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Parallelograms (Awaiting Repress)What's all the fuss about? If you've read any of the hundreds of articles in music mags and on the net about Linda Perhacs' sole 1970 LP Parallelograms, you'd be tempted to question its reputation. People talk about Parallelograms in much the same way that they talk about Nick Drake's Island albums, Swaddling Songs by Mellow Candle and Vashti Bunyan's sole LP for Phillips... as a life-changing musical experience, one that inspires them to create new works of art and to express their deepest emotions despite the risk. Sure, there's a lot of hyperbole out there about this record, and yet it's absolutely warranted. For just about 40 minutes, it will take you on a guided tour of a world that's far too beautiful to exist... but does.
Part of the effect of the album is in the incredibly sensitive production by soundtrack composer Leonard Rosenman. He facilitates some very non-traditional ideas and gets extraordinarily skilled musicians to execute them. Rosenman's willingness to work in intense collaboration with a wide-eyed studio novice speaks volumes about his desire to help create something truly original. Sundazed used a pristinely preserved master tape of the album as its source and meticulously remastered to reveal a deep and subtle soundscape that practically reinvents the listening experience even if you've heard Parallelograms a thousand times before. Listen to Steve Cohn's guitar lines and how they dance so delicately in and around Linda's vocal lines on songs like Dolphin. When you get to the end of side one, it's time to don the headphones. Every ride in the sonic theme park that is the song Parallelograms is free, and there are no lines!
As much as it's about the psychedelic production and gorgeous arrangements, it's about words. Linda Perhacs uses words like no one else, teasing and toying with them, spinning them into bright, joyous confections with her voice on songs like Porcelain Baked-Over Cast-Iron Wedding. Her words at times sound like ancient sacred poetry, translated for the first time into English and whispered in your ear by a true love. Listening to Call of the River and Delicious is as close as you'll ever get to hearing the Sirens' song without getting strapped to a mast first!
People like Devendra Banhart, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo & Thomas Bangalter (Daft Punk) and Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) have expressed their love of these recordings, and they've taken direct inspiration from it for their current work. Parallelograms has also encouraged a close re-examination of the genre. Let's hope record collectors never stop searching for the kind of magic they hear in Parallelograms. For psychedelic folk, you can start at perfect and go from there.
This Sundazed release is the definitive edition of this essential album.1. Chimacum Rain2. Paper Mountain Man3. Dolphin4. Call of the River5. Sandy Toes6. Parallelograms7. Hey, Who Really Cares?8. Moons and Cattails9. Morning Colors10. Porcelain Baked-Over Cast-Iron Wedding11. Delicious$24.99Vinyl LP - Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
Over And EvenJoan Shelly's new album, Over And Even, was written in the back of an abandoned beauty parlor on the island of Thessaloniki. The whole thing had something to do with Vashti Bunyan. That's what Joan told me, but Joan Shelley is a poet, so she makes things up. In a small, dark room that smells of expired hair-do chemicals, there is talk of hypnosis. All the windows are blacked out. Look into my eyes. White walls are blinding in the ancient sunlight. A bowl of oranges shines like solid gold, waiting for you. There is a small classical guitar, a sunburn, and a key that turns a lock, and songs come pouring out. Maybe the Greek deal was really about Leonard Cohen. That's Joanie's jam: songs wide open enough to let the wind blow the curtains around, and solid enough to hang a ton of heartache on. She writes smart, beautiful songs full of poetry, history, mystery and nature. Like all the best sad songs, they will make you cry. Then they will drag you outside and leave you flat on your back, staring up at the stars. Joan lands on a note like a laser beam on a diamond. Colors fly around the room, and her voice bends between them. People say her voice reminds them of Sandy Denny. It's more than the vocal range. It's a quiet power that draws you in. Maybe Over And Even wasn't written last winter on a Greek island. Maybe these songs were written a hundred years ago in a farmhouse somewhere in Kentucky. That's where Joan is from, and that's where she and guitar player Nathan Salsburg recorded all the basic tracks live. All the people who played on Joan's new record -- and Daniel Martin Moore who recorded and engineered it -- are friends. That comes through somehow in the sound of the album. Will Oldham and Glen Dettinger are genius harmony singers. They leave the perfect amount of space for microscopic shifts in Joan's voice, without sacrificing their own awesome idiosyncrasies. Nathan Salsburg's guitar follows every twist of the melody. When the song breaks your heart in two, Nathan is there with a high E-string to sew it back together. Joan Shelley's voice flows out like a river. It never travels in a straight line. It follows bends and curves carved by history. We are all lucky just to be swept away, and go with her wherever she's going. But it's not over by half There's a gold in your eyes blooming out through the black And you're still standing, your hand on the map No its not over, not over by half the end.1. Brighter Than The Blues
2. Stay On My Sure
3. Over and Even
4. Not Over By Half
5. Ariadne's Gone
6. No More Shelter
7. Easy Now
8. Lure and Line
9. Jenny Come In
10. Wine And Honey
11. My Only Trouble
12. Subtle Love$17.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Thank You For...Her 3rd and last album for John Peel's Dandelion Records (originally released in 1972). She sings beautifully low-key, reflective, slightly sad songs: gentle and poetic music for wandering through meadows on overcast days. Another little folk/rock gem recommended to fans of more introspective folky artists such as Vashti Bunyan and Nick Drake.1. Nice
2. Thank You For
4. Good Baby Goodbye
5. Love Minus Zero, No Limit
6. Silver Coin
7. Happy Day
8. Fly High
9. To Leave Your Cover
10. Every Day
11. Song As Long As It Wants To Go On$21.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Labor Day SoundtrackLabor Day is a 2013 American drama film based on the novel Labor Day by Joyce Maynard.
The soundtrack was composed by Rolfe Kent who previously composed music for Reitman's Thank You for Smoking (2005), Up in the Air (2009) and Young Adult (2011). The album features I'm Going Home from Arlo Guthrie and Here Before from Vashti Bunyan. It also contains guitar pieces by AndrÉs Segovia and Shin-Ichi Fukuda.1. I'm Going Home - By Arlo Guthrie
2. A Stroll - By Rolfe Kent
3. Price Mart - By Rolfe Kent
4. Hunger For Human Touch - By Rolfe Kent
5. Frank The HandyMan - By Rolfe Kent
6. Eating Pie - By Rolfe Kent
7. Here Before - By Vashti Bunyan
8. Exercises in B Minor, Op. 35, No. 22: Allegretto - By Shin-Ichi Fukuda
9. Adele's Story - By Rolfe Kent
10. Letter To Dad - By Rolfe Kent
11. Frank Is Arrested - By Rolfe Kent
12. Henry Grows Up - By Rolfe Kent
13. Romance de los Pinos - By AndrÉs Segovia$29.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Drawing from the androgynous folk-rock vocals so characteristic of early
'60s and '70s outsider folk singers like Vashti Bunyan and Sibylle Baier,
Weyes Blood's Natalie Mering never hesitates to dive head-first into
complex and mature arrangements.- Fader
Singing at once with vulnerability and strength through an austere,
multi-layered warble, Mering searches for truth and light while facing the
end of something. - Pitchfork
'Hang On,' its first single, sounds like a tweaked and adrift version of '60s
folk music. - Stereogum
The Innocents is the name of the second album by southeastern
Pennsylvania's Natalie Mering, who performs as Weyes Blood. Its ten
songs confront us with a vocalist of rare choral purity; lyrics so
emotionally unflinching that they could pierce stone; music rooted
in American and British folk, then pulled and stretched at its fringes,
like a sweater that's just begun to unravel. As you sift through her
words, you'll feel something, and you'll associate those feelings with
past experiences that may cause you to associate them with
something more, something that affects your own emotional state.
The Innocents is akin to the most primal form of expression:
elements laid bare, deeply connected to the past, and miles away
from anything else you're likely to hear in music today.1. Land of Broken Dreams
2. Hang On
3. Some Winters
5. Requiem for Forgiveness
7. Bad Magic
8. February Skies
10. Bound to Earth$17.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
You And Me (Discontinued)You & Me is Kevin Barker's debut album, released by Gnomonsong. Though it's his first solo release under his own name, Barker's no newcomer to the scene--he's spent the last few years recording, touring, and collaborating with Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Vashti Bunyan, Vetiver, Antony and the Johnsons, and Espers, to name just a few. Essentially acting as everyone's favorite sideman, Barker has influenced and helped create a sound with which this generation is happily familiar. During his college days, Barker became interested in the finger-style guitar playing of John Fahey and Bert Jansch and began to record under the name Currituck County. This solo project (sometime a duo with Vetiver / Espers drummer Otto Hauser) recorded albums for Teenbeat Records, Troubleman Unlimited, and the UK's Track and Field Organisation. Now Barker has assembled an unbelievable group of musicians for You & Me. Produced by Thom Monahan (Vetiver, Lilys, Gary Louris, Devendra Banhart), the album features Pat Sansone (Wilco), Joanna Newsom, Jonathan Wilson (Elvis Costello, Jenny Lewis), Eric Johnson (Shins, Fruit Bats), and Otto Hauser (Vetiver, Espers). Full of sunny, rural country rock, You & Me recalls the rustic grooves of The Band and The Grateful Dead, the heady melancholy of Roy Harper, and the golden harmonies of CSNY.1. Little Picture of You
2. You & Me
3. Mountain & Bear
5. Walking Along
6. My Lady
7. I Will Fly
8. Bless You on Your Way
9. Tiny Tattered Tale (Bonus track)
10. Ten Toes To Sister Sky (Bonus track)
11. Jerry Jeff On The Radio (Bonus track)$11.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Bright Sunny SouthNonesuch Records releases Sam Amidon's label debut, Bright Sunny South in 2013. Produced by Amidon with his childhood friend and longtime collaborator Thomas Bartlett (a.k.a. Doveman) and legendary English engineer Jerry Boys (Buena Vista Social Club, Vashti Bunyan, R.E.M.) and recorded in London, the record features a band made up of Bartlett and multi-instrumentalists Shahzad Ismaily and Chris Vatalaro. Jazz trumpeter Kenny Wheeler also makes a cameo. Amidon himself not only sings but also plays banjo, fiddle, acoustic guitar, and piano on the album.
Amidon describes Bright Sunny South as a "a lonesome record" and a return to the more spare sound of his 2007 self-recorded debut, But This Chicken Proved Falsehearted: "There was an atmospheric quality to my last two records; those albums are like a garden of sounds," says Amidon, "but this one is more of a journey, a winding path. The band comes rushing in and then they disappear. It comes from more of a darker, internal space."
A longtime admirer of Boys' work, Amidon was particularly enamored of his recordings with Martin Carthy in the 1970s, as well as the Ali Farka TourÉ/Toumani DiabatÉ duet albums on World Circuit/Nonesuch: "Those are so beautiful. I listened to all of that. I loved the sense of documentation, the unadorned quality. Everything sounded so clear."
The Vermont-born and raised, London-based Amidon is known for his reworking of traditional melodies into a new form. In addition to country ballads and shape-note hymns, Bright Sunny South features interpretations of traditional and contemporary songs, including Tim McGraw's "My Old Friend" and Mariah Carey's "Shake It Off." The record also includes a version of "Weeping Mary," a shape-note hymn that his parents, Peter and Mary Alice Amidon, had recorded with the Vermont-based Word of Mouth Chorus for Nonesuch Records on the 1977 disc Rivers of Delight: American Folk Hymns from the Sacred Harp Tradition.
Bright Sunny South follows 2010's critically acclaimed I See the Sign, which earned Amidon praise from SPIN for his "quirky alchemy contrasting pretty sounds with violent lyrical undercurrents" and Pitchfork, which said, "[Amidon's] interpretations are so singular that it stops mattering how (or if) they existed before."
Prior to I See the Sign, which was released on the Iceland-based label Bedroom Community, Amidon released But This Chicken Proved Falsehearted (Plug Research, 2007) and All Is Well (Bedroom Community, 2008). In addition to his solo albums, Amidon has collaborated on performances pieces with musical polymath Nico Muhly, toured as part of Thomas Bartlett's group Doveman and the Brooklyn band Stars Like Fleas, collaborated with Beth Orton, and embarked on a series of live shows with the guitarist Bill Frisell.
Sam Amidon, sing, banjo, fiddle, acoustic guitar; piano (8)
Thomas Bartlett, piano, Hammond organ, Wurlitzer, Moog synthesizer; percussion & electric guitar (11)
Shahzad Ismaily, electric & acoustic guitars, electric bass, Moog bass; drums (2); shaker egg (7)
Chris Vatalaro: drums & percussion; flute (6); a taste of the Wurli (2)
Kenny Wheeler, trumpet (2, 5)
Doug Wieselman, clarinets (11)
Tyler Gibbons, electric bass (10)
Produced by Sam Amidon, Jerry Boys, and Thomas Bartlett
Engineered and Mixed by Jerry Boys
Recorded at Snap Recording Studios and Livingston Studios, London
"Weeping Mary" Engineered by Patrick Dillett at No Fat Studios, New York, NY
Violin and bass on "Streets of Derry" Recorded by Tyler Gibbons at Red Heart Studios, Marlboro, VT
Assistant Engineers: Ben Mclusky at Snap; Sonny at Livingston
All songs are traditional, reworked & arranged by Sam Amidon, except track 4 written by McEwan/Wiseman, arranged by Sam Amidon and Thomas Bartlett; track 8 by Cox/Carey/Austin/Dupri, arranged by Sam Amidon; track 11 by McCurry/Power, arranged by Sam Amidon and Thomas Bartlett
Design by John Gall
Executive Producer: David Bither1. Bright Sunny South
2. I Wish I Wish
3. Short Life
4. My Old Friend
5. He's Taken My Feet
7. As I Roved Out
8. Shake It Off
10. Streets of Derry
11. Weeping Mary$24.99Vinyl LP + Bonus 7 - Sealed Buy Now
CeremonyIt begins with the sound of a church organ, an arpeggio played on the lower notes, a melody teased out in the higher register, before a snare drum beats out an ominous, stuttering tattoo. Three minutes in, guitars begin to rumble like clouds gathering on the horizon, the melody slowly swelling, threatening to tear the sky apart. This is Anna Von Hausswolff's "Epitaph Of Theodor", and as dramatic, instrumental openings to albums go, it's close to overwhelming. But it's followed by something even more intense: "Deathbed", which growls and resonates sinisterly before shards of metallic thunder shatter the drones and a funereal beat forces the song to lurch forward. Only after some four and a half minutes of this ferocious clamour do we hear a human voice, and it's unleashed with a fierce power, rising and swooping, a vast bird pursuing its prey until the song reaches its final, unexpectedly triumphant climax.
You want to talk about compromises? No. Nor does Anna Von Hausswolff.
These two songs alone represent a quarter of 'Ceremony's sixty minutes, but there are eleven more on an album that confounds and dumbfounds from its start to its end. To those who used Anna Von Hausswolff's debut album, Singing From The Grave, to compare her lazily to Kate Bush, it will come as a brutal shock. The fragile atmospheres of that impressive debut, one that earned her huge acclaim in her native Sweden, have been blasted away, and what's emerged from the wasteland left behind is a dizzying masterpiece that, she proudly states, calls upon, amongst others, Elizabeth Fraser, Jefferson Airplane, PJ Harvey, Earth, Barn Owl, Nick Cave and Diamanda Galás.
Though she now lives in Copenhagen, she grew up in the once vibrant, bohemian neighbourhood of Haga in Gothenburg, Sweden, to a family who counted amongst their ancestors Bernhard Reynold von Hausswolff, an 18th Century governor of Falun, Sweden, who helped bring an end to the burning of witches. Her father, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, is a composer and visual artist who's also co-monarch of the kingdoms of Elgaland-Vagaland, so it's perhaps not surprising that she's chosen to pursue a radical direction with her music.
"I didn't just want 'Ceremony' to be a collection of songs," she says. "I wanted it to be like a film, with every single part connected to the other, with shifting moods and settings, but a thread holding all the tracks together. I listen to a lot of film scores, and in many the music is able to move freely without the typical structures that we find in commercial music."
Arguably 'Ceremony's most significant ingredient is the church organ of Gothenburg's vast Annedalkyrkan, whose pipes are featured on the album's striking cover. Employed on nine of the album's thirteen tracks, it also provided von Hausswolff with the excuse to record for five days in the century old building, its cavernous space adding to the record's formidable magnitude. (Work was completed at weekends over several months in producer Filip Leyman's studios.) She found in the organ's sound a link between her own writing and a developing obsession with "drone metal", allowing her to add layers of thick textures to the songs. But - thanks to its inevitable associations with existence and mortality - the organ also suited the themes that lay at the heart of the record, which she defines as "nature and death, or the division of humanity and nature. From the moment we exit the womb, we start our paths towards materialism and destructive behaviour, and these days I feel that the gap between nature and human is growing bigger. I wanted to grasp my inner nature and be unified with nature again. 'Ceremony' is a celebration of life and everything that it contains, especially death, because in death we will be truly one with nature again."
That's not to say that 'Ceremony' is a bleak record, something highlighted by the extraordinary "Harmonica", which sounds like Dead Can Dance channelling a Vashti Bunyan song with arrangements by Ennio Morricone. "It's a song I wrote just after my grandfather passed away," she recalls. "It's about how culture and traditions can travel from generation down to generation, and in this case from him to me by music. Just before he died, he gave me a harmonica and he told me to practise hard and only write about things that are relevant to me. His deathbed inspired me to make 'Ceremony'."
He'd surely be proud of the bold, single-minded consequences of his legacy. Whether it be the placid but grandiose "Ocean", the hymnal "Mountains Crave", the grim, experimentalist "No Body" or the oddly exhilarating "Funeral For My Future Children", 'Ceremony' is a genuinely thrilling, timeless, inventive and even sometimes - in the purest sense of the word - gothic accomplishment.
"This record isn't really about Anna von Hausswolff as a vocalist or as a person," she concludes. "It's about the music and all that it contains. Singing from the Grave was a raw and emotional record that happened fast. I think of it as an impulse. 'Ceremony' is more of a vision: something unfinished and unresolved, a glimpse of the future."1. Epitaph of Theodor
3. Mountains Grave
5. Red Sun
6. Epitaph of Daniel
7. No Body
8. Liturgy of Light
12. Funeral for my Future Children
13. Sun Rise$18.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now