Posts Tagged ‘Les Disques Bongo Joe’

RSTB Best of 2018: Reissues, Etc.

A large part of the site is not only focusing on new releases, but also the great reissues that are unearthed during the course of a year. Below are my picks for the best editions dug up by the hardworking folks on the reissue circuit. Every year there are less options to work from and every year labels continue to surprise me with what they bring out. I’m also going to take a moment to give tribute to an album that could have been this year but due to unfortunate circumstances didn’t make it to fruition.

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Al Doum & The Faryds

During a magical hangover of the ‘70s jazz found funk and psychedelia then wrapped their tendrils into its own serpentine form. This period birthed the best electric of Miles, Sun Ra dabbling with soul and Don Cherry ripping at the shreds of the universe to push rhythm through a black hole and pull it out the other side. The long tail in the movement saw plenty of bands utilize what they’d heard in the freest of moments and fold it back onto their own sounds. The German Progressives from Can to Vuh to Düül all found that same wormhole that their jazz-psych contemporaries were sailing through and they traversed the light bridge it provided to the center of the Earth to pound out the sound of the beating heart at the center of the beast. Meanwhile Hawkwind and Heldon took the sound to the quasars and etched out the framework of Spacerock as it was handed down by the gods.

On the backs of this era rises Spirit Rejoin from Al Doum & The Faryds. The band’s latest is snatching cosmic jazz back from the heart of the sun – pushing past those Spacerock quasars only to slingshot back with frightening velocity for a trip to the center of the mind through psychedelic shred. The Milanese band taps into the holy altars of their neighbors to the East, divining Kosmiche moments with the same reverence and quest for the edges of perception that drove Krautrock’s core like a mad engine. Unfit to be simply labeled a modern jazz album, like Brooklyn’s Sunwatchers the Faryds are a pure psychedelic experience devouring skronk, lashing out with guitar drenched in the ozone puff of amplifier fallout and tumbling over polyrhythms like the current crop of psychedelic Swedes. The record is the distillation of an age of discovery, looking back with perfect hindsight at what each pocket of progress was accomplishing and brewing it all together into an enticing potion. This one’s not for the lighthearted.



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Altin Gün

Amsterdam collective Altin Gün wrap the past in a blur of funk bounce and psychedelic touches that pull from ’70s luminaries Baris Manço, Selda Bağcan and Erkin Koray. The album rockets through time, culling inspiration from Turkish folk songs passed down generations and welding their aesthetics to blistering saz riffs, woozy organs, fuzz-crusted bass and fluid guitars that push the album into a league on par with those ’70s inspirations they applaud. More than just a concept, though, the record boasts an infectious rhythm that drives the album past mere psychedelic freeform or nostalgia trip and marks it as a celebratory well of dance and euphoria.

Though the collective all contain some Turkish heritage, they also rope in their individual backgrounds, including ’60s Indonesian and Dutch psych scenes that were each vibrant in their own ways. Adding an additional pedigree, the album was mixed by vaunted Dutch psych star Jacco Garder, long himself a melting pot of influences from the wide spectrum of psychedelia. Together the group and Gardner have crafted an album that sparkles with life, fuzz, bodily rhythm and kaleidoscopic colors. Even for for fans not familiar with the lineage of Turkish psych, this works on several levels as a potent headtrip rife for volume and repeated plays.




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Altin Gün – “Tatli Dile Guler Yuze”

With unlimited access to a decent swath of the world’s recorded music and YouTube rabbit holes runnin’ rampant, it’s constantly possible to set your sights on a sound and make the most obscure vision your muse. With Khruangbin picking up the yoke of Thai funk and giving it a home in Texas, it seems just as likely that the ’70s Turkish psych of Baris Manço, Selda Bağcan and Erkin Koray, long held up by labels like Pharaway Sounds and Finders Keepers, should take root with a young group in Amsterdam. The first single from On is a dead ringer for the work of Selda, maybe with a touch of Hungarian psych goddess Sarolta Zalatnay thrown in as well and it scratches an itch for those driving ’70s Turkish psych and folk records that have been making the reissues rounds over the years. Following pretty quick on the heels of their great Spanish post-punk comp from earlier in the year, Les Disques Bongo Joe are proving that they’re a label making a name for themselves and worth keeping an eye on.




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Various Artists – “La Contra Ola”

It’s always heartening to see that the wealth of reissue material isn’t hitting dry sands at this point. While the majors scramble to repress issues of records that could easily be found lying in the dollar bin (Janis Joplin’s Greatest Hits I’m looking your way) labels like Swiss imprint Les Disques Bongo Joe are digging into the grit and grime of post-punk, exploring the not remotely picked over fertile ground of 80’s Spanish Synth Wave. And while the album could easily act as a companion piece to the great issue Sombras (Spanish Post Punk + Dark Pop 1981-1986) that Munster put out, it picks a little deeper at the wound of Spain’s brittle underground.

As with any compilation of this type there are curiosities and obvious standouts that feel like they should have been part of the national conversation for years. Heading up the standouts is an entry from the woefully named Zombies (no relationship to the UK band) whose RCA single “Extraños Juegos” is a delight that should populate pretty much any post-punk mixtape you’ve got going. There are shades of industrial (La Fura Dels Baus), squirming nerve-pop (Tres) and frantic synth pop (Todo Todo) that seems like someone in the Sega music mill might have been listening in when soundtracking the 16-bit generation (esp. Kid Chameleon). All around, a great collection that shines a light on quite a few acts that have been languishing out of the spotlight for years. If Les Disques Bongo Joe hasn’t been on your radar up to this point, keep an eye for some truly necessary gems.


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The Staches

Building up a presence in their hometown of Geneva, Switzerland while also picking up quite a bit of steam on jaunts through the EU and US, The Staches have followed on a steady run of singles with a twitchy new album. Recorded in San Francisco by madman auteur Kelley Stoltz, the LP belts together a chugging, writhing brand of post-punk that puts them in nice company with recent releases from Hierophants, Mind Spiders or Ausmuteants. The band excels when they lean on the synths, taking their garage hybrid more towards the sci-fi synth-punk of the late ’70s and early ’80s and elevating them out of any connections to mere fuzz punks. I’ve long had a lean towards the queasy wash of unease played out through this strain of punk and The Staches are finding themselves thrown clean into the churning, slashing, crumpled heart of an anxious fury they battle with to the very end.

The record ropes in standout single “Total Commitment,” a song that jumped out of the crowd earlier in the year on Six Tonnes De Chair Records, and it remains a highlight on the full length as well. Along with “I Don’t Bother” and “Plastic,” the track anchors the second half of the record in a psych drenched echo that, unlike many of their peers, eschews Oh Sees territory to find its own sweaty groove. Placid Faces tumbled out to little fanfare, and late in the year, which is always a tough climb. It is proving to be a tightly wound gem though, and well worth the time on the turntable.

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