"The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the very first time." - Friedrich Nietzsche
Bjorn Torske - KokOn his new EP Kok, occasional Röyksopp collaborator, Bjørn Torske relies on our abilities to remember, rather than forget, as the spur to engagement with and enjoyment of his music. Concerned, amongst other things, with aural and spacial effects, the record is born of experimentation with different instruments, objects, and their sonic footprints within different acoustic spaces. Merging a lo-fi folk aesthetic with elements of outsider experimentation this is an interesting progression from his last release of 2007, Feil Knapp. Whether through voice, instruments, or electronically-produced sounds, these emissions are deployed and recorded in various spaces to form an inspirational trigger in the creative process. Through this process of what is known as "worldizing", Torske seeks to escape the straitjacket of reverb plug-ins whose room emulations and mathematical logarithms are often predictable.

Tape Recorder And Synthesizer Ensemble - T.R.A.S.E. Musician Interview
Manchester in 1981 was a grim place. Shuttered factories butted up against derelict lots, as dole queues wrapped around the block. A recession was rocking England; inter-class tension was running high, which would finally erupt into full-on riots in the summer of that year. Here, amidst the ruins of the Industrial Revolution, the future was being born. Factory Records was in full swing, defining what would become post-punk and new-wave. The synthpop of Duran Duran, New Order and the Human League was floating on the breeze, as The Fall were quoting sci-fi dystopians like William S. Burroughs. Being a kid at the time, Andy Popplewell was largely unaware of his bleak surroundings. He had his own struggles, like losing his father at the age of ten. An interest in music and electrical engineering helped him cope. Popplewell experienced the same media that much of '60s and '70s Britain did; he was reared with the music of Star Trek and Doctor Who, beginning his love of electronic music from an early age, and a rich, active imagination. Inspired by the synthetic sounds of the day and engineering magazines full of DIY projects, Andy Popplewell resolved to build a modest studio in his bedroom, with funds raised from odd jobs and a paper route, and the Tape Recorder And Synthesizer Ensemble (T.R.A.S.E.) was born.

There has been much lamentation and gnashing of teeth about the decaying music industry, with many opinions and conversations about what to do about it. If you were to believe the soothsayers, we'll be reduced to a generation of SoundCloud demoes and buskers in 10 years' time. We may not know what will come, but it's not worth bemoaning the point. True musicians and record labels, the ones who are in it for the love and the art of the thing, are rolling up their shirtsleeves and getting down to work. Crossing Lines: An NX Records CompilationEnter NX Records, a collaboration between Goldsmith's, University of London's music department and Matthew Herbert's Accidental Records. Students and alumni are actively involved in the release of music, not just as musicians, but also in all aspects, including marketing, legal and administrative. Some recent graduates of the program include Mercury Prize winner James Blake, as well as members of Nigel Godrich's Ultraista, so this is no fly-by-night operation. Crossing Lines is the inaugural transmission. ranging from airy, experimental pop to widescreen anthemic rock, with all points in between, wrapped in a rather spiff map of the New Cross area that NX Records calls home. Crossing Lines manages to sound both classic and hypermodern; super-polished to raw, immediate and lo-fi.

Vex Ruffin - Self-Titled (Stones Throw Records)Vex Ruffin Vex Ruffin Stones Throw RecordsVex Ruffin's music has been variously described as "post-punk", "minimal", "gnarly", "primitive" and "a loose end". It is all of these descriptions and much, much more. An artist who began making music in his bedroom on his own, using an SP-303 sampler, Ruffin was scooped up by the label Stones Throw after sending in a speculative demo. Subsequently he took his pared back reductionist genre-splitting music on the road with a four-piece band, taking in shows at SXSW and Coachella. With influences including labelmate Madlib and P.I.L.-era Johnny Rotten, he produces music that is a reflection of the ordinariness and mundanity of his day job driving trucks for UPS and living amongst suburban monotony.

SadoDaMascus Records Summer Copulation Anybody who spends any significant amount of time listening to electronic music knows that the REAL action takes place across mixtapes, 12"s, DJ mixes, remixes, EPs and SoundCloud. By the time an artist gets around to releasing a Long Player, they've been toiling away for years, working out the kinks and wrinkles. Singles and SoundClouds are where the true cutting edge of the electronic world happen. But digging out gems from the datastream can be a full-time job, if not a miracle, what with trying to separate the ore of genius from the millions of sub-par trap remixes extant. Enter Portland's SadoDaMascus Records, the publishing arm of the Sonic Debris Multimedia collective, who have been panning for audio gold in Portland's electronic underground with their seasonal Copulation mixtapes since summer of 2012. Wait, wait... I know what you're thinking. Electronic underground? It exists, lurking in basements and run down saloons all over Stumptown, but it can be hard to find for the uninitiated, making what SDM do such a necessary and much appreciated public service. 2013's Summer Copulation features 20 tracks by 10 different artists, a real wormhole of retroactive radiophonic real-time audio manipulation. The styles run the gamut of the entire underground, from straight-up digital noise, to trance-y rock 'n roll; grimey introverted hip-hop to synthwave sequencer worship. This collection is a good introduction to what's going on in the electronic underground, all over the world -- not just in the City Of Roses -- so it's a good place to start out, if you love beats, but are burned out by dancefloors, and the inevitable ecstatic crash.

When I was younger, I used to think that I'd live to like in another era, preferably one where the music was more akin to my own tastes. When I really think about it, however, a collector like me can only thrive in the digital era. Rarities are too hard to find otherwise; if there's only a bare handful of copies of a record in existence, the odds of finding it are much smaller. The internet is the great equalizer if you're looking for something obscure, as it's brought together the collectors into one community. Here's a few of my suggestions for getting your musical fix: Linda Perhacs, Charlie Christian, Earl Hines, Tampa Red, and Mississippi Fred McDowell.
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Linda Perhacs

Linda PerhacsMost of my music falls on the older side, but I think that I have fairly broad tastes in music nonetheless. Psychedelia is an area of interest for me because I like the idea of widening one's perception of reality, and I like the sense of something that's otherworldly – especially when it's not too electronic and is more on the acoustic side. This is what drew me to Linda Perhacs. Finding information on her can be difficult because she spent a great deal of time in obscurity. She became known for a single album in 1970, Parallelograms. The album sold poorly and the record label, Kapp, didn't want to promote it, so she returned to work as a dental technician for three decades while her record became a hot collectible item, completely unbeknownst to her. She was recently rediscovered and has two additional albums waiting to be released.
Every article I can find on her compares her to Joni Mitchell, which is beyond the scope of this article. Her style isn't simple so much as stripped down to its most essential pieces. The melodies can be atonal at times, preventing the music from being too atonal, but it's never so out there that it becomes off-putting. "Dolphin," "Parallelogram" and "Moons and Cattails" are my favorite songs of hers. Linda Perhacs - "Dolphin" [audio:/mp3/Linda-Perhacs_Dolphin.mp3|titles=Linda Perhacs - Dolphin] Linda Perhacs - "Moon and Cattails" [audio:/mp3/Linda-Perhacs_Moon-And-Cattails.mp3|titles=Linda Perhacs - Moon and Cattails] Linda Perhacs - "Parallelograms" [audio:/mp3/Linda-Perhacs_Parallelograms.mp3|titles=Linda Perhacs - Parallelograms]  

Charlie Christian (1916 – 1942)

Charlie ChristianCharlie Christian is one of the greatest guitar players jazz has produced, and to say that he is forgotten is in error. He's well-known among jazz aficionados for having played with some of the greatest musicians of his time -- but he's still relatively unknown among the public at large. He died young, from tuberculosis at the age of 25, and he never fronted a large orchestra or well-known group. However, he played a critical role in the development of bebop. Christian grew up in Oklahoma City and made a name for himself as a local talent. He was mentioned to John Hammond, Benny Goodman's record producer and a keen talent scout, who then introduced him to Goodman. Goodman didn't care for Christian at first and tried to throw him off during their first live performance by playing a song, "Rose Room", that he thought Christian wouldn't know. Christian ended up leading the group on a forty minute rendition of the song, earning him a spot in Goodman's orchestra. While in Goodman's group, Christian often led late-night jam sessions at New York clubs. These musicians were interested in expanding jazz's musical boundaries and included Thelonious Monk, Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker, Don Byas and others. He died in 1942 but left behind some live recordings that show where he was headed musically. "Rose Room," the song that earned Christian a spot in Goodman's group, is a good song to get an idea of Christian's technique. His stated goal was to play like a tenor saxophonist, and he often played in a style similar to Lester Young. "Flying Home" is another classic of the Goodman sextet and features some of Christian's best work. Finally, if you want to hear what Christian was doing to help develop bebop, listen to "Swing to Bop", where he solos for the first two minutes in a jam session at Minton's in New York. Charlie Christian - "Flying Home" [audio:/mp3/Charlie-Christian_Flying-Home.mp3|titles=Charlie Christian - Flying Home] Charlie Christian - "Swing To Bop" [audio:/mp3/Charlie-Christian_Swing-To-Bop.mp3|titles=Charlie Christian - Swing To Bop]

Ghost & Goblin SUPERHORRORCASTLELAND Self-Released
FADE IN: EXT. A RAINY URBAN ALLEY NIGHT Thunder crashes and illuminates the face of an anxious man who appears to be in his mid-20s. He's soaked from the relentless rain and seems to be looking for an address. Finding the right one, he bangs on the old wooden door. The door gives way and creaks open. He steps inside and it slams behind him, the sound of the storm replaced by the sound of rats scurrying. In the darkness he encounters (a monster? a ghost? a goblin?) that makes a terrifying growl. The sounds of the man scampering away indicate abject terror -- and a likely loss of continence. The man recovers himself and hears a pipe organ playing behind the door at the end of the hall. Investigating, he opens the door, the music grows louder and we find ourselves in... INT. MAD SCIENTIST LAB NIGHT
Seem like a strange way to start a music review? Well, it's a pretty strange way to start an album, but that didn't seem to bother Ghost & Goblin, the macabre-music-making, lo-fi loving, NYC-based team of Nicholas DiMichele and Spencer Synwolt. In fact, it's the perfect spooky entrée to an album filled with noises that go bump in the night -- like fuzzed-out angry electric guitars, bashing drums and synthesized beeps, bleats and buzzes of every stripe.

 

Dim Past - Black Dolphin Album ReviewDim Past Black Dolphin Other Electricities / Roofless Records Dim Past probably isn't going to get too much DJ love for his new EP, Black Dolphin. That's not a statement about the quality of the music therein, mind you -- nor do I mean to suggest that it isn't danceable. The thing is that this lo-fi rager sounds like the shredded fragments of techno waveforms managing to escape from the confines of your local basement show's shitty PA speakers. Where many modern producers aim for precision and clarity, hoping to have their babies pushed out through Funktion-One speakers or blasted into miles of Euro festival goers, Black Dolphin is submerged under a dank ass layer of lo-fi resin more commonly found caked around Bay Area psych rock tapes and ultra-limited hardcore 7"s. I mention those unrelated genres because while there are certainly people out there making harsh techno (Regis and Marcel Dettman come to mind), it's been a while since electronic dance music has sounded this DIY; the record has the feel of Surgeon's Force+Form in terms of presentation. Case in point is lead track "Ghostlord Masterclock", a 4/4 stomper that shreds with the intensity of Jeff Mills' dystopian Waveform Transmissions. The track says something about the adrenal dump of techno in its rawest form; this is the way it sounds in your gut rather than your ears after hours of sweating under the glare of a nonstop kick drum pounding on the one. It also serves as a wonderful example of the American underground's turn towards EDM. Where once our oscillators churned out heaps of white noise into surrealist oblivion, recent years have seen those feedback loops start to wrap themselves around that instantly recognizable beat -- that not only harkens back to the club, but to the instinctual metronomic pulse on which we humans have based our movements since time immemorial.

 

The lingering spectre of Bohemia is alive and well on this Thursday evening, cloistered in a mysterious pocket of SE Portland. This show is an invite-only occasion in a tiny house venue, lit up and resplendent in candle flame and shadow. Four stellar acts, firmly underground but rising rapidly, quickly and firmly destroy any lingering retrophilia, that destructive nostalgia that leaves cultural explorers feeling hopeless and defeated. The feeling that everything has been done before, done better, by our parents, our older siblings, our neighbors and bosses. Can it be that there are actually GIANTS among us, living saints and martyrs, sacrificing all in living rooms and kosher delis the world over? Every act that plays this cozy living room show is distinctive, with something passionate and personal to transmit.
July 18th, 2013 @ Dream's Outer Space in Portland, Oregon

Wizard Apprentice

First up is Wizard Apprentice (formerly known as Fat Transfer), from Oakland, CA. My friends and I come in during the tail end of her performance, lulled, hypnotized, and mesmerized by her loop-oriented, disembodied soul music. She plays with backing tapes, vaguely karaoke style, with layers and loops of her own voice, making a spectral chorus out of thin air. Talk about "an army of me"! She unknowingly answers a few questions I'd been having regarding arrangements and structure, and my mind is whizzing with new ideas by the time she extinguishes her wicks. She's got a new album out on Bandcamp, seems to be a formidable talent with a distinctive vision to communicate, so you'd be advised to get in on the ground floor, and check out this newcomer.  

Amassing rare and forgotten music is a peculiar sort of hobby -- one that slowly transforms into an addiction. It's not that I don't love mainstream music. It's just that the thrill of listening to some forgotten gem that everybody else has overlooked is powerful. It also feeds into the collector's impulse I have to overturn every stone to find that song, and my love of complete collections. Not surprisingly, I also like to collect comic books. I guess I'm the type. In any event, here are five lesser-known musicians that I believe everybody should give a listen to, dating as far back as the 1910s and focusing on jazz, folk, and blues.

Don Byas (1912 – 1972)

I discovered Don Byas entirely by accident. I was listening to a Charlie Christian fan recording made in 1941, which was a musician's after-hours gig. There was a tenor saxophone present for some of the songs that sounded so much like Coleman Hawkins that I read the liner notes to see if it was him – only to discover that it wasn't the Hawk, but a guy named Don Byas. I quickly borrowed all the Don Byas CDs I could request and immediately got into him. His playing consistently impressed me, just as it did on that initial Charlie Christian album. Early bebop musicians like Byas were rooted in Swing traditions but wanted to play around with harmonic structure in their songs and experiment, which for me is a "best of both worlds" situation. Don Byas should be on the list of brilliant tenor saxophone players, among Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young and Sonny Rollins. In collaboration with Hawkins, he made what are considered to be the first Bebop recordings in 1944. Yet he is frequently omitted in jazz history courses, in books and in documentaries, meaning that newer fans of jazz might miss him entirely. Part of this is because Byas lived in Europe from 1945 onward and rarely visited the United States, giving him a large European audience but a smaller American fanbase. You might start by checking out the song that got me hooked: "Stardust" with Charlie Christian.
Purchase Don Byas Albums On Amazon ++ LEARN MORE ABOUT DON BYAS Don Byas - "1944 Stomp" [audio:/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Don-Byas_1944-Stomp.mp3|titles=Don Byas - 1944 Stomp] Don Byas - "Byas A Drink" [audio:/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Don-Byas_Byas-A-Drink.mp3|titles=Don Byas - Byas A Drink]