Recovery. A Remix.

Recovery.
Syllabication: re·cov·er·y
Pronunciation: [ri-KUH-vuh-ree]
Part of Speech: noun

Selected Definitions
1. a return to a state of normalcy, in health, mind, strength or other tangible concerns.
“signs of recovery in the housing market”
synonyms: recuperation, convalescence
antonyms: relapse, deterioration

2. the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.
“a team of salvage experts to ensure the recovery of family possessions”
synonyms: reclamation, redemption
antonyms: collapse, decline

The next few installments of Jukebox Heart will be concerned with the concept of Recovery. Each of us deals with recovery in one form or another throughout the majority of our lives; in health, wealth, and other things less tangible. Sometimes the process of recovery is so trivial that our bodies do all the work for us and we hardly notice. Other times, this process can be so comprehensive that it consumes all of our resources without any guarantee of success.

We begin this series on Jukebox Heart with selections from the long out of print and now highly sought after anthology aptly entitled “Recovery”. This is a boxed set of ten 7-inch singles, released in 2008 in a limited run of 500 sets on the Fractured Recordings imprint. Twenty artists were commissioned to select a song from the past that had great personal significance to each of them and create an interpretation of that song in the style in which they have built their reputations and repertoires.

Of the twenty sides contained within Recovery, three were chosen for presentation here. The three artists whose sides were selected represent the artists with the most personal significance to me, as I struggle through my own jungle of Recovery…

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Click here for BJ Nilsen

BJ NILSEN RECOVERS JOY DIVISION’S HEART AND SOUL

BJNilsen (b.1975, Sweden) is a sound and recording artist who since the early 90’s has been putting out work in various constellations. His music is primarily focused on the sound of nature and its effect on humans. He employs field recordings, often electronically treated, and in his work explores the perception of time and space as experienced through sound. His selection here is a wildly out of character sucker punch version of Joy Division’s Heart And Soul from which he strips all but the faintest whispers of text and context but recovers the urgency and rage of the original while creating a stomping dancefloor classic.

Selected Discography

(1999) North (Ash International)
(2000) Wood c/w Bridge/Field (Ash International)
(2001) Wind in collaboration with Chris Watson (Ash International)
(2003) Land (Touch)
(2006) “Sov Gott” appears on a split 12″ with Milan Sandbleistift (Licht-Ung)
(2007) The Short Night (Touch)
(2009) Man From Deep River in collaboration with Stilluppsteypa (Editions Mego)
(2010) The Invisible City (Touch)
(2010) Draught #1 cassette (Ash International)

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Click here for Christian Fennesz

CHRISTIAN FENNESZ RECOVERS A-HA’S HUNTING HIGH AND LOW

Austrian guitarist, composer, and electronic musician Christian Fennesz is recognized as a key figure and one of the most distinctive voices of electronic music today. His wide international reputation has been consolidated through his substantial contribution to new musical expression. The emphasis on the guitar texture and the burying of pop melodies under layers of effects are common features of Fennesz’s music. Ultimately, this is something that can be traced to the various Fripp & Eno collaborations of the 1970s; and the early guitar synthesis work of Chuck Hammer who recorded with Lou Reed and David Bowie. Also, the music of the Beach Boys has had an influence on Fennesz, as revealed by his cover of “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)” on the Plays EP. The Beach Boys influence is mentioned in a Pitchforkmedia interview, in relation to the album title, cover art, and melodic emphasis of his Endless Summer LP. His dissecton and recombination of this A-Ha anthem makes perfect sense, then, in the context of this discussion.

Selected Discography:

(1997) Hotel Paral.lel (Mego)
(1999) Plus Forty Seven Degrees 56′ 37″ Minus Sixteen Degrees 51′ 08″ (Touch)
(2001) Endless Summer (Mego)
(2004) Venice (Touch)
(2008) Black Sea (Touch)
(2010) Szampler (Tapeworm)
(2014) “Bécs” (Editions Mego)

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Click here for Ryoji Ikeda

RYOJI IKEDA RECOVERS AC/DC’S BACK IN BLACK

Ryoji Ikeda is a Japanese sound artist who lives and works in Paris. Ikeda’s music is concerned primarily with sound in a variety of “raw” states, such as sine tones and noise, often using frequencies at the edges of the range of human hearing. The conclusion of his album +/- features just such a tone; of it, Ikeda says “a high frequency sound is used that the listener becomes aware of only upon its disappearance” (from the CD booklet). Rhythmically, Ikeda’s music is highly imaginative, exploiting beat patterns and, at times, using a variety of discrete tones and noise to create the semblance of a drum machine. His work also encroaches on the world of ambient music; many tracks on his albums are concerned with slowly evolving soundscapes, with little or no sense of pulse.

Selected Discography:

(1997) +/- (Touch)
(1998) 0°C (Touch)
(1999) 99 [for 20′ to 2000] (Raster-Noton)
(2001} Cyclo. (with Carsten Nicolai; Raster-Noton)
(2010) Dataphonics (Dis Voir)
(2013) Supercodex (Raster-Noton)

Label Spotlight: Front and Follow, Part 1

Front and Follow’s knack for tapping into the subterranean level work of artists who have more prominent work either with other artists, under other names or what have you, is a streak of brilliance which will propel them into prominence in their own right. The Manchester, UK-based label’s virgin release, Elite Barbarian, “It’s Only When You Get To The End That It All Makes Sense”, is the work of Benjamin Page and Michael Donnelly who are a part of the well-loved Rothko. Yonokiero have their lineage in the famous Hirameka Hi-Fi, while Andy Nice has been everywhere and done everything, but lately has a seat playing cello with Tindersticks. And the list goes on. Remixes, collaborative projects and other recordings have attracted the best of the best. We will be examining Front and Follow in two parts. First, some reviews and tracks of the label’s first four releases. Then a special report on their recently released interactive project, Long Division With Remainders. Oh, and don’t forget to visit the label’s website.

The label’s visual identity and design sensibility is flawless, with design and illustration by brilliant UK designer Damian O’Hara. The label has learned from so many who have come before that having someone recognize your release on the shelf is part of the battle. For their four initial releases, Front and Follow have packaged their CDs between two slightly oversized slabs of Davey Board, the rear embossd with the label’s logo, while the front sports a custom embroidered patch suitable for stitching to your motorcycle jacket. But don’t. In limited pressings each of 250 or less, these are instantly collectible, and soon will be lusted after with no less fervor than the Instinct Ambient series CDs rendered by Designers Republic in the mid-1990s.


F&F001: Elite Barbarian – “It’s Only When You Get To The End That It All Makes Sense”
Track 6, “Tropic” 7:16

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The label’s meteoric debut from Elite Barbarian immediately sets an intimidating bar. But this is to be expected, for the bravery and confidence with which one must proceed these days to attempt to release something that may very well receive the dreaded “IDM” tag, and therefore fall into an incomprehensibly vast abyss, is something that can only be coupled with the intution the label has shown for the excellence presented throughout its catalog. Hence, there is no band with a more appropriate name to fit such an occasion.

Elite Barbarian is the work of Benjamin Page and Michael Donnelly, who are also members of legendary London band Rothko. Elite Barbarian uses a vast array of sonic weapons to create a range of ambient abstractions and pounding rhythms. Their sound, both on-stage and off, is comprised of hard syntesizers, samplers, percussion and other toys. Benjamin is one half of Rocketnumbernine, with his brother Thomas, and their innovative improvised sets have been making an impact on the London scene since they formed in March 2006. Ben previously released a solo album “Drawn to Light”, recorded as Maps of the Heart, on Unlabel in 2006.

In this case, the band’s proven chops aren’t necessarily a shoe-in, for as dedicated as most Rothko fans may be, we can also be a snooty bunch, and one false move can manifest destiny in the cutout bin. Tropic, the track selected here, is particularly evident of the band’s dexterity. Whereas many bands exploit their inspirations, Elite Barbarian almost mocks them. You might expect the band to venture into deeper explorations of the glitch, and while the glitch and the subsequent rhythm patterns that have evolved around it is certainly a reference point, it is completely abandoned. The gradually evolving and gelling rhythm structures slowly build into recognizable loops and vaguely call to mind Electric Birds and that more eccentric end of the Mille Plateaux roster while avoiding cliche throughout.


F&F002: Yonokiero – “Blue Apples”
Track 8, “Rewound” 3:51

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It’s said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But lately, my notoriously staunch and dismissive reaction to anything even remotely singer/songwriterish has begun to soften. Frankly, I’m worried. I mean, first Mike Dixon (of People in a Position To Know) introduces me to The Graves who are quickly becoming a favorite band and now, Front and Follow hand me this, also zooming up the Jukebox Heart playlist.

So…Yonokiero, a two-piece made up of Chris Baldwin and Tom Coogan, formed after leaving their previous band Hirameka Hi-Fi. They have abandoned the delerious distortion of their past efforts (well, not entirely) and concentrate more on dreamy guitar harmony and vocals here. I’m not used to thinking that is a good thing, but they have a way of coaxing just the right mix out of their well worn acoustic acoutrements. Honestly, that’s not an entirely fair statement, because their are moments throughout Blue Apples that are peppered with the subtleties of feedback and overdrive, they are just not the emphasis. It’s clear that a lot of thought went into this set of songs as they gloriously unfold in a particularly narrative way. The influences of traditional folk pair well with a more modern sensitibilty of a loose, gritty sonica-verite, and the moderately lo-fi basement ambience provides a very focused baseline for all the songs to perch upon in order to tell their varied stories.

There are some obvious reference points here, like Red House Painters, for instance. This isn’t bad (or I wouldn’t have mentioned it), but I’d like to suggest a looser association with bands like Mahogany or perhaps even Movietone, because there are some very common elements there in the minimalism of sound and the economy of lyric. Where other music of this genre can be cloying and syrupy (think Wilco…) this is understated and elegant.


F&F003: Andy Nice – “The Secrets of Me”
Track 7, “Somebody Take Me Home” 4:05

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You may think it’s an odd choice to select the one vocal track from the album to include here, but I am just a sucker for F-Vox in this particular genre of music, especially in the detached melancholy nonchalance of Maple Bee. It is certainly not meant to detract from the wonderful music of Andy Nice’s cello; rather, his cello is a wonderful counterpoint. But enough of this back-pedaling. This is just a wonderful album. As I’ve mentioned, Andy Nice is currently part of Tindersticks, but has played with a wildly diverse array of artists, ranging from Baader Meinhof to Cradle Of Filth to Sade.

Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of “The Secrets of Me” is that the cello unapologetically takes the spotlight. There are countless examples of the cello being included in modern recordings that seem to include it only for its hip factor only to bury it in the mix behind more traditional pop arrangements. Not even remotely so here. The cello is showcased as the diverse instrument it is, providing melody as well as rhythmic structure throughout.

If your breath has ever been stolen by the likes of The Penguin Cafe Orchestra, perhaps as in “The Sound of Someone You Love Who’s Going Away Amd It Doesn’t Matter”, or by the themes in Derek Jarman’s Caravaggio 1610, or perhaps even by the more accessible side of HNAS, and then if you take that and filter it through a more current sensibility, you will understand exactly what is going on here.

Front and Follow have released a Free remix EP that is download-only, available here. It includes remixes by Sone Institute and Elite Barbarian, and also from Yellow 6. You didn’t miss that I said it was free, right? Go get it!


F&F004: Sone Institute – “Curious Memories”
Track 12, “Tea For Four” 1:54

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Track 14, “Sleep Has Its Embers” 1:10

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One thing about Sone Institute is that people either get it or they don’t. There seems to be no middle ground, and nothing is going to change that. But I’m fairly certain Roman Bedzyk, Sole Proprietor of Sone Institute, knew that going in. To simply say his music is sample and loop based electronics is to say something equally vapid as “the air is clear”, when in fact, it is bristling with unstable static and thick with the smell of ozone. Samples and loops are his basic tools, certainly, but so what? He creates music that is vital and full of motion and emotion and dense with dreams and desire. The tools are only important when it is obvious they are the most important aspect of the music and that’s the best there is to say about it. What I am finding so refreshing in his music is the *lack* of irony. It’s easy to raid a thrift shop and snicker at the selection of albums, and use samples to poke fun at the source material. It’s a far, far braver thing to use the samples in a way that respects and augments such source material – and a far more brilliant thing to pull *that* off with a contemporary sounding result. And Sone Institute has done just that, finding himself among the ranks of Ulrich Schnauss and Weschel Garland in the modern world, and the likes of Werner Mueller, Martin Bottcher and Santo & Johnny from a bygone era. Sone Institute is a very welcome addition in the Jukebox Heart archive.

The current complete discography of the label is presented below, with F&F 10 and 11 only at the announcement stage.

F&F001: Elite Barbarian – It’s Only When You Get To The End That It All Makes Sense
F&F002: Yonokiero – Blue Apples
F&F003: Andy Nice – The Secrets of Me
F&F004: Sone Institute – Curious Memories
F&F005: Andy Nice – The Remixes
F&F006: Long Division with Remainders – 14 Versions of the Same EP
F&F007: Doomed Bird of Providence EP
F&F008: Long Division with Remainders – Remainders (free download for those who buy the LDWR box set)
F&F009: Dollboy meets Sone Institute – The Sum and The Difference
F&F010: Yonokiero: Remixes (title, format, release date TBC)
F&F011: The Doomed Bird of Providence – Will Ever Pray (full album, out April 2011)
F&F012: LDWR Wrapping paper (currently exclusively available at Grotto Shop, Manchester)

“Long Division with Remainders” (LDWR) is the label’s Big Buzz, and for most of us has been the introductory release. Jukebox Heart will be presenting a more in-depth review of this release as Part 2 of this label spotlight, but for now a brief overview is in order. LDWR began as a periodic web-based remix project, with individual installments appearing on the LDWR website for free download. Artists were given source material for use in remixing, rebuilding and re-creating new music. Available now is the 4CD box set which includes remixes from Leyland Kirby, TagCloud, Spool Ensemble, The Truth About Frank, Susan Hawkins, Volume = Colour, The Abominable Mr Tinkler, Ken Peel, Barnaby Oliver, Isnaj Dui, Cats Against the Bomb, BLK w/BEAR, Sone Institute and Helen Watson. As a bonus, those who purchase the hard-copy receive a free full-length download of supplemental material. Stay tuned to this space for a much closer look at Long Division with Remainders.

Hard Copy: Fear Drop

With the advent of digital download, print media with accompanying free records, tapes or CDs are becoming increasingly rare. In Hard Copy, Jukebox Heart presents one such print media item and its associated audio. This time, the wonderful Fear Drop magazine.

Based in La Ferriere-sur-Risle, in the north of France, Fear Drop was founded in 1993/1994, and after some rather eclectic beginnings, was quickly devoted to various forms of musical experiments. The majority of these experiments lay in that proverbial gray area between abstraction and figuration, and the magazine’s priority evolved such as to seize and preserve these aural passages. Today, the project is articulated mainly around the reflection, description, and the translation of abstract musics. Each issue of the magazine Fear Drop is accompanied by a compilation CD gathering new pieces, the majority of which are composed exclusively for inclusion in Fear Drop.

I first leaned of Fear Drop recently, when a newsletter arrived in my inbox from Touch Records announcing the inclusion of several Touch artists on the CD accompanying the most recent issue, number 15, including BJ Nilsen, Chris Watson, Jana Winderen, and Mike Harding himself. Also included is Black To Comm, whose recent performance at Boston’s Gothe Institut was simply fascinating. So I immediately searched for back issues and scored all the way back to issue 7.

Featured here is Issue 14, issued in late 2008, which is an entire issue dedicated to an analysis of The Cure’s “Pornography” album, originally issued in 1982. Indeed, the accompanying CD reworks and reconstructs the entire original LP with 8 artists coming together to form a compilation, with each artist interpreting one of the 8 tracks on the original LP. Th resulting tracks were then sequenced as on the original recording. Artists include the diverse mix of Nadja, Savage Republic, Troum, Contagious Orgasm and more. The results are varied and range from the faithful to the completely unfamiliar. Savage Republic provides a very faithful rendition of The Hanging Garden, which, considering the bands heavily percussive bent, makes a good deal of sense. One of the most unpredictable tracks is presented here.

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Wild Shades provide a cover of “Siamese Twins”, and the results are gripping, engaging and as amusing and unlikely as the Flying Lizards cover of “Summertime Blues”. Click on the arrow above to hear the track.

The Cure is one of those bands that everyone who grew up in the last 30 years grew up with. So we all have our periods of The Cure which resonate with us. Perhaps, too, we have a well-defined moment when we realized that we may have outgrown them and moved on to bigger and better things. Of course, one never really outgrows The Cure. Oh sure, we may have our fill of self-indulgent music snobbery that evokes the requisite nasal upturn upon the mention of the band’s name. Too pedestrian? Sure, sure. But when those doors close, I’d be willing to bet you have that one guilty pleasure, that one Cure song that no one knows you know about but you that gets your foot tapping where no one can see it, or that makes you cry and blame it on seasonal allergies, or, goddammit, just makes you dance. Period. Sublime moments for me: Seeing The Cure perform Boys Don’t Cry to an audience of 30 people in the basement of a Boston University dormitory. Seeing them again years later performing Primary to synchronized out-of-phase strobe lights. And then again, Shake Dog Shake, once again in Boston. But for me, the magic ended with Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me. Even the title made me bristle and blanched my cool all-black wardrobe. Things would just never be the same, even if the album was a little darker than the title suggested. But gone were the dim, foggy days of Faith and Seventeen Seconds, that was certain. Pornography, of course, was a an entirely different affair. I remember playing it in the living room when it was hot off the press, which prompted my then room-mate to urgently enter the room, saying, incredulously, in a tone which ultimately suggested three question marks, “Is This The Cure???” When I nodded, he just said, “OK, now they are starting to frighten me.” Porngraphy, was, in fact, their grand opus of the time. Not as accessible as the previous two albums I just mentioned, but certainly more to the point. Robert Smith’s hair was getting longer; his eyeliner, darker; his pout; deeper and the cracks in his voice, well, more cracked.

In any case, closet fans of The Cure can now call the date of the release of this issue of Fear Drop their National Coming Out Day. Fear Drop has reclaimed hip street cred for The Cure for their most secretive admirers, and validated those of us who never really cut the strings, even if we pretended to…

To hear the original version of Siamese Twins, as performed by The Cure, click on the arrow below.

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Fear Drop is a non-profit. Please visit Fear Drop and send a little love their way…

Ultimate Analog: People In A Position To Know, Part I

With this entry in the the Jukebox Heart blogcast, I am launching a new category called “Ultimate Analog”. As the name suggests, this category will celebrate what has now become a very interesting niche in some very interesting circles. Essentially, we are seeing some uniquely talented people exploring and exploiting old analog media in some extraordinary ways.

As an opener, I’m entering the first of a two-part series looking at the label “People In A Position To Know”. I first landed on the label while tracking down some out of print records from a recent obsession, the now defunct “Casiotone for the Painfully Alone,” Owen Ashworth’s one man project that accomplished the near-impossible. And yes, with almost everything mined and redefined by now, it seems like an impossible task to come up with something new, but Owen managed to bridge all of the gaps between street-level folk music, contemporary sugar-pop, minstrel shows and the broad scale of electronic music. But Owen, upon completing his final tour as CFTPA, is the subject of another upcoming entry.

At one of Owen’s shows, I picked up a copy of the record he did with his brother of Bruce Springsteen covers. It was pressed onto a square slab of brown swirly vinyl that looked like it could have been a recycled linoleum floor tile. It isn’t, but as it turned out, that was somewhat of a prescient thought. Intrigued, I looked up the label “People In A Position To Know”. I noticed they also released one of CFTPA’s out of print singles, recorded specifically for the Laurel Nakadate film, Stay The Same Never Change. It collects all of the short instrumental tracks that were used throughout the film, plus a few that didn’t make the final cut, including some bonus ringtones for some of the characters’ cell phones.
Being as OCD as I am, I wanted those ringtones for my own phone.

Anyway…

So I wrote to Mike Dixon, owner of PIAPTK, asking begging him to hold a copy for me if he indeed still had one. And Mike came through, as I came to learn that he always does. Sweet guy…

So part two of this series will be appearing later, under one of our Label Spotlight entries. But for this virgin voyage of Ultimate Analog, it is most appropriate to feature his “Songs of Love” package.

But first, some brief background. People In A Postion To Know (henceforth PIAPTK) is a teensy label based in Olympia Washington. Already a city with lots of lineage for intellect-forward music, it’s no surprise that this happens to be there. His label is a limited edition vinyl only record label run out of his bedroom, garage and living room. PIAPTK offer two types of records: full press (traditional records made in a pressing plant) and lathe cut records (one-off, SUPER low run records made one at a time in New Zealand by Peter King and now with his own set of lathes, by Mike himself). The current emphasis is more on lathe cuts and less on full-run records. PIAPTK uses recycled, found materials (no garage sale or thrift store is safe around Mike) when possible, for cost and environmental reasons, and does everything possible to make their records affordable to the consumer, provide some nice merch for bands, and recoup enough money to make more records. Talk about a mission statement!

OK, so that having been said, This entry will focus on a specific release. Songs of Love: The Wedding album.


This is the cover.


This is one of the 15 specially hand-made records contained within. Read on for the details.

So here’s the back story…

On June 26th of this year, Mike Dixon married the love of his life. The wedding featured several PIAPTK bands entertaining the assembled masses. One of those bands, Golden Boots, travelled all the way up from Tucson. Originally, they were planning on touring up to Olympia, allowing them to (hopefully) pay for gas. However, Dmitri’s day job playing with a little band called Dr. Dog has meant that the band could not do the tour. Any lesser band would have said “Hey, sorry, but we can’t make it, D’s got this thing, and it’s just not going to work out…” But NOT the ‘Boots. They said “see ya at the bachelor party!” and spent $1600 of their hard-earned money on plane tickets. He couldn’t pay for their tickets. And they were playing at his wedding for free. He felt *bad*.

So, his solution was a fundraiser for the band. Being the vanity label owner/professional schmoozer that Mike is, he has a lot of friends who are great musicians. He asked a lot of them to record a love song (cover or original) that could be lathe-cut onto picnic plates and given away at the wedding as party favors. He only expected a handful of bands to be able to meet the request, but he got a total of 15.

Yeah, you read that right. The songs recorded for the wedding were lathe-cut into red plastic picnic plates, each record individually lathe-cut by Mike and hand-cut into the shape of a heart by his wife, Beth. (That’s the happy couple, below. Aren’t they adorable?)

Each guest at the wedding got one of the plates as a favor. Additionally, ten complete sets of these fifteen plates were assembled and packaged in a silkscreened portfolio and made available for a donation of $100 to the “Fly the Golden Boots to P(dx)aradise!” fund.

The package contained one record from each of the following bands, performing the songs listed.

1. Golden Boots: The Man In Me (Bob Dylan)
2. Lazer Zeppelin: A Song For You (Gram Parsons)
3. The Blank Tapes: Islands in the Stream (The Bee-Gees)
4. Firs of Prey: This Will Be Our Year (The Zombies)
5. Castanets (feat. Golden Boots) – You Are My Sunshine (Traditional)
6. Edmond Lapine: Words of Love (Buddy Holly)
7. Amo Joy: Do You Take This Man? (Nirvana (the 60’s psych band))
8. Graves: Sea of Love (Phil Phillips)
9. Wooden Wand: Love Me Tender (Elvis Presley)
10. Lake: Sudden Whim (LAKE)
11. Carcrashlander: Lovesong (The Cure)
12. Jad Fair: Blue Moon (Rodgers and Hart)
13. Casper and the Cookies: That’s Love (Casper and the Cookies)
14. Lee Baggett: Thank You (Led Zeppelin)
15. Miniature and Presidential: I’m Your Man (Leonard Cohen)

At the time of the release, Mike was offering the full set of songs as 320kbps mp3s for only a $10 donation, but I’m not sure if that offer is still valid. As i’m sure you are aware, the hard copy is totally out of print…

Seriously, this is one of the most romantic, creative and environmentally sound projects to emerge from the independent music scene ever. Because these were so expensive, and Mike wanted the donors to have exclusive specialness to the music, he only gave me permission to pick one track to use in Jukebox Heart. Click on the video image below to see and hear the record play. It’s decidely low-fi, which is a major part of this whole project’s charm.

I’m utterly surprised at my total buy-in of the unapologetic mushiness of this whole thing, but it is so
genuine and so sublime that I just can’t help myself. Were this anyone else, I’d probably be joking about chopping down trees with couples’ initials carved into them, as featured on the cover art. Instead, this just makes you wish you could have been at the wedding to help them celebrate.

I guess that feeling is a common characteristic of each of the releases on PIAPTK, and we will explore that more in Part II, when we do a full up Label Spotlight on People In A Position to Know. Meanwhile click on the video below to hear Lake’s track, “A Sudden Whim”. The audio link below that gives you a cleaner non-analog mp3. Anathema!

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Watch this space for part two of this series, which will feature more information about the label and more music…

Compilations: Thurston Moore’s ROOT

“LO RECORDINGS PRESENTS 30 GUITAR PIECES BY THURSTON MOORE OF SONIC YOUTH. REMIXED, REMODELLED & RESHAPED FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE.”

Thurston Moore, of course, needs no introduction, that is, unless you haven’t been paying attention to a variety of alternative music genres for the last, oh, thirty years or so. As a part of Sonic Youth, he funnelled a variety of cultural influences into a musical sound which, since their inception as part of lower Manhattan’s No Wave scene, has influenced countless artists for decades.

Originally released in 1998, Thurston Moore’s “Root” project inspired 100 artists to rework his short improvisational guitar pieces into finished works. But don’t expect this one to sound like Sonic Youth; even still you can rest assured that it’s fantastic. The list of experimental musicians ranged from both well known and obscure, and from those works he culled this great compilation which includes dramatically different takes from Alec Empire, Derek Bailey, Stereolab, V/VM, Merzbow, Echo Park, Add N to X, Twisted Science, Blur, Mark Webber (Pulp), Yoko Ono, David Bowie, Angela Bulloch, Russell Mills, Sarah Lucas and Damien Hirst — the contributions are as different as these artists’ own works. The selection featured here is by Spring Heel Jack.

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Click the arrow above to hear the Spring Heel Jack reworking.

The 5 LP box set shown here is a compilation of those audio tracks and artworks from the Root exhibition. From the liner notes:

In May 1997 Lo Recordings received a DAT tape containing 30 different one-minute guitar pieces by Thurston Moore. Each piece was copied onto individual tapes and packaged in custom designed vacuum cleaner bags amidst various debris which one had to “root” through to obtain the source tape. One hundred bags were sent out to a selection of visual artists and musicans, inviting them to create a brand new work utilising the original piece as a starting point.

The vinyl version contains 38 of the musical resulting reworkings, and comes in a box with label artwork by Cedric Christie, Joe Ewart, Martin Fletcher, Savage Pencil & Gavin Tork, and also includes a poster featuring a selection of images from the Root exhibition. A special edition of the CD came packaged in one of the vacuum cleaner bags used to distribute the source tapes. (See image below.)

The CD version and the vinyl version both have tracks exclusive to each, making them both necessary for the compulsive collectors among us…

Compilations: Keats Rides A Harley

Compilations are my favorite things to listen to, and to collect. They are interesting beasts in that the really successful ones succeed as a complete album but are comprised of a sum of often radically different elements. This new Compilation category selects a track from one of the compilations I happen to be listening to at the moment — and there is always at least one in the queue. Compilations tend to get trashed in the press because they generally present such a wide array of music that no single reviewer likes more than a fraction of what is presented. I like these compilations precisely for that reason. This category will only feature compilations with exclusive material.
And so we begin with Keats Rides A Harley.

Keats Rides A Harley is a classic. Originally released in 1981 on the Urinals’ own independent label Happy Squid Records, this classic Southern California compilation featured some of the top punk and post-punk bands of their generation. Some of them, like the Gun Club and the Meat Puppets from Phoenix left behind a major imprint and influenced dozens of bands who came after them. Others left ghostly traces of their sounds elsewhere and had recording careers of varying lengths such as the Leaving Trains, the wonderful 100 Flowers (a Urinals offshoot), Toxic Shock, and Human Hands. Still others, like S Squad, Tunneltones, and the Earwigs, all but disappeared into myth and folklore. The Gun Club’s contributions are early, raw, and utterly superior versions of “Preaching Blues” and “Devil in the Woods.” The Meat Puppets’ “H-Elenore” is here along with a previously unreleased early cover of Neil Young’s “The Losing End,” which hints at the direction that the band would go on their classic second album. The Tunneltones featured future Savage Republic boss Bruce Licher on guitar, and this early incarnation of the Leaving Trains had Sylvia Juncosa playing not guitar as she did on her SST debut but keyboards!

The legendary compilation was reissued onto disc in 2005, with the original LP tracks, plus one track from each contributing artist recorded at the original sessions but previously unreleased. As if that weren’t enough, also included is the rare five track Happy Squid Sampler, released in 1980 – which is almost impossible to get your hands on. The 14 extra tracks – more music than the original LP material – make it, of course, essential. This is a prize… The track featured is one of the previously unreleased session tracks. Click the arrow below to hear The Gun Club “Preaching Blues”

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Below are images from the original LP package…front cover and record label image.

Cassettera: Sensationnel

Almost from its commercial introduction followed by cheap home recording technology, the modest cassette has been the champion of the underground music scene. The underground cassette network was just flourishing globally throughout the late 70s and 80s, as reported in a slew of independent music journals and fanzines. It seemed as if all you had to do was write to a handful of individuals expressing some interest, and your name would get attached to mailing lists all over the world and cassettes would come rolling in from *everywhere*.

When the CD-R and mini-disc appeared, the urgency behind cassettes seemed to evaporate, with the expected bastions remaining to proliferate the cassette culture. But now, as the collectibility of those old cassettes skyrockets, and renewed interest in the medium surfaces, Jukebox Heart launches “Cassettera” to celebrate those inconvenient little boxes of music.

Starting this series is a track from one of the releases in the highly sought after series “Sensationnel,” a “cassette-magazine,” as the genre became known for its included graphic components, based in France in the early 1980s.



The above image is a large wraparound cover that housed a thick magazine, the cassette
and several other graphic inserts.

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The Sensationnel cassette-magazine series was a much lauded publication produced by the French label Illusion Production, home of the band DDAA. They were issued in very limited quantities, and are priceless. I’ve just got the one edition, Issue number 2, and it is a wonderful collection of the European underground of the time, circa 1982. There were five issues in the series, each with specially designed packaging and of very limited quantity, all including xerox artwork from every artist participating in the project. The track presented here is from a performer known as Lady June, where she tells an allegorical story of meeting a talking turd and all of the hazards that go along with that. I’ve also included her graphic contribution to the packaging as well. Click on the arrow above to hear the track.

The tape itself is somewhat in poor repair and tends to drag against the motors of any cassette player it is inserted into, but I managed to get a reasonable, if somewhat warbly, play-through for you.



Image of the original cassette



Image of the cover of the
accompanying magazine.



Lady June’s artwork , as seen as
a page withing the magazine.

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Screamer of the Day: Rare Youth

I started writing this by trying to tie the history of this underground noise back to that magic year of 1977, when punk and industrial simultaneously exploded and created a veritable Big Bang in popular music. But it was getting way too huge so I figured I’d just make some basic assumptions and stop trying to explain why this music exists. Oddly enough, Providence RI has always had a very amusing scene; certainly when I lived there (1985-93), there was never a dearth of local noise of which to bear witness.

So fast forward to 2007, and the emergence of the independent label “Rare Youth”. Rare Youth essentially played host to every noise freak within a 20 mile radius (essentially encompassing the entirety of Rhode Island, “the Biggest Little State of the Nation,” affectionately known as teh biggest little) until its unfortunate departure to Pittsburgh, where I’m sure it continues to re-architect the lay of the noisefloor…

I came across this *mammoth* double CD compilation from Rare Youth a while ago, during oen of mymany correspondednces with Providence-based artist Area C, on which he appears. There are tracks from 38 different artists on these CDs, each providing a specific approach to manipulating the natural noisefloor of human audible perception. Of the 38 bands present, some are sporting my favorite band-names *ever*, including Russian Tsarcasm, I Would Eat That Pizza, God Willing, Teenage Waistband, Unicorn Hard-On, and more.

These are the types of grass-roots, street level, should-only-ever-be-for-sale-at-gigs type of homesoun joy that I live for. Sure. some of the tracks sound like they were cut direct-to-ducttape, but that’s the point. The *lack* of production value *is* the production value. It’s not really something you can talk someone into believing; you just have to acquire it yourself.

And, in line with such a sensibility, the packaging is hand-pasted copies onto chipboard stock gatefold covers. Again, a design value all its own.

Click on the links below to hear tracks from this essential compilation.

Amil Blyeckie – The Eagles’s Summation | Area C – Circadia | Russian Tsarcasm – Don’t Ever Touch Me