Thursday, December 29, 2005

a vibrating world

For the past two weeks I've been attempting to thaw out the new Alvin Lucier dbl album, which is performed by Anthony Burr and Charles Curtis. Half of the pieces are made up of strings and a wave oscillator and the finale is called Music for Cello with One or More Amplified Vases. This will get a proper jfad write up later, but wanted to mention it now as I've been having quite an easier time digesting Toshiya Tsunoda's Ridge Of Undulation (Hapna) despite it following in close casting. For ten years now, Tsunoda has been creating sublime field recordings that are focused on specific, granular pricks of sound, sorta like taking a foggy zoom lens and scoping out damp leaves that clog your gutters. I first heard him on RLW's massive 5CD Tulpas set on Selektion (when is this going to be reissued?) and sine then he has retained a personal/low-fi or just pure earth quality to his work. The three field recordings on Ridge are akin to his recent Scenery of Decalcomania (Nature Strip), despite being culled from 8 year old tapes. The introduction of sine waves and vibrating surfaces ads quite a hunk of depth to these mini-worlds. The only downfall is that they are not longer; each piece could unravel for another 20 or 30 minutes and still expose itself in new ways.

Toshiya Tsunoda - Sine Waves Mixed With The Sound Of A Vibrating Surface_1
Toshiya Tsunoda - Arrival, Kisarazu bay_11 Dec 97

Sunday, December 25, 2005

rip derek bailey 1/29/30 - 12/25/05

Derek Bailey is dead. Long live Derek Bailey.

Word hasn't gotten out about how, but Bailey passed away today in Barcelona, Spain, his adopted home during the past few years. Bailey passed away in London this morning from his battle with motor neuron disease, according to an email from Martin Davidson. Quite hard to put into words short of a book about all he has done/meant/stood for, especially when Bailey didn't even speak the same language as any of us -- just created his own. Since the early 60s he nearly created a wholly singular take, and possibly the root, of improv music and thought. All the flows, ebbs, and electrifiers that keep the heart pumping/body breathing somehow was condensed in Bailey's fingers and let free to pour from his guitar. The one time I saw him, a few years ago in Chicago, he easily heaved gigantic sheets of beauty/noise through his amps, just mile lengths of glass panes shattering and being pieced together again with his every-other to every-thirtieth melodic notes. He looked at ease, smug, dead-on foucsed throughout the set. Once I return from a small holiday will do another post with some early Bailey material. Aida of course, being one all should hear.

Surely in the next day or so more information on Bailey's passing will be posted at his Incus Records, Emanem, or the European Free Improvisation Pages. Here is good bit from All Music Guide, in case you didn't know:

At first glance, Derek Bailey possesses almost none of the qualities one expects from a jazz musician -- his music does not swing in any appreciable way, it lacks a discernible sense of blues feeling -- yet there's a strong connection between his amelodic, arhythmic, atonal, uncategorizable free-improvisatory style, and much free jazz of the post-Coltrane era. His music draws upon a vast array of resources, including indeterminacy, rock & roll, and various world musics. Indeed, this catholic acceptance of any and all musical influences is arguably what sets Bailey's art outside the strict bounds of "jazz." The essential element of his work, however, is the type of spontaneous musical interrelation that evolved from the '60s jazz avant-garde. Sound, not ideology, is Bailey's medium. He differs in approach to almost any other guitarist who preceded him. Bailey uses the guitar as a sound-making, rather than a "music"-making, device. Meaning, he rarely plays melodies or harmonies in a conventional sense, but instead pulls out of his instrument every conceivable type of sound using every imaginable technique. His timbral range is quite broad. On electric guitar, Bailey is capable of the most gratingly harsh, distortion-laden heavy-metalisms; unamplified, he's as likely to mimic a set of windchimes. Bailey's guitar is much like John Cage's prepared piano; both innovations enhanced the respective instrument's percussive possibilities. As a group player, Bailey is an exquisitely sensitive respondent to what goes on around him. He has the sort of quick reflexes and complementary character that can meld random musical events into a unified whole. Read the full bio by Chris Kelsey here.

Derek Bailey - Carpal Tunnel After 3 Weeks (2005)
Derek Bailey - M5 (1975)
Derek Bailey & Ruins - Quinka Matta (1995)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

siberian knights

I swore that I wasnt going to post any holiday music this year after last year's overkill, but I already broke my promise a couple of weeks ago with my Loren Connors post. So I may as well drop some more on ya heads...

Twilight 22 was the brainchild of Gordon Bahary with some help from lead singer and co-songwriter Joseph Saulter (pictured). Gordon created the group initially through a love of computers and synthesizers. At the age of 16 he sat in with Stevie Wonder during the recording of Songs In The Key Of Life. Impressed by his suggestions, Stevie invited Gordon to produce and program synthesizers on his next album, Journey Through The Secret Of Plants. Gordon met Joseph Salter through Herbie Hancock (Gordon also worked on Herbie's Feets Don't Fail Me Now). Joseph had been the drummer with LA-based band "Rhythm Ignition". After the group just missed out on a recording deal with Motown, Joseph and Gordon hooked up to work as Twilight 22.

The year was 1983 and electro was probably as big as it would ever get. Twilight 22 had a monster of a breakdance jam with Electric Kingdom. However, where Vanguard Records got off letting them release a sentimental Christmas tune is beyond me. Poppin' and lockin' to sleigh bells? Check. Synth steel drums playing Jingle Bells? Check. Cheerful kids caroling? Check. Silent Night line played with crystalline "White Lines" fx over top? Check. Ridiculously bad guitar-synth? Check. Vocoder? Oh hells yea check. So many xmas ditties are weaved into this breakdance medley its a little disturbing. Insert your own joke about christmas wrapping. Christmas in Hollis has got nothin on this!

Twilight 22 - In the Spirit

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

der Zorn Gottes

This is the account of how
all was in suspense,
all calm,
in silence;
all motionless,
still,
and the expanse of the sky was empty.


At the end of the 1960s, Florian Fricke formed Popol Vuh in Munich. Named after an ancient Mayan scripture tome, their music very much fit into the same realm as Tangerine Dream of the era. What seperated them, though, was their strong spirituality to their music. More trancey, and what I hesitate to say could be pre-worldly-new-age. And definitely one of the strongest arms of the krautrock movement.

By the late 60s, Werner Herzog had already been making films for nearly a decade when he first worked with Fricke. My favorite Herzog movie, and also a collaboration between the two is 1972's Aguirre: the Wrath of God. Starring the always unpredictable Klaus Kinski, its story is the chronicles of an ill-fated 16th century Spanish quest for El Dorado and the madness that the jungle drives them into.

The score is gorgeous. Fricke embraces a wide spectrum of music yet manages to easily make it all heartfelt and captivating. From the plaintive Spirit of Peace pieces (which I swear I hear the rumbling of Arvo Pärt's prepared piano Tabula Rasa piece, which came a few years later), to the swirling choirs of holy heatstroke and the dancing flute jig of a native mountain musician and Takoma-esque guitar figures.

Fricke was the first one to show to a whole musician's generation (electronics or not) how to transfer ancient sacrality into modern popular music using the rigour of classical music.

Popol Vuh - Aguirre I
Popol Vuh - Spirit of Peace (Part 2)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

something in the hills

Chances are you haven't ever heard of Sibylle Baier. Don't feel uncool though, most everyone has not. Her only recordings were made in the early 70s in Germany and have never seen the light of day. Sibylle was depressed, as young adults often are. Her friend Claudine took her on a perspective-changing road trip across the Alps. Upon arriving home Sibylle was refreshed and had her spirits lifted. She wrote her first song.

Baier's songs are gentle and intimate. A soft lullaby of simple guitar and soothing voice. Sibylle reclines under a willow tree in the summer, across the way a young couple rolls in the grass. Look the other direction and a rugged and drunk Leonard Cohen weeps. A voice so pure, songs so simple in their elegance, she could have brought loud bars to complete silence with just one of her fragile refrains.

If you are a true trainspotter maybe you will recognize her name or voice, as she did appear briefly in Wim Wenders' 1974 film Alice in den Städten. Thanks go to Orange Twin for resurrecting this new lost classic. Out in early 2006.

Colour Green is a gem of an album that will blow your mind. You will ask yourself how it is possible you have never heard this before? Sibylle is a star who chose to shine for her friends and family instead of the whole world. An un-crowned queen of the 70's underground folk scene - Nico meets a female Jim Croce.

Sibylle Baier - The End
Sibylle Baier - Forget About
Sibylle Baier - Colour Green

Monday, December 19, 2005

tea for two

Since Charlambides parted ways from Texas, Tom Carter has let loose with a string o' fantasimo collbas with Marcia Bassett (in name and as Zaika), Shawn McMiller (whose Colors disk could stand a heap more exposure), Bardo Pond, Badgerlore, and now, with long-time San Francisco art abstractor Robert Horton. Their debut-as-duo Lunar Eclipse (Important Records) holds true to the title, but instead of eloquent, silk drones there are fantastic clangs, metallic barks, and crumbled electronic mash-ups. Sounds more like the moon dragging against the sun's underbelly with white flashes reconfiguring your eye/hear/head sight. The familiar sustained/tonal constant of Carter backdrops for Horton's self-made constructs that spit and rumble from deep in the solar core. Though Carter runs straight down with his lap steel, bits of his For Four Cs peek out as do new telescopic dimensions.

Label wordage on the disk: Lunar Eclipse was culled from over 30 hours of recordings taking place, inadvertently, on the equinox, lunar eclipse and winter solstice of 2004 .The duo of Carter and Horton sound as if they are channeling the natural power of these significant calender days into the music. They both noticed something special was happening during the initial recording session when they looked at a clock and realised that they'd been playing for over 5 hours.

Giving Horton a solo listen is a must. Washed Out Headspace on 267 Lattajjaa is a dense, confounding slab of molasses drone. With Wes McIntosh on sax, the two cast heavy lids, but underneath are millions of worker ants feeding those machines.

Tom Carter & Robert Horton Duo - Hunter's Moon
Tom Carter & Robert Horton Duo - Glimmers

Thursday, December 15, 2005

free hemphill

Grab this while you can. Give thanks to Tim Berne's Screwgun label for offering up a free download of Dogon A.D. the superb, 1972 debut album by the amazing Julius Hemphill. Out of print for many years, the LP was first issued on Hemphill's own St. Louis based Mbari imprint before it was reissued a few years later on Freedom – for some reason, it has yet to appear on CD. I belive Quakebasket is to issue some Black Artists' Group recordings sometime... so, more early Hemphill will be surfacing again.

From Screwgun: This historic album features four then-unknowns on three lengthy avant-garde explorations that were quite influential not only in St. Louis (where they were recorded) but eventually on such diverse players as altoists Tim Berne and David Sanborn. Julius Hemphill (on alto and flute), trumpeter Baikida Carroll, cellist Abdul Wadud, and drummer Philip Wilson are in superb form, both as soloists and in ensembles where they react instantly to each other. This important music is better to be heard than described.

Julius Hemphill - Rites
Julius Hemphill - Dogon A.D. complete LP .zip

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

low tides rolling in

Here's a disk that's been collecting dust since it came in, Luigi Archetti & Bo Wiget's Low Tide Digitals II – one of the few non-Norwegian releases from Rune Grammofon. Guitarist Archetti is a new name to me. Outside of his group Tiere Der Nacht with Guru Guru percussionist Mani Neumeier, it seems he is now in the modern-day Guru Guru – fancy that. Now, cellist Wiget has been a peripheral favorite since hearing his Elk (Sadke) composition many years back ('98 maybe?) and the awesome Corpus Hermeticum CD Spazieren/Hokou/Periodic Drift with Taku Sugimoto and Tetuzi Akiyama. Twice this week we've bridged the Norway/NZ connections with the above mentioned labels – time seems ripe for a nice HCorp revue.

So, I didn't hear the first volume from these two but have a feeling that II flows in a similar, misty/ambient vibe. While Wiget's Elk had a leaning maximist approach, the methods used for its construction seem similar to what is happening here. Both employ electronics atop their chamber-esque dueling which is steeped in the ol' style of Euro blare though aware of the dividend payoffs in abstract/minute gesutres. Wiget's bow-birthed drones consistently match up with the blips and speaker cone tears amassed atop – when he is doing another solo album? The art/sound installation work of Archetti seems to play in heavily with the manipulations happening on each track; hearing this pipped down from a white wall gallery wouldn't seem out of palce. This is perfect at low, under the breath volume or cranked up to accentuate the digital dust that is kicked up along the way.

Luigi Archetti & Bo Wiget - stück 12
Luigi Archetti & Bo Wiget - stück 19

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

i'm drunk

For a few months now I've been going back to Blaster Al Ackerman's I Am Drunk LP and each time the oxygen around gets thinner as the clouds thicken; ready to drop pants and spray sputum dead in my left eye. The Blaster is best known for his mail art -- spanning back to the early 70s 'n' jumping off from the early work of Ray Johnson -- and being the source of TG's "Hamburger Lady" text. Here, we got what surely comes off like pureed oral history of the world, like a blasted-drunk Bob Cobbing.

Released by Ehse Records on LP, though the label offers the entire album as a free download as well. Before you click over there for the gratis DL, JFAD sez drop the clams and pluck the LP instead, if not for Blaster's rosey faced/gnarled baby-look self-portrait on the cover, but for spinning this for friends as you burn a few during Yule-time. Guess, I'm feeling pretty lazy today, so here is the Ehse description, as it adds things up nicely...

This listener's prediction: the muffled voice of Blaster Al Ackerman reading his "Pepper Young" translations with a presumed bar of soap in his mouth followed by tree frog belches will replace the sound of a passing steam locomotive as the poetic sounds of indescribable mystery and high lonesomeness. This audio icon of the 21st Century can be found on Ehse Records' LP release of Blaster Al Ackerman's "I Am Drunk". And indeed at times he does sound drunk, but not just on booze, also on language and human absurdity. Featuring live as well as "studio" recordings, "I Am Drunk" also has two Blaster classics that raise the humdrum world of the workplace to the giddy heights of Philip K. Dick in Munchkinland - "The John Eaton Recommendations" and "The Crab". Another prediction: copies of this album with its linguistic hijinks and squat and thrusts will be played far more times and enjoyed much more than any mothball enshrined Caedmon LP of T.S. Eliot or Robert Frost intoning.

Blaster Al Ackerman - The Crab

Monday, December 12, 2005

an absolutely terrible disease

Truth be, I picked up the first SPUNK album, Det Eneste Jeg Vet, Er at Det Ikke Er En Stovsuger (The Only Thing I Know, Is That It Isn't A Vacuum Cleaner), upon its release because Doramaar -- Kim Pieters' all lady free jazz group from New Zealand -- had pulled the shades down for good. Their fantastic CD Copula (Corpus Hermeticum) and the posthumous Fusteron LP Terra Incognita were a combined, thick mass of the finest snarled skree of their homeland and Europe's shattering take of free improv. Feel like they didn't get much of a shake here in the US, or, probably anywhere.

Now back to Norway. SPUNK members Maja Ratkje (voice, theremin, electronics) and Hild Sofie Tafjord (French horn, flute, electronics) would probably call me a pig for my thought process listed above -- check out their duo Fe-Mail's fabulous All Men are Pigs album -- but it is the truth. No matter, because since then Ratkje's work has been constantly floating atop all of the stacks around here. Along with Kristin Andersen (trumpet, violin, flute), Lene Grenager (cello), SPUNK follows in the acoustic glitch/insect buzz/ power blurt jazz style yet what truely makes it so brain-freezing fine is the surreal, almost fairy tale cloud cast over it -- like Spontaneous Music Ensemble conducted by Pippi Longstocking. Their new album En Aldeles Forferdelig Sykdom (Rune Grammofon) is minced and diced, like manic tape edits, of strings and skronks. Choir voices, digitally honed to seemed as if descending from Pippi's homeland, bounce from track to track giving the feel of an absolute celestial soundtrack as much as a firece, face-dagger, jazz platter. Their best yet.

SPUNK - Marbles
SPUNK - Dead Man Watching

MP3s removed at artist's request. SPUNK invites you to check out their sounds via MusicOnline.no.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

i ain't dead yet, muther fucka!

RIP Richard. It's difficult, but we are listening and laughin' right now.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Richard Pryor, the groundbreaking comedian whose profanely personal insights into race relations and modern life made him one of Hollywood's biggest black stars, died of a heart attack Saturday. He was 65.

Pryor died shortly before 8 a.m. after being taken to a hospital from his home in the San Fernando Valley, said his business manager, Karen Finch. He had been ill for years with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the nervous system.

Recognition came in 1998 from an unlikely source: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington gave Pryor the first Mark Twain Prize for humor. He said in a statement that he was proud that, ''like Mark Twain, I have been able to use humor to lessen people's hatred.''


Check out the full NY Times biography.

Who wants just one routine? Here is our fav Pryor album, the 1974 Stax LP, recorded live at Don Cornelius' legendary Soul Train nightclub in San Francisco. "Black And White Lifestyles" still makes me laugh till tears...

Richard Pryor - That Nigger's Crazy

Friday, December 09, 2005

breathing and smothering

Immolation/Immersion (Strange Attractors) is the debut album from molten improv trio Nels Cline (guitar), Wally Shoup (sax) and Chris Corsano (drums). Astute JFAD readers will remember my giddy roof-top praise of the Graduation LP -- inaugural meeting of Nels and Chris, along with Carlos Giffoni -- from one of my first postings here. That platter kept me up for nights in anticipation of the beaut we have here now. The energy between Nels and Chris can make most grown folk cry and with Shoup is the mix, they become a near-infallible splatter team that rarely gets out of the lines. Despite the room, they don't just blow/bang/strike without focus instead zeroing in with rapid patience and buckets of tact. Though this is still heavy as brick off an overpass and nastier. The opening piece "Lake Of Fire Memories" begins with Nels sculpting miniature peaks for Shoup to span top register bridges across -- by the time Chris drops in like a fuggin bombshell their tones have multiplied like the spiderweb nation. And at just two-and-half minutes, it is the perfect biscuit-sized cranium breaker to get on the airwaves and set the rest of the album off.

61-year old Shoup sounds as huge and multiphonic as Pharaoh Sanders ever did and dangerous as handling glass shards while feeding a baby on your knee. Up against the other two, he simultaneously melts into the spiked six-string ambiance and dances with / stomps all over Chris with his canyon-lung solos. Next to Rescue Mission, his duo with Jeph Jermam, and Confluxus (w/ Toshi Makihara n' Brent Arnol) this might be my dearest Shoup to date (through I haven't heard his 80s output). Nels Cline. Not much more to say than that. He and Chris in a steel-cage match with be a nice proposition. Or more trio -- please.

Nels Cline/Wally Shoup/Chris Corsano - Lake Of Fire Memories

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

instant sin sheds skin

Neneh Cherry has a story far older than her recent collaboration on Gorillaz "Kids With Guns". It even goes back further than her huge late-80s single "Buffalo Stance". Perhaps it first began with the union of an artist and a musician in the 60s. Soon, her new step-father, Don Cherry, stepped in. Raised around a deluge of music definitely had its effects on a young Neneh, as the family would often tour with Don.

But all this didn't stop her from rebelling either. Neneh dropped out of school, moved to London and formed a punk band as a teenager. Eventually she ended up joining a new group with part of the Pop Group and naming themselves after a Roland Kirk LP.

Rip, Rig & Panic gets lumped in with the post-punk scene going on at the time - and they did have many similarities - but they were far beyond funky abrasive tunes for the new wave punks to dance to. Often mixing in jazz flourishes of piano, free-jazz horns and flat out weirdness. Existing from 81-83, they managed to put out 3 albums and a half-dozen singles over the time.

Listening again they might be the direct ancestor of Dutch kitchen sink punks like Dogfaced Hermans. Or maybe not. Regardless, the RRP stuff is quite hard to find but a couple of tracks are available on the new GRLZ compilation along with a dozen other great tracks of estrogen-laced post-punk. Including Maximum Joy who I mentioned a last week.

Rip, Rig & Panic - You're My Kind of Climate
Rip, Rig & Panic - Storm the Reality Asylum

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

78 and still going

You know that saying wild hair? I always imagine a whole patch of 'em sprouting outta Joe Bussard's blood pumper. Half-heart-half-wild-hair drives him. He is The Record Collector of which all others are measured up to. With over 25,000 old-time records and nearly all of them are tagged with hunting stories and arcana. Check out this great article on Joe from the Washington Free Weekly (2/12/98) that details a buncha exploits and his discovery of that Black Patti. So last year Old Hat issued the double disk Down in the Basement Joe Bussard's Treasure Trove of Vintage 78s 1926-1937 and now Dust to Digital is bringing out a dusty monster that is the 5CD Fonotone boxset.

After spending his early years soaking up the sound of thousands of 78 rpm discs, record collector Joe Bussard decided in 1956 to make some recordings of a few guitar-picking pals in his local National Guard unit. Little did Bussard know that his hobby would turn into a 14 year odyssey which would result in hundreds of custom made 78 rpm records to be issued on his own Fonotone label out of his parents' basement in Frederick, Maryland.

Fonotone issued the first sides by John Fahey (as Blind Thomas) and as well as slabs from the likes of Mike Stewart (as B. Sam Firk), Mike Seeger (as Birmingham Bill) and dozens of others you and I have never heard of. Stewart and Fahey even got together as Mississippi Swampers for a session. All in all, this is quite a FonoDiscography at 131 tracks, all mastered from the original tapes.

Joe Bussard & Oscar Myers - Chinese Breakdown
Mississippi Swampers - Some Summer Day No. 2
Jolly Joe's Jug Band - Tear It Down
Birmingham Bill - Cumberland Gap

Monday, December 05, 2005

by any other name

In a review of By The Fruits You Shall Know the Roots from earlier this year, I wrote of guitarist Jack Rose: Simply said, Jack Rose’s two solo 12-string guitar pieces destroy. The first, “Sundogs” is Rose’s steel slide reverberating steel string/fret into silver spiraled pulse. As offerings to the sun, he slowly casts off shavings that eventually collate your head into a plated cloud that floats off to melting elevations. Otherworldly and mind-gushing as any of the full-band throttles he’s induced with Pelt. “Now That I’m a Man Full Grown” is Rose at finger picking paramount, stretching melodics and harmony through sinuous exploration; the sounds spill out like nature’s call.

Kensington Blues (VHF), his new full-length, expands upon those two pieces into what is undoubtedly Rose's blinding apex into string music and jass. Not to say he won't lick n' leap-frog ahead in a year or so, but for now, frozen in time, this disk (or high-price, yet damn-right worth it LP on Tequila Sunrise) is worth its weight in Mexico's finest. The ragtime melodies Rose spirals out of his fingers would work marvels as an all day soundtrack to windmill watching, cause 20 minutes in you'd be seeing triple-time. As I'll jabber on later this week of the drop-drool goods in the Fonotone box set -- Rose is torn from the same burlap bags as those old-timers or the alley mass of garbled, brain birth sipped (and stirred) by the likes of Alan Bishop.

Lots o' info on Rose and his tone-dream group Pelt at Klang Industries. Should get writtin' on their new dbl album as well...

Jack Rose - Kensington Blues

Friday, December 02, 2005

selling me short while stringing me long

With all the amazing reissues coming out these days, how is there time for the deluge of new music? Bobb Trimble is yet another in the seemingly neverending stock of psych-folk musicians from yesteryear. Whereas most of the jewels being unearthed are from the actual psychedelic era, Bobb is a musician out of his time and place. He did his recordings in the late 70s/early 80s near Worcester, MA.

Trimble echoes the ghosts of Bolan, Buckley, Rapp, Spence, and Wyatt. But instead of xeroxing the blueprint like many of today's bearded dudes, Bobb makes it his own. Freely incorporating a pastiche of phasing guitars, answering machine noise, spliced up tapes, and an heaping helping of god knows what. (False endings, candid studio out-take intakes, backwards loops). A staggering work of genius for a guy who obviously has only so much to work with.

When listening in, you assume he is some long-lost musician, only accidentally discovered and forever gone and untraceable. But apparently he still pops up around the Wormtown scene. His small issue records have demanded considerable sums of money online and now he is in talks to have his music legitimately re-released in 2006 on both CD and LP.

Bobb Trimble - If Words Were All I Had
Bobb Trimble - Armour of the Shroud

Thursday, December 01, 2005

sails descending

I first encountered Patrick Phelan back in the late 90s when a representative from Jagjaguwar handed me a CD by South because I was gushing about Labradford. Seems they shared an extra hand in the Richmond, VA scene.

South didn't sound like my boys over at Kranky, but I loved it anyway. They tied together my love for minimalist composers and late era Talk Talk and their followers, Bark Psychosis. They only put out their one album, but one-third of the group, Phelan, has been slowly releasing his own solo work ever since. His third solo record, Cost is out now.

Cost begins with the instrumental In Words (hah) - like Eno cut adrift, a perfect soundtrack for the grey skies and slow-mo snow outside. But the second track quickly proves this is not a recording of audio wallpaper and overt minimalism. A full arrangement propels as Phelan coos back and forth. The band keeps at it, even adding a distorted guitar solo, making for the most rock moment of his career. But worry not, the standard dreamy sad sound is still around and abound. Finger picked guitars, strings, lap steel- a beautiful collection of sounds sparse enough to not muddy up the sound whatsoever but full enough to keep you awake. A gorgeous album, worth the wait that has kept me hitting repeat for days now.

Patrick Phelan - Lesser Laws