Playlist, January 2013

An hour-and-fifteen-minute-long piece divided into sections of unequal lengths,Brian Eno’s LUX is well, classic Brian Eno.

Brian Eno

An hour-and-fifteen-minute-long piece divided into sections of unequal lengths, Brian Eno’s LUX is well, classic Brian Eno. Seemingly referencing such Eno landmarks as Music for Films and Music for Airports, LUX is an atmospheric anti-thriller of echoing tones, spiraling zither-like sounds, and hushed silences so free of agitation and aggression it positively radiates with Soma-like sweetness. LUX was borne out of Eno’s work for the Great Gallery of the Palace of Venaria in Turin, Italy, so be careful not to talk as you observe its hallowed virtual halls.

Massive Attack
Blue Lines 2012


As initially envisioned, Bristol’s Massive Attack represented elasticity, a nexus centered on a trio of soundsystem veterans playing with weight and pace while influenced by Def Jam Recordings, Lee “Scratch” Perry and PiL. This revisiting of the collective’s 1991 master tapes is brighter, featuring audibly heightened separation; the clarity can briefly seem less viscous, but it’s merely less shallow. The decompressed mix remains urgent, still laced with tendrils of dank, condensed bass and soulful gradients.

Cold Blue Two

Cold Blue Music

This marvelous CD assembles 14 works by contemporary composers, including James Tenney, David Rosenboom, Larry Polansky, Gavin Bryars, John Luther Adams, and Daniel Lentz. While many of the composers here have roots in the experimental tradition, the pieces on this disc are fiercely consonant and infused with unique orchestrations and electronic processing. Fine moments include the stacked steel guitars of Chas Smith, and the pieces by label veterans Rick Cox, Read Miller, Michael Jon Fink, and Jim Fox. Essential!

Bill Withers

The Complete Sussex and Columbia Albums

Columbia Legacy

Yes, all nine albums, remastered on analog equipment from the original tapes. All those true, warm, soulful songs are revealed with love and reverence for the artist who made them. Engineer Mark Wilder described for the December issue of our sister magazine, Mix, the awe and rush of memory he felt when he first put up the master for Still Bill and heard “Lean on Me” in all its original glory. Thanks to him, you can feel it, too.



Bureau B

This pioneering German band’s 12th album shimmers in certain 1980s territory, from Phil Collins-sounding drum stabs to Peter Gabrielworthy arrangements to the occasional Depeche Mode synth wash. Some may cite Eno as an obvious influence, what with the organic direction of its assembled blips and bobs, but Den’s pulsating figures and varied tones and textures are more than ambient decoupage; they’re like King Crimson slumming with Morton Subotnick at a Kraftwerk afterparty.


A Wrenched Virile Lore

Sub Pop

Mogwai’s 2011 full-length, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, presented a pleasingly subtle slate of chiming/churning guitar anthems. This companion piece sublimates some, condenses others. Several artists (Cylob, RM Hubbert, Robert Hampson) reconvene wholly disassociated melodies into treated electro-acoustic silhouettes. Others (Tim Hecker, Klad Hest, The Soft Moon, Godflesh’s Justin K. Broadrick) take liberties with obvious sources, reshaped into portamento suspensions, 8-bit drill ‘n’ bass and psychedelic drones.

Graham Parker and the Rumour

Three Chords Good
Primary Wave

It’s not just another great album from Graham Parker: It’s the first one from Parker with the whole Rumour in 31 years! This terrific record is like a gathering point for Parker’s many moods and talents. Check out the sweet love song “That Moon Was Low,” or the extra-bitter “Coathangers.” Parker’s sharper than ever, and Three Chords Good is an unexpected gift from one of the greatest singer/songwriters to survive England’s New Wave.