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+ 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

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Kahimi Karie

Kahimi Karie started out life, pop-culturally speaking, as ingenue, and so it's been no surprise that she's been sold, throughout her glittering and ever-growing discography, as some sort of ultra-cutesy Kewpie doll, an annexation of the old-fashioned sexual politics that still reign throughout Japan and throughout the music biz itself. She being merely the one looking pretty whilst doing the breathy cooing over songs served up to her on a silver platter by the intellectualist men — Cornelius, Momus — doing all the legwork, their work some sort of public display of their love for her. Of course, it's hard to say such with too stern a face, given glittering histories of such unsurpassed unions as Shadow Morton and The Shangri-las, and Phil Spector and The Ronettes; but it's no coincidence that Trapèziste — Karie's first album where she's been in artistic command — has seemed to end up as her least-celebrated record thus far, receiving scant attention from those pop-devotees outside of Japan who've usually fussed over her stuff. Which seems strange, to these ears, given that this gear is grand and vast and weird and utterly fearless in chasing its idiosyncrasies, swinging for the artistic bleachers as Karie's trapèziste swings higher and higher, close to the glittering stars, tumbling high into the night without the regular safety-net of having, say, Momus waiting open-armed below, with his assuredness and typical conceptual grandiloquence. This time, it's Karie handling conceptual duties, and the album — with the help of studio collagists Koki Takai and Tomoki Kanda — is like a series of disparate desires and fragmented fragments smoothed into one magnificent whole, a sprawling masterpiece of thoughts drawn tightly together, delivered with a slick veneer of production and packaging that translates off-kilter ideas into grand-scale spectacle. The album often plays out like a stage show — brightly-lit, carefully orchestrated, harking back to times when public performance lifted the public's spirits — that stages its disparate song-to-song scenes like chapters of a story. Of course, rarely would a song-and-dance delivery get as strange as things do here, with Takai and Kanda's detail-centric efforts of cutting-and-pasting drawing together all manner of amusical sounds that litter the disc. A definite sense of studio-assemblage goes against the idea that this could be played in the pit on the night by an orchestra/arkestra. The running, indeed, flips from spoken-word dream sequences, to sophisticated summery-electro-pop bathed in radio static, to Areski/Brigitte Fontaine/Art Ensemble of Chicago-styled free-jazz blow-outs (one growing out of the noise of a milling crowd, and met by staged applause), to a peculiar take on the iconic "Habanera" sequence from Bizet's Carmen, to a number whose swing-era jazz band gets cut up into attenuated soundtracks — for burlesque dancers, circus clowns, performing elephants — whose stops and starts are spliced together in unnerving fashion. Thematically, this all gets tied up in the album's title track, in which Karie, singing in French, plays a Parisienne trapèziste who is persecuted by fellow performers because of her black bloodlines; this story plays out whilst blasts of blood-lipped horn honk squeal in squalls calling for her mulatto hide, only for each call to be drowned out into a droning sea of belligerent brass that seethes below whilst the trapèziste hurls through the air in flights of free-jazz freedom. This whole record is blessed with the same sense of graceful motion, it being the masterful product of an artistry in Kahimi Karie that has long laid dormant.

by Anthony Carew

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