Friday, September 23, 2011

Amanda Brown

Countless times during the past several years I have considered Pocahaunted to be my favorite band ever. There have been very few duos as mysterious, addictive, or consistently curious as the self-described Olsen Twins of blissed out drone. If you haven't heard them, start at Moccasinging and go all the way through; there's not a bad sound in the lot. They tried on every sound imaginable, but my favorites will always be the far away haunted trails of Rough Magic and the earth-shaking gospel doom of Chains. Seriously, if any band deserves a lavish box set made of feathers, beads, and tapestries- it is them.

Since Pocahaunted, Amanda Brown has been all over the place. Wire magazine cover star, half of Topaz Rags, her solo work as LA Vampires, DJ, and head/curator of not one, but two labels: Not Not Fun and the recently launched 100% Silk. The new label focuses on "45 RPM 12 inch singles of diamond-life dance & bliss-disco & basement luxury grooves by friends and lovers from all over the world." There are 11 releases to date, including the intoxicating Noble Savage by Maria Minerva and the minimal high-rise sound of Let Me See You by Octo Octa. Her lastest release as LA Vampires with Ital, Streetwise, is available now on iTunes and from Not Not Fun.

I recently asked Amanda to send me a list of some of her favorite records, so here is a list of what she's been spinning lately along with her thoughts on them.


1. JOMANDA - The True Meaning (Of Love) (Big Beat)
Not even the poor man's En Vogue, but the poor man's Jade. This cover is like the poster for a Tommy Davidson movie directed by a Wayans brother. The song is unbelievably good though, especially if you sub-out the words 'The True Meaning (Of Love)' for 'The True Meaning (Of House)', which they do on side B.

2. DERUVO - Boy I Need You Now (SBK)
This cover is like a bad trance flyer from the era of Bjork's Homogenic – think CG paintbuckets. Visually it makes no sense. Sonically it only makes sense. The 'Sensitive Mix' is a tearjerker.

3. TYCIE AND WOODY - The Rhythm's Gonna Get You (Elektra)
Props for afro-futurism and the MOST ridiculously spot on title for a dance track, maybe ever. But on first glance this could either be sub-R&B overproduced ballads or sub-Monie Love overproduced rap tracks. Fortunately it's amazing. There's even a Larry Levan remix and two techno/house mixes.

4. DELICIOUS - Stand Up (Calypso)
Looks like a half-assed Deee Lite knockoff. They're Italians though, dressed like uptown Keith Haring art/dance/jazz cats, so obviously something about it is gonna be special.

This is the kind of confusing record you always think is going to be good but never is, but this one actually IS good, every mix. The lyric 'I like you' is dangerously simple-minded genius.

6. MOSAIC III FEAT. ZION - Dance Now (Look/BMG)
Hideous early Photoshop pixelated nonsense. Play the "E-Gasm (Overdose Mix)" – and then throw the jacket under your bed.

7. HOUSE NATION -Everybody (Yo) (Discomagic)
Maybe the most disgusting of the lot. There's cut-out jpegs of pickles and....radishes (??) floating over a blurry photo of indistinct people. But it's awesome, and if you collect dance vinyl you're NOT going to pass on a 12" by 'House Nation' entitled 'Everybody (Yo).' Duh. It's just not gonna happen.

8. S-EXPRESS - Theme From S-Express (Rhythm King)
This looks like a page torn from Raygun Magazine: graphic design excess, letters and text all over the place, weird phrases ("brilliance for a better world," "I got the hots for you," "Oh that's bad! No that's good!"). Worth getting through for the B side track, "The Trip (Microdot House Remix)".

9. STEVIE V - Adventures Of Stevie V (Mercury)
Like a legend from the bygone 'In Living Color' era, you might assume this is just style-less rapping. But he has a definite knack for naming tracks: "Butterflies Are Free," "Body Language," "Hooked On The Groove."

10. SERGE PONSAR - Out In The Night (WB)
The cover is forgettably new wave and on the back Serge looks like a silky Rick James (in a bad way). Skip the A side and jam the B side instrumental dub.

It's Up There

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I wanted to start documenting some of the records that might have been forgotten, underrated, or not heard by as many people as they should be. In this new column called Standards, each week I'll focus on ten records tied together by something and not tied down by genre, comprehensiveness, or time. Here are the first ten, old favorites that have never sounded better.

The scope of the music on this list is the perfection of a certain thing. Broken devices, new sounds from common instruments, damaged and deconstructed media formats, and the silences in between. I can't explain the excitement I felt each time I heard these all for the first time. The origins of these records seem to come from the worlds created by people like Pauline Oliveros, Luc Ferrari, Christian Marclay, AMM, Tony Conrad, Arnold Dreyblatt, Derek Bailey, Toru Takemitsu, Morton Feldman, and Eliane Radigue. I can easily think of ten, twenty+ more to add (Kaffe Matthews, Andrea Neumann, Alva Noto, Philip Jeck, William Basinski, Ami Yoshida, Radian, the list seriously goes on and on). But start here; the options are endless.

AARON DILLOWAY - Heavy (Heavy Tapes, 2005)
Miles and miles of 8-track tape. Endless and pure.

KEVIN DRUMM & TAKU SUGIMOTO - Den (Sonoris, 2000)
Guitar and electronics. As unplugged as this type of stuff gets.

JAN JELINEK - Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records (-scape, 2001)
As its title states, Jan Jelinek created a world of warmth using second-long loops from '60s jazz records. Gentle, low-key, and unnaturally humane.

GREG KELLEY - I Don't Want To Live Forever (Gameboy, 2005)
I can remember reading about this record when it first came out- the acclaim was deafening. Trumpet as you've never quite heard it before: blank and flickering. Unbelievably emotional and austere.

ANNETTE KREBS - Guitar Solo (Fringes, 2002)
Apparently Annette closed herself off from the rest of the world for the better part of a month to create this record. She went looking for silence and a real-life blank canvas, but came back with this astonishing album. Using static, guitar, and a whole lot of disciplined silence, the sounds here are those of everyday living: both overwhelming and affirmative. I remember when this came out, I immediately bought three or four copies to give to friends, because it was simply too good. A constant inspiration.

SACHIKO M / TOSHIMARU NAKAMURA / OTOMO YOSHIHIDE - Good Morning Good Night (Erstwhile, 2004)
Possibly Onkyo's three biggest stars, this meeting (their first as a trio) is a total summation of their prior work and a perfect way in to this sound. The focus and complete mastery of each of their chosen devices here is peerless: Sachiko M's sine waves, Toshimaru Nakamura's no-input mixing board and Otomo Yoshihide's turntables. Quite possibly their finest hour(s).

AKI ONDA - Bon Voyage! Cassette Memories Vol. 2 (Improvised Music From Japan, 2003)
Fourteen years of field recordings, overlapping memories, fuzzy details, and the world in 45 minutes.

OVAL - 94 Diskont (Mille Plateaux, 1995)
I still believe that Madonna's Don't Tell Me would not exist if not for Oval. Markus Popp made symphonies from skipping CDs. The 24+ minute opener Do While, all shimmer and haze, is a stone-cold classic.

PITA - Get Out (Mego, 1999)
Disorienting, digital, and loud, Get Out, is Peter Rehberg's Powerbook at its most romantic. The third track is a killer.

POLE - 1 (Kiff SM, 1998)
Most people remember Stefan Betke and his dubbed out broken Waldorf 4-pole filter, but they may not remember just how striking it all still is. So little, so much.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Going Places

1. Crystal Tips - PRAM
2. Nightmare Park - VHS HEAD
3. Share - MEG BAIRD
4. Road To Heaven - FUTURE SHUTTLE
6. Dreamzz - RUSTIE
7. Winter Killing - STINA NORDENSTAM
8. Playground - RADIO PEOPLE
9. High Reflection - OCTO OCTA
10. Blue Screen - CIM
11. Do While - OVAL

Unlimited Options

Julia Holter

One of the best records I've come across in a very long time is Tragedy by Julia Holter. Inspired by Euripedes' Ancient Greek tragedy Hippolytus, the vision and scope of these songs is stunning. Lyrical passages from the text along with her massive-minimal sound of synth/drum/classical/slowed-down otherness create something deeply ancient, personal, and unmistakably original. These songs are like a labyrinth: startling, illuminating, and flat out beautiful.

Julia is based in Los Angeles and has collaborated with both Nite Jewel and Linda Perhacs. She is also involved in a project called Lady JJ with Jana Papenbroock, which is a monthly transatlantic video collaboration.

Tragedy was released earlier this month by Leaving Records in an edition of 300 and sold out almost immediately. The album will be repressed soon and is also available on iTunes. There is no excuse for not hearing this music.

You can find out more about Julia at her website. Below is a list she sent of some of her favorite records.


1. Rock Bottom - ROBERT WYATT
2. Live Evil - MILES DAVIS
3. Court And Spark - JONI MITCHELL
4. Have One On Me - JOANNA NEWSOM
5. Parallelograms - LINDA PERHACS

Friday, September 16, 2011



Lately listening...DISKJOKKE - Sagara (Smalltown Supersound) || GEOFF MULLEN - Bongo Closet (Type) || HONG KONG IN THE 60S - My Fantoms (Proper Songs) || ANGÉLICA CASTELLÓ - Bestiario (Mosz) || JULIA HOLTER - Tragedy (Leaving Records) || ST. VINCENT - Strange Mercy (4AD) || YUICHIRO FUJIMOTO - Komorebi (Smalltown Supersound) || PETE SWANSON - I Don't Rock At All (Three Lobed) || MOTION SICKNESS OF TIME TRAVEL - Luminaries & Synastry (Digitalis) || GESCOM - Gescom EP (Skam) || ROLL THE DICE - In Dust (Leaf) || FORMA - Forma (Spectrum Spools) || AKI ONDA - Precious Moments (Softlmusic) || HUDSON MOHAWKE - Satin Panthers (Warp) || CALL BACK THE GIANTS - The Rising (Kye) || ANTHONY GUERRA / JOEL STERN - Stitch (Impermanent) || JESSIKA KENNEY & EYVIND KANG - Aestuarium (Editions Mego) || FAMILY UNDERGROUND - Demon Parade (DNT)