troy doddsThe first thing that hits with this joint is El Camino Records gorgeous label design; the hills are more than likely the San Bruno mountains as seen while heading north on US-101 into San Francisco. El Camino being the historic north-south route that travels the California coast.

Troy Dodds is a mystery; the San Francisco singer released a half dozen 45s between 1962-1966, then seemingly disappeared. Perhaps he was drafted? If you’re still around, Troy, it would be great to hear from you.

‘The Real Thing’ is Mr Dodds’ final release, and he certainly went out with a massive bang. While his other releases are quite enjoyable, ‘The Real Thing’ matches a hard hitting R&B groove (dig those congas!) with jazzy flourish, an authoritative lead vocal, and some incredible female backing – making it the greatest bay area soul single of the 60s. Unfortunately, this record went nowhere, and it is nearly impossible to find. It took me years to get a copy, and I can guarantee that this one won’t be available as long as I’m alive. words / d see

Troy Dodds :: The Real Thing


Our ongoing collaboration with Zach Cowie, aka Turquoise Wisdom, returns with The Use of Ashes – A Mixtape. Tune in and turn on this Friday as Cowie guests on our SIRIUS show – channel 35, noon EST. Cowie’s latest projects include music supervision for the new Aziz Ansari series Master of None, and Light In The Attic’s children’s music collection – both out this month.

The Use Of Ashes / A Mixtape

**playlist / provenance after the jump


Marie Laforêt :: Marie Douceur, Marie Colère

BB,jpgEarlier this year, Chicago ambient trio Bitchin Bajas released a limited edition EP entitled Transporteur, via the European label Hands in the Dark. From the now sold-out EP, they’ve shared the nine-minute-plus “Marimba,” a masterwork of pulsing electronic loops and atmospheric woodwinds. It’s an experiment in rhythm as drone, a trance that travels on the side of tropical, evoking the sounds of an mbira as much a synthesizer.

Bitchin Bajas :: Marimba

In addition, they released a collaborative record on their steady label home, Drag City, with the improvisational collective Natural Informational Society, led by composer and bassist Joshua Abrams. The two forces meet halfway, blending the former’s electronic hypnosis with the latter’s penchant for improvisational jazz ragas (Sandy Bull comparisons are welcome). Together, they crack the sonic space wide open, one existing more on an astral plane than any other. On title track, “Autoimaginary,” krautrock meets spiritual jazz as tribal percussion, simmering saxophone, exotic keys and psychedelic guitar mingle and swing into one of the most interesting and cosmically grooving compositions of two thousand and fifteen.

homepage_large.0174d7e8While on the topic of Chicago’s Drag City label, it’s important to mention Blues Control. The widely less discussed element of what could be argued as the holy trinity of CAVE-Bitchin Bajas-Blues Control (purveyors of ambience, electronics and experimental). Comprised of the instrumental Queens-based duo Russ Waterhouse and Lea Cho, the two make absolutely mind blowing music. Though they haven’t released a proper album in three years, that record, Valley Tangents, hasn’t even begun to wear thin. Opener “Love’s a Rondo” finds a buoyant and breathtakingly sweeping piano line traveling alongside more psychedelic elements of cosmic synth, fixed percussion and a prog-infused electric guitar. Among these latter elements, the piano glides with an almost classical grace. And as good as it sounds on record, this is a band to be experienced live. A performance that feels as if the pair are spontaneously creating right in front of your eyes – and likely, they are.

Blues Control :: Love’s A Rondo

The duo collaborated the year before with new age wizard Laraaji, for the RVNG Intl. label’s FRKWYS series. “Awakening Day” finds the pairing toying with vibraphone, electronic percussion and sound effects, for what adds up to something akin to a 70s nature documentary score. One can hear the rippling waves, the chiming of day, perhaps even the chirping of birds. Within it lie the density and mystery of life. The suspense of beauty in its organic state. words / c depasquale


Our weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can now be heard twice, every Friday – Noon EST with an encore broadcast at Midnight EST.

SIRIUS 411: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ Cate Le Bon – I Can’t Help You  ++ Ultimate Painting – Talking Central Park Blues ++ Parquet Courts – Stoned & Starving ++ Crystal Stilts – The Dazzled ++ Deerhunter – Leather Jacket II ++ Disappears – Gone Completely ++ Girls Names – I Lose ++ Thee Oh Sees – Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster ++ Ty Segall – Tall Man Skinny Lady ++ Omni – Jungle Jenny ++ Motorcycle Crash – Damage ++ White Fence – Lillian (Won’t You Play Drums?) ++ The Olivia Tremor Control – Jumping Fences ++ Whitney – No Matter Where We Go ++ Real Estate – Younger Than Yesterday ++ Yo La Tengo – Tom Courtenay ++ Ought – Beautiful Blue Sky ++ The Fall – What You Need  ++Deerhunter – Ad Astra ++ Amen Dunes – Spirits Are Parted ++ Kevin Morby – Harlem River ++ Cass McCombs – Morning Star ++ John Grant – I Wanna Go To Marz ++ Morrissey – Driving Your Girlfriend Home ++ Dirty Beaches  – True Blue ++ Jeans Wilder – Sparkler ++ Julee Cruise – Floating ++ Women – Black Rice ++ Chris Cohen – Optimist High ++ Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Bicycle ++ Calvin Love – Magic Hearts ++ Atlas Sound – Amplifiers ++ Damien Jurado – Reel To Reel ++ Vaselines – Slushy ++ The Art Museums – Oh Modern Girls

*Listen for free, online, with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.


The music of Laraaji is defined by its joy.

Born Edward Larry Gordon, Laraaji’s music draws from many sources, including his studies of Eastern spiritualism, avant-garde minimalism, and Gamelan rhythms, but it connects directly to his days working as a comedian in Greenwich Village. To hear him discuss it, laughter is more than a pleasure — it’s an entry way to cosmic awareness, and that cosmic awareness drives his beautifully open compositions.

In recent years, Laraaji’s work has enjoyed a resurgence. He was featured in Light in the Attic’s landmark new age anthology, I Am The Center, and he’s collaborated and performed with young artists like Blues Control and Julia Holter. Earlier this year, Leaving Records reissued three of his albums, compiled as All In One Peace, and Friday, November 13th, Glitterbeat Records reissues Ambient 3: Day of Radiance, his 1980 collaboration with producer Brian Eno (whose All Saints label has also released great collections of his work).

Aquarium Drunkard spoke with Laraaji early one fall morning about working with Eno, a cosmic vision which inspired his work, and his shift from slapstick comic to sonic healer.

Laraaji :: The Dance No. 3

Aquarium Drunkard:: Let’s go back to the late sixties; you were hanging out in Greenwich Village, doing stand up comedy. What kind of jokes were you telling? What was your routine like?

Laraaji: Slapstick was always one of my interests, even since childhood. When I was doing solo standup the material was whacky, offbeat, silly, ridiculous. It was aimed at really getting people to crack up and fall in the aisles. Sometimes it was self-sacrificial humor; one of the routines was based on my attraction to women who were less than very beautiful, in other words “ugly women.” My routine was about how I met the ugliest woman and fell in love “at first shock.” After a while, because I was also investigating yoga consciousness and meditation, I got to the awareness that my material was inappropriate for someone who was going into yoga consciousness. It was based on polarizing an audience and bringing someone down. So that started to shift my comedy.

I managed to get a manager and a booking company to speed me along. I got to do stand up comedy and MC for a couple of years at the Apollo Theater. But I was always going for what I love: seeing people crack up and laugh. In later years, I became discerning about how I approached that, [finding] a more “green” kind of laughter. [Laughs] I began doing laughter workshops, [providing] a holistic kind of laughing experience.


Forget for a moment, if you will, Pink Floyd’s tendency towards the cosmic. By this I mean the epic flights into overdrive and sci-fi ambience we know so well. Despite the much-remarked-upon Barrett whimsy, it was this (anti-)gravitational pull that got them from “Astronomy Domine” to “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”, from “Echoes” to “The Great Gig in the Sky”. But hear me out: leave to one side the old prisms, bricks, and inflatable pigs and delve into a wrongly overlooked chapter in the band’s career.

Really, Pink Floyd’s soundtracks are supposed to be the dogs of their discography, two star albums sandwiched between far better-known, four- and five-star classics. But to disregard these soundtracks is, I think, not only to judge them against the Grand Floyd Narrative (honestly, most albums look disproportionately sketchy when set beside cultural behemoth that is Dark Side), it’s also to obscure their finer details.

pointIn fact, up until maybe Dark Side, Pink Floyd were laying down tracks for celluloid almost as determinedly as they were for outer space. One of the band’s earliest breaks, of course, came with a sublime onscreen performance in the classic time-capsule Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London (1967). There followed music composed for a Kafka-esque short film called The Committee (1968) and three songs used in Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point (1968), where the likes of “Careful with that Axe, Eugene” can be found alongside Jerry Garcia and John Fahey (and during the sessions for which Richard Wright submitted an early version of “Us and Them”). Indeed a quick glance at the band’s IMDb entry shows just how congenial their floaty-rocking-fluidity was to a whole range of B- and Z-grade movies throughout the Seventies, appearing illicitly in everything from Kung Fu fare to Sharon in the Rough (1972) and Dominatrix Without Mercy (1976).

However, if we discount the revamped songs used for the film Pink Floyd—The Wall (1982) and the music the band later composed for the racing film La Carrera Panamericana (1992), neither of which ever saw release as an album, Pink Floyd produced just two full-fledged soundtracks in their time together. (Let’s also leave to one side, please, Dark Side’s supposed debt to The Wizard of Oz. Both of the Floyd OSTs were for films directed by Barbet Schroeder—More (1969) and Le Vallée (1972)—and both are much better than you think they are.

Pink Floyd :: Main Theme

Schroeder’s first outing as a director, More tells the tale of a folie au deux between a German drifter and an American expat as they follow a heroin-fuelled downward spiral in Ibiza. It’s a lot more remarkable than it sounds, particularly in the contrasting visuals of dead-end, post-‘68 Europe and sun-baked Mediterranean. Standing out too is the Sphinx-like intensity of Mimsy Farmer whose character introduces hard drugs into the fuck-the-world paradise the couple attempt to carve out for themselves. Indeed, Farmer is key to the interplay between the music and the visuals, here, as she struggles to keep the pain of her past addiction and self-destructiveness right below the surface until the third act. This volatility is not discernible in the matter-of-fact dialogue but rather in wordless glances and the way Farmer moves around her naïve, petty-criminal lover (directly after sleeping together in her Paris apartment, she says to him, “I’m going to Ibiza—I go tomorrow—Want to come with me?”). And the music Pink Floyd provides for the film captures perfectly this duality between beauty/liberation on the one hand and pain/addiction on the other. The shadowy, Can-like propulsion of the “Main Theme” knows what is coming and it knows it ain’t gonna be peace and love.


It is worth noting, in this respect, that Music from the Film More was the first album to be undertaken by the band minus Syd Barrett. These were musicians who needed no reminding of the ways in which the Sixties zeitgeist of tuning in and dropping out could have its casualties too. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the album sounds like their darkest turn up to that point. Hints of anarchy are everywhere, everything bordering on violence (fitting for a film that also involves a Nazi Doctor in hiding), whether it’s the Eurotrash flamenco of “A Spanish Piece” or the building dread and nightmare birdsong of “Cirrus Minor”. The murderous attack of “The Nile Song” seems likewise to be forever falling down a black hole, endlessly dropping away from itself.  “Up the Khyber” meanwhile is a maddening Krautrock swirl devoid of any Carry On… jollity. Taken as a whole, the More OST makes for a surprisingly hard, angry, and unnerving little album—but rather like a drugged up love affair in Ibiza, it’s not without its moments of bliss and aching beauty, either. Chief among these reprieves is “Green is the Colour,” one of the more delicate and folky songs Pink Floyd ever recorded. Indeed it’s a credit to the music’s vulnerability that, even as an acid-dropping Mimsy Farmer dances to the tune onscreen, you recognize that this moment can’t last: the sun is going down and the waves are getting choppy.


Footfalls Records, the new label from Wooden Wand’s James Toth and Leah Hutchison Toth, has come right out of the gate with a stellar first release — a split LP highlighting Tashi Dorji and Marisa Anderson, two of the most exciting and interesting solo guitarists on the scene today. The two players’ approaches couldn’t be more different: Dorji constructs spindly, haunting acoustic improvisations that unfold in unexpectedly delightful ways. Anderson plays mostly electric, drawing from gospel, folk and blues sources to create an absorbing, thrilling atmosphere. Pairing them together on two sides of a single record, however, is a total success, Dorji’s delicate minimalism nicely complementing Anderson’s earthy, Americana vibes. Ultimately, they’re both total originals, and their Footfalls LP is terrific from start to finish. Get it.  words / t wilcox


Latest joint from Now Again Records – 4th Coming – Strange Things. Eccentric soul and funk recorded between 1969 and 1974 at unknown studios in Los Angeles.  An unlikely crew of Los Angeles musical misfits – including psych-rock cult figure John Greek and members of the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band.

4th Coming :: We Got Love