Constellation Canada LP
The absurdly talented Carla Bozulich’s nomadic recording personae share one distinction: fearlessness. It’s possible she doesn’t always know where she’s headed, but she always sounds as if she’ll get there even if it kills her. Lucky for us she releases the soundtracks to those travels, and…well, Boy might not an easy road, but when you get to the last song, you’re probably not going to regret the journey.
Folks expecting the near-perfect dissipation of, say, the ‘Fibbers’ Lost Somewhere Between the Earth and My Home may find this album disappointing, or at least disorienting. Bozulich claims this is her “pop” album, and, unlike some of the more recent (and anarchic) output of the largely-improvisational Evangelista, there are song structures here…they’re just not the verse-bridge-chorus sort. These are more of the tone poem variety, both musically and lyrically.
Bozulich is an acquired taste. She has one of the most distinctive, dusky and soulful voices around — I’d rather hear her than Cassandra Wilson on a good system, and I love Cassandra Wilson — and turning the lights down and allowing these strange songs to wash over you a few times is a rewarding thing.
Here’s Carla collaborating with Aidan Baker last year:
…and the mighty Geraldine Fibbers (w/Nels Cline on guitar) in 1997
Warp UK LP
To bastardize an Oblique Strategies card: Sometimes repetition isn’t a form of change.
I might’ve liked this had it been released, say, around 1985 — because, partly, it sounds as though that was when it could have been recorded. The modular, faux-African cyber-ratchet pastiche of “DBF” and “Time To Waste It” could have been bonus-track leftovers from the 2009 reissue of Bush of Ghosts. There are a couple high-water marks. “Lilac’”s high-life rhythms and Eno’s lilting, double-tracked vocal are sweet enough. I just wish there was more of substance here.
A lot of youngsters cribbed at Brian’s virtual knee throughout the eighties and nineties — and are now doing stuff much better and, much more innovative. Another Day on Earth (2005) is the only thing Eno’s done that’s wowed me since his Wrong Way Up collaboration with John Cale in 1990. No, I don’t insist he record another Another Green World. But I wouldn’t mind a bit more elbow grease in the composition and execution.
Mitigating factor: High Life has more going for it that its predecessor from earlier this year, Someday World.
Waxwork Records reissue LP
This is a lovely tip-on sleeve gatefold package documenting the score to the 1968 Polanski film. Inside is a very clean, 180-gram clear vinyl LP remastered from the original tapes — which are, apparently, a tad “toppy” and sibilant, as befits their era. Opening with Mia Farrow’s plaintive “La-la-la-la-la” main title theme, the album charts a minor-key course through appropriately eerie terrain, alternating from dreamy to unsettling to downright nightmarish. Along with the original Wicker Man soundtrack, the 60s never sounded quite so disturbingly and convincingly creepy. In a good way, of course.
Anthology Recordings/Mexican Summer reissue 2xLP
The goofy, hippie-chick gush of “Paper Mountain Man” possesses that rare, weird quality of being immediately recognizable, yet I was sure I’d never heard it before. And the more experimental tracks sound like Kim Fowley’s bad dreams.
The rest of it? Championed (as was Vashti Bunyan, whom Linda sometimes recalls) by Devendra Banhart, Parallelograms’ gentle psych-folk forays are a window on the late-60s Topanga Canyon scene. If Linda’d had the right management and 25% as much ambition as Judee Sill, she could’ve been as popular as the latter — which, admittedly, isn’t a very high bar. Like Joni Mitchell and Sill, Linda apparently admired the layered vocal arrangements on the first CSN album and did her multi-tracking best to emulate them here.
When Linda bears down and leaves the goofy out, she can come across more akin to a female Tim Buckley, minus his (or Joni’s) poetic economy. On this beautifully-packaged gatefold double-LP reissue of a much-ignored 1970 release, Perhac’s fussily-enunciated, overly-vibrato’d wordiness is a feature, not a bug, however, and helps make this album more than just a curiosity.
Charles Hayward, Smell of Metal
Kemaa UK 2×12”
This Heat drummer Hayward is the minimalist master of high-hat-propelled, droning tension. He played all the instruments on his 1990 CD Skew-Whiff – A Tribute To Mark Rothko, and two tracks from the album appear (I believe) on vinyl here, 14 years later, for the first time. “Lopside” is as off-kilter as its title might indicate, even by Hayward standards. The pacing never really gels, and you get the feeling that was the intention. On the title song, varying high, airy drones flirt amid Hayward’s preternaturally punctual, slap-back-delay drumming and a Percy-Jones-esque burping, percussive bass.
Sides three and four are remixes of the first disc’s tunes. “Lopside” is further tweaked by JD Twitch in a stuttering, rhythmically-fucked manner. “Smell of Metal” gets a Maxmillion Dunbar club treatment and subtly builds to something easily danceable, yet still retains a pleasingly alienated vibe. The whole thing’s tied up in a rough-grain black-and-white sleeve enclosing two 12” 45RPM German-pressed discs.
Third Man/Reprise LP
Immediately following a Kickstarter-centered media campaign launching funding of his high-resolution Pono player/service, Young jumped into Jack White’s record-an-LP-while-you-wait booth and rush released a tinny bit of vinyl sporting all cover versions.
As you might expect, the choices are high quality. Bert Jansch’s “Needle Of Death” finally gets its due, after Young repeatedly acknowledged copping its main guitar figure for the best song Bob Dylan never wrote, On The Beach‘s “Ambulance Blues”. But, other than that, and a couple other tunes (um, “Girl From the North Country” and an appropriately maudlin honky-tonk rendering of Tim Hardin’s “Reason to Believe”, and a touching spoken intro and outro addressed to his late mother), this comes across as a dashed-off vanity project best left on the shelf.
One unsolicited suggestion to Neil and his label: don’t first sell a single LP on Record Store Day, then, five days later — after many of your fans stood in line at their favorite store to snag a copy — announce a deluxe $110 version consisting of the same “standard” LP (not a good recording, or a good pressing), a ““direct feed from the booth” audiophile” LP, seven 6” clear vinyl discs, a CD, a DVD, a book, and a download card. This is the sort of thing that might piss off some of your less understanding fans. All this says is that the box wasn’t ready in time for Record Store Day and, as a result, you sandbagged folks who shelled out $20 for the “standard” LP.
Signed, an understanding, not-at-all-bitter fan who won’t shell out for the ridiculous box set version and you can’t make me, neither.
PS: Maybe just buy the vinyl of this instead:
About the Author
Paul Ashby has been working in music retail and wholesale since 1980. He realizes this doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a smart person. He intermittently dotes upon his blog, Anything But MP3, and has contributed to PS Audio’s PS Tracks site and Tower Records’ PULSE! magazine.
Paul hoards vinyl and has been known to resemble a computer audio apologist, but he’s hardly ever defensive about it. He spends far too much time not putting his CD collection up for sale on Discogs. Among his other hobbies are wandering inexorably along the audiophile hardware upgrade path, Macintosh computer futzing, digital photography, cat herding, DIY landscaping, and trying to keep orchids and tropical plants alive. He insists on acknowledging that his sweetheart, Kate, cheerfully (and indispensably) helps prune some of the denser verbiage in his contributions here — although she evidently didn’t have much to do with this particular thatch of text.
Financial Interests: Content Management, Sales and Digital Media for Revolver USA. This catalog of material is not covered by his engagement with Part-Time Audiophile by agreement.