely invoke as many Scott Walker and Ennio Morricone mentions as it does country ones. “I think just having the time,” he explains, “and having just finished a cycle of playing these quite heavily country-leaning songs for the last three or four years, and playing them a lot, has definitely pushed me into exploring other things.

As ever, you can expect some memorable videos with the new album. As reluctant as he’s been to put his lyrical heart on his sleeve in the past, Williams has never been shy about visuals and the more performative aspects of his art. Unlike many of his folk and alt-country brethren, Williams embraces the chameleonic possibilities offered by music videos. Since The Unfaithful Ways, he’s appeared in nearly all of his videos, assuming a variety of characters—multiple ones, in the Roshomon-like “Dark Child.” He’s gotten naked and visceral, in “Hello Miss Lonesome” and loose and playful in this past summer’s one-off, “Vampire Again”, which saw Williams as a goofy Nosferatu—his most lighthearted persona to date. “For me, I think that ambiguity is such an important part of my process and my art,” he explains, “that [videos are] just another way to further muddy the waters, you know? And I look for that, I think.” He’ll further muddy the waters with a new video for opening single “Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore”, directed by Ben Kitnick, in which Williams plays an overwhelmed waiter at a restaurant full of demanding hipsters.

On the live front, Williams—who’s been a road dog in recent years, touring with Justin Townes Earle, Band Of Horses, City & Colour and Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam —had a comparatively low-key 2017, though appearances at Newport Folk Festival, Pickathon and Into The Great Wide Open kept him in game shape, not to mention February support dates in New Zealand for none other than Bruce Springsteen. In 2018, Williams will head out on a 50 plus date world tour, taking the music of Make Way For Love far and wide. They’re songs that need to be heard by anyone who’s ever loved, and lost, and loved again.

If “breakup record” is a trope—and certainly it is—then Marlon Williams has done it proud. Like the best of the lot—Beck’s Sea Change, Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, Phosphorescent’s harrowing “Song For Zula” and Joni Mitchell’s masterpiece Blue (written perhaps not coincidentally, following her own breakup with another gifted musician) Make Way For Love doesn’t shy away from heartbreak, but rather stares it in the face, and mines beauty from it. Delicate and bold, tender and searing, it’s a mightily personal new step for the Kiwi, and ultimately, on the record’s final, title track, Williams dusts himself off and is ready to move forward. Set to a doo-wop backdrop and in language he calls “deliberately archaic”, that superb voice sings: “Here is the will/ Here is the way/ The way into love/ Oh, let the wonder of the ages/ Be revealed as love.”

John Norris
October 2017 

Maxine Funke - Pieces Of Driftwood (LP+DL)Maxine Funke - Pieces Of Driftwood (LP+DL)
Maxine Funke - Pieces Of Driftwood (LP+DL)Disciples

A collection of non-album singles, tracks recorded for compilations, and new material.

Track 1 For Tom Carter compilation on Deserted Village, 2013
Track 2 Strange Eden cassette comp on Independent Woman, 2019
Tracks 3 - 6 I Dischi Del Barone 7”, 2018
Track 7 Lullabies For Sleepless People In A Tired World cassette comp on Kashual Plastik, 2021
Tracks 8 - 10 unreleased
Tracks 11 - 14 Chemical Imbalance 7”, 2020
Track 15 lathe cut on Epic Sweep, 2011

All songs written by Maxine Funke. Front cover painting is a portrait of Mrs Thomas Pavletich (née Ann Connell) reference 4A15, collection of Toitū Otago Settlers Museum. Used by kind permission of Toitū Otago Settlers Museum. Layout by Studio Tape-Echo. Compiled by Disciples. This is DISC17.

Patty Waters - You Loved Me (LP)Patty Waters - You Loved Me (LP)
Patty Waters - You Loved Me (LP)cortizona
First time release on vinyl of the breathtaking songs Patty Waters recorded with engineer Steve Atkins in 1970 at the Coast Recordings studio, together with the unreleased single ‘My One And Only Love’ and a recorded live session at Lone Mountain College in 1974. The album ‘You Loved Me’ is the missing link between her two groundbreaking pioneering and highly acclaimed ESP-Disk records from the end of the 60’s and her post 90’s releases. The missing link between the radical ingenue of the 1960s and her late 90’s songs wherein she expressed the resolution of all of her life’s moments through mature readings of traditional songs and jazz standards. This album aims to provide that missing link and to finally complete the picture of her storied recording career. In what would have been her third LP, the ‘You Loved Me’ album serves as the inverse of Patty’s debut. While her debut “Sings” concerned itself with themes of heartbreak, loneliness and yearning, there’s an abundance of love, joy and togetherness on “You Loved Me”. Or in Patty’s own words: “I was a young girl alone at age 19, I was longing for love and dreaming of how wonderful love could be“ On ‘You Loved Me’ Patty Waters velvet voice captures this longing for love, straight from her soul to your heart. Crossing the border of avant garde jazz entering a strange zone, somewhere between spiritual jazz, early folk vibes on the songs on the A-side while the 14 minute composition ‘Touched By Rodin In A Paris Museum’ on the B-side is (dixit David Stubbs for Uncut in 2004) a brilliant extended showcase for the uneasy Cageian minimalism of her piano playing. 'You Loved Me’ proves also again why Albert Ayler introduced her to ESP-Disk president Bernard Stollman, why Miles Davis was impressed by her and why she can count Patti Smith and Yoko Ono (to name a few) amongst her fans.
Reverend Baron - From Anywhere (CS)
Reverend Baron - From Anywhere (CS)Karma Chief Records
From the academy of deep soul and no ego, Reverend Baron delivers visions of liquor store East LA, the off-the-freeway dry mirage of slow motion graffiti and lonely seagulls. A nylon stringed zen fog with themes of woozy love, layered dimensions of nostalgia and glazed neighborhood tales that roll in with a natural ease. After notching a permanent status in the skateboarding orbit as Danny Garcia, he transferred his effortless style, dedication and authenticity into music. Practicing a philosophy of demystifying the process and doing it yourself, he has become a proficient multi-instrumentalist, engineer, and producer of his own and other artist's music. All streams of curiosity converge into the river. An enigma, Reverend Baron emerges from the proverbial gray overpass with no sense of urgency. He takes a sharp gaze at his surroundings and processes them through a factory of depth and gentle swag to yield a sound that sits as easy as fallen molasses on the bodega shelf. The songs are an unassuming invitation to either walk through the doorway or lean on the wall outside, either way something beautiful and rare.

Juana Molina - Segundo (21st Anniversary) (2LP+DL)Juana Molina - Segundo (21st Anniversary) (2LP+DL)
Juana Molina - Segundo (21st Anniversary) (2LP+DL)Crammed Discs

To celebrate the 21st anniversary of Juana Molina’s breakthrough album Segundo (2000), here’s a very special reissue, remastered from the original tapes, and augmented by a rich booklet recounting the eventful start of Juana’s musical career, and containing numerous notes, anecdotes, original drawings and previously unreleased pictures.
Segundo is the album which started Juana Molina’s international trajectory as a musician, and its making was a wild story: after dropping her highly-successful career as a TV comedian, and signing with a major company who got her to record her debut album, Juana set out to find her own direction in music and started working on a new record (aptly titled Segundo). This journey took four years, and included sessions in Argentina and in several houses where she lived on the US West Coast, the involvement of several possible producers and of four successive record labels, who each had their own idea of what Juana should be doing... Juana remained untamed, forged ahead and, during the course of this sometimes complicated process, developed her own method and her own characteristic sound. She writes:
From the moment “Segundo” took shape, I began to walk a path that I have not yet abandoned. That is why it’s so important to me. I feel that this was the seed of everything I have done ever since. I discovered the flair of composing in real time, the charm of discarding the very idea of demos, the grace of documenting these moments of searching and finding. Everything else became dispensable.

In 2000, Juana finally self-released Segundo in Argentina. The album semi-accidentally made its way to Japan where it very spectacularly took off, and was eventually picked up by the Domino label in 2003. The reception of Segundo set Juana Molina on course for starting to perform around the globe, garnering a large, devoted fan base, and going on to record five more extraordinary studio albums (including the widely-acclaimed Halo in 2017) and a live record (ANRMAL, 2020).
All this and much more is narrated in the lovely booklet, which includes notes by several people who were involved in these events (including Bruce Springsteen producer Ron Aniello) and by early adopters such as KCRW DJ Chris Douridas, Domino Recording’s Laurence Bell (who discovered Segundo by chance, in Will Oldham’s car), and David Byrne who, as soon as he heard the album for the first time, invited Juana to open for him on his 2003 US tour. 

Amaia Zubiria - Pascal Gaigne - Egun Argi Hartan (LP)Amaia Zubiria - Pascal Gaigne - Egun Argi Hartan (LP)
Amaia Zubiria - Pascal Gaigne - Egun Argi Hartan (LP)Elkar
Coinciding with the release of the compilation "1972-1985 KATEBEGIAK Prog-Rock, Psych-Folk & Jazz-Rock Music from the Basque Country [Compiled by DJ Makala]", in which has been included Amaia Zubiria & Pascal Gaigne's "Itsasoa Laino Dago" song, we've just reissue for the very first time this rare & hard to find cult record of Basque music, released on 1985 by Elkar label. AMAIA ZUBIRIA & PASCAL GAIGNE "EGUN ARGI HARTAN" (ELKAR 1985) After the well-earned "Adarra" prize awarded by San Sebastián city council in 2021, the name of Amaia Zubiria is back on people’s lips, one of the most outstandingly beautiful voices in the history of folk and Basque music in general. In fact, thanks to the albums recorded with Haizea and with Txomin Artola and many other collaborations, she has been a constant presence in a long, fruitful career spanning over 40 years. However, despite this popularity, much of her extensive body of work is unknown or remains almost forgotten, apart from four or ve records and her most popular songs. This is a shame, because her forgotten back catalogue contains many of Amaia’s most moving songs. Among them, as a taster and an invitation to get into her music, we encourage you to listen to the enchanting “Itxasoan Laino Dago”, recorded together with Pascal Gaigne in 1985. A track featuring the electronic sounds created with great care by Pascal and adorned by Michel Doneda’s saxophone, and guided with a magical sophistication by the talented sound engineer from Hendaye, Jean Phocas. It is an impossibly beautiful melt of avant garde and traditional music (Text: Antton Iturbe)
Makoto Kubota - まちぼうけ (LP)
Makoto Kubota - まちぼうけ (LP)Universal Music
This world-famous acid folk classic features performances by Matsutoya, Katsuo Ohno (PYG), Hiroki Komazawa (Honey Pai), Hiromasa Fujita (Sunset Band), Tsugitoshi Goto, Hiroshi Segawa in the chorus and Shin Otowa, who is currently undergoing a reevaluation. 1973 release.
Enji - Ursgal (CD)
Enji - Ursgal (CD)Squama Recordings
On her second album Ursgal Mongolian singer Enji creates a unique blend of Jazz and Folk with the traditions of Mongolian song. Currently based in Munich, her lyrics tell personal stories about unbearable distances, the oddness of being on earth and the simple truths in life. She’s accompanied by Paul Brändle on guitar and Munguntovch Tsolmonbayar on double bass. Born in Ulaanbaatar, Enji grew up in a yurt to a working-class family. Having always been drawn to music, dance and literature, she initially wanted to become a music teacher with little ambitions to compose or be on stage. A program by the local Goethe Institute sparked her passion for Jazz and eventually led her to become a performing artist. Inspired by the music of Carmen McRae, Ella Fitzgerald and Nancy Wilson, Enji started writing songs of her own, cherishing this newfound means of expression. Ursgal is the first record featuring her original compositions.
Hydroplane (LP)Hydroplane (LP)
Hydroplane (LP)Efficient Space
Hydroplane reinstate their formidable 1997 debut of sublime guitar atmospherics, fragile lyricism and droning incidentals with an overdue vinyl and digital reissue. An offshoot of the now-féted The Cat’s Miaow, the trio formed after their drummer decamped to London, charting new territory with tape loops, manipulated samples and a borrowed Jupiter 4 in the wake of Endtroducing. Adopting a handle that Dean Wareham once considered calling Luna, Hydroplane intended to only ever release Excerpts From Forthcoming LP, a single-sided 7” sonic collage, before imploding in mystery. Their label however insisted they deliver their taunted album. From the comfort of a Brunswick flat, they continued to record soaring melodies and restrained song structures to 4-track, sculpting dramatic Radiophonic Workshop cues weighted in reverb and near-perfect dream pop lead by Kerrie Bolton’s empyrean vocals. Bored of industry expectation and largely ignored by local audiences, the reluctant performers followed the way of The Cannanes and formed meaningful overseas alliances by mail and phone, securing releases on Michigan outpost Drive-In and Broadcast launching pad Wurlitzer Jukebox. Championed by John Peel with twenty spins on his converted Radio One slot and even polling in the Festive Fifty of 1997, the humble three-piece still walked to their neighbourhood shops undetected. Previously only available as a US-issued CD, this reminiscent late-night suite establishes Hydroplane as an everlasting ember in Australia’s beloved indie nexus.
V.A. - Sky Girl: Compiled by Julien Dechery and DJ Sundae (2LP)V.A. - Sky Girl: Compiled by Julien Dechery and DJ Sundae (2LP)
V.A. - Sky Girl: Compiled by Julien Dechery and DJ Sundae (2LP)Efficient Space
"People who are sort of more the outcasts of society tend to tell it like it is" – Scott Seskind, 2015. Sky Girl is a mysteriously unshakeable companion, a deeply melancholic and sentimental journey through folk-pop, new wave and art music micro presses that span 1961-1991. A seemingly disparate suite of selections of forgotten fables by more or less neverknowns, Sky Girl forms a beautifully coherent and utterly sublime whole deftly compiled by French collectors DJ Sundae and Julien Dechery. From Scott Seskind's adolescent musical road movie to Karen Marks' icy Oz-wave, the charming DIY storytelling of Italian-American go-getter Joe Tossini and the ethereal slow dance themes of Parisian artists Nini Raviolette and Hugo Weris, Sky Girl resonates on a wide spectrum historically, geographically and stylistically. It unites in a singular, longing, almost intangible ambience. If the names sound wholly unfamiliar that doesn't matter, the nature of the compositions swiftly nurtures an intimacy with these lonely, poignant, openhearted wanderers. Most were available in a very limited capacity at the time of their release, some were never really released at all - Gary Davenport declined to release Sarra after he split with the girl for whom the track is named - years later a friend convinced Davenport to allow him to put 100 copies online to sell and DJ Sundae was quick enough to snare one. Beyond their scarcity, these tracks are bound together by a certain raw beauty that's achievable when music is made and no one is listening. Sky Girl comprises of fifteen officially licensed songs, a two year international scavenger hunt through long-folded home label operations, the depths of internet forums and traceless acetates. Both compilers are well trained record sleuths - DJ Sundae's labels Hollie and Idle Press have reissued Arthur Russell affiliate Nirosta Steel and DIY relic Pitch, while Julien Dechery previously compiled 'Fire Star', a retrospective on Tamil film composer Ilaiyaraaja, for Bombay Connection. Released by Noise In My Head offshoot Efficient Space, Sky Girl is enriched with artwork from Perks and Mini mutant Misha Hollenbach and appropriately elegant sleeve notes courtesy of Ivan Smagghe.
Skullcrusher - Quiet the Room (Cloudy White Vinyl LP+DL)
Skullcrusher - Quiet the Room (Cloudy White Vinyl LP+DL)Secretly Canadian
Helen Ballentine’s spellbinding first full-length album Quiet the Room is the sound of a window opening, a barrier dissolving. Across these fourteen tracks, the outside world seeps in and the inside world crawls out. The result is a stunning and quietly moving work that reflects the journeys we take through the physical and spiritual realms of ourselves in order to show up for the world. While writing the album in the summer of 2021, Ballentine drew inspiration from her childhood home in Mount Vernon, NY. What she set out to capture on Quiet the Room was not the innocence of childhood, as it is so often portrayed, but the intense complexity of it. Past and present merge Escher-like in this dreamlike space laced with elements of fantasy, magic, and mystery. Musically, this translates into a sound that feels somehow weighty and ephemeral all at once, like a time lapse of copper corroding.To capture the effortless blend of electronic, ambient, folk, and rock, Ballentine and her collaborator Noah Weinman brought in producer Andrew Sarlo to record at Chicken Shack studio in Upstate New York, close to where Ballentine grew up. “We wanted every song to have that little twinkle, but also a sense of crumbling,” she says. These songs thrum with moments of anxiety that boil over into moments of peace, as on lead single “Whatever Fits Together,” which chugs to a ragged start before the gears catch and ease. On “It’s Like a Secret,” Ballentine struggles to connect and let people in, recognizing that no one can ever fully know our inner worlds and that to understand each other is to cross a barrier and leave a part of ourselves behind. And yet, on closing track “You are my House,” she finds a way to reach out. “You are the walls and floors of my room,” she sings in perfect, hopeful harmony.As the album cover invites, these are dollhouse songs to which we bend a giant eye, peering into the laminate, luminous world that Ballentine has created. Like a kid constructing a shelter in a patch of sharp brambles, she reminds us that beauty and terror can exist in the same place. The complexities of childhood are so often overlooked, but through these private yet generous songs, she gives new weight to our earliest memories, widening the frame for us—even opening a window.
Misja Fitzgerald Michel - Time Of No Reply (LP)Misja Fitzgerald Michel - Time Of No Reply (LP)
Misja Fitzgerald Michel - Time Of No Reply (LP)No Format!
French guitarist Mischa Fitzgerald Michel, who studied under Jim Hall, covers the genius SSW Nick Drake, who died young, on this 2012 release. A hidden masterpiece revived in the modern era with unparalleled beauty, refined harmonies and proper interpretation.
Veronique Chalot - J'ai Vu Le Loup (LP)
Veronique Chalot - J'ai Vu Le Loup (LP)Bonfire Records
Reissue, originally released in 1979. "This is an album that takes you on a supernatural journey to the discovery of ancient sounds that move our souls in the deepest of manners." Veronique Chalot was born in Normandy in the north of France, but it was in Paris that she first became interested in traditional French folk music. In 1974 she landed in Rome where she soon earned a small, but dedicated following. In 1979 she recorded her first studio effort, J'ai Vu Le Loup, for the Italian Materiali Sonori label. Over the past 30+ years she has given hundreds of concerts, presenting her repertoire of traditional French/Italian folk songs and building awareness of that fascinating patrimony of antique melodies and dance rhythms. She passed away unfortunately on the 3rd of July 2021. Fully licensed. LP includes inlay card featuring an exclusive essay by Emma Tricca; 180 gram vinyl; edition of 500.
Ram John Holder - Black London Blues (LP)
Ram John Holder - Black London Blues (LP)Soulgramma
Fully licensed specification. Born in Georgetown, British Guiana in 1939, moved to Cincinnati in 1954, and the East Coast in the early 1960s, singer/guitarist Ram John Holder worked as a folk blues singer. In 1963 he settled in England and recorded several albums. The masterpiece "Black London Blues" released on the label in 1963 will be reissued on analog in 2022 by . A socio-political manifesto about the trials and tribulations of being a black immigrant to London, it's a concept album of every imaginable pathos and pain. Along with early Mike Cooper, Eugene McDaniels, and Sixto Rodriguez, this is a must-have album for blues revivalists, and a very great British blues work that expresses his own black experience! Limited to 500 copies.
Terry Allen - Juarez (LP)
Terry Allen - Juarez (LP)Paradise of Bachelors
Legendary Texan artist Terry Allen occupies a unique position straddling the frontiers of country music and visual art; he has worked with everyone from Guy Clark to David Byrne to Lucinda Williams, and his artwork resides in museums worldwide. Widely celebrated as a masterpiece—arguably the greatest concept album of all time—his spare, haunting 1975 debut LP Juarez is a violent, fractured tale of the chthonic American Southwest and borderlands. Produced in collaboration with the artist and meticulously remastered from the original analog tapes, this is the definitive edition of the art-country classic: the first reissue on vinyl; the first to feature the originally intended artwork (including the art prints that accompanied the first edition); and the first to contextualize the album within Allen’s fifty-year art practice.
Wade Walton - Shake 'Em On Down (LP)
Wade Walton - Shake 'Em On Down (LP)HONEYPIE
オリジナルは4万円越えの取引もある鬼レア盤!アメリカ南部ミシシッピのブルースギタリストにしてシンガー、ハーモニカ奏者のWade Walton (1923-2000)が1963年にリリースしたアルバム『Shake 'Em On Down』の〈Honeypie〉からのアナログ再発盤。
Yma Sumac - Incan High Priestess (LP)
Yma Sumac - Incan High Priestess (LP)Naked Lunch
The so called "Nightingale Of The Andes", a necessary introduction to the life and music of the one and only Yma Sumac. The Peruvian singer who startled audiences in the United States and Europe with her remarkable voice, beauty, and mysterious "Inca" princess/priestess persona. Literally bridging the gap from folklore to exotica, Yma Sumac was the forerunner of a new philosophy.
Daisaku Yoshino - Lamp Seizōkōjō (LP)
Daisaku Yoshino - Lamp Seizōkōjō (LP)Super Fuji Discs

Jacks meets Makoto Kubota & The Sunset Gang! Yokohama Rock guru Daisaku Yoshino's early masterpiece "Lamp Factory" (self-produced in 1974) is being released on LP for the first time in 48 years! Produced by Makoto Otowa, this album is known as a brother album to "Wasagetami".

Daisaku Yoshino has been performing live mainly in Yokohama since the early 70's. His musical style is diverse and elusive, from the folk rock period of the 70's to the post-punk/free form period of the 80's. Although he has never received a solid reputation, his early work "Daisaku Yoshino Lamp Manufacturing Factory" ( Although his music has never been well received, his early work, "Yoshino Daisaku Lamp Factory" (released in 1974), is well known and popular in later years, mainly in Europe, as a masterpiece of acid folk. The band's philosophical and modern poetry was expressed in straight American rock, dynamic and thirsty country rock, and acid folk style, and was regarded as "Jacks meets the Sunset Band". The band was praised by Makoto Kubota for their performance at the Hibiya Nohe rock festival, where they outclassed Tokyo bands. The bluesy, weeping electric guitar sounds are reminiscent of Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush," a superb world. The hidden masterpiece that will remain in the history of Japanese rock music is now being released in its original format for the first time in 48 years. The strength of the music is so pure that it has not wavered at all, and it is an album that must be listened to now more than ever.

V.A. - Whispers: Lounge Originals (LP)V.A. - Whispers: Lounge Originals (LP)
V.A. - Whispers: Lounge Originals (LP)Numero Group
A lounge in the Poconos located just inside a Holiday Inn, 1973. The smoky haze clears to reveal a middle-aged couple on a one-foot high stage, prattling on about the weather or Watergate before launching into a serviceable cover of Burt Bacharach’s “Do You Know The Way To San Jose?” Tens of thousands of such combos littered restaurants, cruise ships, casinos, lobbies, and cocktail bars throughout the ’60s and ’70s, but far fewer cut a record worth buying from the stage, much less listening to on the home hi-fi. Gathered here are 14 lounge originals from across the entire easy listening spectrum. A spent matchbook’s worth of crooners, bossa nobodies, seafood jazzers, and Donca-Matic enthusiasts all in search of their ticket out of a red leather booth hell.
V.A. - Driftless Dreamers: In Cuca Country (2LP)
V.A. - Driftless Dreamers: In Cuca Country (2LP)Numero Group
Jim Kirchstein founded Cuca Records in 1959 to capture the undocumented musical talent of rural Wisconsin. Originally a tiny recording studio in the corner of a record store, the independent label quickly expanded in response to the success of its early releases. Despite its remote location in the hills of Wisconsin’s Driftless Area, the label’s growing popularity attracted a diverse group of artists and performers from Wisconsin, Michigan, and the Chicago area. The combination of the label’s remote location and the area’s cultural diversity created a unique catalogue that was often divergent from the current music trends. The country music that Kirchstein recorded is best described as “outsider country”—lo-fi, dreamy, and just a little too weird to make the charts. Driftless Dreamers tells the story of these artists and their takes on the term “country.” Driftless Dreamers takes its name after the Driftless Area, a geological region of the American Midwest untouched by the last continental glacial movement. The majority of the Driftless Area lies in southwest Wisconsin, but extends into the corners of Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois. The area’s lack of glacial drift is what preserved the land’s rugged terrain of forested ridges, inhabited caves, carved river valleys, and some of North America’s last true prairies. As a preserved area, the Driftless is home to many species of rare wildlife species, unknown to the rest of the country. The area’s black, fertile earth is also very suitable for farming. In the 19th century European immigrants poured into Wisconsin and began to farm. Small agrarian communities dotted the hills of the Wisconsin Driftless. Agriculture was, and still is, the lifeblood of these communities, as is music. The mainly German and Irish immigrants established community bands to carry on the musical traditions that they carried with them from their homelands. The domination of farming as the main industry in the Driftless area encouraged these musical styles to develop into the country music that Jim Kirchstein would record in the 1960s. After a stint in the Navy, Jim Kirchstein returned home to the Driftless Area to pursue an electrical engineering degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Kirchstein lived on the eastern boundary of the Driftless in the sleepy town of Sauk City, close to his school in Madison. To support his new family, Kirchstein started selling records out of the basement of his brother’s hobby shop, located next to their family’s grocery store. Through his work at the record store Kirchstein soon recognized a need for a recording studio for the area’s local musicians. In 1959 Kirchstein founded the original Cuca recording studio in his basement record shop. Despite its remote location, the studio drew in a variety of artists from across the Midwest. The studio was also popular with local communities, whose mixed heritages produced a variety of folk and country genres. Jim Kirchstein intended for his recording studio to serve the local population’s need for both a creative outlet and historical documentation of their music traditions. As the label grew, Kirchstein created genre-specific sublabels, including Top Gun Country. The Driftless Dreamers series is a glimpse into this trove of recordings, focusing on the isolated interpretations of popular country music and the lonesome twang of outsiders. Driftless Dreamers in Cuca Country Volume 1 is a survey of the range of Wisconsin’s country music. This volume starts with a regional hit and ends with an echoing ballad from an untrained voice. Along the way we visit some family band bluegrass, teenage Nashville sound, rockabilly, and improvised bar tunes.

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