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Damien Jurado & Richard Swift: Other People's Songs Vol. 1

Over the weekend of August 21-22, 2010, not long after Damien Jurado and Richard Swift first collaborated to produce Damien's 2010 record, Saint Bartlett, the pair hunkered down with a 4-track recorder and one Coles 4038 ribbon microphone to record a collection of cover songs that run the gamut from John Denver to Chubby Checker to Kraftwerk.

The timing was perfect. On Other People's Songs Vol 1, we can see the scaffolding of what would become a creative turning point for the pair - later seen with the release of Damien Jurado's Maraqopa, the first record in his Maraqopa trilogy - less than 2 years later. The opening drum hits of "Be Not So Fearful", the falsetto vocals of "Sweetness", and the Spaghetti-Western swing of "Radioactivity" are, by now, hallmarks of the Jurado/Swift sound, but Other People's Songs Vol 1 is a transitional fossil, a marking of the pair's collaborative evolution.

Joseph Washington Jr.: Merry Christmas To You (Candy Cane Vinyl)

Joseph Washington Jr.'s 1983 holiday LP puts a soulful, funky, suave ribbon on nine frosty Christmas cuts. In that season of music's traditional descent into threadbare schmaltz, Merry Christmas to You restores joy and wonder to a blizzard of bland. Under this tree, find undiscovered classics for our cynical age: the buoyant "Jesus’ Birthday," the hot and bothered soul of "Merry Christmas," the ridiculously catchy wallet-opener "Shopping." The world of records produces just a precious few yuletide keepers: Spector's A Christmas Gift for You; Fahey's The New Possibility; Guaraldi's indelible Charlie Brown Christmas. Down another nog and file Joseph Washington Jr. comfortably next to those.

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2016-12-02
Syl Johnson: My Gift

Every side of every 45 from Syl Johnson's formative years on the Federal Label. Recorded between 1959 and 1962, My Gift is an exemplary collection of early R&B that blends Chicago blues with fiery soul. Cut from the original master tapes, these early recordings are presented pristine fidelity.

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2016-12-02
Syl Johnson: Do You Know What Soul Is

Culling together records from a host of short-lived indie labels, Do You Know What Soul Is? finds Syl Johnson at his most industrious. Heard here developing his chops as a writer/producer, Mr. Johnson knows what soul is.

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2016-12-02
Syl Johnson: Complete Mythology

The self-proclaimed "most sampled artist ever," Syl finally gets his due on this 4CD box covering his most productive period, 1959 through 1972. Collected for the first time are all of Syl's Federal, Twinight, Zachron, Special Agent, Cha Cha, and TMP-Ting 45s, plus period cuts from his Japan-only LP Goodie Goodie Good Times, and a murderer's grip of previously unreleased and little-heard out-takes. Lovingly remastered from the original source tapes, these 81 songs never sounded sharper, clearer, or funkier. And historian Bill Dahl's comprehensive track-by-track annotations bring deep-research backstory to every one. Our handsomely detailed and artfully crafted 40 page, 12" x 12" booklet also features a 13,000-word biography, scores of unpublished photos, a must-read index covering the history of every Syl-sampling artist (paid-up or otherwise), and the most complete and accurate discography you're likely to find in this universe.

John Lennon/Yoko Ono: Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins

Turns out the very sound of falling in love is just as abstract, subjective and loopy as the concept itself. Yoko Ono and John Lennon are two of history's greatest lovers, and Two Virgins is the document of the pair falling in love in real time. The album is a curious and amazing suite recorded over one weekend in Spring 1968 at Lennon's Kenwood home: Distant conversations; comedic role playing and footsteps; laughter, birdcalls and plunking piano lines; silly songs and space; tape delay stretching shrieks, bass rumbles and moans to the moon and back again.

The now-iconic cover (featuring Ono and Lennon standing nude together) notwithstanding, nothing about Two Virgins is safe. It would be a risky move today for artists in the larger, pop-culture conversation just as it was a risky move in 1969. But this is an uncomfortably private, two-person dialogue about - and celebration of - experimentation, inspiration and play. And these two souls bravely let us look through the keyhole.

John Lennon/Yoko Ono: Unfinished Music No. 2: Life With The Lions

Life with the Lions is the sound of Ono and Lennon validating their love as something impenetrable and timeless. It's when we, the listener, begin to fully understand that the scope of their recording efforts was much more than a recording collaboration, and something closer to a performative documentary, a declaration of "Our life and our love is our art - every nitty, gritty part of it."

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2016-10-14
Tashi Dorji & Tyler Damon: Both Will Escape

Both Will Escape is the debut full-length between electric guitarist Tashi Dorji and percussionist Tyler Damon. In the long tradition of string/drum duets -- from Bailey & Bennink to Haino & Yoshida -- these two cleave out their own unmapped continent of sound. Across four pieces they connect lashes of ecstatic intensity and outer reaches of texture and timbre. At times Dorji's brutal electric torrents meld into Damon's metal and tonal abstractions.

These two developed in parallel for years before forging an ongoing duo in 2015. Dorji has released a string of startling acoustic albums that've rescrambled six-string notions of jazz/improv/Flamenco. Damon's rethink of overtone and rhythm is enraptured as it's stupefying in solo exhibitions or with Mars Williams, Darin Gray and Thee Open Sex. Edition of 500 LPs with download coupon.

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2016-09-30
Jason Sharp: A Boat Upon Its Blood

Jason Sharp has been a fixture of Montréal's experimental/improv scene for many years, chiefly as a saxophonist exploring drone and durational music, while also collaborating in a wide variety of jazz, avant and contemporary music ensembles. His work as a composer, conductor and band leader in his own right is now featured on A Boat Upon Its Blood, the first album-length recording to be released under his own name: a bracingly meditative multi-movement instrumental work that charts a highly compelling arc of shifting energies and intensities.

Using custom-built equipment to translate breath and heart rate into variegated sonic triggers, along with other modes of signal processing and in tandem with traditional instrumentation, the album features Sharp's own reed playing with contributions from a few guest musicians on pedal steel guitar, violin and various percussion.

Recorded by Thierry Amar (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Vic Chesnutt) at the Hotel2Tango in Montréal and mixed and mastered by Jesse Zubot (Tanya Tagaq, Drip Audio Records), A Boat Upon Its Blood is a genre-defying album with a highly immersive and satisfying sound palette that impels deep listening and demands to be taken in as a whole. Constellation is thrilled to present Jason Sharp as a unique and invigorating new voice in modern-contemporary music.

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2016-09-30
Jenny Hval: Blood Bitch

Norwegian artist and writer Jenny Hval has developed her distinct take on intimate sound since the release of her debut album in 2006. For her last two solo albums, 2013's Innocence Is Kinky and 2015's Apocalypse, girl, Hval's debut for Sacred Bones, she has received thoughtful and widespread international acclaim for her fascinating voice, singular delivery and markedly non-traditional arrangements which incorporate elements of poetry, prose writing, performance art, and film. Hval has eloquently brought to light issues of both male and female gaze, which for years had been swept under the rug and/or denied all together.

"This is my most fictional and most personal album. It's also the first album where I've started reconnecting with the goth and metal scene I started out playing in many years ago, by remembering the drony qualities of Norwegian Black Metal. It's an album of vampires, lunar cycles, sticky choruses, and the smell of warm leaves and winter." – Jenny Hval

Dow Jones & The Industrials: Can't Stand The Midwest 1979-1981

For just more than two years starting in 1979, Dow Jones and the Industrials created roaring art-punk that collided with the confusion and celebration of technology. Their left field approach turned gnarled guitar riffs into unshakable melodies battered by synths and propelled with sharp lyrics. The songs railed against the boredom and cultural blandness of the Midwest and mirrored the paranoia of the era.

As maverick studio producers and ace songwriters, the Industrials realized a vision and sound not only on par with contemporaries Devo and Pere Ubu, but still relevant and cutting today.

Outside of bootleg compilation appearances and the overpriced collectors' market, the music of DJI has been unavailable for 35 years until now. "Can't Stand The Midwest 1979-1981" includes 29 songs remastered from the original tapes: The Industrials' side from "Hoosier Hysteria," the rare 1980 split LP with the Gizmos; 1981 7-inch EP; 9 unreleased studio tracks; live versions of unrecorded songs and more. A 12-page booklet features liner notes by the Gizmos' Dale Lawrence and Keith Smith's never before seen Indiana punk scene photos. The 2xLP also comes with a 70-minute DVD of a September 1980 club performance and download coupon. CD version has one less song.

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2016-09-02
Joan Shelley: Cost of the Cold b/w Here and Whole

Joan Shelley follows up her massively successful LP Over and Even with 2 new songs recorded in Chicago. Shelley will enter the studio in late 2016 to record a new LP, but until then she'll be on tour with Wilco and Patty Griffin with headlining dates in between.

Soundwalk Collective and Jesse Paris Smith feat. Patti Smith: Killer Road

A shimmering ambient tone, an electronic underlay to the lulling chatter of crickets, makes way for the unmistakable voice of Patti Smith, quietly intoning, ominously, "The killer road is waiting for you / like a finger, pointing in the night."

Behind the music and concept of Killer Road is international trio Soundwalk Collective - Stephan Crasneanscki, Simone Merli, and Kamran Sadeghi - who, alongside Patti Smith's daughter, Jesse Paris, conceived an immersive exploration of the tragic death of Christa Päffgen. Better known as Nico, the Velvet Underground chanteuse and solo pioneer, Päffgen died while riding her bike on the island of Ibiza in the summer of 1988. Killer Road is an ambient soundscape and spoken word tribute to Nico - eight interpretations of her lyrics, predominantly taken from classic albums such as Desertshore and Drama of Exile, arranged by fellow poet and kindred spirit Patti Smith. Originally executed as a live performance piece with Jesse Paris Smith and Soundwalk Collective, Killer Road sees the light of day in album format for the first time.

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2016-08-05
Dinosaur Jr.: Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not

Let's face facts - in 2016 it is remarkable that there's a new Dinosuar Jr album to go ape over. After all, the original line-up of the band (J Mascis, Lou Barlow & Murph) only recorded three full albums during their initial run in the 1980s. Everyone was gob-smacked when they reunited in 2005. Even more so when they opted to stay together, as they have for 11 years now (on and off). And with the release of Give a Glimpse Of What Yer Not, this trio redivisus has released more albums in the 21st Century than they did in the 20th. It's enough to make a man take a long, thoughtful slug of maple-flavored bourbon and count some lucky stars.

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2016-08-05
Jad and David Fair: Shake, Cackle And Squall

In 1974 Jad and David Fair teamed up to form a band called Half Japanese. The route was simple, at first. If one pounded on drums the other could squeeze sounds from an electric guitar. There were no other band members to stay in tune with, so there was no particular reason for them to worry about tuning the guitar in a traditional manner or learning traditional chords. They were free from the start to express their music in their own way. They traded off the guitar and drumming rolls. Whichever one sang the words also played the guitar and the other one drummed. For a couple of years they wrote, recorded and performed this way, without the convention of more members. When they did decide to expand they went big. They first thought of recruiting an outside drummer, so that both could play guitars at the same time

In 2014 Jad and David stripped things back to the roots. They went back to recording as a duo. One sang and played guitar, the other one drummed. 40 years had passed, but they slipped right back into the original roles and churned out a number of breath-stealing songs. 40 years later; 40 years better. One pick, two sticks and heart-warming vocals...... That's all they needed; two brothers, still rockin' the same damn deal!

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2016-07-08
Beef Jerk: Tragic

Beef Jerk's debut LP "Tragic" was self-released in a small run by the band in 2015 & has now been re-released for a deservedly wider audience by Trouble In Mind in 2016. The band often get lumped in with the Australian "dolewave" scene - a joke title referring to bands of the jangling pop variety whose lyrics often touch on the more mundane aspects of modern life in Australia. Beef Jerk's principal songwriters' Jack Lee & Mikey Branson certainly write tunes that seem to fit that mold, but upon further investigation & attention, reveal an intelligent, deeper & poetic understanding of working class culture in Australia. "Tragic" is re-released by Trouble In Mind with all-new artwork, and includes a download code.

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2016-07-08
DJ Katapila: Trotro + Bonus Tracks

There's no other producer in West Africa like DJ Katapila. His album Trotro, reissued in March on Awesome Tapes From Africa, demonstrates a wild combination of breakneck rhythms steeped in his native Ga traditional dances. But the spiritual affinity his music share with the minimal sounds of early house and techno have not gone unnoticed by listeners worldwide. Ghana's tireless producer and DJ, aka Ishmael Abbey, singularly consolidates flavors. As new sounds wind their way from West African neighbors into urban Ghana - particularly the hectic and humid metropolis Accra - Katapila has absorbed and analyzed their insidious influence on local dancers and filtered them into his own works. The result is astonishing.

Two of the tracks here haven't been on wax before. This 12" single made specially for DJs and collectors adds to the lore of Katapila's days-long DJ sets and intensely original and (slightly bananas) FruityLoops-crafted minimalist productions. The two previously-unreleased tracks build on Katapila's international oeuvre significantly, painting a broader picture of what the iconoclastic road warrior dj-producer has been doing the past few years: making his own kind of electronic music that's both deeply personal and wildly international.

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2016-06-17
Jerry Paper: Toon Time Raw!

From Los Angeles-based artist Lucas Nathan, Jerry Paper is a highly caricatured, stranger, and less-categorizable representation of his Self - fulfilling his need for a subversive outlet and catharsis, in general. Jerry's songs thematically deal with matters of loneliness, transcendence, war mongering and existential contemplations, all delivered with subtle humor.

The latest full-length from Jerry Paper is Toon Time Raw! sees itself as a a continuation of Nathan's of amoebic mission. Whereas his previous seven albums featured him alone - with his synthesizer, drum machine, and the occasional guitar - this new record features backing instrumentation from Easy Feeling Unlimited, a jazz band who have asked to remain anonymous. Though the synth sax has been traded for real brass, it's still the same Jerry songwriting.

Toon Time Raw! is a metamorphosis of Jerry's style that nonetheless retains his characteristic wit and sentimentality. Musically, the album fills the space somewhere between jazz-rock, sophisti-pop, and psychedelia. Lyrically, the album follows a cast of anthropomorphic animals navigating their cartoon reality, facing "the quotidian aches and pains of being a Being." Can you imagine if Martin Heidegger created Looney Tunes? Jerry already did.

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2016-06-17
John Carpenter: Halloween b/w Escape from New York

Much of the power of the best films by the cult director John Carpenter can be attributed to their use of music - music that, more often than not, was composed and performed by Carpenter himself. What began as a necessity for the low-budget productions by Carpenter became a major part of his aesthetic, and established him as a pioneering figure in genre-film score work as well as electronic music in general. Now, flanked by his son Cody Carpenter and godson Daniel Davies, and with two albums (Lost Themes and Lost Themes II) of non-soundtrack material under his belt, Carpenter has decided to revisit some of his most beloved themes.

This 12" release includes the themes to Halloween and Escape from New York, newly rerecorded by Carpenter and his Lost Themes bandmates. May it serve as a bridge between the Horror Master's legendary, still relevant past and his remarkable present.

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2016-06-17
John Carpenter: Assault on Precinct 13 b/w The Fog

Much of the power of the best films by the cult director John Carpenter can be attributed to their use of music - music that, more often than not, was composed and performed by Carpenter himself. What began as a necessity for the low-budget productions by Carpenter became a major part of his aesthetic, and established him as a pioneering figure in genre-film score work as well as electronic music in general. Now, flanked by his son Cody Carpenter and godson Daniel Davies, and with two albums (Lost Themes and Lost Themes II) of non-soundtrack material under his belt, Carpenter has decided to revisit some of his most beloved themes.

This 12" release includes the themes to Assault on Precinct 13 and The Fog, newly rerecorded by Carpenter and his Lost Themes bandmates. May it serve as a bridge between the Horror Master's legendary, still relevant past and his remarkable present.

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2016-05-20
Adult Jazz: Earrings Off!

Adult Jazz first appeared back in 2013, amid a flurry of praise surrounding their joyous and addictive debut single 'Springful'. Their unanimously acclaimed debut album Gist Is followed in 2014, self-released on their label Spare Thought, with The Sunday Times calling it "utterly riveting" and the NME and The Line Of Best Fit both naming it their album of the week. Gist Is was a startling and mesmerising voyage from start to finish, taking a labyrinthian, fragmented pop-not-pop path, incorporating songs within songs, while maintaining a sense humour through some of its complex themes surrounding religion, gender and humanity.

Following the release of Gist Is, the band went on to play sell out tours around Europe as well as festivals including Latitude, End of The Road, CMJ and Iceland Airways. The latter was attended by none other than Bjork, who was moved to write about Adult Jazz as ones to watch for Art In America Magazine. David Byrne followed suit and asked them to play at last year's Meltdown festival with Young Marble Giants, while further endorsements came from diverse remixes by Oliver Coates, Happa and a very rare re-work from Shabazz Palaces. Since then the band have been busy collaborating, including producing OKAY KAYA's recent single 'Durer' / 'Keep On Pushin'.

Adult Jazz return with a new record 'Earrings Off!' released on May 6 2016 via TriAngle. Comprised of seven tracks, it experiments with sound and song structure as well as its themes and narrative. Harry explains: "The record is about masculinity. Embodiment, lust, idealisation, privilege, legitimacy and limitation. It's about acknowledging the weight, with a view to liberation from its past clout. It's about picking your ideal body, and playing with body language to achieve authenticity. It's about the possibility of authenticity."

We Were Promised Jetpacks: These Four Walls (Blue Marble Vinyl)

Opening with a lone guitar line that itself has all the momentum of entire genres crammed into a single set of chords, We Were Promised Jetpacks' These Four Walls signifies a debut album that has the sort of peerlessness and potential to stand as a mainstay and luminary of indie music in the 21st century.

The band's youthful energy (their average age at the time was 21) explodes thunderously as colossal choruses fall unfailingly into place. Every space is filled, tension bristling achingly in Thompson's vocal delivery as the rest of the band crashes around him with a perfect balance of force and harmony. The romanticism and accessibility of a pure pop sensibility is never hidden too deep. Both "Roll Up Your Sleeves" and "Quiet Little Voices" capture this beautifully and immediately. The product of Ken Thomas' (Sigur Ros, Cocteau Twins, David Bowie etc.) studio mastery and Peter Katis' (Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad, The National etc.) mixing, the recording of These Four Walls was almost entirely live, with only minimal overdubs, and the band members' collected passion and intuition is translated into a pure, precise form, at once powerful and delicate.

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2016-05-06
Jaye Bartell: Light Enough

Jaye Bartell's move to Brooklyn, NY in 2013, as well as the work Spalding Gray and Eileen Myles, heavily influence the content presented on his latest record, Light Enough. Bartell spent about a year secluded in his Greenpoint bedroom, piecing together the intricate tunes and gentle melodies that furnish his new record.

The songs on Light Enough encompass the processes of aspiration, pursuit, and fulfillment, if only to find that "[P]eople don't change. They only stand more revealed," as Charles Olson writes in Maximus Poems. In the album opener, "G & Me," Bartell sings of the joyful illusions of escape, "a whole new life" that's recognized, without bitterness as a "whole new lie." "Light Enough" is a declaration of sufficiency, as if to say, Let this be enough then, and if it isn't now, then it never will be: "I'm ready to come down," he sings. The record as a whole takes as a kind of informal edict a line from Eileen Myles' Chelsea Girls: "I have waited all my life for permission. I feel it growing in my breast. A war is storming and it is behind me and I am moving my forces into light."

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2016-05-06
Joanna Brouk: Hearing Music

She was a composer who wrote scores with geometric shapes, a poet who became a pioneer of early electronic music. Joanna Brouk's little-known body of work exists at the nexus between ambient, new age, drone, and classical minimalism - stark in its simplicity, lush in its expanse. Studying under Robert Ashley and Terry Riley at the fabled Mills College Center For Contemporary Music before graduating into the margins of the 70s bay area new music scene, Ms. Brouk blazed her own trail well outside of the musical establishment to create uncompromising electronic and acoustic work of sleek beauty and primal power. Describing herself as less a composer than a channel, she took her cues from the frequencies of the natural world and the talents of collaborators like Maggi Payne and Bill Maraldo. Hearing Music collects for the first time the deepest cuts from her beguiling and rare cassette releases and her archive of previously unreleased recordings.

"I realized that, in many instances, it didn't matter what you said, it mattered how you said it: the tone of the voice, the rhythm, the sound... Because sound has an incredible effect on other people, it can make them dance, put them into trances, it can control emotions by a certain pitch, a certain depth." - Joanna Brouk

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2016-05-06
Julianna Barwick: Will

Julianna Barwick's revelatory third full-length, Will, is a surprising left turn for the Brooklyn experimental artist. Conceived and self-produced over the past year in a variety of locations, the ominous, compelling Will is a departure from 2013's Alex Somers-produced Nepenthe. If that last record conjured images of gentle, thick fog rolling over desolate mountains, then the self-produced Will is a late afternoon thunderstorm, a cathartic collision of sharp and soft textures that sounds looming and restorative all at once.

Will comes off of Barwick's busiest period in her career to date following Nepenthe - a spate of activity that included playing piano for Yoko Ono, performing at the 25th annual Tibet House Benefit Concert alongside such kindred spirits as the Flaming Lips and Philip Glass, the Rosabi EP and an extensive touring schedule that included her first-ever shows in Japan.

Her life over the past several years has largely been lived in transit, and as such the genesis of Will was not beholden to location; Barwick reflects on this cycle of constant motion. "You're constantly adjusting, assimilating, and finding yourself in life-changing situations."

That sense of forward propulsion is largely owed to what Barwick describes as Will's "synthy flava," an ingredient she was inspired to add to her vocal loop-heavy formula after demoing equipment for synth maker Moog. Another new wrinkle Will introduces in Barwick's sound: Mas Ysa's Thomas Arsenault, who lends his richly complex vocals to "Same" and "Someway." The beguiling, beautifully complicated Will is the latest proof yet of Barwick's irresistibly engaging talent.