The Week's Mixtape — Wadada Leo Smith/Henry Kaiser/Alex Varty, Kee Avil, EXEK, Kramer, Kreidler

Good afternoon,

Looking ahead at 2022. Here's some music I enjoyed this week. 


Wadada Leo Smith, Henry Kaiser, Alex Varty: "Pacifica Koral Reef (preview)"
(via 577 Records)

Bandcamp —

577 Records —

Via 577 Records:

"I’m supposed to be writing about Pacifica Koral Reef, this record that I’ve made with my friend Henry Kaiser and his friend Wadada Leo Smith. And while the music it contains is, for me, a miraculous late-career achievement after 50 years of mostly playing in alternative rock bands, writing about it is a downright odd thing to have to do. In my parallel life as an arts journalist, I’ve interviewed everyone from Ornette Coleman to John Cage to Robert Plant but I’ve rarely had to write about myself, and I much prefer it that way. Fighting against my natural tendency towards self-effacement is the fact that Pacifica Koral Reef is more than just a record. Yes, everybody says this about their latest slab of black plastic or their shiny new optical disc, but this time it’s true.

Everybody says this, too, but wait.

The multidimensional experience that is
Pacifica Koral Reef began life in trumpet player and composer Smith’s prodigious imagination, and then found a home on a single sheet of paper, inscribed with sinuous lines, bright blocks of spring green and earthy ochre, radiant pools of blue, circuit-board computations, and ancient glyphs.

You could call it a painting. The University of Chicago’s Renaissance Society, which hosted an exhibition of Smith’s graphic scores in 2015, probably would.

It’s also a portal, as Kaiser and I found when we began, with Smith’s inspiration and help, to translate it into sound. Over the course of several recording sessions, made next door to a sumptuous collection of vintage ukuleles and utilizing an array of microphones made of purest Soviet unobtanium, we were transported to locales as dramatically different as a steamy Chicago nightclub, a Third Stream concert hall, the crystalline world under the Antarctic ice, and a lonely Scottish moor (with hints of a lost tanpura droning in the distance).

Tracking the
Pacifica Koral Reef score took us out of familiar habits and into new terrain. It sparked music that will never be duplicated, because if we tried we’d of necessity be expressing a different moment, a different feeling. And it strengthened preexisting bonds of friendship and respect. I met Kaiser in 1978, after seeing a poster advertising a concert of “weird guitar music”, and Smith perhaps a year after that, when he led a workshop for improvisers in Vancouver. Meanwhile, Henry has collaborated with Leo on a number of projects, most notably three 2-CD sets and two single album releases with their Yo Miles! band. Henry, who has known Leo since 1976, tells me that he thinks of Wadada as the favorite and wise uncle that he never had in his own family.
All of these visions, connections, and relationships are realized through the score. The music is improvised and ephemeral; the effect is intentional, replicable, and lasting.
That’s the beauty of Smith’s Ankhrasmation system, which combination of visual stimulation, musical notation, and social philosophy that prompts intuition, imagination, and cooperation.

“Ankhrasmation is a musical language, as opposed to a musical notation system,” Leo told music journalist Frank J. Oteri in 2011. “The first part, Ankh, comes from the Egyptian cross. Ras comes from the Ethiopian ‘head’, meaning the leader. And Ma comes from ‘mother’….It could be referenced scientifically, according to nature or biology, or it can be referenced according to fantasy, imagination. The only requirement is that the artists that are performing it maintain a high level of sincerity. That’s all it requires.”

I might argue that Ankhrasmation scores also ask their interpreters to be conscious of the values of “colour, velocity, [and] rhythm”. And when, more recently, I asked Leo if he envisioned Ankhrasmation as a way of integrating the eyes, the ears, and the hands of an improviser, or a group of improvisers, he agreed—but gently reminded me that I’d left out another important dimension: “the heart”.

I can’t speak to the heart that Henry brought to this project, although it’s plainly audible here, and he deserves full production credit for guiding Pacifica Koral Reef from improbable notion to elegant product. I won’t say much about my own heart, beyond noting that when we entered the studio I’d just had it broken, and you can probably hear this in the bagpipe-raga lament that I play on open-tuned acoustic guitar to kick off the record. But Wadada likes to speak about how his heart, his system, and his music are all connected to the need to not only survive, but thrive under injustice.

Obviously he’s talking about the African American experience in the United States—and more. With “African-American culture, the First People in North and Central and South America, the Jewish culture coming out of Asia,” he says, “all these things set in motion to wipe us out, they created something inside of us, all of us, that would not allow that to happen….So inside of that collective consciousness is this will to survive and to prosper. That’s the word I like to use. And when we look at African Americans, having people in business and in politics and in writing and literature and all these other dynamics of artistic and cultural activity achieve the highest level is just magnificent.”

Having been a diver much longer than he has been a musician, Henry is especially aware of the destructive effect of climate change on the coral reef systems that are an essential part of Gaea, the living earth. His many deployments to Antarctica as a working scientific diver for the past 20 years have made him an expert witness to the heartbreaking changes that are happening and accelerating right now. His guitar here reaches with from under-the-polar-ice inspired rhythms and narratives to intertwine with our collective concern for the earth and its elaborately interconnected web of inhabitants.

Snorkelling in the Pacific Northwest’s Salish Sea is a daily part of my own summertime routine. Like participating in collective improvisation, it gives me a sense of being part of a larger whole and an awareness that strange beauties await us just below every surface—along with the presence of risk, and evidence of life’s fragility.

Wadada brings the magnificent courage of his ancestors to this music. Henry is darting and provocative and deep into the practice of listening. Me, I’m just glad to be a part of the team, and I hope Pacifica Koral Reef brings light, warmth, and otherworldly pleasure to all those who hear it.”

- Alexander Varty


Kee Avil: "See My Shadow"
(via Rarely Unable / Constellation)

Website —

Via Rarely Unable:



Constellation is honoured to welcome Montréal producer Kee Avil to the label. Her hybrid songcraft of postpunk, electroacoustic and electronics gets inside our heads and under our skins in the best way. She's celebrating by sharing a song and video today. Details of her first and phenomenal full-length album to follow in early 2022.

“See, my shadow” is a kinetic assemblage of tension and release with chiselled guitar lines, plucked and pounding prepared piano, scraping metal, electroacoustic micro-samples and alternating blasts of crisp drum programming, all galvanised by Kee Avil’s intimate, inscrutable, insistent vocal.

RIYL: Scott Walker, Fiona Apple, PJ Harvey, Juana Molina, Bjork, Matmos, Rashad Becker, Eartheater, Autechre, The Books, Pan Daijing

A shadow’s moment, distorted. Warped piano samples, chipped ceramic cups, swirling metal, feedback assembled. I used to think this was a love song.

Constructed from a demo, never finished, originally recorded for the
Kee Avil EP. See, my shadow is one of my most produced songs - a large part of the work was to strip it down and find the right balance between chaos and density vs stability and drive. It will be the first song on a new album.

Writing this I find myself trying to find a reason why I would ‘stand here blind, deaf and mute’ - ultimately the words are there for their rhythm, imagery and texture. The text for the ending was written in one moment, intense but fleeting, later adapted. The meaning of the song changes all the time - fittingly, it’s as though this moment has been passed on to my shadow."

About the video:
"To reveal what I’ve hid, what is recognised, ignored, what is real. Blank, misdrawn, rebuilt, the creature as the i. With masks, I break and reconstruct these ideas, mix the familiar with the abstract.
- Kee Avil -


EXEK: "(I'm After) Your Best Interest"
(via Tell All Your Friends PR / Castle Face Records)

Via Tell All Your Friends PR:

EXEK Announce New LP, Share "(I'm After) Your Best Interest" Single via Brooklyn Vegan

Read the Psychedelic Baby and VENTS Features

ADVERTISE HERE LP Due February 4, 2022 via Castle Face Records


LISTEN & SHARE: EXEK - "(I'm After) Your Best Interest"
Spotify / Bandcamp

Today, EXEK announce their forthcoming album, ADVERTISE HERE, along with its debut single, "(I'm After) Your Best Interest." The LP is due February 4, 2022 via Castle Face Records.

"Gliding in on the twin engine discordant tones we’ve come to love from EXEK comes their new transmission, Advertise Here.

Beats bumping up thru a flapping spring reverb
Gilded production choices
Stripped bass bubbling in the cauldron
With each pass of the witch’s ladle, words float in the steam over the cacophonous concoction
The coven that croons together slays together
With every layer peeling back on our ear’s tongue we will exclaim “wicked”
Perhaps their strongest effort yet

The twin engines reappear now, tardy
Guitar and synthesis, rounded edges, worn and ever so slightly fuzzed out
This LP strives for new lyrical highs in my opinion
Pop at an arm’s length
Thru a greasy lens
A conversation
A conversation on drugs
A passing comment that sticks
an utterance from the death bed
Reminiscent of Brian Eno, White Fence, PiL, Full Circle, ESG, all things Geoff Barrows, Eroc, Lard Free, and music of free weirdos everywhere
This one is the mossy titled deck of a half submerged shipwreck
A green light in a red room
A lump of clay
The end of the night when you think “perhaps I should have left ages ago”
But it’s too late now…you’re in too deep…might as well have one more dance

This LP is leaping even further out into the unknown for EXEK
A trip indeed
Full of hits with zero diss
and lots of hiss on no near miss”

- Written by John Dwyer

Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram


: "And The Wind Blew It All Away" 
(Tell All Your Friends PR / Shimmy-Disc / Joyful Noise Recordings)

Via Tell All Your Friends PR:

Kramer Shares "Falling Skies" Single + Music Video via The Big Takeover

Read the StereoEmbers Feature

And the Wind Blew it All Away LP Out Now Via Shimmy-Disc/Joyful Noise Recordings

LISTEN/PURCHASE & SHARE: Kramer - And the Wind Blew It All Away
Shimmy-Disc / Soundcloud / Bandcamp

LISTEN/WATCH: Kramer - "Falling Skies"
Stream / YouTube

LISTEN/WATCH & SHARE: Kramer - "The Rain"
Stream / YouTube

LISTEN/WATCH & SHARE: Kramer - "The Crying"
Stream / YouTube

Today, Kramer shares his brand new LP, And the Wind Blew It All Away, out now via Shimmy-Disc/Joyful Noise Recordings. This record is Kramer's first solo LP of completely original material since 1998's Songs From The Pink Death.

Alongside the record's release comes its focus track, "Falling Skies," with an accompanying music video. Kramer wrote of the single, saying:

"Love is the furnace into which all things are dropped. this is the song that sparked the first ecstatic embers of this LP.

John Cassavetes said, 'People need Love but they don't know how to find it, and if they do somehow manage to find it, they don't know how to keep it.'

I have kept every Love I have ever had, down to the very last trickling flames. I still have them here with me. Imagine a world in which this was true for everyone. Imagine. Just Imagine."

Speaking on the new LP itself, he continued:
"A terrifying wind is coming. I recorded this LP as I wondered, through sound and song, if I’ll ever collaborate on making music with another artist by my side again, or live to see another New Year’s Eve, or ever hear my daughter’s voice again, or ever Love again. Time will darken it. It always does.

Do I really want to be the last man standing, in a wind like this one?"
Follow Kramer on the World Wide Web:
Facebook | Website | Joyful Noise Recordings | Sign Up Page

Kramer Bio:

Kramer’s work in music covers a vast spectrum of sound, unified only by an unwavering commitment to experimentation and collaboration. Even a straight telling of his bio reads like a wild tall tale.

As a bassist & multi-instrumentalist, he’s toured with The Fugs, Shockabilly, Jad Fair, Danielson, B.A.L.L. (his band with Don Fleming), Gary Panter, and with Butthole Surfers on their infamous 1985 debut European tour. At his Noise New York and Noise New Jersey studios, he’s produced and recorded hundreds of artists, including Daniel Johnston, Royal Trux, White Zombie, Pussy Galore, Mo Tucker (ex-Velvet Underground), and Half Japanese.

While he has operated successfully on the extreme fringes of 20th century American Indie music, Kramer has also shown an equal mastery of ‘pop’ music, producing influential recordings by artists like Galaxie 500, Will Oldham, and LOW.

Kramer also scored a bonafide hit in 1994 as producer for Urge Overkill’s take on Neil Diamond’s "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon," chosen by Quentin Tarantino for his second film, the Palme D’Or winning Pulp Fiction. The film’s extraordinary soundtrack broke sales records worldwide (earning 25x Platinum Sales awards internationally along the way), and the song itself climbed as high as the #59 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The band paid Kramer $500 to produce the song (along with two others, in a single day at his Noise New Jersey studio), and never gave him another penny. And so it goes.

But it was the creation of his Shimmy-Disc label in 1987 that would prove to be one of Kramer’s most enduring achievements. It was therein that Kramer coalesced his varied talents as a producer, curator, and musician/collaborator into one inextricably linked whole. In the words of Joyful Noise Recordings’ founder Karl Hofstetter, “His label became his art medium.”

Through Shimmy-Disc, between 1987 and 1998, Kramer released over 100 albums from a fascinating roster of artists that included WEEN (“The Pod”), gore metal heroes GWAR, King Missile, John Zorn’s Naked City, Japan’s noise rock masters BOREDOMS, and Kramer’s collaboration with magician Penn Jillette, The Captain Howdy, to name but a small few.

There is perhaps no other living figure with a greater connection to outsider music than Kramer. A brief sampling of the fruits of his collaborative genius would read as follows:

In 1985, while playing bass with Paul Leary and Gibby Haynes in Butthole Surfers, he recorded their classic songs, “American Woman," “Whirling Hall Of Knives," “Creep in the Cellar," “Florida,” and others that would soon appear on their groundbreaking Rembrandt Pussyhorse LP, and on their Cream Corn From The Socket of Davis EP. Later that same year, with the help of a small loan from his uncle, he put a down payment on the recording studio, Noise New York, moved in, and made it his home base of operations for the next seven years.

In 1988, Kramer produced Daniel Johnston’s seminal masterpiece, “1990”, featuring two of his greatest songs, “True Love Will Find You In The End," and “Some Things Last a Long Time," on which Kramer played every instrument. Together, these songs established Daniel’s one-of-a-kind genius, and they remain today as twin seminal anthems of one of the most vibrant periods in American Indie music, and one of its greatest artists and songwriters.

Between 1988 and 1991, Kramer produced all three Galaxie 500 LP’s, and toured the world with them behind the live-mix console, “…so I could be 100% certain that they sounded even better live in concert than they did on the records, which I could easily do if the venue had just one halfway decent reverb, and one echo machine”, he said. This genre-defining trilogy of LP’s firmly established Kramer as one of the founding fathers of “Slowcore,” and cemented the band’s eternal resting place in the movement’s pantheon of greats.

In 1992, Kramer’s daughter Tess was born, and he released his first solo effort; a triple LP he called “The Guilt Trip”. Two more solo LP’s followed in 1995, and 1998.

In 1994, following the release of Pulp Fiction, Rolling Stone Magazine named Kramer “Producer of the Year” (aka; “Hot Producer”).

Also in 1994, he discovered LOW and produced their first two LP’s, I Could Live In Hope and Long Division in 1995, for Virgin’s Vernon Yard Records. Those recordings are now considered two of the foundational pillars of the Slowcore/Sadcore movement.

In 1995, he co-wrote “Free Will & Testament” with ex-Soft Machine legend Robert Wyatt, which became his signature song. That same year, he produced perhaps the most beautiful recordings of Will Oldham’s storied career, the 7” single “Gulf Shores,” b/w “West Palm Beach.”

In 1996, years after producing King Missile’s college radio mega-hit “Jesus Was Way Cool” for their Mystical Shit LP on Shimmy-Disc (which inspired their signing to Atlantic Records), Kramer reluctantly agreed to work for a major label and produce their 2nd LP for Atlantic, “Happy Hour,” which spawned two new hit songs and accompanying videos, “Detachable Penis," and “Martin Scorsese,” both of which enjoyed worldwide notoriety, thanks to extensive MTV airplay.

In 1998, following a nightmarish 5 year lawsuit brought against him by Ann Magnuson over the Bongwater catalog and a subsequent disastrous partnership with The Knitting Factory in NYC, Shimmy-Disc went bankrupt and Kramer quit making music. He spent the next five years studying Theater & Directing under Arthur Penn (Bonnie & Clyde, The Miracle Worker, Little Big Man) at The Actors Studio, and the next two decades making four solo LP’s for the “Composers Series” of John Zorn’s Tzadik Records label, including one featuring guitarist Bill Frisell entitled, The Brill Building, Book Two.

Now living in South Florida, Kramer found the time to wonder whether or not, if, in the future, he had the chance to run a record company again, he would by then have become mature enough (“or crazy enough”, in his own words) to actually take that chance.

In 2020, Joyful Noise Recordings named him their “Artist in Residence,” commemorating his career with a 5LP vinyl box set and over 400 minutes of newly recorded music.

In 2021, after a 23 year hiatus, Shimmy-Disc was born again. In December of that same year (ie; NOW), Kramer releases his first solo LP since 1998; AND THE WIND BLEW IT ALL AWAY, produced and recorded entirely alone in his home studio in South Florida during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Make Art, Make Love, Die.” - Kramer, 2020

And the Wind Blew It All Away Credits:

All music and lyrics by Kramer (Secretly Publishing), except “Winter Lady” by Leonard Cohen
All Instruments and Voices by KRAMER
Produced, Mixed and Master by KRAMER at Noise Miami (2020/2021)
Cover Art silent film still from Buster Keaton’s “Steamboat Bill Jr.” (1928 Public Domain)
Back Cover self-portrait by Kramer (2020)
Insert Sleeve Photo of Kramer & Tess by Valerie Zars (NYC, 2000)
LP Design by Kramer & Ryan Hover


"Arise Above"
(via mutante-inc. / Bureau B)

Via mutante-inc.:

Kreidler – Spells and Daubs - cd/lp/dd - Released January 28th 2022 - bureau b

In a year of the moon, Kreidler have produced the album SPELLS AND DAUBS. In a year of the moon - and in a year with 13 moons. Such years are known for not being the most comfortable. In September 2020 the band met for exploratory sessions and initial recordings in Düsseldorf, in the familiar settings of the Kabawil Theater that already held a certain tradition. The impetus this time was a solitary gig in the conspicuously spacious surroundings of the (former) Philipshalle. In a year that threw everyone back on themselves. Over the winter Kreidler worked remotely, sifting through the material, arranging the pieces, adding textures and contours. They met again in the spring of 2021 for further recordings at the Uhrwerk Orange studio in Hilden, near Düsseldorf. That, too, has a certain tradition. From fifteen pieces they filtered out ten, and thus held an album in their hands. Then - and this is new - they took it to London, to Peter Walsh, so that he could mix the tracks.

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