Ultimate Care II is the new album from renowned conceptual electronics duo Matmos (Drew Daniel and M.C. Schmidt). Recorded in the basement studio of their home in Baltimore, MD the album is constructed entirely out of the sounds generated by a Whirlpool Ultimate Care II model washing machine. Like its namesake, the album runs across its variations as a single, continuous thirty eight minute experience that starts with the grinding turn of the wash size selection wheel, and ends with the alert noise that signals that the wash is done. Between these audio-verité book-ends, we experience an exploded view of the machine, hearing it in normal operation, but also as an object being rubbed and stroked and drummed upon and prodded and sampled and sequenced and processed by the duo, with some occasional extra help from an ultra-local crew of guest stars (some of whom regularly do laundry chez Matmos). Dan Deacon, Max Eilbacher (Horse Lords), Sam Haberman (Horse Lords), Jason Willett (Half Japanese), and Duncan Moore (Needle Gun) all took part, either playing the machine like a drum, processing its audio, or sending MIDI data to the duo's samplers.
SUMAC is the trio of Aaron Turner (Isis, Old Man Gloom, Mamiffer) on guitar & vocals, Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) on drums, and Brian Cook (Russian Circles, These Arms Are Snakes, Botch) on bass whose ability to deliver punishing music is matched only by the weight of their pedigree. Turner is the founder of the influential Hydra Head Records as well as the boundry pushing SIGE label and since his days in Isis has consistenetly challenged himself to push the boundries of heavy music. Cook’s ability to delivery complex bass lines are matched by his bone shaking heavy tones. Yachyshyn’s drumming abilities are much lauded, especially by Dave Grohl who often calls him out as his favorite drummer currently playing. Together on their new epic double album What One Becomes the trio walk the line between chaos and control. This sophomore album sees the band take a leap forward from their debut The Deal (2015) revealing a new side of Turner’s combustible songwriting and guitar playing. Fans of the legendary Isis and cult heros Old Man Gloom will not be disappointed. There is a profound anxiety that leaches through What One Becomes. SUMAC’s choreographed structures parallel the internal and personal struggles with anxiety. They seek to identify the source, devise a course of action, and confront that condition at hand. SUMAC channels psychic distress into their rigorously algebraic maneuvers and syllable-crack dissonance. The band will be touring throughout 2016 and into 2017 across Europe and North America including stops at Roskilde Festival and Southwest Terror Fest.
Beacons of Ancestorship is Tortoise’s sixth album, originally released in 2009. This re-issue is pressed on high quality virgin vinyl and presented in an old-style tip-on gatefold jacket with artworked inner sleeve and free download card.A characteristic Tortoise album is one that traverses an encyclopedia of styles and reference points, a document of where musical intersections and dialogue are occurring at a given moment in time. Beacons of Ancestorship is no different, with nods to techno, punk, electro, lo-fi noise, cut-up beats, heavily processed synths, and mournful, elegiac dirges. We see these ideas working out in compositions like “High Class Slim Came Floatin’ In,” an eight-minute track which playfully references the world of ecstatic rave and dance culture with a curiously ambivalent, multi-part suite overlaid with robotic, machine-sounding melodies that stop and start in several different time signatures before the song’s ultimate resolution; and again in “Yinxianghechengqi,” which begins as a straightforward uptempo math-rocker before steadily accelerating into a wall of fuzzy atonal sqwonk.
Limited quantities available on colored vinylIt’s All Around You is Tortoise’s fifth album, originally released in 2004. This re-issue is pressed on high quality virgin vinyl and packaged in a jacket and inner sleeve both featuring spot UV printing and a free download card. Written largely in the studio, It’s All Around You was crafted over the course of a full year, and allowed Tortoise the use of John McEntire’s Soma Electronic Music Studios in serving not just as a state-of-the art recording facility, but as a compositional tool as well. It took months of continuous writing, recording, tinkering, mixing, and perfecting to bring It’s All Around You to it’s finalized state. The results of this process are clear in the lush, orchestrated tones, intricate melodies, and densely elaborate rhythms.
Millions Now Living Will Never Die is Tortoise’s second album, originally released in 1996. This re-issue is pressed on high quality virgin vinyl and packaged in a jacket and inner sleeve both featuring spot UV printing and a free download card. The majority of the album’s material was first conceived during an idyllic 10-day retreat in Northern Vermont, where the group were able to explore their ideas in a setting that fostered introspection and inspiration. Recording commenced immediately upon returning to Chicago at both Idful (now defunct) and the then new Soma Electronic Music Studios. Millions... was the first studio recording to feature David Pajo who filled the position vacated by Bundy K. Brown in late 1994.
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Limited quantities available on colored vinylStandards is Tortoise’s fourth album originally released in 2001. This re-issue is pressed on high quality virgin vinyl with artworked inner sleeve, custom silk-screened PVC outer bag, and download coupon. The tunes on Standards are direct and immediate, yet they maintain the exploratory edge that has always characterized the group’s output. The fusion of instrumental sounds (electric, acoustic, and synthesized) is subtle and subversive. Similarly, the group’s fluency within the studio environment gives the finished work a quality that alternates between artifice and reality.
Simply put, Tortoise has spent nearly 25 years making music that defies description. While the Chicago-based instrumental quintet has nodded to dub, rock, jazz, electronica and minimalism throughout its revered and influential six-album discography, the resulting sounds have always been distinctly, even stubbornly, their own. It’s a fact that remains true on The Catastrophist, Tortoise’s first studio album in nearly seven years. And it’s an album where moody, synth-swept jams like the opening title track cozy up next to hypnotic, bass-and-beat missives like “Shake Hands With Danger” and a downright strange cover of David Essex’s 1973 radio smash “Rock On” sung by U.S. Maple’s Todd Rittman. Also included is the bittersweet, honest-to-goodness soul ballad “Yonder Blue,” sung by Yo La Tengo’s Georgia Hubley. “We’d finished the track and decided it would be good to have vocals on it,” recalls McEntire. “Robert Wyatt was our first choice, but he had just retired and politely said no. We were discussing asking Georgia to do something, but not that track in particular. Then we realized it would totally work.” Throughout, the songs transcend expectations as often as they delight the eardrums. Tortoise, comprised of multi-instrumentalists Dan Bitney, John Herndon, Doug McCombs, John McEntire and Jeff Parker, has always thrived on sudden bursts of inspiration. And for The Catastrophist, the spark came in 2010 when the group was commissioned by the City of Chicago to compose a suite of music rooted in its ties to the area’s noted jazz and improvised music communities. Tortoise then performed those five loose themes at a handful of concerts, and “when we finally got around to talking about a new record, the obvious solution to begin with was to take those pieces and see what else we could do with them,” says McEntire, at whose Soma Studios the band recorded the new album. “It turned out that for them to work for Tortoise, they needed a bit more of a rethink in terms of structure. They’re all pretty different in the sense that at first they were just heads and solos. Now, they’re orchestrated and complex.” As ever, Tortoise has conjured sounds on The Catastrophist that aren’t being purveyed anywhere else in music today. There’s a deeply intuitive interplay between the group members that comes only from two decades of experimentation, revision and improvisation. And at a time when our brains are constantly bombarded by myriad distractions, The Catastrophist reminds us that there’s something much greater out there. All we have to do is listen.
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Colored vinyl sold out! All copies on black vinyl.TNT is Tortoise’s third studio album, originally released in 1998. This re-issue is pressed on high quality virgin vinyl and packaged in a tip-on gatefold jacket with spot UV printing and free download card. TNT builds upon the spare, instrumental framework of the group’s first, self-titled album, and the extended edits, melodic adventures, and klangfarben of the subsequent full-length release, Millions Now Living Will Never Die. Further to this, Tortoise’s interest in the possibilities offered by the remixing of tracks was realized within the actual production of TNT; individual elements, sections, or sometimes whole compositions mutate within the album’s shifting framework. These techniques were suitably realized thanks in part to the use of non-linear digital recording and editing methods, the first example of such work for the group.
Limited quantities available on colored vinyl.Tortoise’s self-titled debut was originally released in 1994. This re-issue is pressed on high quality virgin vinyl, re-mastered by Roger Seibel at SAE Mastering, and packaged in a chipboard jacket with insert and free download card. Tortoise’s self-titled debut incorporates many musical styles and influences and combines them into one very distance sound. So distinct that sometime after the release of this record they became recognized as the leaders of a new musical movement. Tortoise exploits the recording studio, in that they utilize the recording process as a compositional tool or “sixth member”, thus creating a boundless parameter in which to create music.
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Joseph Abajian (DJ Jab) founded Fat Beats in 1994 with nothing more than a shoestring budget and an earnest obsession with the music, the culture, and the brotherhood of New York’s burgeoning rap scene. What began as a simple vinyl shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate on new projects. Joseph’s timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. When the 90’s cultural zeitgeist – and, in turn, the music industry establishment – chose hip-hop as its new arbiter of cool.
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