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Recent Faves from the WFMU Record Library
May 2005

Reviewed by Music/Program Director Brian Turner

REEKS AND THE WRECKS / Knife Hits (Tumult)
So often these records come in with press-sheets that are supposed to be impressive with the reference points attributed to said band ("Flaming Lips meet Polyphonic Spree" -huh?) but when the overlords of Tumult Recordings are dropping names like Dead C, Rowland S. Howard and New Orleans funeral march bands I know for a fact that the sounds therein are going to deliver. And yes, this new record by the now-defunct west coast act Reeks and the Wrecks is right for all the wrong reasons: woozy, fucked-up blues string along on the verge of literal collapse, knife-edge slide over a gutbucket cheap-ass electric guitar over some very Birthday Party-like rhythms, and the horns that flank definitely are ringing in some kind of party in hell. If anything, the fact that all this is complementing a sort of Slinty post-rock vibe makes me drawn to it even more, since 95% of the people who are aping that Slint thing get it wrong. It's all about invention with these guys, hearing the unheard and singing the unsung, and it tickles a brand new brain nodule in a most plesant way.

YAMASUKI SINGERS/DANIEL VANGUARDE & JEAN KLUGER / Le Monde Fabuleaux des Yamasuki (Finders Keepers)
MAGMA / K.A. (Seventh)
Every piece of writing I read on some of the hoot-worthy French psych/prog/pop reissues *ALWAYS* start with "from a country not notoriously well known for great music" - get over it already! France, Denmark, Spain et al have been chockful of greatness, and now that the German and Swedish waves of psych reissue action have peaked, it is only fitting that people are looking elsewhere, but really, it's always been there! The Spalax box of French stuff years ago is completely mindblowing. Anyway, now that that rant is out of our way, these two discs are fantastic snapshots of French cross-cultural pollinated musical excellence. The Yamasuki project came out of a French/Japanese collaborative choreography effort, pop producers Vanguarde and Kluger learned Japanese and worked with an imported children's chorus in a French studio, even bringing in a Judo master to yell out over the song intros. The music is terrific, booming and exotic fuzz pop, orchestrated to great effect, and this record even generated a slight dance craze, the Yamasuki. But the 1971 LP was a novelty pure and simple, and had a quick shelf live. Definitely worth revisiting for fans of the Total Freakout 3 comp that was out last year; definitely not just kitsch-factor appreciation, these kids' hooks burrow into your cranium.
Magma, on the other hand, burrow everywhere. Christian Vander's long-standing outfit is a nonstop assault of the senses, ultra-ultra prog, complex rhythmic attacks, booming choruses, heavy as all hell while maintaining somewhat of a classical sensibility in place of a wall of Marshall stacks. And it's been said that the French language isn't too conducive to this kind of music, so they went and invented their own. This is their first studio record in 17 years, though it contains a piece they wrote a long time ago. Word has it that Mike Oldfield lifted some of this for his famous Tubular Bells (which pretty much got Virgin Records on that map), hence they never put it out. But if this is true, Richard Branson should be putting Magma on his plane and bankrolling the entire tour, if not sending them into space to perform. This record is great, this band is superhuman!

ERIC MALMBERG / Den Gatfulla Manniskan (Hapna)
The Swedish outfit Sagor and Swing have combined jazz, post-rock and electronic aesthetic while incorporating a very downhome vibe of pure Swedish folk and clean country air. Malmberg, the principle songwriter/organist of the now-defunct S&S, is back solo and instills the pure homeland sound even more with an all-organ album that definitely is full of goblins and trolls around certain corners. This is most likely due to the fact that said organ was a gift from Bo Hansson, Swedish prog mastermind and composer of the Lord of the Rings music in the 1970s. Percolating percussion sounds are splashed on drones, the keyboard melodies wander around almost giving you a guided tour of a foggy Scandinavian forest, and it all seems to be very reminiscent of a Swede equivalent to the earlier Popol Vuh discs in terms of the cinematic images conjured up with simple keyboard and effects. Really great.

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