I get a lot of random records, tapes, and books in the mail, because publicists forget that outlets for which I used to work aren’t around anymore, or someone finds the address hidden on my website, or… whatever. This is a way to keep them from piling up uselessly in the corner of the office.
It’s been a minute since I did one of these, hasn’t it? Seems that the postal issues have really combined with international pressing plants and labels to prevent pretty much anything showing up in a reasonable amount of time. That said, time is a flat circle, making the concept of a release date meaningless, so we can talk about music which came out last summer without it really mattering at all.
A stack of LPs related to Berlin’s Private Records showed up a week or so ago, and they’re a treasure drove of dance and electronic gems. First off the top is RSF’S We Are Not Friends EP, a batch of six tracks and remixes which absolutely pulse with a four-on-the-floor beat. It’s kind of hilarious that the two remixes of the title track – the Kinky Roland Disco Glitter remix and the instrumental version of the same – come before the original RSF track, but they’re such brilliant blends of house and Italo disco that it doesn’t matter. The second side is all remixes, as well, taking tracks from two EPs Roland Faber released in 2010 and 2008, respectively.
The packaging is crazy in its simplicity: a colored LP in a clear poly sleeve emblazoned with a big sticker. There are something like 35 variants listed on Discogs right now, with a full Roy G. Biv assortment of colors represented. While I’d enjoyed the first RSF release put out by the Private sub-label Closing the Circle back in 2018, the artist is much more suited to singles and EPs such as this. The remixes make for a superb reinterpretation of the music, and get to stretch out.
Alex Cima’s Final Alley is an interesting release. It’s the follow-up to the electronic musician’s 1979 album, Cosmic Connection (reissued by Private in 2013), which is a cult favorite officially released by Polydor in Germany only. Final Alley was also supposed to be put out by that label, but it only ever made it to the promo stage via Cima’s own Hollywood-based Chromosome Records in 1980. In other words, insanely rare.
Listening to the LP, you can understand the underground appeal of Cima’s music. A track such as “Scat Cat Kitty” manages to use synthesizer funk, lounge, and jazz in under five minutes, and it’s immediately followed up by the electronic Sun Ra meets Parliament of “Delight.” It’s as though the musician wanted to see if he could meld literally everything to which he was listening in each and every song on Final Alley. It’s certainly a lot to take in – “busy” is a very applicable descriptor – but it’s certainly not boring, and even when there are half a dozen layers of sound to interpret, the beat remains at the heart of every track. Cima’s weird, but funky.
Also: real horns and real guitars on the likes of the title track make this stand out and sound larger than life, and more than just a bedroom recording writ large and reissued. The artwork is a little bland, but the simplicity certainly keeps what’s inside an absolute mystery.
The absolute opposite is Supersempfft’s Cosmotropics LP. The borders on the front and rear jacket covers look like sheets of acid tabs, and the artwork is bright primary colors. The back cover definitely has a watercolor image of anthropomorphic mushrooms, as well. This is some trippy cosmic and tropical music. Almost the entirety of the second side is given over to a track entitled “Cosmotropictrip,” which is flute-infused, dubby, laid-back music which sounds as though you might find it playing in the chill-out room of some club in Ibiza.
It’s kind of crazy, as the trio of Franz Aumüller, Franz Knüttel, and Dieter Kolb made two prior albums to this, both of which are well-regarded examples of krautrock, but this 1982 recording was originally intended to soundtrack an animated film which was never completed. The dreamy kosmiche aspects of this, combined with the cover artwork and included poster, make me think this might be a good thing. This probably does a lot better on its own.
The final LP in this is CPR’s Lymbic Resonance, also known as Cyber Punk Romance. It’s confusing, as the latter is the title on the spine, but the former is the name given it on their Bandcamp page. Whatever the title, the music is dark, moody electronic drone. You know that music which plays in horror movies where the scene in a club goes horribly awry, and someone overdoses or gets doped and spirited away to be tortured in a basement? This is what plays as everything goes fuzzy, then black.
It’s really quite beautiful, but the faux leather grain on the album jacket, sparse red text, and complete absence of any further identifying details on the LP makes CPR’s album seem like it’s a mysterious, dangerous gift which suddenly appears on your turntable. The music and packaging combine to create an aura of intense fear. I kept searching the runout grooves for hidden messages and waiting for the music to reveal a cry for help. It’s fucking spooky, kids.