Thanks to the toil of reissue labels and canny collectors, there’s an embarrassment of neglected, forgotten or misunderstood material being unearthed week by week
The volume of new-old music doesn’t outpace new-new music, of course, but it’s not too far behind either. With so many more archive releases turning up on shelves, we’ve worked though the stacks to pick our 10 favourite reissues and retrospectives of the last month. In the running in April: vintage Larry Heard, scruffy post-punk lunacy, dishevelled boogie-funk and the touch of King Tubby. Prepare to greet some old acquaintances, and make a few new ones to boot.
Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 1/11)
THE 49 AMERICANS
E PLURIBUS UNUM
The 1980 debut from Andrew ‘Giblet’ Brenner’s post-punk free-for-all sees him call on a motley crew of collaborators: The Slits’ Viv Albertine, The Flying Lizards’ Viven Goldman, free improviser Steve Beresford and Brenner’s mother all feature in this wonderful collective brainstorm of a record. Veering from gimcrack pop to distorted swing, it’s a chaotic set, but one that fizzes with the anything-goes energy of the period. Follow-up We Know Nonsense – a slicker and prettier proposition – has also been reissued by Staubgold, and is well worth your time too.
Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 2/11)
MUSIC FOR DANCEFLOORS
Has any label made quite such insidious progress into the contemporary listener’s subconscious as KPM? As well as producing a slew of jingles, TV themes and earworms, the library music powerhouse has been a reliable wellspring for producers and crate-diggers: Madlib, MF DOOM, Dangermouse and many others have cribbed samples from their archives. Strut’s deluxe edition retrospective collects 20 unsung funk cuts from the vaults: Alan Hawkshaw, Keith Mansfield, Alan Parker and James Clarke are among the storied contributors. The reissue comes with a splendid bonus disc documenting a 2000 live performance by many of the heads involved, trading as the KPM All Stars.
Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 3/11)
Belgium Techno label Token, responsible for forceful transmissions from Xhin and Inigo Kennedy, look back to 2002 with this repress of UK veteran Mark Broom’s thrillingly prescient ‘Two’. Originally reissued on Blueprint offshoot Coda, ‘Two’ is something of a Rosetta Stone for Techno’s clattering new breed; close your eyes and you could be listening to Blawan, Tessela or Randomer. The bull-in-a-china-shop original is complimented by a dreamy new remix from Syntax, and arrives on lovely marbled vinyl.
Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 4/11)
SONGS VOL. 1
Washington reissue dons PPU bossed it with Robbie M’s Let’s Groove earlier this year, and continue to impress with this Spark Notes guide to Michigan funk man Dwight Sykes. Having spent time in spiritual combos and the US Army, Sykes tripped between local groups until forming Jahari around the turn of the 1980s. Songs Volume 1 collects a host of solo and group material recorded on his Tascam 464 four-track, and offers a high-strike ratio set of moth-eaten electrofunk, primed to appeal to Dean Blunt and Dam-Funk enthusiasts alike.
Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 5/11)
THE DIVIDING ISLAND
The art-house Beach House. Those that recall Lansing-Dreiden’s early 2000s burst of activity will probably remember their obtuse extra-musical escapades: the Death Notice literary zine, the monochromic video installations and those interview exchanges that read like PPE tutorial, all presented with a carefully cultivated sense of anonymity. Waft away all the smoke, however, and you’re left with a rewarding – if rarely exceptional – indie/electro outfit, lauded by Ariel Pink and Grizzly Bear. Mexican Summer’s three-headed vinyl reissue package includes expanded versions of 2003’s The Incomplete Triangle and 2004’s A Sectioned Beam EP, but the keeper is final LP The Dividing Island – slanted indie put together with a curator’s eye.
Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 6/11)
SCHLAGERMORODER (VOLUME 1: 1966-75)
As documented in our The Essential…Giorgio Moroder, the electronic pioneer has as good a claim as anyone to the title of “grandfather of modern dance music”, and this beefy 51-track Schlagermoroder compilation is a helpful gateway into the Italian synth-fiddler’s abyssal back catalogue. Compiling early material released as Giorgio, George and Snoopy, Schlagermoroder captures a wild talent mid-ascent, and boasts informative liner notes from journalist Michael Heatley. The causal fan is advised to move quickly on this one: with Random Access Memories around the corner, you’ll want to be well-versed in the juvenilia before everyone goes Moroder loopy.
Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 7/11)
THE GHERKIN JERKS
STOMP THE BEAT/1990
Tasty late 1980s Larry Heard business, issued pseudonymously on the vintage Gherkin Records imprint (also home to Robert Owens and Rhythim Is Rhythim) and lovingly recovered for a new generation by Clone. The 1990 EP, originally released in 1989, is the glossier and groovier of The Gherkin Jerks releases, boasting Red Planet’ and the fairy-lit ‘Space Dance’.In terms of creativity, though 1998’s Stomp The Beat trumps its follow-up hands down – peep bricolage house of ‘Din Sync’, and kneel in admiration.
Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 8/11)
NINEY THE OBSERVER
DUBBING WITH THE OBSERVER
Jamaican producer Niney The Observer came up working with Dennis Brown, Delroy Wilson and Max Romeo. With a clutch of hits to his name, he stopped by King Tubby’s dream factory in 1975, and debut dub LP Dubbing The Observer was the charmed result. King Tubby’s sleights of hand are all over the place on this dub touchstone – horns tumble into oblivion, industrial percussion clatters and rumbles, and guitar licks mutate into strange new shapes.
Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 9/11)
CHILDREN OF THE UNIVERSE
Wolfgang Maus’ solitary 1979 is one of those impossibly rare, feverishly hyped disco LPs that, if you believe every reissue label press release, seem to miraculously turn up on a fortnightly basis. Children Of The Universe, however, gets an easy pass – even if there’s no Holy Grail to be found, it’s a very strong collection of Teutonic disco and glossy electro-boogie – marvel at ‘Civilisation”s space-age flourishes or ‘Western Way Of Life”s dopey Balearic groove.
Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 10/11)