Where are we now (cont.)? Well, in the reissue and compilation world things are looking busier than ever. New imprints pop up on the daily and the seemingly endless supply of archival material keeps all the heads / curators digging even deeper to uncover lost worlds of sound. In many ways, old is now new…
We’ve of course featured plenty of archival releases on the site over the past year. Similar to our recent End-of-Year Now Sound feature, we won’t repeat any of the releases already featured. Instead, we’ve decided to share a few more favorites that you might have missed this year. More music is always better… Once again, consider this more of a “when in doubt, listen to this” collection than a “best of” list.
We’ll be posting a full 2022 retrospective coming soon!
Broadcast – Maida Vale Sessions
Before their dissolution after the death in 2011 of cofounder and singer Trish Keenan, the Birmingham, England band Broadcast had recorded a series of brilliant records and EPs for Warp and Stereolab’s imprint Duophonic. Though they’re often mentioned alongside Stereolab, Broadcast’s work is its own mesmerizing beast, a humming analog-synth-powered group who could find a groove and then weave gorgeous melodies and arrangements around it until it was as comfortable as a hand-knitted blanket. This newly issued set of BBC Recordings finds Broadcast in West London’s Maida Vale Studios, where the BBC’s state-of-the-art facility seems to envelop Keenan and the band across a series of sessions from 1996 through 2003.
Various Artists – Time is Away: Ballads
Time is Away is the London-based DJ/musical storyteller/artist duo Jack Rollo and Elaine Tierney. Their first officially licensed compilation, Ballads is a divinely curated collection of deeply heartfelt songs and devotional music from across continents, decades, and genres. Ambient jazz, spoken word, ambient, folk, chamber music, and more are all weaved together, perfectly sequenced across the compilation’s 13 tracks. “The voice is an instrument, a letter from home, the colour of pomegranates… pastoral mysteries and idyllic myths weaved from an inventory of dreams.” If you enjoy the selection, we highly recommend checking out the duo’s monthly NTS Radio show, as well as The Early Bird Show with Jack Rollo.
Cleveland Francis – Beyond the Willow Tree
We first heard this one back in 2020 when our friends at Forager Records played it at our summer listening series. Beyond The Willow Tree captures the hauntingly beautiful lost recordings of “soulfolk” singer Cleveland Francis. We can probably attach all sorts of keywords to this one: essential listening, cult classic, etc., but you’re best off hearing words from the man himself. “These recordings are a look into my soul through a long and lonely journey to understand feelings of my childhood, poverty, racial segregation, bigotry, war, love and hope. It represents my attempt to express and come to terms with all that I have seen and felt as a Black man growing up in America.” If that’s not enough to get you to listen, this 21 track double LP anthology was restored and remastered from the original tapes by grammy award winning mastering engineer Michael Graves… Big ups to Forager Records, as usual!
Various Artists – Lèspri Ka: New Directions in Gwoka Music from Guadeloupe 1981-2010
Kay Suzuki’s Time Capsule imprint has quickly become one of those buy-on-sight labels for us at In Sheep’s Clothing. Lèspri Ka : New Directions in Gwoka Music from Guadeloupe compiles tracks across thirty years of gwoka, a French creole term used for a family of hand drums and the music played with them. Co-curated with Seance Centre’s Brandon Hocura, the compilation is the first of its kind to bring the sound of modern gwoka, which fuses elements of funk, jazz, and electronic influences with traditional forms, to a wider audience. Highly recommended for both home listening and the dancefloor…
Various Artists – Pure Wicked Tune: Rare Groove Blues Dances & House Parties, 1985-1992
“This one I can’t even say it’s wicked – it’s shit hot” is a pretty apt description of this latest project from archival record label & radio show Death is Not The End. Pure Wicked Tune shines a light on an often overlooked period of UK soundsystem culture that existed briefly between the mid 1980s and early ’90s. As the lovers rock scene was ending, a new sound emerged at early morning house parties and warehouses featuring rare groove, boogie, and soul tracks loaded with reggae sound system stylings including toasting, echo effects, sirens, and rewinds. The vibe is just incredible and there’s certainly a lot of magic contained within these recordings, especially the four “Flashlight” segments with an MC ecstatically calling out to the crowd for a flashlight across several killer track selections.
Picture Music – Picture Music
Inspired by Weather Report, Brian Eno, Steve Reich, Tangerine Dream, Frippertronics, Indian classical music, and seminal German label ECM, Picture Music was a small collective of like-minded musicians in Brisbane who met at a shared house each night to compose music for independent films. Their lone album, self-released in 1987 on cassette only, is a collection of dimly lit ambient, minimal jazz recorded on a Tascam 4-track PortaStudio with guitars, double bass, and various digital synthesizers including the Ensoniq Mirage sampling keyboard and ESQ-1 digital wave synthesiser. The sounds are delicate and perfectly reflective of the late night ambience of the shadowy room the musicians recorded in filled with malt whisky, cold beer, cigarettes, candles, and good weed…
The Threshold HouseBoys Choir – Form Grows Rampant
In 2005, Throbbing Gristle and Coil co-founder Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson was living in Thailand and recovering from the tragic death of his partner both in Coil and life, the musician-artist-occultist John Balance. While grieving, Christopherson started working on a solo project driven by the profound advances in music tech. The product of that period was Form Grows Rampant. Released under the name the Threshold HouseBoys Choir, the profoundly haunting collection of five instrumental pieces range in length from 7 to 14 minutes. To call them instrumentals, though, is a little misleading; the artist relied on computer generated vocals, which chirp, blurt, moan, and groan through sublimely deep and meditative electronic tracks.
Stevia – Fruits of the Room
It’s been seven years since the great producer-musician Susumu Yokota left this world, and in that time acknowledgement of his brilliance has only grown. He was prolific, and demand for his work has risen alongside his reputation, the combination of which has led to a series of lauded reissues, most notably his eponymous record as Acid Mt. Fuji. Yokota released Fruits of the Room as Stevia in 1997, and 25 years later the label Glossy Mistakes issued it on LP for the first time. A bumping techno and house record inspired by Yokota’s time spent in Berlin in the early 1990s, Fruits of the Room is built for the dance floor, supported by 128 bpm bass-kicks and utterly memorable melody lines. Given it was the late 1990s, Yokota also experiments with drum & bass; “Flying Sheep” is a frantic, absorbing track that’s both out of character and uniquely Yokota-ian.
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Clear Spot
Best known for his 1967 free jazz-rock masterpiece Trout Mask Replica, by 1972 Don Van Vliet, a.k.a. Captain Beefheart, had signed to Warner Bros. and, despite the complexity and baffling nature of his prior output, was looking for a hit. Like the record before it, The Spotlight Kid, Clear Spot was meant to be a Beefheart “commercial” record, and Van Vliet’s muse twists and bends in an attempt to fit into those constraints. With his lauded Magic Band in tow, the artist moves from psychedelic rock (“Sun Zoom Spark,” “Big Eyed Beans to Venus”) to gutter blues (“Low Yo Yo Stuff”) to R&B balladry (“My Head is My Only House Unless It Rains”) and beyond. For Record Store Day, Warner Bros. released a mind-blowing double LP reissue, the second record of which features outtakes and instrumental versions. Combined with a fancy embossed sleeve and release notes, this is an essential addition to every collection.
Various Artists – Artificial Intelligence
By 1992, the British rave explosion had generated so much creative energy that seemingly overnight a whole world of new sounds had shot through the cosmos. Coupled with increasingly sophisticated programming software, higher chip capacity, and lots and lots of MDMA, one tribe in the UK gathered together on a compilation called Artificial Intelligence. Released by a fledgling Warp Records, the collection introduced the world to artists including Richard D. James, Autechre, and Alex Patterson. Harnessing the computer’s ability to create seamless polyrhythms, textures and arrangements that would have taken entire orchestras to replicate, the artists on Artificial Intelligence saw the future of computer music, and Warp’s new 30th anniversary reissue further reinforces its import – not to mention that every single track bangs.
Accura – Five X Five
Toronto’s Invisible City Editions celebrated their 10th anniversary this year with a string of excellent DJ-friendly reissues including a private press modern soul rarity from Detroit, CD-only Guadeloupean electric Gwo-ka, and this overlooked 1994 UK hip-house banger from Ghana expat Frank Ed aka Accura (no relation to the cars). Perfect summer music, Frank Ed’s “street jazz” sound lands somewhere between West Coast G-funk, R&B, and NY disco with downtempo grooves, chill raps, ecstasy-laced vocals, syncopated guitars, and ‘80s digital synthesizers. Sure to get any dance floor moving…
Laddio Bolocko – ’97-’99
In 1997, a quartet of expert experimental musicians moved into a warehouse space in the then-vacant Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn, where they ate, slept, and played music for a living. Barely eking out a living, they relocated to the Catskills, where they did the same in a former resort. As with in Dumbo, they recorded everything, and released a series of EPs. They also toured, which is when Castle Face Records founder John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees saw them.
He’d never heard of them before, he writes in the liner notes to this reissue: “I had my ass & ears handed to me that evening. Scorching, pummeling, deep waters ran over me as I stood, beer in hand, mouth open. My memory may be embellishing but I remember a sax as big as me, drums that were physically hanging on by a thread, and twin electric strings that reeled sinister sprites over my head in outwardly circular patterns. Aggressive, far out fractals burned in my brain. I had never seen anything like this band, and never have again.” Fans of Can, This Heat and Popol Vuh will find much to love here, to say nothing of rhythms driven by a genius drummer (Blake Fleming, formerly of Dazzling Killmen and Mars Volta) and locked-in bassist Ben Armstrong.
Takayuki Shiraishi – Photon
As with Yokota’s project Stevia, Takayuki Shiraishi’s 1997 album Photon was initially only released on compact disc. This year Camisole Records corrected that with a double-LP reissue, one that permanently etches the artist’s digital tones into the most stable medium. Like kindred spirits including Underground Resistance in Detroit and the Cologne, Germany team behind Kompakt Records, Shiraishi explored repetition on Photon through lush, chromium tones that seemed to glisten as they bumped.
Martin Franklin & Richard Clare – Invocation
Spanish “dreams music” label Oryx_ Records, a new sub-label of Abstrakce Records, launched this year with three limited edition reissues of obscure ambient from 1990, 2013, and 2016. While all three are great and deliver a similar world building organic electronics vibe, the label’s first release, Martin Franklin & Richard Clare’s Invocation, is our pick of the bunch with its deeply meditative global ambient sound. Featuring exotic percussion, spacey keyboards, dreamy flutes, and devotional vocals, the album takes us back to those perfectly quiet early mornings at our listening bar; the smell of incense, tea, and just the slightest bit of sunshine peeking through the curtains.
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