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."
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:
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?