Browsing Category Reissues

Taj Mahal Travellers – August 1974

It’s been a hell of year for out of print Japanese psych classics. With Black Editions firing on all cylinders there’s plenty to love from the depths of the PSF empire but Aguirre’s creeping in with a classic of their own. The Belgian imprint has rounded up the cosmic float of Taj Mahal Travellers’ definitive album, August 1974, in all its double-wide glory. The band, known for their eclectic live performances and outdoor improvisations, took to the studios at Columbia Japan for four pieces stretched over four sides, each a deeper dive into electronic quaver, echoplexed violin, growled drones, and charring feedback. The record stands at the apex of Japanese improv and its tendrils wrap deep into the following decades’ younger players as one of the main influences of the new psychedelic front. Though it’s clear that the band had a heavy link to their German Progressive counterparts around the same time, effectively taking up the far east version of Kosmiche on this record, they give the proceedings a distinctly Japanese bent, taking what they’d acquired from a few EU tours and bending it to their will in the studio setting.

Aside from this record the only other official document from the band while active was July 15, 1972 a live recording from Sohgetsu Hall in Tokyo that got the official treatment as their debut. Following August 1974 the band would break ties, with most of the younger members dropping away from the scene and violinist Takehisa Kosugi continuing his journeys through experimental circles, even winding up with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company as musical director for a while. The spectral howl of the band’s heavy hitter rears its head as an influence in psychedelic circles to this day, so its great to have this back in an official capacity on the table. Highly recommended for fans from Ash Ra to Acid Mother’s and everything in between.




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V/A – Electroconvulsive Therapy Volume 4: The Art Of Survival

Still sifting through the dust of Record Store Day for the worthwhile bits that inevitably get stranded and trampled underfoot. This compilation from Medical Records that rounds up singles from UK minimal synth label Survival Records is just such a gem. This is the label’s third collection of older Survival material, but they’re still uncovering some propulsive, twisted tunes from a time when offbeat electronica was relegated to underground club nights and sifting through mail order addresses was the only way to slot a few of these onto your shelf. The collection’s notable for highlighting Survival’s disco fallout paired with scotch-taped synth-pop for crossovers that are equally as danceable as they are stuck in the pre-Devo dominance, post Heldon prog-punk hybrid pocket.

The dichotomy is evident on excellent b-sides from The Limit, whose “OK Go” and “Do It” pack both spacey atmospherics and hard-edged funk breakdowns. This collection also highlights a few tracks from Richard Bone, a soundtrack composer moonlighting as a synthpop overlord who wound up being regarded as a founder of the NYC electronic boom in his time. The label also gave new life to Bone’s Brave Tales as part of RSD, a treasure in its own right. The comp probably isn’t tops on the list of essential rundowns wrapping up this type of sound, but for collectors of Survival or general synth-pop archival explorers, this is a worthwhile pickup for sure.




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End of Data – Sahrah

B.F.E. recs digs out another synth gem, this time from French slingers End of Data. Their first album is fairly compact but packs a pretty great punch despite its brevity. The band shared members with the similarly fawned over Charles De Goal but skewed even more frantic than that unit’s mash of synth and post-punk boasted. The record is anchored by the fevered track “If I’m Not A Killer,” a cyber punk dash through enough dystopian tropes that it feels like it had to have popped up on the Hackers soundtrack at some point. The rest of the album revels in Kraftwerk washes and shades of Ultravox!, Tubeway Army and other similarly minded techno-pop heads.

The original found its way to market via Divine Records, home to other edge of reality acts like Tuxedomoon and Fra Lippo Lippi, and the band would follow on their debut with the more expansive Dans Votre Monde a year later. A planned third alubm would never materialize and the band would wind their way into the collector’s corner until an uptick of interest around blogs made it a name among cold wave freaks. It stands as a highlight of the cold wave genre and B.F.E. gives it a worthy place among the stacks again.




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Bend Sinister – Tape 2

One of the great, ink-black holes of interest in the pervasive Seattle music culture is A-Frames. The dirge-worthy noise punks were a black hole of chaos, tearing up S-S records and Dragnet before even they got themselves a Sub Pop deal and subsequently either delighted or deflated listeners looking for a certain Northwest sound. Long before there was The Intelligence and slightly before there was the idea of an A-Frames proper, there was Bend Sinister – the incubator of sorts for what would grow into a sprawling, narcotic entity. The band was built around Erin Sullivan, Min Yee and Josh Turgeon but later added in Steve Kaplan, who in turn left to make way for Lars Finberg. Lars, Erin and Min would go on to form A-Frames but it was in Bend Sinister that their love of noise punk produced some of the heaviest din associated with the region.

Named after a Fall song and professing love for The Electric Eels, Scratch Acid, Feedtime and Country Teasers, there’s no doubt that the band was about to gouge a few holes in the linoleum when they let loose. Homeless culls up a good chunk of the band’s ‘90s recordings on Tape 2, and it’s a must for fans of the A-Frames trajectory, but more than just a curio for Northwest collectors. Despite the relatively low-profile release status of a lot of the material here, it hammers pretty hard, not going for pristine power like some of their contemporaries but exchanging scrubbed audio for pure power in the end equation. Having missed out on Bend Sinister in its day, but loving everything that came as a result, this is a great primer and a peek at the seeds of what was to come.



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Nocturnal Projections – Complete Studio Recordings

Somewhere near the roots of New Zealand post-punk lie the early singles of Nocturnal Projections, eking life into a scene that would blossom within Island’s small scene. Brothers Peter and Graeme Jefferies formed the band in 1981, years before they’d lay down acerbic tracks as This Kind of Punishment. After they parted ways, Graeme would fulfill his destiny in The Cakekitchen and Peter would skew solo, but this was where they began in earnest. After a smattering of bands like Plastic Bags that didn’t catch hold the brothers found a fanbase with Nocturnal Projections’ driving, anthemic sound. Hardly celebrated in their tenure, except by locals who were lucky enough to catch them on stage at their favored haunt, The Lion Tavern, or opening for The Fall and New Order in hometown gigs. They came to further prominence in the ‘90s when European label Raffmond issued much of their collection on CD under the title of their incendiary b-side, “Nerve Ends In The Power Lines.”

That comp, along with the legacy of both This Kind of Punishment and The Cakekitchen, served to bolster the band as a touchpoint for younger post-punk bands, and with good reason. Though the band is often compared to Joy Division, they’re cut from a slightly sunnier cloth, strapping on vocals that touch into Ian McCulloch territory. Their output revels in dark overtones, and an admittedly grimier production than their UK counterparts, while sparring widescreen hooks with propulsive bass. Now, Dais has finally put the band’s three official releases – the Another Year 7” + a S/T 7” and S/T 12” – together onto a collection of complete studio recordings. The collection marks the first time that all three are back on LP since 1983, giving collectors of the rather pricey singles a handy primer on the band’s most lasting works.

In addition, the label has also issued a collection of studio rarities and bonus tracks as a separate LP, which works well, rather than bloating out a release with diehard fodder the two LPs serve as both a toe into the band’s world and a definitive pairing for those who have long sought out the band’s discography. Fans of any of the Jefferies’ projects would do well to jump in here and those with a soft spot for UK post-punk of the same era will find a welcome kinship in the band’s complete works.



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Tim Blake – Crystal Machine

Those of you reminiscent for a bit of laser Floyd might want to thank stynth wizard Tim Blake. Following a tenure in Gong and just preceding one in Hawkwind, the artist ventured out to dip into solo synth float and struck up a collaboration with French lighting designer Patrice Warrener, adding lasers and lighting effects to his live show as psychedelic spectacle. The two dubbed their working symbiosis Crystal Machine, and the name doubles as the title for Blake’s first solo album, now remastered and expanded with live bonus cuts by Esoteric Recordings.

There’s definitely a burble of the old German Progressives foaming underneath Blake’s work, but you’d unearth more clues looking to his time with Gong. On albums like You or Angel’s Egg Blake created a heady heatwave of synth that’s never stuck on its own ingenuity. He continues that tradition here, riding psych opuses for optimum enjoyment rather than mere Rick Wakeman levels of tech wizardry. The album winds up a bit uneven given that portions of it are live, but considering that was how this particular portion of Blake’s career was inspired, it makes sense that he’d capture himself in the element with Warrener’s light show fueling his direction. He’d follow this up with a proper studio album, New Jerusalem, before heading on to his run in Hawkwind. It’s an artifact of its time, but well worth checking out for fans of Tangerine Dream and their ilk.




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The Night Crawlers – The Biophonic Boombox Recordings

Entrance into The Nightcrawlers’ world is foreboding at best and the currency at the gate is time. Considering the Philadelphia collective recorded over thirty-five cassettes of home recorded material between 1980 and 1991, the true barrier to figuring out their Kosmiche wonderland is finding the time and patience to sift through their extensive improvisational float. Thankfully, Anthology have cut out a lot of the work for you, boiling down their boombox experiments to a hefty collection that weighs in at over two hours, but tackles some of their best psychedelic fodder.

The band released a handful of LPs along the same arc but would become consumed by their studio improvisations that they recorded down to simple boombox room recordings. This gives the works here a rough quality, pocked with hiss and dotted with coughs and clicks, but it doesn’t detract from the band’s commitment to the German Progressive lineage. They churned out some high quality special float that spurned their contemporaries’ dive down dance paths, opting instead for the hypnotic comfort of Tangerine Dream, Goblin and Klauz Schulze LPs as their talismans. As such they also bridge the gap between those early German synth weavers and more contemporary resurgence that have arisen through Emeralds, Oneotrix Point Never and The Belbury Circle. A definite recommendation for the heads out there and the Kosmiche surfers looking to expand their library.




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Pointed Sticks – Perfect Youth

The world is steadily knocking the dust from some of power pop’s most coveted gems and a new reissue of Pointed Sticks’ essential debut is a welcome addition to 2018. The last time that Sudden Death (who took over the reigns from original label Quintessence Records) issued this was back in 2005, but it’s no less necessary more than a decade later. Among the best power pop albums with the worst covers, the album is best known for the title cut, a bubblegum jolt of punk that’s brimming with ecstatic snap and an earworm chorus. Though the single is no an outlier in this collection thanks in no small part to the work of newbie producer at the time, Bob Rock. The industry go-to, who’d go on to hammer out hits with Aerosmith, Metallica and Mötley Crüe found his start with this as the first album under his belt, likely as a result of his work on EPs the previous year for fellow Quintessence artists Subhumans and Young Canadians.

The album is a bright and brimming collection of power pop pushed through a tangle of jangle-pop that reveals an overt love for Elvis Costello while pushing the tempos and temperament into what would become the signifiers of pop punk many years later. Following the homegrown success of this album the band became notable for being signed to Stiff Records, though the label itself was falling apart financially at the time and wouldn’t officially release any recordings by them in its tenure. There are several comps that pick these up though. Recently, as is the case with bands that burn out too quick, they’ve found success in reunited form and recorded a couple of new albums, however, without a doubt this remains the pinnacle of their career. Those with an ear to power pop’s transition from the ’70s into the ’80s would do well to dig this up, and along with Teenage Head, they remains some of the best exporters of Canadian punk from the time period. Ignore that god awful cover and press on to the chewy pop offerings between the grooves.


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Simply Saucer – Cyborgs Revisited

Haven’t heard too much about In The Red doing the universe a solid by cobbling together a “definitive” version of Simply Saucer’s sole collection Cyborg’s Revisited, but if you’re any kind of fan of future punk with a sci-fi soul, then this one should be on your list. The Hamilton, Ontario band recorded the bulk of the set at the studio of Bob and Daniel Lanois as demos, but given the absolutely stone-faced reaction they received to them, those demos remain the core of their output. Those tracks are represented here, as they have been on the Mole and Get Back editions of the record, but ITR bumps up the package from past LP editions by including a set of live recordings made at the time that give the studio sets some context to the band’s live presence.

The gears of Cyborgs Revisited are wound with a space rock float that hooks in Hawkwind and Floyd allusions, playing to the heads urging to break free from the beige constraints of the Canadian status quo. Trust me, I’ve been to Hamilton, ON – that city needed / still needs moonwalkers like Simply Saucer to throttle it from slumber. Breaking tone with much of the psychedelic fray is “Bullet Proof Nothing,” a VU-indebted pop gem that more modern listeners might recognize as covered by Ty Segall as the flip to his Goner Recs single “Caesar” way back in 2010. It’s as close as the band would ever come to a pop hit, and a damn fine gem in any band’s catalog.

The early editions were scarce, and rather unheralded unless you were a crack collector at the time, so for many this presents a new opportunity to snag this on vinyl without the premium of a Discogs dig. The label is touting this as a “definitive” version and for the format that holds water. Though it does leave off 1978 recorded versions of “She’s A Dog” and “I Can Change My Mind” that were recorded after the band recruited 15-year old drummer Tony Cutaia. The live version of the latter does appear in the bonus material, though. Still, a solid set that rounds up a lot of material to vinyl for the first time. The CD edition on Sonic Unyon might give it a run for the money in total coverage, if you’re into that kind of thing, but for turntable fanatics, this is your best shot yet. Can’t recommend Simply Saucer enough, if this is an oversight on your shelf, rectify it now.




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Paul Marcano and LightDreams – 10,001 Dreams

Picking up on this gem that slipped out in 2016, but still remains available in double LP glory. Paul Marcano and his band LightDreams had one full album (as simply LightDreams) in 1982. The Beatles-esque pop was undercut with proggy new age keys for an album that doused itself in sci-fi trappings and psychedelic indulgences. Sadly, the record would pass through rather unnoticed, except by collectors with a keen eye for psych. It stands to reason then that this private press cassette that the band home recorded as a follow-up in 1983 only fell on fewer ears, but its sprawling, syncopated prog-folk approach makes it a gem of a time when the band’s psych-pop was horribly out of fashion.

The record is home-taped, though not scruffy, with a rather clear and present sound. Marcano, along with fellow guitarists John Walker and Cory Rhyon and keyboardist Andre Martin lay their rippling psych vision out without the aid of a rhythm section and the result brings this closer to a fuzz ball of psychedelic folk than the prog holdovers from the ‘70s they’re ostensibly looking to replicate. While they’re shooting for Pink Floyd, the band actually lands somewhere around Bobb Trimble fronting an expanded version of Fresh Maggots, which honestly makes for a dream idea in my book.

The one thing that gets in the way of LightDreams might be their own ambition. The original version of 10,001 Dreams was laid down to a 90-minute tape and the band went for it in every respect. Self-editing was not their forte, though squeezing this onto 2xLP and CD gives a bit of trim to a massive centerpiece suite (originally 30 min) that would give Olivia Tremor Control a run for their money. They excel when the tracks spread out, but don’t tip the scales – sprawling, but not overstuffed – and rambling into introspective trip territory. If you’ve previously missed out on this one and need to bump up the private press psych section on your shelf then this comes quite recommended.



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