Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sub-atomic particles are better at making music than most humans...

Thanks to former AQ staffer Alison for sharing this with us, from the BBC, an article entitled "God particle signal is simulated as sound".

Pretty amazing. What do you think those samples sound most like? Delia Derbyshire? Bruce Haack? Tod Dockstader?

We can only hope the Large Hadron Collider releases a record soon. Sound like a good band name, anyway.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

New Arrivals #348.5 : 2010 Faves So Far

Yo, there's another "in-between list" list up here!

AQ Overlords Andee and Allan picked some of their faves from the first half of the year so far, stuff from lists #336 through #348. Of course, sadly, we had to leave off stuff that we had run out of and wouldn't be getting back in for a while, or (worse yet) had already gone out of print. But it still wasn't difficult to come up with a few mega (and possibly overlooked) personal faves off of each list to revisit here. Since we just did an "International Sounds" round-up last in-between time, we did skip things that had just appeared on that, and also didn't bother picking records that had been "Of The Week" 'cause hopefully you at least saw those the first time. One of the reasons we started doing these extra ".5" lists on the off-list-week Friday is that we know a lot of you, despite your best intentions, don't always get a chance to thoroughly read the entirety of each and every one of our admittedly lengthy New Arrivals lists, so this sort of thing gives you a chance to catch up with some crucial items you somehow might not have seen when they were originally listed.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New Arrivals #348

Yeah, we did the list last Friday, you've already spent hours checking it out here, but there's a bit of blogging delay 'round these parts.

Records Of The Week:

WOVEN HAND "The Threshingfloor" (Sounds Familyre) cd $14.98
Yes, once again WH's latest gets the ROTW nod. Why not, it's another gorgeous disc of haunting, harrowing, apocalyptic swamp folk, quite possibly their heaviest and most intense yet...
PARSON SOUND "s/t" (Subliminal Sounds) 3lp box $54.00
We had to make this a ROTW, one of our favorite recordings ever, originally a 2cd of archival material by this pioneering Swedish psych act, minimalist drone heaviness that out-krautrocks any actual krautrock, from way back in '68, now finally on vinyl in a deluxe 3 lp set, expensive but worth it!!
DARK DAY "Window" (Dark Entries) lp $19.98
Another limited vinyl document of early '80s cold wavish no wavish synth pop stuff, from an early member of DNA and friends, definitely a hit around here!
KONONO NO.1 "Assume Crash Position" (Crammed Discs) cd $15.98
The latest from the masters of Congotronics, rhythmic street music jams that even collapsing walls (as heard on this recording) can't successfully interrupt!

Note, we're already out of the Parson Sound, our supplier says hopefully they'll have more for us next week, though... and it turns out that, with brillant timing, the 2cd version is also out of stock, awaiting a repress. We'll take orders for 'em though...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Strotter pics, video

The Strotter Inst. instore we had on Wednesday was awesome. It involved 3 specially rigged turntables, lots of rubber bands, and masking tape! Here's a photo Andee took (with an arty filter on his iPhone, if you're wondering):

For more pics, and video, go here to our Facebook page, we posted 'em there. And sign up to be our friend on FB if you haven't already!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Arrivals #347.5 : International Sounds

Whoops. This new "in-between list" list thing we're doing takes a little getting used to. Forgot to blog about Friday's installment. Well hopefully you got the email, visited the site, and have perused it already. If not, please check it out here.

It's an all-international roundup from recent lists, but we included one brand new review too, a very appropriate Record Of The Week:

KONONO NO.1 "Assume Crash Position" (Crammed Discs) cd $15.98
From the very first notes of Assume Crash Position, we're immediately transported right back to Kinshasa in the Congo, a bustling town square, people going about their business, cars zooming past, children playing and shouting, people sitting at tables on the sidewalk drinking, eating, catching up, birds perched in the trees, chirping, just a regular bustling African city, except maybe for a certain group of musicians, creating their own soundtrack to daily life, conjuring up a gorgeous, rhythmic, hypnotic and strangely psychedelic racket, equal parts classic African folk music, High Life, and junkyard percussion. The musicians are wielding a strange array of hand built instruments, there's lots of rusted metal, car batteries, old cracked loudspeakers, various drums, and most notably, some fantastic looking, and even more fantastic sounding amplified thumb pianos. By now, regular readers of the aQ list most likely know we're talking about the truly amazing Konono No.1, quite possibly one of our favorite African ensembles ever, past or present. When we first hear them a few years ago, we were blown away, the super distorted thumb pianos spitting out clouds of rapid fire chiming notes, tangled melodies, all locked into super hypnotic drum driven grooves, call and response vocals, simultaneously festive and danceable, dark and mysterious, raw and feral, primitive and DIY, lush and melodic and like nothing we had ever heard before.
When we first threw on Assume Crash Position, our first thought, was that very little had changed, and to a certain degree that's true, all of the above mentioned elements are still present, the wild thumb pianos, still the focal point, their sound curious but so warm and sweetly melodic, the call and response vocals, the tribal percussion, the groovy rhythms, but from the first track it IS in fact evident that some things have changed. That opening track, "Wumbanzanga", is far more melodic, far more pretty and almost more like some of the other traditional African music we've heard in the past, with great female vocals, the vibe super festive, but those thumb piano melodies definitely add a distinctly Konono vibe. Then the next track, "Thin Legs" explodes in a frenzy of whistles and tribal drumming and vocals, that's it, but it too manages to be super melodic and totally effusively celebratory.
It's not until "Mama Na Bana" which opens with that Konono style stop start THRUMP THRUMP THRUMP, where the whole group locks in, before launching into classic Konono, it's really hard to describe, but those fuzzy buzzing metallic melodies wrapped around the repetitive rhythms and the super emotional vocals, the whole rest of the record is classic, albeit a bit more polished and melodic, Konono junkyard Congotronics...
Some of the highlights this time around include "Makembe", with it's buzzing melodies, crooned vocals, and the sounds of kids playing and birds chirping, before there's a BIG crash, apparently the sound of a concrete wall collapsing, a wall the vocalist was moments earlier leaning against, and then the band launches into one of the best jams on the disc. Or the gorgeous closing lullaby of "Nakobala Lisusu Te", with muted thumb pianos, super tangled melodies, and a sweet soulful croon, so dreamy and blissful, the perfect way to unwind after a wild, sweaty, funky, groovy, Congotronic workout.
The packaging is cool to, with tons of photos of the local scrap yard / junkyard, where the band gather up most of the material they use to build their instruments, not to mention a shot of that collapsed wall that crumbled mid-song. As with past Konono's, utterly and absolutely wholeheartedly recommended!

Instore tomorrow!

Hey (local or nearby) folks! Be sure to come by the store tomorrow, Wednesday June 16th, as we're hosting a very special instore performance - STROTTER INST. from Switzerland!

It ought to be really interesting... customized turntable rhythmscapes and mysterious mechanized drones! Don't miss it.

That's this Wednesday, June 16th, at 6pm here at Aquarius.

Here's our recent review of Strotter's most recent release, a limited 10" we still have a few of in stock:
Got a few copies of this avant turntable masterpiece back in, figured we'd relist it in anticipation of the almost for sure upcoming Strotter Inst instore!
We are huge fans of weird turntable music, from Jeck, to Gum, to Otomo Yoshihide, to Martin Tetrault, but as much as we love all of those folks, our heart belongs to Strotter Inst., aka, Christoph Hess, an older Swiss turntable mad scientist, who creates Frankensteinian record players with multiple arms, weird obstructions forcing the needle to jump and skip, strange strings and rubber bands, that the moving parts pluck and strike, all creating gorgeous mechanical symphonies of sound, with JUST the player, when the manipulated records are added (and they often are NOT), things only get more expansive and lush and amazing.
This latest release from Hess finds his interest in fucking with lps and their players extending to even the pressing process, with the various tracks mastered at different speeds, requiring a small diagram on the label demonstrating which part of which side plays at which speed. Not that it necessarily matters, as Hess' crazy sonic concoctions sound great at any speed.
The sounds here follow on from those on the many other records of his we've reviewed, like some sort of minimal DIY krautrock, or a band like Avarus, populated exclusively by homebuilt noise making robots, all assembled from turntables, it is unbelievable to hear these sounds and know they were designed and planned by Hess, but it's the machines that are creating these gorgeous hypnotic rhythmscapes.
Hypnotic, repetitive, cyclical, but always shifting subtly, crackle, scrape, rumble, hiss, skip, all deftly arranged into propulsive grooves, the rubber bands offering up melody, strange rubbery tones, percussive, but definitely melodic, while the turntable itself, when not striking or plucking the bands, unleashes strange grinding rhythms, peppered with percussive scapes, haunting textural whirs, the rhythms almost tribal, often skeletal and sparse, but just as often dense and layered, when the records are included in the sound making, the various manipulated grooves, spit out even more strange clicks and moans and bleeps and even some strangely appropriate counter rhythms.
Absolutely fantastic stuff, we would imagine as amazing to see as to hear, lucky for us, there's a good chance, Hess will be in the US soon, and will hopefully be visiting aQ for a demonstration / performance.

Friday, June 4, 2010

New Arrivals #347

Man, we're cranking 'em out! Got this one done pretty early, too. Looky here.

Records Of The Week:

THE CARETAKER "Persistent Repetition Of Phrases" (History Always Favors The Winners) cd $17.98
Finally repressed on cd, this blurred, gloriously sprawling, murky, looped and mesmeric ghostjazz dreamscape songsuite!
EMERALDS "Does It Look Like I'm Here?" (Editions Mego) cd/2lp $16.98/$27.00
More kosmische kraut drone explorations from these long time aQ faves, gorgeous glowing spaced out ambience, now in pop song sized chunks!
PIANOS BECOME THE TEETH "Old Pride" (Top Shelf) cd $10.98
Modern day screamo meets, brooding slow build post rock, majestic and epic and chaotic and emo(tional)!
MASTER MUSICIANS OF BUKKAKE "Totem Two" (Important) cd/lp $14.98/$21.00
Ominously, exotically evocative cinematic ambience, "Sun City Girls meet latter-day Earth".