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2011-09-20
Akira Sakata & Chikamorachi: Live at Hungry Brain

In 2009 Family Vineyard released the first U.S. album by Japanese saxophone legend Akira Sakata in more than 20 years. That critically heralded release, Friendly Pants, was with Sakata’s long running rhythm crew Chikamorachi — drummer Chris Corsano (Paul Flaherty Duo, Bjork, Jandek, etc.) and acoustic bassist Darin Gray (On Fillmore, Grand Ulena, Brise-Glace, etc.). This LP is their follow-up. Recorded during the ’09 Umbrella Music Festival in Chicago, Live at Hungry Brain is an outrageous document by this brawling avant garde trio. Sakata, on alto/clarinet/ vocals, relentlessly pushes Corsano/Gray into the blackout zone where the body drops out and the spirit takes over. On each piece Sakata seemingly levitates higher into a cosmic zone while blasting out gorgeous melodic shapes — even when he sings. Those who have followed Corsano and Gray’s progression through the American rock, noise & free jazz underground will hear this LP as a pinnacle of their talent. It’s an exhilarating, deeply textured and exhausting listen only matched by the outlandish, yet spot-on, cover art by famed Japan illustrator More Rock All Art. Edition of 700 copies.

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2009-09-22
Akira Sakata & Chikamorachi: Friendly Pants

Friendly Pants is the first American release by legendary Japanese saxophonist Akira Sakata in more than 20 years. It pairs the 65-year-old traveler alongside Chikamorachi, the bombast rhythm section of drummer Chris Corsano (Paul Flaherty Duo, Bjork, Jandek) and acoustic bassist Darin Gray (On Fillmore, Grand Ulena, Brise Glace). Since the late 1960s, Sakata has been a constant figure in jazz and creative music scenes as an ever evolving and adventurous, multi-instrumentalist, and member of classic groups such as Yamashita Yosuke Trio and Wha-ha-ha plus many of his own, like the Sakata Akira mii. He has recorded with Chris Cosey, Peter Brötzmann in Last Exit, DJ Krush, Yoshimio, and others.

Since 2005 Sakata has been aligned with Corsano and Gray — a duo equally informed by underground American rock, noise & free jazz — and already issued two other smoked and blown out albums with them in Japan. On each of those they were joined by Jim O’Rourke, who remains in the producer’s chair for this session. Sakata deliverers ferocious / highly lyrical approaches to the post-bop field and with Chikamorachi’s recalls late-period John Coltrane or Pharoah Sanders during the early 1970s at times. While the three smear and tear at the edges, Sakata’s massive tone and melodic sense reins in the chaos to create beauty and awe.

Originally issued on O’Rourke’s Japanese imprint Shakaijin Records, Friendly Pants is now reissued for the rest of the world to dig.

Akira Sakata & Chikamorachi with Masahiko Satoh: Proton Pump

Proton Pump is a milestone achievement in the winding career of alto saxophonist, gibberish shrieker and jazz legend Akira Sakata. It's a lightning-fast, real-time cut-up of melody and bare-knuckle action that swings between the avant garde and hardcore be-bop. Sakata is backed by his famed rhythm crew Chikamorachi -- drummer Chris Corsano and acoustic bassist Darin Gray -- and joined by composer and pianist Masahiko Satoh. Sakata and Satoh emerged out of the late-1960s Tokyo jazz scene -- Satoh already releasing albums and Sakata soon joining the famed The Yamashita Trio -- and while they’ve since become uncompromising pillars of free music and vision this marks their first proper album together. On Proton Pump's four pieces, Sakata is on absolute top form on alto saxophone and clarinet -- blowing bold melodies with unstoppable momentum and also injecting deep textural fields with his startling vocalizations. Satoh's piano is hyperbolic throughout as he splatters counterpoints and brilliant tones at dizzying speed. Recorded before a jaw-dropped audience at Pit Inn, Tokyo in November 2015. LP limited to 500 copies worldwide, includes a full-color inner sleeve and download coupon. CD version comes in a digipak.

Akira Sakata & Jim O'Rourke with Chikamorachi: And that's the Story of Jazz...

And that’s the story of jazz… Get it? Well, maybe you had to be there when legendary saxophonist Akira Sakata, guitarist Jim O’Rourke and bombast rhythm crew of percussionist Chris Corsano and double bassist Darin Gray (aka Chikamorachi) jumped in the van for a Japanese tour. This two CD set documents their 2008 jaunt — not the first and far from last — in blistering detail. Shades of Last Exit, Coltrane’s Live in Seattle and even Kousokuya appear here but this quartet has nailed its own unique ‘n’ volatile tension and symmetry during its past six years together. Until now, their albums have only been available as Japanese imports. This is also the third U.S. release by Sakata on Family Vineyard in the past three years. Throughout Sakata charges upper registers on alto sax yet still hooks stunning phrases and harmonic themes. O’Rourke’s radical, electric guitar blasts are massive volleys of pure sound. All the while, Gray relentlessly anchors the torrent with subterranean grooves, scrapes and slaps while Corsano lays waste to his kit, pounding polyrhythms and tones. Together passages transform from blinding, uncompromised brutality to zones where Sakta’s sweetened melodies dance slowly alone and O’Rourke, also on harmonica, adds lonesome country blues. Over-the-top at times, but hey, that’s the story of jazz… If you want Grade-A, blood splattered free music, this is it, but you gotta pay for it.

Akira Sakata & Jim O'Rourke with Chikamorachi & Merzbow: Flying Basket

Flying Basket is a zonked and fantastic double album of avant jazz, discord and deconstructed rock by five master practitioners. It also marks the debut collaboration by a pair of Japan's legendary transgressors -- saxophonist Akira Sakata and noise pioneer Masami Akita, aka Merzbow. For the past ten years Sakata has rededicated himself to fiery free jazz alongside guitarist Jim O'Rourke and monstrous rhythm section Chikamorachi -- Chris Corsano (drums) and Darin Gray (double bass, percussion). Sakata's playing remains beautiful and exploratory as it did 40 years ago.

But with this quartet, plus special guest Merzbow, the wheels snap off: Sakata ejects the sax and howls; O'Rourke bleeds the guitar of melody, leaving only pulsating electricity. The drum/bass truly swing it and nail it down like Ali/Garrison. Merzbow's analogue sound mass cut textured furrows headlong into these four, leaving behind harmonic shifts and caterwauling in the wake. There's minimalist motifs and repeating horn/bass/six-string phrases woven in but Flying Basket remains a massive free flowing, hallucinatory zone of propulsion. No clichés. They just kick out the jams.

Cut at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin December 2014 by Rashad Becker. 150 gram LPs housed in popping gatefold jacket hand sculpted by Jeremy Kannapell; CD in a Stoughton tip-on mini-LP sleeve.

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2011-09-20
Alan Licht: YMCA

YMCA is guitarist Alan Licht's first solo release since 2003's A New York Minute double CD (on XI), and his first solo vinyl outing since 1994's long out-of-print Sink the Aging Process (on Siltbreeze). Largely recorded at a 2004 concert at a Cambridge Massachusetts YMCA by Keith Fullerton Whitman, YMCA documents Licht's solo guitar set of the time — a three-part structured improvisation that moves from mournful, layered sustained tones that sound more like a reed organ than a guitar, to a gently plucked middle section, to a final firestorm of loop processing that is a tour de force of "the changing same." Inspired by his friends Oren Ambarchi and Tetuzi Akiyama's then-current albums (Triste and Don't Forget To Boogie), Licht proposed YMCA to Idea Records to form a kind of trilogy with those releases. With Idea's subsequent demise, Family Vineyard has stepped in to bring this peak performance out as a special limited edition vinyl release, exactly as the artist originally conceived it. Limited to 500 copies.

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2008-05-20
Alan Licht & Aki Onda: Everydays

Debut collaboration of New York artists and long-time duo partners Alan Licht and Aki Onda, whose combined history connects artists straddling the pop and experimental worlds, including Fennesz, Loren Connors, Takemura Nobukazu, Lee Ranaldo, and Toriko Nujiko. In the past decade their montage-inspired solo work---Licht's permutational guitar and tape pieces on Rabbi Sky and A New York Minute, Onda's field recording recontextualizations on Bon Voyage! and Ancient & Modern---has co-existed with their experimental sound/visual projects Text of Light (Licht) and Cinemage (Onda). Everydays is five grandly formed soundscapes that mix Onda's poetic/textural cassette sounds and the rhythmic/lyrical pull of Licht's guitar. Morphing from recognizable structures to dissonant hammered chunks and rapid cut-ups, the album perfectly weaves their signature applications of sound diaries, minimalism, grainy fidelity, looping and free blues into a dynamic and ambitious statement.

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2010-02-23
Alan Licht & Loren Connors: Into the Night Sky

Into the Night Sky is the sixth album from avant guitarists Alan Licht and Loren Connors, the first after 2003's In France. Since 1993 these New York City artists have evolved an instrumental dialogue merging shades of electric blues and minimalism. These two epic pieces — one from 1996, the other 2006 — recorded live in concert clearly show far their desolate sound world grew over a decade of collaboration while the core of layered guitar complexities and alien melodies remain. The atmosphere conjured by the duo is unmistakable — the ebb of eloquently shaped feedback — while the harmonic patterns recall 20th Century classical music. Active since the early 1990s, Licht has worked with a veritable who's who of the experimental world, from free jazz legends to downtown composers while performing in Text of Light and an ongoing duo with Aki Onda. Since 1978 Connors has released dozens of acclaimed and sought after LPs documenting his singular adaption of the blues and forging his place as one of America's most iconoclastic artists.

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2013-02-05
Apache Dropout: Magnetic Heads

This is not a “new” Apache Dropout platter, but an archival sidestep into the Fugs n’ fried view of their early beginnings. Before the Indiana trio cemented their unique red-level, distorto proto-punk they focused on a more obliterated bent on traditional forms. Fiddle, distortion and echo drive most of these songs, as sung by Sonny Blood, that tout distrust of banks, ballot uncertainties and magnetic heads. It's a bleaker vision than the recent Bubblegum Graveyard LP on Trouble in MInd, even with the blownout take on Chuck Berry's "Memphis, Tennessee" and hints of Holy Modal Rounders to Kim Fowley doused throughout these sides.

Culled from the group’s first two self-released cassettes -- Cha Cha in 2008 and Lysergic Choogle: Not for Pigs issued a year later -- the 10 songs are equally formed by their recording in a grain silo and the group's Magnetic South studio as much as the songwriting. Edition of 700 copies, comes with download code ­ and if you can name all the heads on the cover, will give you prize.

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2011-03-29
Apache Dropout: Apache Dropout

Apache Dropout is a full on lysergic boogie trio from Southern Indiana who’ve self-released a handful of recordings while touring the sub-U.S. during the past couple years. Finally, their debut LP is here to catch you up with their three-minute-&-less anthems crafted of ‘60s epoch fuzz. With mostly guitar/bass/drums they channel soul melodies, primitive rock thump and blasted solos that are soaked in the dimethyl-trip of teenage visions (see songs “Sam Phillips Rising” and “God Bless You Johan Kugelberg” for that) and a few whifs of Tuli Kupferberg. Sonny Alexandre is the enigmatic howler/vocalist/guitarist whose swagger and melted riffs leads the way. Formed in 2008, the group’s previous endeavors include John Wilkes Booze, Hot Fighter #1 and Lord Fyre. Recorded by the band at their own Magnetic South Studio, they’ve pushed these 11 songs into highly textured nuggets of punk art that follow in the wave of The 13th Floor Elevators, The Velvets, and Patti Smith Group. We’ve got no doubt, this is going to floor all ears in 2011. Album art and horn arrangements come by way of John Terrill (co-founder of the late '70s new/no wave Dancing Cigarettes) and final audio polishing by engineer Paul “Z” Mahern, vocalist of the legendary Zero Boys.

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2000-04-03
Bruce Anderson: Brutality II: Balkana

Bruce's second installment. The production and narrative flow by Dale seals this brutal lament on Man's copious history.

"Anderson's guitar emits bell-like tones at one moment, and squalls of white noise at the next. The nearly half-hour "Feud," built around an insistent, clanging low-end figure, stacks whistling guitars and sporadic bass pulses to haunting effect. "Blood" employs more musicians and fewer notes, holding to one low tone for the entirety of its ten-minute length." -- Billboard

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1999-09-20
Bruce Anderson & Dale Sophiea: Strict

The first new recordings by O-Type/MX-80 Sound members Bruce and Dale, along with Dave Mahoney, Jim Hrabetin and Marc Weinstein. They call this New Edge. "Appropriated contemporary classical music samples from Morton Feldman, Claudio Monteverdi, Hugo Distler, Jeanne Desslieux, and Frances Poulenc acts as beds and transitions in the narrative flow of this modern oratorio for rock instrumentation. This is out on the edge of both what is expected and what is allowed. Anderson's darkly meditative and thoughtfully screaming guitar has never sounded more at home. These veterans of MX-80 have evolved into something nobody's found a name for yet." --Henry Kaiser

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2011-03-29
Chris Forsyth: Paranoid Cat

Paranoid Cat is Philadelphia guitarist Chris Forsyth’s third solo album and the first for Family Vineyard. It is a sprawling, harmonically-charged side-long suite backed by a clutch of compositions merging raw and delicate American roots traditions. After more than a decade trotting the globe and recording with a mess of today’s avant garde greats, plus co-leading the brazenly absurd Peeesseye, Forsyth has arranged a full-band with dummer Mike Pride and members of D. Charles Speer & the Helix, Sunburned Hand of the Man, Peeesseye, and Mountains to accompany his electric six-string vision of interlocking arpeggios and maximalist peaks. The kaleidoscopic arrangements of Paranoid Cat are a leap from the stripped down attack on Forsyth’s hotly acclaimed 2009 Dreams -- to be reissued by Family Vineyard later this year -- with hints of John Fahey's “America,” Richard Lloyd's work with Television, John Lee Hooker, and Van Dyke Parks all being identifiable somewhere in the swirling mix.

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2011-12-06
Chris Forsyth: Dreams

Dreams is a reissue of Chris Forsyth’s second solo album. In 2009 Forsyth pressed up 100 LPs for a European tour and created quite an uproar of approval by the heads who managed to score a copy. Now available again, Dreams rightfully shows Forsyth at the creme of American guitarists who blend masterful skill of country/blues with sometimes violent aggression or mind-bending arrangements. Dreams was recorded and mixed between 2007 and 2009 and catches Forsyth in the studio layering acoustic and electric guitars and organ with contributions from his guests, creating four pieces which are full of the raw power and intuitive delicacy that characterizes his live shows still. Dreams crosses free-wheeling minimalist rock balladry and anarcho-improv surrealism with a fearless approach to beauty in a deeply psychedelic landscape. It features contributions from his Peeesseye bandmates Jaime Fennelly (synth on one track) and Fritz Welch (drums and vocals on another) as well as the soaring trumpet work of Nate Wooley and organ, saxophone, and snare drum overdubs by another longtime collaborator of Forsyth’s in Phantom Limb & Bison, Shawn Edward Hansen. This is Forsyth’s second solo record, preceding Paranoid Cat, which was released on LP earlier this year on Family Vineyard.

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2007-04-24
Cold Bleak Heat: Simitu

Simitu is the second album from Cold Bleak Heat, the dream-team, east-coast avant jazz line-up of alto/tenor saxophonist Paul Flaherty (Dream/Aktion Unit), drummer Chris Corsano (Vampire Belt, Six Organs of Admittance), trumpeter Greg Kelley (nmperign, Heathen Shame), and acoustic bassist Matt Heyner (No Neck Blues Band, Test). While explosive as their 2005 debut, Simitu brings a melancholic, even sensitive feel to these improvisations. Yet, no need to worry about these four wipin' tears on their sleeves. CBH wages between the melodic centers/ghostly solos of Flaherty/Kelley and loose, downhill, free blow outs you'd expect, all while mainting the grand swell of a hardcore jazz symphony. Even as complex and multi-paced beats sink into bowed-drones and vocal hollers, focused lyricism remains the returning leader. Features liner notes and drawings by Christina Carter (Charalambides).

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2005-03-01
Cold Bleak Heat: It's Magnificent, But It Isn't War

Cold Bleak Heat is the East Coast's maximalist tour de force of spontaneous sound construction. It is a staggering group line-up that raises the eyes and the ante. “It's Magnificent, But It Isn't War,” is the debut from a subterranean assembly of today's most active: Connecticut's prevailing operator of the alto/ tenor saxophones, Paul Flaherty; the seemingly ten-handed/ footed drummer Chris Corsano (Sunburned Hand of the Man, Six Organs of Admittance), definitely today's leading light in pure spectrum propulsion; sound sculpting trumpeter Greg Kelley (nmperign, Heathen Shame), who opens into full-force gales during this session; and Earth-boom grounding acoustic bassist Matt Heyner (No Neck Blues Band, Test), whose tone/shape-shifting agility wrangles all these wild horses into one field. From the start Flaherty's combusting, scorched tone burrows into the torrential grooves with a bleating and vivid lyricism that never waivers. His 30+ years of New England horn calling is at its apex with these younger brothers-in-arms. The human electric pulse and ecstatic goal of Cold Bleak Heat keeps these four riding the lighting from end to end. Corsano and Heyner's ass-throb danceathon spin is more than enough evidence to squelch the freedom naysayers. How can you not get down to that!?! These four actioners embody a cosmic shuffle of unresolved parallel. Cold Bleak Heat is a wake up call to the evolving life of the avant garde.

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2002-09-03
Darin Gray: St. Louis Shuffle

Debut solo album from bassist Darin Gray, associate, sideman and partner to Dazzling Killmen, Brise Glace, You Fantastic, Jim O¶Rourke, Loren Mazzacane Connors, Will Oldham, Gastr Del Sol, and Cheer Accident, and his recent bands and collaborations with Grand Ulena, On Fillmore. The debut is 19 complex and short improvisational vignettes. The music on St. Louis Shuffle is informed more so by the extended technique composition of Helmut Lachenmann, the microscopic music of Francois Bayle, the films of Andrei Tarkovsky and Takeshi Kitano, and the cut-up trilogy of William Burroughs, than by free improvisation. Dealing more with huge dynamics, timbre and stillness than melodic or motivic improvisation and using a vocabulary of rumbling bass/ discomforting silences/ crackles/ hums/ scrapes/ clicks/ pops/ and switches/, Darin has made St. Louis Shuffle an album that is as beautiful as it is disturbing.

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2007-07-24
David Garland: Noise in You

Noise In You is an album of gorgeous music about noisy emotions: our desires and distractions, anxieties and passions, love and loss, and the living hum of our bodies. It is David Garland's 8th album since entering New York City's downtown scene in the 1980s, and it's the first to receive the wide distribution and attention his music deserves. Garland is a multi-instrumentalist currently exploring the sumptuous jangle of a 12-string guitar; he sings with a voice that's deep, honest, and intimate. Noise In You is unclassifiable: pop music that's both experimental and accessible, and is rich with intricate layered harmonies and startling colors and textures. It features the beautiful, sometimes mystical voices of a younger generation of musicians -- Sufjan Stevens, Mira Romantschuk (of Mi and L'au), Diane Cluck, Viking Moses, and David Deporis -- together with guitars, flute, piano, clarinet, sarode, oboe, and more. Noise In You unfolds into a wondrous, subtly interconnected song cycle that sweeps you up in its imaginativeness, drama, and sensual pleasure.

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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2011-09-20
Dow Jones & The Industrials: Can't Stand the Midwest

Family Vineyard reissues an obscure and sought after punk/new wave treasure. Dow Jones and the Industrials’ 1981 debut and sole 7-inch EP, originally issued on the Hardly Music label, is immaculately re-mastered from the original tapes and now available on audiophile vinyl. Dow Jones and the Industrials of West Lafayette, Indiana existed from the late 1970s into the early 80s amongst a stylistically matchless state-wide scene that included The Gizmos, Zero Boys and Dancing Cigarettes. This EP -- of which original copies have swapped hands for more than $400 -- contains the often bootlegged and covered anthem “Can’t Stand the Midwest,” along with “Let’s Go Steady” and “Indeterminism.” The four member DJI combined jagged rock ‘n’ roll songwriting with emerging electronic instrumentation and smart-ass collegiate humor into a wild new wave sound that won them immediate popularity among Indiana’s punks and co-eds of the day and has remained in the hearts of record collectors these past 30 years. Includes exact reprints of the two different versions of an insert included with the original record. Family Vineyard will be reissuing the complete recordings of Dow Jones & The Industrials later in 2011.

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2008-07-22
Dredd Foole: Kissing the Contemporary Bliss

For over 30 years troubadour wailer Dan Ireton, aka Dredd Foole, has called upon the spirit of 78 shellac blues n' psychedelic Stooges n' Velvets to fuel his guttural, pure soul ethos of the song. Whether solo or leading mass, Foole hints at the classic forms of Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks, Buckley’s Starsailor and the celestial fug of Sun Ra’s third-eye vision to create an approach untraveled yet increasingly influential (see: Six Organs of Admittance, Sunburned Hand of the Man). Produced in multi-dimensional spectrasound by Matt “MV” Valentine (Bummer Road, Tower Recordings), Kissing The Contemporary Bliss spans 50 miles of elbow room (it’s a double CD) and kicks up the most outward bound and staggering approaches to Gus Cannon's "Walk Right In" and Robert Johnson's "Stones In My Passway" while offering ear-popping originals colored by Erika Elder’s jug blowin’ and Coot Moon’s ecstatic, reverb dosed banjo. You’ll hear nothing like this in 2008 or beyond. Packaged in a mini-LP-styled gatefold book with full color photos of The Foole in action.

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2007-01-23
Dredd Foole: Daze on the Mounts

Hey, smooch! The Foole, aka Dan Ireton, has finally come out and ended a near decade of silence and Daze on the Mounts, a spiraling three-dimensional crest of the so-called avant-folk expression, is the celebratory homecoming. Originally a limited 2004 CDR, this reissue presents the colossal side for all. In collaboration with Matt Valentine and Erika Elder (MV&EE/Bummer Road and Tower Recordings), two of modern-time's purest interstellar travelers, Dredd Foole bounds between Tim Buckley-esque bellow and a hyper-extended take on the song form (a dewy mash of Ra-space and Vermont-lore) alongside environmental treatments (harmonica, synthesizer, percussion) and his own acoustic guitar work to fully transcend limitations. From the visceral 80s garage days with The Din to becoming a beacon for many a free folk explorer, the Foole remains a bona fide master of universal revelation.

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2003-11-04
Grand Ulena: Neosho

Anyone who thought Grand Ulena’s M.O. was a solid rush of melted melodies and discombobulated rhythms enforced with rapidity, needs to rethink with Neosho. The EP exists because of the enthusiasm and expertise of engineer and Semaphore Studios owner Jeremy Lemos (Smog, Jim O’Rourke, Wilco). Having unexpectedly finished their album Gateway to Dignity a day ahead of schedule, Lemos suggested the band -- St. Louis’ instrumental trio of ex-Dazzling Killmen and On Fillmore bassist Darin Gray, guitarist Chris Trull (Darling Little Jackhammer) and drummer Danny McClain (Johnny Angel, Arrmy of Robots) -- take the opportunity to use his newly acquired 1/2-inch tape machine to record live in the studio. Lemos had heard Ulena "jenning," (improvising for the lay person) throughout the recording of the Dignity sessions, and it seemed a shame to him for this music to go unheard. Ulena obliged and three songs are the result. Neosho shows a different side of the band than is heard on Gateway to Dignity. A searing minimalism is at the core of the three pieces, a result of the spontaneity and immediacy of the session. Ranging from the push/pull of vicious volume to near silences, Neosho brings forth Grand Ulena’s jenning to those who have missed their onslaught of live performances. Here you go.

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2003-02-04
Grand Ulena: Gateway to Dignity

Grand Ulena is the new blistering rock group of ex-Dazzling Killmen bassist Darin Gray. The St. Louis instrumental trio – rounded out by guitarist Chris Trull (Darling Little Jackhammer) and drummer Danny McClain (Johnny Angel, Arrmy of Robots) – has been bewildering Midwestern audiences on throughout 2002. Their debut, Gateway to Dignity, is a solidification of the past 15 years of rock music, rhythm, jazz and it splintered offshoots. Grand Ulena is disjunct rhythms played at high velocity. Disjunct beats played under broken and jagged melodies. Repetition of the retarded. Complex structures combined with complete and utter failure. Failed soloing combined with rigid riffery. Extended instrumental techniques forged into song. Polyrhythmic, Polyphonic -- Damn Jim!, Poly-EVERYTHING! The success AND the failure of rock. Addicted to practicing. Addicted to perfecting and imperfecting. Addicted to the ridiculous and the impossible. Years of practicing before playing a show. Writing, destroying, moving beyond maintenance, and giving it their all but not giving it all away! If Rock is ridiculous, then Grand Ulena is in Full Shenanigan Mode and keeping it realer than real!

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2017-09-22
Hisato Higuchi: She (Reissue)

Expanded reissue and first-time vinyl release of Japanese musician Hisato Higuchi's startling debut. When "She" was self-released in 2003, Higuchi had been writing and performing his style of "Tokyo laborer's blues" for a decade. The delicate song textures of "She" capture the utter feeling of loneliness and a sleep-deprived mind staring off into a blurry urban night sky.

The music is "assembled from pedaling shapes of wraithlike guitar, blasted, genderless vocals and thin films of digital electronics and fuzz," David Keenan wrote in The Wire at the time. "On guitar he plays blues as oratorical as Loren Mazzacane Connors, moving from chords that sing like the guts of pianos through slouched single notes, propping up song forms as nod out beautiful as anything conceived by Kendra Smith and David Roback ... One of the finest solitary broadcasts from beneath the Tokyo pavement for a while." This reissue of "She" includes new cover art by Higuchi, two additional songs from the original recording session and remastered audio by Taylor Deupree of 12k. Download code included.

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2010-11-09
Hisato Higuchi: Henzai

Tokyo-based guitarist/singer Hisato Higuchi presents his fourth full-length and first LP release. “Henzai” is Higuchi at his most bare. Each song appears like a spectral poem -- sewn together with hushed electricity and whispers. This recording is wholly intimate, recorded in seclusion, and washes over the listener like a hazy, day-break dream. Higuchi splits these 12 torch-songs between slow-motion improvisations and the composed, yet each is sung with a mix of beautiful wordless/Japanese language moans that appears to have no beginning or end. The electric guitar catches the fainest of blue melodies and single note trances before flickering into black nothingness. The disparate touchstones for the emotional weight waged across this LP range from Blind Willie Johnson to The Cure’s “Pornography.” Higuchi first embarked on his artistic travels as a puppeteer for a theater company. In 1990 he started creating music in his home studio and eventually self-released his debut CD EP “She” in 2003. Soon after he appeared on PSF’s famed Tokyo Flashback compilation series, and Family Vineyard released the full-lengths “Dialogue” (2006) and “Butterfly Horse Street” (2007). Higuchi will be featured on an upcoming installment of Root Strata’s Tsuki No Seika 7-inch series.= Higuchi recorded, produced and shot the cover art for this 550 edition LP

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2006-10-10
Hisato Higuchi: Dialogue

Dialogue is the first American release by Tokyo's Hisato Higuchi. Originally a puppeteer, Higuchi has transformed his glacial, shadow-box inspired hand movements to the twilight theater of electric guitar. His six-string melodic tones and hushed vocals fan out from the haunted torch songs of Patty Waters and moon-like ambiance. Higuchi's seemingly wordless Japanese croon is a smoky, after-hours call of loss or introspection. The songs of Dialogue float like spectors, each piece manifests itself in a unique and singular conception that seeps into your mind and soul. The perfect introduction for stateside listeners.

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2007-11-06
Hisato Higuchi: Butterfly Horse Street

Tokyo-based guitarist/singer Hisato Higuchi has shaped an inimitable sound sphere of solitary electric notes that drape across his unearthly moan during the course of two full-lengths and an EP. Channeling loneliness and desires as elegant six-string tone poems, Higuchi has reached the heights of fellow travelers from Meredith Monk to Charalambides. Though Butterfly Horse Street adds an unexpected snarl as Higuchi erupts into free/noise, wall of sound guitar style that echoes the most ecstatic string manipulation of Masayuki Takayanagi or Donald Miller (Borbetomagus). Ferocious and howling, Higuchi still paints desolation whether bleeding into the red or as hushed beauty.