Acid house, Adrian Sherwood and Israeli electronics: August’s 10 must-hear reissues and retrospectives
Thanks to the graft 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 archival releases turning up on shelves, we’ve worked though the stacks to pick our favorite reissues and retrospectives of the last month.
This month Mikey IQ Jones again takes the reins, bringing us a selection of rediscovered gems ranging from under-appreciated French avant-garde gems to accidental new age slow-burners.
10. Tapper Zukie
Man Ah Warrior
Recorded with producer Clem Bushay in England in 1973, Man Ah Warrior is the debut album by now-infamous Jamaican DJ Tapper Zukie. Legend has it that Zukie was unaware that these sessions were earmarked for proper release (he believed these were simply going to be cut as dubplate acetates meant for soundclash system battles), and was a bit miffed to discover the album out on shelves upon its release; regardless of the whens, wheres, and hows, the fact remains that Man Ah Warrior showcases the talented toaster in his most wild and wiley form.
These tracks are raw as hell, at times matching the aesthetic dub oddity of Lee Perry’s Revolution Dub sessions, and the album saw a huge supportive push by none other than American punk poetess Patti Smith, who had the album released in the USA via her guitarist Lenny Kaye’s Mer label in 1977, adding to Zukie’s punk rock cache. Kingston Sounds offers up a new reissue of this unpolished roots/rockers classic for a new generation of scrappy MCs and soundsystem maestros, and its ragged sounds are just as powerful now as they were then.
9. Ami Shavit
In Alpha Mood
The always-reliable Finders Keepers delivers this stellar reissue of ambient biofeedback experiments by Israeli synthesist Ami Shavit, a Tel Aviv-based multimedia artist who recorded In Alpha Mood as a means to reach meditative states via burgeoning synth technology in order to overcome a personal traumatic event in his life at the turn of the 1970s.
Originally pressed in a small private edition of 500 copies, Finders has re-released this beautiful platter to a wider, more appreciative audience; its high-flying sine tones and gently fluttering arpeggiations recall the positive flip-side to the shadowed minimalist electronic psychosis of Monoton. While an accidental “new age” record in theory and aesthetics, its six breathtaking tone poems offer greater, deeper fruit that absolutely kills on headphones and when cranked to maximum volume on a good system. Tune in, turn on, and drop out with this one.
8. Nohelani Cypriano
This 1979 tropical funk classic by Nohelani Cypreano is a rare example of the killer soul scene that was happening in the Hawaiian islands during the yacht rock era. Long a favorite amongst balearic aficioados, this impossibly rare LP gets a quality reissue treatment thanks to Be With Records, one of the top crop of up-and-coming new reissue labels making waves at present. The album dances between California stoned blue-eyed soul grooves akin to Ned Doheny and late-period Doobie Brothers, a bit of disco shuffle, and hefty doses of native island flavor. Cypreano’s voice, light and dreamy yet powerfully emotive, just hovers atop these beachy grooves, yet never overpowering the balance of humid sweat and refreshing cool that these grooves deliver. This one’s meant to soundtrack the finish to your endless summer nights.
7. Clara Mondshine
Clara Mondshine is the pseudonym of German composer, journalist, and radio director Walter Bachauer, who recorded three excellent albums for Klaus Schulze’s Innovative Communications label between 1981 and his untimely death in 1987. Luna Africana is the first of those albums, newly reissued by the Fifth Dimension label. Its six primitive excursions into cosmic topography make for an underrated counterpart to fellow German dark robo-ambient scientists Cluster, Harmonia, and Schnitzler, but with a harmonic majesty that more closely echoes the classicism of Kraftwerk circa Radioactivity or Delia Derbyshire’s ‘Mattachin’.
Luna Africana remains one of the best entry points into the largely under-regarded Innovative Communications label, a company overflowing with quality ambient synth classics and cosmic psychedelia. It’s also remained one of the most difficult to obtain album on the label, so give thanks to Fifth Dimension for dusting off this classic for fresh ears.
6. Liquid Idiot /Idiot Orchestra
Liquid Idiot /Idiot Orchestra
Superior Viaduct has just reissued highly influential NYC rhythm ensemble Liquid Liquid’s first three 12″ EPs legitimately for the first time in their original form, and while they remain absolutely essential listening for just about anyone reading FACT, that music has been released twice already via Grand Royal and Domino in recent years. Viaduct deserves higher kudos for this, the first wide release of the pre-Liquid Liquid ensembles Liquid Idiot and the Idiot Orchestra, each spearheaded by Liquid bassist (and noted graphic artist) Richard McGuire.
While Liquid Liquid’s music was a slippery amalgam of negative dub space, fluid post-disco groove, and punk-rock energy, these precursor projects are an altogether more fragmented and abstract take on rhythm and harmony. The 15 cuts play out more like downtown art school students of Sun Ra’s Arkestra, the Raymond Scott Ensemble, and the clomping cubist gallop of street corner maestro Moondog, another NYC native whose unique takes on streetwise rhythm hugely influenced generations of musicians. This LP might not win over as many heads as the Liquid Liquid EPs have over the years, but those with more adventurous ears and an appreciation for free jazz/improv, junkyard rhythm bands, and heavy DIY rawness will find much to love here.
Colors Of The Sun
California native Sam Grawe first released his modern balearic classic Colors Of The Sun on CD via Lo Recordings in 2008. Playing out like a slow-motion West Coast sunset, and utilizing a blurred palette of vintage drum machines, synths, and loads of Fender Rhodes piano, the album re-contextualizes the kosmische psychedelia of 1970s Germany into surf-shack serenades, bong-resin ambient washes, and sand-blasted robotic funk. Be With Records offers up this first-time vinyl edition of Colors Of The Sun, and from its lovely sleeve to the heatstroke highs of its grooves, it makes for one of the summer’s best reissues of a more recent vintage.
4. Psychick Warriors Of Gaia
Psychick Warriors Of Gaia 
Originally released as a limited edition cassette in 1989, the collection of debut recordings by influential Dutch techno tribalists Psychick Warriors Of Gaia finally receives a much-needed vinyl edition via Sacred Summits. These four extended cuts are blistering examples of acid house at its most serrated, psychotropic, and hypnotic, sharing aesthetic ties not only with the birthplace warehouse scenes of Detroit and Chicago, but even more so with the industrial psychedelia of British ensembles like Psychic TV, 23 Skidoo, and Coil as the 1980s came to a close. Fans of everything from Virgo Four to early Cabaret Voltaire will find much to enjoy here.
3. Dave Tyack
The Dead Cert label delivers us one of the most heartfelt tributes to a highly talented composer who was cut down far too young and just as his work was really pushing into new and exciting directions. Luxury Apartments is an absolutely stunning, engrossing 42 minutes of homespun ambient domestika by Dave Tyack, a young keyboardist, drummer, and composer who was one of the first acts to release music on Andy Votel’s fledgling Twisted Nerve imprint back in the late 1990s. The music on Luxury Apartments comprises his last recordings, pointing the way toward a sound that is both deeply private and yet hugely expansive, like a rustic daydream by a man stuck indoors on a grey, rainy day when he’d rather be out exploring the wilderness of the woods and fields.
At times conjuring rustic soundscapes of country expanse, then suddenly shifting into toytown robotics and bedroom science lab experiments, the record’s collusions of Eastern European jazz, German kosmische, and UK folk blend together into one of the most beautiful and deeply personal meditations of the year, let alone the month. Cheers to Votel for paying such a fitting and heartfelt tribute to a man who left us too soon, and whose talents have long been under recognized. Let’s hope this LP quickly changes that – go out and buy his recordings as Dakota Oak immediately afterward.
2. Singers & Players
War Of Words
Adrien Sherwood’s On-U Sound collective were responsible for some of the most revolutionary and forward-thinking evolutions of Jamaican dub music’s mechanics, and while the label holds plenty of surefire classics, the 1981 debut LP War Of Words by Singers & Players – itself a revolving collective showcase ensemble for the label’s many talents – stands head and shoulders above much of the label’s catalogue.
Originally released via infamous NYC art-funk label 99 Records as well as On-U proper in the UK, War Of Words is worth the price of admission alone for the opener ‘Devious Woman’, a heavyweight of dub heartbreak voiced by Jamaican master vocalist Bim Sherman, who takes the lead on the bulk of this classic album’s tunes. Prince Far I makes a few brutal appearances as well, but this is largely Sherman’s show; his impassioned pleas and honeyed croon come weathered by pain and heartbreak brought on by oppression and deception. This is a masterpiece in reggae music from any nation, and On-U’s international collective infuses elements from all manner of traditions into a powerhouse LP that pretty mush everyone should hear at least once before they die. Give praise and thanks to On-U for finally releasing this one from obscurity and high collector prices.
1. Jean Guérin
I’ll be honest here – this LP get the top slot not only because of its sheer brilliance, but because it has remained a personal “holy grail” for over ten years. The French Souffle Continu label is off to one hell of a good start by announcing a series of legit, official reissues of avant-garde classics originally released on the Futura label, and this singular 1971 LP by French composer Jean Guérin is arguably one of, if not THE, finest albums in the infamous and influential Futura catalogue.
A mind-melting mix of primitive electronics and percolating drum machine skitter, bleating synthesizer clarion calls, aquatic dub effects, and highly tuneful jazz horns, the music of Tacet is one of the most beguiling and midn-expanding trips on the Nurse With Wound list, which is really saying something, considering everything that Steve Stapleton included.
Souffle Continu have done a stellar job with this reissue, restoring its rightful place among cult musique concrète masterworks. They’ve even gone so far out to press the reissue on both standard black and colored vinyl, to satiate both sides of the aesthetic argument. There’s allegedly much more in store from these guys, so keep your eyes peeled.