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If you’re listening for musical borders in Borderlands, the latest from Tucson, Arizona-based psychedelic unit the Myrrors, good luck. In the record’s collected extended jams and briefer numbers, whatever lines exist to separate kosmische, drone, folk, minimalism, and free jazz blur, bend and then vanish entirely. Yet however borderless the sound here may be, songwriter Nik Rayne and his crew have walls, and division, on the mind. The band’s situated mere miles from the line that divides the United States and Mexico, and their meditation on how we keep out — and keep in — couldn’t feel more timely, as the horrors of family seperations and abuse on our borders makes clear the real, violent effects of othering those who cross lines defined by powerful forces outside themselves. But timely records can sometimes feel timeless too, and Borderlands is that kind of record. Its meditative intensity, and “Call For Unity,” suggests not only specific struggles in our time, but the struggles of people throughout history. “Tell me do you see it/the history in view/fooled us into thinking/it couldn’t happen here,” Rayne sings on the Amon Düül-referencing “The Blood That Runs the Border,” the “here”, gravely, could be anywhere.

I caught up with Rayne, whose music I’ve followed for more than a decade, to dig into the themes of the record, talk borders, and explore how record store culture has informed the band’s sound. Borderlands is available everywhere today on Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records.

Aquarium Drunkard: Coming from Tucson, how has your own perception of the “border” between the US and Mexico changed over the years? Is the record an attempt to comment on the concept of borders more generally, in terms of the definitions we come up with to divide our art, politics, and beliefs in daily life?

Nik Rayne: The title and themes behind Borderlands emerged pretty naturally during the process of working on the album. Living in Tucson really puts you at the front line of a lot of what has been going on regarding the border patrol, federal immigration policies, and abuses, institutionalized racism, the complexities of heterogeneous regional histories, all that…to the point where these issues really become an inescapable part of daily life. I had been thinking about trying to steer the next record in a more conceptual direction anyways, and when “The Blood That Runs the Border” became one of the first tracks cut for the session it more or less guided me into the rest.

That being said, domestic border concerns were just the starting point; the album speaks towards border conflict on a global scale, as well as what happens in that dead grey zone in between the “walls” that people construct, whether those are physical, social, or psychological. Another real historical border that played a large part in the ideas behind the album is the Durand Line, the frontier-point between Afghanistan (where my father is from) and Pakistan drawn by the British empire for political reasons which separated the Pashtun homeland and has caused endless problems over the years…many of which might sound familiar to people from, say, the Tohono O’odham Nation in the Sonoran Desert, whose land and whose families were also divided by foreign interest between two countries in a seemingly perpetual state of conflict.

As the saying goes, “we didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.”

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On her debut lp You Never Were Much Of A Dancer, guitarist Gwenifer Raymond emerges as a new voice in the American Primitive lineage. Playing acoustic guitar and banjo, the Brighton-via-Cardiff musician’s compositions are steeped in blues history, but her use of familiar raw materials results in something surprising and vital. Though it may not be immediately apparent listening to delicate songs like “Sweep It Up” or the majestic “Sometimes There’s Blood,” Raymond spent her teenage years playing in punk bands, and there exists for her a psychic connection between ancient blues and three-chord ragers. In her mixtape of ole time numbers and punk classics, decades seem to collapse between each song, and a raw, unifying spirit emerges. Raymond, in her own words, explains:

Early American blues and mountain music and punk are separated by many of the most rapidly changing decades of human history. Despite this they’ve got a lot in common; sonically, lyrically, and in their general ethos and attitudes. The musicality of the players is usually quite raw (although that is not to say not technically masterful, but rather, unpolished) and at times unhinged; the vocals are classically unsophisticated but they’re unmannered and relatable. It’s those rough edges that really make those sounds as affecting as they are, with the humanity at the other side of the record exposed like an open wound. Lyrically there’re a lot of common themes and many songs have content not suitable for polite company; joking about sex and talking frankly about drinking and using drugs, and living that ‘low’-life. Even though there’s rarely a sense that these lifestyles are being glamorized, there is often a celebratory quality; call it nihilistic joy or making the best of what you’ve got. It’s people giving raw accounts of their own private lives, from gambling and sniffing cocaine in battered jug-joint in Mississippi, to knocking back cheap cider on the cold fringes of a Manchester industrial estate. There’s a DIY ethos to all of the songs on this playlist; people picking up instruments and putting to tune what they were feeling at the time; whatever was important to them and on their mind, or even just joyful sonic explosions that would not be contained. They take songwriting as an everyday part of life, and not something to be mythologized.

Industrial Estate Blues :: A Gwenifer Raymond Mixtape

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49 years ago, on the second day of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, Country Joe McDonald took to the stage to kill some time while Santana readied their set. While McDonald and his band the Fish are often associated with psychedelic rock, a named rattled in conjunction with the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, or the Jefferson Airplane, McDonald was cut from a folk cloth. And on stage that day in upstate New York, his acoustic version of “The ‘Fish’ Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag” became something of a folk standard, traded between counterculture heads and Vietnam soldiers and vets alike.

Early in 2018, Craft Recordings released a deluxe box set edition of the Fish’s The Wave of Electrical Sound, featuring mono and stereo versions of their first two albums, I-Feel-Like-I-Am-Fixin’-To-Die and Electric Music for the Mind and Body, along with an unreleased protest film, and a slew of archival materials. The set captures Joe’s charged spirit, and we sat down with him to discuss his recordings, Woodstock, and the politically harried times that surrounded him, along with his artistic connections to Janis Joplin, Grace Slick, and everyone’s favorite anti-hippie John Fahey.

Aquarium Drunkard: Hey Joe! I’m going to keep it pretty loose. I’ve got a handful of questions for you, but I’d rather just kind of see where you take it. I don’t want to hit you over the head and make you answer a bunch of questions you’ve already been asked before.

Country Joe McDonald: Well if I don’t like it, I won’t answer it. [Laughs]

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Our weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can now be heard every Wednesday at 7pm PST with an encore broadcasts on-demand via the SIRIUS/XM app.

SIRIUS 533: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ Brian Eno – Another Green World ++ Gonzales – Gogol ++ Joni Mitchell – Harlem In Havana ++ Dustin O’Halloran – Opus #12 ++ Gonzales – DOT ++ Mikael Tariverdiev – Summer Blues ++ Julian Lynch – Terra ++ Robert Wyatt – Yolanda ++ Julian Lynch – A Day At The Racetrack ++ Carsten Meinert Kvartet – One For Alice ++ Nina Simone – Be Mu Husband (Live, 1987) ++ David J – Elegy ++ King Tubby & Yabbu U – Conquering Dub (excerpt) ++ Serge Gainsbourg – Javanaise Remake ++ Rikki Ililonga – Fire High ++ Mono Mono – Give A Beggar A Chance ++ Luiz Melodia – Baby Rose ++ Bob Chance – Jungle Talk ++ Ryo Kawasaki – Hawaiian Caravan ++ Brian Eno & David Byrne – Regiment ++ Basa Basa – African Soul Power (excerpt) ++ Talking Heads – Fela’s Riff (Unfinished Outtake) ++ Serge Gainsbourg – Des Laids Des Dubs (excerpt) ++ Shintaro Sakamoto – From The Dead (7”) ++ John Holm – Du E En Stor Grabb Nu ++ The Last Poets – Time ++ Dorothy Ashby – The Moving Finger ++ Sun Ra – We’re Living In The Space Age ++ Bernard Chabert – Il Part En Californie (He Moved To California) ++ These Trails – Garden Botanum ++ Charlotte Dada – Don’t Let Me Down ++ Intro (Bob Brown “I’m Bolieve” excerpt) ++ Lil’ Ed & The Soundmasters – It’s A Dream ++ Black Rock – Yeah Yeah ++ Africa – Paint It Black ++ Junior Parker – Tomorrow Never Knows ++ Yaphet Koto – Have You Ever Seen The Blues ++ Kukumbas – Respect ++ Son House – That’s Where The Blues Start (Vocal) ++ Tim Maia – Nobody Can Live Forever ++ Hopeton Louis – Sound And Pressure / collage Michael Hentz

*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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The sound of synthesized waves opens and closes Genericana, the 13th album by Joseph O’Connell released under the Elephant Micah banner. It’s not difficult to imagine O’Connell camped out on some beach with a tape recorder, collecting hours of oceanic lapping and fizzing; after all, his last album, Where In Our Woods, included a ballad inspired by migrating vultures on O’Connell’s parents’ farm in Indiana. But it’s no field recording. Instead, the sound was generated by “The Mutant,” a modified synth unit assembled by his brother, keyboardist Matt O’Connell. Nothing is exactly what it seems on Genericana. Even the title, a quick pun dreamed up by O’Connell to replace “bro-lk” in describing “a certain variety of solo performer, who you might see in a frat-style bar…playing the hits of the day in a quasi-folk mode,” takes on new, weirder life in the album’s context. “Genericana” isn’t a style or even a diss, rather, it’s a hazy but useful term to describe the way mass culture functions as folk culture in our present moment.

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His final effort as a bandleader, Afro-Cuban conguero wizard Sabu Martinez cemented his legacy with 1973’s Afro Temple. Recorded in Sweden and released six years before his death, the album is a swirling, spiritual, and psychedelic bouillabaisse of sound riffing on, and augmenting, many of the sonic traditions Martinez had worked throughout his career.

At times haunting, the polyrhythmic and propulsive title track immediately locks into a humid, humid groove — one the group relentlessly ride for the next six and half minutes, with Christer Boustedt’s eastern tempered sax at the fore. One of the artist’s creative heights — in a career among many.

Sabu Martinez:: Afro Temple

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Via the pianist’s 1974 live album, Atlantis, this track is an absolute monster. Notably backed by co-conspirators, saxophonist Azar Lawrence, bassist Juini Booth, percussionist Guilherme Francothe and drummer Wilby Flethcer, the piece’s formidable tone is immediately set, moving along under its own estimable weight for the next 13 minutes. Tyner drives the quintet from the onset, and along with Francothe, paints the walls of the club with broad swathes of color and atmosphere. Menacing, muscular and free, it’s quite the ride.

McCoy Tyner :: Makin’ Out