Once again, we dredge the bottom of a sea of vinyl to bring hidden treasures to the surface on another installment of Alphabetized Into Obscurity: A Journey Into The Unknown.
The Neon Philharmonic – ST [Warner Bros. 1969]
There is no shortage of lost and forgotten psych pop bands from the 60s. We could probably have a whole series just on the abundance of tripped out album covers and songs about dragons and pirates put to fuzzy guitars played by “weirdos” in paisley shirts. The Neon Philharmonic is perhaps one of the more ambitious groups I have found in this realm. It has elements of early prog rock and those sort of meandering melodies that are as much an adventure as stories of the songs.
Alex de Grassi – Southern Exposure [Windham Hill 1983]
Let’s talk about “New Age” music. Some of you might not know this, but sitting in a milk crate, just bellow the Jazz and Blues section is a lonely and forgotten “New Age” section. There has been much discussion regarding what to do with this section or if we should even have one. What it all boils down to is that Stinkweeds is a safe place for the misunderstood. We like to highlight the artists that we feel don’t get enough attention and we would like to think that our store is a comforting environment for those who have panic attacks at the mall. Now, “New Age” music has gotten a bad rap. One might picture a certain long haired, perhaps mustachiod, man violently flailing his arms to conduct music that is the equivalent of a bedside sound relaxation machine. But, as with all genres of music, it can be and is so much more than that. Alex de Grassi is one of the many artists on the Windham Hill label hiding out in this little milk crate on the floor. The music is, yes, relaxing and etherial and perhaps could easily be something to enjoy in the background. You know who else that can be said of? …Beach House …Real Estate …Bon Iver. Yeah, think about that before you laugh at us for having a “New Age” section.
Kid Millions & Jim Sauter – Fountain [Family Vineyard Records 2014]
Ok, now let’s talk about noise and free jazz. Yes, we understand it’s not for everyone. But, maybe it’s for you and you just don’t know it, yet. Kid MIllions is a 20 year career drummer and one of the members of the band Oneida. In his free time, he likes to explore the outer reaches of music and his own abilities, as such is the case with this collaboration with Borbetomagus (1979) saxophonist Jim Sauter. Noise and free jazz is much like writing a rough draft or saying “um” when having a conversation. It taps into a primal place in our minds and bodies that is well aware of our accumulated knowledge and learned societal norms but chooses to bypass all of this and just exist without filter. It can be extremely cathartic for the player and the listener. Who among you couldn’t use to looses up a bit?!
Annabel (lee) – By The Sea and Other Solitary Places [Ninja Tune 2015]
Perhaps this album is too recent to be considered an obscurity. Although it has been sitting in our bins for some time, the real distance and ephemera comes from the music on this album. This sounds like that haunting old 78″ found in the attic of an abandoned house. But, not just the record. It encompasses all the sounds of the house, falling down around you, the leaves rustling outside and the faint calls of those who once occupied that home. What else would you expect from an artists and album named for an Edgar Alan Poe poem.
Bob Ostertag – Sooner Or Later [Rec Rec Music 1991]
Once again, we stumble upon a dynamic figure with a story that stretches well beyond our little discover. Bob Ostertag is an experimental sound artist and writer. He has written a number of books, releases many albums, composed many pieces, collaborated with artists like Mike Patton and Fred Frith.
The content of sound on Sooner Or Later may be better appreciated when you consider it’s composer and the meaning of it’s content. On the surface, it is made up of disjointed layers of sound and field recordings, some of which resembles Steve Reich’s earlier tape look works. But, there is deep meaning with these sounds, much of which comes from a place of social and political commentary. This is an album of art music and should be approached as such. Albums like this are often lost to the abyss of record store bins. But, this is why we have these discussion!