On The Turntable

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    Wally Badarou

    Wally Badarou :: Echoes

    Lying somewhere between the demarcations of electro-pop, high life, and the Caribbean diaspora sits the solo excursions of synthesized session heavyweight Wally Badarou. A guru behind the computerized keys and best known as The Talking Heads’ secret weapon on Speaking in Tongues, it was Badarou’s penchant for unfathomably catchy fills and phrasings that elevated “This Must be the Place” and “Burning Down the House” to the legendary earworm status they maintain today. This may be the most immediate reference point on Badarou’s extensive resume, but the sounds explored on his solo records are illuminated more clearly within the context of his eighties studio credits. One simply does not work with Black Uhuru, Grace Jones, or Fela Kuti without being fully immersed in groove.

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    Luis Gasca

    Luis Gasca :: For Those Who Chant

    A regular sideman and session player for various jazz and rock acts in the Bay Area during the early ’70s, trumpeter Luis Gasca eventually stepped back from performing. But his 1972 LP For Those Who Chant cements his legacy, featuring his Latin jazz stylings and players like Joe Henderson, Lenny White, Stanley Clarke and Carlos Santana.

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    Dirty Three

    Dirty Three :: Love Changes Everything

    Twelve years on from their last album together, Warren Ellis, Mick Turner and Jim White reconvene in a sprawling improvisation of tidal force, six cuts or one, depending on how you look at things. The tracks flow one into another like water running through sluices, inexorable and boundary-less. It’s as if, once started, the Dirty Three couldn’t stop until they had exhausted themselves.

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    Rich Ruth

    Rich Ruth :: Water Still Flows

    Like his previous album, the COVID-era 2022 masterpiece I Survived, It’s Over, Nashville multi-instrumentalist Rich Ruth’s new album Water Still Flows is absolutely audacious in its musical fusions and amalgamations. This one is a woozy kaleidoscope of spiritual jazz, post-rock, chiming minimalism, Berlin school synth sequencers, metal and drone.

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    Cocteau Twins & Harold Budd

    Cocteau Twins & Harold Budd :: The Moon and the Melodies

    First released in 1986, the collaborative record of dream pop deities Cocteau Twins and minimalist giant Harold Budd is still among the most interesting crossbreeds between so-called pop and so-called art music. By the time of its release, The Moon and the Melodies‘ mix of cerebral drone experimentation and crystalline emotional delivery was at least on par with those at the frontier of pop’s absorption of the avant-garde: John Cale, Laurie Anderson, Arthur Russell, and the like.

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    Soft Machine

    Soft Machine :: H​ø​vikodden 1971

    Høvikoddden 1971 documents a band torn between shrieking free jazz, throbbing minimalism, psychedelic space rock and fuzzy, proto-punk garage stomp–suspended between their avant-pop beginnings and their fusion future. A three-hour, four LP slab of the Soft Machine may be too much for the casual fan. Or it might just be the ideal point of entry.

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    V/A

    V/A :: Funk Tide :: Tokyo Jazz​-​Funk from Electric Bird 1978​-​87

    The Parisian label Wewantsounds delivers yet again with Funk Tide – Tokyo Jazz-Funk from Electric Bird 1978-87, a compilation surveying the Japanese jazz label’s ferocious first decade, culled by the Tokyo-based DJ Notoya. The eight tracks within, many of which are seeing their first release outside of Japan, comprise a bonanza of fusion, city pop, smooth soul sounds, and beyond.

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    Lee Underwood

    Lee Underwood :: California Sigh

    Ambient, post-fusion jazz, minimalism, field recording, electronic extravaganzas and musique concrete manifestos — all could be sold as New Age with the right kind of window dressing and perhaps a little bit of sweetening. California Sigh, Underwood’s self-released 1988 cassette now issued on CD and LP for the first time by Drag City, dips slightly into field recording and electronic spheres, but otherwise sticks to another major venerable New Age pathway: solo acoustic guitar.

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Alex Izenberg & The Exiles

Through numbly whispered vocals and mushy mellow vibes, Alex Izenberg & the Exiles attempt to distill from 1970s radio rock the elixir of heartbreak and its philosophical innards, mindfully administering the pharmakon of despair here and there: inexorable solitude and oneiric unveilings of being; emotional parallaxes of all sorts; love as a function of time and time as a function of love; and the good old fear of death.

The Congos :: Heart of the Congos

Hyperbole is near impossible when critiquing Heart Of The Congos, from the untouchable Lee “Scratch” Perry production to the unparalleled vocal harmonies, seamless flow and monumental influence on music within and outside of the realms of reggae. Yet it’s also a record whose magic defies scrutiny. It is inscrutable, effervescent and like the ocean upon which the Fisherman toils, its beauty, power and impact shifts according to environmental factors and the mood of the observer.

Transmissions :: Daniel Bachman

This week on a far-ranging episode of Transmissions: guitarist, folklorist, and all-around-top-notch thinker Daniel Bachman. A songwriter and composer from Fredericksburg, Virginia, Bachman first began releasing records under the name Sacred Harp, before adopting his own name for a series of finger-picked classics. In the years since, Bachman’s music has grown more and more experimental, and also, it’s become more directly informed by climate change. He joins us to discuss.

Lee Underwood :: California Sigh

Ambient, post-fusion jazz, minimalism, field recording, electronic extravaganzas and musique concrete manifestos — all could be sold as New Age with the right kind of window dressing and perhaps a little bit of sweetening. California Sigh, Underwood’s self-released 1988 cassette now issued on CD and LP for the first time by Drag City, dips slightly into field recording and electronic spheres, but otherwise sticks to another major venerable New Age pathway: solo acoustic guitar.

Zepiss :: Natibel

Departing his home for Paris, fashion designer and percussionist/trumpeter Edmony Krater sought to craft his own modern take on his native traditional music, assembling a band of local players and melding Gwo Ka with jazz fusion and psychedelic soul for the singularly awesome experience that is Natibel.

Bandcamping :: Summer 2024

We’re back in the thick of another wild summer — political unrest, insanely high temperatures, shark attacks, etc. For some aural AC, dig into a selection of highly recommended recent releases that run the gamut: private press folk from the 1980s to acoustic guitar Kraftwerk to sweet sounds from Senegal.

Radio Free Aquarium Drunkard :: July 2024

Freeform transmissions from Radio Free Aquarium Drunkard on dublab. Airing every third Sunday of the month, RFAD on dublab features the pairing of Tyler Wilcox’s Doom and Gloom from the Tomb and Chad DePasquale’s New Happy Gathering. This month features DePasquale’s sweet mix of psychedelic rock, samba, MPB, and highlife, followed by Wilcox’s selection of rarities / demos / outtakes / faves by the legendary Linda Thompson. Sunday, 4-6pm PT.

Jake Xerxes Fussell :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

The quality of Jake Xerxes Fussell’s output has stayed remarkably consistent over his first five albums, but his confidence in his abilities as an interpreter and the audacity of his song selection continue to grow. The nine songs on his newest, When I’m Called, gather out of the vastness of the past few centuries of sung songs to talk to one another, elaborate on one another, and thread each other through with intertwined meaning.

Herbie Hancock :: Fat Albert Rotunda

A pivotal transitional piece for Herbie Hancock, there are some crucial factors that have kept Fat Albert Rotunda perpetually under the radar. And while Head Hunters this is not, Fat Albert Rotunda is more of a prophetic, transitional piece in the keyboardist’s storied jazz-funk evolution than most realize on the surface. There’s no mistaking that these arrangements are decisively more R&B than the electric, synthesizer-laced fusion sounds that would soon follow, making the record a peculiar bridge gap.

Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention :: Whisky A Go Go 1968

Have you heard from your Mothers lately? Not far into the unmitigated archival audacity of Whisky A Go Go 1968, Frank Zappa pauses to lay out the evening’s agenda: “The purpose of this evening is supposedly to make some recordings of The Mothers live, in person…It’s pretty hard to record what we do because it gets so loud and ugly.” Originally conceived as the basis of their first live album, Whisky A Go Go 1968 presents nearly three hours of unreleased recordings of the classic Mothers lineup offering a bizarre sonic smorgasbord to a hungry throng of freakscene denizens that number Kim Fowley, members of The Rolling Stones, The Turtles, and John Mayall among among them.