The Rummage

Tag: A minus

. issue XXIII : ii .

. artist : the apples .
. album : kings .
. year : 2010 .
. label : freestyle .
. grade : a minus .

TheApples

The Apples are a nine-piece band from Tel Aviv, Israel playing a unique style of global funk, soul and instrumental hip hop that’s equally influenced by middle eastern music, James Brown, dub and J Dilla. Cool instrumentation: four horns, bass violin, drum kit, two turntablists and live effects at the soundboard (no digital samplers or digital anything) is a great configuration for their clever writing (for example, “In The Air” is a composition that grows out of a sample from the Meters-Toussaint-Lee Dorsey classic “Occapella”) and groove-based improvisations. On this release (their second for Freestyle), they collaborate with two disparate musical giants: trombonist Fred Wesley (tracks 1-4), famous for his work with both James Brown and George Clinton, and vocalist Shlomo Bar (tracks 5-8), whose band HaBrera HaTeevit was a pioneer of world music in Israel. This band is new to me and I’m totally impressed – big ideas plus funky grooves plus killer horn lines and solos equals a totally Global A Go-Go concept. Bravo!

by Bill Lupoletti

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. issue XXII : vi .

. artist : 156 .
. album : taking a look at a moment lost .
. year : 2013 .
. label : chondritic sound .
. grade : a minus .

156
Help! Chondritic Sound keeps releasing things I’m scared to listen to in the dark!

This offering recreates a Bedlam, an apothecary shoppe, the cult of the dead in Japanese Buddhism, ossuaries, cenotes of cesious waters, long barrows and vaulted catacombs like unshorn ribs. Worse, it recreates something of the heart-clenching experience, in the fine spirit of autopsy — which literally means “to see for oneself.”

It conjures a place we indeed see for ourselves, except without specification. It could be one of many, and it’s terrifyingly up to the listener’s imagination. But it’s a place of the endless ideas we have about medicine, cult, and the closed spaces in which rituals of life and death are conducted. The pall over Lost is the stench of the dead from a dead time. Though it’s unclear to me if Lost can be understood as a properly cohesive album, that is, a sequence, the listener’s brain can’t help but turn it into foley for a imaginative narrative teetering on the tectonic shifts from burlesque to the particulate heavy scent of incense-laden stale air, from overtone chanting to the total, terrible solitude cata tumbas.

by Brittany Tracy

. issue XXI : iv .

. artist : maston .
. album : shadows .
. year : 2013 .
. label : trouble in mind .
. grade : a minus .

maston

Maston’s Shadows sounds like a non-sinister accompaniment to Seurat’s Sideshow, part twangy musak with a spaghetti twist, part psych-folk magnificently-layered wedding cake. Most songs clock in around 2 minutes, like lovely postcards with Maston’s aesthetic written all over; for instance, as with his song-title choices, see “flutter,” “alabaster” and “strange.” Like an ephemeral polka of a clippity clap, the cadence is empyrean kitsch, magnified and refracted at each level thousandfold, ‘til encompassing in scope. Shadows is an album of freakily chipper pomp and circumstance, the flushed and vivid glow of floridly orchestrated jangles, the tangy organ against the bah-bums of tuba and bass drum, the twinkle of xylophone and bright guitar.

Standout “Young Hearts” is a dapper, theramin-and-horn-laden cakewalk, possessed by the weird resonance of Davy Graham’s psych-folky guitar and a bell-horned, candelabra-ed, tableclothed parlor shimmy of taxidermic waltz. Maston’s voice shimmers like a dapper, heart-rending lovechild of Ben Gibbard and Fred Neil as he croons, “I know your heart is true, because mine is too,” both bedroom-raw and old fashion debonair.

Lovely and discordant, Shadows is a timecapsule gem (both transcendentally eternal and chintzily dated) wrapped in tissue paper rind ivoried with age, smelling of sunlit attic musk, and sounding with the wonky, honest croon of a music box. Both stiltedly arcane and insanely accessible, it’s a bouquet of white peonies, baby’s breath, garlands and heather that waft a hypnotic, phosphorescent vapor. Its suffused production is exceptional: baroque, cinereal and as emotive as the cover, its sleepy-eyed slit of sun rolling over under the hills among impressionist amaranthine swathes of cloud and ground.

by Brittany Tracy

. issue XX : iv .

. artist : le super borgou de parakou .
. album : the bariba sound 1970-1976 .
. year : 2012 .
. label : analog africa .
. grade : a minus .

Super Borgou

Following in the footsteps of Analog Africa’s archival work on Benin’s Orchestre Poly-Rythmo De Cotonou, here’s a band with some striking similarities from northern Benin, part of the territory that label head Samy Ben Redjeb has begun referring to as the “Islamic Funk Belt” (a region that also includes northern Ghana, Togo and Nigeria). Like Poly-Rythmo, Super Borgou’s sound is rooted in the traditional rhythms of Benin — in the latter’s case, mainly those of the Bariba and Dendi ethnic groups (“Guessi-Guéré-Guessi” is an excellent example). As professional musicians, both bands were accustomed to playing what people wanted to hear, which helps explain why both were fluent in the Cuban-derived Congolese styles that were so popular all over Africa (“Bori Yo Se Mon Baani” and “Abere Klouklou,” for example). And as American soul and Nigerian afrobeat made inroads, their influences were added to the mix as well (“Gandigui” and “Bininhounnin,” respectively). The end result was a fully modern rural band, simultaneously local and global in outlook. They may have been overlooked previously (as far as I can tell, only one song of theirs had been reissued before now), but they won’t be any longer thanks to this excellent release.

by Bill Lupoletti

. issue XX : iii .

. artist : kohwi .
. album : hidden trees .
. year : 2010 .
. label : black tent .
. grade : a minus .

Kohwi

In case it’s been a while since your hard heart got to be in love with the tremulous, warm, ether-borne fantasia of Panda Bear’s Person Pitch, pre-pretension, the spunky sap of Kohwi’s Hidden Trees might be just what the metacultural music doctor ordered. It’s an appreciatively substantive approach to the sort of free-floating freak folk whimsy of the past decade, and, in being so delightful, also functions as an antidote.

by Brittany Tracy

. issue XX : i .

. artist : the funkees .
. album : dancing time: the best of eastern nigeria’s afro rock exponents 1973-77 .
. year : 2012 .
. label : soundway .
. grade : a minus .

Funkees

The Funkees have been featured on three of Soundway’s Nigeria Special compilations; now that label presents a full-length retrospective of this fine band. Hailing from Aba in east Nigeria, the band’s future members fought on Biafra’s side in the Nigerian Civil War and were sponsored by the army after the war. They developed a hard-hitting Afro-rock sound, heavily influenced by American and British bands, and similar to that of Lagos-based bands like MonoMono and BLO. The band cut a series of singles, then relocated to London in 1973 where they released two albums and a few 45s before disbanding in 1977. This album collects all of the Nigerian singles, including their most famous song (“Dancing Time”), a superb War cover (“Slipping Into Darkness”), and a groovy jam (“Acid Rock”) that sounds like a perfect B-side. From the albums, you get heavy Santana-influenced rock (“Abraka”) and equally heavy social commentary (“Mimbo”) along with other goodness. This is a really well-curated compilation of a band that deserves the wider recognition it’s received in the last few years.

by Bill Lupoletti

. issue XVII : v .

. artist: tabloid .
. album : access ch. 1 .
. year : 2013 .
. label : chondritic sound .
. grade : a minus .

Tabloid

A/V DIY duo Tabloid are Philip Geraldi (of Shock Tropics and Mystics in Bali) and Luke Molloy (of Piles and Anxient Demond). If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know, they’re running a collaborative venue and sensational sound show in Northern California called — wait for it — ‘mexnwow.’ Now they’ve released a debut on that nefariously squalid, quote “founded in the bleakness of Michigan” unquote industrial noise cassette label Chondritic Sound. Access Ch. 1 has cramped twin tracks in its womb, each running about 19 minutes, sharing a marked resemblance but emergent as nothing if not idiosyncratic. Tabloid’s compositional scheme is to evolve without resolving, instead parsing static and reconnoitering tonal multiplicities near the crunchy event horizon of AM radio, unspooling film noir in Technicolor lullabies, and chittering on its record-go-round. Gurgling mesmeric through its own progressive upbuilding and erosion, Access Ch. 1 is silt salty in a vacillating tidal wash where slow-heaving geysers settle steam and a drone-chanter, manacle-clanking procession falls in line. It’s a strident, stygian, annealing piece of too-serious kitsch, intent and majestic. Also, when visitors to the album page list their favorite track as “Side A,” you know you’ve got something good.

by Brittany Tracy

. issue XVII : i .

. artist : sekouba bambino .
. album : the griot’s craft .
. label : sterns .
. year : 2012 .
. grade : a minus .

Bambino

Sekouba “Bambino” Diabate is best known for his years singing with Guinee Conakry’s number one band, Bembeya Jazz National, and for his work with pan-African salsa combo Africando. Arguably Guinee’s best-known musical export, here he is working in the classic Mande griot style that he learned in his youth. For my money, no living singer handles this genre better than Sekouba Bambino – his voice is powerful and just plain gorgeous. The band is all acoustic and large: three guitarists, two ngoni players and one kora, plus percussion and background singers. Legendary producer Ibrahim Sylla supervised this project, and it obviously had a big enough budget so that the job could get done in a first-class manner. Kudos to lead guitarist Djessou Mory Kante for his elegant, sophisticated arrangements. Believe it or not, this is the first record of this type (acoustic, string-driven Mande griot) that Sekouba Bambino has ever made under his own name. More, please.

by Bill Lupoletti