Part two of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new or reissued wax presently in stores for May, 2016.
NEW RELEASE PICK: Orchestra of Spheres, Brothers and Sisters of the Black Lagoon (Fire) A historically-rich but forward-thinking sonic bouillabaisse from Wellington, NZ and pretty damned swell; at moments retro-futurist, dance-inducing, psychedelic, folky; there’s even a segment bringing Konono Nº1 to mind. Perhaps most beneficial is a playfulness that’s occasionally humorous and at other times darkly surreal. Their cover of Sun Ra’s “Rocket #9” sounds like a collab between ESG and Ari Up produced by Adrian Sherwood and it clinches this album as a success. A-
REISSUE PICK: Steve Reich, Four Organs/ Phase Patterns (Superior Viaduct) This repressing of a 1971 Shandar LP is simply mandatory for any collection of 20th century experimental music. Listening now to these two side-long pieces, “Four Organs” an uncompromising immersion in note suspension and “Phase Patterns” a wild plunge into the unity and discord of cycles and repetition, it’s strange to recall a time, specifically the later ‘80s, when some considered Reich to be safe and even passé. The artist may have softened and gained acceptance over time, but the man’s early work endures as remarkable. A+
50 Foot Wave, “Bath White” (HHBTM) Pretty terrific art-tinged power trio rock stuff from Kristin Hersh (guitar-vocals), Bernard Georges (bass), and Rob Ahlers (drums). Described on occasion as math-like, while that’s not off target it doesn’t adequately convey the high quality of the group’s songs, and does nothing to relate the value of Hersh’s lyrics and the mature strength of her voice. As befitting their lean orientation, the instrumentation is strong throughout, and I’m reminded just as much of Mike Watt’s recent output as I am of Hersh’s and Georges’ work in Throwing Muses. A-
Rez Abbasi & Junction, Behind the Vibration (Cuneiform) Pakistani-American guitarist-composer Abbasi is a veteran with credits ranging from Ruth Brown to Tim Berne to Tinariwen; this is the debut CD of his jazz-rock quartet Junction, and lovers of Fusion should investigate without delay. At its worst, the style on offer here was responsible for blatant chops-braggarts and proto-smooth jazz atrocities, but it also produced high quality stuff. Thankfully, Junction leans to the positive side of the spectrum; improv sparks do fly, noodling is sidestepped, and I dig Mark Shim’s post-Trane/ Henderson tenor sound. B+