Other Music curates selections of vinyl and CDs for Ace Hotel New York, and this is their latest collection. You can come check it out for yourself — everything’s for sale on the wall just to the right of the taxidermy birds. If you want something good to play in your room and take home with you, just call the front desk and they’ll send some things up.
THE RETURN OF SOUND SYSTEM SCRATCH — VARIOUS ARTISTS
Culled almost exclusively from recordings made at his famed and doomed Black Ark studio, The Return of Sound System Scratch is prime-era Scratch and the comp presents a fantastic showcase of Lee Perry’s amazing studio trickery. The vocal tracks are the gems here, with versions of great songs originally voiced by Junior Murvin, Candy Mackenzie, Leo Graham, George Faith, Jimmy Riley, Jack Lord, and the Silvertones, all served with the dub-plate treatment and thus swimming in a sea of floating cymbals, sweaty guitars, dripping-with-reverb organs, and minimal yet groove-filled percussion.
AMON TOBIN — ISAM
With the release of his tenth album, Amon Tobin steps forward in his study of sound design, ISAM being a collection of textured and melodic pieces completely composed from self-created sounds, which he then manipulated through state-of-the-art software and hardware. Similar to Matthew Hebert, Tobin favors the use of household items like old rocking chairs, light bulbs, springs, tools, etc. The results are great, and while you still hear his trademarked breakbeat inflections, hip-hop informed beat patterns, jazzy interludes and abstract chord structures, the actual sound has been completely re-envisioned. His always-cinematic constructions play more like dramatic film scores here; the use of familiar and natural sound elements never lose their organic origins, even as they are pushed, pulled, shrunken and expanded into an array of atmospheres. It’s a compelling concept and honestly, the results are hard to describe.
THURSTON MOORE — DEMOLISHED THOUGHTS
On the face of it, it would be easy to see Demolished Thoughts as Thurston Moore’s “folk” album, maybe call it “pop-folk,” as it was produced by longtime SY-friend Beck Hansen, whose soulful orchestrated production sound of the last few years is very much present here. Indeed, there is a swooning lushness to the sound of this record that is new to the elder statesman of noise guitar, but anything more than a cursory listen will disabuse you from any thoughts of pastoral folk within these grooves. The guitars are mostly acoustic, though still reveling in the odd tunings and creepy keys that Sonic Youth tend to lurk in, and while the core of the band is filled out by the sometimes-bucolic sounds of harp and violin, these songs have a churning, disorienting vibe to them, with long, unsettling instrumental passages and subtle and surprising shifts of tone that do not recall any chamber-folk platter.
GROOVE CLUB VOL. 2 — CAMBODIA ROCK SPECTACULAR!
There is a special niche for rock music from the Pacific Rim and that niche gets a new spackling over with Groove Club Vol. 2: Cambodia Rock Spectacular! This new collection does an admirable job of reaching across the table, making sure that every track presented here holds onto the country’s folk traditions, even as they ooze into grimy psychedelic blues or hard-as-nails R&B. That said, the “rock” quotient of this is leveraged a bit with balladry and lounge pop, but that shouldn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things; once you get your fix of vocalists Sinn Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea, you’ll be coming back to the well time and again.
GENE HUNT PRESENTS: CHICAGO DANCE TRACKS
Any classic Chicago house/Trax-related reissue is good news, but this one is truly something special; it’s a collection of unreleased reel-to-reel edits (compiled by Chicago DJ/producer Gene Hunt) that were passed around between producers like Farley Jackmaster Funk, Steve Silk Hurley, Larry Heard (Fingers Inc.), Ron Hardy(!), and their friends — that’s right, these are DJ crate ”SECRET WEAPON” tracks. And the kicker is that it’s not just exclusivity that makes these cuts special; they just so happen to be amazing to boot, with not one throwaway in the bunch. One listen and it becomes apparent that these songs are made to be dropped at that special moment, when the entire floor is focused on the music.
GANG GANG DANCE — EYE CONTACT
From the opening notes of Gang Gang Dance’s unblinking new spirit journey, Eye Contact, with its swirling synth arpeggios and jazzy cymbal patter, it’s clear that these longtime NYC art-noise explorers have found a new focus on their 4AD debut. The elements that make up this great new record are all from the established GGD lexicon but the band has blown out some of the druggy haze that buried many of their older tracks, and has bathed these new songs in a refinement and nuance that owes more of a debt to classic 4AD dark pop and UK electronica as it does to any East Village sludge. What Gang Gang Dance have managed to do is twist their skewed psychedelic influences into a remarkably accessible sound, without sacrificing any of the myriad of influences and bold originality that has always made this band special. It’s a neat trick that very few artists have managed, exploring pop without abandoning experimentation and risk-taking, but Gang Gang Dance have pulled it off in spades, delivering the best album of their career.
TYLER THE CREATOR — GOBLIN
Goblin is the next step in the latest evolution (or devolution perhaps) that began withPharrell and N.E.R.D. and through the last decade includes, in order of releases, Lil Wayne, Clipse, Lupe Fiasco, Kid Cudi, Lil’ B… the list could go on. Tylerdelivers and differentiates by presenting a conceptual and solidly skewed yet focused, darker musical vision of black skater rap than his elders, maybe purposefully designed to distill his followers to the hardcore and the diehard, and less of the flighty hipsters that have and will no doubt support him. Throughout, Tyler’s realist rhymes fill the seventy minutes with dense lines, tons of metaphors, tales of modern living, various dis-associations, and even if he’s “not the best,” he’s magnetic, fresh, interesting, and much needed in the current game. Musically I can’t begin to describe the sound, full of melody and chord changes, yet sparse and choppy, from the soft and minimal to the truly chaotic, referencing chillwave and psych soundtracks, jazz, hyphy and juke.
BOMBINO — AGADEZ
Group Bombino leader Omara “Bombino” Moctar is one of the guitar heroes at the forefront of this enthralling sound from Tuareg. Agadez, Bombino’s city of origin and also the title of this new record, may be half a world away from us, but there’s something recognizable, even universal sounding about this music bred in the mystery and hardship of the desert. Bombino’s rhythmically complex yet lyrical guitar playing and melodic, wavering vocal lines almost instantly lure you into a trance — a state in which you’ll most likely remain for the rest of the record. “Ahoulaguine Akaline” is a stunning introductory track, with a sweet, soft melody that’s as catchy as it is reassuring, while the passionate, slow-burning jam “Tar Hani” shows off some of Bombino’s most soulful singing. “Adounia” is darkly mystifying, with interlocking guitar parts that inject sparkling light into the song’s weighty melody, and if you’re not floating in your subconscious already, the nine-minute, “Iyat Idounia Ayasahen” will surely put you there.
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