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Left Ear have put together a collection of recordings taken from the elusive Berlin band I.A.O., spanning their third phase from 1988 to 1995. "Phase III" commemorates the bands final line-up of three members; Achim Kohlberger, Ralf Östereich and Carsten Zielske. The sounds on this retrospective vary widely, however, link with threads of melancholic sequences, angular jamming and a focus on electronic soundscapes.

The tracks are pinned against a backdrop of political and social unrest in Berlin at the time. Two different cities had become one with the fall of the wall, driving a bubbling subculture attempting to reunite the capital. Seemingly irrelevant to what I.A.O. was producing, these territories dance parallel to one another. In the late 1980’s, Achim Kohlberger of the band and partner Dimitri Hegemann, were orchestrating ‘Atonal Festival’, these days known as Berlin Atonal. Soon after, they set-up of one of the first techno clubs in the world - UFO, today known as Tresor.

I.A.O. cites the cast of personalities they would come across in the clubs and pubs as influential in their songwriting, artists, outsiders or the ‘general dropouts.’ However, the works of IAO far resemble techno music. Phase III’s opening track Gospel IV introduces the band with their patience and restraint, synthesizers work to reveal folding melodies. The downtempo voyage continues with Marshmallow Girls, an insight into the band’s sensitive observations and hazy imagery. All Is Bliss presents a vocal mantra cooperating with nagging bass lines and euphonic percussion. Meanwhile, two instrumentals Love and Twinkle Twinkle Twinkle Little Star both typify and defy timeless dancefloor paradigms. The compilation signs off with Ferns, binding the icy yet bright tones found throughout. 

In 1986, Uruguayan vocalist and musician Mariana Ingold took the advice of a storied Uruguayan composer and musicologist and recorded her first album (Todo Depende) for the now legendary label Ayuí/Tacuabé. In the early ’80s, the introduction of the synthesizer fostered an experimental new approach to traditional Candombe rhythms. Ingold’s influence on the scene looms large. Pairing elegant vocals and majestic harmonies with complex arrangements, she pushed the Montevideo-specific sound — loosely termed Candombe fusion — in new directions and thrived working collaboratively with artists including Eduardo Mateo, Jaime Roos, and Hugo Fattoruso.

With the assistance of Chris J. Morris, Left Ear Records has extracted a collection of tracks that encapsulate this period between 1986-1991, lifting from her albums Todo Depende, Cambio de Clima, and Haace Calor. Full liner notes translated in English and Spanish with archival photos included.

For musicians inhabiting the Antipodean countries of Australia and New Zealand during the 70’s and 80’s, it was a geographically and culturally isolating environment. Boutique shops, community radio and mail order exchanges championed independent and contemporary music from across the globe. It was, however, this isolation that caused a number of small community-focused scenes to evolve, creating their own unique interpretation and reappropriation of outside influences. Through both these scenes and government initiatives, a vast amount of music emerged on self-released and independent labels.

Yet, even among small scenes that were creating unique sounds, a number of artists seemed to be making music that was neither here nor there, often meshing together numerous genres and influences to create anomalous sounds. Artists like Olev Muska along with Ingrid Slamer meshed traditional folk songs of their Estonian heritage with cutting edge computer technology. Ngahiwi Apanui used his native language of Te Reo and a “cheap drum machine” to create a pulsating tale that highlights the creation of Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand); while the Free Radicals would sing through PVC pipes to construct their vision of post-apocalyptic tribal music. Sydney’s Nic Lyon used his classical training to craft a distinctive gem which matched eastern and African influenced instruments with synchopated drum machines, while artists like Delaney Venn and Toy Division managed to challenge their post-punk sensibilities by blending both dub and atmospheric sounds respectively.


STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Much like the frankly absurd menagerie which makes up Australia and New Zealand's wildlife, the Antipodean music scene evolved in isolation from the rest of the world, brilliantly throwing up the odd dub meets white funk funk diy madness captured on this Left Ear comp. Audio platypodes the lot of them!

Starship Commander Wooooo Wooooo

Mastership

Truly nuts and really kind of essential... the Starship Commander had his whole approach to the synthesiser voice technique. A B-boys / B-girls delight. Check the instrumental cut, 'Mastership' - a head nod synth voyage of the highest order. Limited copies. 
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“How are you doing, Earthling?” That’s how Omer Coleman, Jr. addressed his public in the 80s, driving around Kansas City, Missouri in the electric space-car built especially for his alter ego Starship Commander Wooooo Wooooo.

Left Ear Records went back to Coleman’s original master tapes for their vinyl reissue of the Commander’s 1981 private press album 'Mastership', a lost electronic funk classic. Coleman performs in an alien voice that comes not from electronic filtering but from his own natural vocal distortions. This visitor from Mars wants people to be happy and, like his song goes, “Laugh and Dance.” It’s an endearing and very personal space-age funk that blends George Clinton and Kraftwerk in a vision of a better and happier world.

Born and raised in Kansas City, Coleman was musically inclined from an early age. His parents couldn’t afford to buy him a real drum for orchestra, so he took up electrical wiring and wood shop instead, which fed his muse in a different direction. Omer built enormous speaker cabinets. In the late ‘70s he was a DJ, and ran a Mobile Disco business that took him across the country, hosting parties. After a trip to California, he came back to Kansas City inspired to dress up as Commander Wooooo Wooooo.

The future commander began working at the Armco Steel Mill in Kansas City when he was 18. He was inspired by older machinists who demanded perfection in their work and in their character. It was while he was working at the steel mill that Coleman came up with Starship Commander Wooooo Wooooo. One day coworker John Manley came up to Coleman with a vision of an electric car, and built it. His coworkers built all of his equipment, from lighting and fog machines to big steel eyeglasses. Coleman’s sister, a seamstress, created his outfits.

Coleman started his own label in 1985 but took some time off from music to raise his children, and when they came of age his son recorded with Coleman as a gospel vocalist. When his son was killed in an auto accident in 2004, it took something out of him, and he stopped making music. But he's starting to get the feeling again.

Now 62, he’s currently enjoying his retirement from a long stint with the IRS. The former Commander is in the middle of a house project where he’s using metal ceiling tiles to line his walls. It’s starting to look like a spaceship. Coleman promises, “There is a real good possibility that we have not seen the last of Starship Commander Wooooo Wooooo! - Pat Padua

Peter Westheimer

Cool Change

    Not content with ruling the dancefloor via the oddball electro of Shahara Ja, those Antipodean reissue fiends at Left Ear are back in the house this week with a chilly retrospective of Oz Wave weirdo Peter Westheimer. An irreverent outsider right from the off, Westheimer spiced his unique brand of synth pop with Dadaist lyricism and Japanese tonalities, arriving at a future primitive sound which casually slipped between electronic, ambient, experimental and new age. When he dropped his debut LP, "Move" in 1985, Westheimer took the underground by surprise, blending his unique brand of synth work outs with a distinctly Australian aesthetic which coloured subsequent LPs "Sooner Than Laughter" (1986) and "Transition" (1992). This retrospective collects the finest moments of those LPs alongside 6 unreleased tracks, offering the casual listener a glimpse into the diverse genius of the NSW musician. Leftfield dancefloor cuts "Walking On The Edge" and "Elastic Smiles" groove their way into mutant disco territories, stumbling out the speakers like an ironic antipodean cousin of early 80s Peter Gabriel or Bill Nelson. "Rainforest" and "Circular Walkways" lay down some early markers for the casio tribal madness of Andras Fox or Young Marco while "Personality Change" is an afro-synth oddity worthy of a vintage Beppe Loda tape. Elsewhere Brenda Ray styled Balearic shufflers rub shoulders with Japanesque new age numbers, the whole set forming into a diverse selection all boasting a timbre which whispers Westheimer. 


    FORMAT INFORMATION

    LP Info: 1 COPY FOUND!


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