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Friday, August 17, 2001

++ Prefuse 73 + Ubiquity Records + Up Bustle and Out + more

++ Fresh off his appearance on Prefuse 73's Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives — a record with more cuts than a Ginsu commercial — New York's Aesop Rock drops Labor Days, his debut release for El-P's Def Jux imprint, on Sept. 18. With the so-five-minutes-ago distinction of having been MP3.com's most-downloaded artist for a month straight, Aesop Rock follows in the footsteps of Cannibal Ox and Mr. Lif as Def Jux goes about establishing itself as one of the most dynamic platforms for independent hip-hop in recent memory.

++ Ubiquity Records continues its nonstop autumn release schedule on Sept. 4 with Love from the Sun, a mix CD of exclusive and unreleased tracks from recent signings As One, Beatless, Interfearance, Loquate and John Beltran, as well as label stalwart Greyboy. Mixed by Ubiquity's Andrew Jervis — who regularly shows off his chops at San Francisco parties like Emoto and No Categories — Love from the Sun is the first mixed album in the label's 10-year history.

++ Bristol's Up, Bustle and Out traveled to Cuba two years ago and took up with a crew of seriously old-school salseros, the result of which was Master Sessions, a kind of trip-hopped-up Buena Vista Social Club full of breakbeat-backed spy themes. For Master Sessions 2, they team up with Richard Egües, master flautist and septuagenarian session player, for a disc of similar musical fusions. The CD-ROM is fleshed out with film footage of Cuba's coffee plantations and the Cuban community in New York.

++ San Francisco's Six Degrees, the label that made electronica safe for your mom with Bebel Gilberto's Tanto Tempo, roughs things up a bit on Sept. 18 with the release of the inaugural edition of its Under the Influence mix CD series. Mixed by producer/critic DJ Spooky, the album veers from Future Sound of London's old-school chillout to the rugged drum 'n' bass of Paradox and the hardcore hip hop of Anti Pop Consortium — en route, it swerves through the uncategorizable terrain of Sonic Youth, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Saul Williams.

++ Techno Animal — the heavyweight duo of God's Kevin Martin and Godflesh's Justin Broadrick — will release The Brotherhood of the Bomb on Matador on Sept. 11. Quite possibly their heaviest release yet, it's also their most purist take on hip-hop, with contributions from El-P (Company Flow), Vast (Cannibal Ox), dälek and Toasty Taylor (New Flesh). Still, there's bastard noise aplenty from these former collaborators of Berlin techno duo Porter Ricks, who claim that "Brotherhood of the Bomb marks the point at which we can abuse techology and make it scream."

++ While the Wall Street Journal reports declining record sales for the majors, savvy indies keep gathering momentum. Brooklyn microsound label 12K, run by Taylor Deupree, has just released its 14th CD with Sogar's Basil. The debut recording from a German living in Paris, Basal combines the lushness of classic ambient music with the austerity for which 12K has come to be known. 12K sublabel Line, curated by Washington, D.C.'s Richard Chartier, also maintains its momentum with Z.e.l.l.e's Nth. The sixth CD for the limited-edition imprint, Nth is described in a 12K press release as "a collection of points strewn across an implied graph of a sound field."

++ Northern Ireland's Fällt is an MP3-centric platform for microsound, post-techno and other strains of digital experimentalism. The InvalidObjects series is the label's most ambitious release to date: a series of 24 three-inch CDs from some of the most respected names in the field: Pita, Scanner, Kim Cascone, Taylor Deupree, Richard Chartier, Stephan Mathieu, Pimmon, V/VM, Goem, Ekkehard Ehlers and others. The series was available for free download in MP3 format during November 2000, resulting in more than 60,000 downloads of the material. In contrast, the current issue is severely limited: 250 copies of each CD, 100 sets of which were boxed in a special edition. The discs, following a uniform silver-and-white color scheme, are a design fetishist's dream, and the sounds within should stir the pulse of any glitch enthusiast. Along the lines of Carsten Nicolai's 20' to 2000, it's a remarkable document of a vibrant artistic community and a critical moment in the evolution of digital music. InvalidObjects is available directly from Fällt or, in the US, through Forced Exposure, Bent Crayon and Anomalous.

++ Richard D. James — best known as electronica's court jester-cum-evil-archduke Aphex Twin — will release his umpteenth album, Drukqs, on Oct. 22. In the meantime Warp, keen to the fidgety nature of James' most dedicated fans, has released streaming audio for "54 Cymru Beats," in advance of even review copies of the album. In the era of the Internet, are there no perks left for music journalists? If keeping up with the Christgaus isn't enough for you, the white label "2 Remixes by AFX," James' "cockney raver" flashback, has also just been released on 12" vinyl and CD.


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