Via satellite, transmitting from northeast Los Angeles — the Aquarium Drunkard Show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35. 7pm California time, Wednesdays.
34.1090° N, 118.2334° W
From the opening keys to the bouncy, echoing synths: indeed, the High Llamas are back with their immediate, radiating brand of orchestral lounge music. The last time we checked in with the prolific Sean O’Hagan, he referenced a parallel to the career trajectory of Robert Wyatt to describe his own creative tear of late. Perhaps recalling Mary Hansen’s vocals on Llamas tracks of yesteryear, the swaying new single “Sister Friends” features English pop singer Rae Morris taking lead vocals in a lush, jazzy duet.
This week on the show: a conversation with Laetitia Sadier. As the main vocalist of Stereolab, her spacey voice shines as the human core in that project’s motorik and dense avant-pop, a blend of electronic music, krautrock, space age lounge sounds, and much more. Her latest is called Rooting for Love, and she joins us to discuss the collective and the individual, and the radical potentiality of love.
At this year’s NYC Winter Jazzfest, the dominant forms veered into New Age and ambient territory: abstract, pretty, burbling along in loose conglomerations of synths and “organic” instrumentation. And maybe jazz comingling with New Age sensibilities is exactly the antidote we need for today’s troubling times.
English guitarist Dean McPhee has spent more than a decade now patiently carving out a singular niche for himself. That patience has paid off — there’s really no one else who can create (and sustain) the darkly seductive mood that’s embedded within his work. Astral Gold, McPhee’s first album since 2021, continues to mine that same rich vein, with his luminous, electrified tones spiraling out over steadily looping undercurrents and uncanny percussive accents.
Linda Smith started recording cassettes at home in the late 1980s, painstakingly writing out simple parts for voice, guitar, bass and percussion, laying them down on a four-track, dubbing them onto cassettes and selling them by mail order to a handful of admirers—many of them also DIY musicians. ow, following its 2021 compilation Till Another Time: 1988-1996, Captured Tracks has reissued Smith’s two exquisite mid-1990s cassette recordings, Nothing Else Matters and I So Liked Spring.
Welcome back to the stacks. It’s Aquarium Drunkard’s Book Club, our monthly gathering of recent (or not so recent) recommended reading. In this month’s stack: the communal effort that has made up NYC’s varied music scenes over the decades, Thurston Moore’s epic memoir, Haruki Murakami, the poetry of Oswell Blakeston and the hallucinatory, existential odyssey that is The Apple in the Dark.
Those recurring zither glissandi sound like toybox miniatures of Alice Coltrane’s celestial harp. But interestingly, while the opening “Zither Suite” commences with a clutch of spiritual jazz signifiers—a lovely, tentative bass melody, warm piano chords, rain stick clatter, some hand drums, and a searching flute solo—the track takes a sharp turn around the three-minute mark.
Nora Brown has been playing old time music since she was six years old. She came up in the folk scene surrounding the Jalopy Theatre, the headquarters of traditional music in New York City. Gearing up for a European tour this spring, she spoke with AD about the banjo, the vibes of old time music, listening to your elders.
Grateful Dead archivist Dick Latvala referred to tapes from 1968-70 as “primal Dead.” And while I know Jerry was never a fan of this sort of music (he dismissed the first wave of fusion as “state-of-the-art music-school music,”) I’m going to go ahead and call this show a slab of “primal Weather Report.” In fact, this is as a primal as it gets, being, by all accounts, the band’s earliest recorded performance.
It’s an ironclad law at this point, a logical theorem: every Real Estate record is good, and every Real Estate sounds like Real Estate, because Real Estate is good. But Daniel, their latest, is a wonder in more ways than one.
Ruth Goller first toyed with detuned bass lines, chiming harmonics, and swells of choral vocals on her 2021 debut, Skylla. For its sequel, SKYLLUMINA she’s joined by a squadron of drummers. On opener “Below my skin,” Sons of Kemet/The Smile’s Tom Skinner somersaults around the tubs, echo effects trailing his tumbling brushed fills. Much of the album remains in this mystical, nearly ambient space, such as “She was my own she was myself” featuring Goller’s International Anthem labelmate Bex Burch.
During his 2020 live album Axiom, Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah (formerly known as Christian Scott aTunde) states that he and his band are “reevaluating what we’re playing and why.” The result of that process can be heard on 2023’s Bark Out Thunder Roar Out Lightning. Dedicated to his grandfather Big Chief Donald Harrison Sr. of the Guardians of the Flame and his uncle, renowned saxophonist Big Chief Donald Harrison Jr. of the Congo Square Nation, the songs on are a change of direction for Chief Adjuah in terms of both sound and subject matter.