The U-Men, "Gila" (Sub Pop). Described by Mudhoney's Mark Arm as "one of the best bands I've ever seen," the U-Men are the subject of an overdue retrospective on Sub Pop. Arm compares this '80s Seattle quartet—who included Tom Price, John Bigley, Charlie Ryan, and Jim Tillman (Amphetamine Reptile boss Tom Hazelmyer played with them for a year, too)—to Pere Ubu, Captain Beefheart, the Sonics, and Link Wray. That's some heavy company, but when you immerse yourself in their catalog, it becomes apparent Arm's not hyperbolizing (I also hear some Birthday Party, for what it's worth.). "Gila" comes at you with sinewy, clangular stealth: rock with an efficient, lethal intent. It seethes the savage beast. Kudos to executive producer Jack Endino and Sub Pop for bringing this vital, brutal music back into the public consciousness. U-Men will be available on 3xLP and 2xCD, and digital download on November 3.
Kamasi Washington, "Truth" (Young Turks). It may be glib to say Kamasi Washington is the 21st-century Pharoah Sanders—especially because the sainted Mr. Sanders is still living—but fug it. Washington is certainly extending the fire-breathing, spiritual-jazz tradition with his sterling body of work so far, and "Truth" is another exceptional addition to Kamasi's canon. At a Pharoah-esque 14 minutes, "Truth" effloresces in orchestral splendor, somewhat gentler in tone to previous efforts, but buttressed by kinetic, oddly shifting rhythms. Every gesture's geared for poised, classy uplift. Washington says of his new EP, Harmony of Difference, “My hope is that witnessing the beautiful harmony created by merging different musical melodies will help people realize the beauty in our own differences." "Truth" is a wonderful exclamation point to the saxophonist's new record.
Circuit Des Yeux, "Black Fly" (Drag City). In the past, I've compared Haley Fohr of Circuit Des Yeux's voice to Scott Walker, Nico, and Tim Buckley. But on "Black Fly," I'm hearing more Nina Simone and Nick Drake, but not in a blatantly slavish manner; just a fortuitous coincidence in timbre and intonation. Here, she veritably soars in an orchestral-ballad vein while still projecting her unparalleled gravitas and introverted soulfulness. Fohr's backing band stride expansively into Astral Weeks territory, and if you're not swept away, you may have ADHD. The song appears on Circuit Des Yeux's Reaching for Indigo, out October 20.
The Patient, "Extension 9" (Chunklet World Industries/Third Uncle). What happens when you pair Olivia Tremor Control's W. Cullen Hart with Apples in Stereo's Robert Schneider? Elephant 6 ecstasy, Poindexter. Their 20-year on/off collaboration as the Patient—who also feature drummer Ben Mize and guitarist Scott Baxendale—finally bears fruit in a split 7-inch with Breathers. Recorded in an Athens, Georgia geodesic dome, "Extension 9" hits that delightfully warped sweet spot that Schneider and Hart's mother bands faithfully explore on their own releases—but this time they insert a seriously unsettling drum break/middle 8 that sends the song into a whole other stranger dimension. What was great throwback psychedelia suddenly becomes next-level headfuckery. And there can never be enough next-level headfuckery in this godforsaken world. Treasure "Extension 9," and hope for more material from these trustworthy vets.
Yuri Morozov, "Inexplicable (Pt4)" (Buried Treasure). A friend recently tipped me off to the posthumous compilation Strange Angels: Experimental & Electronic Music by the Russian multi-instrumentalist Yuri Morozov. It was beyond a doubt one of the greatest tips I've received in recent years. At its best, this collection proves that Morozov possessed one of the wildest imaginations in the world of '70s and '80s electronic music. Much of the music here is like a turbo-charged Morton Subotnick or Gil Mellé ca. The Andromeda Strain OST. Morozov's sound has that unruly weirdness peculiar to isolated, Soviet-era Eastern European musicians, as exemplified by "Inexplicable (Pt4)." It's a zonked-out space-funk jam that would make noted library-music connoisseur Luke Vibert cream his trousers on initial impact. Strange Angels is utterly bonkers, in the best way possible.
Noteworthy September 29 album releases: Four Tet, New Energy (Text); David Bowie, A New Career in a New Town: 1977-1982 (Rhino); David Crosby, Sky Trails (BMG); Ibeyi, Ash (XL); Kamasi Washington, Harmony of Difference (Young Turks); Pere Ubu, 20 Years in a Montana Silo (Cherry Red); Ben Frost, The Center Cannot Hold (Mute); Protomartyr, Relatives in Descent (Domino); Torres, Three Futures (4AD); Miley Cyrus, Younger Now (RCA); Unsane, Sterilize (Southern Lord); Jessica Lea Mayfield, Sorry Is Gone (ATO); Iglooghost, Neo Wax Bloom (Brainfeeder); The Orchids, Who Needs Tomorrow... A 30 Year Retrospective (Cherry Red).