Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Josef K - sorry for laughing (1981)

Josef K recorded in November 1980 what was to be their debut album. Test pressings, sleeves and everything were made, yet in the end the release was cancelled due to the group being unsatisfied with production & mix values. Ironic when considering that this is a far superior effort to proper debut Only Fun in Town.

The cleaner mix provides enough clarity to propel their manic hyperactive disco-punk freak-outs ("Fun'n'Frenzy", "Heads Watch", "Sense Of Guilt", "Crazy To Exist"), which also contain elements of funk, blues, pop, folk, atmospherics etc, and occasionally reaching industrial intensity ("Drone", "Varation Of Scene").

Get it here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Xiu Xiu - chapel of the chimes (2002)

Having proven themselves with their fusion of Cure's emotional turmoil and Einstürzende Neubauten's sonic terrorism, and updating the sound for the post-rock generation by incorporating ethnic percussion, brass, synth-pop, techno beats etc, Xiu Xiu peaked with Chapel of the Chimes. The likes of "I Am The Center Of Your World" (a lounge piano ballad for psychotics), "Jennifer Lopez" (Van Der Graaf Generator remixed by early Modern English), "Ten Thousand Times A Minute" (a martial hymn for ghosts), "King Earth, King Earth" (a depressed folk singer performing a mass in outer space) have a transcendental quality which makes this EP one of the few works that matches Nico's emotional vortex. Get it here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Virgin Prunes - ..if i die, i die (1982)

The Virgin Prunes' If I Die I Die is not the usual post-punk album.

Keyboard ambient suspense introduces "Ulakanakulot", as if something immense is going to happen. Tribal percussion follows, while a second keyboard-line weaves an anthemic melody over which the guitar paints it's medieval motif, and finally a third line of keyboards adds a truly submerging feel, menacing and disorienting. A stunning introduction to a stunning work.

"Decline and Fall" uses the same ingredients. It starts as a psalm of some mad priest, but adds an epic sad chorus and proceeds as a derranged melancholy piece. "Sweethome Under White Clouds" has the same feel of a litany out of control, Greek traditional funeral music, and also adds a disco backbeat over some truly inspiring guitar and saxophone work. "Bau Dachong", another masterpiece, a delirious decadent cabaret over a mosaic of guitar and piano distortions.

"Baby Turns Blue" is in comparison pure gothic disco, with the discordant electronic chorus et al. In another surprising twist, "Ballad Of The Man" is almost easy listening, half parody and half genuinely anthemic. Ditto for "Walls Of Jericho", but which stands as a tad more Virgin Prunes-ian. And finally, a return to form with "Caucasian Walk", with it's atavistic childish chorus and repetitive intensity, and also with the industrial music-hall "Theme For Thought". >

Throughout the album, the personality that shines the most is singer Gavin Friday, a chameleon that can adapt to any role and give that extra flavour to each song. But the band are no mere sidesmen; under the guidance of producer Colin Newman they provide taste and depth with the instrumentation.

In a sense, the masterpieces of the album all feature in the first (brown) side, while the second indulges in mainstream parodies.

Get it here. Kindly contributed by Nexd.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mecano - subtitled (1980)

Mecano created one of the great new-wave records with this Subtitled EP. Like Tuxedomoon before them, they created a new form of futurism by assimilating the past (the baroque magniloquence, the theatrical atmospheres, the psychedelic overtones, the progressive spirit) prominently into the basic ideas of futurism (the dance of the machines, the neurosis of industrial society, the eternal ballet of constant movement) and then turning them upside-down by presenting them within the back-to-basics context of the punk movement.

The result sounds timeless; we get the galloping cybernetic waltz "Meccano", the eloquent sarabande jamming "Note Of A Stroll In Spring", the neurotic sonata "Links" and so on. Unfortunately, this fantastic mini-album languishes in utter obscurity.

Get it here.