OK, I realize my penchant for trying to present exhaustive round-ups of the new and old music I'm feeling is ultimately self-defeating as most readers just don't have the time to read 10,000 words about my life and how it relates to a dozen different releases. As you might have noticed this week, I've been trying a more stripped-back approach that, along with a new redesign I'm still figuring out, will hopefully make this site a bit more easy to navigate for people. But until then, I'm afriad I'm gonna have to bombard you with a number of records I think you'll most enjoy before getting to my titular subject. Sorrrrrrrry (not sorry hehehehehehe;)
Eric Demarsen - Le Cercle Rouge OST (Decca Records France 2018)
One of the more joyful frustrations I experience on a daily basis is never feeling like I have enough time to write about all the amazing new music being released alongside all the killer overlooked records or cassette- or digital-only releases finally getting vinyl pressings. Hell, just in the few days alone, I've learned of two albums I've been waiting for years to get: Memphis rapper Shawty Pimp's ...Still Comin' Real on the new Gyptology Records imprint and Eric Demarsen's hauntingly beautiful post-noir OST for Jean-Pierre Melville's classic La Cercle Rouge from 1972. The former artist also had his Come Real Wit It cassette given a vinyl pressing by Delroy Edwards' indelible L.A. Club Resource label....trust, as much as I want to begrudge the dude for being the son of Ron "Hellboy" Perlman just cuz it goes to prove my theory that 99% of my peers who start labels come from money, but he's got a good hustle going, so respect.
Telectu - Belzebu (Cliché Musica/Holuzam 1983/2018)
And that's not including the long-overdue vinyl pressing of an old favorite of weirdo Portugeuse electronic music from the 80s, Belzebu by Telectu (which, I just realized, I did not, in fact, learn about from Mutant Sounds, but was very much a favorite from the MP3 blog days so the hunt continues.) Clocking in at just thirty-five minutes with two side-long multi-movement pieces, for a record that is thirty-five years old, it's not even funny how much more passion, innovation, and sincerity there's in this album than 98% of electro-acoustic records floating around today. Moving from invigorating to awe-inspiring to humbling and ultimately to a better place in the county, this album is a journey unlike few others and the biggest of ups to new Príncipe sister label Holuzam for making this epic platter once again available.
Tiziano Popoli & Marco Dalpane - Scorie (Yaki Record/Soave 1985/2018)
And as I doubt I'll have the time to do a proper review round-up of fire Cinedelic sublabel, the Italian-focused Soave Recordings, and their continued focus on reissuing a number of buy-on-sight gems since only starting up two years ago. In addition to the number of amorphous drone albums they've reissued this year, they've also put out two albums of percussive, minimalist ambient and operatic music that I've just been dying to get physical copies of but have recused myself to streaming the Bandcamp pages until that platform starts guilting me for not having money. First up, released at the start of this year, is Tiziano Popoli and Marco Dalpane's 1985 soundtrack to the theatrical show "Scorie" first staged in Novi di Modena, Italy. An atmospheric yet transportive collection of five extended pieces ranging from six to twelve minutes, it's the type of album that can easily play in the background without making much of a fuss. But when you tune your ears to its resonant frequency, you're going to be overwhelmed with the sublimely raw emotionality suffusing every track, especially album highlight "Arabian Dream."
Now, for those who like their atmospheric music with a percussive and minimalist bent, an early contender for my favorite reissue of 2018 so far has been Soave's 2xLP reissuring of composer Daniel Bacalov's first two published compositions on LP, Il Ladro Di Anime - Diario Segreto Contraffatto. Something of a lowkey fourth world masterpiece that likely would have gotten filed under the world music umbrella by the late eighties, the classical guitar-trained and percussionist composer utilized a barrage of indigenous instruments alongside contemporary synthesizers like the DX7 and PPG Wave to create two intoxicatingly kinetic works that drew on a host of international influences while retaining a voice all of its own. This is a record I could easily wax philosophical about for hours, so just give it a listen to for yourself and transport your ears to a time when post-modern theory was starting to shape more academic music into promising forms.
OK, so having sincerely dug this Bacalov record and hoping to one day get a copy, I of course found myself poking around the internets and came across the 1989 soundtrack he did with his fellow Italian minimalist Piero Milesi for the "large-scale dance/performance work" La Camera Astratta, released on undersung weirdo workhouse label Cuneiform Records based in D.C. Now there's a catalog to dig through for some future reissues of yesterday.
For a label run by a percussion-obsessed electronics savant, I'd assume that I would be far more familiar with Bernd Friedmann's Nonplace Records, a label that's played host to everything from his acclaimed team-ups with the late Can drummer (and personal icon) Jaki Liebezeit to living Tombak legend Mohammad Reza Mortazavi, who also has a new record that's been on my to-review pile for a hot fucking minute. To be fair, this could have easily been a post just highlighting many of the label's rhythmically next-level releases, though this reissue of German percussionist and composer Tsangaris's decades-ahead-of-its-time twelve-inch feels more vital than ever and thus worth of its own write-up. Where the original featured the harrowing seven-minute odyssey of "Drüm 1 (Elephant's Easy Moonwalk)" and the two-and-a-half minute "Drüm 2," this new pressing is evenly-weighted on either side with the newly-recorded "Elephants Cry Salty Tears" to create a truly vital and rhythmically fwd>> document for 2018. Opening up on tonally curious hand drum patterns and a high, quasi-comical counter-rhythm, evenly-paced elephantine bass rumbles reign in the percussive melee early on to create the type of piece that at once goes nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Railroad construction-evoking hits enter the proceedings alongside a sentient snare drum part that wrings a rare emotionality of the oft-one-dimensional instrument. Bringing to mind what a dub version of a multi-percussionist jam section would sound like, there's also very little in the way of perceptible effects or post-production tinkering, each instrument sounding uncannily direct as if the listener were sitting in the studio alongside
Sounding like it was recorded at the same time as the A-side yet created especially for this release, the B-side initially evokes the traveling-while-standing-still of the A cut. But a thundering tom and kick pattern roars into focus just shy of the two-minute mark, a steadily loping 4X4 pulse emerging to give the composition a more teleogical direction that's augmented by a variety of wooden and bell-like percussive instruments. While it can at times feel like Tsangaris is going for an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach in his liberal usage of countless percussive tools and instruments, the judicious introduction of a bass lunge and a squiggling synth tone recombine to reign in the rhythmic free-for-all, giving the piece even more of a sense of underlying structure and purpose than the A. All of which makes for an extraodinarily well-balanced and engrossing two-tracker by a label whose percussive remit is amongst the most exciting in operation. Oh, and be sure to check out Tsangaris' work alongside Friedmann in the Euro drummer supergroup Drums Off Chaos, which released a new twelve on Nonplace as well this year, natch.