Category Archives: Vinyl colored

ELEMENTAL: Trees Speak

A kosmiche, psychedelic, improvisational slab of genius, spread across four beautiful clear vinyl sides, announces the arrival of a visionary new outfit from the Old Pueblo.

BY FRED MILLS

Trees Speak, hailing from Tucson, Arizona, is visual artist Daniel Martin Diaz’s musical persona, formerly of Blind Divine and Crystal Radio, and here joined by Michael Glidewell (Black Sun Ensemble), Gabriel Sullivan (XIXA, Giant Sand), Connor Gallaher (Myrrors, Cobra Family Picnic), Damian Diaz (Human Error), and Julius Schlosburg (Jeron White Acoustic Trio). They consider themselves more of a “sound laboratory” along the lines of early Can—crafting long, live-in-studio improvisations, then editing them in the studio, adding effects, and more—than a straight-up rock band.*

Although that’s not to even remotely suggest that these cats won’t rock the fuck out, because like the Krautrock greats of yore, Trees Speak can shift instantly from a luminous, ambient electronic shimmer to a pounding, pulsing, powering wall of sound. Trees Speak, released this past December on the Cinedelic label, home to numerous electronic and experimental Italian artists (including several film soundtrackers—Ennio Morricone’s Eat It is among the label’s catalog), and distributed in the U.S. by Forced Exposure, is the group’s debut, and to these ears, at least, it is utterly unlike anything that the Old Pueblo had produced to date.

Side A is highly instructive. The ominous “Soul Machine” kicks things off on a heady Neu!-esque motorik note before yielding to a percussion segue leading the listener directly into throbbing, electronics-splattered drone territory, “Black Butterfly” and “Atomic Heart.” This in turn gradually turns into a series of restful, melodic passages via harmonium and nylon string guitar—although “restful” may be a misnomer, or at least misleading, since there are also some abrupt glitchy effects as well as some strange background vocal samples. The side concludes with the track “Trees Speak,” which synthesizes all of the foregoing into another moment of motorik magnificence—the key here being the use of repetition for both texture and dynamics, whether within the context of a minimalist or a full-arrangement composition.

One could similarly describe the other three sides, but it wouldn’t really do the music here justice. If the core elements of Krautrock appeal to you, along with the notion that genuinely transcendent psychedelia always is rooted in the improvisational aesthetic, then you won’t be able to resist this remarkable debut. I found myself playing certain tracks over and over—the aforementioned “Atomic Heart,” side B’s lengthy, aptly-titled “Spirit Oscillator” (which sounds uncannily like Can’s classic “Mother Sky” in places), the sizzling/searing uneasy listening of “Unconscious Through Control.” A single synapse-snapping composition, “Shadow Circuit,” takes up the entirety of sides C and D, split into Pt. 1 and Pt. 2, recalling at times fellow Tucson bands The Myrrors and Black Sun Ensemble in all their mystic, lunar-worshiping, Lower Sonoran glory; during the song, heady bursts of kosmiche guitar dart hither and yonder as if they were desert creatures engaged in their nocturnal hunts, only to be frightened back into their burrows by predatory rapid-fire percussion and zooming electronics—and then the cycle begins all over.

There’s a palpable sense of time standing still while Trees Speak performs, like standing on the floor of a rock venue, the lights turned off with only red LED lights on amplifiers for illumination, and simply letting the music wash over you. I realize that these tunes are the product of post-performance editing and tinkering, but they were also originally created live over a five-day period (at Sacred Machine Studio and Dust & Stone Studio in Tucson), and to their credit, the musicians retained that live feel for the finished product.

For you vinyl fans out there, the photo below should be all the motivation you need to scoop this up while it’s available: 2LP, 180-gm. clear vinyl in a gatefold sleeve, plus a 12” double-sided print, five 5” postcards, and two stickers. An artistic beauty, courtesy Diaz. And only 250 copies were pressed, so don’t sit ‘cos if you do, you won’t be able to spin.

————

* I usually refrain from quoting a band’s press info at length, but in this case I think it’s wholly appropriate to let them state their musical manifesto directly. It’s spoken like true Tucsonans: “Our intention is to create music with an unrehearsed minimalist approach performing simple beats, riffs, and sequences that take one inward. We attempt create a sonic environment to set one’s mind free and to become aware of the nuances of tone, melody, and structure. We organize our recording equipment with the same approach, in a transparent manner. Our recorded performances are never rehearsed. Our belief is that a brilliant rehearsal is a lost opportunity to capture a magical moment. We are chasing the mystery of music and tone. We let the musical performance sculpt its own destiny and create imperfect perfection. Our tool of creation is the anxiety one feels when they are unrehearsed or prepared for a performance. We believe this approach brings us closer to the authentic self. The result is genuine music without an agenda that captures the unfiltered spirit.”

Live band photo by Allan Robert Sturm, via the band’s Facebook page.

KHRUANGBIN—Con Todo El Mundo

Album: Con Todo El Mundo

Artist: Khruangbin

Label: Dead Oceans

Release Date: January 26, 2018

https://deadoceans.com

The Upshot: Long, cooling drones, funky surf guitar lines, angular Middle Eastern twang and more from the Texas trio.

BY JENNIFER KELLY

Khruangbin brings the sleepy funk in a second full-length, unspooling long, cooling drones that twitch faintly with syncopation. The Texas trio weaves bass and guitar in slippery conversation, Laura Lee’s low-end licks working at angles with Mark Speer’s surf guitar lines, overlapping, interconnecting, but never quite in unison, as DJ Johnson colors the rhythmic structure with interesting bits of rattling, chiming, plinking percussion.

The disc’s first half is most engrossing, especially the slinky, smouldery swagger of “Lady and Man,” which whips up funk intensity with explosive starts and stops. “I went to college,” sing-songs Lee as the cut unfolds, “I could have been a doctor…could have been a lawyer.”  It’s one of the few tracks with words, albeit much-repeated, trance-y words, as laid back as the music. “Maria Tambien,” the single, is surfier, almost like the Mermen, and has some of the same angular Middle Eastern twang as Richard Bishop’s Freak of Araby. It is by far the strongest cut on the album.

Late album tracks drift and drone, pillow-padded with angelic “oohs” and paced for motionless contemplation. “Evan Finds the Third Room,” descends into jam band funk, “Rules” and “Hymn” fall asleep at the switch. There’s definitely a place where quiet storm soul, surf and psychedelic drone come together, but drift too far off, as Khruangbin does late album,  and find yourself marooned in a windless sea, hot, still endlessness all around.

Consumer note: The vinyl version comes on limited edition colored wax.

DOWNLOAD: “Maria Tambien” “Lady and Man”

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Nightshining (Vol. 26) LP

Album: Nightshining (Vol. 26) LP

Artist: Various Artists

Label: Vinyl Moon

Release Date: October 20, 2017

 

https://www.vinylmoon.co/volume026/

The Upshot: One of the few vinyl subscription services that provides a genuinely meaningful way to digest new music and build your vinyl collection at the same time.  

BY JONATHAN LEVITT

With the resurgence of vinyl there are plenty of subscription services out there not worth the price of admission. Thankfully this is not the case with the Vinyl Moon mix tape, on a record concept that offers on a monthly basis, to the musically curious, two sides of astutely curated songs. It’s a cool concept, and one that aims to satisfy your vinyl porn fetish at every turn (I’m talking to you Fred Mills). [Yep. He’s a sick one. —#Vinylporn Ed.] From the music to the deep purple vinyl to the sleeve art, it’s a beauty to behold. Nightshining’s songs and associated artwork give one the sense of being lost in a foreign metropolis. The assembled images that were taken somewhere in China, remind me of some of my earliest memories of Shanghai. I recall wandering around on my bike and just staring at the buildings with their odd shapes and colors, coupled with the strange scents wafting in the air, feeling that I was a million miles from home. Caught with that final glow in the sky before things go black, these images, shot by photographer Marilyn Mugot, are worth the price of admission alone. But hey, this isn’t an unboxing review, so let’s get to the music.

Side A begins with Kan Wakan’s “Phantasmagoria Pt. 1.” Dark and melancholic, the song is a real stunner that’s part jazzy with hints of Massive Attack/Portishead embedded within. The next amazing tune is by a band called Shy Girls, whose track “Why I Love” does a beautiful job of mixing an icy remoteness over a river of passion. It’s a really sad and reflective piece that makes me want to hear more from this group. Rounding out side A is the band Mustard and the Silverfish, with the track “Jubilee Green,” a slightly off-kilter psychedelic pop tune that revolves around what sounds like a Hammond B3 and a Moog, high-as-a-kite-vocals, and flanged out drums to yield a narcotic effect that was hard to shake. Side B’s standout tracks include the Chameleons-like track “Nevada,” by Brooklyn band Hypoluxo and imbued with a distinct eighties vibe. Leo Law’s “Brothers and Sisters” is a brilliant track from this UK singer songwriter, and as the liner notes say this is barely his second recorded song. Funky, soulful and totally chill, this track is perfect for listening in your room as the sun sets in the winter sky.

Side B definitely wasn’t as strong musically as Side A, but even so, the number of unknown bands that I heard and the format that I heard them on proved to be a unique experience that I won’t soon forget. This is a great idea that I hope will gain some traction as one of the more meaningful ways to digest new music and build your vinyl collection at the same time.

DOWNLOAD: “Phantasmagoria Pt. 1” “Why I Love” “Jubilee Green” “Nevada” “Brothers and Sisters”

 

ASK ‘EM NO QUESTIONS, THEY’LL TELL YOU NO… Mudhoney’s “L.i.E”

Mudhoney by Vincent Vannes

As a new live album recorded on tour in 2016 demonstrates, the Seattle band is always morphing, and always, always, always is a monster live band.

BY JENNIFER KELLY

The set starts in a monstrous wall of feedback, a fuzzed out roar that parts, like primordial swamp for the fuzz-clustered, two guitar crocodilian riff of “Fuzz Gun,” a form of guitar mayhem first plotted before Nirvana broke, before grunge became a fashion statement, when it seemed like the primitive stomp and psychedelia skree of Mudhoney might become, if not the next big thing, something bigger and more lucrative than the journeyman hard rock outfit they eventually turned into. That cut, and the one that follows is “Get into Yours,” from the 1989 S-T, are a quarter-century old when we hear them now, somewhere in Eastern Europe, but they sound just as relevant, just as hard and blunt and distended with volume as they must have when Mark Arm and Steve Turner first thought of them.

Mudhoney’s new live set, L.i.E. (Sub Pop), a/k/a Live in Europe, collected from a 2016 tour, is bluntly, ferociously coherent, though it spans three decades, seven albums and one Roxy Music cover.

The set list leans a bit on 2013’s Vanishing Point, then and now, the band’s most recent full-length (though a new one is coming in 2018), with an extended, pedal-fucked, guitar-spiraling, through-the-rabbit-hole treatment of “The Final Course,” followed by the slyer, more compact boogie of “What to Do with the Neutral” (“What to do with the neutral/It’s not an easy problem,” sings Arm, who has demonstrably spent more time on extremes). The post-millennial Mudhoney albums have an air of comfortable free-ness, of settling in with what the band has, of getting over undue expectations, and their loose, humorous bluster colors this live performance. But they make perfect sense in conjunction with older material — the explosive vamp of “Judgment Rage Retribution and Thyme” from 1995’s My Brother the Cow, the viscous chug of 2009’s Piece of Cake’s “Suck You Dry.”

You might think that covering Roxy Music is an odd choice, but “Editions of You,” is one of Ferry’s rougher, more rocking outings. Mudhoney gets at the twisted, clanging guitar line, pumping it up with pummeling drums, and obliterating any vestigial crooning in a barrage of Arm’s frantic shout-ranting. It sounds, in the end, like Mudhoney. It’s followed by the best cut on the disc, the long, fever-blistered rampage of “Broken Hands,” which encapsulates blues-like dirge and psychedelic freakery in its slow-moving, drum-rattling procession.

Which sounds completely different but also like Mudhoney, always what it is, always morphing, and always, always, always a monster live band.

Incidentally, Mudhoney and Sub Pop made an intriguing move with the album by not releasing it on CD, just vinyl and digital. And then they paid further tribute to vinyl collectors (Such as moi. — Blurt Wax Ed.) by also pressing up a special European-only, limited-to-500-copies version pressed on clear vinyl and boasting different gatefold artwork from the standard US pressing, it’s on 180gm CLEAR VINYL. And initial copies came with a 7” Bonus single. (“Touch Me I’m Sick” b/w “Where the Flavor Is”). Nice touch, gents.

Incoming: Moon Duo 12″ Covering Suicide, Stooges

By Blurt Staff

The Sacred Bones label’s dynamic duo – that would be Moon Duo – is set to drop a new 12″ single on which they cover Suicide’s “Jukebox Babe” and the Stooges’ “No Fun.” Vinyl hounds will have plenty of reason to cheer: it will be available on both white vinyl (with a bonus poster included) and standard black vinyl, for a total of 2000 copies.

According to the band,

“We started playing ‘No Fun’ after BBC6 Radio asked us to record an Iggy song for his 70th birthday. We added it to our set to work it out for the session and kept playing it every night because everyone loves that song. We worked up a version of ‘Jukebox Babe’ because our sound engineer Larry got it stuck in his head and was singing it all the time. We figured, we may as well play it if we’re going to hear it all the time.

“The Stooges and Iggy, and Suicide/Alan Vega/Martin Rev, are all huge influences on us. But we never want to do faithful covers of great songs, because what’s the point. So we tried to push both of the tracks in less obvious directions, incorporating other influences, like California psych and cosmic disco, giving them more of a summer vibe. We knew Sonic Boom was working outside of Lisbon, so we asked him to produce the tracks, recording them in August for maximal summer heat.”

Based on the Suicide track alone, which is streaming at the Sacred Bones site, it’s a killer platter. Moon Duo are pros at limited edition releases, incidentally; last year’s two-part Occult Architecture EP was available as two colored vinyl pieces, and most of their other records have had some collectible element such as numbered, colored vinyl, bonus 7″, etc.

Moon Duo kick off a UK tour at the end of January.

WEDDING PRESENT – George Best (30th Anniv. Deluxe Ed.) LP

Album: George Best (30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) LP

Artist: Wedding Present

Label: Happy Happy Birthday To Me

Release Date: November 24, 2017

http://hhbtm.com/

The Upshot: Nevermind the reissues, here’s the Gedge: a classic album gets revisited for the newly awakened vinyl generation.

BY FRED MILLS

Thirty years on, it’s hard to mount even a tepid argument against the out-of-the-gate brilliance of the Wedding Present’s 1987 debut. It’s certainly a product of its times, what with the omnipresent, uber-c86 guitar strum arrangements; bandleader David Gedge’s deep, resonant, and deeply emotive Morrissey-meets-Ian-Curtis vocals; and a general proto-indie rock, post-post-punk vibe that would, in a few years, grip the Brit-pop pop’d British imagination as lesser artists such as Blur, Suede, and Pulp stormed the charts.

The 12-songer has been reissued in numerous formats over the years, notably a 1997 CD via Cooking Vinyl that added a whopping 11 tracks. Archival specialist Edsel Records also weighed in with a sprawling 3-CD, 1-DVD box featuring those bonus cuts plus a slew of 1987-88 live material. But Athens, Georgia, label Happy Happy Birthday To Me has come up with an artifact that is pure catnip for the WP collectors – not to mention just plain vinyl aficionados. George Best 2017 arrives as a deluxe red wax edition housed in a two color screen printed sleeve whose artwork recaptures the titular red-jerseyed football player minus the field/bleachers background, lending the LP a kind of Warholian pop art sensibility. Which is appropriate, eh? “Pop” art was never sweeter. (Download card is included, and if ordering direct from the label, the deluxe edition snags you a special tote bag and badge. When those are gone there is also a black vinyl version.)

The Wedding Present would go on to subsequent heights, of course; 1991’s Sea Monsters held its own during the ascent of the aforementioned Britpop bands, and 1996’s Saturnalia remains an enduring, if wholly underrated, gem. But George Best wins the proverbial “quintessential” badge for Gedge because, as an opening statement and salvo, it’s up there with pretty much any long-playing debut you’d care to list. Hats off to HHBTM for reminding us of this. Now, let those listicles begin…

DOWNLOAD:  “It’s What You Want That Matters,” “Everything Thinks He Looks Daft,” “Getting Nowhere Fast”

POCKET FISHRMEN – The Greatest Story Ever Told LP

Album: The Greatest Story Ever Told LP

Artist: Pocket Fishrmen

Label: Saustex

Release Date: November 17, 2017

www.saustex.com

The Upshot: Punk rock like they useta make via re-recordings of the Austin provocateurs’ back catalog o’ tunes.

BY FRED MILLS

Art-punks or punk art? These guys ain’t tellin’! From Austin (but of course), Pocket Fishrmen reportedly disbanded in 2000 following a colorful 14-year run. How colorful? The band’s 1988 debut 45 was an ode to “Amy Carter,” who at the time was working on a law degree at the University of Texas—history does not record whether or not this invocation of former President Jimmy Carter’s daughter put the quartet on the Secret Service radar, but even if it did, the ‘men were far too busy moving forward, penning and performing such sensitive numbers as “Go Go Saddam Hussein,” “One Blowjob, One Handjob, One Vagina,” “Pot Mountain,” “Priapus Power,” “Yen For Your Yang,” “Flaccid is the Night,” and “Gay Jew Conquistador.” Yeah, the pre-millennial era was a different time and a different place in terms of how we viewed satire, provocation, and political correctness within a punk rock context. Not to mention songs about your dick. Just ask Pocket Fishrmen peers such as the Meatmen, the Mentors, the Queers, and the Dickies.

The Greatest Story Ever Told is a career overview, re-viewed via re-recordings of “classic” fan and band faves. It may or may not be strictly for longtime devotees, but I must admit that if I were 16 or 17 and I came across this band on, say, Spotify (which it is), I’d summarily blast the shit out of it from my upstairs bedroom and dare my parents to come in and ask if I’d finished my homework. Rock ‘n’ roll is supposed to be self-regenerating. For me, I’m particularly partial to the straight-up thrash of “Colonoscopy” (and not just because I recently had my first experience in riding the snake), the anthemic Pistols/Ramones-a-fied “Queen of the Gorillas,” the synth-strafed, power-chorded classic rock mutation that is “High on Rock and Roll,” and of course the aforementioned, brilliantly nimble “Amy Carter” (because I still own the original single)—I seriously doubt there will be any musical tributes in the years to come for Barron Trump, so this one will always be unique in its own right.

Fans of the sturdy vinyl format (standard black or limited red, take your pick) are particularly well-served with the release because the 14-song LP is abetted with a bonus 16-song CD. That’s a whole lotta fishin’ goin’ on, folks. And judging from the poster below, it’s still goin’ on….

DOWNLOAD: “Amy Carter,” “Priapus Power,” “Yen For Your Yang,” “Colonoscopy,” “High on Rock and Roll,” “Flaccid is the Night”

ALLEN RAVENSTINE – Terminal Drive 12” EP

Album: Terminal Drive 12” EP

Artist: Allen Ravenstine

Label: Smog Veil

Release Date: September 01, 2017

www.smogveil.com

The Upshot: Synth mania and tape manipulation from the Pere Ubu mad scientist, plus accessorized string bass by a fellow Cleveland-ite. It’s the now sound of 1975!

BY FRED MILLS

Longtime Clevo watchers surely know the Allen Ravenstine name, from his pioneering protopunk as synth player/resident mad scientist for Pere Ubu to his solo work and contributions to the likes of the Red Crayola and David Thomas & The Wooden Birds. Terminal Drive is a single 16-minute track recorded in Cleveland during April and May of 1975, with Ravenstine on synth and tapes, plus Albert Dennis on string bass; the two had previously worked together in short-lived experimental/improvisational outfit Hy Maya, a project of artist Robert Bensick that also featured Ubu drummer Scott Krauss. (Stay tuned for more on the latter: Smog Veil is next releasing a deep-archive Hy Maya 2LP set.)

Smog Veil, of course, has long championed all things O-HI-O, and this nicely appointed red vinyl/one-sided 12” EP is the latest in the label’s “Platters Du Cuyahoga” series, which to date has included titles from the Schwartz Fox Blues Crusade (reviewed HERE), the Mr. Stress Blues Band, the Robert Bensick Band, and, coming later this month, aforementioned Hy Maya. The label never cuts any corners, either, specializing in meticulously researched liner notes—here, a full-sized 8-page booklet boasting lengthy notes from Clevo scene authority Nick Blakey and essays from both Dennis and Ravenstine. Plenty of vintage photos are included as well. (The record is also available on CD and digital download should you, for some strange reason, not desire a sweet slab of red wax.)

Ravenstine’s comments are delightfully deadpan, describing what downtown Cleveland looked (and smelled!) like in the mid ‘70s, living in a fourth floor walkup in a reliably seedy, ruined neighborhood, and talking about the gear he used to record Terminal Drive: “I repurposed a kitchen hutch to hole my EML 200, a 300 which was a sort of mixing and switching unit that had a telephone style keypad with sixteen keys and post for assigning a pitch to each one, and the Teac [3340 reel to reel tape recorded w/10” reels] and set it up in the bedroom.” As these things go, a 6:43 excerpt of the recording wound up on an odds ‘n’ sods disc included in the ’96 Pere Ubu box set Datapanik In The Year Zero, but for years since then it appeared that the tapes had been lost. Then in 2016 a cassette surfaced in a friend’s archives, one side labeled “Allen Ravenstine April-May 1975,” and voila! here we have Terminal Drive.

It’s challenging, mesmerizing, and at times downright haunting stuff, a soundtrack to the urban decay Ravenstine must have witnessed on a daily basis from his apartment window. Long, groaning, bowed chords from Dennis are abetted by Ravenstine’s synth belches and drones; at times he creates clinking sounds that suggest a machine plant in operation, others a kind of airy whooshing that could be a sharp breeze whistling down a deserted street, and sometimes just white noise aimed at creating a profound sense of unease in the listener—like that feeling one might have gotten decades ago, in the pre-24-hour-cable-television era, when you’ve fallen asleep in front of the TV only to be jerked awake by the sound of the station abruptly going off the air at 2 a.m. Random distant mutters (or are they synth hiccups?) punctuate the recording as well, adding to the claustrophobic vibe.

Definitely uneasy listening, and probably not for the timid of heart. But for Ravenstine fans, Ubu completists, and Clevo devotees in general, a must-own.

DOWNLOAD: It’s a single track, dummy! (Below, check out a radio edit of “Terminal Drive”)

TALIBAM!/MATT NELSON/RON STABINSKY – Endgame of the Anthropocene + Hard Vibe (LPs)

Album: Endgame of the Anthropocene; Hard Vibe

Artist: Talibam!; Talibam w/Matt Nelson & Ron Stabinsky

Label: ESP-Disk

Release Date: September 22, 2017

www.espdisk.com

The Upshot: Free jazz and fusionesque funk on one platter of extended improv, and mindfucker/synth-strafed Prog for eco-warriors on the other.

BY FRED MILLS

Where the fuck did these Talibam! guys come from?!? Though extant for nearly a decade and a half, their labors upon the downtown NYC jazz, avant, and experimental scene don’t seem to have penetrated the, uh, mainstream mind to date. And it’s vexing to realize I am apparently part of said “mind,” but luckily I’m making up for lost time via these two records. That the venerable ESP-Disk label is simultaneously releasing not one but two of the Talibam! projects would suggest an article (pair?) of faith that we underground musique aficionados should take note of.

First up: Talibam! Proper, with Endgame of the Anthropocene, a document of extreme synth damage that only Aphex Twin’s mom could love. But you will too, and from the get-go, as electronicist Matthew Mottel (CSC Funk Band, Alien Whale, etc.) manhandles his Mini-moog, wrestles his Roland, and yammers with his Yamaha, while accompanist Kevin Shea (Rhys Chatham, Mostly Other People Do The Killing) damages his drums and occasionally takes a percussive detour via his MIDI Marimba Lumina. I did not know they made MIDI marimbas.

It’s a concept album, an extended prognostication upon the eventual fate of Antarctica, for which Mottel and Shea predict international war over who will control the continent’s natural resources, and of course the accompanying eco-destruction. By track three, “Reign of Primordial Tenure on the Ice Shelf,” the duo has locked into a pounding, pulsing, Prog groove easily embraced by contemporary noise-headz and greying veterans of the kosmiche wars of the ‘70s alike. Several tracks take a neo-industrial tack, while others shoot for more minimalist style of psych that’s very Silver Applesish, and it’s all heady, disorienting stuff as befits its presumed dystopian-landscape theme.

Hard Vibe, on the other hand, finds the dynamic duo teaming up with tenor saxist Matt Nelson (Battle Trance, tUnE-yArDs) and Hammond B3 ace Ron Stabinsky (Mostly Other People Do The Killing, Peter Evans Quintet) for a 40-minute improv set titled “Infinite Hard Vibe” (Pts. 1 and 2, representing sides A and B of the vinyl version; they are not stitched together as a single long track for the CD and digital versions, however). Mottel and Shea restrain themselves to a great degree here, at least compared to the Anthropocene session, with Nelson, as the dominant instrumentalist, issuing Ayler-like clarion calls and dissonant clanging tones run through an echo box at times. He’s answered consistently by Stabinsky, like two guys aggressively playing out the windows of their opposite-facing tenement apartments, a grimy alley separating the buildings, each trying to prove to the bums below that he is the neighborhood’s resident badass. Meanwhile, Shea keeps the pulse steady, if at times quite jittery, and Mottel colors in the gaps and around the edges, not necessarily ceding any presumed bandleader duties, but instead lending a unique and consistent texture for the entire session. Apparently somebody picks up an old Keytar at some point, too. And wait’ll you get to the soaring, ecstatic climax during the final minute and a half of the album.

This is not jamming for the sake of keeping a festival audience of seriously baked Deadheads on their toes, but a hearkening back to the great ‘70s jazz/funk/rock/psych jammers of yore. Each of the two tracks is, at turns, intoxicating and awe-inspiring, challenging in the sense that great jazz needs to confront the listener with hard choices.

Consumer note: ESP-Disk and the musicians serve up tasty treats here for the vinyl audience. Hard Vibe is pressed on heavyweight translucent yellow wax, while Anthropocene offers the collector secret handshake with a platter pressed in red with orange and white splatters. Wham-bam, thank YOU, Talibam! gang.

DOWNLOAD: “Cost-Effective Drilling Enabled By Pioneering Technologies and Warmer Climates in the Southern Ocean” (from Anthropocene—damn, I loved typing that title just now); “Infinite Hard Vibe Pt. 2” (Hard VibeI)

JON LANGFORD’S FOUR LOST SOULS

Album: Jon Langford’s Four Lost Souls

Artist: Jon Langford’s Four Lost Souls

Label: Bloodshot

Release Date: October 21, 2017

www.bloodshot.com

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

Well known for his eccentricity, Jon Langford sounds surprisingly straight-laced on this eponymous debut by what appears to be yet another new ensemble. The Welsh-born, Chicago-based journeyman has had a restless relationship with the bands he’s fronted in the past — the Mekons, the Waco Brothers, the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, and The Three Johns, chief among them — and all these outfits have served to underscore his insurgency. While Jon Langford’s Lost Souls isn’t necessarily equipped to engage him with the mainstream, it does suggest that he’s happy to make music that’s easier to digest, at least as far as memorable melodies are concerned. Finding an even divide between upbeat offerings and sweetly sincere balladry, songs such as “Natchez Trace,” Mystery,” “Masterpiece” and “Waste” emphasize a certain ease and accessibility that makes them readily easy to embrace.

Still, it’s not that Langford has abandoned his rascally ways entirely. “In Oxford Mississippi” boasts a certain amount of sway and swagger, and indeed, “What’s My Name?” finds him as edgy as always. After all, Langford does well to emphasize his peculiar personality. Nevertheless, this certainly seems like his most accessible effort yet, a sign perhaps that after years of being regarded as an odd man out, he’s ready to find that balance between talent and tenacity. Well done, old boy. Well done.

DOWNLOAD: “Natchez Trace,” Mystery,” “Masterpiece”

Ed. note: Over here at the Blurt bunker we dig our vinyl, even more so when it’s colored wax, so it was a no-brainer to order the new Langford LP direct from Bloodshot when word of the amazing splatter/emerald-hued pressing hit. Check out this closeup: