Since 2004, Volker Bertelmann - aka Hauschka - has, steadily earned a remarkable reputation as a purveyor of imaginative, distinctive, prepared piano music. On What If - which finds him adding player pianos (also known as pianolas) to his arsenal - Bertelmann expands his range even further, defying expectations and delivering what is without a doubt his most ingenious album yet. While engaging with his trademark technique of utilizing unusual objects - art erasers, for example - to treat (or 'prepare') the piano, Hauschka also programmed parts for player pianos, exploiting the speed at which they could play, manipulating the resulting sounds, and building layers to emphasize a composition's meter. What If aims to provoke reflection beyond the musical sphere with the titles of the both the album and its individual tracks. Overflowing with haunting melodies, mysterious sounds, and complex patterns, What If crowns an extraordinary couple of years for Hauschka. Likely to prove one of 2017's most original albums, What If redefines the very notion of piano music in dramatic and exceptional fashion. It stands as a rebuttal to those who lazily shoehorn Hauschka's work into the so-called, uncomfortably broad 'new classical' category, and instead underlines his status as a unique and invaluable artist.
At the start of 2005 Grails returned to the US from a month-long European tour. Stepping off the plane, most of the band walked in one direction and the violinist strayed off into another. It ended up being the last time most anyone would see or talk to him. A bandmate for three albums in five years had vanished only to exist in the form of vague rumors. As the varied reports of brief encounters and sightings grew stranger and darker, theband began a series of recordings called Black Tar Prophecies. With newly liberated instrumental roles came new possibilities for the band's sound. In this way the collected Black Tar Prophecies Vols. 1, 2, & 3 ends up being a more idiosyncratic mission statement for future Grails recordings, revealing their fondness for the '60s and '70s experimental artists that saw music as a process of discovery. A parallel was now forming between Grails and pioneering experimental bands like Faust who, rejecting their past, started over from the beginning to build new languages in music.
Remastered for vinyl and reissued for the first time in over a decade, Black Tar Prophecies Vols. 1, 2, & 3 is a massive evolutionary step in the established Grails sound and is shrouded in change and pain. The somewhat clinical studio sound and recording style with which they had established a tremendous following has been replaced with a much more free and conceptual recording style. This method liberated the group in thestudio and these recordings feel much more open, heavy, and psychedelic. This sound has always existed within Grails, but it was here that it became their identity.
Remastered for vinyl and reissued for the first time in nearly a decade, Take Refuge In Clean Living sees Grails pulling back their already wide lens on multiple sonic horizons. Opening with a nod to Syd Barret's Pink Floyd (Piper at the Gates of Dawn) Take Refuge In Clean Living begins with morse code and drops into one of the heaviest slowburn grooves in the Grails canon. Sounding something like Hawkwind and Ravi Shankar scoring Blade Runner, it's lysergic and earthy for Grails in a new way. The rest of the record moves from blissful Eno-inspired ambience, to epic Morricone rock hymns, to an unexpected take on a Ventures tune that returns the listener to the very beginnings of instrumental rock music. The touring incarnation of Grails in 2006 and 2007 included good friend and drummer Ben Nugent, allowing Emil Amos to switch to 3rd guitar for the band's live instrumentation. The DNA of this guitar-heavy line-up allowed for new kinds of arrangements and bigger melodies. In early 2007, the then-5-pieceentered Steven Lobdell's (Faust) Audible Alchemy studio to document the new songs written with this augmented ensemble. The band is defined by exploration and they've created a template for themselves where any style or method can be ingested to reap legitimate rewards. Take Refuge In Clean Living rightly suggested that Grails wouldn't run out of ideas.
In the early days of Pinback, they were known mostly as two lauded musicians who spent their spare time away from their primary projects (Three Mile Pilot, Thingy, Heavy Vegetable) to hone their home recording skills while experimenting with ideas, tones, and instrumentation that didn't quite fit into those primary projects. Pinback hadn't yet become their day job; it hadn't yet become a well-oiled 5-piece touring machine; and it had no idea where it was going to go. In retrospect, that earnest curiosity is what makes those early Pinback recordings so resonant and so unique, and what separated them from every indie rock band of this century. Every bit as powerful and expressive as their first two albums, the 1999 EP, Some Voices, and the 2003 EP, Offcell, famously bucked the perception of EPs as outtakes and toss-offs. What were ostensibly minor stopgaps between albums became massive fan favorites and staples of Pinback's live show. Having never been released on viny, it's only fitting that we revisit these poignantrecordings - and take the opportunity to painstakingly remaster and repackage them into the full-length album that never was, the aptly named Some Offcell Voices.
Following up their hugely acclaimed debut, Thought For Food, The Lemon of Pink was the album that cemented the Books as a pioneering musical force. It would become their biggest-selling album (a feat usurped only by the recently released The Way Out), and still stands as perhaps the most beloved album in the Books’ unfailingly brilliant catalog. As with the recently reissued Thought For Food, The Lemon of Pink is repackaged with dazzling new artwork and expanded toinclude lyrics for every song for the first time ever. Carefully and thoughtfully remastered from theoriginal mixes by Zammuto at his new studio outside his home in Vermont, The Lemon of Pinknow boasts a warmth and clarity that surprisingly reveals an increased harmonic depth.
Rather than pick up where they left off, Grails take the sky-high riff-based heaviness of their earlier albums and distill it into a nuanced, widescreen opus. The perennial influences of mid-20th century Western film scores, obscure library music, and psychedelic krautrock are indelibly imprinted, but Chalice Hymnal exudes an eerie patience in unfurling the many layers of its subtle details. Produced by the band over the past five years, Chalice Hymnal bears some of the European psych and experimental hip-hop production techniques of founding members Alex Hall and Emil Amos' other group, Lilacs & Champagne. Amos' meditative metal band, Om, and longtime singer-songwriter project, Holy Sons, also naturally find their way into the Chalice cauldron. Rounding out their leaner line-up, cofounder Zak Riles (also of experimental kraut-psych trio, Watter) layers synths and programming into an electronic-prog hybrid that pushes Grails further into the deep end, displaying a profound resonance, both musically and emotionally. No one else sounds like Grails, and on Chalice Hymnal they sound more like themselves than ever before.
Fresh off his tours supporting Mogwai and S U R V I V E, Majeure returns with a blistering EP of seemingly limitless synth textures and seemingly endless drum fills. Majeure - the solo moniker of Zombi and Contact cofounder, A.E. Paterra - has built a reputation as one of North America's most interesting purveyors of synth-based rock music. Often overlooked is the fact that Paterra is also one of the world's premiere prog-rock drummers, a fact that is emphatically obvious on Apex. Over the course of three songs stretching nearly a half hour in length, Apex is an audacious, exhilarating exercise in maximum minimalism - a disorienting journey between dystopian reality and vintage video game illusion. The LP format is limited to 1,000 copies, pressed onto audiophile-quality 100% virgin vinyl, and includes a high-quality MP3 download coupon.
Behind Closed Doors were a young hardcore band from Baltimore, MD. Formed in 1996 and disbanded by 1998, they quickly became renowned in the Baltimore/DC region for their unusually long, dynamic songs and alarmingly unhinged live shows. They broke up while in the process of writing what would have been their debut full-length for Temporary Residence in 1998, leaving behind a recorded legacy of what they were, and a blueprint of what they could've been. Bridging the crazed emotions of early screamo bands like Heroin and Angel Hair, the thoughtful complexity of Unwound, and the sinister heaviness of His Hero Is Gone, Behind Closed Doors was a huge bolt of lightning in a very tiny bottle. They are perhaps most notable for splintering into so many more bands after their dissolution; Blakeslee joined Tonie Joy of Moss Icon/Born Against in his new band, The Convocation Of - and eventually formed his own well-known ensemble, The Entrance Band. Meanwhile, drummer Aaron Friedman joined the brutal hardcore band, Torn Apart. Exit Lines: The Brief History of Behind Closed Doors collects the entire recorded history of Behind Closed Doors. Remastered from the original studio master tapes, the limited edition vinyl format is pressed onto opaque red with black splatter colored vinyl, and features a custom laser etching that includes the album’s lyrics etched directly into the vinyl.
Originally released on CD and Digital formats only, Talk Amongst the Trees was eventually available on vinyl exclusively as part of the Life Through Bombardment Vol. 1 box set. With that set long out of print, we are delighted to finally reissue this stunning album on vinyl. Remastered for vinyl by Roger Seibel at SAE Mastering, this limited edition 2xLP set is packaged in a full-color wide-spine jacket with dual heavyweight full-color inner sleeves.
Originally released on CD and Digital formats only, Copia was eventually available on vinyl exclusively as part of the Life Through Bombardment Vol. 1 box set. With that set long out of print - and Copia celebrating its 10-year anniversary - we are finally giving this landmark album the vinyl reissue that it unquestionably deserves. Remastered for vinyl by Francesco Donadello at Calyx Mastering in Berlin, this deluxe 2xLP set is packaged in a full-color widespine jacket with dual heavyweight full-color inner sleeves.
Under The Pipal Tree is the debut album by now-legendary Japanese experimental rock band, MONO. Released in 2001 on avant-garde icon John Zorn's Tzadik label, Under The Pipal Tree showcased a young Japanese quartet whose wide range of influences - most notably Sonic Youth, Mogwai, The Velvet Underground, and Neil Young's Crazy Horse - were on ferocious and ambitious display. Though MONO would eventually become known for their expert marriage of metal and classical genres, Under The Pipal Tree highlights the band's psychedelic roots. Long stretches of hypnotic, melodic washes give way to scorching guitar freakouts that evaporate into haunting silence. It's remarkable not just for its earnest exploration, but for its startling execution. Fifteen years and eight albums later, Under The Pipal Tree stands as one of the great debut albums by a seminal underground band. Finally released on vinyl for the first time ever, Under The Pipal Tree has been remastered for vinyl by longtime friend and tour mate, Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering Service. The double album is packaged in all new artwork, and is pressed onto audiophile-quality 100% virgin vinyl. This stunning album has never looked, sounded, or felt better.
World-renowned as one of experimental music's most vital and impressionistic composers of the past few decades, William Basinski's tape loop works have been especially influential, particularly on the historic series, The Disintegration Loops, where distorted, orchestral tape samples burrow deep into the listener's psyche through meditative repetition. On his new album, A Shadow In Time, Basinski plunges deeper than ever for the plaintive, solitary eulogy to David Bowie, aptly titled "For David Robert Jones." Conversely, the title track, "A Shadow In Time," is a subtle, celestial escalation of melody and drone. The result is one of the most truly transcendent pieces of music he has ever committed to - or wrung from - tape.
Filled with endearing and enduring songs, the Books revisit their wide-eyed beginnings with this remastered Thought For Food, repackaged with all-new artwork and expanded to include lyrics for every song for the first time ever. Carefully and thoughtfully remastered from the original mixes by Zammuto at his new studio outside his home in Vermont, TFF now boasts a warmth and clarity that surprisingly reveals an increased harmonic depth. Having combined and refined their compositional and recording processes over the course of four albums, addressing the technical limitations of these earlier recordings offers the chance to marry the technical, musical and emotional aspects of these songs in a way like never before. To be sure, the differences are subtle, but for a band who have transformed minutiae into modern art, that subtlety is downright sublime.
Lost and Safe, maintained the Books' reputation as a pioneering musical force, even as they flirted with traditional song structures more than ever before. It would go on to be named Album of the Year by the highly influential music magazine, The Wire. As with the recently reissued Thought For Food and The Lemon of Pink, Lost and Safe is repackaged with dazzling new artwork and expanded to include lyrics for every song. Carefully and thoughtfully remastered from the original mixes by Zammuto at his new studio outside his home in Vermont, Lost and Safe now boasts an increased warmth and clarity that reveals new details with repeated listens. To be sure, the differences are subtle, but for a band who have transformed minutiae into modern art, that subtlety is downright sublime.
Requiem For Hell finds MONO returning to longtime friend and collaborator, Steve Albini. After MONO and Albini's band, Shellac, toured Japan together last year, they realized how much they missed the (often wordless) creative dialogue they shared during the making of many of their most memorable albums - beginning with Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky... (2004) and culminating with Hymn To Immortal Wind (2009). The rebirth of the Albini collaboration for Requiem For Hell also coincided with the birth of a close friend's first child, whose actual in utero heartbeat serves as the foundation for the aptly named "Ely's Heartbeat." For MONO, it all felt so right, so inevitable. Requiem For Hell is undeniably heavier and scarier than most of MONO's output to this point - hear the dizzying 18-minute title track for example - but it also carries some of their most sublime moments. This dichotomy is how one band's obsession with conflict has manifested itself into one of underground music's simultaneously quietest and loudest catalogs.
Emerging from a decade-long hiatus, East Coast electronic producer and multi-instrumentalist, Sybarite, returns with Waver The Absolute. Following his lone, lush album on 4AD, Sybarite released the odd-and-ends collection, Cut Out Shape, before receding into his studio to focus on soundtrack and freelance work. In 2009 he formed the dream-pop duo, Bell Horses, with Jenny Owen Youngs, and released a leftfield cassette as Christian Hawkins in 2012. The long break from Hawkins' Sybarite project seems to have done him some good, as Waver The Absolute is unquestionably his strongest and most cohesive work to date. The marriage of the electronic and the organic has been one that Hawkins has expertly manipulated since his days in the legendary Silver Apples in the late 1990s. On Waver The Absolute, he uses his Sybarite moniker to expand and explore that union in exhilarating and rewarding new ways.
At the turn of the 21st Century, sandwiched between two of their most iconic albums - Secret Name and Things We Lost In The Fire - Low released The Exit Papers as part of Temporary Residence Ltd.'s long-running CD subscription series, Travels In Constants. A sparse suite of six mostly instrumental pieces composed for a film that never existed, The Exit Papers still stands as Low's most haunting and experimental work. Originally released exclusively on CD in a scarce edition of only 1,000 copies, Low helps celebrate the 20th anniversary of Temporary Residence by finallyreleasing The Exit Papers on vinyl and all digital formats for the first time ever.
False Readings On is the new album from renowned experimental composer, Eluvium. Its creation was originally inspired by themes of cognitive dissonance in modern society. By its conclusion it had become a mirror rather than a magnifying glass, evolving into an hour-long meditation on self-doubt, anxiety, and separation from one's self. There is an emotional lucidity and melodic ingenuity to Eluvium's music that has made him increasingly stand out from the sea of ambient artists that his earlier albums no doubt helped inspire. Sounding like an orchestra ceaselessly performing even as it sinks beneath an ocean of distortions and tape noise - with the occasional operatic voice piercing the surface - False Readings On is assuredly the most daring, dynamic, and distinct album of his luminous career.
Following their inspired collaboration for Prince Avalanche - the understated, underrated 2013 film directed by David Gordon Green - iconic experimental rock band, Explosions In The Sky, and renowned film composer David Wingo return with the score to another Green film, Manglehorn. Written by longtime friend, Paul Logan - and starring Al Pacino and Holly Hunter - Manglehorn is beautifully crafted and steeped in symbolism. The performances are subtle and charming, the scenery is eclectic, and the cinematography is strikingly beautiful. The soundtrack reflects that same spirit, shaping abstract sounds into playful and poignant score. With barely a hint of guitar on the entire soundtrack, Explosions In The Sky forego the primary instrument in which their stirring scores for Friday Night Lights and Lone Survivor were built upon, opting to harness that same emotional resonance from an array of percussive instruments. Wingo brings the same mercurial magic to Manglehorn that made his scores to Mud and Take Shelter soprofoundly affecting. EITS and Wingo are inspired collaborators, composers whose music is so perfectly suited to the soundtrack format that listening to them makes your own life feel like a film unfolding in front of your eyes. In Manglehorn, it backs the story of an old man coming to terms with his past and slowly resolving his deep-seated anger and discontent. It could just as effectively add a sense of wonder and grandeur to your commute to work, impromptu road trip, or lazy Sunday stroll.
Recorded in 1982 and eventually released in 2009 on CD via William Basinski's own 2062 label, 92982 has become one of Basinski's most celebrated works. Finally available on vinyl for the first time, the album has been remastered from the original master tapes, and packaged in an exquisite custom die-cut package with interchangeable heavyweight inner sleeves featuring previously unpublished artwork and photographs from 1982. "You can't help but wonder why this music, recorded so long ago, is only just surfacing. Was the world not ready for WIlliam Basinski in 1982, or was WIlliam Basinski simply not ready to hand himself over to an audience at that point? Whatever the reasoning, we're certainly reaping the benefits of the influential ambient composer's stockpile, and 92982 proves to be a real highlight in his output of recent years. Despite the minimalist essence of Basinski's oeuvre there's a pronounced sense of variety, diversity and depth at work in these four tracks, with each taking on its own specific persona. Essential." - Boomkat
Sonna were an experimental rock band from Baltimore, MD. Formed in 1998 and disbanded in 2003, they recorded a handful of EPs and singles, as well as two full-length albums - both recorded with Steve Albini. They often toured with friends and collaborators, including Explosions In The Sky, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, and Tarentel - and their live shows were known for their uncanny precision as much as their alarming quietude. Keep It Together collects every Sonna song that did not appear on their two studio albums. It includes their lone recording sessions at the legendary, defunct WGNS in Washington, DC, as well as their session with DC electronic-pop producer, TREVOR/hollAnd, and their final recording with Albini in Chicago.These songs were originally separately released as a debut CDEP, a split 7" with Austin rock band, Paul Newman, an EP for Temporary Residence's renowned Travels In Constants series, and a track on the label's "TRR50: Thank You" compilation. These recordings span Sonna's entire career, representing both their first and final recordings. It's a glimpse into the quiet history of a band devoted to subtle grandeur from a surprisingly supportive city that had very little of either.
Stateless is the second full-length album of genre-hopping post-everything experimentalists Tangents. In a delectable hybrid of styles, Stateless cuts up and weaves together rich instrumental passages from the multi-talented ensemble of musicians whose collective resume spans decent swathes of recent experimental music history: British electronic music producer Ollie Bown (Icarus, Not Applicable); Adrian Lim-Klumpes (Triosk, 3ofMillions) on piano, Rhodes, vibraphone and marimba; Peter Hollo (FourPlay String Quartet) on cello; and the duo Spartak (free improviser Evan Dorrian and singer/producer Shoeb Ahmad on drums and guitar respectively). Sparse metal-coated drum hits stumble over glistening reverse vibes, Saharanguitar licks, Fender feedback and washes of filtered piano. Moments of acoustic jazz surface, flowing into stoic upbeat anthems, drenched with multilayered patterns of glitched strings.
Atomic, the new album by Scottish experimental rock legends Mogwai, is composed of reworked versions of the music recorded for the soundtrack to director Mark Cousins' acclaimed documentary Atomic: Living In Dread and Promise, which first aired on BBC Four last summer. Constructed entirely of archive film, Atomic is an impressionistic kaleidoscope of the horrors of our nuclear times - protest marches, Cold War sabre-rattling, Chernobyl and Fukishima - but also the sublime beauty of the atomic world, and how x-rays and MRI scans have improved human lives. Mogwai's soundtrack encapsulates the nightmare of the nuclear age, but its dreamlike qualities too. It is the latest in the band's series of impressive soundtracks and scores,following acclaimed albums Les Revenants (The Returned) and Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait. Mogwai's Stuart Braithwaite says: "The Atomic soundtrack is one of the most intense and fulfilling projects we've taken on as a band. Ever since we went to Hiroshima to play and visited the peacepark this has been a subject very close to us. The end results, both the film score and the record are pieces I'm extremely proud of."
If there is one constant with Parlour, it is that nothing is ever the same. For nigh two decades, the Louisville, KY experimental troupe - led by Tim Furnish of influential, defunct Louisville art-punk band, Crain - has relentlessly evolved in subtle but substantial ways. This consistent creative movement keeps the sound of Parlour forever curious, and impossible to predict. While that may make for some commercial challenges, it also makes for more compelling and mercurial music. On the band's self-titled fourth album, Parlour pushes ferocious, dynamic guitar rock to the brink with hypnotic repetition and shifting, stabbing rhythms. In fierce Parlour fashion, the driving crunch of guitars is punctuated with shimmering buzz of synths. The difference here, though, is Parlour has shed their trademark woodwinds in favor of a leaner, heavier aesthetic. With a reduced instrumental palette and increased focus on beats and riffs, the songs are more naked and intense - equal parts crashing krautrock, and crushing prog-rock.
Following their well-received debut EP, First Contact, the cinematic synth-prog duo, Contact, return with their first full-length album. Comprised of prolific UK film composer, Paul Lawler, and veteran multi-instrumentalist, A.E. Paterra (Zombi, Majeure), Zero Moment emphatically delivers on the promise of First Contact. With cinematic sprawl still intact, it's an album of dramatic, stately gestures. Efficiently packed with vintage, celestial explorations of shape-shifting, alien landscapes, Zero Moment is the soundtrack to pondering what it’s like for your body to wander as close to the stars as your mind.