Browsing Category Reissues

Igor Wakhevitch – Kshtrayna (The Eye of The Bird)

Transversales Disques brings forth a lost gem from avant-garde composer Igor Wakhevitch. The electronic pioneer spent years in the circles of Terry Riley, Jen-Michel Jarre, Soft Machine and Pink Floyd, spreading a love for experimental synth wherever he went. His prolific period during the ‘70s produced the synth albums Logos, Docteur Faust, , Les Fous D’or and Naugal. Riley in particular was influential in shaping the sound of Hathor which found Wakhevitch pushing towards a more minimalist sound. Likewise, he found inspiration and collaboration with Salvador Dali, writing the music for his audiovisual “opera poème” in 6 parts, “Etre Dieu.” He’d go in to work further in theater and opera throughout the ‘80s, but never strayed from the longform Cosmic pieces that embraced a sense of otherworldly wonder.

In 1999, he composed these pieces on his “Mysterious Island 88” stynthesizer system and it embraces a sense of wonder and elnlightenement. Kshtrayna (The Eye of The Bird) ties nicely with his ‘70s output, feeling like a natural progression of the themes and textures he explored during the period. The set was never release, but has now found is way onto CD and LP via the French record label. Fans of Riley and Ash Ra Temple will find a great deal of crossover here, splitting the middle ground between academic composition and a more psychedelic pathway to the inner cosmos.



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Pelt – Pearls From The River

VHF records has a wealth of greatness in their roster, but quite a few have never been under the needle due to timing. They’re kicking out a couple of new reissues this year and one of the best up is Pearls From The River by Pelt. Featuring the classic lineup of Jack Rose, Mike Gangloff, and Patrick Best, the record is a sister album of sorts to their LP . The record never made it onto LP at the time of its release in 2003. It’s a proper Pelt drone-out, exploring Indian ragas, drones and clangourous fingerpicked guitar. Around the same time the members began to splinter in various directions, with Jack beginning to work solo more often, The Black Twig Pickers emerging, Gangloff and Best both working with Dredd Foole, etc. Still the band gives this record their all, haunting the strings with a spiritual sobriety that’s meditative, engulfing the listener in a womb of sound. Its a record that’s not quite gotten its due, but deserves a second look.

The band would take a year off before issuing another album, but this would more than holdover fans. The new issue is a deluxe gatefold by VHF, with an expansive run of liner notes from Byron Coley (who else?). Any later term fans of Rose that haven’t spun through the Pelt catalog would be wise to take a listen to this and work their way backwards. Lots of greats in that discography to be sure.



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The Gerbils – Are You Sleepy

There’s no better news than hearing that psych-pop wellspring Elephant 6 is revving the engines back up once again. With the announcement of an in-house reissue of The Gerbils’ 1998 debut, Are You Sleepy, the label sets the wheels in motion to get more than a few missing LPs back on the shelves. The original version of the band’s debut was widely available on CD, but only issued in a scant run of vinyl from the UK label Earworm Records, with an alternate cover. It’s quite likely that this missed the shelves of hundreds of fans and now the label’s back to right the wrongs. The Gerbils included members Scott Spillane and Jeremy Barnes, both of whom would go on to find their way into the ranks of Neutral Milk Hotel.

The record is on the scrappier end of the E6 catalog, still firmly rooted in the 60’s spun pop leanings but also shot through with fuzz, crackle, and hiss —letting its four-track treads shine through in the mix. The band would go on to refine their sound with 2001’s The Battle of Electricity which bolstered their buzz with a bit of concept rock. Aside from this news, which is great on its own, the label hints that a few more offerings and even some new stuff might be on the way. Or, in their own words, “In 2019, the slumber is over as the E6 label imprint relaunches with a series of reissues, new albums, and some first-time-ever-released-to-the-public releases from the deep archives.” Get excited!



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The Suncharms – S/T

There’s no time like 2019 to really dig deep into any genre and pick up those missed bits that were maligned by poor distribution or unfortunate circumstances. Over the past few years, Shoegaze, in particular, has definitely unearthed a few gems. This one actually rose up on the revived Cloudberry Records in 2016, to sadly little fanfare, but the Bandcamp age gives it a second life. The Sheffield band Suncharms issued two EPs in their active time – 1990’s Sparkle and Tranquil Day a year later. The band was approached by Slumberland in 1992 about an album, but, sadly, they broke up before anything could materialize. They rectified that misstep last year with an entry into Slumberland’s 30 year singles club and now this retrospective from Cloudberry is available digitally for the nice price.

The band occupies some similar earspace with early Ride, Chapterhouse, and Pale Saints. Their sound was thick with fuzz and noise but there were some absolute pop gems riding beneath the fray. More-so than any of those other three Shoegaze gems, Suncharms rarely get their due, even in the retrospective heavy culture of the 2010’s when everyone’s an expert and we all “knew this shoulda been the band everyone should have listened to in the ‘90s.” The comp bags up all the band’s released material along with some demos to give ya some scope. Even after countless iterations of C86 hangers-on and Shoegaze tentpole retreads, these songs still hit hard and leave an imprint. If, like most of us, this remains a hole in your ‘gaze collection then by all means fill it and work forward to pick up that new EP on Slumberland. Recommended this one makes it into your rotation.




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Causa Sui – Summer Sessions (Vols I,II,III)

It’s fair to say that Causa Sui is the corner stone of Danish label El Paraiso. While the label has offered up choice slabs from faves like Mythic Sunship, Landing, Monarch, and Futuropaco in the last few years, the impetus for the label grew out of a set of records that founders Jonas Munk and Jakob Skøtt put together with their band in 2008. The group had already released two records, including the now reissued (and deservedly so) Free Ride when they decided to embark on a series of releases that explored their various Venn diagrams of psychedelic interest. Heavily featuring saxophonist Rasmus Rasmussen, the set veers through desert psych — dredging up visions of Kyuss and Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions — to a free jazz bite and Kosmiche float. The originals would see light on Germany’s Elektrohasch Schallplatten, and the money from those records would help found El Paraiso as we know it today.

What’s striking, listening back after nearly a decade, is that the set of three records sounds as timeless as anything in the band’s catalog or on the label’s roster. While the sidelong crusher “Visions of Summer” trades in some liquid stringwork, a la Ripley Johnson, it more directly nods to Future Days’ crossbreed of Krautrock and Dead-indebted exploratory jams. Each of the LPs winds between face-melter psychedelia and more nuanced visions of Ash Ra Temple’s tangle, 70’s Miles mind expansion, and Blue Cheer’s bottom-end fuzz rumble. Live favorite “Rip Tide” tears at the psyche with molten guitars and Rasmussen’s relentless sax. The third LP is more languid, melting into pools of shimmer, but it’s still occasionally beset by the band’s flash paper burn of guitar.

There’s a very good chance that these sessions escaped your view when they were first offered up, so now’s probably a good time to go for the deep dive and let the band’s exploratory vision wash over you. They even have a nifty box that ties up all three in a great Skøtt-designed sleeve, looking neat and prim like all El Paraiso offerings. It’s recommended going deep on this set and finding some forgotten gems.



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Endless Boogie – Vol. I & II

If you were privy to the nascent days of the Boogie, then you’re luckier than most. If you took away a pressing of the band’s first couple of releases, then you’re among a select few. Missed out? Read on… The band pressed Vols I & II up on small run, hand-stamped sleeves before they headed out to the Slint-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties in 2005. The recordings were culled from rehearsals, recorded with two mics straight to the cassette deck. Often dubbed simply “White” and “Black” the individual LPs were hard to come by, let alone a set of two. Featuring the original lineup, the record also boasts a contribution from Matt and Spencer Sweeney on “Style of Jamboree.” As for the contents inside the double-wide package – they are of the highest order of groove. Rough, sure, but ripped and torn as anything in the Boog’s bountiful catalog.

There’s the feeling that the songs are being snatched right from the rigors of time. There’s no overthinking, no polish. There’s only groove – endless, swampy, scorched, and sutured groove. Paul Major’s vocals don’t take on their imposing presence here. On later recordings his voice would hang like a graveled and grizzled seer over the top of the din, a booming bluesman whose greasy growl seemed omnipresent and absolute. Here, Major’s in the fray fighting for space alongside the grind of guitars and the packed pummel of drums. He’s still a presence to contend with, no doubt, but its nice to hear him fight for the mantle he earned over the years.

This is unfiltered Boogie and it’s a psych-punk delirium that’s more than deserving of this deluxe reissue. The listener is threaded through the tape spools and tumbled-dried for eternity, spun ‘round and twisted until the groove is all that remains. Over time Endless Boogie would become a juggernaut of sound, but this is a great document of their rise to the top, kicking and fighting for every ounce of air they convert into pure poisoned sound. If you’re among the unlucky who missed these originally (and I know you are) then now’s the chance to experience the spark.



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VA – Sad About The Times

A truly good compilation is hard to craft. At best most wind up an assorted repository of likeminded mementos, acting as a primer for a deep dive into a neglected segment of the past. The scholarly route is the sure-fire setup and one that’s been at the heart of everything from Nuggets to the top comps from Light in the Attic to Numero. So, when a compilation like Sad About The Times comes along, it stands apart. Acting as a follow-up of sorts to the Mikey Young/Keith Abramsson compiled Follow The Sun, which sought to compile lesser known Australian folk-rock, Sad About The Times is a collection more about mood than documentation. Though the songs here are all from the ‘70s, that’s about the only time-stamp or geographic qualifier that ties them from an academic standpoint.

They range from psych to folk, country to gloss-dipped rock. The artists dot the map from Canada to NY, but hover mostly around California, whether physically or just from a mental standpoint. What truly ties this collection together is its sense of melancholy and the feeling that each track could just as easily soundtrack transcendence or tidal breath. The songs hang on to the edge of ache, waiting to crash the dam of tears or simply let the veil of narcotics wash away the pain. The ‘70s held sway over many tropes, but somewhere the coke-damaged cowboy persists – strung through the songs of Flying Burrito Brothers, Neil Young, Gene Clark, Townes Van Zandt and quite a few others – and this compilation seems to find footing somewhere in their orbit. If not always a musical match, the songs here remain spiritual kinfolk to those haunted souls.

The compilation acts more as a mixtape than a document. It’s the kind of collection that would be lovingly pored over and passed to a friend in need, and perhaps that’s what Anthology’s done for us all. In the darkest hours music can be the candle that lights the path out of the cave. Sad About The Times is a flicker in the dark and a damn good one too. If you’re looking for a shoulder to lean on, SATT has got you, man. The label’s wrapped it all up in the storybook lysergia of Brian Blomerth, making this a package that’s almost too tempting for its own good. Can’t recommend this one highly enough.



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Les Rallizes Denudes + BE – ‘There’s No Heaven Like Hell’

Among the ranks of Japanese psych, one of the top takers for mythical status is Les Rallizes Denudes. Pinning down just what they were and how the noise unit operated is tricky. The band issued no official albums, though they played live for decades starting in ’67 at Kyoto University and centering on the works of enigmatic frontman Takashi Mizutani. Drawing inspiration from The Velvet Underground they took up originally as an accompaniment to theater performances, but quickly outgrew that status due to the volume and ferocity of their works overshadowing the performers. Like VU they aren’t a band that operated in one given box, and depending on the era and configuration they’d range from strummed and serene to amplifier fried chaos. The band’s status grew mostly outside of their country with stories of their intangible performances, members gone rogue (original bassist Moriaki Wakabayashi was involved in a Red Army plane hijacking in 1970) and their subsequent self-exile until the ‘90s.

The band’s catalog is mostly live performances that tumbled out of a rogue’s gallery of labels over the years, each in odd quantities that made them enviable to come across in the ‘90s and ‘00s. The pinnacle of their output might arguably be ’77 Live, but other great pockets in their catalog exist to be pored over as well. One such inclusion is a collaboration with experimental collective Be (also known as Yellow) who were headed by keyboardist/guitarist Taisuke Morishita. The original 2xCD issue included more material, but this LP on Alternative Fox centers on the two versions of the title track recorded at the band’s house in Fussa, outside of Tokyo. The first version is a pulsating drone of guitar and synth, zoned out and dropped via VHF to furthest reaches of psychic caverns of the mind.

The second version breaks the seal on bucolic peace for some heavier froth and fizz from the outset, sweeping across the speakers in extraterrestrial pulses. While the first version remains rooted in guitar and keys, droning into the ether, the second brings in the full band. Mizutani and the band lock in the rhythm, tearing at the fabric of reality in the way only LRD could. Though there are no official versions of the band, this setup was one worthy of documentation and its nice to see this pop up on vinyl. Its not always easy to get a hand on an LP of Denudes’ work so I’d say when you see it, it’s best to cop one.



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Dominique Guiot – L’Univers De La Mer

The crew over at WRWTFWW have always been true to their masthead, exploring any facet of the musical landscape that catches their fancy. Earlier this year they set sights on French prog and cosmic synth artist Dominique Guiot’s 1978 album L’Univers De La Mer. The album, inspired by undersea exploration, skews a bit from the wide-eyed wonder of Jaques Cousteau scores, adding a sense of danger to the mellotron’s quaver and a medieval bent to some of the more pastoral passages. The record employs minimoog, clavinet, guitar, and organ alongside the seaside call of the mellotron, and while the damp inspiration remains in tact, the styles change as Guiot sees fit – winding through space-odyssey jazz and dense prog to tracks.

Guiot’s vision comes close to that of Sven Liabek, whose undersea scores were a vanguard of the ‘70s. Again though,, as with Cousteau’s scores, Liabek was a bit less heavy on the throttle than Guiot. The sci-fi keys kick in giving the album a kinship with Eloy or Embryo at their heaviest. Its a beautifully engrossing gem of an album that’s worthy of rediscovery, given the limited nature of its original issue. Just as good for meditative bliss as it is for head-trip excursions to the inner most reaches of the soul. Highly recommend dimming the lights and letting this one float over the eyelids.



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Peter Howell & John Ferdinando – Ithaca, Agincourt, & Other Psych-Folk Fairy Tales

Every Record Store Day there are a flood of releases that no one in their right mind needs to own. There are a dozen or so scattered titles that are necessary portions of back catalog that just get a bit overshadowed and would have ideally made great reissues given some space to be discussed on their own. Then there are the real gems. More often than not these real gems get pushed aside as well. They’re often reissues or records that appeal to a select group of collectors and aren’t flashy enough to get pre-release press. Sometimes, though, the best part of this is you can pick them up in regular distro dives once the dust settles. A few of these found some critical reception – Brett Smiley’s Sunset Tower reissue on What’s Your Rupture, the essential Alice Clark eponymous LP on We Want Sounds. This year, however one of the gems that slipped by softly came from Munster Records. The label issued an almost complete overview of the collaborative works of Peter Howell & John Fernando to little or no fanfare.

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