15 Most Anticipated Electronic & Experimental Reissues Q4 2013 (Part 1 of 3)
It takes dedication to navigate through music release schedule these days. Especially for the uninitiated and even more so when it comes to more "esoteric stylings". To help in making decision on what deserves your attention in the next couple of months in electronic, experimental and dance music we have compiled the list of 15 most interesting and hotly anticipated compilations and reissues until the end of 2013. Part 1 of 3 features Popol Vuh, Theo Parrish & Black Jazz, Arthur Russell, Fluxion and Labradford.
1. Popol Vuh "Affenstunde" (1970), "In den Gärten Pharaos" (1971), "Hosianna Mantra" (1972), "Seligpreisung" (1973), "Einsjäger und Siebenjäger" (1974) 2013 | Wah Wah / Supersonic Sounds
At last, the much anticipated high-quality vinyl press of the first 5 albums by the most spiritual of Krautrock bunch. Florian Fricke's iconic project Popol Vuh is known to many by monumental ambient soundscapes created for early Werner Herzog epics Aguirre The Wrath Of God, Fitzcaraldo, Nosferatu, Heart Of Glass etc. The project is also one of the first in fertile german 70's scene to experiment with Moog synthesizer and incorporating eastern traditional music techniques and instruments. Although technically described as part of the krautrock movement Popol Vuh ouvre has preciously little to do with rock outside spare use of guitars. It is especially true of the first few albums repressed this month on Barcelona's Wah Wah Supersonic Sounds label. The legacy of the project is large, indisputably groundbreaking, but sometimes uneven. Plenty of wrong choices and missteps were taken towards the late 80s. The albums re-released by Wah Wah though you can be sure of. This is quintessential early-period Popol Vuh of dense synth drones, birdsongs, pensive piano, plethora of traditional percussive instruments, sitar, chants and stately, almost Wagnerian, sense of harmony.
2. Theo Parrish "Black Jazz Signature" 2013 | Snowdog
Detroit's finest purveyor of house music Theo Parrish has a long love story with jazz. His earliest more functional dance productions always had a sense of freestyle kinship with the great afrofuturist tradition. It's not seldom you can hear a few jazz cuts here an there in Theo's dj-sets. Parts of his most treasured "Sound Sculpture Vol. 1" album employ wide use of jazz-derived samples and appropriate vocal techniques. The most recent of Parrish 12"s recorded with afrobeat drummer Tony Allen "Day Like This / Feel Loved" came out on newly launched jazz and soul-dedicated imprint Wildheart.
All this is to say that Japanese label Snowdog's decision to employ Parrish to mix selections from the catalogue of cult early-70s label Black Jazz is not at all surprising and even logical. The catalogue is not as deep as other powerhouses, such as ECM, Blue Note, CTI or Milestone, but over its short 5-year life company worked with such virtuosos as Doug Carn, Henry Franklin, Calvin Keys, vocalist Jean Carn and naturally label owner pianist Gene Russell. Considering the quality of material and curators taste the selection is predictably strong and given relative obscurity of the records it's not going to be too obvious of a "greatest hits" collection. Parrish' mixing is subtle and non-imposing. Thankfully there's no wild tempo-stretching, abrupt cuts or unnecessary effects on display, so it sometimes feels like a very respectful mixtape. Which was probably the intention anyway. The compilation is released on both, vinyl and CD, and it's a great opportunity to grab it since the originals are hard-to-find or exorbitantly priced. Taking into consideration Theo's kudos in dance-music circles the music will also get exposure beyond incestuous jazz-connaisseurs circles.
3. Arthur Russell "Another Thought" (1994) 2013 | Arc Light Editions
First ever vinyl pressing of this posthumously released Arthur Russell collection, Originally coming out on CD through Philip Glass label Point Music in 1994 and reissued in 2006 by Orange Mountain Music. "Another Thought" is the closest we'll ever get to real Arthur Russell album, who died of AIDS-related complications in 1992.
Many are familiar with Russell music by way of popular Soul Jazz compilation "The World Of Arthur Russell", collecting his various projects related to dance music. "Another Thought" is rather far from those wild disco and proto-house experiments. Maybe except for more explicitly upbeat trio of tracks "In The Light Of The Miracle". "Me For Real" and "My Tiger, My Timing" towards the end of the album. It is much more closer in tone to contemplative experimentalism and acoustic ambience of "World Of Echo" compilation originally pressed by Rough Tradein UK and defunct Mute sub-label Upside in US. The tome is mostly introspective aided by unsluttered arrangements mostly consisting of very unorthodox cello playing, Russell freestyle vocalizing and myriads of bizarre echo processing effects. This is the music for the spechless midnights and dreamy Sunday mornings.
4. Fluxion "Vibrant Forms" (1999/2000) 2013 | Type
Konstantinos Soublis work under Fluxion pseudonym is the quintessence of dub techno. On par with the most iconic work of genre originators Mauritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus. Legitimately Soublis' most accomplished early works from 1998 to 2001 have been released by offshoot of their Basic Channel label Chain Reaction. Remember, those metal boxes that would scratch contained CD's ungodly?
John Twells' Type Recods is set to reissue the collection of Fluxion material "Vibrant Forms", originally issued in 1999 and 2000 via series of Chain Reaction CD-compilations in the aforementioned metal box cases. This is not the first time Type is picking something from Chain Reaction back-catalogue, the first been equally experimental minded dub techno abstractions of Thomas Köner & Andy Mellwig aquatics-obsessed Porter Ricks project. Fluxion's work has similar mesmeric quality to it and distances itself from CR's more dance-friendly output. Therefore the choice of primarily experimental-focused Type makes sense. Records, as always with Type, will be pressed on both, limited edition coloured vinyl and standard black wax. Additionally package has new artwork and is remastered specifically for the occasion.
5. Labradford "Prazision" (1993) 2013 | Kranky
This one is not technically a reissue. It's also hard to say that it is unjustly forgotten or hard-to-find considering the extensive cultish fan-base that Labradford project and Chicago post-rock mega-label Kranky continue to enjoy. However it comes at the right moment when there seems to be increasing interest in crepuscular intersection of ritualistic instrumental music employing traditional rock instrumentation and experimental electronics and drone music techniques. It also helps that Labradford old colleagues and frequent tour-mates Godspeed You! Black Emperor are back in full force with this year's quite decent album even awarded Polaris Music Prize in Canada.
So trend seem to be returning in new form and represses are welcome if only to introduce new generation to the glorious gloomy ambience of the most creatively realized early 90's guitar drone excesses. Time to take out your dusty black leather boots.