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Recent Faves from the WFMU Record Library
October 2002

Reviewed by Music/Program Director Brian Turner

BROTHER AH / Sound Awareness (Ikef)
Another welcome reissue from the afrodelic free-blowing past comes at us from the mid-1970's: Brother Ah was a member of Sun Ra's arkestra and like his bandleader, Ah is of cosmic mind, and as multi-genre-hopping to boot. "Love Piece" (which was once sampled by the Tower Recordings at the end of a Mutantes cover they did (!)), has Max Roach in fiery shout mode along with a giant ensemble including percussion and 90 voices led by Brother, truly amazing. Psychedelic and soulful and now easier to obtain than the original Strata-East LP.

ESG / Step Off (Soul Jazz)
The first record in 10 years from this sister act, and they just headlined WFMU's benefit in Brooklyn this past Saturday! People went totally nuts, and with good reason. The Scrogginses (Renee, Valerie, Marie, now with offspring Chistelle and Nicole on guitar and bass retrospectively) make genre-smashing, acoustic-based (sample-less, keyboardless) dance music that inspired everyone from early rappers in the 80s (whom all went on to sample them), downtown art-rockers (they fit in on bills with DNA as easily as at Larry Levan's Garage), and Factory's Tony Wilson touted them proudly alongside labelmates like Joy Division. The latest disc features a nice serving of the winning sound: mimimal bass, drums, guitar (especially the guitar, which often wonders in ghostly lines of no more than three or four notes), Valerie's propulsive drumming, Marie and Renee enhancing it all perfectly with congas, cowbell, percussion. Renee's awesome growl is still intact (especially on the kickass "My Street"), and while this record has a bit more slow-tempo spooky ones, it's still a shaker.

This is in fact label head James Murphy, and this has become quite the anthem about town in clubs. It's distinct, however, that it takes up the rawness of a garage-punk single rather than the usual dancefloor fare; "Losing My Edge" shakes around distinct nods to Gang of Four and classic electro, while a very Mark E. Smith-ish voice barks intonations of one-upmanship in hipster circles. "I was there...", "I've never been wrong" he claims, laying claim to having been to the first Can and Suicide shows, being in the DJ booth with Larry Levan at the Paradise Garage. "I heard that you have a white label pressing of every Detroit techno hit..." he continues before spewing a long name-drop over the beats spanning what seems to be the average FMU listener's library: Mantronix, Scott Walker, Faust, Pharoah Sanders, etc. until the chorus "You don't know what you really want" fades the song out.

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