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February 22, 2013

While frequently buying new releases, the time to give the better ones their due on this blog seems hard to come by. Time for a round catching up on what I consider to be essential recent releases. You ready for some reading?

Alfonso Lovo‘s “La Gigantona” was one of the best reissues of 2012, and was featured in my end-of-year-list. I never got around to sharing the wonder that is this 1976 Nicaraguan fusion concept album(!) Unreleased until late last year, “La Gigantona” sees composer and guitarist Lovo construct a world where adventurous combinations of jazz, latin, funk and traditional influences are the order of the day. On the face of it, I wasn’t sure if I was up for an unreleased concept-album on the political state of a South American…but I was oh so wrong. Check out “Le Bomba Del Neutron” and tell me if this is what you expected based on the description.

Seattle’s Light in the Attic label has been going from strength through strength, and their recent quartet of Marcos Valle reissues serves to prove this point. Valle is a Brazilian singer and composer who has released 25+ albums since 1963. Some of his most interesting work is the set of albums he recorded in the late seventies – a period of turmoil and cultural change in Brazil. ST (1970), Garra (1971), Vento Sul (1972) and Previsão do Tempo (1973) see Valle both reinvent himself for each album, as that a musical and personal growth can be heard. All four are now available for the first time since their original release. This is a reason to celebrate, since original copies have always been very hard to find and digital availability was non-existent save for old vinyl rips. It’s close to impossible to select a track to share with you, but I have settled for “Revolucao Organica“, the opening track of “Vento Sul“. If four albums is a little much to take in, I suggest you start with my personal favorite, “Previsão do Tempo“.

Half-time. Check out “Music Interiors” the new ambient mix by Spencer Doran. Remember the awesome “Fairlights, Mallets and Bamboo” featured here late last year? Same dude. His blurb: “Mix of Japanese new-age/ambient/minimalist music, mostly emanating from the corporate infrastructure of the 1980s asset bubble. FM synthesis, prefab “lifestyle” soundscapes and the illusion of nature in a hyper-urban environment”. I’m no authority when it comes to this micro-genre, but know quality and dedication when I hear it. Dig in.

The 2011 debut album by the Greg Foat Group is one of my favourite albums in recent years. The group released their sophmore album late last year… does it suffer from the infamous “second album syndrome“? I’m happy to report that it doesn’t.  Debut “Dark is the sun” was an earthy and thematic set of tracks, and wore its influences (British jazz, library music, sixties soul jazz) on its sleeve. New album “Girl and robot with flowers” is a definite step forward, and sees Foat and band use these influences as a starting point to create a realm of their own. You can stream the whole thing by clicking the album title.

If mp3’s could show wear and tear, the folder on my computer labelled Hendrickson Road House would be in a sorry state. I must’ve listened to the vinyl rip of 1970 album more than a hundred times over the last few years – it’s that good. Unfortunately, the chances of owning a copy were slim. An official 2011 reissue raised my hopes, but alas, it was cd only. Fast forward to February 2013: limited vinyl copies are available! Into beautiful songs? Get thee to an (online) shop and fill your ears.

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