Friday, March 1, 2024 
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Editor's note: We have activated the Neumu 44.1 kHz Archive. Use the link at the bottom of this list to access hundreds of Neumu reviews.

+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
+ Wilderness - Vessel States

44.1 kHz Archive

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One Little Indian/Universal

People are always keen to pronounce some aspect of music dead. In pseudo-coroner status, folks have claimed that rock is dead, vinyl is dead.... More recently, the single has been described as close to registering no pulse. Single sales have moved downward, and in Australia (although single sales actually ascended slightly), there's been talk of binning the concept of singles charts. So instead of having the number one song in the country determined by record sales, airplay charts would become the prime indicator of what was popular — which is an irksome concept on several levels. As Sydney Morning Herald music writer Jon Casimir pointed out, airplay is determined by what's on a radio station playlist, which is ultimately shaped by a particular station's agendas. A dance station ain't gonna play goatee rock, and vice versa. Given how homogenous and bland most radio stations are, an airplay chart would be self-fulfilling and undemocratic. Not that the Top 40 is a musical oasis either, but it does enable some level (however slight, and however consumerist) of listener participation and word of mouth. And besides, without singles, what other item can you add to your record-store shopping basket when you're a teen with a handful of pocket-money pennies or retail-slavery notes (besides the CD wet wipes, that is)?

Being a penniless recordstorephilic high-schooler meant one thing for me: forensic singles-rack browsing and the sort of discerning decision-making people don't even enter into when casting votes at a Federal Election. Did one chance it on the unknown B-sides (could be flaky outtakes, could be over-ambitious silliness) or go for the safe route of live versions of familiar songs? Sometimes you were only offered a Muzak-style "karaoke" version of a hit single. Or you could play remix roulette and hope one of the four B-side single remixes wasn't just overdone with a bullying disco beat. Or denuded of all the aspects of the song that you actually liked in the first place and replaced with some vague assortment of hi-tech stainless-steel coldness.

And then there was the extreme fandom aspect of this, where singles are snatched up, sans analytical breakdown of the set lists, because this is your favorite band, and anything they release is a mandatory purchase (even if you already have the albums the single is off. Even if you have to get the single carted in from Germany). So, this is why I reckon singles need to stay put. There's the fan aspect. And on the other hand, there's the taste test aspect. And there's the distinct thrill of discovering some lesser-known songs that are just brilliant; of satiating that craving when an artist is between albums; of knowing that — even in their spotlight-reduced moments, even when it's not asked of them — an artist you love can still create something brilliant.

And so we come to Björk's "Cocoon," the latest single from last year's insular and scintillating Vespertine. While Björk doesn't make my "lose brain and spend money on getting single in from Germany" list, I knew I had to get this release when a review in the local broadsheet concluded that "Cocoon," in all its parts, was the reason why people should buy singles. The title track has a stunning vulnerability: Björk's intimacy is touchingly simple and upfront, and thus utterly emotion-seizing; and the programming is both glacial and warm, evoking a snowblowing softness. The B-sides are derived from Vespertine, albeit touched up, refashioned and rendered anew. Track 2 is a "music box" version of "Pagan Poetry," and is accordingly brimming with keening rhythms. The "music box" element of the song is probably more recognizable than the "Pagan Poetry" part, but it nevertheless twinkles nicely, and retains the organic, inventive and introspective feel of Vespertine. The same too can be said about Track 3, which is "Sun in My Mouth (recomposed by ensemble)." This version stirs a new life into the Vespertine track, with the more pronounced string sampling, and prismatic tremors giving the song a variegated shimmer. To quote Björk on the title track, it's "gorgeousness."

by Lee Tran Lam

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