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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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Human Is Music

The insane volume of records — and good records — currently being released means that so much amazing music is bound to slip between the cracks. And, when cultural difficulties are inherent in having music made difficult to discover, there's no surprise at all that so many genius discs remain shrouded in an obscurity that they don't deserve. It's no surprise that Japan, consumerist wonderland, is still a rich source of stellar audio waiting to be mined by outsiders. Whilst there's been a steady stream of notable names finding fame outside of Japan (Cornelius the obvious poster-boy), and a whole community of extreme outsiders from that PSF/Alchemy-centered psychedelic underground who've long been celebrated by, well, The Wire readers, basically, there are still scores of untapped scenes of which even the most discerning listener might remain unaware.

Majikick, a Tokyo-based enclave notable mostly for its connections to the world of Maher Shalal Hash Baz, is one such self-contained "scene," its small community of creative types running deep enough, now, that there are blossoming branches shooting off from the main family tree. Cacoy is a smaller, on-the-side outfit featuring Saya and Ueno, both members of melancholy pop-combo Tenniscoats, a band whose dreamy tunes and beautiful bashfulness fit in very much with the "handmade" aesthetic of The Pastels' Geographic imprint (the label largely responsible for introducing both Maher Shalal Hash Baz and Nagisa Ni Te to Western ears). Ueno also plays in ad-hoc big-band Puka Puka Brains, and is intermittently included in MHSB's revolving orchestra of players. Cacoy could be described, in pat terms, as their "electronic side project," but such a prosaic descriptive seems almost dismissive when you compare it to the musical wonder they conjure on Human Is Music.

Combining with DJ Klock, the set sets up simple, elegant electronic rhythms and then builds them into endearing tunes whose rhythmic simplicity serves to focus on the inherent melody of the songs. This comes not just through twittering flitters of abstract programming, rich keytones, and dangling guitars, all of which grace the disc, but in tuned percussion, soprano saxophone, and Saya's sweet singing. In its two most melodic songs — "Piracle Pa," and the disc's single "Mural of Music," neither of which can really be called "pop" at their seven- and nine-minute run-times — they bring all this together in charmed fashion, fashioning highly-rhythmic numbers which could easily earn a place amongst that pantheon of folk — Barbara Morgenstern, Dntel, Juana Molina — cultivating sentimental songs on the electro underground's more friendly fringes. Another striking moment is "Melodies," where Klock's influence comes to the fore through the tune's beat-looped backbeat, though this hip-hop-ish rhythm is matched with randomly-generated electronic sounds and multi-tracked harmonies of soprano sax.

Elsewhere, well, perhaps the side-project vibe reigns, with excursions into garbled electronics or simple soprano-saxophone riffs riffing on random sketches that don't seem quite in league with the rest of proceedings; and the beautiful closer "Cool Spring Minister," with its dangling acoustic guitar figures and glowing melodica, seems to be a refugee from a wholly different disc. But, for the most part, Cacoy's excursions into electronic sounds are careful concoctions of the abstract and the tuneful, their fabulously human music music that could, if given the opportunity, endear them to a sizeable smattering of underground hipsters the globe over.

by Anthony Carew

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