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We’re back. The weather is beginning to turn. We’re almost there. Welcome to the September edition of the Transmissions podcast. On this episode, we sit down with three legends of independent music: psychedelic singer/songwriter Robyn Hitchcock, Giant Sand leader Howe Gelb, and Steve Wynn of the Dream Syndicate. Since emerging in the ‘80s, they’ve amassed incredible catalogs, and they’re all still making vital and poetic records. We spoke earlier this month at HOCO Fest, a multi-day festival in Tucson, Arizona. Sitting down at the KXCI studio at Hotel Congress, the three riffed on their years making music, how their sounds have evolved over the years, and what a lifelong commitment to making art looks like. But first, our conversation with Matt Sullivan of Light in the Attic Records, one of our longtime favorite reissue labels. We spoke live at Gold Diggers in East Hollywood as part of our Talk Show series – a set of live conversations centered around the worlds of music, art, film and beyond. LITA has released records by Rodriguez, Betty Davis, Lee Hazlewood, Jim Sullivan, Serge Gainsbourg, and has launched expansive archives like the Native North America and Japan Archival projects. How did Light in the Attic get started? Live on stage at Gold Diggers, Sullivan explained it all.


Welcome to the August edition of the Transmissions podcast, just under the wire. We’ve got a great episode this month. First, Aquarium Drunkard’s Mary Sartini Garner sits down with Nate Chinen, author of a new book, Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century. A longtime New York Times critic and scholar, Chinen’s new book explores the shape of modern jazz, examining how the art form has incorporated new genres, how jazz education has shaped a new generation of players, and where jazz is headed.

Then, hosts Jason P. Woodbury and Justin Gage discuss Justin’s experiences in Japan’s kissa bars — small, intimate bars/coffeehouses where the music selection isn’t just incidental — it’s essential to the identity of the place. The concept is gaining traction in the US as well, so we ponder what makes such a dedicated listening space so appealing. Then, Jason sits down with visual artist and musician Kyle Field. For 20 years, he’s played under the Little Wings banner. He’s got a new split 12” out now with Maher Shalal Hash Baz, which we discussed, along with a look at his history and what life on the road looks like for a DIY artist in 2018.

Direct download: Nate_Chinen___Kissa_Bars___Little_Wings.mp3
Category:Music -- posted at: 7:49pm PDT

Humid funk out there, but we’re keeping cool. You are tuned into the July edition of the Aquarium Drunkard transmissions podcast, our monthly series of features interviews, and audio esoterica. On this episode, Justin Gage sits down with crate digger and producer Yosuke Kitazawa, to discuss Light in the Attic Records’ Japan Archival reissue series, which kicked off last year with the essential rock/folk/and pop compilation Even a Tree Can Shed Tears, picks up next month with a grip of Haruomi Honsono reissues, and will eventually feature Japanese new age, AOR, ambient, and electronic music.

Then, we crack the spine on author Jason Heller’s new book, Strange Stars: David Bowie, Pop Music, and the Decade Sci-Fi Exploded. Focusing on the 1970s, Heller explores the myriad ways science fiction influenced music across genre lines, from the rock of Bowie to the cosmic jazz of Sun Ra, and examines the changing ways we continue to conceive ideas about “the future.” But first, Gage and co-host Jason P. Woodbury sit down to reflect on the passing of Richard Swift. A prolific producer and sideman—known for his work with Damien Jurado, the Shins, the Black Keys/Dan Auerbach, Laetitia Sadier, Foxygen, David Bazan, the Pretenders, Starflyer 59, Kevin Morby, and countless more—Swift also proved himself one of the most idiosyncratic voices in indie rock on his own solo LPs. Recorded at the beginning of the month, just after the news had broken, the talk focuses on his legacy, history, of course, his songs.

Last year, Los Angeles-based label Light in the Attic issued the first installment in its sprawling Japan Archive series, Even a Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973. “In compiling these artists, the compilation shares the output of a national scene and time, as well as the struggles and triumphs of a generation that forged its own identity and opened their collective minds, and culture, to new forms of expression,” wrote our own Ben Kramer, reviewing the set. The compilation signaled the start of an ambitious project spanning the music of Japan, featuring everything from Japanese rock & roll to new age. For this episode of the podcast, Justin sat down with producer Yosuke Kitazawa to discuss what’s to come.

Early in July, word broke that Richard Swift had passed. A beloved musician and artist, Swift’s history with Aquarium Drunkard is extensive. In addition to posting his collection of covers with Damien Jurado, Other People’s Songs, here on the site, Swift was responsible for one of our all-time favorite mixes, Playing Dumb, sourced from 45s at his National Freedom studios. Swift was an American original, and we’re deeply saddened by his loss. On the off-chance you’re unfamiliar, we put together a playlist featuring some of our favorite cuts from his solo work, Richard Swift: Try To Write a Book Each Time I Speak. In addition to this talk, it’s our tribute to Swift. Godspeed, Dickie.

Author Jason Heller exists with one foot in science fiction, one in the world of music. In his new book, Strange Stars: David Bowie, Pop Music, and the Decade Sci-Fi Exploded, he unites them. Focusing on the 1970s and featuring a wide cast of characters including David Bowie, Samuel Delany, Sun Ra, George Clinton, Hawkwind, Michael Moorcock, Michael Jackson, and dozens and dozens more, the book posits that science fiction helped give musicians a framework for some of their most forward ideas. The stars looked very different, and the continue to shine in fascinating ways.

If you enjoyed our show, please feel free rate and review on Apple Podcasts. Even better? You can personally tell a friend to check it out — by sharing the show via Spotify, Stitcher, MixCloud, or the TuneIn app. As always, tune into the weekly two-hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, which can now be heard every Wednesday at 7pm PST with encore broadcasts on-demand via the SIRIUS/XM app. Follow AD on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Collage image by Michael J. Hentz.

Dig into the podcast archives, which include in-depth looks at the Voyager Golden Record and the Jesus People psychedelia movement, Laraaji’s new age public access show Celestrana, how Numero Group revitalized the natural sound series Environments for the app age, and how Art Bell’s late night conspiracy theories on Coast to Coast AM influenced broadcasters all over the world.

We’ve recently resurrected the bi-monthly Aquarium Drunkard email newsletter. Every two weeks, get interviews, mixtapes, cultural ephemera, and more delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up to receive it, here.

Direct download: Yosuke_Kitazawa___Remembering_Richard_Swift___Strange_Stars.mp3
Category:Music -- posted at: 3:10pm PDT

And we’re back. Welcome to the June edition of the Aquarium Drunkard Transmissions podcast, our monthly series of features, interviews, and audio esoterica. This month, we have two in-depth conversations. Up first, Jim James of My Morning Jacket and singer/songwriter Cornelia Murr. They’ve both got new records at the ready. On June 29, James releases Uniform Distortion, a collection of celebratory and clamorous rock & roll jams, via ATO Records. And on July 13th, Murr releases Lake Tear of the Clouds, a spooky set of songs produced by James, featuring guest vocals from Lola Kirke of Mozart in the Jungle and a stunning cover of Yoko Ono’s feminist anthem “I Have a Woman Inside My Soul.” Though the records sound vastly different, they also feel connected and of a piece. Together, the two had fascinating insights about the worlds of social media, David Lynch, and the act of creating — and sustaining — the proper mood on a long-player record.

Then, painter and photographer Robbie Simon. Our conversation was recorded live at Gold Diggers in East Hollywood as part of our new monthly series of conversations there called Talk Show, centered around the worlds of music, art, film and beyond. You’ve likely seen Simon’s work with the former Transmissions guests the Allah-Las, and their Reverberation Radio series. His images are bold — referencing the geometric shapes of Alexander Calder — but soft too, evocative of ‘60s West Coast pop art and jazz album illustrations.

“Music has been my gateway to everything. Playing music, I did every poster, every record, everything I could possibly do for the bands I was in, my friend’s bands…that was always the most creative and interested I could be for myself.”

“I develope work singularly and decide if it should be a painting or a design. It’s not an exact process…I do 30 versions of every piece, in every color possible…it’s just this really tangible piece of work that can go in any direction.”

If you enjoyed our show, please feel free rate and review on Apple Podcasts. Even better? You can personally tell a friend to check it out — by sharing the show via Spotify, Stitcher, MixCloud, or the TuneIn app. As always, tune into the weekly two-hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, which can now be heard every Wednesday at 7pm PST with encore broadcasts on-demand via the SIRIUS/XM app. Follow AD on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Collage image by Michael J. Hentz; design by D Norsen

Dig into the podcast archives, which include in-depth looks at the Voyager Golden Record and the Jesus People psychedelia movement, Laraaji’s new age public access show Celestrana, how Numero Group revitalized the natural sound series Environments for the app age, and how Art Bell’s late night conspiracy theories on Coast to Coast AM influenced broadcasters all over the world.

We’ve recently resurrected the bi-monthly Aquarium Drunkard email newsletter. Every two weeks, get audio esoterica, interviews, mixtapes, cultural ephemera, and more delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up to receive it, here.

Direct download: Transmissions_Podcast____Jim_James___Cornelia_Murr___Robbie_Simon.mp3
Category:Music -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

And we’re back. Welcome to the May edition of the Aquarium Drunkard Transmissions podcast, our recurring series of conversations and audio esoterica. On this program, we’re joined by singer/songwriter Gillian Welch. Along with her partner David Rawlings, Welch has tapped into the wellspring of American vernacular music. Her albums — including 2001’s Time (The Revelator) and 2011’s The Harrow & the Harvest — are part of one of the strongest bodies of work in modern folk music. Welch is about to hit the road with Rawlings, embarking on a series of “An Evening With” dates June through October, and this summer sees the vinyl reissue of her 2003 LP Soul Journey. We spoke to Welch via phone about her attention to the long player, album-length statement.

Then, we have a review of the release by the Shinya Fukumori Trio, For 2 Akis by writer and head of Footfalls Records Leah Toth; released by the stalwart ECM label, the new release unites players from France, Germany, and Japan for a quiet, but subtly immersive new album, produced by ECM head Manfred Eicher.

And we close out this month’s episode with a conversation recorded live backstage with Marisa Anderson. She’s one of the most engaging solo guitarists in the field today, blending blues, folk, and country forms into political and personal statements. On June 15, she releases her debut for Thrill Jockey Records, Cloud Corner. A meditative and peaceful record, the record serves as a respite from the constant noise of our modern times. We spoke with Anderson about the need for those kinds of musical spaces, the influence of science fiction on her work, and her subversive reinterpretation of traditional and public domain music.


 

Welcome to the April edition of the Aquarium Drunkard podcast, coming in from West of the Rockies. On this program, we explore the late night radio theater of the late Art Bell. The Coast to Coast AM host passed away on Friday, April 13th, and we’ve spent the days since exploring his classic archives. Aquarium Drunkard founder Justin Gage and co-host Jason P. Woodbury sat down to reflect on Bell’s singular voice, dedication to chronicling the unknown, and status as a purveyor of genuine American weirdness.

Also on the show, guitarist Nels Cline joins us to discuss his new quartet, the Nels Cline 4, and “Imperfect 10” from the combo’s new Blue Note Records LP, Currents, Constellations. Maybe you know his playing with Wilco, but here he focuses on the notion of “jazz fusion,” which he’s been exploring since the late ‘80s.

And we begin the podcast with a discussion with Jaime Fennelly of Mind Over Mirrors. The synthesist and composer just released a masterpiece called Bellowing Sun. It’s cosmic in scope but rooted in the earthy reflections of naturalist writers like Henry Beston, whose 1928 book, The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod, served as a guidepost for the new album. Earlier this month, the album debuted alongside a multi-media installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago featuring a light sculpture modeled after an enormous drum. The suggestions — of biorhythms and universal patterns — are in keeping with Mind Over Mirrors’ space-folk.

Though Mind Over Mirrors began as a solo project, it’s very much a group effort now, featuring Janet Bean of Freakwater and Eleventh Dream Day, Jon Mueller of Volcano Choir, and Jim Becker of Califone. The band’s latest, Bellowing Sun, arrives in conjunction with a multi-media installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago featuring an ambitious light sculpture. One of the marvelous things about Mind Over Mirrors is the way the group’s music feels both spacey and earthy. On the new album, which is at turns ecstatic, spooky, and revelatory, Fennelly and company the band maximize that ability, putting the idea of our planet as a cosmic vehicle into context.

“I think about [the cosmos] in relation to my own music as being otherworldly, but I also think of it as being grounded, in the way that the Earth is cosmic,” Fennelly says. “It’s not just about the area beyond us or outside of us, in kind of an exploratory sense as well.”

On his new album with the Nels Cline 4, Currents, Constellations, guitarist and composer Nels Cline reigns in the conceptual mood music of his previous Blue Note Records release, Lovers, in favor of tight, spiky interplay with guitarist Julian Lage, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Tom Rainey. It’s a record fueled by Cline’s energy, incorporating avant-garde, rock, and blues influences. It is, for lack of a better term, jazz fusion music, which explains why Cline’s initial title for “Imperfect 10” was “Jazz Fusion Composition.”

“I definitely chose that term to bother people, particularly people who think they’re cooler than ‘jazz fusion,'” Cline says. “Basically, it’s a meaningless term. It’s a combination of basically whatever. It doesn’t have to mean a combination of jazz and rock and classical and funk…it doesn’t mean the same thing from one person to another, and that’s why it’s a fun word to use. It’s basically a meaningless word that bothers people, which I find linguistically fascinating, but it also, stylistically, does kind of define me.”

If you’ve ever been the sort of person content to sit around the radio late at night or scan the airwaves on a long drive through the middle of nowhere, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced the strange radio theater of Art Bell’s Coast to Coast AM. Since Bell passed away earlier this month and since his passing, we’ve been tuned into his archives. Here, we reflect on the impact and legacy of Bell’s pioneering program.

Coast to Coast AM felt like this secret handshake between people,” AD’s Justin Gage says. “Not unlike when you find a record or something that means a lot to you, that might be a little esoteric or obscure. Coast to Coast AM definitely kind of felt like that in the late ’90s, early 2000s.”

Thanks for listening to the Transmissions podcast. Support by subscribing to the Aquarium Drunkard podcast on Apple Podcasts,  Spotify, Stitcher, Mixcloud, Tune In, or via the RSS feed. Please rate and review the show, or even better, share it directly with friends.

Collage image by Michael J. Hentz.

Dig into the podcast archives, which include interviews with Laraaji, Tim Heidecker, Eileen Myles, Daniel Lanois, Hiss Golden Messenger, Ryley Walker, Eleanor Friedberger, Idris Ackamoor, and many more.

Direct download: Mind_Over_Mirrors___Art_Bell___The_Nels_Cline_4.mp3
Category:Music -- posted at: 9:14pm PDT

Welcome to the March installment of Aquarium Drunkard’s recurring Transmissions podcast, a series of interviews and audio esoterica. This month, we’re centering in on a sense of place. First, we sit down with author and musician Ryan H. Walsh to discuss his new book, Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968. In ’68, Boston was roiling with counter-culture activity. Occult circles were thriving; the underground press was emerging; the Velvet Underground, on loan from New York, was playing transcendent sets at the Boston Tea Party. And through it all, Irish R&B singer Van Morrison was quietly — and often not so quietly — tapping into the vibes that would help birth his soul-folk masterpiece, Astral Weeks. Walsh, best known for his work with the indie rock outfit Hallelujah the Hills, details it all in his personal and poetic new book.

Next, guitarist and writer William Tyler sits down with Douglas Mcgowan of Yoga Records and Numero Group to discuss the process of turning the pioneering vinyl soundscapes series Environments into a functional, immersive app for iOS devices. Designed with relaxation and contemplation in mind — to aurally transport listeners to settings of tranquility — the app recontextualizes sound recordist Irv Teibel’s original aim of providing calm and peace in a noisy world, redefining the notions of a “reissue” in the process.

And finally, we close out the show with a look at our Abstract Truths: An Evolving Jazz Compendium mixtape series, which offers jazz collectors and thinkers a platform for exploring what jazz means in 2018, examining its past, untold stories, modern resonance. Where is jazz going? And what unique role does Los Angeles play in its future?


Welcome to the February installment of Aquarium Drunkard’s recurring Transmissions podcast, a series of interviews and audio esoterica from Aquarium Drunkard. Welcome to the February edition of Aquarium Drunkard’s recurring Transmissions podcast — just under the wire. We’ve got an introspective episode this week. First, we sit down with Kayla Cohen of Itasca, to discuss her new mini-album, Morning Flower. It’s a collaboration with writer and artist Gunnar Tchida, and it focuses especially on Cohen’s lyrical guitar work. Which makes sense: in April, Cohen plays the Thousand Incarnations of the Rose festival, a celebration of the American primitive guitar tradition. I asked Cohen how she made her way into solo guitar music, and explored how the music of Robbie Basho, whose composition the festival is named for as well as a forthcoming compilation via Craft Recordings.

Then, we have a series of poems from Maggie Smith. You might have come across her poem “Good Bones,” for which her latest book is named, but there’s a lot more to her work than that. For the Transmissions podcast, Smith’s reading are paired with instrumental recordings from Jerry David DeCicca’s new album of spacey Texan folk, Time the Teacher. It’s an album that “feels true,” Smith says in her accompanying notes, so it was a pleasure of ours to combine the truth of Smith’s words with the truth of DeCicca and his band’s sounds.

Finally, we close out the show with words from new age/cosmic composer Laraaji, discussing Celestrana, his mid-80s experiment in public access television. Part meditation, part surreal comedy routine, and part ecstatic vision, the show introduced Laraaji to a whole new audience of viewers, many of whom weren’t even aware of his work with Brian Eno or albums like the recently reissued Vision Songs. Select episodes of Celestrana are streaming now on Numero Group’s YouTube channel; Laraaji was kind enough to pull back the curtain with us and explain how he found himself in front of the camera…with puppets.


Aquarium Drunkard Transmissions 1_2018

Welcome to the January installment of Aquarium Drunkard’s recurring Transmissions podcast, a series of interviews and audio esoterica from Aquarium Drunkard. For our first episode of 2018, we explore three unique stories. First, we dive into the story of Ozma Records’ new reissue of the Voyager Golden Record. Launched into outer space in 1977 onboard the Voyager space probes, the Golden Record was a sort of cosmic mixtape, designed by a team led by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan as a representation of life, arts, and culture on Earth. We spoke to co-producer David Pescovitz of Boing Boing from his office at the Institute For the Future about how this new reissue allows us to more fully understand the scope of the Golden Record —and what it has to say to listeners today.

Then, we sit down with comedian, writer, and musician Tim Heidecker. Best know for his work on Tim and Eric Awesome Show — Great Job, Decker, and films like The Comedy, Heidecker is an extraordinarily busy guy: he recently finished The Trial of Tim Heidecker, a part of his meta-comedy saga On Cinema with Gregg Turkington — AKA Neil Hamburger. He’s also got a recent album out, Too Dumb for Suicide, a collection of songs about the president. We dive into his strange, sometimes confusing world.

And finally, we close out the show by shining a light on some of our favorite mixtapes from the Aquarium Drunkard archives, The End is at Hand collections, a four-volume series of super-obscure, often private press, outsider psychedelic guitar and folk music from the ‘60s and ‘70s centered around the Jesus People Movement. We’re joined by BlackForrestry — Josh Swartwood and Doug Cooper — who put these mixes together, to investigate the roots and feral faith of these “Jesus Freaks,” whose apocalyptic visions shimmer throughout these mixtapes — and whose faith still speaks to Josh and Doug.

Direct download: Voyager_Golden_Record_Tim_Heidecker_Jesus_People_Music.mp3
Category:Music -- posted at: 4:50pm PDT

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