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Recent Faves from the WFMU Record Library
February 2005

Reviewed by Music/Program Director Brian Turner

VARIOUS / Passions of Laja Aijala (Bad Vugum)
Aijala was a key figure in the foundation of Finland's modern underground alt-punk scene, back in 1979 inspired by Stockhausen and Throbbing Gristle he started up Aavikon Kone ja Moottori, a primitive and spaced out industrial combo that was Finland's first in the genre. However, Aijala's interests swerved around like a caribou on crank, next diving headfirst into an alien rockabilly combo called Billy Boys, then an insane Discharge-inspired hardcore outfit called Terveet Kadet, which inspired legions of fans in a country now teeming with punk disciples. The problem was, the rigid guidelines that punk also dictated in many cases did not fit in with Aijala, who was quickly disowned from the scene when he continued to experiment in other genres. "Passions of Laja Aijala" is a reissue of sorts of an early retrospective on the man called "Golden Greats of IKBAL", which focuses on 7" singles of his assorted combos, adding more to the heap. Death Trip buzzes pure one-chord rattling doom rock with elements of Hawkwind, Sultans is an experiment in bona-fide boogie-rock minimalism (think Henry Flynt if he was more into John Lee Hooker), wacked kraut-like synthpop of the Kolmas, and some off-kilter lounge from the Leo Bungariloves rounds off the set.

THE HANK COLLECTIVE/ How To Prosper In the Coming Bad Years (Blocks Blocks Blocks Recording Club)
The Hank Collective is the creation of UK-expatriot-to-Toronto Cab Williamson, and their self-proclaimed modus operandi is to "keep the pop dream alive." Indeed, the disc is a sugar rush of two minute nuggets, each defying genre tag but sharing the common bond of the singer's deep baritone looming over his backing bubbly backing ladies. Some of this reminds me of Flaming Fire without the topical brimstone; inventive, weird pop with nods to everything from Rough Trade to Zappa and certainly a heavy helping of 90's indie aesthetic. It's all zig-zagging with the effortlessness of the Homosexuals stuff (though bathed in a more jolly air) and a real out-of-left-field treat. Hope to hear more.

VARIOUS / Streets of Lhasa (Sublime Frequencies)
One of a new batch of six new releases in the ongoing series on the Sun City Girls' Sublime Frequencies label, documenting the amazing street activity radio transmissions and more stream-of-consciousness sounds coming from exotic lands the world over (including many in the so-called "axis of evil" as named by our Powers That Be). This volume finds us in Nepal, with recordings compiled by Zhang Juan of Beijing's fm3 Art Collective, all taken from the streets of Lhasa and presented in pure, raw, un-remixedform in order to truly transport the listener. The disc leads off with a mindblowing track featuring a 3-year old boy belting out with the bravado of James Brown, while his father accompanies him on two-stringed Erhu. From there, songs drift in and out of a mix of village ambience, socializing, trains passing, monks meeting. All of these people remain unknown, just elements passing through the duration of this document, but each leaving an indelible impression.

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