Debussy famously stated “Music is the space between notes.” Pioneering sound poet Joanna Brouk suggested, “If you want to know where my music came from, it was silence.”  Lisa Simpson, seated at the Jazz Hole nightclub in downtown Springfield, explained to a fellow patron that the key to understanding music was listening to the notes not played. (“Pssh, I can do that at home.“) Point here is: things happen in the spaces between phrases. The action’s in the space provided.

Guitarists Julian Lage and Chris Eldridge are highly accomplished players. On his 2016 album Arclight, Lage — a child prodigy known for his work with Nels Cline — subtly blended country & western and jazz. Eldridge is no slouch either. A full-time Punch Brother, he’s worked with artists like Paul Simon, Justin Timberlake, T-Bone Burnett, and Elvis Costello. But on their second full-length collaboration Mount Royal, there’s no attempt to outplay or one-up each other. The duo understands the need for breathing room.


Via Slumberland (January 20, 2017), The Proper Ornaments’ Foxhole – the sophomore collaboration between James Hoare (Ultimate Painting, Veronica Falls) and Max Oscarnold (Toy, Pink Flames). Riding a wave similar to that of Hoare’s latest project, Proper Ornaments glom onto that ambiguous sweet spot residing somewhere between twilight and dusk. Here’s the first taste . . .

The Proper Ornaments :: Cremated (Blown Away)

a3387338638_16A closer look at one of our favorite releases from last year: Tumblers from the Vault (1970 – 1972), the compiled recorded output (and beyond) of 70s Canadian trio Syrinx, whose boundary leaping music was lovingly excavated by experimental New York label RVNG Intl.

Syrinx bandleader John Mills-Cockell was a pioneering Moog enthusiast, but these recordings travel a spectrum far broader than ambient exploration. The title track is a widescreen composition of pastoral chamber synth, worthy of scoring a Kubrick film. “Ibistix” slithers and grooves with an Ethio-Jazz funk, stretching out into warbling alien terrains while “Field Hymn (Epilogue)” blends Renaissance formality with folk-jazz soundscapes. But the (seasonally appropriate) standout might just be “December Angel.” It’s a piece that is stunning, patient, and solemn – a winter paean of snow, sorrow, and wonder – its melancholy strings gliding across granular synth textures that predate Another Green World and Low.  It’s a breathtaking piece of electronic music – a synthetic conjuring of a dramatic symphony orchestra; a kind of retrofuturist opera that feels fresh even now, like its own form of new music. All this to say: this is a must-hear record – not just 1972 or 2016, but forever. High praise, indeed. words / c depasquale

Syrinx :: December Angel


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

SIRIUS 464: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ Alpha Beta – Astral Abuse ++ Trinidad And Tobago Steel All Stars – Do Your Thing ++ Unique Madoo – Call Me Nobody Else ++ Tony Sarfo & The Funky Afrosibi – I Beg ++ Sweet Breeze – Good Thing ++ Soul Throbs – Little Girl ++ Talking Heads – I Get Wild/Wild Gravity ++ Dub Syndicate – Out And About ++ Suang Santi – Dub Fai Kui Gun (Turn Off The Light, Let’s Talk) ++ Stomu Yamash’ta’s East Wind – Rian Race ++ Blur – Out Of Time ++ Faust – It’s A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl ++ Sam Spence – Sunken Ship ++ Rhetts Hughes – Light My Fire ++ Petalouda – What You Can Do In Your Life ++ Gil Scott-Heron – Message To The Messengers ++ T.Y. Boys – Lekopokopo Single Moqashoa ++ Gabor Szabo – Caravan ++ Carsten Meinert Kvartet – One For Alice ++ Gene Boyd – Thought of You Today ++ Amral’s Trinindad Cavaliers – It Sure Is Funky ++ Menahan Street Band – Tired of Fighting ++ Arthur Russell – Make 1, 2 ++ Talking Heads – I Zimbra ++ Fela Kuti – My Lady Frustration ++ Joya Landis – Angel (Of The Morning) ++ Kool Blues – Since I Fell For You ++ Bobby Moore & The Rhythm Aces – Groovin’ with the Aces ++ The Fabulous Three – Django’s Soul ++ Bembeya Jazz National – Petit Sekou ++ CAN – I Want More ++ Serge Gainsbourg – Des Laids Des Dubs ++ Dwight Sykes – In The Life Zone

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


“Well, I’m gonna make myself a cup of Good Morning America, ya’ll want some?” While the news of last year’s reissue of the Twin Peaks OST was cool, this is personally what I’ve been waiting for: a vinyl issue of Fire Walk With Me. I was 16 when I picked up the CD upon the film’s initial release — soundtracking and possibly warping/haunting some formative years. Oh, well. Among other things, I have the collection to thank as my introduction to the late, great Little Jimmy Scott (via “Sycamore Trees“), and later on the music bed for my first radio show was courtesy of “The Pink Room“. Also, I’m pretty confident it was FWWM that finally led to my purchasing Julee Cruise’s indispensable 1989 debut, Floating Into The Night. While the score for the original series remains beautifully consistent, the companion soundtrack to Fire Walk With Me, like Lynch, is eclectically bizarre, humorous and surprising.

The reissue of Fire Walk With Me is out January 25th, via Death Waltz Recordings.

Angelo Badalamenti :: The Pink Room


Deftly fusing blues, gospel, and soul, songwriter William Bell is one of the architects of this Stax sound. Seriously, there’s no denying his power: this is the guy who penned “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” “Everybody Loves a Winner,” and “Born Under A Bad Sign.”

His latest, 2016’s This Is Where I Live, was recently nominated for two  Grammys, for Best Americana Album and Best Traditional R&B Performance. It touches on the classic sounds and themes he’s known for, and was in some ways a homecoming for him, his first album on Stax after leaving in the ’70s.

We phoned Bell at his home studio shortly after the release of This Is Where I Live for an episode of our Transmissions podcast. You can listen to that episode here, and below you’ll find a minimally-edited transcription of our discussion. The Transmissions podcast returns in this month with new episodes. Subscribe on iTunes or via RSS feed.

Aquarium Drunkard: Let’s start with the title of your new record, This Is Where I Live. It’s a very resonate title and it feels in some ways like it’s a comment on the kind of songs you sing, but also on being back on Stax after a long time apart. How does it feel to be back on the label after leaving back in the ’70s?

William Bell: It feels great. I’m coming full circle here back on Stax, and I started my career with Stax. It feels good, it feels comfortable.

AD: You were an essential part of building Stax. When you’re a young man, making records and working, I don’t imagine that you have much of a sense of how historic what you’re doing is. But looking back, signing to the label again, did you take some time to reflect on the legacy and the heritage and the history of what you guys built with that label back when you started?

William Bell: Of course…when we started we didn’t have any idea we would have the longevity that we’ve had. I did [reflect on history]… that was uppermost in my mind and [I was] almost always conscious of trying to — not to duplicate, but to recreate — some of the magic and make sure that we had some great songs with good lyrical content, good melodic structure, and all that. Because that’s what Stax was about, trying to keep it as honest and real as possible.


Hey, look – a collaboration. AD and Fair Ends just whipped these up: The Aquarium Drunkard cap. Check your head in 2017 with one of two styles — a navy wool with the AD letters sewn on in felt, or go tone-on-tone with the off-white twill / felt letters job. Both are limited edition / limited run.

Here’s our amigo for life Cold Splinters‘ Jeff Thrope sporting the navy lid.


**more images after the jump…