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Recent Faves from the WFMU Record Library
July 2004

Reviewed by Music/Program Director Brian Turner

VIALKA/ The Republic of the Bored and Boring (Manufracture)
Vialka are the duo of Eric Bogos and Marylise Frechville, Canadian and French respectively, operating out of Slovenia these days. Their sound is definitely reminiscent of the jazz-inspired free rock of the likes of the Ex, and aggro-compositional edges of Fugazi, though the bass-drum dynamic will probably bring some images of the Ruins to mind sans the Magma worship. Marylise (on drums as well as vocals usually in French) propels the unit into some totally fried zones on multiple levels while laying down some steady ground of Bogos' bass flights (which sound quite guitarlike to be honest); you'd imagine the results to be a bit too indulgently proggy, but this stuff rides right along with the best Dog Faced Hermans and Crass. They alse share with these band similar elements of both heavy social context, and humor. This 3" CD seems to be part of a larger discography I'd love to get my hands on.

ISLAJA / Meritie (Fonal)
Fans of the whole psych/folk underground probably have their heads spinning right now every time they get an Eclipse Records update; it seems that the seeds planted in the mid 90s by bands like the Tower Recordings have exploded: between the Jewelled Antler collective, the pockets of scenes in Philly, Austin, New York, Japan, Massachusetts etc. there are tons of homemade CDRs floating about of woodsy homespun psychedelia to sort through. Finland now has also blown up with labels pumping out so many releases that they are literally taking over WFMU's new bin. This one, however, really jumped out at us and needs a shout-out. Islaja is a woman (whose cover is graced by images of two doves flying into her eyes!) making intimate, seemingly home-recorded music that defies categorization. Drones, strange stringed instruments, sound effects, whispered vocals in Finnish are all strung together as loosely as possible, yet still able to carry and contain melodic (and beautiful) songs. The only real comparison I can think of would be some of the Alastair Galbraith song-oriented discs where there is a definite folksy vibe, but something utterly alien and in its own vocabulary.

THE HOMOSEXUALS / Astral Glamour (Messthetics)
One's mind is boggled at the thought that Chrissie Hynde originally might have landed here instead of the Pretenders, but she didn't cut the mustard in her audition. Simply put, one of the most flawlessly great British punk/post-punk bands. And you've been told that many times by people with lots more collectable records than you or I, but in this case, believe the hype. Astral Glamour sweeps 81 tracks into a tidy, neat set with a totally essential booklet read therein FINALLY revealing the story of the band that has made people scratch their heads for two decades. The Homosexuals (and their many side projects and pseudonyms) created DIY punk without any aid from the so-called "biz" in is most boiled down essence. The sound is trademark but unpeggable; there were plenty of hooks and tons of anything-goes experimentation like their contemporaries the Swell Maps, but unlike them, the band's path took such a wildy oscillating spin around the park (Rastafarian bassists! Metal riffs! Dub chamber appliances, a nonstop line of drummers) while maintaining a central, pure and unmistakable vision that even today takes many many repeat listens to truly let sink in. Bruno from the band is at work once again it seems and from what he says, he's still got a million ideas yet to be tried; but for now this is totally essential stuff.

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