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Smoke CDs - 7 October 2004

Thu, 7 Oct 2004

This week we have some eagerly awaited new releases from our favourite New Zealand artists Pitch Black and Signer as well as a finely accomplished debut from Wellington locals Tommy. Also not to be missed new choons from Gotan Project, Butch Cassidy Soundsystem, and Toublemaker, plus more glorious gravel from Tom Waits. On the right side we bring you the first bunch of bands announced for the Big Day Out 2005. Grab the albums and start warming up for the biggest day of the year!

Pitch Black - Ape To Angel - $26.95

The New Zealand duo known as Pitch Black return with their latest instalment of electronica infused dub. Album number three (four if you include the remix album 'Electric Earth') fuses elements of both 'Future Proof' and 'Electronomicon' (the propulsive nature of the former and depth of the latter), as well as last years 'Flex' EP, while their numerous live escapades throughout the UK and Europe over the last three years alsoinfluence. For the first time the duo are using a vocalist, Sandy Mills, on two songs which in turn also adds to the more expansive sound found on 'Ape To Angel'. Steadily evolving into one of New Zealand’s top dance/electronica acts, Pitch Black have delivered a delicious mind expanding work, taking their original dub-influenced work and driving it deeper, harder and farther than ever before.

Tommy - 4000 Years - $26.95

The latest release from Wellington's Loop Recordings shows a departure for the label, announcing their first foray into a more commercial and traditional pop/rock direction courtesy of this fine debut album from Wellington-based four-piece Tommy. Comfortably sitting alongside the contemporary adult pop/rock of the likes of Jack Johnson, Counting Crows and John Butler Trio, Tommy add their own unique New Zealand take on proceedings via a melodic "folk roots" sound that blends together moods of reggae, rock, soul and of course pop. In namesake Tommy Benefield the band have a highly lyrical songwriter who writes with the warmth and intimacy required of such work, while the band deliver suitably subtle and unobtrusive backing. The result is a set of easily engaging and addictive "emo" tinged pop songs.

Butch Cassidy Sound System - Butches Brew - $31.95 >

This debut from the Butch Cassidy Sound System is bound to be a huge and irresistible hit. Taking authentic roots reggae as his blueprint, Hunter then craftily fuses the likes of hip hop, dance music (particularly house), jazz and seventies soul (check the cover of the Meters' "Cissy Strut" – the perfect mix of funk and reggae). The result, while perfectly authentic in sound, has a delightfully modernist slant, assimilating with finesse and genuine style. A "must have" for fans of that skanking dub-fusion sound.

Gotan Project - Inspiracion-Espiracion - $26.95

With their thrilling and seductive 2002 album 'La Revancha Del Tango' the Gotan Project intrigued and excited a varied world of fans. This DJ mix set, courtesy of Philippe Cohen Solal, serves as a marvellous look into the inspiration behind that album, and perhaps the direction of the next. Or in his own words "the musical world that the Gotan Project inhabits draws on the African roots of tango, and takes inspiration from Argentinean folk as much as it resonates with the urban intensity of Buenos Aires, with its melancholy, its women and its indestructible, immortal tango". The resulting mix CD is quite mesmerising, displaying the vision and vitality that has made the Gotan Project so unique in the modern world of "pop" music.

Gilles Peterson - Impressed 2 - $29.95

The first in this 'Impressed' series compiled by supreme selector Gilles Peterson was a real listening treat – especially to anyone with a vague ear for jazz. Largely considered the very poor cousin of American jazz, British jazz had largely been ignored by all and sundry, yet went through a highly creative (if unnoticed) period from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. The second in the marvellous series, again compiled by Peterson, further enhances the reputation of those previously unknown (or little known) from that period. Stylishly packaged and with excellent sleeve notes, this collection of 'rare, classic and unique modern jazz' is a genuine pleasure, and because of the varied nature of compilations, will entertain those even without a serious jazz leaning.

Signer - The New Face Of Smiling - $26.95

Whether as guiding force behind his label Involve, or via his various musical making monikers (Signer, Aspen, etc), Bevan Smith is one of New Zealand’s leading lights in the making of contemporary avant-garde music. This new release from his Signer alias will surprise many who pegged Smith as a purely electronic musician. Grafting the spatial possibilities and minimal tonal electronica of early Signer work with some of his favourite indie influences (Joy Division, My Bloody Valentine, Talk Talk, etc) Smith has created an intriguing contemporary hybrid he likes to refer to as "nu-indie". Long may Smith's wilful and demanding experimentation continue - New Zealand requires artists of Smith’s calibre to hold up the "music as art" banner begun by the likes of Flying Nun’s early elite.

Various Artists (Capital Recordings/ Involve) - Compilation - $24.95 >

A rather wonderful collaborative effort between Bevan Smith's electronica label Involve (home to recordings by Bevan alias' Signer and Aspen) and Wellington's Capital Recordings, this collection of tracks from around the world (UK, Sweden, Australia, Berlin, Hungary and of course Wellington), was selected then reflected though the eyes of Smith. Bringing together artists separated by distance rather than commonalities of sound, this collection finds the previously electronic nature of Involve embracing a warm "post rock" meets indie type sound. The result is a stunning collection of deep listening music, subtle and rhythmic, stylish and intriguing, and of course always innovative. Quality listening music of the highest order that is not bound or restricted by genre.

Tom Waits - Real Gone - $26.95

This latest effort from Tom Waits again digs into the cultural underbelly of America, and with righteous self-belief belligerently demands answers to it's various moral wrongs. But don't write this album off as simply an angry rant from Waits, it is also one of his most musically adventurous efforts, echoing 1992's thrilling 'Bone Machine', and flirting with numerous musical styles – voodoo blues, Jamaican rock-steady, warped funk, Latin rhythms, African melodies, and for the first time no piano. By the time you reach the final track – the hauntingly beautiful "Day After Tomorrow" – there is but one conclusion to reach, this is quite simply one of Waits' most accomplished albums to date, and beneath the apparent cacophonous madness lies an album of some beauty.

Stardrunk - Complete Control - $21.95

Formed in late 1999/early 2000, this powerhouse rock quartet from Tauranga/Hamilton have so far in their brief career released two self-financed EPs, won the national 2002 Battle Of The Bands and toured both NZ and Australia with the likes of The Datsuns, Pacifier/Shihad, Blindspott, Grinspoon and Alien Ant Farm. With musical influences including the likes of AC/DC, Guns & Roses, Silverchair, The Flaming Lips, many of the "grunge" elite, and of course local hard rock heroes Pacifier/Shihad, Stardrunk forgo subtly in exchange for big rock dynamics and an "in your face" presence that will remind many of the above mentioned kiwi rock icons Shihad. Stardrunk have delivered a highly accomplished and polished album and would appear, on this basis, to be this country's latest and greatest hard rock darlings.

Troublemakers - Express Way - $26.95

This French duo comprising of Lionel Corsini (aka DJ Oil) and Arnaud Taillefer (aka East) known as the Troublemakers prsent their new album 'Express Way', released through Jazz label Blue Note (who along with their rich traditional jazz history have also embraced the more contemporary sounds of the likes of St Germain, Marc Moulin and Madlib). Smooth funk influenced breaks tangle with vibrant soul, achingly stunning torch ballads combine with sublimely perfect hip hop inspired breaks, and lush jazz, imaginative beat sculpting, jazz, soul and gospel vocal samples, and of course a little freaky electronica, all flirt shamelessly. Taking its undeniable soul from black music (particularly jazz), while empathetically merging with the thrill of colourful contemporary beats and breaks, the Troublemakers create, what is quite frankly, a modern fusion masterpiece.

Thievery Corporation - The Outernational Sound - $26.95

Since 1996's 'Sounds From The Thievery Hi-Fi', Rob Garza and Eric Hilton aka Thievery Corporation, have consistently delivered marvellous and enthralling works, combining lush lounge-like electronica, exotic pop and delicious dubbed out basslines. 2004 sees the tastefully dynamic duo releasing their second DJ mix set, this time on their own Eighteenth Street Lounge label. Moving seamlessly between afro-beat, reggae, rock, soul, lounge, latin, electronic and rare library music flavours, this sublime mix CD is based on many nights of sonic exploration and exemplary taste. Highly recommended. Playing Wellington (Oct 9th) and Auckland (Oct 13th).

Ben Harper & the Blind Boys of Alabama - There Will Be A Light - $26.95

Sometimes you get records across your desk that just make perfect sense from the word go. This full length collaboration between modern blues/rock/slide master Ben Harper (plus his Innocent Criminals) and gospel's greatest living vocal group the Blind Boys Of Alabama is absolutely inspired. Pitching Harper's occasionally limited voice and lyrics with the rich vocal tapestry of the Blind Boys, and a set of gospel inspired classics (such as "Satisfied Mind") and Harper gospel influenced originals, gives 'There Will Be A Light' real emotional depth, and appeal way beyond the gospel market (blues and soul have always heavily featured gospel flourishes and religious imagery). And don't fear fans of Harper's sublime slide playing, there is plenty of boogie and biting guitar work here, while the Blind Boys sound happy and at home with the young master who treats them with the utmost respect they deserve. Apparently recorded in a paltry eight days, this wonderful gospel-blues-rock hybrid has the immediacy, vigour and soul most contemporary blues and blues-rock releases can only dream of. The cover of Bob Dylan's (co-written with Danny O'Keefe) "Well, Well, Well" is absolutely stunning too. Recommended.

Also Bys... Other great releases by our featured artists --------------------------------------------

Pitch Black - Flex EP - $14.95

Pitch Black - Electric Earth & Other Elements: Remixes - $29.95

Gotan Project - La Revancha Del Tango - $29.95

Tom Waits - Bone Machine - $29.95

Shihad - Killjoy - $19.95

Gilles Peterson - Gilles Peterson Worldwide Exclusives - $26.95

Aspen - Music From Passing Cars - $29.95

Thievery Corporation - The Richest Man In Babylon - $32.95

Thievery Corporation - Sounds From The Thievery Hi-Fi (Reissue) - $19.95

Big Day Out 2005 Warm Up Artists announced for BDO 2005 ----------------------------------------

Beastie Boys - To The 5 Boroughs - $26.95

System Of A Down - Steal This Album - $26.95

The Chemical Brothers - The Singles 1993 - 2003 - $29.95

The Music - Welcome To The North - $29.95

The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free - $26.95

The Donnas - Turn 21 - $29.95

Freestylers - Pressure Point - $29.95

Powderfinger - Vulture Street - $29.95

Grinspoon - New Detention - $29.95

Concord Dawn - Uprising - $26.95

John Butler Trio - Sunrise Over Sea - $29.95

Misfits Of Science - Fools Love (single) - $7.95

The Bleeders - So Lonely - $4.95

TrinityRoots - Home Land And Sea - $26.95

The D4 - 6Twenty - $29.95

Steriogram - Schmack ! - $26.95

Pacifier - Live LP (Vinyl) - $49.95

sweet, the crew...


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