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Composer Rob Mazurek is no stranger to high concepts: His Exploding Star Orchestra has plotted albums around the cycle of galactic death and rebirth; Return the Tides: Ascension Suite and Holy Ghost was centered around the idea of energy transference, inspired by his mother’s passing; Alternate Moon Cycles was a patient drone constructed in alignment with lunar luminosity. So, the science fiction ambition of his new LP Alien Flower Sutra isn’t unusual in the context of Mazurek’s discography, but in vocalist Emmett Kelly of the Cairo Gang, he’s found a powerful storytelling ally.

Rob Mazurek & Emmett Kelly :: Of Time Wasted

Originally conceived as an opera, Alien Flower Sutra tells the story of “a cybernetic organism struggling to reconcile the human buried inside their computer-regulated psyche.” Kelly provides vocals and first-person lyrics on the album, his skeletal melodies and guitar work wrapped in noisy soundscapes and washes of modular synthesizer by Mazurek.

The resulting album features a haunting, moving saga, Kelly’s words stretched over songs like “”I Untied My Wrists,” “Embryo Genesis,” and finally “We Are One.” Mazurek brings violent, chaotic charge to the songs, but Kelly’s words continually pull the listener back in to his character’s grief at the sight of bombs, bodies running toward water, and the uneasy tension between machine and man. “We all can become anyone/under cross electric fire/in the prison, we are one/a good companion in the steel,” he sings.

The sounds move quickly between heavy drones, minimalist loops, and ambient folk, always accentuating the emotional tenor of the subject matter. “The spaces inside me, cavernous ricochets,” Kelly sings, the music matching his illustrative language, rife with longing and electric wires.

The album ends with “Overture Towards the Beginning of the End of Time,” its blown-out melodies offering a kind of scorched triumph. Kelly doesn’t sing here, perhaps suggesting the occurrence of singularity between flesh and circuitry, or perhaps implying the unit’s creased operation. It’s beautiful, compelling speculative fiction in the vein of William Gibson’s cyberpunk tales or Leiji Matsumoto’s romantic Galaxy Express 999. words / j woodbury

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Happy 75th to a poet, a rock ‘n roll icon, a folk sensation, and a living legend. Stop and take a moment to fathom that number; 75 years. Bob Dylan has spent 54 of those on earth as a recording artist. He was at the forefront of the NYC folk scene, marched on Washington for civil rights, defected from the folkies into an electrified cultural icon who influenced just about every style of music imaginable, and is still out there, doing his thing. Sure, he’s released a few clunkers along the way, but all it takes is a release such as the outrageously captivating Time Out Of Mind or the subtle, beautiful comfort of last year’s Shadows In The Night to demonstrate Dylan’s undeniable/unshakable genius.

During the heady period of 1965-66, Dylan bottled lightning in the studio by reinventing and rearranging the songs that comprise one of the greatest three album runs in the history of music (Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde On Blonde). But he also made changes on two of those albums after they were initially pressed. There are more than a handful of different mixes available via different pressings of Blonde On Blonde, and it can be confusing working out what’s what. However, we’ll keep it simple, and post this rarity. Only the initial (stereo only) pressings of Highway 61 Revisited feature an alternate take of the rollicking “From A Buick 6” that has a harmonica intro – one that is completely absent on all other official releases. Want a copy of your own? Memorize the matrix numbers of the first press, and look out for the word ‘unbreakable’ on the label. words / d see

Related: Aquarium Drunkard – The Collected Bob Dylan Archives

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Krautpop. Speaking of Trouble In Mind Records, earlier this month the Chicago label released Spagat der Liebe, the Zürich based Klaus Johann Grobe’s second LP. Comprised of Sevi Landolt (organ/synths/vocals) and Daniel Bachmann (drums/vocals), the pair continue down the path set out on their initial self-produced singles and 2014’s Im Sinne der Zeit – a groove laden Autobahn equally rooted in their German krautrock forebears, ’90s Stereolab explorations and lo-fi jazz/funk.

Klaus Johann Grobe :: Ein Guter Tag

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Los Angeles-based label Leaving Records been been responsible for releasing some of 2016’s most blissful sound explorations, like Matthewdavid’s Trust the Guide and Glide and Carlos Niño & Friends’ Flutes, Echoes, It’s All Happening (the latter pairing the Spaceways Radio deejay with saxophonist Kamasi Washington, legendary beatmaker Madlib, cosmic channel Iasos, and the Aztec-evoking avant-garde composer Luis Pérez Ixoneztli).

For its latest New Age entry, Leaving is going back to the early 1980s, with Dream Music by SunPath, the recording name of one Jeff Berry. Collecting material from 1980’s Yasimin and the Snowflake Dragon and 1984’s SunPath 2, the sounds here are deeply melodic and zone deeply inward, featuring Berry on Prophet synthesizer, incorporating natural sounds — streams recorded in the open and in caves, storms — and augmented by the inclusion of homemade flutes, drums, and stringed instruments.

The tape is out now. We spoke with Berry about his sound and approaching the “magic of the multiverse.”

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Beth Orton has spent 20-some years walking the margins between folk rock and electronic music. Before her 1996 classic Trailer Park, she recorded an entirely electronic debut, SuperpinkyMandy, but even then, she covered cosmic balladeer John Martyn’s “Don’t Want to Know About Evil.” In Orton’s hands, the lines between the genres have always been smudged — she’s collaborated with everyone from Terry Callier to William Orbit to Ben Watt — but with her new album, Kidsticks, Orton makes a decisive statement.

“…I would go as far as to say this resolutely is not a folk record,” Orton says via the phone from her home in Los Angeles, her accent making plain her English roots.

She has a point. Kidsticks has more in common with Stereolab or Four Tet than the gentle folk of 2006’s Jim O’Rourke-produced Comfort of Strangers or Sugaring Season, the album that followed it six years later. Built on loops engineered by Orton and Andrew Hung of Fuck Buttons, the new album is vivid and neon-colored. “Wave” rides a funky, shimmering pulse; “Flesh and Blood” bursts with interlocked melodies; “Petals” rises and falls with tremendous swells of synthesized bass. Orton’s hardly abandoned her lyrical focus. These songs, concerning the passage of time and exploring concepts of identity, feature some of her best lyrical work, not obscured, but enhanced, by the dense sounds that flutter around it. “There’s starlight burning in our hearts tonight,” Orton sings on the slow motion ballad “Dawnstar,” a line which encapsulates the vividness of her prose on the record.

Orton spoke with AD about building the album’s framework from rhythm loops, the influence of shuffle mode, and why this feels like the album she’s been waiting to make for a long time.

Aquarium Drunkard: You start off “Snow” singing, “I’ll astrally project myself into the life of someone else.” That’s one of my favorite metaphors for the act of releasing music. When you put out a record, that’s what you’re doing: releasing your voice and experiences into the lives of people listening. Where did that lyric come from?

Beth Orton: That’s a lovely way of interpreting it. I like that way of interpreting better than any. I don’t know, I was just playing with that idea. The themes that come up a lot on this record deal with time: a sense of time travel, a sense of shifting time, of time not being quite real.

AD: A shared illusion, at least.

Beth Orton: We sort of slip between time without really realizing it. We’re always traveling through time, our daily space is constantly between dreams. I play around with identity a lot on the record, and I just love the idea of astral projection. What the fuck does it actually mean, you know? Time travel — that’s definitely a theme of the record.

I’ve been waiting nearly a year for this record to come out – Omni’s debut lp, Deluxe. – and this track, “Wire”, was my initial introduction. Clocking in at just over three minutes, the track neatly encapsulates the best of late 70s / early 80s jittery post-punk, all without muddying the waters with unnecessary pastiche. Omni, like its namesake, hail from Atlanta and are comprised of former members of Carnivores/Deerhunter.

The album drops July 8th, via Trouble In Mind Records. And, by the way — it was worth the wait.

Carsten-MeinertOur 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 434: Jean-Michel Bernard – Générique Stéphane ++ Jean Jacques Dexter – Be Quite ++ Stomu Yamash’ta’s Red Buddha Theatre – Awa Odori ++ Faust – It’s A Bit Of A Pain ++ Bohannon – Save Their Souls ++ Lennie Hibbert – Rose Len ++ Gandalf – Nature Boy ++ Funkadelic – Music For My Mother ++ Nina Simone – Be My Husband ++ Carsten Meinert Kvartet – One For Alice ++ Can – Mother Sky ++ Curtis Knight (w/ Jimi Hendrix) – Happy Birthday ++ Jimmy Stone – Family Affair ++ Alan Hawkshaw – Ski Bird ++ These Trails – Garden Botanum ++ Henri Texier – Les “là-bas” ++ Joni Mitchell – Jungle Line ++ John Carpenter – Main Title ++ Woods – Sun City Creeps ++ Headhunters – Mugic ++ Third Wave – Eleanor Rigby ++ Norma Tanega – You’re Dead ++ Blossom Dearie – That’s Just The Way I Want To Be ++ King Crimson – Peace (An End) ++ Pink Floyd – San Tropez ++ Lightmyth – Across The Universe ++ Takuro Yoshida – I Live On ++ The Beach Boys – Passing By ++ The Limiñanas – 3 Migas 2000 ++ Bob Azzam & His Orchestra – The Last Time ++ The Clique – Pretty Thing (demo) ++ Paul McCartney – Momma Miss America ++ John Martyn – Solid Air ++ The Rolling Stones – Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind

*You can listen, for free, online with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.
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On its latest LP, Welcome to Worms, Los Angeles band Bleached pulls off everything you want great rock songs to do. Led by sisters Jennifer and Jessica Calvin, the album’s funny and loud, as well as reflective and self-aware. It’s fun, effervescent, and catchy, but it rewards repeated spins, inviting the listener deeper into singer Jennifer’s often dark head space, which she explores without pretension. “Trying to lose myself again,” she sings on the song of the same name, allowing her direct lines to just sit with the listener the same way the sugar-rush fuzz guitar does.

“Trying to understand myself was the biggest thing,” Jennifer says of the writing process. “I would have one day where I thought I was amazing, and then the next, I would hate myself. But I just knew what I had was my writing and being honest with myself, so I just went there every time I’d write…We’re really scared to face the darkness in life, but when we just accept that’s part of the package, the good and and the bad, then I think it’s easier to be happier.”

The contrast between the gleeful strut of these songs and intimate lyrical reflections is underscored by — as bone-headed as the observation might read — the power of the album’s riffs, meaty, Joan Jett-plays-Cheap Trick slabs of heavy guitar.

“We definitely wanted to up our game from the last record,” Jennifer says. To that aim, they worked with established producer Joe Chiccarelli, pushing the band to make the sonic feel of the record “scary and hard.”

That heaviness “made this record possible,” Jessica says.

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Welcome to the second episode of Aquarium Drunkard’s newly rebooted Transmissions podcast, our recurring series of unique discussions and extraño sounds.

On this episode, we spoke with Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest, whose new album Teens of Denial comes out this Friday via Matador Records. It’s a fantastic record, bigger and more fully realized than before, and it reflects the transition from solo project to full band. We also spoke to author Bob Mehr about Trouble Boys, his affecting book on the Replacements. Mehr’s one of the best music writers working, and his book dives deep and comes up with even more than one could expect. Onwards . . .

Transmissions Podcast: Car Seat Headrest / Bob Mehr

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