School of Seven Bells’ full-length debut, Alpinisms, is best introduced with a little etymology: Mercurial French author Rene Daumal defined “alpinism” as “the art of climbing mountains.” Art, of course, means many things: the perfection of craft, the transcendence of spirit, the physical world and the truth found beyond it. Alpinists, then, are both athletes and mystics. They practice “pure” climbing, hands gripping the cragged incline sans rope or guide, forcing their bodies ever-upward in the name of earthly enlightenment. “Alpinisms,” says Daumal enthusiast and guitarist Alejandra Deheza, “are mountain-climbing songs.”
Alpinism is an electronically enhanced pop record of dizzying highs and claustrophobic lows, whose painstaking conception shows in its detail-laden crevices. On the album’s best tracks – the polyrhythmic dream-pop of “Face to Face in High Places,” the nervous shimmer of “My Cabal,” the menacing lilt of “Iamundernodisguise” – Benjamin Curtis constructs layers of shoegazing, moire-patterned guitars, while sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza intertwine their near-identical voices like the fingers of praying hands. Throughout, the whole heavenly affair is tethered to the ground with a glitchy, tribal thwomp.
In Alpinisms, technology collides with cryptic religious imagery and airtight songcraft; knowledge begets action; and School of Seven Bells master an alien climate with effortless artistry.
Mike Cina designs sleeves and limited edition prints for Ghostly International sub-label, Spectral Sound
Mike Cina, one of the brains behind the prodigious YouWorkForThem design collective/ store/pretty-much-anything-else-you-can-imagine, is the artist of three gorgeous new 12″ sleeves for Spectral Sound.
Cina’s original 12″ sleeves displayed both a neo-classical and an abstract beauty in their immaculately composed, eerily evocative forms, while marking a new era for the Ann Arbor-based label. The three covers represent a new breed of Spectral talent including Kate Simko, Sami Koivikko, and Cologne-based duo Daso & Pawas. All of Cina’s recent work for Ghostly/Spectral was on display at Ghostly founder Sam Valenti IV’s home gallery this past month.
The covers are rendered as Giclee prints, which are created using professional 8-color to 12-color ink-jet printers. These impeccable printers are capable of producing incredibly detailed prints for both the fine art and photographic markets alike.
Each individual print is hand-numbered (in an extremely limited run of 40) and signed in the bottom right-hand corner by Mike Cina. The prints are available online at The Ghostly Store alongside shirt designs by Cina.
The last thing I would do to you guys is post Peter Bjorn and John – “Young Folk’s”, let’s be honest it was one of the catchiest tunes around and my favorite track when it came out but I honestly don’t think I could sit through it right now all the way thru. Well, PBJ came back and didn’t disappoint at all with a vinyl and digital only release that I couldn’t just post only one track of. I love the direction of this record, at times it’s like a poppy Bibio album and touches that 70s-80s PBS background music style but in hi-fi. If you’re going to ever buy an LP this year and don’t have a record player this is the purchase to make because the LP comes with a digital download and you can give the LP to friend and they’ll love you for it.
This is Harmonia’s second release just before Rother hit the studio to record NEU!’s ’75. Brian Eno joined them for their next release (Tracks and Traces (1976)).
Harmonia’s lineup was a match made in heaven: a perfect mixture of NEU! (Rother) and Cluster (Moebius and Roedelius). Wikipedia references them as a “Krautrock supergroup,” and quotes Eno as saying that they are “the world’s most important rock band.”
Deluxe was a departure from the trio’s first release Musik Von Harmonia (1975). It’s much more of a solid sound with smoother melodies.
It’s a long track (9:43), but definitely worth the full listen, as they fit quite a few movements into it.
Found these beautiful LP covers (1999 and 2000 respectively) on Mahogany’s MySpace page. You may remember Mahogany from a couple of my previous music posts, here and here. I’ve always loved the artwork for Mahogany’s releases and these early examples are no exception.
Here’s a little New Romanticism for you, coming from the source: Richard Burgess.
Two years before this album was released, Richard teamed up with Dave Simmons to invent the Simmons SDS-V drum machine (you all know it). This was the first commercially available electronic drum kit.
This is Landscape’s second full-length, titled “From the Tea-rooms of Mars… to the Hell-holes of Uranus,” produced by Richard. This album is most known for its hits: “Einstein A Go-Go” and “Norman Bates.” I stumbled across this, and I just can’t get enough of this track.
After this release, Richard Burgess went on to produce Spandau Ballet’s Journeys to Glory and Diamond, along with countless other albums, including one of my faves: New Edition.
I might have to put this at album #2 right behind New Age of Earth. Unfortunately, I don’t have an original pressing, but the 180g re-press sounds great.
Cluster (then Kluster) was formed by Dieter Moebius, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, and Conrad Schnitzler in 1969. Schnitzler had recorded Tangerine Dream’s debut Electronic Meditation just two months before Kluster’s debut Klopfzeichen.
After Schnitzler’s departure three albums later, Moebius and Roedelius renamed the group Cluster and continued recording starting with Cluster (aka Cluster ’71), and following that Cluster II.
A year before Zuckerzeit, Moebius and Roedelius joined up with Michael Rother of NEU! and released two albums under the name Harmonia (which I will be posting very soon). After Rother left Harmonia, Moebius and Roedelius went back in the studio to record Zuckerzeit, and if you listen to Cluster’s previous releases, you can hear Rother’s influence practically bleeding through the tracks. Mmm!
Zuckerzeit has a very interesting structure. Each track was written solely by either Moebius or Roedelius and, except one track, cycles between the two. It gives a very interesting mixture of light and fluffy to a much more experimental noise-centric sound. I tend to like Roedelius’s tracks much more, but “Caramel” is the exception.