Posts Tagged ‘Telephone Explosion’

Badge Époque Ensemble

Like fellow Canadian jazz-bent psych troupe The Cosmic Range, Badge Époque Ensemble also dovetails into the Venn diagram sweet-spot that snags members from the backup band for U.S. Girls — the engine that drove her electric last tour. Instead of delving into the quaalude-jazz quadrant that the Range does, however, Badge Époque Ensemble are seeking higher ground with respect to the psychedelic fringe of funk and the lysergic lilt of soul. The band’s stacked with talent, and taking the lead here from Maximillian “Slim Twig” Turnbull. He and the ensemble attempt to embrace the acid-funk backbeat that blew through Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse, meld that with the detritus Stevie left littered through the ‘70s, and melt it down in a mold made in the image of Alain Goraguer.

In fact the last one hits especially hard, while there are grooves — tons of grooves, in fact — the album swims through an abstract narrative that feels right at home with Goraguer’s masterpiece La Planete Sauvage. Their eponymous platter is swung through with flutes, hollowed-tree organ ambience, and the stomach-punch crunch of fuzz hungry guitars. When they light into the almost eleven-minute centerpiece “Undressed in Solitude,” everything within earshot melts to sweet creamery coolness — even the molecules in the air seem to move just a touch slower until the song finally evaporates on a cloud of steam.

As a genre exercise this would make a great anonymous entry to the library music archives of the ‘70s slotting alongside admitted influences like Daniela Casa, Alessandro Alessandroni, and Piero Umiliani. For the casual traveler, this might be a bit too heady, but for the funk freak already scratching through the psychedelic tributaries jutting out of the Library canon’s core, this is a perfect fit. Late nite vibes abound here. Dim the lights, light a candle, and let the polyester polyrhythms pour over you.

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Badge Époque Ensemble – “Undressed In Solitude”

Centering around the works of Maximillian “Twig” Turnbull (formerly Slim Twig), Alia O’Brien (Blood Ceremony) and a host of live players who’ve been backing U.S. Girls on the road over the past year, Canadian collective Badge Époque Ensemble creates a heady mix of jazz, psych, tropicalia and prog. The last U.S. Girl album was noted for its expansive sound and blistering live show, much of which is owed to the players here. Along with Twig, the band stretches out hitting the sweet spot of ‘70s soul-jazz under the sway of pharmaceuticals. On lead single “Undressed In Solitude” the band adds the vocals of James Baley to give the affair a midnight aura. The track stretches past the eleven-minute mark and fully embraces the boundless visions of Isaac Hayes’ unrestrained late ’60 / early ‘70s run. You just know this one is going to kill on stage. The record is out June 7th on Telephone Explosion.




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Deliluh – “Rabbit”

Toronto post-punks Deliluh scrape at the gritty end of the genre, rolling a dirge of noise into clattering instrumental jousts among the players. “Rabbit” pokes into the speakers slowly, crawling up the spine with patience and practice before the song lets loose a hunger for blood around the 2:30 mark. The group has a way with anxious energy, spooling those early inklings of dread around their sound until it pulls tight at the throat. Then, just at the right moment, the band uncoils its reserve of tension and the release is primal and pounding. They let the guitars howl at one another until all that’s left is a pool of sinew and skin and an air of electricity on the breeze. Its an incredibly cathartic track that gives a notion of what’s in store on their upcoming sophomore LP, Oath of Intent. The record is out May 3rd on Telephone Explosion.





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Laaraji & Lyghte – Celestial Realms

In the past few years Laraaji has gone from something of a tightly traded name among New Age heads, experimental aficionados and yoga practitioners to a roundly celebrated artist with a wealth of material seeping back out into the reissue world. With entries into RVNG’s FRKWYS series and a collaboration with Brian Eno and Bill Laswell, he’s not light on stature, but it seems the current hunger for respite has driven the master of the zither further out into the light. There are plenty of points of entry for the curious among a catalog that’s decades deep, and none are more appropriate than his 1986 album with longtime collaborator Jonathan Goodman, aka Lyghte.

The original version of Celestial Realms was released to tape by New Age label Spirit Music, and it gets an upgrade here via Telephone Explosion’s brand-new offshoot Morning Trip. The album is two side-long tracks that delve deep into meditative trance. Lyghte provides the hypnotic bedrock that pins this to the mind – wavering and low, like the slow lap of a river. He leaves the sparkle to his foil Laraaji, who dazzles atop the drones with his Zither, bells, and guitars that predict the coming of Sun Araw’s psychedelic wobble long at a time when Stallones was more into silly putty than psilocybin.

The album is perfect not only for fans of vintage drone or New Age, but for those captivated by the dropout knockouts of more recent times – Emeralds, Kevin Drumm, Stars of the Lid fan take note and listen deep. It’s a great inaugural release for the fledgling label and perks my interest to see when Morning Trip goes from here. Whether you’re already scooping up the new and old issues from this NY legend or just want to unwind, a copy of Celestial Realms might be just the trick to block out the constant clatter of 2019.



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Teenanger – “Fun Forgot”

Canadian post-punks Teenanger put together a pretty solid collection on their eponymous LP, but “Fun Forgot” sticks out as an obvious highlight. In the clip, the band pairs the elastic bounce of the track with some real bummer summer hi-jinks and true teenage emotions. The video winds up a pretty perfect accompaniment to the song’s letdown lessons and in general the package is a fun ride. Short and sweet and snapping like gum during study hall, this is playlist fodder of the highest order.

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Bruce Haack – The Electric Lucifer

Bruce Haack has long been a fascinating figure in the musical landscape. A composer who entered the world of recordings through theater and dance scores, moved on to children’s music, commercials and eventually to the rock influenced sound as displayed on his masterpiece The Electric Lucifer. All of his output, from commercial work to children’s music employed homemade electronics and helped to usher in an acclimation of them to music throughout the ’60s and ’70s. The Electric Lucifer was conceived shortly after friend and business manager Chris Kachulis introduced Haack to his collection of psychedelic rock records. Haack thought that the sound would fit well with his boundary pushing use of electronic instruments and he began work on an album that depicted Earth in the middle of a struggle between Heaven and Hell. In his telling there is a concept, “Powerlove,” that is so strong that and pure that it could not only save the Earth, but Lucifer from himself.

Haack marries the rhythms of rock to a fizzing, creaking and buzzing world of electronics that give Lucifer a sound that must have, at the time, seemed bent from the sci-fi brains of Asimov and Wells, shot through with the religious darkness of Dante. At times, in hindsight the effects can seem quaint and even humorous, but taken in context its easy to see how Haack became an influential figure; with his distorted vocalizations, chugging electronic rhythms and psychedelic infusion of religion. At times it sounds like a man locked alone in a garage, given copies of Jesus Christ Superstar and A Child’s Guide to Good And Evil and tasked with finding the middle ground given only homemade electronics and a few mics to work it out. Haack would go on for years to influence and create, even hooking up with Russell Simmons in 1982 on the single “Party Machine,” but The Electric Lucifer still stands as a calling card for many musicians looking for that bridge between the scientific and the psychedelic. Its Haack’s longest reaching legacy outside of his children’s classic Dance, Sing and Listen and certainly an essential listen for those with a foot in either the psych or electronic camps.



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Visitors – Poet’s End

Visitors were an Edinburgh post-punk band that caught the favor of John Peel, who featured them on his radio show a few times and even financed their second single, “Empty Rooms.” Sadly, the notoriously dodgy sound quality of that single did little to further their cause among fickle fans. They’d use another Peel Session to fill out a third, but by then their prospects were growing grim. The band’s penchant for stretched lengths, moody shades and subtle electronics seems like it should have caught favor with fans of PiL, Wire and Joy Division but the band remained strikingly independent and without the love and push of a proper record company they were ill fated, even with opening gigs for The Cure. Telephone Explosion has rounded up their three singles, of which “Electric Heat” stands out as the true gem here, though the tracks from the flip of that single and “Compatibility” all fill this set out nicely.

“Empty Rooms” is rightfully derided for its sound quality, though the songs in the single are still pretty solid and would have benefited in the live setting. The rest of the set is fleshed out with four unreleased tracks and among these “Our Glass” proves to have been a shameful loss to the folds of time, it’s stronger than some of the released material for certain. The Peel connection will certainly perk ears but as far as lost post-punk gems go this one has its merit on the whole. Would have been killer if the master tapes could have been redone and spot cleaned for a strong sound across the whole, but there’s gold in here all the same.




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