Adam B. from Ultrasound Radio USA is wading through mountains of free promos and forgotten releases collected over a lifetime in journalism, radio, and music retail. Here’s a selection of what he’s found that’s new to him and worth it to you to seek out, including funk and jazz discoveries, squirrelly digital pop, and symphonic industrial…
Boscoe, Boscoe (Asterisk/Numero Group, 2007)
This is a reissue of a short-run 1973 album, the lone release from a Chicago group lost in the shuffle of period jazz, funk, and R&B that personified black artistic and political expression. Think Sun Ra, Art Ensemble of Chicago, and Roy Ayers/Ubiquity with none of the name recognition and, therefore, maybe even a little less pretense. Buy it here.
Leaether Strip, Serenade for the Dead (Zoth Ommog/Cleopatra, 1994)
Danish musician Claus Larsen is an industrial/EBM mainstay, with his earliest official releases stretching back into the 1980s. While most of his work is relatively danceable by rivethead standards, and includes aggro vocals and samples to help set his violent and/or homoerotic scenery, his fifth studio album was a serious departure. It’s the soundtrack to an imaginary film inspired by all manner of horror directors and authors, with synths mimicking strings and proper piano set up into propulsive symphonic arrangements. Dread meets majesty. Buy it here.
ShadowBox, Haunted by Colors (Pictures Music, 2012)
Before forming Kill Alters for a February 2015 release on the Godmode cassette label, New York musician Bonnie Baxter worked out her futuristic sound sculptures against a far less forbidding background. This six-track EP still has moments of vocal angst and desperation, but in a cooing and ambient Cocteau Twins style with plenty of brightly colored synths and sonic obfuscation that’s more playful than bare-knuckle. Buy it here.
Metronomy, The English Riviera (Because/Big Beat, 2011)
My entreé into this album was the Stopmakingme remix of its single “The Bay,” dropped into one of many epic Under the Covers sets by Soulwax. The original, and the rest of this third Metronomy album, are a whole other level of cool: a detached, aloof, midtempo form derived from sophisticated 1980s pop like Roxy Music and Duran Duran. It sets the album apart from the mess that indie-dance was becoming in its Nth wave. Buy it here.
Kieran Hebden/Steve Reid, NYC (Domino, 2008)
The man a/k/a Four Tet already had some critically-acclaimed electronic releases under his belt (Rounds, Everything Ecstatic) by the time he linked up with famed jazz and R&B session drummer Steve Reid. NYC was their fourth and final album together before Reid’s passing, the city inspiring the duo’s tightly controlled chaos. Unlike some A+B albums where tracks are shared across mail and internet, NYC benefits from the pair being in the same studio, with Hebden skillfully making his tones dip through and around the rhythmic hoops and loops Reid built in front of him. Full of constant shuffle and activity to match its namesake city, it’s a precursor to the stunning work to start to come from Four Tet with 2010’s There is Love in You. Buy it here.
During the summer term, Ultrasound Radio USA can be heard on WKDU on Tuesdays from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. EST.