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Heaven And Earth'
Heaven And Earth
Kamasi Washington's sophomore album Heaven and Earth not only fulfills its overarching ambition, but illustrates the dialectic between seen and unseen, real and imagined, citizen and culture, self and self, as well as self and other, and does so through the lens of a mature but never jaded revolutionary consciousness. The artist's own words best convey the inspiration behind this monolith of an album "The world that my mind lives in, lives in my mind. This idea inspired me to make this album Heaven and Earth. The reality we experience is a mere creation of our consciousness, but our consciousness creates this reality based on those very same experiences. We are simultaneously the creators of our personal universe and creations of our personal universe. The Earth side of this album represents the world as I see it outwardly, the world that I am a part of. The Heaven side of this album represents the world as I see it inwardly, the world that is a part of me. Who I am and the choices I make lie somewhere in between."LP 1
1. Fists of Fury
2. Can You Hear Him
2. The Invincible Youth
4. One of One
1. The Space Travelers Lullaby
2. Vi Lua Vi Sol
3. Street Fighter Mas
4. Song For The Fallen
2. The Psalmnist
3. Show Us The Way
4. Will You Sing$65.99Vinyl LP - 4 LPs Sealed Buy Now
DigTaking up from where iconic bands like Deep Purple and Bad Company have left off, Heaven & Earth is on a mission to resurrect the sanctity of classic rock in its purest, most accessible form on their third studio album titled Dig. Dig was produced by Dave Jenkins-who's turned the knobs for everyone from Metallica to Tower of Power-and features special guests Howard Leese (Heart, Paul Rodgers), Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi) and David Paich (Toto).
Heaven & Earth-guitarist Stuart Smith, singer Joe Retta, bassist Chuck Wright, drummer Richie Onori and keyboardist Arlan Schierbaum-fuse elements of hard rock, blues and bits of classical with bravado and a razor-sharp focus.
As the band's founder and visionary, Smith says about Dig, "I feel that with the crafting of the songs on this album, the incredible band we've put together, especially with powerhouse vocalist Joe Retta and the unwavering support of Quarto Valley Records' President, Bruce Quarto, we really have a shot at getting Heaven & Earth the attention it deserves. This album is by far, the best thing I have ever done in my life!"
The British-born guitarist spent the 70's bending strings with numerous groups before he distinguished himself by making the acquaintance of Deep Purple's Ritchie Blackmore, who mentored the up-and-coming musician. "I'm probably one of the few people in the world who grew up with a poster of someone on their wall, ended up meeting them, becoming friends with them, and getting mentored by them," Smith notes. At the urging of Blackmore, Smith migrated to Los Angeles where the seeds for Heaven & Earth were planted. The band released two critically acclaimed albums-Heaven & Earth Featuring Stuart Smith (1994) and Windows to the World (2000)-which helped advance Smith's musical vision. Now, with Dig complete, the guitarist says Heaven & Earth is a true band, an energized collective of like-minded musicians who are excited at bringing its unique, celestial brand of rock to audiences all over the world in 2013. "All the pieces are in place," he explains with graceful candor. "We're ready to make this our year."
All the backing tracks on Dig were recorded at Ocean Studios in Burbank, California, and all the overdubs were done at the band's own Wine Cellar Studios in Woodland Hills, California. To further refine the record's sonic reach, Jenkins used a Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor (CLASP), a device that integrates real analog tape recording into digital tools like Pro Tools to create a warm and vintage sound. Both Van Halen and Aerosmith enlisted a CLASP on their most recent albums.1. Victorious
2. No Money, No Love
3. I Don't Know What Love Is
4. Man & Machine
5. House of Blues
6. Back in Anger
7. Waiting for the End of The World
8. Sexual Insanity
9. Rock & Roll Does
10. A Day Like Today
11. Good Times
12. Live as One$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Heaven Is EarthSelf Defense Family are one of the most prolific Punk bands out there today. Through countless releases and as many musical contributors (they have had more than ten active members at any given time), the collective has grown in both sound and vision.
"Heaven Is Earth" was recorded at four classic indie/punk studios by a diverse group of engineers: Will Killingsworth at Dead Air Studios (Mind Eraser, etc), Kurt Ballou at God City Studios (Converge, etc), Mark Millar at Sone Lab (Dinosaur Jr, etc), and Jon Low at Miner Street Recordings (Kurt Vile, etc). Each engineer leaving their own distinct audio fingerprint on the collection of songs.
Opener "In My Defense Self Me Defend" percussively wanders as warped guitars weave a pillow for Patrick Kindlon's introspective prose."Talia" introduces both piano and harmonica to the formula, all of it swirling and dancing around a throbbing bass line. "Ditko" exists in a similar sonic place as well, but utilizes textural guitars and subtle effects to set the pensive mood. It's not all sad clown music though. "Prison Ring" picks things up in the middle of the album with a Mekons like urgency. While "Everybody Wants a Prize for Feeling" welcomes a whimsical stomp akin to The Fall. These reluctantly upbeat songs lead to the title track "Heaven Is Earth". A song that descends with a delicate airiness while dealing out some of the heaviest moments of lyrical personal reflection. "Basic Skills" fills a similar space as well. A beautiful construct of a song, rich in melancholia but built on some of the most memorable melody ever from the band. Never leaving quietly, Self Defense Family then offer the closer "Dave Sim". Kicking the door open for one last high volume, pessimistic hurrah.1. In My Defense Self Me Defend
3. Prison Ring
5. Everybody Wants A Prize For Feeling
6. Heaven Is Earth
7. Basic Skills
8. Dave Sim$15.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
ChallengersTHE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS return with their fourth
album and their first recorded outside of bassist John
Collins's basement studio. Airier, more spacious and
more relaxed than its jackhammer predecessors,
'Challengers' is the sound of songwriters Carl Newman
and Dan BÉjar stretching out. In a recent Pitchfork interview, Newman rejected the power-pop label and suggested power-folk instead, and several songs on the
new album live up to it, particularly the luscious Neko
Case fronted ballads Go Places and Challengers.
That's not to say the band doesn't play anthems - it certainly does, but a rousing track like BÉjar's Myriad
Harbour is more imbued with the ghosts of Fred Neil
and Viv Stanshall than with the new-wave songsters of
yore. In general, Newman's songwriting is slightly more
scrutable this time around; his lyrics still ring with wry
perception and political metaphor, but betray some of
the magnanimity that comes with new love - our arms
fill with miracles, he writes in Go Places.
The sophisticated, rich production values and complex
range of songwriting will allow us to extend the New
Pornographers' audience to new groups: AAA radio listeners, fans of Neko's solo work, and coffee drinkers in
general. At the same time, the overflow of glorious pop
hooks and stompers like Heaven & Earth and Mutiny
will keep the existing fanbase in the groove. Our most
ambitious Buy Early, Get Now preorder promotion will
recruit those existing fans and deploy them online
months prior to street date, while allowing retailers to
sell the record at the same time.1. My Rights Versus
2. All the Old Showstoppers
4. Myriad Harbour
5. All the Things That Go
6. To Make Heaven and Earth
9. Entering White CeCilia
10. Go Places
11. Mutiny, I Promise You
12. Adventures in Solitude
13. The Spirit of Giving$22.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Not RealNot Real' is the second album by Stealing Sheep which has been written, recorded and produced by band members Becky Hawley, Emily Lansley and Lucy Mercer at their studio in Liverpool. The band met in 2010 and work together creating music and visual art.
The unifying theme of the new album 'Not Real' is an interplay of fact and fiction; the edge of dreams and limits of reality. These visions are grounded by bright melodies and insistent beats and unified by vocal harmonies; sometimes metronomic and chant-like, sometimes choral and pop.
It follows their debut, 'Into the Diamond Sun', released in 2012 by Heavenly Recordings. The first album morphed their individual styles to create a 'medieval-kraut-folk' inspired sound. They were described as an unanticipated 'pagan pop revival' and since its release have toured as guests of Postal Service and Alt-J, opened for St.Vincent in Paris, performed the songs of David Lynch at the Barbican and collaborated with the Radiophonic Workshop on an original soundtrack to the cult 70's science fiction film 'Le Planete Sauvage'.
For the second album they have concentrated on developing the sonic aesthetic of their new music. "We are more focussed about what we are trying to do. Everything has a reason for being there." They have been experimenting with tuned percussion, programmed beats, trigger samples and worked with effected synths, utilising the guitar and lap steel more sparingly and introducing more processed sounds. They've drawn inspiration from 50's exotica, electronic music and 80's pop and have been greatly influenced by the likes of Grace Jones, Can, Delia Derbyshire, Eden Ahbez, Moon Dog and John Carpenter. Grayson Perry's pop-folk art and the band's self-created mythologies were also a source of inspiration for song writing.
This is an alternative pop record that has been 'self-manufactured' by the band. Having learned new skills in the studio over the last years, the band (assisted by Sam Crombie and Joe Wills) have self-produced the album. They have used the studio not only as a writing tool but also as an instrument; experimenting with post production and varying instrumentation and layered textures. "We started off in pre-production doing all the demos ourselves" say's Becky "the demos captured an atmosphere that we wanted to carry forward to the album. The result was a hypbrid of casual takes and more considered recordings
Individual songs on the album have different environments and creatures that go with them, often inspired by the galactic rather than earth-bound imagery. Becky: "I imagine dehumanised worlds, planets with creatures that have evolved in a completely different way
The visual side is highly important to the band, all of whom have art backgrounds. "We like to be involved in all the aspects of the presentation because it's symbiotic to the music." They collaborate with artists and with 'the costumologists', coming up with ideas like "outfits that texturally reflect rhythms" and "frequency triggered, light-up costumes". The colourful and organic album cover, a collaboration between photographer Charlotte Rutherford and collage artist Louise Mason, shows their confident image for this record: as they tread the lines of surreal pop.
There is no stopping the imaginations of Stealing Sheep - but like lucid dreams, these are controlled fantasies and skilfully created worlds. Follow them on a hypnagogic journey as they sing: "listen to yourself and look within".1. Sequence
3. Not Real
4. This Time
10. She$22.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Occult Architecture Vol. 2Meaning all things magick and supernatural, the root of the word occult is that
which is hidden, concealed, beyond the limits of our minds. If this is occult, then
the Occult Architecture of Moon Duo's fourth album - a psychedelic opus in two
separate volumes released in 2017 - is an intricately woven hymn to the invisible
structures found in the cycle of seasons and the journey of day into night, dark
Offering a cosmic glimpse into the hidden patterning embedded in everything,
Occult Architecture reflects the harmonious duality of these light and dark energies
through the Chinese theory of Yin and Yang.
Following the Yin (feminine, darkness, night, earth) represented on Occult Architecture
Vol. 1, Vol. 2 presents the Yang. Yang means "the bright side of the hill" and
is associated with the male, sun, light and the spirit of heaven, and as such Vol. 2
explores the light and airy elements of Moon Duo's complex psyche.
"In production, we referred to Vol. 1 as the fuzz dungeon, and Vol. 2 as the crystal
palace," guitarist Ripley Johnson explains. "The darkness of Vol. 1 gave birth to the
light of Vol. 2. We had to have both elements in order to complete the cycle. We're
releasing them separately to allow them their own space, and to ensure clarity
of vision. To that end we also mixed Vol. 2 separately, in the height of Portland
summer, focusing on its sonic qualities of lightness, air, and sun. Listeners can
ultimately use the two volumes individually or together, depending on circumstance
or the desired effect."
Vol. 2 was mixed in Portland by the band's longtime collaborator Jonas Verwijnen.1. New Dawn
2. Mirror's Edge
4. Lost in Light
5. The Crystal World$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Terrestrials (Awaiting Repress)
Thick Stock Cardboard Stoughton Style Tip On Jacket
180 Gram Vinyl
Limited To 3,000
Four figures stand atop a summit, staring east out over a vast, frostbitten wasteland, the black sun dwindling in the west, casting their shadows across the plain. They await another clan, legendary for their slow approach. Eyes on the horizon, searching, patiently, for some signal of the arrival, some plume of smoke that would announce that the time had come. At last, at the edge of the plane, they note a black banner, and soon two hooded figures appear in the dusk. A horn sounds, and drumbeats echo through the valley.
It's only the threshold of the distant horizon that limits the scope of Terrestrials, but like much of Earth, its landscape is arid, only disclosing its secrets upon active contemplation of its component dust. From the opening strains, hidden at the foot of a vertiginous crescendo from zero decibels, the album recalls a technique of Andrei Tarkovsky's, later developed in the films of BÉla Tarr. The eight-and-a-half-minute opening shot in Tarr's epic Sátántangó laterally tracks cattle carefully plodding through a dilapidated commune in search of food from muddy pasture. As the audience investigates the frame for clues to Tarr's purpose, he slowly reveals to them a symbolic vision of the film as a whole, inviting contemplation of the rich surfaces of the decayed buildings and the labyrinthine entrapment of the commune's inhabitant kine, some playing at leadership and some dragging their feet, cow and human alike awaiting deliverance by a dark messiah. Terrestrials proceeds in a remarkably similar fashion. As each track unfurls, its glacial pace arrests the listener's search for novelty, forcing attention to the profundities of the mix and the texture that the interlaced sounds create; and yet it also deepens the desire for what each step forward promises, the crisis that the procession patiently unveils.
Terrestrials features more complex instrumentation than most of the works of either party. Sunn O)))'s deep bass and endlessly sustained guitar feature heavily on each track of Terrestrials, but so do Ulver's electronics and a myriad of additions, including trumpets, didgeridoo, and strings. Although the tracks apparently began as a set of improvisations recorded at Ulver's Oslo studio, the vast scope of the release clearly evolved out of the various mixing and arrangement sessions helmed by Ulver's Kristoffer Rygg and Sunn O)))'s Stephen O'Malley between 2008 and 2012. Here they achieved a synthesis that stylistically transcends the mere combination of the two groups and their traditional pathways, with Ulver sealing up the cracks of Sunn O)))'s immense backdrop and heightening the atmosphere with tense strings, sculpted textures, and insistent rhythm. It's this attention to the subtleties that renders Terrestrials monolithic; they ensure that each tick of the clock yields an array of sonic qualities, each progressing slowly in themselves but together moving the whole mass of sound forth at a constant click.
From the trumpets on "Let There Be Light" to the drum-like pound of the bass and didgeridoo in "Western Horn," Terrestrials relentlessly heralds its own arrival, an endless parade slouching towards Bethlehem. By the time Rygg's vocals enter at the middle of "Eternal Return," the crawling pace of the album has ensured their sublimity. Taken on its own, this short section would scarcely justify a song unto itself; it emerges out of the sudden but carefully orchestrated resolution of the murky depths of the track's recesses, manifesting as a piercing clarity and a distillation of the album's theme of annunciation. Its lyrics, rich in spite of their brevity, conceal a messianic yearning in the fallow desert, a hope for deliverance from the stasis of the Egyptian yoke and the confusion of exile, and a dark prophecy of a "liminal animal" with "golden nature" of the sinful calf. Rygg urges us to "listen silent."
Gongs or guitars ring out. This final stage of Terrestrials heralds a return of an immense mystery. What approaches, its lumbering gait constantly pressing onward, can't divulge its nature until it finally arrives. The quintessential figure of doom is an immense behemoth, a force of nature whose sublime shadow conceals it from view even as its thundering steps reveal its impending advent. But here we lie in wait. Terrestrials delivers on its persistent promise by offering another transcendental promise of a future culmination. But the restraint they exert in their advance to the beautiful oasis at the center of "Eternal Return" suggests that, here, Sunn O))) and Ulver are more interested in the process as it happens through time, tracking the march of the sun across the heavens, marking each moment as it slips back into eternity.
- Matthew Philips (Tiny Mix Tapes)1. Let There Be Light
2. Western Horn
3. Eternal Return$16.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
Uptown SpecialUptown Special, the fourth album by producer-songwriter-musician Mark Ronson, is a tale of several cities, a wide range of collaborators, and a road trip deep into the American South. However the story of Ronson's latest project really starts back when he was New York's hottest DJ.
In the late 1990s into the early 2000s the New York club scene was percolating with booming hip-hop and glitzy R&B. In those days before he emerged as a multi-talented musical force Ronson manned the turntables of many great parties. "It was a fun time to be playing music," he says. "At clubs like Cheetah you didn't have to play a hip hop record until 1a.m. You could play early '80s classics by Chaka Khan, Boz Scaggs and Michael Jackson and rock the crowd. I'd play Steely Dan's 'Black Cow' at 11:30 and it world work. Then, at 1am you'd play 'Hypnotize' by Biggie and the crowd would go wild. I come back to those memories."
This mix of vintage R&B and pop with contemporary hip-hop is what made Ronson a star DJ. "I never get tired of hearing records like Earth, Wind & Fire's 'Can't Hide Love' next to 'Rock the Boat' by Aaliyah," says Ronson. "I wanted this record to feel like hearing that kind of musical mix on great New York club night."
Uptown Special has all of the flavor of a night with Mark rocking the ones and twos with funk, soul, and psychedelic pop in a style that echoes classic productions by Quincy Jones and Steely Dan, and funneled through its creators sophisticated understanding of arrangement and melody. Of his three previous albums Mark feels like Uptown Special is closest in spirit to his 2003 debut, Here Comes the Fuzz, which came directly out his DJ experience. "The difference," Mark says "is I was reaching for things musically I wasn't quite ready to execute. With all the experience I've gained over the years I had the maturity and knowledge to really pull this together."
The first single, "Uptown Funk," features GRAMMY® award-winning superstar Bruno Mars on vocals and drums, who sings with passion and plays drums with fire that will bring funk back on the radio. Joining Mars on the track is Mark on guitar, Mars' bassist Jamareo Artis and Jeff Brasker on keys. Mark produced Mars' massive hit single, "Locked Out of Heaven," where they developed a close musical kinship. "As a live performer no one out here now puts on a show like Bruno," says Mark. "This record has that same intensity. When you hear him sing you are always aware of how much he puts into a performance." Mark was so taken with the single's power that it inspired the album's title.
Though Ronson is now based out of London, most of Uptown Special was recorded in the United States with stops in Los Angeles, Memphis and Mississippi. Most of the music was recorded with live musicians with Mark anchoring the sessions on guitar, while surrounded by a complimentary mix of gifted young players and R&B vets. Several musicians, who worked with Mark on his historic production of Amy Winehouse's multi-platinum Back To Black and his own breakthrough album, 2007's Version, rejoined him for this album, including drummer Homer Steinweiss, bassist Nick Movshan and guitarist Tommy Brenneck. Also making guest appearances on 'Uptown Special' are bassist Willie Weeks (who played on Stevie Wonder's classic Innervisions) guitarist Carlos Alomar (who created the familiar guitar riff on David Bowie's "Fame") and drummer Steve Jordan (member of the John Mayer Trio).
Mark Ronson's Uptown Special is a unique blend. It's an album with a serious literary pedigree matched to down home greasy funk. It features a progressive pop vocalist from Australia and one reared in Mississippi, the spiritual root of American music. Hot young contemporary players dominate while some tracks are spiced with legendary musicians. It's a mix that reflects the musical taste and life experience of its creator.1. Uptown's First Finale
2. Summer Breaking
3. Feel Right
4. Uptown Funk
5. I Can't Lose
7. Crack In The Pearl
8. In Case Of Fire
9. Leaving Los Feliz
10. Heavy And Rolling
11. Crack In The Pearl pt. II$21.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now