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Rum Music

Rum Music For July Reviewed By Jennifer Lucy Allan
Jennifer Lucy Allan , July 28th, 2020 08:01

Jennifer Lucy Allan encounters free flowing Chilean psych, Sufi flamenco and lo-fi sound poetry during this month's trip into The Zone

I was going to ask for a holiday from Rum Music. July is a month I listen idly, to radios playing in the background, to whatever is outside, and to lazy Sunday morning records like Brian Ferry and Keith Hudson. However, lately the ice-cream van has been parking outside my house with 'Teddy Bear's Picnic' turned up to 11, and in my garden the sparrows are accompanied by the neighbours huffing balloons to Elton John.

With sounds like this – not helped by having to defend the existence of a lovely tree to an extremely agitated Mrs Astro Turf next door – the highways and byways of The Zone offer a respite from the aggy cacophony of this small flat and blessed garden. New things have lifted me from feeling spent and strung out.

This month I went back to a release that had dropped in my inbox and lain unlistened to for weeks, like about 400 other new releases. From this one Chilean psych record a whole series of discoveries fell out in front of me, like one of those fold-out travelling salesman stalls, but on YouTube. The theme of this month's column, if there is one, is the rewriting of regional specificity. Or perhaps it is the revolutionary spirit. It could be the power of spoken word to soothe and excite. Whatever it is, one thing I am sure of, Rum Music never sleeps.

One last thing – I've made a foghorn documentary with Reduced Listening for BBC Radio 4, airing today (28 July) at 11:30am. Tune in!

Aziz Balouch – Sufi Hispano​-​Pakistani
(Death Is Not The End)

Sometimes a record starts, and the world stops. This is one of those. My language and musicology chops do not stretch to understanding exactly how Pakistani born Aziz Balouch fused Sufism and flamenco in early 1960s Spain, but I don't need to and neither do you – the songs on here are like nothing I have ever heard before. He merges Sufi poetry in Persian, Sindhi, Hindi and Arabic with various forms of Andalusian song in Spanish. It's absolutely astonishing – lyrical and exposed, like flayed skin and wrought iron.

Los Jaivas – El Volantín
(Transamericas)

While Aziz Balouch knocked me for six, its emotional intensity means I couldn't just, you know, have it on while doing stuff. The album I have been grinding the bitrate down to, is this reissue of the debut 1971 album by Chilean folk/psych/rock band Los Jaivas. They're now a well-known rock band in Chile, and still tour, but this is their first record – a revolutionary album of traditional South American instruments (like the trutruca trumpet) with guitars, drums, vocals. Each song feels like a suite, from the raw piano and traditional singing on foot-stomping opener 'Cacho' to the ringing of church bells on 'Foto de Primera Comunion'. 'Tamborcito De Milagro' is deep South American psychedelia; 'Foto de Primera Comunion' is even deeper, with a sort of trippy texture I associate with Lula Cortes from the other side of the continent. Progarchives.com says it is "good, but not essential", and they're completely and utterly wrong. This is completely essential.

Marcia Bassett – Two Butterflies
(Yew Recordings)

DIY underground sounds, looped clangs and hums, and field recordings of subway tunnels, all with a gorgeously weathered patina. These four track recordings were made 19 years ago, rediscovered by Marcia Bassett while in lockdown, and released on her own Yew Recordings. "So Many Stars" hits all my buttons – rough multi-tonal drones that might come from strings or Shruti box (or something else) all lit up with the stridulations of night-time insects. It's the sort of track I'm always looking for but never have quite the right key words to find.

Azu Tiwaline – Magnetic Service E​P
(Livity Sound)

Every time I listen to this I hear it differently. At some points its stripped back productions have come on really boingy and bright, like fresh paint on plywood. At others it's a darker, heads-down shuffle. I have a soft spot for minimal productions like this, and I love the watery sounds holding 'Terremer' together. The last few months I've made sure there's a £4 bargain banger in Rum Music, and this month Azu Tiwaline gets the top spot.

Molero – Ficciones Del Trópico
(Holuzam)

New one on Príncipe's sibling label Holuzam that has that starry executive prog feel to it – a sort of latter-era Tangerine Dream-lite. It also pokes at some sensitive ideas. Molero is Alexander Molero, originally from Maracaibo, Venezuela, now living in Barcelona, and this album is about Western Europe's exoticisation of his home country, conjuring slick, synthesised tropical worlds – an insider stepping outside.

Hanne Lippard – Work
(Collapsing Market)

Crisp spoken works by artist Hanne Lippard. It's pleasing to hear something that is clearly a contemporary entry in the lineage of sound poetry in its flicks and turns with language, which doesn't fall back on the usual linguistic obfuscations and the endless ontologies of art writing. These word games two-step between sound and language, like mental flip-books of words and meaning. It is bold – not it its subjects but in its straightforward, unencumbered delivery, cleanly and crisply recorded, and never leaning on any drones or ambient sound, bar a bit of Spanish guitar in the final track.

Various – New Tulips
(Regional Bears)

Regional Bears is a prolific UK tape label that manages to get its cassettes out in triplets, a level of productivity that makes me feel sick, given I've taken a year to release not even one. Its latest batch is a compilation of vocal and sound art work from a collection of underground folk (Possett, Adam Bohman, Small Cruel Party). Sounds like: lo-fi guttural exclamations, mastication and glottal stops, shushing voices, the occasional clacking mandible, and wibbling tape pieces. If discomfort and close mic'd DIY sound experiments are your thing, sink this like you would a delicious pint on a hot day, if you can remember that far back.

AOB

I would've raved about the new Heather Leigh album, but Luke Turner already did. The Subject / The Object by Leo Chadburn Leo Chadburn's first solo work in five years is great – he has a lovely voice and these pieces are like watching the sea.

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