Cubicle Vacations: New Music, Vol 5
Check out this list of some of the most exciting, newly purchased CDs from our circulating collections for your listening pleasure. Click on the album titles to be taken to the catalog and put the CDs on hold, and don't forget the provided PREVIEW tracks. Enjoy!
Habib Galbi by A-Wa (2016)
From a small desert town in Southern Isreal comes this group of 3 sisters. With parents of Moroccan and Yeminite Jewish backgrounds, they grew up in a very musical household. With diverse and early influences from Hip Hop to '70s psych rock, what always resonated with them were the old cassette tapes their grandfather would play of Yeminite folk songs and traditional chants. Their early efforts at highlighting this traditional material, while simultaneously infusing it with a fresh, fun, and new energy, resulted in the first song sung in Arabic to go to #1 on the Isreali pop music charts. More specifically, the song is sung in a not-far-from extinct dialect called "Judeo-Yemeni Arabic", which certainly highlights the complex and rich history these women try and resurrect and bring to the world.
“We feel like our music is sort of a bridge to connect people from Arab countries and from Israel and from all over the world. They relate to the music, the groove, and the story of liberation.” PREVIEW
The Order of Time by Valerie June (2017)
Sometime in the 90s, or was it the 80s (I don't care enough to Google it), New Kids on the Block came out. Yea, formulate your own opinion and stuff. You like em? Go ahead. Knock yourself out. We all like what we like. But then, not long after, out come bands like NSYNC and Backstreet Boys (ooh! the "Back streets", sounds dangerous!). And sure, like them too if you want; but many of us I'm sure felt like, hey, isn't that pretty much the same band as New Kids? Like now there's a formula for this? OK, OK, I'm not picking on the 90s. Lord knows the 90s didn't invent the idea of following a formula in pop culture. Shoot, look anywhere! But whatever feeling NSYNC gave me, that feeling of music following a cookie-cutter formula; well, Valerie June is the opposite of that.
The best of culture is passed down, while the worst of culture is discarded and forgotten. OK ,well, maybe it's not always so theoretically perfect like that. But artists like June soak up different sources, of the best of passed down culture, and allow it to mix naturally and come out as something new, new yet old. There is nobody like Valerie June. PREVIEW
Crystal Fairy by Crystal Fairy (2017)
In 1986, singer and guitarist King Buzzo, drummer Dale Crover, and others, put out the first Melvins record. Three years later, a one Teri Gender Bender was born. At age 10, Teri had a recurring dream where she played guitar; so she convinced her dad to buy her one. At age 17 she started a garage band called Les Bucherettes out of Gaudalajara, Mexico. Teri is a bad ass. When people see her perform, they want to work with her. It first happened with Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, of The Mars Volta. Then it happened with King Buzzo and David Crover. Now they are all in a band together. I guess it's a side-project, since they are all so amazingly accomplished and have very successful careers otherwise. They just wanted to work together; they liked each other's energy and sound. And the end result is proof this project was and is a good idea! PREVIEW
Armed; Courage by the Dead C (2013)
Known as entropy, the second law of thermodynamics states that all closed systems proceed on a gradual decline from order into disorder. When theorizing on the future of the universe, astrophycisists must either propose an influx of energy from outside the "system", whatever that may be (God? The existence of other dimensions that, by definition, we will never discover?); or accept the gradual "heat death" of the universe. Through entropy, the universe will slowly approach and eventually achieve absolute zero: the absence of all order, all energy. Beginning in New Zealand in the late 80s, the Dead C is nothing if not a document of the universe's eventual demise, a microcosm of this slow decline from order to disorder; but in place of astronomical data, they use noise, and guitars; other noise-generating tools too, but definitely guitars. To put it another way, there is something so massive you cannot conceive it; and it is slowly devolving into chaos; and this is what it sounds like; but yet, perhaps, that influx of energy, from outside the sytem. It is the contemplation of mystery through chaos. PREVIEW
Vertigo by The Necks (2015)
The Necks offer a mostly acoustic, experimental, improvisation that must be somewhere between lying on a couch in a psychotherapist's office; and exploring an old abandonded and run-down industrial factory building, at night, with nothing but an old lantern to light your way while sumultaneously casting gossamer shadows that dance on the walls with the flicker of the flame. If you can get past the eerie presence of the unknown, the unfamiliar, you will be rewarded with a memory of an adventure that you will not soon forget. Experimental improv music certainly has a range of approaches. The Necks manage to keep it soothing, melodic at time, with a near-flawless organic development and overall musicality. Put this on; turn the lights off; see where you go. PREVIEW
Fabric 91 by Nina Kraviz
"I’d be there in the dark, with my dreams and the music." Nina Kraviz remembers her parents allowing her to go to sleep to the radio, while growing up in Siberia. From listening to Moscow techno shows 6 hours away, and further inspired by her father's love of everything from Led Zeppelin to Giorgio Moroder; she developed a love of music early in life. Later, she went to dental school in Moscow, where she worked at a veterans hospital and used to work on the teeth of the Cosmonauts. In her inteview for Mixmag: “I remember them telling me about the dogs that went into space,” she says; “and how beautiful earth looks from far away. That it has very unique light – once you see it you always remember that slightly blueish, incredible light of earth."
Now, that right there is pretty cool, but let me just tell you about this CD. Kraviz is one of those DJs that digs for great records, from the earliest "classic" days of house music, to brand new, yet-to-be-discovered and unreleased tracks. Fabric 91 is a "mix tape": a mixing of her own material in and out of many things; from big time electronic names like Aphex Twin to projects you've never heard of; from techno music 20+ years old to brand new, unreleased tracks. It plays like a DJ set. Any club DJ will tell you goal #1 is always to get people dancing, and the effortless weave of beats here would certainly achieve that; but Kraviz' love of music drives her to be an educator as well. Not even the internet can tell you exactly how old she is, but a certain range may be revealed in how she endearingly talks of "the kids" on the dance floor. And she wants to share what she's learned through years of record store digging, years of sharing knowledge and platters with other DJs, and the rich history of techno that "the kids" might not fully grasp. So she puts a decades-old track in the mix, as if to say, "You see this? It's old. But it's also slammin', and it stands up right beside this new track, because they share a lineage. There is history here." It's a fantastic mix, and any house fan, no matter what era, I'm sure would love it. PREVIEW
Mars: National Geographic Original Series Soundtrack by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
When Nick Cave and Warren Ellis get together, they create some wonderful, evocative soundtrack music. This series tracks the fictitious crew of a manned space-flight to Mars, with interviews from real scientists about the logistics and challenges involved. At its closest, Mars is still about 50 million miles from the earth, a mere blip when viewed from the infinity that is space. A show that moves in outer space needs music that is just as massive. Cave & Ellis give us the music needed to contemplate space travel, as the astronauts knock on the door to infinity. PREVIEW
Process by Sampha (2016)
"No one knows me like the piano, in my mother's home. / You would show me I have something, some people call a soul."
And thus starts out one of the most sincere, heart-wrenching ballads you'll ever hear on an album that can loosely be cataloged as Hip Hop. Sampha did in fact start on that piano, added some home production skills along the way. By now he has worked with some of the biggest names in the business; but you know, it doesn't matter. It's just, to hear him sing and play, "(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano", is to hear how musicians use music to convey emotion. Musicians do it all the time, but sometimes it's just so pure it's hard not to be amazed. PREVIEW
Blue & Lonesome by The Rolling Stones (2016)
Way back in 1962, a group of English musicians wanted to book themselves a gig; but they hadn't come up with a name for their band yet. When the gig materialized and they were asked their name, they looked down at a stack of 78s they had, imported from Chicago's Chess Records, and borrowed from a Muddy Waters song called "Rollin' Stone."
Their first residency was at a club on the outskirts of London called The Crawdaddy, named after a Bo Diddley song the group regularly performed, along with a handful of other Chess Records artists the group not only idolized, but emulated. And the first time the group came to the US in mid-1964, you can bet they made sure to go to Chess, meet some of their idols, and record at the label that inspired them into existence as a band.
Now maybe, just maybe, the Stones put out so many fantastic records in their first 10-15 years, that you didn't feel the need to keep up. Maybe after, say, Tattoo You back in '81, you had enough Stones material to last you a lifetime and didn't need any more. Maybe you is me; but anyway, the point: Blue & Lonesome is the most rockin' album the Stones have put out since 1972's Exile On Main St. There, I said it. Why? Well, for one, it's a return to covering all that great, classic, Chicago Blues source material they did on stage at the Crawdaddy Club in '63 before anybody ever heard of them. That's the material that gave them their name and inspired them into existence. Two, its production is unpolished and loose, like dare I say their earliest recorded material was. It's "garage-y". Three, joined by Eric Clapton, everyone is literally in their mid-70s on this. That alone could work, but it could easily not. It could have wound up sounding like a bunch of aging rockers playing tired music because they don't know what else to do with themselves. Yet, it works! It rocks! It is awesome. And so this fact, that they are all in their 70s, becomes cool.
With this record, the Rolling Stones have done it! This is not a half-baked effort, but a fun, energetic and raucous declaration that the Stones are literally still rocking and rolling, 55 years in! PREVIEW
Musik Von Harmonia by Harmonia (1974)
Harmonia is a German electronic band formed from members of the groups Cluster and Neu! Michael Rother helped form Neu! with Klaus Dinger after they left the band Kraftwerk. The project shares a sound with these other groups. It is an exploration of a futurist-retro, pastoral-audio landscape through the use of synthesizers and drum machines. It's like watching a peacefully gurgling stream flow by while inhabiting a planet in a Philip K. Dick novel. PREVIEW