Golden Calves
“Mod Bacteria (for Fred Neil)/Alchemy Interlude”

Woodsist got all the right jams. Scope this pre-Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice material from James Jackson Toth’s Golden Calves project. 1996 was a hot year for the acoustic man and song, but WW & VV (if I may abbreviate) hit that sentimental noise scene like, like, like a boss. Err, bosses. Now Toth all country and briarwood, which is equally as hot and not a surprise. Anyway, the Golden Calves collection will be reissued in limited release on Woodsist, so get your po-mo-style prologue listening on!

• Golden Calves:
• Woodsist:

Nova Scotian Arms


This Quiet Evenings member and Hooker Vision co-founder has just released his debut solo vinyl and his most distinctive and visionary work to date as Nova Scotian Arms. Cult Spectrum delivers 37 minutes of languid, labyrinthine drones meticulously constructed with a nest of synths, keyboards, weird pedals, tape scraps, and beautifully heady thoughts. “Citadel” conjures an image of an ancient mountainside jewel in some Calvino-style imaginary city; it’s a simple melody cloaked in fog, with deep deep history — the perfect album to finally canonize NSA on wax. The cream-colored vinyls were mastered by the illustrious Lawrence English and feature some choice album artwork of ink painted on 35mm film by Grant Evans himself. Already sold out at Digitalis, this ought to be hitting the distros right about now.

• Nova Scotian Arms:
• Digitalis:


“Abayetidu Ma”

It’s hard to be negative listening to “Abayetidu Ma” on a rainy day, but I can’t find any free internet translation programs that include the Frafra language. In lieu of anti-African Internet diaspora, and in light of this song’s reissue — :) :) :) :) :) ;) :) 4/3/2012 on CD, LP, MP3, & CS.

• Awesome Tapes From Africa:

Pepe Deluxé

“A Night and a Day”

Pepe Deluxé is closing in on the release date for their fourth album, Queen of the Wave (due January 31 on Asthmatic Kitty/Catskills). It’s been five years since their last full-length, 2007’s Spare Time Machine, and they have used the most of every minute: they reorganized the group dynamic to composer Paul Malmström, sound scientist James Spectrum, and their distinguished Rolodex; renovated the world’s largest instrument; tracked down gear used by legendary producers like Joe Meek and Kearney Barton; interpreted a text written in 1886 about the last days of Atlantis; and generally geeked out to achieve an aural and lyrical concept album of unparalleled ambition.

Those on their mailing list were treated to a teaser in the form of “The Storm” late in 2011, but January 17 will see the release of Queen of the Wave’s first official single “A Night and a Day,” complete with remixes by K-X-P, Mex Luthor (a.k.a. Black Grass), and several others. To assign “A Night and a Day” an easily consumable genre, one may call it psychedelic surf trip-hop freak-out. However, all attempts to classify it cannot quite cover the grab bag of influences and obscurities gathered together for this song, let alone its mystifying video. Like the album, this is just something that has to be experienced first hand.

• Pepe Deluxé:
• Asthmatic Kitty:
• Catskills:

David Longstreth / Bang On A Can All-Stars

“Matt Damon”

In February, Bang On A Can, originally a fest but now an international experimental music organization, is releasing its first studio album in five years by the Bang On A Can All-Stars. Titled Big Beautiful Dark and Scary, the double album features the All-Stars — currently: Ashley Bathgate, cello; Robert Black, bass; Vicky Chow, piano; David Cossin, percussion; Mark Stewart, electric guitar; and Evan Ziporyn, clarinets — performing works by Bang’s founding members (Julia Wolfe, David Lang, and Michael Gordon), as well as pieces by Conlon Nancarrow, Louis Andriessen, Kate Moore, and, yes, Mr. David Longstreth of Dirty Projectors.

That’s right. In 2009, while you were busy listening to Bitte Orca (TMT Review) and watching bootleg videos of Dirty Projectors’ collaboration with Björk (TMT Review), the All-Stars premiered three new works by Longstreth — “Instructional Video,” “Matt Damon,” and “Breakfast at J&M” — all commissioned by Bang On A Can. This put Longstreth in the company of composers like Alvin Lucier, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, John Adams, Ornette Coleman, and Matthew Shipp, for whom Bang On A Can has commissioned and/or premiered pieces.

The All-Stars have since went into the studio to record Longstreth’s compositions for the new double album, and we’re streaming the longest of the three, “Matt Damon,” for the next month or so. In addition to some new Longstreth arrangements that are somewhat reminiscent of the jerky musical narratives in The Getty Address (Dirty Projectors’ 2005 glitch opera), you’ll also hear some direct musical quotations from a track off the group’s 2007 album, Rise Above. Listen to find out which one! Meanwhile, Big Beautiful Dark and Scary is still available for free, so grab it before January 25 or purchase a copy through Cantaloupe when it “hits shelves” on February 28.

• Bang on a Can:
• Cantaloupe Music:
• Dirty Projectors:

Jad Fair + Hifiklub + kptmichigan

“Let’s Win”

“Yeah that’s right…Pow!” there is a new record from the king of collaboration. It’s called Bird House, and this time Jad Fair is jammin’ with French experimentalist Hifiklub and Germany’s kptmichigan. In a world of music where everyone seems hung up on nostalgia and recreating the past, Jad Fair (most notably recalled as the voice of Half Japanese) is always moving forward.

Musically, this record features more synthesized sounds than the average Jad Fair record, as his partners fiddle with reverberating electronic textures as a groundwork for some fresh and groovy rock ‘n’ roll. Lyrically (particularly within the highlight track “Let’s Win”), Fair seems to be beaming with optimism. Although his signature nasaly schizophrenic voice hasn’t faded, his message is one of pure positivity and celebration. As others look to the past, Fair (who has recorded like billions of songs with millions of people since the 70s) savors the present and is stoked for the future. As buzzing synths prepare to transform into a cheerful slide guitar riff in “Let’s Win,” Fair says “This time is a good time/ This time is the best time/ Celebrate!” I don’t know why, but nothing feels better than positive affirmations from someone who seems totally bonkers.

The record is released by Joyful Noise and will feature Fair’s signature groovy folk art on the cover and screen-printed on the B-side. Read more about the release here.

• Jad Fair:
• Hifiklub:
• kptmichigan:
• Joyful Noise:


CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we'll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.