Plastikman, Musik: Hey, you know that super hip minimal/german/glitch/dubstep/new acid/Villalobos whatever disc you've been rockin' ever since you found out about it on Boomkat? Well, I'd wager that your record wouldn't sound exactly the same if it wasn't for the contributions of underappreciated 90's minimal producer Richie Hawtin, aka Plastikman. Kicking off his career as a DJ in the early/mid 90's, Hawtin concentrated on acid house as he began to dive into the depths of the dark, robotic minimalism that could be found in much of the Detroit techno and Chicago house that inspired him. The following track off of his acclaimed 1994 album Musik is one of its shortest, but the textures are fantastic and the mood is only slightly more striking than how ahead of its time it sounds-- a lot of today's fashionable techno clearly seems to be borrowing from his approach.
High Places, various singles and Myspace tracks: If you've ever wished that the Blow sounded more like Gang Gang Dance without losing the pop, you might be interested in High Places' sweet, psychedelic beach sound. I honestly don't know a whole lot about these Brooklynites (don't hold their home base against them), but with the blog success of bands like Beach House and albums like Person Pitch, I wouldn't be surprised if these folks started to get a little more attention in the coming months for their haunting vocals and Brian Wilson on heroin production choices. Very nice stuff.
Blue Orchids- Greatest Hit (Money Mounatin): I accidentally discovered Blue Orchids when I realized that a Slovenly song I really liked was originally performed by them. Since it was one of my favorite Slovenly tracks, I was immediately intrigued and set out to find the album of origin. It turned out that two members of Blue Orchids were founding members of The Fall, which is only obvious half the time. The other half is spent on winding, psyche-organ passages and some outright pretty melodies. This track tends to be the latter and a friend of mine remarked that it reminded her of Felt as well as The Kinks. The reissue of their first album along with some random 7-inch stuff is worth looking for, if only for a version of "All Tomorrow's Parties" that has the group backing up Nico and produced by Martin Hannett. How's that for being almost pornographically cool?
"Bad Education" LINK
...Of Death- Build A Bridge And Get Over It: A fixture of Texas Hardcore shows from 2000 until 2003, Fort Worth's ...Of Death would have been a great band just based on the completely unpredictable structures and intensity that tempered their spastic blast, grind and thrash attack. And then there's the issue of the vocals. So inhuman, to hear them is to feel as if you're being attacked by a sky full of hummingbirds with whirring power drills for beaks. That will make more sense when you hear this track. I say it's an issue because some people are bound to not understand the appeal of this, like all great art. Best local vocalist ever? Probably. I'd pay these guys two hundred bucks out of my own pocket to reunite for one show. The singer is now a DJ in Chicago and some of the remaining members are in The Chimeneas. I'm a total poser for always meaning to see them live and never actually going.
"Chewing On Tin Foil" Link
Slovenly- We Shoot For The Moon: Just for good measure, a track by the aforementioned Slovenly. They somewhat defy what one might think of when someone mentions 80's SST. Their melodic guitar noodling and hyper-literate lyrics sound like a logical lead in to Polvo and similar 90's acts that followed. We Shoot For The Moon is considered their best record by the seemingly few followers they have. It has a drive and focus not found on earlier efforts and then charmingly throws that all away for the unexpected cover (Neil Young, Blue Orchids) or a twenty minute extended medley of beautiful synth instrumentals, noise experiments and harsher live material. I've owned this record for years and it still surprises me.
"Running For Public Office" LINK
Lizzy Mercier Descloux- Press Color: This is a compilation of French born Lizzy Mercier Descloux's early work, including the confrontational No Wave she performed under the Rosa Yemen moniker. No matter how detuned or alienating, there is something very lovely about Descloux's vocals. This track simultaneously sounds like No Wave-era punk and 60's French Ye-Ye female vocalists. Her later work revealed her to be a worldbeat innovator, and though that material can border on cheesy, her voice usually saves it.