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Yaxteq drop another techno bombshell by way of Detroit and Los Angeles. Xavier De Enciso is a DJ, scholar, producer, artist and renegade promoter who has been operating in LA for two decades. Most at home on dark, subterranean dancefloors, "Emotional Hunger EP" demonstrates his deep underground sound perfectly.

Four tracks that tip their hat respectably towards Underground Resistance whilst offering up something new to the dinner table. Namely, expertly crafted new sounds to the techno palette; you'll find no overused presets or patches amongst this set. Equally, the drum programming and sounds are fresh and exhilarating; whilst still adhering to the 4/4 blueprint. In short, Enciso has offered up a perfectly new interpretation of traditional Detroit techno for 2019; one that the purists can't so much as sniff at, whilst keeping things moving forwards and exciting. A triumph - and highly recommended! 


STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Yes yes, I always knew this Yaxteq label was gonna offer up something like this and BOOM - out of nowhere comes the hottest four tracks of Detroitian techno you'll hear all all year. Techno heads you need this in your collection now!

An essential album from contemporary Brazil, Xenia's first solo effort pays tribute to the sounds of the black diaspora, masterfully blending soul music with jazz, samba, r&b and electronic flavors.

Latin Grammy nominated album

180gheavy vinyl, comes with download card

Xenia França is a singer from Bahia, Brazil. She has been nominated for the 2018 Latin Grammy for this debut album Xenia, and for the song "Pra que me Chamas?", a favorite among listeners. Part of an art scene concerned with reviving and disseminating the African-Brazilian culture, the singer became a reference of female empowerment and behavior, especially among black women.

Xenia has performed at major Brazilian festivals, such as Recbeat, Coala, Coma and Queremos, among others. In 2018 she took to Central Park's SummerStage Festival in NYC, and has also performed in Philadelphia and at the Pablo Toblón Theater, in Medellin, Colombia.

Her first solo effort here, "Xenia", is an essential album from contemporary Brazil, paying tribute to the sounds of the black diaspora, masterfully blending soul music with jazz, samba, r&b and electronic flavors, now available for the first time outside of Brazil!

FORMAT INFORMATION

LP includes MP3 Download Code.

Xander Harris

Villains Of Romance

    Musician/composer Justin Sweatt, aka Xander Harris, was in the process of working on an ambitious double LP when he was struck by a car riding his bike in New Orleans. The accident could have been much worse, but Justin has still been de-commissioned for several weeks/months while he heals from an injured shoulder and a concussion. A 9 to 5er with benefits and vacation time might be inconvenienced by this but would recover and life would begin as it had before. For an independent musician who works part-time and relies on his or her hands to work and create art, something like this can be life-altering.

    Villains of Romance is leaner than first envisioned, but that gives the record a vital nature. At 9 tracks just under 50 minutes it’s another exploration of life through the eyes, heart, and mind of Xander Harris. The tracks follow the dystopian vibes of Termination Dust, but with touches of dark pop strewn throughout. From hazier fare like “Bleeding Meridians” to techno banger like “First Taste of Hate” to the gothic beauty of “Individual Outs”, Sweatt outdoes himself. There is even a collaboration with singer Nicolas Nadeau on the lilting and gorgeous “Wither Lace”.


    XIIhundredarrows

    Circles And Butterflies

    XIIhundredarrows is a project by Liverpool / Manchester based musician Jon Lawton. Predominantly a studio based project, Jon has just released his first EP under the XIIhundredarrows banner. "Circles And Butterflies", a six track 21 minute EP, is the first in a series of releases planned in the near future. Each EP will try and create a mood throughout the tracks to give each one a different feel or theme.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    CD Info: Limited edition of 100 copies in hand numbered, hand stencilled sleeve.

    Xylouris White are George Xylouris - a Cretan lute player who is part of a famous Greek musical family and one of Crete’s best-loved artists - and Jim White, drummer in legendary Australian instrumental band Dirty Three.

    ‘Black Peak’ pays testimony to both men’s remarkable histories. One of Crete’s best-loved artists, Xylouris is a scion of Greek musical royalty, a family from a mountain village near the Cave of Zeus, while Jim White has commanded international attention for more than two decades as part of Australia’s Dirty Three. Now New Yorkbased, White is often found collaborating with alt- A-listers such as Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, PJ Harvey, Nina Nastasia, Cat Power and Smog.

    X Ray Pop are the synth-pop duo of Doc Pilot and Zouka Dzaza from Tours, France. They got their start in the no wave art group Bocal 5 in 1981 and split off in 1984 to focus on their own brand of quirky synthesized electronics. Influenced by Erik Satie, Brigitte Bardot, Suicide and Young Marble Giants, they call their music “minimum naive new wave.” Armed with a Casio PT-20 keyboard and a rudimentary Yamaha MR10 drum machine they recorded their demo cassette and first 7″ “Eurasienne”/ “La Machine à Rêver” in 1984. Upgrading their synthesizers and adding some saxophone and guitar, they recorded the “Alcool”/ “Amazone” 7″ in 1985 and the “DS”/” El Gato” 7″ in 1986.

    “The Dream Machine” collects X Ray Pop’s first three 7″ singles plus 8 songs from their demo cassette, never released on vinyl before. Their songs are short, concise and well structured; richly textured, moving at a quick speed with hardly a pause. The demos show a sense of humor, vitality and carefree playfulness. Zouka’s pouting, tongue-in-cheek vocals (sung in French) come together for a catchy, sensuous, danceable, eccentric psychedelic ride. Reminiscent of the Mo-dettes, early OMD or Algebra Suicide, X Ray Pop could be the missing link to Stereolab.

    28 years later, this is the first time since the original issue that the songs of X Ray Pop are reappearing on vinyl again, but is the world ready?

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    LP Info: All songs have been remastered for vinyl by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley directly from the original master tapes. Each LP comes in a neon yellow jacket with an 8 page booklet full of unreleased photos, original artwork and lyrics.

    X.Y.R

    Labyrinth

      St. Petersburg pathfinder Vladimir Karpov coaxes hushed auras of keys, metronomes, fog, and feeling to evoke hazed and isolated realms, traced in altered states. His latest collection—and vinyl debut—maps the maze at “the bottom of self,” subterranean consciousness manifested from decaying synthesizer and shadowed pulse: music for fading torchlight. Labyrinth leads through six misty, mystic chambers of dreams, drones, delirium, and phaser’d percussion, spiraling in slow, sacred arcs, in quest of “the inner world.” Tosya Chaikina’s ghost vocals on “False Angel Lullaby” and “Shadows Of Forgotten Ancestors” bring a whispered hymnal mood, but otherwise the album is ambient and abandoned, obscure meditations along corridors of candlelit runes, “to find the right path, to find the true answer.”

      New outfit formed by Matthew Benn of Hookworms and Christopher Duffin of Deadwall. Its six tracks of improvised ambient beauty are both meditative and peaceful, it is astral jazz with an experimental kosmische undercurrent; modular synths meet saxophones; Cluster meets Terry Riley; Laurie Spiegel meets Pharoah Sanders; Ohr meets Impulse!. A warm, immersive and downright musical record, it rewards repeat listens. XAM was originally Matthew’s solo project, the name borrowed from the closing song of latter-day Dusseldorf-via-Detroit cult classic ‘Subway II’. He recorded a number of tracks at home between Hookworms albums in 2014 which were released last year as the ‘Tone Systems’ EP on Deep Distance.

      Christopher says he approaches each song as a “mini-soundtrack to an imaginary film that doesn’t exist yet” and reveals that, while he was practising at home, he played along to clips of ‘There Will Be Blood’, ‘Mulholland Drive’ and ‘Synecdoche, New York’ to get the requisite atmosphere. Live sets are also completely improvised, meaning no two shows are ever the same. “I appreciate that improvised music isn’t for everyone, but it’s something I love doing,” Matthew concludes. “And, more often than not, Chris and I create something beautiful together

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: Otherworldly developing ambience and celestial synth swells, gradual building and eventual fragmentation turn this into a tour-de-force of Reich-esque structural integrity. Jazzy interludes give way to churning echoes, while hints of percussion give just enough purpose to direct the cloud of blissful fog.

      Xao returns to Astral Black with his new eight-track LP, Eternal Care Unit. Created after relocating to Germany and distanced from the UK sounds and scenes that had influenced his previous work, ECU sees Xao further explore the ethereal futurism displayed on 2017's Alloys EP. In keeping with the title (Eternal Care Unit is a medical slang term for the morgue), the release soundtracks the transcendental shift from the physical to the spiritual realm.

      Over the course of the record's thirty minute running time, Xao traverses through the hauntingly beautiful soundscapes of tracks like the opening 'Embryno' to the sonic brutalism of 'Corvid Tendencies' and 'Vent Jockey', interspersed with the driving off-kilter rhythms found on the likes of 'Bernet Franca' and 'Blades//Savants'.

      The physical release comes with full colour sleeve artwork from fast rising designer Patrick Savile, whose has previously done work for the likes of Bokeh Versions, Warp, WGSN and more.



      Louis Xavier is a complete artist, sincere and talented. He is at the same time: bassist, guitarist - bassist, author - composer, arranger, conductor, prolific and influential part of the Parisian scene since the 70 's. His approach is simple: from compositions and arrangements expressing his experience as an Afro-Caribbean immigrant, he establishes dialogue by refusing to be imprisoned in a narrow and sterile cultural ghetto. Hence, his creations are moving, questioning and always free. By chance or by design, Louis Xavier has always had musicians from different geographical and sometimes cultural areas at his side. The result is an astonishing and surprising symbiosis: the harmonious marriage of drums, piano, violin, saxophone, guitar, synthesizer and flute. All these disparate sounds combine to mark strong rhythms, to roll in inventions, in rich improvisations, in which the musicians, brothers of the same family, molded with nostalgia for a lost or simply distant black reality, refuse the straight forward and attempt to tell us something new.

      Love them or hate them, you'll never forget them! Over the years Xbxrx's style of joyous musical assault has been championed by many major figures in the underground. Having opened up for Sonic Youth, Peaches, Unwound, Deerhoof and Q And Not U as well as having worked with accomplished producers such as Steve Albini, Ian Mackaye and Tim Kerr. This album shows a new found musical growth and maturity over its 18 tracks.

      Aberdeen/Exeter 3 piece THE XCERTS will finally be releasing their hugely anticipated, 3rd studio album, ‘There Is Only You’ on November 3rd through Raygun Music. The new album is the follow up to 2010’s ‘Scatterbrain’, and was produced by both Dave Eringa (Manic Street Preachers, Idlewild) and long-term band friend Paul Steel. The band will also be on tour in the US with Brand New around the album release, with a UK/European tour to be announced in the coming weeks as well.

      "The record”, explains vocalist/guitarist Murray Macleod, "is about everything I've experienced in my life so far. They are about the past and how I've made some terrible mistakes, in romantic terms anyway, and learned a lot from them, which culminates in the last song on the record, 'There Is Only You'. That's about me getting to this point of finally being comfortable enough to be with one person for the rest of my life. But halfway through recording we took a break and the night I got home was the night she decided she didn't want to be with me anymore. We got back on Friday, and I went back to the studio on the Monday for the next three weeks to finish the album. So it's a weird twist to the tale of this record and I was completely lost in the second half of making the record."

      Even though its ten songs had been written by that point, it's nevertheless a record that straddles the gulf between love and loss, the joy of feeling whole and the ache of feeling empty, with pinpoint accuracy. That complex contradiction is something the trio - completed by bassist Jordan Smith and drummer Thomas Heron - infused their first two records, 2009's 'In The Cold Wind We Smile' and hurt following year's 'Scatterbrain', with in abundance, but here it feels more poignant, more fragile, more urgent than ever before, both for the listener and, due to his personal circumstances, Macleod himself.

      XDeathstarX

      The Triumph

      Ferocious, crushing SoCal hardcore maelstrom of sound that perfectly captures the spirit of their explosive live performances. Raging, committed quadruple vocal harmonies, an unrelenting guitar barrage and steamhammer rhythms combine to mercilessly bludgeon your aching synapses into a bleeding pulp...ouch...

      Xeno & Oaklander

      Hypnos

        As a musical act, Xeno & Oaklander (Sean McBride and Liz Wendelbo) conflate a rich love of analog synths, melody, and mythology with eloquent nuance and a nod to the heritage they draw from. While that construct is the duo’s immediate kiss and crush, there’s a deeper importance to their collaboration which began in 2004. As evidenced in their debut Vigils (2004), McBride and Wendelbo’s artistic dynamic is more than just a mutual love for electronics but a contrast between architectural precision and painterly expression. From the film scores to the traditional albums they’ve recorded in their Brooklyn studio, they’ve both spurred and fostered the global synth wave revival through a commitment to analog-only production and performance as well as a strident respect for the medium.

        On their latest album Hypnos and first for the Dais imprint, the duo leveraged the talents of visual artist and live sound engineer Egan Frantz to mix the album. It’s a touch that adds both punch and balance, allowing their inherent conceptual voices to converge into a collage with defined edges and warm, synapses of frequency and beat.

        “Musically, Hypnos is a return to polyphony after several years of using strictly monophonic synthesizers,” McBride says about the album’s ethos. “This has brought dense harmonies and a more complex counterpoint to the composition. Staying with the same equipment and processes without the inveterate compulsion to update and refashion allows for a clearly perceivable genealogy with our previous work.”

        “I felt the desire to tell mythical stories, I also wanted my voice to sit strongly in the mix,” Wendelbo explains. “I channeled the spirits of 60s French Pop chanteuse Françoise Hardy and 80s New Wave New York icon Tina Weymouth.” Her intentions are best evidenced on the tracks “Angelique,”and “Insomnia,” the former a spry track sung in French, against a springy rhythm. Laden with expanding and contrasting frequency and a penchant for strategic rhythm, Hypnos juxtaposes dance with distance, creating an immersive oeuvre that exudes contrast and control. 


        FORMAT INFORMATION

        Coloured LP Info: Glacial coloured vinyl.

        Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

        Xenoula

        Xenoula

          Xenoula is Romy Xeno. Romy spent her early years in South Africa where she was influenced by the elemental songs of nearby villagers and the (tranquil) rhythms of nature. Here she developed an introspective affinity with flora and fauna rather than with man and machines.

          Teaming up with producer Sam Dust aka LA Priest, whose recent work includes his own debut solo album as well as Connan Mockasin collaboration Soft Hair, Xenoula’s songs are adorned in a chameleon-like coat of shape shifting sonic textures and glide over an energetic core of ground shaking rhythm.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          LP Info: 180 gram heavyweight vinyl.

          XIIhundredarrows

          Too Far Gone EP

          "Too Far Gone" is the second 'mood' EP by XIIhundredarrows. The feel of this EP is much darker than its predecessor "Circles and Butterflies", but still uses a lot of the trademark-layered guitar sound that we have heard in previous recordings. This is the first XIIhundredarrows EP to use vocals and showcases Jon Lawton's brutally honest lyrical content. The EP comes in a new 'ejector-case' and is completed with artwork also by Jon.

          Xiu Xiu

          There Is No Right, There Is No Wrong (The Best Of Xiu Xiu) - RSD Edition

            THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2014 EXCLUSIVE, LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.

            All tracks re-mastered on double vinyl in a handmade, individually numbered sleeve. Includes 21 track Rarities CD.

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            2xLtd LP Info: 2xLP+CD.

            Rarely is so much meaning conveyed in the space of six letters. And with regard to Xiu Xiu, its applications are infinite: always relevant, always provocative, always surprising, always evolving, always glittering.

            It's fitting, then, that as the band (now comprised of Jamie Stewart, Angela Seo, Bettina Escauriza, Marc Riordan, and returning member Devin Hoff) marks a decade in existence, such a powerful sentiment would serve as the title of its latest album.

            At its core, Always symbolizes the mutual camaraderie with and deep dedication to each person who has internalized Xiu Xiu’s work, tattooed its name on their skin or soul, and throughout the past ten years made the band a part of their lives.

            The origin of these intense, everlasting bonds is Stewart. His fearless lyrics have given voice to life's most untouchable and taboo subjects, while his distinctively committed but hushed vocals crystallize and medicate their unsettling impact.

            Those familiar with the band's work will take particular note of the times Stewart re-visits profoundly personal accounts from his own life -- most prominently on "Beauty Towne" (a not-so-uplifting postscript to the muddle of those depicted in "Clowne Towne" from 2004's Fabulous Muscles) and "Black Drum Machine" (which finishes the narrative of incest and molestation begun on "Black Keyboard" from 2008's Women as Lovers).

            Elsewhere, Stewart's willingness to broach any subject finds him confronting both the topical and the intimate in equally meaningful ways: "Gul Mudin" seeks to bring comfort to an Afghani teenage boy murdered for sport by American soldiers; "Joey's Song" strives to do the same for Stewart's brother in the aftermath of a family tragedy.

            "Factory Girls" chronicles the sexual objectification and desperate existence of Chinese female, migrant workers. "I Luv Abortion," featuring perhaps Stewart's most unhinged vocal ever, careens through the resolute heartache of a friend too young to be pregnant and seeks to personalize this most political issue.

            But while such writing is worthy of reverence, Always' most arresting moments lie in its sonic innovation -- transforming avant pop elements from an undertone into a bright black focal point while adding new influences such a choral music, kraut rock and animal field recordings.

            Produced by Deerhoof's Greg Saunier (who also contributes drums and vocals to the album) and mixed by John Congleton (Antony and the Johnsons, Marylin Manson, the Roots) the album is positively vibrant.

            Opening track and first single, "Hi," is an immediate invitation for listeners to make their presence known, as Stewart commands you to voice the title refrain along with him: "If you are wasting your life / Say "Hi" / If you are alone tonight / Say "Hi."

            The song's infectious, dance-worthy beat is only the first of many instances when Stewart’s unflinching lyricism is coupled with pure, singable melodies -- the kind of pairings that bring into stark relief how often life's worst moments are shouldered with a skewed, cheery grin.

            Nowhere is this contrast more apparent than on the bittersweet duet "Honeysuckle," a pleasantly uplifting cadence undercut by feelings of utter despair and hopelessness in Seo's lyrics.

            That such dazzling music can so seamlessly blend with such undeniably dark content is but one of the ways Always succeeds in accentuating the intent that is central to all Xiu Xiu creates.

            During recording, Stewart saw a Bible verse spray painted on the wall of his gym. He interpreted the verse to mean, "Horror and beauty are the same; love and hate are the same, the tireless dread of our own lives and of living can be embraced with the same fervency as what we find beautiful."

            The impulse that drove artists such as Suicide, Einstürzende Neubauten and Scott Walker to embark on extraordinary and uncompromising journeys, refusing to flinch in the face of humanity’s ugly truths and terrible beauty, also underpins the sound and vision of Xiu Xiu, aka LAbased duo Jamie Stewart and Angela Seo.

            ‘Angel Guts: Red Classroom’ is the sound of Xiu Xiu’s descent into the deepest blackness endurable.

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            Vinyl comes with CD version of the album enclosed.

             'Girl with Basket of Fruit' is a rowdier, yet more stylistically splenetic offering than 2017's 'Forget', with the usual eye-catching list of collaborators this time including Eugene Robinson (Oxbow), Devin Hoff and Haitian percussionists Emmanuel Obi and Ayo Okafor. Xiu Xiu is the conduit for the uncompromising and unnervingly personal musical works of Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist Jamie Stewart, plus a roll call of collaborators both in studio and onstage.

            Xiu Xiu, now a three-piece featuring Jamie Stewart, Caralee Mcelroy, and Ches Smith, crafts a sickeningly intimate art that is equally sensual and icy. A double CD set of covers and remixes. The first disc, a batch of covers, is an exercise in sisterly fan-dom and inspired innovation. Larsen's version of "Mousey Toy" is a six-minute electro-pop build with spoken computer vocals. Oxbow's cover of "Saturn" is gothic folk, backwoodsy and death-marching. Recent Xiu Xiu tour-mates Sunset Rubdown do "Apistat Commander" as a majestic pop orchestra with drums that sound like slamming doors. Marissa Nadler covers "Clowne Towne", reworking it into stately, ornate folk. Kid 606 revamps "Fabulous Muscles" as a big, warm, clustering blossom of claustrophobic dance music. Why? plays "The Wig Master" as fractured avant-pop. The final track on the covers side is Devendra Banhart's take on "Support Our Troops", showcased originally on a split 7" with Xiu Xiu. Finishing off the record with Devendra's optimist, playful croon, Stewart's chilling mini-essay on warmongering and not thinking for yourself becomes street corner doo-wop. The remix disc has remixes by; Gold Chains, Kid606, To Live And Shave In LA, Warbucks, Xiu Xiu, Grouper, Cherry Point, Son, and This Song Is A Mess But So Am I.

            Christened "High Tide" after the sudden rising of the LA River basin during a particularly epic and rare rainfall, this cosmic slop funk jam was born from the minds of Devin Flynn (Pixeltan) and Eddie Ruscha (Secret Circuit), two individuals with a deep connection to Los Angeles’ tap water sources. While traipsing through the aisles of an Atwater Village bodega, the two mustered up a plan to create a rhythmic piece so delectable as to turn peoples’ heads inside out and pummel the senses with a wobbly Jah Wobble bass sound and a toy drum machine ‘no toy’ style back beat. They figured if they laced it up with enough electronic scuzz, the masses would be sure to want to sip from its nectar.

            When DFA got wind it was all systems go and, from then on, all relevant parties knew that they should sit on the track for at least five years before it was released, otherwise the world at large would not be ready for it. The remixes are by Eddie himself - as Secret Circuit - and Dr. Dunks, aka Eric Duncan, a fellow Angeleno (at least at heart). Eric and Devin rolled through the streets as small children, shredding curbs and tagging local ice cream trucks, so it was inevitable they would reconnect and jam on "High Tide".

            Devin Flynn is an animator, musician and teacher who has worked on projects like Gary Panter’s web series Pink Donkey & The Fly and MTV2’s Wonder Showzen. He has previously released on DFA with Pixeltan, a trio - Flynn, Hisham Bharoocha of Black Dice and singer Mika Yoneta - that recorded with The DFA at the label’s inception, creating two seminal singles.

            Eddie Ruscha is another DFA veteran, having remixed artists including Wolfram and Museum of Love. He has been making music for decades, as Secret Circuit and with myriad other aliases and collaborators, in addition to recording under his own name. He has released on labels like Beats in Space and Emotional Response, among others.

            For fans of Young Marco, Suzanne Kraft, Prins Thomas, Khotin, Gaussian Curve.

            X were one of the most important bands on the early West Coast punk scene and this their debut (produced by The Doors' Ray Manzarek) is as exciting as they came in 1980. Remastered with bonus tracks, new sleeve notes and great period photos. It's commercial, tuneful and was incredibly influential.

            Bernard Xolotl

            Last Wave

              French electronic music from California: "Last Wave", the fifth solo album by the artist and musician Bernard Xolotl, was originally released on cassette in 1982. He named himself after the Aztec god of lightning and death. His music is influenced by the Berlin school of electronic music. This reissue includes a previously unreleased bonus track (not on vinyl)! As a teen, Bernard Xolotl (born 1951 in France) was introduced to electronic music through the works of musique concrete composers like Pierre Henry and Pierre Schaeffer, although he found the early recordings of Pink Floyd to be more inspirational. During the early 1970s, Xolotl began creating music of his own, working in studios across Europe and the US before settling in California in 1974, where he slowly built his own studio. Between 1978 and 1981 he recorded four solo cassette albums. On his album "Last Wave" Xolotl expanded his musical palette with many new instruments such as the Yamaha CS60 and the PPG.

              Bernard Xolotl on the creating process of "Last Wave": The first "Last Wave" I started early on while still living in San Francisco, as a simple and longish piece which could be used as a background for the concerts I was giving with Daniel Kobialka and Richard Horowitz, both of whom I saw almost every day at that time. However, after I moved to the residential suburb of Marin to build up my studio, I kept adding tracks to it so it just became part of my next album. This was going to have more instruments and progressively, I got to do everything myself, playing and recording one track at a time. But mixing there was still out of the question, so I had to wait for the right opportunity to use the proper San Francisco studio with the best reverbs and acoustics. This took several years in the end and was the last album I didn't mix at home.

              Femme fronted pocket punk and domestic-synth pop from French DIY workaholics X Ray Pop. Compiled from the mastertapes of the original 1980s privately pressed vinyl LPs and minuscule cassette runs.

              X Ray Pop are a group of whom are easy to scratch the surface, but almost impossible to get the bottom of. With an iconic moniker, telltale graphic style and demanding ‘buy me’ Day-Glo colour coding policy the French vinyl output of X Ray Pop as a specialist subject is, at first glance, memorable and achievable. Cocksure fans of Euro wave pop often proclaim X Ray expertise from behind many a record shop counter or blog page but the truth of the matter is that no-one, not even the band members themselves, have the knowledge or mental capacity to truly understand the splatter range of the god speed anti-tactics that have turned this interchangeable, unarrangable and thirty-year sustainable auto-pop combo into one of uber-legendary status. For those that tread the chemins of 80s Gallic record racks, from agit pop to Zeuhl-school (bridging synth pop to Celluloid) these 7″ square flags reading El Gato, L’Eurasienne, Alcool and Fuzzy Christmas are merely alluring landmarks pointing to another sebaceous underground of magnetic tape that flows swiftly (like Magma) awaiting Pirates and liberators alike. X marks the spot!

              Peeping out of a warren of unexplored passages their seminal self-distributed debut singles and appearances on the genre defining alternative funk Alternative Funk Folie Distinguée compilation in 1984 made them an omnipresent fixture for the French tape wave scene that shaped a generation and influenced many more to follow. But beneath the trademark fluo- rescent sleeves stands the highly stacked foundations of endless cassette only releases that give this pocket punk husband and wife duo one of the most impressive and elusive back catalogues of all their cut ‘n’ paste French funk contemporaries. Plundering the depths of a self-estimated 400 recorded songs, X Ray Pop founder Didier Pilot has joined up with Finders Keepers sister label Cache Cache to reassess, rescue and reissue some of the bands most underexposed sonic snapshots, many of which were distributed in issues of less than 50 up to 500 for exclusive global releases in France, Spain, Portugal, Japan and America (where bands like Brian Ladd and Julie Frith’s Psyclones and The Beastie Boys championed the band as a likeminded inspiration.

              CD edition (available separately) is accompanied by two vinyl releases - ‘Ding Dong Disques’ and ‘Ding Dong Dubs’ - compiling the rarest vinyl (‘...Disques’) and cassette (‘...Dubs’) releases (both featuring exclusive bonus tracks).

              XTC

              Black Sea

                XTC continue on with the big drum sound of Drums and Wires, adding more polish and an even heavier-hitting approach for Black Sea -- their arrangements are fuller and they rock harder than ever before.

                Where Drums and Wires implied social commentary, Black Sea more directly addresses sociopolitical concerns, handling them not strictly in a theoretical sense, but rather showing a human response to the circumstances. Of course, the band's skewed outlook and mid-'60s pop sense keeps things from becoming too heavy -- included are some of their finest songs, like "Respectable Street," "Generals and Majors," and "Towers of London," as well as the thoroughly enjoyable pop fluff throwaway "Sgt. Rock (Is Going to Help Me)" to keep the mood light.

                All in all, there isn't a bad song in the bunch -- Black Sea is their most consistent album to date -- and although XTC always operated on the fringes, the album is their most commercial-sounding, fitting in perfectly with the new wave of the late '70s/early '80s--All Music.

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Andy says: XTC were a totally unique English new-wave quirky/gently psych pop band and this record is regarded as probably their finest hour.

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                LP Info: Pressed on 200 gram super-heavyweight vinyl for the best possible audio reproduction.

                Xwave

                Cities On Flame

                  A vinyl LP issue of Cities On Flame by Xwave, originally released as a limited CDr/tape by the Brisbane-based Breakdance The Dawn label. recorded in 2008. Featuring guitar heaviness that some have compared the sounds to Kray Cherubs. I think it hits on the Vermonster "spirit of yma" leanings. Either descriptions are a great place to start. A limited edition of 250 copies, housed in silk-screened album art. Little Big Chief Records.

                  The long awaited second album from The XX.

                  Three years on from their Mercury Prize winning debut, Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie Smith are back with a new album, ‘Coexist’, and a new perspective.

                  Where ‘XX’ lent in close to whisper in your ear, ‘Coexist’ gazes warmly in your eyes. Much has happened to lead to this point: most pertinently, they’ve grown up.

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Ryan says: Even more dazzling than their last! The vocals are intimate & soulful while subtle club rhythms chug along nicely to give it all just the right amount of impact.

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  Vinyl comes with CD version of the album enclosed.

                  I See You marks a new era for the London trio of Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie Smith, both sonically and in terms of process. For while xx and Coexist were both made in relative isolation in London, I See You was recorded between March 2014 and August 2016 in New York, Marfa TX, Reykjavik, Los Angeles and London, and is characterised by a more outward-looking, open and expansive approach. Produced by Jamie Smith and Rodaidh McDonald, I See You is The xx at their boldest yet, performing with more clarity and ambition than ever before.

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Andy says: After two perfect, and pretty similar albums of clipped, late-night minimalism, The XX ring the changes, tinkering with their template with a record showing some of the dynamism and richness of Jamie's smash-hit solo album of 2 years ago. It still has all their hallmarks intact, just warped and deepened to beautiful effect. Brilliant.

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  Coloured LP Info: 10 tracks on limited-edition Indies only clear vinyl, in a debossed mirri board sleeve with a download.

                  Vinyl comes with CD version of the album enclosed.

                  Deluxe LP Info: Silver mirri board debossed box containing the album on 180g heavyweight vinyl, with an extra 12” including 3 bonus tracks, album CD, enhanced CD featuring a live video of bonus track ‘Brave For You (Marfa Demo)’ and 3 exclusive prints by Alasdair McLellan.

                  CD Info: CD comes in a debossed mirri board sleeve.

                  Listening to “XX” is an uncomfortable, obtrusive experience, akin to eavesdropping on two lovers while they whisper and caress. So intimate are the songs contained within that at the very least, you feel you should turn away your face to hide your shame. In fact, it’s impossible to talk about The XX without talking about sex. Like so many bed sheets strewn across the floor, Romy and Oliver’s duets are littered with sexual anxiety, claustrophobia and desire and their take on romance is a particularly urban one, more council high rise and public transport than the Crystal and Gucci version favoured by the R&B they love so much. “XX” is a debut album that’s old beyond its tender years but such is its fragility, it’s only when the final note of “Stars”, the albums closing track has dissolved that we can breathe again, relieved that we’ve made it to the end, safe and in each other’s arms.

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Darryl says: An intimate listen, and one that makes it perfect for the winter months. Sparse to the point to the point of fragility their debut album is moody, menacing and downright brilliant.

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  LP Info: Includes bonus track "Hot Like Fire".

                  Xylouris White

                  Mother

                    A passion for exploration comes naturally to Xylouris White, the ruggedly visionary duo formed of Cretan lute player George Xylouris and revered Australian drummer Jim White. For their debut album, 2014’s Goats, Xylouris White compared themselves to the titular animals, wandering fearlessly through rough-hewn terrain. Two years later, they showed how far their horizons could reach on 2016’s majestically expansive Black Peak, named after a mountain top in Crete.

                    Just 15 well-toured months later, the duo’s exploratory instincts drive them further onwards still on their third album, Mother, named to denote “new life”. As Xylouris puts it, “Mother is the extension of Goats and Black Peak. Three things, all part of a whole. Goats are mothers, Zeus was raised on Amaltheia’s milk, Black Peak is Mother Earth… Mother Earth is the mother of everything.”

                    Across Mother’s nine tracks, Xylouris White nurture fecund growths from the spaces between their instruments. Sometimes the songs drive with an invigorating urgency; sometimes they brood, plead, yearn and lull. The duo seem to discover each other anew at every turn, teasing the songs out from their fluid chemistry with the kind of virtuosity that knows when to listen, accommodate and learn afresh. “A theme of the album is the significance of simplicity and a child-like approach,” Xylouris explains. “So, we connect mother and child and play instruments as toys. Xylouris White is still gestating.”

                    That ongoing gestation is a remarkable extension of already remarkable back-stories. Xylouris is a scion of one of Greece’s most revered musical families. His father is legendary singer / lyra player Psarantonis. A child when he began playing the lute, Xylouris would accompany his father in a backing role. Yet just as Psarantonis stretched the lyra’s range, so Xylouris elevated his eight-string laouto to the lead role in his Xylouris Ensemble.

                    Jim White has commanded international attention for more than two decades as part of Australia’s Dirty Three, storm’s-eye instrumental diviners whose emotionally choppy soundscapes brim with elemental force. Now New York-based, White has often been called on to collaborate with numerous alt-A-listers (including: Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, PJ Harvey, Cat Power and Smog), where he redeploys the rolling momentum of free-jazz to variously supple, sensitive and seismic ends. Most recently he can be collaborated with Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett on their acclaimed album “Lotta Sea Lice”.

                    PJ Harvey likened White’s playing to dancing. Yet if dancers need partners, Mother also pays testimony to a friendship forged over almost three decades. Xylouris was performing with his Ensemble when he met White in Melbourne in the early 1990s; back then, the drummer was in his pre-Dirty Three avant-rock outfit Venom P Stinger. In retrospect, a cycle of influence emerges: Xylouris’s 1990s live contributions to the Dirty Three set a blueprint for Xylouris White, yet the Dirty Three were themselves inspired by Xylouris and Psarantonis.

                    That mutual exchange resonates throughout Mother. Album opener “In Medias Res” finds the duo already in motion, feeling their way around one another, seeking out ways to bring a song to full bloom. Proving they can also be thrillingly direct when the mood takes them, “Only Love” follows with a brilliantly barrelling sense of momentum, White’s powerhouse percussion urging Xylouris’s liquid-fingered lute-playing and impassioned baritone on to increasing heights of urgency.

                    From here, Xylouris White proceed as if by intuition, feeling their way around new terrain. “Motorcycle Kondilies” is muscular and epic, White’s rimshots providing on-alert accompaniment as Xylouris’s reaching vocal and dancing lute lines build in intensity. If the marching rhythm and pretty lute melody of “Spud’s Garden” highlights the duo’s occasional elegant side, “Daphne” and “Achilles Heel” showcase Xylouris White’s at their most hypnotic and brooding. “Woman from Anogeia” hosts a particularly emotive vocal from Xylouris; “Call and Response” is the duo at their freeform finest, circling each other querulously, again teasing at possibility. Finally, resolution is embraced openly on the tactile and reverberant “Lullaby”, as lovely a track as any Xylouris White have birthed.

                    As on Black Peak, Mother’s labours benefited from the midwifery of choice collaborators. Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto produced again. Also on hand this time was Anna Roberts-Gevalt of old-time folk duo Anna & Elizabeth, whose earthy violin/viola lines and exquisitely sighing vocals can be heard on the track “Lullaby”.

                    The result is an album of extraordinary accomplishment from two supremely seasoned players who’ve kept a close kinship with the richly, rewardingly inquisitive instincts of their youth. In Xylouris’s words, “It's the natural maturity of fruits as they ripen. As fruit matures by the rhythm of nature, so the music grows at its own pace. So, here are two maturing fruits giving the taste of their present maturity – and they’re still children.”

                    “C’est ce que je fais qui m’apprend ce que je cherche. (It’s what I do that teaches me what I’m looking for.)” - Pierre Soulages

                    Jim White and George Xylouris have been friends since Jim’s early days in Dirty Three. Their musical connection goes back to then and led them to start Xylouris White in 2013. Since then, they have released three albums and been touring the world. ‘The Sisypheans’ is their fourth release.

                    Jim on ‘The Sisypheans’: “As George Xylouris and I traveled around these last five years, we found ourselves talking about Sisyphus. George had a theory about Sisyphus, condemned to climb that hill with that rock forever. George saw him carrying the rock in different ways, in his left hand, behind his back, pushing it with his head while crawling and noticing each journey the seasons changing, the grass and the insects. The meaning was clear and for George it fit with playing the popular Cretan song ‘Proto Hanoti’ many turns each day for his life and discovering it new each time... I found it fit in with a long held set of thoughts I’d had, that if one concentrated activity and thought enough on one thing it would expand and be a whole world. It sounded like the same idea and also with the idea of first principles, for it to be new each time: that is our job as musicians. We would talk about this as we traveled playing music. One day a waitress heard us talking, and she asked if we knew the Camus essay about Sisyphus. We didn’t, but I got it in English and then we found it in Greek and it fit too. When we were playing in Louisville and working on Black Peak, we stayed at a house and saw the artwork you see on the cover, by Elsa Hansen Oldham... We’d finished the circular trilogy of Goats, Black Peak, and Mother and we found ourselves making -. What we do leads us to who we are, the Sisypheans.”


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