from Sivan Silver-Swartz, co-vinyl director:
James Siegfried is better known as James Chance or James White–one of the seminal figures of late-70s/early-80s New York No Wave, along with people like Lydia Lunch and Arto Lindsay. In the early days, he had two groups and personas going on–James Chance & the Contortions and James White & the Blacks. Both were bizarre amalgams of free jazz and R&B, the former a little more funkier, the latter a bit more disco. And so, we found ourselves with a great vault find, the 1982 album from the White & Black side of things called “Sax Maniac.” “James White & the Blacks,” “Sax Maniac,” songs with titles like “Sax Machine” and “Irresistible Impulse”–too good to be true, right? It features, rather than a bunch of No Wave people, some actual R&B session musicians and singers of the time. Compared to his earlier work, it’s a bit less wild, a bit less disorienting, a bit less rough. But don’t worry, it’s still revolutionary and transgressive and all of that good stuff.
from Ryan Jennings, workgroup member:
I found the first four Robbie Basho records in the vault yesterday at vinyl workgroup. It’s sweet to imagine WOBC being sent the records upon release, but who knows how all four stayed intact since they’re pretty rare and expensive on e-bay. Robbie Basho was a cool dude on John Fahey’s Takoma Records, and he and Fahey went to college together (wow, just like us!) And the record’s mostly 12-string solo guitar American Primitivism and, like, folk music I guess, but he studied with Ali Akbar Khan, the #1 sarod master of the world, and changed his name in honor of the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho. He sings on a lot too, but my favorite Basho record, “Falconer’s Arm I,” which is in the vault right now, is a masterpiece and completely instrumental. A very detailed and coherent record, each song represents a unique and beautiful story. “Babs” is a favorite track but I seriously recommend everyone to check out this haunting album on par with any Fahey and more accessible than a long winded raga!
Basho died in a freak chiropractic accident in the 80s.
from Olivia Simuoli, workgroup member:
This semester, I found in the vaults German progressive and space rock group Nektar’s concept album, “Remember the Future.” Recorded in 1973, the album features one song divided into two parts and tells the tale of the evolution of man through the eyes of a bird. The story begins with life originating in the sea and touches on other major milestones, such as man’s discovery of fire and invention of the wheel. The climax of the album occurs when mankind starts to wonder whether he is alone in the world or if there is some “Supreme Being” out there as well. Despite what may seem to be clichéd and at times bizarre subject matter, the album on the whole is pretty unique and interesting and has a good space rock feel with some nice funk undertones.