ROTW: My Sixteen Little Planets!

The press materials accompanying this archival release make a big deal about the alleged similarities between it and Ash Ra Tempel guitarist Manuel Göttsching's better-known Inventions For The Electric Guitar LP that came out in 1975, around the same time this "mythical" album was recorded. Göttsching is accused of having appropriated techniques actually invented by M.A.L.'s Daniel Malempré. The claim is made that "in early 1974, Göttsching's label received a tape sent by M.A.L. – same design, same configuration, almost the same tracks [as Inventions For The Electric Guitar]." Hmmm... who knows the truth? GöttschingRolf-Ulrich Kaiser? And you know what, we don't really care that much about all that.

But what we do care about is that track five here, "Thor," is some serious seventies drone-doom! Sounds like a hippie solo psych-guitar version of SUNNO))). Droney, spacey, heaviness maaaannn. And the other tracks are cool too – all far-out home recordings circa 1972-1976 from one Belgian guy with guitar, effects, and 4-track (specifically: Fender Stratocaster 1964, pedal Wah-Wah Cry Baby, and Sony TC-630 reel-to-reel recorder).

Released by Sub Rosa on cd and in a truncated version on vinyl with only eight tracks (planets) instead of sixteen, for those who'd like to pay a little extra for half as much music. Both are available from Forced Exposure, where you can also find sound samples...


Sleeping in on Record Store Day feels pretty good

Ah, Record Store Day. The one day of the year that makes Andee and I really glad that we're NOT still running aQuarius. Nope, we don't miss doing (having to do) RSD. Probably anybody who works or has worked in a record store in the last ten years knows what we mean.

Now, RSD wasn't all bad, of course, there was a lot of fun and excitement on the day itself – it's certainly a rush to do that crazy amount of business in a single day. And if customers enjoyed it, we can't complain about that either. We were certainly grateful for their support. But... RSD has its downsides, definitely. Major stressful, anxiety inducing, economic, existential and aesthetic downsides. Not gonna get into all of that here, if you really wanna know, you can ask either Andee or myself, and risk triggering our RSD-PTSD, at which point we'll likely go on at tedious length about the many problems with Record Store Day and why we would have stopped doing it ('officially' at least) at aQ if we'd ever figured out a good way to do so – something easier said than done, for a number of reasons that we could also explain.

We're certainly not the only ones who found RSD to be not all it's cracked up to be. If you want to read an anti-RSD screed, one of the most recent comes from Chicago's Numero Group. This posting says a bunch of stuff that we totally agree with, and they're even a label (who we think tend to benefit a lot more from RSD than stores do). We could add dozens of other gripes, but you get the idea... we're not big fans of RSD as it has been constituted, though the idea of a Record Store Day is of course a nice one.

Thus, while today is pretty much the last day either of us would want to try to go shopping at a record store (though if you feel otherwise, please go for it!), in appreciation of all wonderful record stores past and present, we wanted to share something that (a perhaps less jaded) Andee wrote way back in 2009 upon the occasion of the second annual Record Store Day. It originally appeared in a fanzine packaged with the Thrill Jockey RSD compilation Records Toreism, but now Andee has revised it a bit for publication on the blog over at Pandora's website. It's all about how shopping at and working in record stores has shaped Andee's life (in a good way!). Record stores forever, every day!!!


ROTW: Spiritual Jazz Vol.8 Japan!

Ten years ago, the London-based Jazzman label launched this great series of comps devoted to 'Spiritual Jazz' from the sixties and seventies, what they describe as "esoteric, modal, and deep jazz from the underground." Think Pharaoh Sanders and Philip Cohran, but more obscure selections, for sure. We reviewed six volumes in the series on the aQuarius list, and while we never made any of 'em a Record Of The Week, we probably should have. As the series progressed, individual volumes delved into different scenes and aspects of Spiritual Jazz – you had your European cats, your American expatriates in Europe, a vocals-oriented volume, and then last year an installment concentrating specifically on Islamic inspired spirituality in jazz.

Released last month, now here's the most expansive entry in the series yet (eight sides of vinyl, or double cd), focusing on Japan's abundant and impressive progressive jazz underground circa 1961 to 1983, compiled with the assistance of Tokyo-based jazz collector and DJ, Yusuke Ogawa. Comes complete with liner notes in English and Japanese, and even boasts a mock obi, nice!

The only artist on here we were all that familiar with already was guitarist Masayuki Takayanagi's New Directions For The Arts, who contribute a fantastic piece called "Sun In The East" from their 1972 Free Form Suite album, not quite as intense and outside as Takayanagi can get* but still definitely amazing, gorgeous deep stuff (as is the rest of the compilation). It's one of the ones you can check out below.

*For a taste of really freaked out Takayanagi, our #1 recommendation is the 1970 recording released on PSF under the title Call In Question, which aQ once described as: "Some of the heaviest 'jazz' ever... The drummer should be in a hardcore band, the guitar player makes Sonny Sharrock sound like a wimp, and the bass and sax are equally intense... Noise guitar way ahead of its time. Beautiful, beautiful noise."


ROTW: The Prophet's Blood Is Boiling!

Originally from Tel Aviv, now based in Berlin, drummer/producer Arik Hayuk (one half of 'doom-tech' duo Gainstage) offers up a solo vinyl 12" slab of 'drum n' drone' under the moniker Arikon... Doom-tech? Drum n' drone? Yessssss, sounds Record Of The Week-ishly good to us!

Fascinated by decay and distortion, on this debut Arikon creates monstrously doomed-out and disjointed electro-acoustic 'techno' music that's crunchy, crackling and ominous to an exquisite degree. Self-constructed percussion instruments are involved as well as samples and other electronics. Pummelling, pounding, plodding, polyrhythmic, every beat an explosion – it's the sort of sound that could appeal to fans of Cut Hands (who have remixed Gainstage) as well as those of Author & Punisher. Necro Deathmort, too. And some heavier, out there dubstep.

Out this Friday the 13th on Portals Editions. Bandcamp this way or wait for FE to get copies.

Here's a taste – "Nahash Akalaton," track 7 on the record, the rest are just as good or better, even:


ROTW: The Album!

From the above album, for your consideration, "Professor Whiskers" (note: you have to stick with it a minute!):

Australian absurdist comedy collective Aunty Donna could get a WDYLI? Record Of The Week nod for this demented track alone but the rest of their debut album, The Album, is pretty great too, full of lots more sick, silly, WTF? humor. Surreal, sometimes a bit juvenile, very funny stuff. Really funny stuff that walks that fine line right next to stupid and kind of dares you to laugh. And they do a good job with the music side of it too, with techno pastiche, rap parody, and the Sparks-y bits in tracks like "Professor Whiskers." (Watch out, we know from experience that it can get stuck in your head.)

If this had come out back when aQuarius was around, we know it would have been played to death in the store and we'd have been forced to make it a ROTW by default (such albums as Great Phone Calls and Tenacious D's debut were ROTW's at aQ back in the day, after all).

The Album comes out this Friday, but we're not sure that the physical cd release will be available in the States then, maybe just as an import?