Cryptic Says Goodbye

NEWS AND VIEWS **************************


After over fifteen years of working together, The Cryptic Corporation announced

that RYKO Disc-distributed Eastside Digital in Minneapolis will no longer be

marketing titles by The Residents. ESD will focus on the Scandinavian neo-folk

that it currently markets under the Northside Digital label. In a time of shrinking

retail opportunity, The Cryptic Corporation will examine the extensive catalog

of titles by The Residents and make decisions about which titles should remain

in print, which should go into occasional limited pressings, and which should

be eliminated entirely. As of this moment there is no USA label for any Residents

products, but look for a future announcement as talks with other labels continue.

This should pave the way for the release of an album of new music in late 2003

or early 2004. ESD CD’s will start disappearing from shops immediately. ESD

will no longer be manufacturing any Residents titles, and have already stopped

making a lot of them. Fill in the gaps in your collection now, which you can

also do at Ralph




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to or Buy at Amazon.com</a>



Two new CDs from this long-lived Belgian electronic group are out on Metropolis.

Pulse is the first album of new material from the group in nearly a decade.

The album is a near seamless flow of electronic beat music quoting every dance

dialect of the genre: trance, techno, EBM, drum ‘n bass and more…Six tracks

from this recording that did not make it to the album are compiled onto the

CD EP Still & Raw… Both albums show an interesting and effective synthesis

of the early, post-disco New Wave sound that gave rise to this band and others

in the early ’80s with the new, efficient utilitarian, urban beat

approach… </font></p>


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Listen to or Buy Pulse at Amazon.com</a>


to or Buy Still & Raw at Amazon.com</a>



The album Melodic Miner’s Daughter (A to Z Music) from the Abby And Norm

Group strives to be all things. In this ambitious goal, the mostly instrumental

CD succeeds very well. The album opens with the light, acoustic jazz homage

to Canada. This is mostly guitar-based with prominent sax on four tracks by

George Garzone… On Hada Hada (Libra Records) trumpeter Natsuki Tamura

breaks from his acoustic free jazz past by playing with an electric quartet.

The music is still unpredictable and experimental, but not too often challenging

the listener. The stormy album is monstrous in sound, demanding to be played

at full volume and can be downright scary… The Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra

is a large ensemble based in Boston. On the Darrel Katz CD The Death of Simone

Weil</i> the group backs Rebecca Shrimpton singing a setting of the poetry of

Paula Tatarunis. The group hearkens back to a Big Band sound while incorporating

contemporary styles. An added track, “Like a Wind” is Shrimpton backed by the Abby

And Norm Group singing passages from Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio

Niacin keeps the jazz fusion flame alive through great albums and significant

touring. A long-awaited live album is out; Live – Blood, Sweat and Beers

(Magna Carta). The potent trio charges through a dozen live tracks and two previously

unreleased studio tracks… William Parker’s new album Scrapbook (Thirsty

Ear) shines with the exemplary and spirited playing of dynamic jazz violinist

Billy Bang. Parker (bass) melds with Hamid Drake (drums) to provide a solid

rhythm section to showcase Bang’s precise and fiery talent… The next best thing

to being there can be hearing what you missed. This is the angle of Vision:

Live from the Vision Festival</i> (Thirsty Ear). The highpoints on this CD and

DVD release include a Billy Bang performance. Other exceptional instrumentalists

captured here include Peter Kowald (bass, now deceased), Dave Burrell (piano),

Douglas Ewart (reeds), Matthew Shipp (piano) and more… </font></p>


p align=”center”>

Listen to or Buy Melodic Miner’s Daughter at Amazon.com</a>


to or Buy Death of Simone Weil at Amazon.com</a>


to or Buy Live – Blood, Sweat and Beers at Amazon.com</a>



The members of The Exploited have mostly shaved their hair. The group removed

much of the “hair” from its music, too. The new album Fuck the System


is violently anti-establishment with a tight, focused metalcore/speed punk sound…The

high-octane new album Straight til Morning from The Midnight Evils on

Estrus is a Tim Kerr-produced slab that

embodies the excitement of driving big cars at high speeds…Also on Estrus is

Get Knifed, the revved up alt-blues album with a sociopathic soul from

Fatal Flying Guilloteens. Also produced by Kerr, this is for those that think

Jon Spencer is too soft… From Smallstone

Records</a> comes It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Humanity by Puny Human.

This band has a muscular, serpentine hard rock that recalls White Zombie. (J.

Yuenger produced the record.) However, the vocals are thin and seem artificially

in front of the music. Is that the puny part to this record? … Sonny Vincent

has experience creating heavy music, beginning with his two-guitar punk group

The Testors (1976). He started making waves than and has not looked back since.

The Good The Bad The Ugly (Acetate)

includes many guests. Everyone from Wayne Kramer to Streetwalking Cheetahs’ Frank Meyer are

on the record. The album excellently synthesizes fast rock with an unpretentious

use of melody, as on “Trans-Love”…Not only is Gallery of Mites heavy music,

it is heavy to move the band’s equipment around. The 10-member group boasts

five guitarists. Gallery of Mites artfully uses these guitarists on Bugs

on the Bluefish</i> (Meteor City) for

a surprisingly articulate and cohesive hard rock album from what one may think

would just be a volume-over-structure wall of sound ensemble… </font></p>


p align=”center”>Listen

to or Buy Fuck the System at Amazon.com</a>


to or Buy Straight til Morning at Amazon.com</a>


to or Buy Get Knifed at Amazon.com</a>


to or Buy Good Bad Ugly at Amazon.com</a>


to or Buy Bugs ont eh Bluefish at Amazon.com</a>



Canorous queen of ecstatic song Alessandra Belloni takes through Italian folk-song

of magico-religious nature on Tarantelle & Canti d’Amore: The Songs of Alessandra

Belloni</i> (Naxos World). The mood ranges from the spirited, passionate tarantellas

to gentle lullabies… For reflective, New Age acoustic sounds of Japan, Riley

Lee and Satsuki Odamura teamed on Picture Dreams (New World Music). Australian

Lee evidences his mastery of subtle shakuhachi impressions while accompanied

by koto in these instrumental duet settings…Wimme continues to update the Finnish

Sami vocal style known as joik by mating it with increasingly dance-like electronic

beats. Bárru (Northside) is the most techno-styled yet presenting an

interesting contrast between the far-away vocals of frozen Finland with the

warm, pulsing beats… Of course this wasn’t the first fusion of a sub-genre with

world sounds. Punks were mixing up dub and punk since the beginning, arising

as it was out of the fertile southeast England scene. All this is documented

in beat-driven detail on the compilation Wild Dub Dread Meets Punk Rocker

Downtown</i> (Select Cuts). Featured artists include The Clash, Generation X,

Killing Joke and Grace Jones… Amadou & Mariam have an album called Wati on Circular

Moves. This is a fun blend of traditional African vocals with bright electric

blues and rock guitar. This is amped up Afro-pop sung in French with an early

R&B delivery…When it is all over take it to la-la land with the compilation

Dreamland: World Lullabies & Soothing Songs from Putumayo.

Ideal for nighty-night, meditation, yoga and other relaxing activities, this

compendium draws from Australia, Scotland, Argentina and more… </font></p>


p align=”center”>Listen

to or Buy Alessandra Belloni at Amazon.com</a>


to or Buy Picture Dreams at Amazon.com</a>


to or Buy Wimme at Amazon.com</a>


to or Buy Dreamland at Amazon.com</a>



Nick Curran and the Nitelifes cranks it up on the swinging, upbeat Doctor

Velvet</i> (Blind Pig Records).

His large, jump blues ensemble includes piano and a horn section… To hear a

master of electric guitar blues, check out Talkin’ Blues, the new album

from Albert King (Thirsty Ear). The live album is from a 1978 Chicago performance

and includes “Born Under a Bad Sign”, “Blues at Sunrise” and more. Excellent

production could make this a classic. However, Thirsty Ear chose to interweave

interview portions between the tracks. While these are entertaining and illuminating

exchanges, they disrupt the pace of the album… George Thorogood rose to prominence

as a rocking blues musician in the late ’70s. This and the fact that he is perhaps

more popular with rock fans than blues fans make it seem odd that Rounder chose

to do a Thorogood album as part of its esteemed Heritage Series. However,

the album Who Do You Love? proves Thorogood to be a rooted player with

an impressive body of material. This album concludes with the title track that

is a previously unreleased live version of the title song… Savoy

Brown</a> has slimmed down its sound since the heady, bombastic days of the

hard rock boogie sound. The group’s new album on Blind Pig Records is Strange

Dreams</i> and shows Kim Simmonds and company delivering a tight, focused

electric blues-rock… Mostly instrumental is I Feel Like Goin’ On from

Ronnie Earl on Stony

Plain</a>. This is an exquisite blues guitar album that focuses on Earl’s fretwork

ability and style like none other in his discography… Another upbeat, blues

player on Stony Plain is David K. Wilcox. Rockin’ the Boogie: Best Blues

Boogie</i> is a collection spanning his quarter-century career in boogie and

blues and includes three new tracks… Another fine Canadian blues label is NorthernBlues

Music</a>. It is also an adventurous label, proving that again with the world-influenced

acoustic blues of James Cohen on High Side of Lowdown. Approaching gypsy

jazz, this is the intersection of flamenco and blues… Also acoustic, but getting

real traditional is Doc Watson on Trouble in Mind: The Country Blues Collection

(Sugar Hill). This album compiles

material from Watson’s past albums for an all-blues release and includes such

tracks as “Stackolee”, “Lost John” and the Jimmie Rodgers songs “Anniversary

Blues (Blue Yodel #7)”. This banjo-blues retrospective gets to the heart of

the matter quick and is 17 tracks or pure, unadulterated blues of the southern

Appalachia… </font></p>


p align=”center”>


to or Buy Nick Curran at Amazon.com</a>


to or Buy George Thorogood at Amazon.com</a>


to or Buy Savoy Brown at Amazon.com</a>


to or Buy Ronnie Earl at Amazon.com</a>


to or Buy Trouble in Mind: The Country Blues at Amazon.com</a>


DVD REVIEWS ****************************

Tom Green

Early Exposure: Raw Meat and Rare Treats

Video Service Corp./Eclectic


Tom Green

Endangered Feces

Video Service Corp./Eclectic


These two videos make up over two hours of Tom Green’s outrageous video stunts,

pranks and ridiculous harassment of ordinary people. Sometimes Green’s antics

are out-and-out hilarious but even when the humor value is lacking the fascinating

thing becomes how far Green will go to get a reaction. These past episodes of

The Tom Green Show include handling roadkill, playing with roadkill,

blatant Lesbian airbrush art, men French kissing, garbage picking, silly songs

and more. Endangered Feces includes extra features covering Green making

a scene on other people’s show as their guests. Green’s confrontational comedy

is a cross between RE/Search Publications’ “Pranks!” and Coyle & Sharpe. (4)



p align=”center”>More

on Early Exposure from Amazon.com</a>


on Endangered Feces from Amazon.com</a> </font></p>

Mike Gordon

Outside Out

Cactus Unlimited/MVD

This is a new release of the film by Mike Gordon of Phish, released with enhanced

sound and picture. Outside Out was the SXSW 2000 Audience Award Winner.

Gordon appears in the film as leader of the band Ramble Dove with a Gram Parsons’

“High Fashion Queen” wardrobe. However, this is a merely supporting role as

the story is built around the original Outside Out guitarist, Col. Bruce Hampton

(Fiji Mariners, Aquarium Rescue Unit). Hampton offers crazy wisdom and magical

communications through a guitar instructional video to a teen confused about

life. Hampton’s message that guitar advancement can come through nonconformist

philosophy and unlearning accepted technique finds fertile ground in the mind

of the teen looking at the guitar as a glamorous career, but lacking discipline.

Anyone that is going through or has ever gone through such a phase can relate

to this story, The quirky character played by Hampton and his weird digs adds

to the entertainment value of this offbeat tale about coming of age that is an expressionist

rock version of Herman Hesse’s “Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair’s Youth”.

This is because a highly unlikely series of events turns to verify the alternate

route the teen seeks for his school day aspirations. (4)



p align=”center”>More

on the DVD from Amazon.com</a></font></p>


CD REVIEWS ****************************

Ursa Minor

Silent Moving Picture

Smells Like Records

In a time when experimental music is about dramatic effect, Michelle Casillas

experiments with subtlety and sounds unusual as they are understated on this

song-oriented after-hours album gem. Much of the texture here derives from the

juxtaposition of Casillas’ gently rolling piano and Fender Rhodes organ against

the low-level but wildly distorted guitars of Tony Scherr (Sex Mob, Lounge Lizards,

Bill Frisell). Another Lounge Lizard is on hard: cellist Jane Scarpantoni, as

well as other one-song appearances by Yuri Lemishev (accordion) and Chris Brown

(clavinet). Another feature of this album is the group’s take on the songs “Summertime

Rolls” from Jane’s Addiction. (4)



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Joshua Bayer

Lines and Grooves


Fans of Bill Evans and Paul Desmond will appreciate this instrumental, basically

acoustic jazz album done in a classic style. The quartet built around journeyman

acoustic bassist Joshua Bayer includes Marty Nau on saxophone as well as Bob

Sykes on piano and Rhodes organ with Luther Gray holding down the bottom on

drums. Other than “Prelude” by George Gershwin, this album is all original material.

This is a subtle, exquisite album that never seeks to jar the listener, but

instead gently entertains. The point here is melody, not might; mood not majesty.

Lines and Grooves goes with dim lights and fine wine, romantic moments

and quiet times. (4.5)



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Zen Gardens

Zen Gardens

Clean Cuts

This is an album of impressionistic synth compositions, “music inspired by the

temples and gardens of Kyoto.” Fans of Steven Reich, later Tangerine Dream and

Kitaro will appreciate these compositions of Wall Matthews. Several duotones

decorating the CD picture render the well-tended gardens, picturesque brooks and stylistically

furrowed sand that should come to mind when listening. Multi-instrumentalist

Wall Matthews is known for his abilities in African percussion, as well as guitar

and piano. While the mood here is distinctly Oriental and not African, there

is a gently percussive quality that imbues a sense of rolling motion to the

pieces. Matthews also composed dance scores for ballet companies and these pieces

are evocative of the stage motions that make for effective choreography. (4)



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Edison Rocket Train

Yes! Yes!! Yes!!!

Steel Cage Records

Edison Rocket Train is an alt-blues root-punk band in the tradition of Jon Spencer

Blues Explosion and Delta ‘72. The revved up rock album includes covers of ancient

blues numbers as “Samson and Delilah” and “Your Dice Won’t Pass”. Even the original

includes lyrical nods to country blues and early R&B, as in the title track

and the “dust my broom” phrase in “Party Man Special”. The band gets its drive

and energy from rocking guitarist Mike Edison, but a lot of the style here comes

from the saxophones and harp of Pete Linzell. Journeyman Linzell’s horns and

harps have graced albums by The Fleshtones, New Bomb Turks, Raunch Hands and

more. (3.5) </font></p>

Vic Bondi / Articles of Faith

Fortunate Son

Alternative Tentacles Records

Vic Bondi started as a protest singer and then formed Articles of Faith and

other bands. His reaction to Operation: Iraqi Freedom was to go back to where

he began and release new, rocking protest songs. Two appear on this split CDEP,

one being a driving, over the top take on John Fogerty’s “Fortunate Son”. The

two tracks by Articles of Faith actually were written 20 years ago, but are

examples of politicized hardcore that still resonate today: “Buy this War” and

“American Dreams”. (3) </font></p>

The Undead

First, Worst & Cursed


This is not the punk group that featured one-time Misfit Bobby Steele. This

punk group sports the same B-movie styled punk with a greater sense of humor

and preceded the later Steele ensemble by a decade. The group began releasing

singles in 1977 and this compendium draws from the prolific period. Past of

the Masque scene, this album is not only interesting as the groups earliest

material, but as a window into the one of the manifold faces of West Coast punk

during the fertile period of the late ’70s when such varied and dedicated groups

sprouted up. The thin recordings roll past in short songs of varying levels

but each horror-schlock ditty is simple, catchy and stylized to fit the quartet

of Sid Terror, Bond Cobby, Elmer Dud and Joe Dirt. (3.5)



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Andrew Drury

A Momentary Lapse


Andrew Drury is the composer and drummer behind this jazz quintet in every

way. The music tends to be a frantic and perilous seesaw battle between violinist

Eyvind Kang and the saxophones (Chris Speed and Briggan Kraus). Also figuring

in prominently is Myra Melford in the piano. This avant-jazz supergroup is held

to the ground by the bass playing of Mark Dresser. The instrumental, eruptive

jazz pieces feature rock-like energy and attack. All this energy flows from

a very hard-working acoustic ensemble. A Momentary Lapse is a significant and

energetic recording that will appeal to fans of free jazz, Rock In Opposition,

prog rock as well as creative music in general.



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Ani DiFranco


Righteous Babe Records

Here is an excellent assemblage of a dozen new studio tracks from DiFranco’s 5-piece

band. She began working in this setting a few years back and focused on fusing

melodic songwriting with attributes of funk. Evolve appears to be the culminating

synthesis of these disparate approaches to music with ample similarity to her successful neo-folk sound of the ’90s to satisfy purist fans. Ani

DiFranco returned to performing solo, but fortunately for us she captured in

the studio on new material the musicians she has melded with as a touring unit

over recent years: Julie Wolf (keyboards), Hans Teuber (reeds), Jason Mercer (bass)

and Daren Hahn (drums) as well as a three-piece horn section. (4.5)



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Todd Snider

Near Truths and Hotel Rooms

Oh Boy Records

On this live album, Todd Snider proves himself not only to be the court jester

representative of “no depression” alternative country but an able performer

of very solid material. “D.B. Cooper” is a triumphant ballad to the high-altitude-thief-as-folk-hero

and “Lonely Girl” is a touching ballad. The album also features such down home

howlers as the spelling lesson “Beer Run”. Most songs are introduced with Snider’s

drawled patter, which seems to never grow old on this entertaining disc. (4)



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The Blood Brothers

Burn Piano Island, Burn

Artist Direct

They are calling this new generation of aggro “screamo” and The Blood Brothers

are riding that wave for all it is worth. Already prolific, the group in 2003

has a five-title discography starting with the attention-getting 2001 release

March on Electric Children. It is obvious from this output and the explosive,

frenetic tracks of this album that the guys in this band are full of energy.

Two dedicated vocalists screaming and carrying on unfettered by even so much

as maracas are the main weapon in the arsenal of The Blood Brothers. Old school

fans of post-punk aggro will see this noisy group, which features a lot of swing

in their clamorous grooves, as a cross between Laughing Hyenas and Alice Donut.

This is a sophisticated, intelligent take on hardcore that should not go unnoticed.




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Bob Marley and The Wailers

Greatest Hits at Studio One


Perhaps no other group did more to popularize reggae music than The Wailers.

This mighty force in reggae had its starts as a trio produced by Clement Dodd

in Jamaica’s legendary Studio One. This collection takes us back to those seminal

days when the group was a vocal trio: Marley, Peter Tosh and Neville Livingston.

It was at this time the group recorded early versions of “One Love” and “Simmer

Down”, heard on this release. There is a proto-ska sound to these recording

that includes backing musicians who later figured heavily in the ska movement:

Tommy McCook, Lloyd Brevett, Roland Alphonso, etc. This is the sound influenced

by American radio that emerged out of Jamaica and later diverged down two paths:

ska and reggae. (4.5)



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Al Rose

Gravity of Crow

Monkey Holding Peach Records

Gravity of Crow is a very well produced album of great pop songs that

will resonate with fans of Elvis Costello and Leonard Cohen. There is also a

very Midwestern feel to tunes by this Chicago singer-songwriter, as can be heard

on “Open Wide”. Subtle backing and harmony vocals from Laura Blye adds a warm

style to this exquisite collection of exquisite gems. Rose’s band The Transcendoes

always finds the correct balance between vocal and instrumental expression on

these songs. This is especially true when Steve Doyle waxes melodic on the Dobro.

The lyrics are included in the booklet, as they always should be when they are

this good. (4) </font></p>

Roberta Piket

& Alternating Current

I’m Back in Therapy and it’s all Your Fault

Thirteenth Note Records

Pianist and composer Roberta Piket steps out of her successful acoustic form

with the electric project Alternating Current on I’m Back in Therapy and it’s

all Your Fault</i>. Her combination of a vintage Wurlitzer electric piano with an

array of effects pedals makes for a warm, personal sound on this instrumental

album. (3.5)



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