October 30, 2007

Esprit III Aspic project

"We have devastated mind,
our releases are chaotic.
We certainly do not deserve the word "label".
But we still have a cool logo!
WE are just Aspic records

Fuck music business, we are back in the underground !
or why we gave up putting music on plastic !

"Here is, in a few words (I will try) my questions :
- I have tried to release Cd’s the classic way, and to distribute also. I failed (Optical sound and aspic records). I discover that the business of music has no place for me. Or that I did not want to take part of it. To be clear, I discovered thing like : if I want my cd’s to be sold, I have to get in the business, not pressing only 500 cd’s. A review in some magazine has to be paid. If I sell the cd’s, the artist will never get money from it, but the distributors and shop surely will. At the end of the story, we gave more “promotionnal” cd’s than we ever sell. And I was disgusted and lose all interest in this (I will stop here, there is so much to say).
- If I release 500 cd’s, I have to give at least 200 copies to the media. 300 copies can be bought by “real” listeners. It cost me much, and I will - in the best case - get my money back.
If I put all this online as mp3, it cost nothing, and everybody can listen to it, not only 300.
- I definitly think the cd, as an object, is a piece of shit. No picture can exist with a small size like that. The sound quality is a lie (listen to your vinyls !!!). The plastic box gets yellow when old. Nobody touch the object anymore, read the liner notes, And it is fucking expensive !!! The prices have at least increase 200% since the time of the vinyl. The media said “it is expensive at the beginning, but when everybody will buy only cd’s, the prices are going to be normal again’. This never happened.
- I recently buy again vinyls. It is a pleasure to buy those objects. For example, the White noise b&w cover looks great. As a Cd, it looks like nice-price Cd ! Or the Tes vinyl, on Lex, with traces of pen !!! On Cd, it looks like a chicken scratch !
And at my record shop, they are cheaper than cd’s ! Can you believe it ?!?
- In record shop, I only can find some styles of music. Very hard to find, for example the last Lithops, Hecker (the one on mego), the Books, Kyo Ichinose…
- I am interested in too many sounds, I will never be rich enough to buy all I want. Soulseek is definitly my main purveyor. And do not tell me I download more than I can listen. Because I do listen to all my downloads !
- when I order directly to an artist, or a label, I am sure that the artist will get some money."
(Stéphane Fransioli "Aspic founder")

First serie (1999 - 2000)
5 cd, originally released as a subscription, from 1999 to 2000.

CD 01

Download: cd1 part1 & cd1 part2

CD 02

Download: cd2 part1 & cd2 part2

CD 03

Download: cd3

CD 04

Download: cd4

CD 05

Download: cd5

Genre: Electronic, experimental, post-rock
Website: aspicrecords.com

October 26, 2007

Lift to Experience

The Texas-Jerusalem crossroads
2001(bella union)

There is no way to begin a review of this challenging album without quoting this telling opening passage from "Just As Was Told":

'This is the story of three Texas boys mindin' their own bidnis when the Angel of the Lord appeared unto them saying, 'When the Winston Churchills start firin' their Winston rifles into the sky from the lone star state, drinkin' their lone star beer and smokin' their winston cigarettes, know the time is drawin' nigh when the son shall be lifted on high'. We told 'em that didn't sound very Sunday-go-ta-meetin. 'What do you expect when the lord calls on the crippled, deaf and blind to lead the children of Israel into the promised land'. 'Children of Israel?', we asked. 'Don't you boys know nothin'?, the USA is the center of Jer-usa-lem"'.

Is this self-proclaimed "space-rock band from Denton, Texas", expecting to be taken seriously or is it merely yanking our chain? I would venture an opinion that Lift to Experience -- viz. Josh "Buck" Pearson (guitar, vocals), Josh "Bear" Browning (bass) and Andy "The Boy" Young (drums) -- is deadly serious about its debut The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads and equally serious about its being "a concept album about the end of the world with Texas as the Promised Land" and all that.

So how the heck did a space-rock band from Denton, Texas end up with an obscure British label established by former Cocteau Twins Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde? Raymonde explained,"When I heard the demos, I was staggered by the swagger, the effortlessness of it all. Surely they couldn't really be as cool as they sounded? A plane trip to Texas was next on the agenda, and my fate was sealed. A thunderous show (literally inside a tent during one of the worst storms in Texas history) convinced me that I had to put this record out, but also that I was undoubtedly in the presence of genius. We signed the band within two minutes of them walking off stage". The result is plain for all to see.

At its most accessible, Lift to Experience plainly evokes the grand albeit self-aggrandising big music of U2's Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum. This trait is most evident in songs like "These Are the Days", "Falling from Cloud 9" and "Waiting to Hit". This musical reference point also calls in associations with the Velvet Underground and Joy Division (the roots of U2), as well as Jeff Buckley and Radiohead (the branches of U2). At once ethereal and earthy, the wash of sonic noise that saturates much of the music here easily conjures memories of such innovative noise merchants as Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townshend, Neil Young, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine and Spaceman 3.

The fact that Lift to Experience is able to vividly evoke such a myriad of cutting-edge rock forbears and at the same time marry its sound thematically with apocalyptic and biblical imagery -- reminiscent of Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave and 16 Horsepower -- suggests that we are indeed witnessing an epoch-making artistic force in gestation.

Pearson's ties with the fire-and-brimstone bible-thumping brand of Christianity are clearly evident in this incendiary work -- his father abandoned the family to pursue the faith. Many of the songs are sung much like church litany, like the understated "Down Came the Angels", where the atmospheric background and echoey bass buttress Pearson's hymn-like delivery.

But what keeps this album edgy and provocative is the ability of the band to inject levity into the fairly sombre subject matter. In "Waiting to Hit", Pearson bargains with God -- "Lord, I'll make you a deal: I will if you give me a smash hit so I can build a city on the hill". On "These Are the Days", Pearson blows a kiss after intoning "blood on their teeth and lips" and he proudly proclaims Lift to Experience "the best band in the whole damn land and Texas is the reason".

This heady double album is in essence a seamless song cycle with movements that drift in and out with stream of consciousness meandering. Consumed as a whole, The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads is an immense undertaking. Our rapt attention is mirrored by the band's own compulsion, as Pearson declares on the mutant hillbilly of "Down with the Prophets", "we sing these songs because we have to, not because we want to". And in the end, the full-blooded, epic, ten-minute "Into the Storm" closes with a statement of intent, a manifesto: "Follow me over the Jordan over desert sand (Rio Grande) / Follow me . . . Israel into the Promised Land / Follow me over the Jordan over desert sand (Rio Grande) / Follow me into Texas into the Promised Land".

Whatever your answer may be, there's no denying the power of this album. It is perhaps the perfect soundtrack for these chaotic and troubled times.

CD1 & CD2

Like what you hear, buy it! And support the artists that really need it.

October 24, 2007

Terje Rypdal & the Chasers

Starting out as a Hank Marvin-influenced rock guitarist with The Vanguards, Rypdal turned towards jazz in 1968 and joined Jan Garbarek's group and later George Russell's sextet and orchestra. An important step towards international attention was his participation in the free jazz festival in Baden-Baden, Germany in 1969, where he was part of a band led by Lester Bowie. During his musical studies at Oslo university and conservatory, he led the orchestra of the Norwegian version of the musical Hair. He has often recorded with ECM, both jazz-oriented material and classical compositions (some of which don't feature Rypdal's guitar).

Today, Rypdal is an important member of the Norwegian jazz community. His collaborations as guitarist and composer with other ECM artists Ketil Bjornstad and David Darling in 90s are also noteworthy. In those compositions he found a way out of jazz and classical compositions to a modern and more avant-garde unique style.


Terje Rypdal: guitar
Audun Kleive: drums, percussion
Bjørn Kjellemyr: basses


Terje Rypdal electric guitar, keyboards
Bjørn Kjellemyr electric and acoustic bass
Audun Kleive drums, percussion
New Link
Like what you hear, buy it! And support the artists that really need it.

October 22, 2007

Pan American

For waiting, for chasing

Following on from the magnificent 'Quiet City' album for Kranky (to this day one of the biggest selling titles on Boomkat), Mark Nelson finally returns with a new album under the Pan American moniker - and it's another triumph of sublime understatement. "For Waiting, For Chasing" is underpinned by delicately caressed and manipulated Flugelhorns, Tibetan Singing Bowls and Chinese Cymbals, processed, weaved and loved into a throbbing mass of neon loveliness. Opening 'Love Song' unfolds with a gentle cacophony of whirrs - like crickets trapped in a jar - juxtaposed with the most ethereal layers of ambience tripping over each other to create a cloud of harmony; this is absolutely classic Pan American territory. Nelson never confines his music to simple ambience, moulding in noisier elements which work as a counterpoint to the warm tones of the Tibetan Singing Bowls and synthesized whisps - a conceit which manages to keep his work ever-contemporary when so many of his past peers have been stuck in an endless loop of repetition. A work of calming restraint, it's really impossible to fault this musician and his ability, with this album, to craft another perfectly-formed microcosm of bliss. Essential purchase.

Quiet City

Quiet City is the fourth album from Mark Nelson's Pan�American project and combines the computer-centric approach of The River Made No Sound with the organic instrumentation that marked Nelson's work in Labradford and the first two Pan�American albums. Three of the eight tracks were recorded with Charles Kim (Sinister Luck Ensemble) and feature upright bass, drums, trumpet and flugelhorn. �Nelson even sings a bit. �The rippling electronics and muffled beats of the first three Pan�American albums are still there; distended into elegiac, resonant, wavering, and ambient song craft. �The CD edition of Quiet City comes with a DVD that contains a video essay shot and edited by Mark Nelson and Chicago visual artist Annie Feldmeier.

As Bob Baker Fish noted "Pan�American's forte is in the studio, crafting together all manner of disparate sounds with a patience and eclecticism rarely sighted in contemporary electronica." Pan�American has released singles and contributed to compilations on labels across the world, done remix work for artists like PSI Performer and Kid 606, collaborated with the artist Thomas Demand and toured with Radian and Low. ��He has a release coming up on the brand new Mosz label as well. �The full-length video that accompanies the album is a visual meditation on the theme of the quiet city; suitable for focussed viewing or accompanying everyday activity —�an ambient video if it helps to think of it as that.

Mark Nelson: �Electronics, guitar, voice and mix
with Charles Kim: upright bass, tracks 4 and 5
Tim Mulvenna (Vandermark 5, Jeb Bishop): drums, 4 and 5
Steven Hess (Hat Melter, Bosco & Jorge, Aluminum Group): drums, 7
David Max Crawford (Poi Dog Pondering, Wilco, Stereolab): trumpet on 5, flugehorn on 7


Like what you hear, buy it! And support the artists that really need it.

October 16, 2007

Vishwa Mohan Bhatt

Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (b. Rajasthan, India, 1952) is an exponent of Hindustani music (North Indian classical music). Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (also known as V. M. Bhatt) is one of the most celebrated shishyas (disciples) of the sitarist Ravi Shankar. Born in Jaipur in Rajasthan in July 1952, he is the younger brother of Shashi Mohan Bhatt, who was one of the first three students to study with Shankar circa 1949/50; Shashi Mohan Bhatt is the father of sitarist Krishna Mohan Bhatt. Much of his formative musical education came from his family. His father Manmohan Bhatt taught and as a boy Vishwa Mohan Bhatt soaked up his father's singing, compositions and ragas.

Bhatt originally did not mean to pursue a career in music. He prepared for the security of the Indian civil service while studying sitar and violin. Around 1967 he found a Spanish Guitar left behind by a German student at his father's music school in Jaipur. Bhatt claimed it for his own and set about remodelling it. After experimenting with the instrument's structure, left and right hand techniques, various objects to produce the slide sound and strings, he modified the guitar with the addition of several drone strings and eight sympathetic strings, playing it like a Hawaiian slide guitar to get the sustained, sliding notes common to the vocal style of Indian classical music. Thus the 'mohan veena' was born, named after himself and Vina or Veena, the generic Sanskrit word for a stringed instrument. It is an instrument that appears to be a hybrid of a classical Spanish guitar and a sitar. The Mohan veena sounds somewhat like a Western slide guitar and is played with sitar mizrabs (wire picks) and a thumb pick and a polished steel rod for the slide. The combination of melody, drone, sympathetic strings and Bhatt's microtonal approach to melody, however, place it firmly in an Indian cosmos.

Although he had had established himself as a recording artist in India as early as 1970 and had toured and recorded with his guru abroad (including Shankar's ambitious Inside The Kremlin from 1989), his major international breakthrough came with the album A Meeting By The River, a collaboration with American slide guitarist Ry Cooder that would be awarded a Grammy award for Best World Music Album in 1994. It is for this album and other fusion and pan-cultural collaborations with Western artists like Taj Mahal, Béla Fleck and Jerry Douglas, rather than his own unique take on Indian classical music traditions that Bhatt is best known, although exposure such as an appearance on the 2004 Crossroads Guitar Festival, which was organized by Eric Clapton, does allow for this side of his playing to reach a larger audience. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2002.

He currently resides in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, with his two sons and his wife. His elder son Salil Bhatt is a renowed Mohan veena player (and also a player of the Satvik veena), while his younger son Saurabh Bhatt is a well known composer. His nephew, Krishna Bhatt, plays the sitar and tabla.

Ry Cooder & Vishwa Mohan Bhatt/
A meeting by the river


Vishwa Mohan Bhatt & Simon Shaheen/




Like what you hear, buy it! And support the artists that really need it.

October 4, 2007

François Rabbath - Carmen !


Proto: Carmen Fantasy - Rabbath: Two Miniatures, Concerto No. 3
Rabbath: double bass, Frank Proto, Florence Bouchet: piano

This recording, recommended wholeheartedly, reunites the unique talents of Frank Proto (composer, bassist, jazz musician, pianist) with those of virtuoso bassist and composer François Rabbath. Rabbath combines a mellifluous and silky tone with supreme musicianship that is ideally suited to the works recorded here.

Proto composed the five-movement Carmen Fantasy in 1991 for Rabbath and used several of the popular arias from Bizet's opera in a lyrical and relaxed transcription. The Fantasy begins with a virtuosic Prelude for solo bass, leading into the Aragonaise including an improvisational passage that both performers play with relish. Micaela's Aria is treated as the slow movement of the Suite and Rabbath demonstrates the wonderful sonorities and expressive qualities of the double bass. The Toreador Song hints at Proto's love of jazz and the work ends with a lively and virtuosic Bohemian Dance.

The Two Miniatures for double bass and piano are atmospheric tone poems with an impressionistic quality well suited to the cantabile nature of the bass. Proto provides a simple but important piano accompaniment allowing the solo line to dominate. Rabbath and Proto perform with perfect understatement, producing a feeling of calm and serenity that demonstrates their exceptional musical rapport.

Concerto No. 3 is a romantic love duet between bass and piano and both performers play with great feeling and power. The one-movement work is divided into sections that are dominated by rhythmic vitality or lyrical interludes. This is an impressive performance in which Rabbath wears his heart on his sleeve.
"David Heyes"
"Double Bassist"


Like what you hear, buy it! And support the artists that really need it.

October 3, 2007


Serein was established on the 19th of October, 2005 as a venture for promoting musicians and their work online. A so called 'net-label', they release music in MP3 format under the creative commons license for free. Releases are grouped identically to how you would expect a record label's catalogue to be organised. In the music section you will find releases listed with a catalogue number (ser000) identifying each unique release. Within each of these are links to music files and artwork, with the option to download the whole pack as a compressed zip file.

They largely concentrate on releasing experimental, ambient and electro acoustic compositions.


Recommended releases:

ser013 (2007)

The Welsh Serein-Netlabel has always been a good address for undogmatic electro-acoustic music that combines expanded experimentalism with a certain amount of catchiness. Those who like Ambient music without an esoteric aftertaste will probably know about the label. 1.000 Hours Of Staring, Herzog or Neuf Meuf are just three names you once read if you’re a faithful consumer of this blog. Catalogue number thirteen is the latest addition to the label rooster and comes off as an self titled EP of the duo Nest. A special release, because 50% of Nest is Huw Roberts, the guy who founded and runs Serein.co.uk. He’s accomplished by Otto Totland of critically acclaimed Norwegian ‘engineers of emotion’ Deaf Center. Both are classically educated piano-players. Does this fact make you guess what their collaboration will sound like? Not really.

First track Lodge start with intimate piano chords. The microphone seems to be place very close to the strings, you can hear the dull beat of the hammers. You’re part of an exclusive family music-event while decent electronic noises arise from the adjoining room. Horns and strings stalk from the last row to your ears and create a dense ambient layer. A saw tooth synthesizer swells and ebbs away. Someone holds his breath. The second track is entitled Kyoto, and indeed, the first thing that came to my mind was Japanese folklore. Due to some decently pulsing drones and field-recordings that sound like Emil Klotzsch’ Tiefe Berge-composition, Roberts plays the Welsh Harp. A few piano tones at hand, the song comes up with some interesting and beautiful harmonies between art school and Popmusic. Clever composition, moreover. Reminds me of the Eve Future-releases of German intellectuals Kreidler. Same for Marefjellet. Track three joins the close piano-sound of the first song with the Asian flavours of the second one. The sound of distant rain and haunting string-arpeggios in the back make you think of film soundtracks, Arvo Pärt and Tom “Moondog” Hardiner.

We’re starting the b-side with a ray of light. Charlotte is introduced with loose field-recordings and cautious synthesizer drones. Back for good, the piano rushes in with a strong harmonic motive (probably Totlands’ play) that is accomplished with processed strings and synthesizers. Sweet! Maybe the track most songlike. My personal favourite is Cad Goddeu, though. A strange amorphous Ambient composition of slowly smouldering soundlayers it is, with filtered strings fixed like swarms of midges in the heat of the afternoon sun, concentric loops of solemnly clarinet-tones and sketches of a shady piano. Once again, references go out to Marsen Jules (see Yara) and the Grand Signor of suspension, Ennio Morricone. Finally, Trans Siberian is a fine fade-out for the EP. The track is composed around a steam train-recording and features some relaxed piano chords and smooth synth-layers.

Roberts and Totland fuse twinkle-toed Chamber Music and experimental Ambient. Though I’d have like to hear some more gutsy sounds, their EP is unearthly beautiful, ignores all genre-limitations and proves the huge amount of musical knowledge, and, even better, intuition, both Roberts and Totland invest into their compositions. Chapeau! ( Review by R U Bored)

Neuf Meuf /
It's cold in space


"So, what of the music? 'It's cold in space' says the title, but I'm hard pushed to find anything cold about this album. Listening to it seems the perfect accompaniment to the hot weather that's finally found it's way to British shores; gently plucked guitars lilting in and out of the sun drenched picture Neuf Meuf paints. Snatches of vocals and the rattle and whirr of percussion and field recordings will have you melting whether the sun is shining or not. There are darker moments here too, though. 'Unrest unsave', featuring vocals from 'Sepia Hours' plunges you into darkness and will leave you feeling quite unsettled, before raising the mood once again with the epic and enchanting 'goldberry dreamstream'."