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
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
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.