Graded on a Curve:
New in Stores for
July 2021, Part Two

Part two of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued releases presently in stores for July 2021. Part one is here.

NEW RELEASE PICKS: Les Filles de Illighadad, At Pioneer Works (Sahel Sounds) Six tracks, recorded live in Brooklyn in the Fall of 2019, and it’s an absolute joy, delivering a needed tonic for the heart and mind. Founded in 2016 in the village of Illighadad in Niger by Fatou Seidi Ghali, who is cited as the first Tuareg women to play guitar professionally (she also sings), and vocalist Alamnou Akrouni (also a handy percussionist), Les Filles de Illighadad also features guitarist-percussionist Amaria Hamadalher. Their chosen name translates as The Girls of Illighadad, though on tour (and so it is on this recording), they are joined by Ghali’s brother Abdoulaye Madassane with additional guitar and vocals. That’s beaucoup string bending (and yes, a lot of singing), so fans of Tuareg desert blues will not be disappointed (there are two earlier LPs cut for Sahel Sounds), but what’s especially notable is how the group combines the rhythm-focused music of tende, which is traditionally played by women, with the guitar, as traditionally played by men, meaning this is a living, growing, inspirational sound. Another Sahel Sounds home run. A

Colin Cannon, McGolrick (Infrequent Seams) It’s always a good idea to play some catch-up ball with the wares of Brooklyn’s Infrequent Seams label. This set by guitarist-composer-bandleader Cannon came out in February, but as there is a vinyl option (combined with a CD, download and poster) currently available, coverage, if belated, is still warranted. I’ll confess that prior to listening, the release’s title inspired unshakable visions of a 1970s TV show focused on a tough, possibly rule-breaking, cop, but no, Cannon’s inspiration and articulated theme was his daily reality in a small Brooklyn neighborhood in the days leading up to the pandemic. Musically, Cannon’s influences are pretty wide-ranging, but as the set unwinds, the impact of the cited handful of prog-rock and jazz-fusion heavyweights, while perceptible, shakes out a little differently than expected, which definitely works in the record’s favor. In adding strings and horns to his core band, McGolrick occasionally sounds like, but more often just recalls in terms of ambition, Sufjan Stevens circa Illinois. These similarities are wholly positive. A-

Julian Sartorius, Locked Grooves (-OUS) As the title relates, this is a vinyl release featuring locked grooves, 112 of them in fact, 56 on side one and as many on the flip. There is also a digital version offering all 112 grooves running for exactly one minute each, which is the source for this review. Unlike From Here to Infinity, Lee Ranaldo’s lock groove solo debut from 1987, there is no CD option available. Also, as the creation of one man, a highly skilled drummer playing a prepared kit, this differs from RRRecords’ 100th release (a 7-inch with 100 locked grooves) and 500th release (an LP with 500), which were sourced from various artists in the neighborhood of the noise u-ground circa 1993 and 1998 respectively, with the intent of harnessing a substantial portion of that scene’s essence and diversity. Contrasting, Sartorius’ endeavor is a personal statement. Looked grooves can become rhythmic by their very nature, but this is an extended excursion into multilayered beat loops (which on wax can last as long as one wants), throwing light on Sartorius’ ability and dishing a plethora of possibilities. A-

REISSUE/ARCHIVAL PICK: Philip Tabane and his Malombo Jazzman, The Indigenous Afro-Jazz Sounds of (We Are Busy Bodies) Here’s a totally worthy reissue of the debut LP by the highly regarded South African guitarist and bandleader. Originally released in 1969 on the Atlantic City label, it was reissued a couple times, once in the ’70s and again a decade later, but until now never outside South Africa. Now, if you’re thinking we are mirroring We Are Busy Bodies’ reproduction of a typo on the cover, that’s incorrect, as the record features Tabane on guitar, pennywhistle and vocals, with Gabriel “Sonnyboy” Thobejane on drums and thumb piano, making the cover exactly right, except that the music diverts from what many listeners will expect when Afro-Jazz is mentioned. It’s also worthy of note that Tabane sets down the guitar and picks up that flute for long stretches here as Thobejane’s thumb piano takes on a very music-boxy quality. But even if this falls outside of expectations, the playing is magnificent, and the contents aren’t easily compared to anything else. It’s also selling out quick, and there is no digital. A-

Attacca Quartet, Real Life (Sony Classical) Based in New York, the Attacca Quartet consists of violinists Domenic Salerni and Amy Schroeder, violist Nathan Schram, and cellist Andrew Yee. As will likely be gleaned from their instrumental configuration (and the label attached to the project), classical is their specialty, for which they’ve won a GRAMMY® for an album that I’ve not heard. This is in fact my introduction to their work, and due to Real Life’s concept, it’s probably not the ideal starting point. Specifically, the group are doing versions of contemporary electronic works by The Halluci Nation, Louis Cole, Mid-Air Thief, Flying Lotus, Squarepusher, Daedelus, and Anne Müller, an undertaking that seems to be a digression from their prior releases (which finds them tackling composers Joseph Haydn, John Adams and most recently Caroline Shaw). And yet the group chose this as their debut for Sony Classical, so what do I know?

Well, one thing I’m sure about is that attempting to merge non-avant Classical with contempo electronic genres hardly ever works for me. The low points are mostly somebody’s bright idea to blend trip-hop beats with Beethoven, and the highs rarely get all that high, so I approached this set with trepidation, to say the least. And due to its first couple tracks focusing on the dancy (although to be clear, I’ve no problem at all with dance music, electronic or otherwise), Real Life didn’t get off to the best of starts. But with track three, “Why?” (originally by Mid-Air Thief), the tide began to turn, and then matters improved even further through a trifecta of cuts by Flying Lotus, one of which, “Remind U,” is a collab with TOKiMONSTA. Additionally, both Squarepusher and Daedelus wrote and contributed to their tracks for the album; in terms of pure racket potential, “Xetaka 1” with Squarepusher is the album’s highlight, but the standout track overall strikes me as the version of Müller’s “Drifting Circles.” With time spent, this recording is a pleasant surprise. B+

Typical Sisters, Love Beam (Joyful Noise) Featuring guitarist Gregory Uhlmann, who’s based in Los Angeles, bassist Clark Sommers, who resides in Chicago, and drummer Matt Carroll, who calls Copenhagen home, Typical Sisters continue to overcome the rigors of geography with their third full-length and first for Joyful Noise (available on compact disc and cassette). But all three have chalked up extensive experience in other scenarios (e.g. Uhlmann with Perfume Genius, Sommers with Kurt Elling, and Carroll with Ohmme), so it’s not like they’re honing chops in distant bedrooms waiting for their next convergence. But speaking of bedrooms, one of the trio’s stated aims is to merge jazz improv with “lo-fi bedroom production.” This is a nice baseline for what’s up with Love Beam, but it doesn’t cover the bursts of appealing strangeness on the album, which exudes a post-rock vibe (partly due to digital production techniques, a new wrinkle in their sound), but with a lean disposition, delivering 13 tracks in 30 minutes and change. I did find a few of the sampled clips of spoken audio a tad distracting. B+

Lucie Vítková & James Ilgenfritz, Aging (Infrequent Seams) Released in May on tape in a swell wraparound paper cover and on CD in an equally spiff 6-panel wallet, this collection of works for contrabass and loudspeaker is a delightfully abstract listen with a fascinating evolution, as the pieces are rooted in Vítková’s solo work for contrabass, composed as part of her studies at Janáček’s Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno, CZ. Roughly eight years later, Vítková enlisted Ilgenfritz (with whom she’d first collaborated as accompanist for a performance by Charlemagne Palestine in 2013) and then reapproached her solo work from the vantage point of maturity, stretching a recording of the original composition eight times (corresponding to the number of years that had passed) and then adding electronics derived from the time-stretching process, plus preparations for the bass strings. As you might image, there is a lot going on in the lower end of the sonic spectrum. There is also a passage that sounds like something huge is being pulled out of the ground by a long thick chain. That’s killer. A-

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