Staff Picks CDs: Best of 2018 -Part 1

A round-up of our favourite sounds from last year. Hopefully you will find a new artist to explore, or something you missed the first time around.

John’s Picks:
Konoyo.
The ninth record from Canadian electronic artist Tim Hecker is a sublimely beautiful work that sounds like lifting a veil to expose atomic and sub atomic processes at work, and is quite unlike anything else, including the previous Tim Hecker records.

 

Brainfeeder X : a 36-track compilation showcasing the past, present and future of the label.
With influences ranging across jazz, hip-hop, r ’n’ b, house, and electronica, the Brainfeeder sound is genuinely ground-breaking and this tenth anniversary double disc set shows why the label has grown from a small L.A. based underdog into a global cult phenomenon.

Wide awaaaaake!
The post punk influences are still plentiful, but the new album has a gloss of production that manages to expand their musical palette without losing the bands’ angular garage rock stance.

 

7.
Their most immersive, and possibly their most engaging, album to date with the usual gentle drum programming replaced by a thunderous live drummer that helps move this record into the deeper realms of dream pop inhabited by bands such as My Bloody Valentine.

 

Music for installations.
Brian Eno re-affirms his standing as the Grand Master of ambience with a stunning six disc set filled with gorgeous washes of bells and drones and unidentifiable luminous shimmers moving across widescreen stereo fields, beautiful, always different, yet always the same.

 

No sounds are out of bounds / The Orb.
The driving dub bass lines that propel each track are the only constants over a record that touches many bases, all peppered with The Orb’s distinctive humorous vocal samples, to create, arguably, the most commercially accessible and one of the best releases of their long and befuddling career.

 

Listening to pictures : pentimento volume one.
The former jazz trumpet player, who initiated the idea of the “Fourth World” alongside Brian Eno on 1980’s ‘Possible Musics’, has released, at 81 years old, a remarkable record when most others so long into their career are merely re-treading old ground.

 

The loneliest girl.
Difficult to pin down, AK pop chanteuse Chelsea Nikkel confounds with her fourth album of thoughtfully produced bitter sweet songs within which lurks a deceptively subversive baroque take on the pop format that is entertaining from start to finish.

 

The animal spirits / James Holden & the Animal Spirits.
UK electronic producer James Holden has been pushing the boundaries of electronica for most of his career and his most recent album, recorded live in the studio, treads a path far more akin to the wild transcendence of free jazz greats such as Pharaoh Sanders than any current electronic artists.

 

Infinite moment / The Field.
Swedish electronic producer Axel Willner, aka The Field, continues his musical pilgrimage chasing endless repetitive loops to an infinite beyond, creating a masterful album by one of the most original electronic producers active today.

 

Bottle it in.
Kurt Vile’s highly characteristic slacker Americana has by now become expertly crafted and, via the unusual sense of intimacy he is able to create, he maintains interest throughout this long album, which validates his cultural niche as the new millennium’s equivalent of artists such as R.E.M and Neil Young.

Suspiria : music for the Luca Guadagnino film.
This is definitely not sunday bar-b-que music, but the fine orchestral and choral arrangements, the creepy electronica and the gentle, sad, guitar based songs make for some great late night uneasy listening.

 

Toitū te pūoro.
Al Fraser, the Wellington musician and instrument maker takes the listener on a deep, dreamlike and evocative journey into the mysterious, mystical and unique sound worlds created by the ancient taonga puoro.

 

Shearwater drift / Al Fraser, Steve Burridge, Neil Johnstone.
A fully immersive sonic collage that, over 18 tracks, features Taongo Puoro within soundscapes created by synthesisers, percussion, treated samples and other instruments that is not an easy listen, at times it can be quite eerie, but the dark and ethereal ambient atmosphere is the perfect vehicle by which the mystery of these ancient instruments can be experienced.

Collapse.
This five track ep is the latest in a series of EPs that have followed Aphex Twin’s triumphant 2014 return with the album ‘Syro’ and is his most familiar so far, bearing all of the hallmarks of classic Aphex Twin electronica – frantic stuttered beats, rubbery bass lines, beautiful submerged melodies, evocative vocal samples and complex shifting arrangements.

Switched on volumes 1-3.
The UK post-rock pioneers, who have been on indefinite hiatus since 2010, are well on the way to becoming a cult band, with a worldwide dedicated fan base who refuse to accept that they are no more and re-releases like this help keep their myth alive, collecting the band’s three ‘90’s compilations of singles and rarities in one nifty box set.

Singles 1978-2016 / The Fall.
Made especially relevant by Mark E Smith’s 2018 demise, this excellent box set compiles, over seven discs, every single – both A and B sides – from one of the greatest indie bands ever – The Fall.

 

 

 

 

Enclosures 2011-2016.
South Island electronic composer Clinton Williams, aka Omit, is considered by many to be the perfect reclusive genius and this beautifully presented five disc box set, with a written intro from Bruce Russell, contains Omit’s most recent output, previously released as limited run CDRs all hand made by the artist.

The dreaming [2018].
‘The Dreaming’ was her fourth record sitting right in the middle of her transition from ‘pop star’ to ‘serious artist’ and both audiences and critics were slightly baffled at the time (it is referred to as her ‘mad’ album); she suffered nervous exhaustion after the year it took to make, but she produced an unrecognised masterpiece.

Shinji’s Picks:
Snow bound/ The Chills.
Thankfully Martin Phillipps’s health seems better now. Only 3 years after the widely acclaimed ‘Silver Bullets’, the Chills provides another stellar album. A quirky mysteriousness is still there but Phillipps is more mature and optimistic. He keeps his pop-craftmanship in great form and offers the melancholic yet bouncy sound with glorious melodies. It’s The Chills as good as it gets. Brilliant.

Lean on me.
Hello like before : the songs of Bill Withers.
To celebrate Bill Withers’ 80th birthday, two fantastic tribute albums came out late 2018 and they both offer wonderful listens. A star artist of Blue Note Records, Jose James has been performing Withers’ songs on stage, and the album ‘Lean on Me’ features his stoic vocal with deep, slow grooves created by his band. A neo-soul singer, Anthony David, who is often compared with Withers, takes a more straight forward approach, showing full love and respect to Withers. It’s been more than 3 decades since Withers walked away from the music industry, but his honest, caring-for-others songs may be something we need in the state of the world today.

Ventriloquism.
From the big names such as Prince, Tina Turner and Sade to the typical 80s hit by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, they are all songs from ‘85 to ‘90 (except TLC’s Waterfalls in ‘94). A cover album of the 80s R&B classics is rare and what Meschell Ndegeocello does with them is totally original. With the minimal arrangements, she and her band display superb performances and colour them with a murky textured otherworldly ambience. This is an exceptional cover album by the extraordinary artist.

Vortex / Sonar with David Torn.
Swiss jazz-progressive rock quartet Sonar has established an utterly unique sound – often playing in irregular time and creating a minimal stoic groove – and with this album featuring the one-of-a-kind guitarist David Torn, they seem to move to another level. Torn originally worked as a producer but ended up playing on all tunes as well, and brings a sonically inventive soundscape with huge improvisations on some tracks. It’s stoic yet dynamic, a marvellous risk-taking music.

Contra la indecisión / Bobo Stenson Trio.
This album was released in January 2018 but remains one of the best jazz recordings of the year. Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson is now in his 70s but his graceful lyricism shines more than ever and provides one of his finest albums. The trio shows a great cohesion and versatility and weaves beautiful stories. It’s music that grows inside of you like a good wine. Exquisite.

Mi mundo.
Cuban shining new star Brenda Navarrete infuses the traditional Afro-Cuban music with the modern stylish sound, and her debut album ‘Mi Mundo’ (My World) is full of thrilling moments. Navarrete’s expressive voice and her percussions lead the charge throughout, and the Cuban all-star supporting band shows amazing skills, creating smooth yet rich, dynamic grooves. Sensational.

All melody.
Plus.
German composer/pianist Nils Frahm has been a prominent post-classical music artist, and ‘All Melody’, which started with building his new studio, shows his exceptional talent as a producer as well as a player, exquisitely assembling a great variety of musical elements. Somewhere between techno, ambient and classical, it’s a beautifully executed, kaleidoscopic music. Frahm also joined the Danish electronica trio System with graceful keyboard plays. This is a wonderful collaboration, and System masterfully blends Frahm’s organic tones with their minimal yet rich soundscape, and makes it a mesmerising, ambient album.

Johann Sebastian Bach / Vikingur Olafsson.
As if making an ultimate Bach playlist, a young Icelandic pianist Vikingur Olafsson excellently juxtaposes Bach’s compositions, and tackles them from a variety of angles with fresh ideas. His pianism is sophisticated and refreshing, and brings out astonishingly colourful faces of Bach. This incredible Bach should reach beyond the classical music lovers like Glenn Gould did.

Another Box-sets Bonanza: New Arrival CDs

Plays Well With Others album cover

You won’t believe this… More box-sets have arrived in our CD collection! They include the super deluxe set of the Beatles (White Album) and the Eagles’ Legacy which contains 12 CDs, DVD and Blu-ray. Also, Kate Bush’s 2018 remastered series are all here now. Check them out!

Beatles – The Beatles (6CD)
“This is the first time The BEATLES (‘White Album’) has been remixed and presented with additional demos and session recordings. To create the new stereo and 5.1 surround audio mixes for The White Album, Martin and Okell worked with an expert team of engineers and audio restoration specialists at Abbey Road Studios in London. All the new White Album releases include Martin’s new stereo album mix, sourced directly from the original four-track and eight-track session tapes. Martin’s new mix is guided by the album’s original stereo mix produced by his father, George Martin.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Fleetwood Mac – 50 years : don’t stop
“Fleetwood Mac will celebrate a half century of music with a new 50 song collection that is the first to explore the group’s entire career, from their early days playing the blues, to their global success as one of the most-enduring and best-selling bands in rock history. The new compilation touches on every era in the band’s rich history and offers a deep dive into Fleetwood Mac’s expansive catalogue by bringing together essential tracks released between 1968 and 2013.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland [deluxe]
“This deluxe box set includes the original album, remastered by Bernie Grundman from the original analogue tapes. For the LP set, Grundman prepared an all-analogue, direct-to-disc vinyl transfer of the album, preserving the authenticity. Electric Ladyland: The Early Takes presents 20 demos and studio outtakes, including demos for song ideas Hendrix recorded himself on a reel-to-reel tape at the Drake Hotel, as well as early recording session studio takes featuring guest appearances from Buddy Miles, Stephen Stills and Al Kooper. Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live At the Hollywood Bowl 9/14/68 is part of Experience Hendrix’s Dagger Records official bootleg series.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Eagles – Legacy
“Deluxe box set containing 12 CDs, DVD and Blu-ray. Legacy includes all seven of the band’s studio albums, three live albums, and a compilation of singles and b-sides. It also includes two concert videos: Hell Freezes Over (DVD) and Farewell Tour: Live From Melbourne (Blu-ray).” (adapted from realgroovy.co.nz)

Phil Collins – Plays well with others
“Four CD set. 2018 collection containing tracks that Phil Collins recorded with other artists. Includes tracks by the Bee Gees, Philip Bailey, Paul McCartney, Brand X, Brian Eno, Robert Plant, Peter Gabriel and many others. Collins gained fame as both the drummer and lead singer for the rock band Genesis, and he also gained worldwide fame as a solo artist.” (adapted from realgroovy.co.nz)

Jethro Tull – This was: the 50th anniversary edition
“After several name changes, Jethro Tull played its first show as Jethro Tull in February 1968. Months later, Ian Anderson, Mick Abrahams, Glenn Cornick and Clive Bunker released the band’s debut – This Was. The album debuted at #10 on the U.K. album chart, but more important, it was the first step in a 50-year (and counting) journey that made Jethro Tull one of the world’s most successful progressive rock bands.To celebrate the album’s 50th anniversary, a special deluxe edition features original album and bonus tracks remixed in stereo by Steven Wilson, Live BBC sessions recorded in 1968 etc..” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Metallica – …And justice for all [3CD]
“Embossed & Debossed Expanded Edition of …And Justice for All includes 3 CDs featuring the newly remastered album + previously unreleased demos, rough mixes & live tracks. Includes a 28-page booklet.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Fleet Foxes – First collection 2006-2009
First Collection 2006–2009 spans the early days of Fleet Foxes’ career, including the self-titled debut album, plus the Sun Giant EP, The First EP (formerly a self-titled, very limited-edition, self-released EP), and B-sides & Rarities.” (adapted from realgroovy.co.nz)

Kate Bush – Hounds of love
“2018 Remastered reissue of Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love. This studio album has been fully remastered by Kate and James Guthrie. Released via Rhino.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

New local and international vinyl

Simulation Theory album cover

Check out some of these newly catalogued vinyl releases, including Tom Scott’s new project — Avantdale Bowling Club — which features some of New Zealand’s finest musicians, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Hanoi-recorded new album. Also, don’t miss Nick Cave’s side project Grinderman’s masterpiece which is a nice coloured vinyl.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra- IC-01 Hanoi
“While recording Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s latest release, Sex & Food, Ruban Nielson, his longtime collaborator Jacob Portrait and his brother Kody Nielson, found themselves in the Vietnamese city of Hanoi playing and recording with local musicians at Phu Sa Studios. The studio, normally used for traditional Vietnamese music, found the band jamming on sessions dubbed IC-01 Hanoi: exploring the outer edges of the band’s influences in Jazz, Fusion and the avant-garde.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Avantdale Bowling Club – Avantdale Bowling Club
“”This record is about…growing up. I think. It’s about dealing with your own stuff for once. Accepting responsibility, maybe. It’s a self help book addressed to myself. And just like every other piece of art ever made in history of the hominid, I was going through some shit when I was making it. I’d just left home and everyone I knew, looking to chase a dream. It was an awkward phase, like stage two puberty. I was learning how to be grown.” – Tom Scott” (adapted from realgroovy.co.nz)

Grinderman – Grinderman
“Grinderman is the eponymous debut studio album by Grinderman, a side project of members of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, released in 2007. Aiming to recreate the more raw, primal sound of all former related projects such as The Birthday Party, Grinderman’s lyrical and musical content diverged significantly from Nick Cave’s concurrent work with The Bad Seeds, whose last studio album, Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus (2004), was primarily blues, gospel and alternative-orientated in stark contrast to the raw sound of the early Bad Seeds albums. Incidentally, the musical direction of Grinderman influenced The Bad Seeds’ next studio album, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! (2008).” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Muse – Simulation theory
“Muse have announced that their eighth studio album, ‘Simulation Theory’. The eleven-track record was produced by the band, along with several award-winning producers, including Rich Costey, Mike Elizondo, Shellback and Timbaland. Muse is Matt Bellamy, Dominic Howard and Chris Wolstenholme. This is a 140g Black Vinyl.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Arcade Fire – Neon bible
“Neon Bible is the second album form Canadian Band Arcade Fire and features the classic songs, “No Cars Go”, “Keep The Car Running” & “Black Mirror”. The album is pressed onstandard black double LP, the fourth side of which contains an artwork etching.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Staff Picks DVDs – Nov/Dec.

The last lot of Staff Pick DVDs for the year features a mix of Foreign films, indie Sci-Fi, new TV shows and a poignant tribute to actor Harry Dean Stanton.

Foxtrot.
Israeli filmmaker Samuel Maoz’s bold first feature Lebanon (2009) shocked the world, depicting warfare exclusively through the gunsight view from the tank. Eight years down the line, his new work appears slightly more conventional but equally impressive. A Tel Aviv couple are devastated to learn that their son, who is serving in the military, has been killed, but it turns out to be misinformation. Then, the story, which uniquely divided into three parts, unfolds with an unexpected twist. Without the scenes of conflicts or gun battles, Maoz deftly highlights the tragedy of war from the different angle. With a superb cinematography, it’s an immaculately crafted, flawless work. The only criticism may be the fact that the whole movie is too perfect and too structured. Nevertheless, it’s a remarkable achievement. (Shinji)

Radius.
A man (Diego Klattenhoff, Homeland, The Blacklist) wakes from a car crash with no memory. Seeking help he soon discovers that anyone who comes within a certain radius of him instantly drops dead. Retreating to his home he attempts to avoid all contact until a woman (also suffering from amnesia) finds him. She is immune to what is happening and they soon realize that she can nullify the effect he has on others – but ONLY if she remains within 50 feet from him at all times. Together they attempt to get help and find out what has happened to them. Tense and low key with minimal use of effects, this is another great indie Sci-Fi film that proves that all you need is a really intriguing idea and a good script. Klattenhoff excels at straight arrow good guys, and is perfectly cast. Has a nasty twist at the end that you may not see coming. Solidly entertaining. (Mark)

Captain Fantastic.
This film came out about 2 years ago and went around the film festival circuit winning great reviews all around. If you are anything like me, one look at the cover and the story line will have you interested, yet will fill you with hesitation, this movie screams hard hitting. Rest assured this film is hard hitting, and at times intense, filled with big emotions and questions about life, how we live it and we view and judge each other for the choices they make. Put aside your understandable hesitation and make the time to watch Captain Fantastic. You are bound to be blown away! (Jess)

Upgrade.
More indie Sc-Fi with ‘Upgrade’ a mix of cyberpunk tech stylings and action. Logan Marshall-Green (Quarry) is Grey, an analogue guy in a near-future digital world, a mechanic who fixes classic cars for rich clients while his wife works for an advanced Tech company. When his wife’s self-driving car malfunctions one day in a deserted part of town they are attacked, his wife is murdered and he ends up as a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic. After a suicide attempt by overdosing on medication, he is visited by a famous young tech innovator who offers to illegally surgically implant his latest creation, an AI chip called STEM, into his spine and restore motor functions to his body. Healing faster than expected Grey is surprised to hear STEM speak into his mind. STEM says it can help identify his wife’s attackers, and using his new found ‘upgraded’ abilities he decides to take revenge…’Upgrade’ comes off as a more action orientated take on a Black Mirror episode, depicting a world of human-computer augmentation and ubiquitous police drones that doesn’t seem that far off, however like most things in a Black Mirror type world, there is a price for everything… (Mark)

Lucky.
His career spanned more than six decades. Harry Dean Stanton appeared in countless movies, but played a rare substantial role – probably the first time since the memorable ‘Paris, Texas’ – in his final movie ‘Lucky’. In fact, the whole movie pays tribute to Stanton, who was 90 years old when it was shot and died not long after. Following an old man Lucky (Stanton), who lives alone in a small desert town, it’s a subtle study of facing mortality. Although nothing much happens in the movie, Stanton still has a remarkable screen presence, exquisitely expressing the complexity of the character, from loneliness to stubbornness to tenderness. Some of the casts are played by Stanton’s real life friends including David Lynch, who is the best supporting actor here. Harry Dean Stanton wasn’t the biggest name in the industry, but no one was given as good a send-off in this wonderful fashion. Well-deserved. (Shinji)

Rick and Morty. Season 3.
Anarchic animated comedy from the creator of Community, that follows the adventures of an eccentric alcoholic scientist and his good-hearted but fretful grandson across an infinite number of realities, with the characters travelling to other planets and dimensions through portals and Rick’s flying car. Hilariously sick and depraved. (Mark)

Room / a film by Lenny Abrahamson.
The heart-breaking story of a young woman and her five year old son who are kept prisoner in a shed, and what happens to them when they are ultimately freed. (Belinda)

 

The Americans. The complete final season.
Things seem grim at the outset of the final season of ‘The Americans’ set in 1987, three years after the last season, and nine weeks before the pivotal Reagan-Gorbachev summit. Philip has quit intelligence work and is now full-time travel agent, while Elizabeth is still a zealous operative, fulfilling increasingly dangerous missions and training Paige to follow in her footsteps. The cracks in their marriage are becoming increasingly wider, and only worsen as Elizabeth is recruited for a secret Mission by the anti-Gorbachev Soviet Military, and then Philip is asked to return to intelligence work to monitor what she is doing. As the summit deadline approaches can they move past their increasingly separate ideologies to save their marriage and, as FBI Agent (and neighbour) Stan Beeman’s suspicions start to solidify, can they even save themselves? A lot of series fail in the last episodes, but ‘The Americans’ delivers a fitting wrap up for each of its characters, though perhaps not always what you expect, and ends on the same level of high quality that sustained its entire run. Recommended. (Mark)

Staff Pick CDs for Nov/Dec: Part 2

Toitu Te Puoro album cover

The second part of the last round-up of Staff Picks for the year features an eclectic mix of recommendations from Electronica to NZ, to Box-set reissues, and Indie.

Hot burritos! : the Flying Burrito Brothers anthology, 1969-1972.
The outlandishly titled Flying Burrito Brothers are the quintessential country-rock experimenters. Led by the legendary Gram Parsons, the group created a distinctive style of “cosmic American music” that fused country music with R&B, rock, gospel and vaguely psychedelic production. The heart-wrenching pinnacle of the collection is Parson’s stunning, strained and immensely emotive performance on the track ‘Hot Burrito #1’. The Burrito’s influenced everyone from the Rolling Stones to Wilco and left a musical legacy well worth exploring. (Joe)

Switched on volumes 1-3.
The UK post-rock pioneers, who have been on indefinite hiatus since 2010, are well on the way to becoming a cult band, with a worldwide dedicated fan base who refuse to accept that they are no more. Re-releases like this help keep their myth alive, collecting the band’s three ‘90’s compilations of singles and rarities in one nifty box set. This is a great opportunity for the curious to explore this unique band, as it runs from their very first 45 – Super Electric – through to their later more experimental phase on the third double disc compilation – Aluminium Tunes – originally released by Warp Records. The odd marriage of krautrock, exotica and electronics that created their sound has never been equaled (or even attempted for that matter) by anyone else and this collection is an excellent introduction. (John)

The animal spirits / James Holden & the Animal Spirits.
UK electronic producer James Holden has been pushing the boundaries of electronica for most of his career via his aptly named Border Community label and here, on his third record since 2006’s excellent ‘The Idiots Are Winning’, he has finally broken free of any constraints and has made a record far closer to jazz than electronica, playing his wonky synthesiser in a real live band with a drummer and free blowing saxophones and woodwind instruments. The whole thing was recorded live in the studio with no edits or overdubs (on a full moon according to the sleeve notes) and treads a path far more akin to the wild transcendence of free jazz greats such as Pharaoh Sanders than any current electronic artists. Brave and genre defying this is an exultant, joyous album and is highly recommended. (John)

Honey.
The Queen of melancholy dance beats returns with her first proper album in 8 years. Previous album Body Talk was compiled from a number of E.Ps and was almost like a mini-best of. ‘Honey’ moves away from an electronic-pop sound towards a more languid sensual vibe, featuring collaborations with Joseph Mount of Metronomy, Klas Åhlund, & Adam Bainbridge of Kindness. It’s one of those albums that doesn’t really impress on first listen. However repeated plays reveal the interlocking layers of the tracks, which function in many ways as an entire suite with overlapping lyrics, melodies and themes, revealing a more vulnerable state of mind following the tragic death of friend and collaborator, producer Christian Falk, the breakup of a relationship, and several years of intense therapy. Robyn has always seemed a pop star unlike any other, her music never in service to trends, producers du jour, or relentless cross marketing, and this release sees her following her own path once more. (Mark)

Greatest hits vol. 1 : deluxe edition.
The US experimental psychedelic alt-rockers, The Flaming Lips, over 20 albums and countless singles and side projects have become an institution by sheer persistence if nothing else. This three disc set, with excellent cover art, spans the 25 years of their Warners career from 1992 to 2017 with discs one and two featuring highlights chronologically and disc three assembling rare tracks and b-sides. The very fact that such an avowedly weird band can attain the festival headlining status they have enjoyed is remarkable in itself, and this collection includes all sides of their creative impulses from sweet sing along indie anthems to raucous freakouts. Taken in one sitting like this, the stylistic tangents the band have taken make more sense with it all hanging together remarkably well and this collection offers a great chance for the curious to delve into one of the most eccentric and creative acts of the past few years. (John)

Dance on the blacktop.
The shoegaze revival has been underway for long enough now for the style to become more than a nod to the past and a recognised contemporary sub-genre, and US band Nothing have the sound perfected. The production is crytalline and presents the huge guitar swathes in all their harmonic glory, with the half spoken vocals perfectly placed in the mix. This is the Philadelphia band’s third record and they have built a sizeable reputation over their short career as “the world’s unluckiest band” after a saga involving incarceration, a pharmaceutical sadist and permanent brain damage. “Dance On a Blacktop” is prison slang for fighting and here they appear use it to mean riding the chaos of existence with grace – which is a good way to describe their loud, dense and melodic take on indie rock. (John)

Treasure hiding : the Fontana years.
If there was ever a band seduced by beauty it was The Cocteau Twins. Their music is a heavenly ethereal sonic wash but the question that plagued the band pretty much from their formation is, was there more to their music than beauty alone? And perhaps is beauty enough? Well Treasure Hiding The Fontana Years goes some considerable way to answering these questions, sure their trademark ethereal sound is there but this box set contains some of their most experimental, progressive and at times personal works. It’s no secret that the band were suffering from personal difficulties and Elizabeth Fraser uses this as creative fuel bearing her heart in some of the lyrics. Other pieces are much more abstract and obtuse. The fantastic Otherness EP sees the band in an ambient, dubby impressionistic mode very different from their previous works but sumptuous none the less and with grit buried in the strange eeriness of the music. In these pieces you can clearly hear a rich new direction the band could have gone in if their internal problems hadn’t ripped them apart. (Neil J)

Infinite moment / The Field.
Swedish electronic producer Axel Willner, aka The Field, continues his musical pilgrimage chasing endless repetitive loops to an infinite beyond. His distinctive compositional style is either loved or loathed by listeners who willingly enter the hypnotic zones generated by The Field’s everlasting loops or find the very idea claustrophobic and relentlessly boring. Here, six albums in, Axel Willner shows just how finely he has mastered his craft – there are still no breaks, no drops and barely any key changes, instead, the tracks are a little longer, the 4/4 a little slower and the harmonics, melodies and variations that lurk within are a little more subtle; all in all a masterful achievement by one of the most original electronic producers active today. (John)

Bottle it in.
Kurt Vile has, over seven albums, gradually moved from the fringes of alt-rock to inhabit a central place. His latest album consolidates that position, as he applies his distinctive laconic stance to a collection of well written and produced songs, performed with the Violators as his backing band. His highly characteristic slacker Americana has by now become expertly crafted and via the unusual sense of intimacy he is able to create he maintains interest throughout this long album, taken at a very relaxed pace, and which includes several tracks over ten minutes long. Overall, this imaginative and curiously engrossing record ably validates his cultural niche as the new millennium’s equivalent of artists such as R.E.M and Neil Young. (John)

Aquemini.
Best known for their smash hits ‘Ms. Jackson’ (2000) and ‘Hey Ya!’ (2003), Outkast’s magnum opus arrived in 1998. Aquemini captures the pure alchemy of Big Boi and Andre 3000 at their finest, rapping over funky and futuristic beats. Big Boi grounds the group with his streetwise perspective and braggadocious charm while Andre 3000 reaches for the stars with his unique extra-terrestrial philosophy. Blaring horns, a pounding bassline and quirky storytelling make ‘SpottieOttieDopaliscious’ a highlight. Other standout tracks include the anthemic ‘Skew It on the Bar-B’, the iconoclastic ‘Return of the G’ and the catchy head-nodder ‘Rosa Parks’. (Joe)

Suspiria : music for the Luca Guadagnino film.
Thom Yorke’s soundtrack for the remake of the 1977 Italian supernatural horror film Suspiria is a surprise because, within the 25 tracks of the expected doom laden strings, suspense laden tinkly piano and creepy ambient electronics, are featured six new songs, which makes it considerably more than a mere soundtrack. In fact, if the two discs were edited down it would make a very fine Thom Yorke solo album. The context of a horror film allows Yorke to fully indulge his ever present melancholia and the results are very satisfying. This is definitely not sunday bar-b-que music, but the fine orchestral and choral arrangements, the creepy electronica and the gentle, sad, guitar based songs make for some great late night uneasy listening. (John)

Toitū te pūoro.
The perfect sound recordings made possible by modern state of the art studio technology is allowing contemporary listeners the privilege of being able to hear traditional Maori instrumentation as it has never been heard before. Al Fraser, the Wellington musician and instrument maker dedicated to the preservation and ongoing enhancement of this rich musical heritage, here, on his fifth CD release, takes the listener on a deep, dreamlike and evocative journey into the mysterious, mystical and unique sound worlds created by the ancient taonga puoro. Many of the sounds here are so fine and subtle as to be almost inaudible, but that is just the point, because in stretching the hearing of the listener, they are then drawn further in to ‘Te Korekore – the realm between being and non-being’. Take some time out to listen yourself. (John)

Solo anthology : the best of Lindsey Buckingham.
The now ex-Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham’s solo albums have always seemed to be overlooked amongst the hype and turmoil of Fleetwood Mac, many of their later albums being structured around a bulk of songs he had set aside for solo projects. This 3-disc compilation includes material from his 6 studio albums, live albums, the collaboration with Christine McVie, tracks from 80s soundtracks, and a couple of unreleased songs. A nice mix of music from the catchy pop of his debut solo album Out of the Cradle to the more acoustic and layered works of later albums. What emerges is a portrait of a great guitarist (the fantastic classical styled playing on his first album still amazes) and songwriter, in search of something deeper than the music he was making in a hugely successful commercial band. Recommended if you’re a fan. (Mark)

Lageos / Actress x London Contemporary Orchestra.
Not an easy listen, but rewarding for the curious, is the recent collaboration between Actress, the London based electronic producer, and the modern classical ensemble, The London Contemporary Orchestra. It is an, at times, wild ride, veering from abstract noise to modern classical drones and treated piano, fractured beats to gamelan style rhythms and finally settling down a little for the last four tracks which have a lovely haunting beauty. The unlikely pairing works overall, creating a work that is intriguing and unsettling in equal measure. (John)

Bunny.
Difficult to stylistically pin down, Mathew Dear has been following a singular path of hybrid electro pop since 2003 across six albums under his own name, as well as producing dance floor techno under a variety of aliases. Since his predominantly instrumental 2003 debut, Leave Luck To Heaven, his solo albums have gradually become more songs based, culminating in his latest, which is as close to pop as he has ever strayed. However, it is a version of pop quite like no other, featuring his gravelly baritone voice amidst an array of funky, wobbly and expansive beats and sounds, mainly electronic, which turn these songs into what one could imagine hearing from an FM station broadcasting, possibly, from Venus. (John)

Vanished gardens / Charles Lloyd & The Marvels + Lucinda Williams.
Some say that this collaboration pioneers a new genre of ‘Americana Jazz’ and it’s a very good description of this music. For their second album, the legendary jazz saxophonist Charles Lloyd and the Marvels invite one-of-a-kind singer Lucinda Williams, and present a wonderful music, bringing together jazz, country, blues and gospel. Not only Lloyd and Williams but The Marvels is also a group of master musicians – Bill Frisell (guitar), Greg Leisz (pedal steel), Reuben Rogers (bass) and Eric Harland (drums) – and everyone here marvellously displays their unique genius; unmistakable dusty Williams’ voice, Frisell’s texturized guitar, versatile Lloyd’s rich tone etc., to make a great band sound. Most of the songs are originals by Lloyd or Williams but the album closes with two glorious covers; Thelonious Monk’s ‘Monk’s Mood’ and Jimi Hendrix’s masterpiece ‘Angel’. Sublime. (Shinji)

Staff Pick CDs for Nov/Dec: Part 1

GAS CD Cover

The first part of the latest round-up of Staff Picks features an eclectic mix of recommendations from Electronica to NZ, to Box-set reissues, and Indie. Keep an eye out for part two coming soon!

Suffuse.
Christchurch based guitarist Roy Montgomery’s first band were the Pin Group whose 7” single ‘Ambivalence’ was the very first Flying Nun release back in 1981. Almost 40 years later Roy Montgomery continues to push the edges and his latest release finds him creating six deeply layered shimmering soundscapes, each featuring a different guest female vocalist including Liz Harris, aka Grouper, and Julianna Barwick. These beautifully produced ambient experimental drones are deeply hypnotic and are given an added edge by the vocal component that humanizes the sounds without detracting from their transcendental properties. Overall a very successful project that, in a perfect world, would find cult guitar legend Roy Montgomery a wider audience. (John)

DJ-kicks : DJ Seinfeld.
It’s a sure sign that a new electronic sub-genre has been validated when a leading DJ of the style is asked to submit a mix to the long running DJ Kicks series. Number 64 in the series is from Swedish producer, Armand Jakobsson, aka, DJ Seinfeld, a leading light in the fresh Lo-Fi House sub-genre. Confusingly, Lo-Fi House appears to be an attitude rather than an actual sound – predicated on a deliberately rough around the edges production style and a can-do, outsider attitude. Here we have a cool selection of contemporary electronica, light and groovy, that moves very smoothly through deep house, breakbeats, electro, downbeat and more with, interestingly, eight of the 21 tracks coming from Melbourne producers. (John)

Loving the alien [1983-1988].
There has been a few great David Bowie releases in 2018 including Welcome to the Blackout (live London 78) and December saw the first DVD release of his seminal Glastonbury performance from 2000, often cited as the greatest Glastonbury headline performance ever. There is also the continuation of the fabulous box set releases of his back catalogue, this one entitled Loving the alien (1983-1988), an eleven disc outing that covers his most commercial period. In late 60s Kenneth Pitt, one of Bowies early managers, tried to turn David Bowie into an all-round mass market entertainer and in the 80’s under his own steam that’s exactly what he became. And I guess that’s the only way you can view these releases. They just don’t inhabit the same worlds as his 70’s output- these albums are more Chic, or Michael Jackson, than Ziggy Stardust. However if you listen to them with your 80’s disco ears on there is a lot to be enjoyed! The remastered version of Lets Dance has many pleasures. The Loving the Alien album has one or two fine tracks but the most interesting aspect of this release is the new version of Never Let Me Down. This 2018 version has been totally reworked with many of the classic 80’s elements removed and replaced with completely new elements. This new version is certainly a vast improvement on the original release and free of the 80s bombastic production; it gains a new life with songs being given the space to breathe and so becomes subtle and complex in tone. (Neil J)

All that reckoning.
It was 1986 that the Canadian band Cowboy Junkies played a key part in creating the template for alt-country with their classic Lo-Fi album The Trinity Session. Exactly 30 years on, it’s great to hear, on their first record in six years, that these musos in their 50’s are still creating their beautiful, fiery, fragile sound world. This collection of dark, existentialist songs that deal with political, social and personal situations are beautifully delivered by vocalist Margo Timmins, accompanied by her brothers on guitar and drums, with bass player, Alan Anton. The often delicate songs are frequently shot through with discordant noise and a blurry psychedelic edge, sometimes subtle, other times harsh, to create atmospheres haunting, tender and tense. (John)

Body / The Necks.
Back to the Chris Cutler (Henry Cow/Art Bears)’s ReR label, the world famous Australian cult trio, The Necks’ 20th album finds them a superb form. Once again, it’s a 60 minutes-long improvisation affair, opening and closing with the beautifully executed piano-led ambient sound. However, the chunk of middle part is a frantic electric guitar riff like a storm. This definitely comes as a shock for many but probably not so surprising, if you remember that they have been one of the most forward-thinking, push-the-boundary bands. It’s been almost three decades since they started performing together but they still have fresh ideas and keep evolving. This is one of their bests and confirms again that they are truly original. Phenomenal. (Shinji)

Loop-finding-jazz-records.
Originally released in 2001, Loop Finding Jazz Records was groundbreaking in the, then, new domain of minimal electronica, featuring subtle use of micro samples and flickering glitch generated rhythms to create music that was oddly mesmerizing. This record has become a cult favorite and has aged surprisingly well, the languorous textures and sub-sonic bass creating a timeless sound world, somewhere between ambient and sub-aquatic minimal house. Despite being created with micro-samples taken from jazz records, this album bears no resemblance to that genre, presenting more a strange and dreamlike soundtrack for an imaginary, removed and flawless post-human existence, perfect for home listening. (John)

Re:member.
Its hard to credit that Icelandic composer Olafur Arnalds started out as drummer for a hardcore band, as this collection of incredibly delicate and achingly beautiful pieces for piano, cello, orchestra and electronics are about as far from hardcore drumming as can be imagined. Recognized as one of the leading figures in the modern classical genre, Arnalds here applies subtle electronic algorithms to his compositions via the use of software he developed that generates alternate notes on two other pianos from the notes he is playing. The results are gorgeous harmonics that add complexity to the deceptively simple and beautifully restrained compositions which straddle modern classical, ambient and electronica. (John)

Negro swan.
A deeply sensitive and resonant album, Blood Orange delivers beautiful production and emotive vocal performances. Pitchfork reviewer Jason King put it best when he described the album as capturing “the scattershot, jittery, anxious, blissed-out-depressive feeling of what it’s like to be a marginalized person at a toxic and retrograde moment in global culture and politics.” Recommended tracks are ‘Orlando’ and ‘Charcoal Baby’. (Joe)

Searching for the spark.
Special mention must go to the Steve Hillage Box Set – if only for its sheer magnitude – so make sure you are feeling fit if you decide to access this item, as just carrying the weighty box home presents a challenge. Contained within are 22 CDs and four books which encapsulate the UK psych-rock guitarist’s entire career. While not exactly a household name, Steve Hillage is probably most famous for his role as guitarist on Gong’s cult Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy, after which he went on to a solo career – as documented in this box set. Of particular interest are the recordings of and writings about the early Canterbury scene, which he was a formative part of as guitarist for the bands Uriel and Khan. Also included is the first System 7 album, his, still current, techno based project, featuring guest artists such as Derek May, Alex Paterson and Paul Oakenfold. (John)

Rausch.
German electronic producer Wolfgang Voigt has been running his Gas project since 1996 and his music has taken a darker turn for this, his sixth release. His compositions feature processed orchestral samples densely layered, frequently over a deeply submerged 4/4 rhythm, that evoke, if anything, a warm, timeless cocoon. Here, however, the atmosphere has become foreboding with dissonance and anxiety entering into a world that once seemed welcoming. ‘Rausch’ translates as an ecstatic state or fever dream, and this music, which contains bright and beautiful moments emerging from an often imposing and dense gloom, while not for the faint-hearted, offers a rewarding deep listening experience. (John)

Everybody else is doing it, so why can’t we? : 25th anniversary edition.
With Dolores O’Riordan’s distinctive voice, The Cranberries were one of those bands you either loved or hated, but there was no denying the success and pervasiveness of their first 2 albums in the early 90s. Last year the band came together to plan a 25th Anniversary Box Set release of their debut album, and following O’Riordan’s untimely death in January, the remaining band members have decided to go ahead with the 25th Anniversary Box Set as a tribute to her. As well as the original album, it includes a plethora of recordings from that era spread across 3 discs, including some rare tracks sourced from their early cassette releases as ‘The Cranberry Saw Us’. It also includes a 52-page hardback book that details the creation of the record and the history of the bands ‘rags to riches’ journey, which is itself a fascinating look back at a Music Industry that doesn’t exist anymore. A fitting tribute to one of the most iconic voices of popular music. (Mark)

The loneliest girl.
Difficult to pin down, AK pop chanteuse Chelsea Nikkel confounds with her fourth album, which extends her previous synth-pop arrangements into a wide array of new areas, with each of the 12 tracks pretty much inhabiting a different pop arena. Produced by alt-pop maestro Jonathon Bree, this is pop, but pop with a distinctly Lynchian feel, as within the sweet vocals and pink ribbons beats a dark heart delivering these thoughtfully produced bitter sweet songs. It all hangs together remarkably well, and beneath the la-la-las there lurks a deceptively subversive baroque take on the pop format that is entertaining from start to finish. (John)

Strictly rhythm : underground ’90-’97.
The latest edition in Cherry Red’s expertly curated re-issue series features a three disc collection of standout tracks from NY based Strictly Rhythm, the label that played a vital role in creating the dance genre known as House. Home to artists such as Roger Sanchez, Todd Terry, Louie Vega and Armand Van Helden, Strictly Rhythm was the leading US house music label throughout the ‘90’s. This retrospective is almost a history of NY underground house music itself, with the biggest hits deliberately overlooked in favor of club classics, hidden treasures and tracks never before released on CD. With all tracks fully restored and remastered this is a great peek into the roots of contemporary dance music. (John)

Anthem of the sun.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead’s second album. Their spacey, sun-tanned San Francisco rock is on form for these groovy and psychedelic tunes. The album is grounded in folk-rock and blues, but takes cues from free-jazz. Keith Richards once said of the Grateful Dead that they were “just poodling about for hours and hours. Jerry Garcia, boring s—, man. Sorry, Jerry.” But on this album, the Dead are tighter than ever. Standout songs include New Potato Caboose and That’s it for the Other One. The anniversary edition includes the 1968 version and 1971 remix of the original album and previously unreleased live recordings. (Joe)

The nature of imitation.
The new album by Oliver Johnson, AKA Dorian Concept, is on Brainfeeder, the LA experimental hip-hop label, which makes sense for a musician who played keyboards in Flying Lotus’s touring band and worked on Cosmogramma…  and the experience shows. This is music “meant to play on our short attention spans” and the live instrumentation inspired by jazz, fusion, prog and funk and subject to an intense process of digital editing, creates surprisingly listenable stuttered, chopped up shapeshifting music comparable to other Brainfeeder artists such as Flying Lotus and Thundercat with a solid nod to Squarepusher. With the fleeting appearance of soulful vocals and untreated piano to mellow things out, this is an intriguing musical ride. (John)

Collapse.
The appearance of cryptic 3D posters on the walls of the London Underground network bearing the Aphex Twin logo was a sure sign that something was brewing and when the video for a new track called Collapse was banned, as it failed the test for TV image sequences that would provoke photosensitive epilepsy, it became clear that Richard James aka Aphex Twin was in the area once again. This five track ep is the latest in a series of EPs that have followed Aphex Twin’s triumphant 2014 return with the album Syro and is his most familiar so far, bearing all of the hallmarks of classic Aphex Twin electronica – frantic stuttered beats, rubbery bass lines, beautiful submerged melodies, evocative vocal samples and complex shifting arrangements. (John)

November’s newest DVDs

This Is Us S2 DVD cover

New DVDs added in November include the sequel to drug war thriller Sicario; spy drama with Beirut; the real-life story of Mary Shelley, and the creation of her immortal monster, and the poignant drama of a woman in her eighties planning a gruelling climbing trip the Scottish Highlands. New TV includes the 2nd seasons of This is Us & The Expanse, and the gripping re-imagining of the iconic Australian novel Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Sicario. Day of the soldado.
“In the drug war, there are no rules, and as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border, federal agent Matt Graver calls on the mysterious Alejandro, whose family was murdered by a cartel kingpin. Alejandro kidnaps the kingpins daughter to inflame the conflict. But when the girl is seen as collateral damage, her fate will come between the two men.” (Syndetics summary)

Mary Shelley.
“The real-life story of Mary Shelley, and the creation of her immortal monster, is nearly as fantastical as her fiction. Raised by a renowned philosopher father in eighteenth-century London, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin is a teenage dreamer determined to make her mark on the world, when she meets the dashing and brilliant poet Percy Shelley. So begins a torrid, bohemian love affair marked by both passion and personal tragedy that will transform Mary and fuel the writing of her Gothic masterwork, Frankenstein.” (Syndetics summary)

The spy who dumped me.
“Audrey and Morgan are two fairly ordinary 30-year-old women who live in Los Angeles. They are best friends, and they always stick together, so when Audrey discovers her ex-boyfriend is an international spy, Morgan joins her on an unlikely adventure. Together, the two of them must try to save him from assassins and help to save the world from a dangerous threat. As they travel around the globe with killers hot on their heels, they will discover hidden reserves of strength and cleverness that neither one of them knew they had.” (Syndetics summary)

Edie.
“Edith Moore (Edie) is a bitter, gruff woman in her eighties. In the months following her husband George’s death, Edie’s strained relationship with her daughter Nancy begins to worsen. The question over Edie’s future looms large; while Edie tries hard to convince Nancy she can manage fine by herself, Nancy is making plans for her mother to move into a retirement home. Edie feels like it is the beginning of the end. It seems she will die with all the regrets of her past intact and one regret haunts her most of all. When Edie was married, her father planned a climbing trip for them in the Scottish Highlands. Edie yearned to go, but her husband George, a difficult and controlling man, made her stay at home, nearly thirty years later, Edie decides to make the trip herself alone.” (Syndetics summary)

Picnic at Hanging Rock.
“A gripping re-imagining of the iconic Australian novel that plunges us into the mysterious disappearances of three schoolgirls and their governess on Valentine’s Day, 1900. Exploring the event’s far-reaching impact on the students and staff of Appleyard College and its enigmatic headmistress, theories soon abound, paranoia sets in and long-held secrets surface, as the Rock exerts its strange power and the dark stain of the unsolved mystery continues to spread.” (Syndetics summary)

This is us. The complete second season.
“Chronicles the Pearson family across the decades, from Jack and Rebecca as young parents in the 1980s to their 37 year old kids Kevin, Kate and Randall searching for love and fulfilment in the present day. This grounded, life affirming drama reveals how the tiniest events in people’s lives impact who they become, and how the connections they share with each other can transcend time, distance, and even death.” (Syndetics summary)

The expanse. Season two.
“A police detective in the asteroid belt, the first officer of an interplanetary ice freighter and an earth-bound United Nations executive slowly discover a vast conspiracy that threatens the Earth’s rebellious colony on the asteroid belt.” (Syndetics summary)

Beirut.
“Caught in the crossfires of civil war, CIA operatives must send a former US diplomat to negotiate for the life of a friend he left behind.” (Syndetics summary)

More Box sets and Soundtracks: New Arrival CDs

Bohemian Rhapsody soundtrack

Check out these much talked about soundtracks; music of Queen, A Star is Born which features Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, and Thom Yorke’s Suspiria. Amazing box sets keep coming in, including the deluxe version of John Lennon’s iconic album Imagine, and the Joe Strummer’s first solo anthology. Do not miss them!

Soundtracks

Bohemian rhapsody : the original soundtrack
Bohemian Rhapsody is a foot-stomping celebration of Queen, their music and their extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury. Freddie defied stereotypes and shattered convention to become one of the most beloved entertainers on the planet. The film traces the meteoric rise of the band through their iconic songs and revolutionary sound.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

A star is born : soundtrack
“The official motion picture soundtrack to A Star Is Born – which features music from six-time Grammy Award-winner Lady Gaga and director Bradley Cooper. Featuring 19 songs in a wide range of musical styles, and 15 dialogue tracks featuring those moments that will take listeners on a journey that mirrors the experience of seeing the film, the soundtrack to A Star Is Born follows the musical arc and romantic journey of the movie’s two lead characters: Bradley Cooper’s Jackson Maine, and Lady Gaga’s Ally.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Suspiria : music for the Luca Guadagnino film
Suspiria consists of 25 original compositions written by Thom Yorke specifically for Luca Guadagnino reimagining of the 1977 Dario Argento horror classic. The album is a mix of instrumental score work, interstitial pieces and interludes, and more traditional song structures featuring Thom’s vocals such as “Unmade”, “Has Ended” and “Suspirium,” the album’s first single featuring the melodic theme that recurs throughout the film and its score.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Box sets

John Lennon – Imagine [deluxe]
“A truly unique expanded edition of one of the most iconic albums of all time. This new edition takes us on incredibly personal journey through the entire songwriting and recording process. Super Deluxe version includes 4 CDs (new stereo mix, outtakes, raw studio recordings, track-by-track) and 2 Blu-rays (5.1 surround mixes, HD audio, Elements mixes, Elliot Minz audio documentary).” (adapted from realgroovy.co.nz)

Cocteau Twins – Treasure hiding : the Fontana years
“The Fontana Years demonstrates a musical marvel which still makes your ears feel like they re sucking citrus fruits after years of licking ashtrays, while the rings of Saturn crash-land in your front room. This 4-CD set brings together the two albums the band recorded for Fontana along with B-Sides, EP s, Radio One sessions and the odd rarity.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Joe Strummer – Joe Strummer 001
“Ignition Records are proud to announce the release of Joe Strummer 001, the first compilation to span Joe Strummer’s career outside of his recordings with The Clash. Joe Strummer 001 includes fan favourites from his recordings with the 101ers and The Mescaleros, all of his solo albums, soundtrack work and an album of unreleased songs.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Bob Dylan – More blood, more tracks : the bootleg series vol. 14 : deluxe edition.
“The latest chapter in the highly acclaimed Bootleg Series makes available the pivotal studio recordings made by Bob Dylan during six extraordinary sessions in 1974 that resulted in the artist’s 1975 masterpiece, Blood On The Tracks. The 6CD full-length deluxe version includes the complete New York sessions in chronological order including outtakes, false starts and studio banter. The album’s producers have worked from best sources available, in most cases utilizing the original multi-track session tapes.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Lindsey Buckingham – Solo anthology : the best of Lindsey Buckingham
“The first-ever, comprehensive solo anthology by legendary artist, guitarist, song-writer and 3x Grammy® winner, Lindsey Buckingham. The Best of Lindsey Buckingham includes album, live and alternate versions from Law and Order, Go Insane, Out of the Cradle and more, and also incorporates songs from his collaborative album with Christine McVie released in 2017.” (adapted from realgroovy.co.nz)

Cranberries – Everybody else is doing it, so why can’t we? : 25th anniversary edition.
“Last year, the 4 members of the Cranberries came together to plan a 25th Anniversary Box Set release of their debut album, and one of the definitive indie albums of all time, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?. Following Dolores O’Riordan’s death in January this year, the remaining band members have decided to go ahead with the 25th Anniversary Box Set. Originally released on 12th March 1993, the album hit the No.1 spot in both the UK and Ireland and sold over 6 million copies worldwide.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Remembering Nicolas Roeg and Bernardo Bertolucci

The world has lost two of the outstanding filmmakers of our time; Nicolas Roeg and Bernardo Bertolucci.

Nicolas Roeg died on 23 November aged 90. He made his name as a cinematographer (Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death, Francois Trufaut’s Fahrenheit 451 etc.) before turning into a director. In the 70s, he was the most acclaimed British auteur with a unique visionary style, leaving highly influential works such as Walkabout (1971), Don’t Look Now (1973) and The Man who Fell to Earth (1976).

 

 

 

 

One of the most provocative and influential directors of our time Bernardo Bertolucci died on 26 November aged 77. He was still in his 20s when The Conformist (1970) was hailed as a revolutionary work. He also worked outside of Italy, and enjoyed huge commercial successes with the controversial erotic drama The Last Tango in Paris (1972) and The Last Emperor (1987), which won 9 Academy Awards including Best Picture and the Best Director.

 

 

 

 

All covers are used with permission.

The Latest Books on Film and TV Series

Saturday Night at the Movies book cover

Check out some of these newly catalogued books on films and TV Series. They include the fascinating studies of popular TV series such as The Wire, and The Women Who Lived which tells stories about women in Doctor Who. Also, don’t miss the colourful book about the Wes Anderson’s latest work Isle of Dogs.

Syndetics book coverIsle of dogs / by Lauren Wilford and Ryan Stevenson ; foreword by Matt Zoller Seitz ; with an introduction by Taylor Ramos and Tony Zhou.
Isle of Dogs is the only book to take readers behind the scenes of the beloved auteur’s newest stop-motion animated film. ​Through the course of several in-depth interviews with film critic Lauren Wilford, writer and director Wes Anderson shares the story behind Isle of Dogs‘s conception and production, and Anderson and his collaborators reveal entertaining anecdotes about the making of the film, their sources of inspiration, the ins and outs of stop-motion animation, and many other insights into their moviemaking process. Previously unpublished behind-the-scenes photographs, concept artwork, and hand-written notes and storyboards accompany the text.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWill & Grace & Jack & Karen : life — according to tv’s awesome foursome / Emma Lewis ; illustrations by Chantel de Sousa.
“A fun guide to the important things in life, according to TV’s Will, Grace, Jack & Karen. Featuring fun and colorful illustrations throughout, Will & Grace & Jack & Karen brings you the questionable wisdom of TV’s awesome foursome. Find out which character is your true spirit animal with our handy quiz; get through your day with Karen Walker’s guide to drinking, and improve your job prospects with career advice from Jack McFarland. Full of inspiration, trivia, and hilarious quotes, Will & Grace & Jack & Karen is here to help you discover the secrets to maintaining the lifelong bonds between friends who are more like family.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe women who lived : amazing tales for future Time Lords / Christel Dee & Simon Guerrier.
“From Sarah Jane Smith to Bill Potts, from Susan Foreman to the Thirteenth Doctor, women are the beating heart of Doctor Who. Whether they’re facing down Daleks or thwarting a Nestene invasion, these women don’t hang around waiting to be rescued – they roll their sleeves up and get stuck in. Scientists and soldiers, queens and canteen workers, they don’t let anything hold them back. Featuring historical women such as Agatha Christie and Queen Victoria alongside fan favourites like Rose Tyler and Missy, The Women Who Lived tells the stories of women throughout space and time. Beautifully illustrated by a team of all-female artists, this collection of inspirational tales celebrates the power of women to change the universe.”  (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAll the pieces matter : the inside story of The Wire / Jonathan Abrams.All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of the Wire
“The definitive oral history of the iconic and beloved TV show The Wire, as told by the actors, writers, directors, and others involved in its creation. With unparalleled access to all the key actors and writers involved in its creation, Jonathan Abrams tells the astonishing, compelling, and complete account of The Wire, from its inception and creation through its end and powerful legacy.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFrasier : a cultural history / Joseph J. Darowski, Kate Darowski.
“For eleven seasons, radio psychiatrist Frasier Crane contended with his blue-collar ex-cop father Martin, English caretaker Daphne, coworker Roz, and his younger brother Niles. Looking at the world through Frasier’s aristocratic, witty lens, the show explored themes of love, loss, friendship, and what it might mean to live a full life. Both fans and critics loved Frasier, and the show’s 37 primetime Emmy wins are the most ever for a comedy series. In Frasier: A Cultural History, Joseph J. Darowski and Kate Darowski offer an engaging analysis of the long-running, award-winning show, offering insights into both the onscreen stories as well as the efforts behind the scenes to shape this modern classic.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverActing & auditioning for the 21st century : tips, trends, and techniques for film, stage, digital and new media / Stephanie Barton-Farcas.
Acting & Auditioning for the 21st Century covers acting and auditioning in relation to new media, blue and green screen technology, motion capture, web series, audiobook work, evolving livestreamed web series, and international acting and audio work. Readers are given a methodology for changing artistic technology and the global acting market, with chapters covering auditions of all kinds, contracts, the impact of new technology and issues relating to disabled actors, actors of colour and actors that are part of the LGBTQIA community.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSaturday night at the movies : the extraordinary partnerships behind cinema’s greatest scores / Jennifer Nelson.
“A powerful score can make a movie truly extraordinary. The alchemy between composer and director creates pure cinematic magic, with songs and melodies that are recognizable and memorable. So what is their secret? Saturday Night at the Movies goes behind the scenes to reveal 12 remarkable partnerships, and how they have created the music that has moved millions. Discover how these collaborations began and what makes them so effective: the dynamic personalities, the creative chemistry, the flashes of genius. Featuring such luminaries as Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann, Christopher Nolan and Hans Zimmer, and James Horner and James Cameron, this book explores the creation of film favorites such as Back to the Future, Fargo, Edward Scissorhands and more.” (Syndetics summary)