On The Turntable

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    Destroyer :: Have We Met

    As the release of the new Destroyer album approaches, Dan Bejar spoke to us about recording in isolation, the principal role of John Collins, songwriting inspirations, the end of the world, and the influence of futurism on Destroyer’s thirteenth album…

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    Alice Coltrane

    Alice Coltrane :: Berkley, 1972

    However you hear this recently uncovered bootleg, you gotta hear it (perhaps over on YouTube?). A major addition to the Alice Coltrane canon, it features the pioneering musician and her incredible band (Charlie Haden on bass, Ben Riley on drums, Aashish Khan on sarod, Pranesh Khan on tabla and Bobby W. on tamboura and percussion) journeying fearlessly across the astral plane. Beautiful, scary and transcendent…a total fucking trip, to say the least.

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    Bennie Maupin

    Bennie Maupin :: The Jewel in the Lotus

    Immaculately produced by ECM label head Manfred Eicher, Lotus found Maupin and his band exploring a restrained middle ground between the avant-garde and spiritual jazz. Opener “Ensenada” slowly unfolds over a bubbling acoustic bass line; “Song For Tracie Dixon Summers” stretches out emotively; “Past + Present = Future” simmers with interlocking piano pulses. It’s a record built for contemplative listening, an evocative counterpoint to the work of Maupin’s peers Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, and Joe Henderson.

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    Damon Locks/Black Ensemble

    Damon Locks/Black Ensemble :: Where the Future Unfolds

    Another essential release via International Anthem, this time from Damon Locks and the Black Monument Ensemble. Recorded live at the Garfield Park Botanical Conservatory on the West Side of Chicago, Where Future Unfolds stitches together beautiful singing and skilled musicianship with gritty electronic samples and powerful recordings from the Civil Rights Era. Locks and his spiritual ensemble’s thoughtful meditation on systemic oppression and inequality presents a resiliently optimistic vision for tomorrow.

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    Makaya McCraven

    Makaya McCraven :: We’re New Again

    McCraven is a musician, composer and bandleader, but he is also highly regarded for his “chopping” or remixing and re-imagining production skills. We’re New Again, his reconfiguration of the late-career classic Gil Scott Heron album I’m New Here, will be one of 2020’s top recordings, putting a fresh spin on moving meditations on family, personal history and black identity. We talked to him about that project, the process of remixing and the way he and Heron find links between many different kinds of music.

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    Arthur Russell

    Arthur Russell :: Iowa Dream

    Assembled from Russell’s unfathomably deep archive, Iowa Dream collects nineteen tracks of freewheeling Buddhist bubblegum that affirm the singer-songwriter-composer’s multi-varied talents and singular voice. It’s all here: cornfield country crooning, downtown minimalism, heart-on-sleeve new wave, and aspirational mysticism. As such, Iowa Dream is one of the most consistently thrilling and possibly most holistic of Russell’s posthumous releases organized by his partner Tom Lee and Steve Knutson of Audika Records, the label dedicated to Russel’s legacy.

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    Peter Ivers

    Peter Ivers :: Becoming Peter Ivers

    The music of Peter Ivers runs like a frontage road alongside the highway of the last half of the 20th century’s popular music. Before his tragic and mysterious death, Ivers at various points: counted Muddy Waters, Van Dyke Parks, and the frantic John Belushi as associates; wrote songs for Diana Ross, the Pointer Sisters; penned “In Heaven (The Lady In the Radiator Song)” from David Lynch’s 1977 art house masterpiece Eraserhead; hosted a public access show New Wave Theatre, which was broadcast as part of Nite Flight on the USA Network; and shared states with John Cale, the New York Dolls, and Fleetwood Mac. Tellingly, these recordings, gathered by RVNG Intl., serve as a kind of greatest unheard hits collection, their skewed logic both delightful and odd.

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    Santana :: Caravanserai

    Communing with the Astral. 1972.

    “The Body melts into the universe
    The universe melts into the soundless voice
    The sound melts into the all-shining light
    And the light enters the bosom of infinite joy.”

The Lagniappe Sessions :: Yann Tiersen

…original pieces that could be described as minimalist are uprooted and placed into entirely different realms, as Tiersen tackles a 16+ minute Steve Reich piece, a classic Françoise Hardy chanson, and a tune by country gospel musician E.C. Ball. In the hands of Tiersen all become transformed.

Brigid Mae Power :: On a City Night

Brigid Mae Power returns with her third long player, Head Above the Water, on June 5th. The first taste from the record—the lush “On a City Night”—is an organ and pedal steel-soaked country shuffle. Plaintively furtive in its imagery, the tune plays like a deceptive still life; its characters in a state of suspended animation while the world blurs in motion.

White Heaven :: Out

The sticker copy for the Black Editions reissue of White Heaven’s Out proclaims the album to be “one of the greatest psychedelic rock albums ever recorded.” For the uninitiated, this will likely smack of hyperbole. But just one spin will likely have you spouting even more grandiose turns of phrase.

Dawn Patrol :: Alex Bleeker

With a coastline of 840 some odd miles in California, it should come as no surprise that many of the artists we revere at Aquarium Drunkard seek refuge and inspiration in the Pacific blue with a surfboard underfoot. As the resident surfer amongst the AD ranks, and in the spirit of deeper discovery and appreciation, Tyler Hale will be paddling out in 2020 via a new column devoted to the surf: we’re calling it Dawn Patrol. This month – Alex Bleeker.

Steve Palmer :: Useful Histories

It took a little while, but Minnesota-based guitarist Steve Palmer has delivered on the promise of Unblinking Sun, his excellent 2014 debut. It was definitely worth the wait. Useful Histories is one of those records that answers the age-old question: “What if Sandy Bull made a record with Neu!?” Palmer wastes no time in getting things moving, kicking off with “Statesboro Day, a freewheeling 11-minute motorik choogler that soars straight into the sun.

Bardo Pond :: Adrop / Circuit VIII

A very necessary archival haul from Philadelphia’s finest purveyors of artisanal fuzz ‘n’ feedback, collecting two radical never-before-on-vinyl compositions in one handy double LP package. Bardo Pond have been rattling eardrums for close to 30 years now – but they are capable of more than amp abuse, of course.