Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mississippi and Exiled Records

An ode to my favorite record shops.

Portland happens to be blessed with a couple of totally dynamite Record Shops. They are- Exiled and Mississippi. Both are boutique stores that only stock what they like. What's more, they're thriving as neighborhood hotspots in spite of this here interweb. They're so great! I love me some record shopping, but I must say that, as a busy dad, I have less time than ever to troll through mountains of third-rate record bins searching for those hidden gems. I'm just more inclined to go visit these good folks- each happen to have two of the best curated small (& oddball) selections, new or used, that I have ever come across. What's more, both shops put out some amazing records themselves, usually limited to editions of 1000. I basically just snatch up whatever they release, and I have only been even mildly disappointed once or twice. Its downright inspiring to see them succeed in doing what they love, especially in context of the amazon/iTunes behemoth. They are a credit to their neighborhoods, to Portland, and also to the virtues of the small indie record shop. In fact, that's mostly what they sell... RECORDS!!!

Here's what I like most about each:

Mississippi Records: An unbeatable selection. Vinyl only, and some tapes. They also have a fantastic selecton of vintage stereo equipment at nice reasonable prices. You couldn't throw a rock in there and not hit a record worth having. From Irma Thomas to Animals and Men, I eagerly collect nearly anything they release. I encourage everyone out there to do the same. FYI, many of their earlier albums fetch nice sums on ebay now that they're out of print. That's why I'm at peace providing you, the reader, with the following link:
Mississippi Records Download Thread. I'd suggest starting with Washington Phillips, Lipa Kodi Ya City Council, Orchestra Regional de Kayes, Oh Graveyard..., 70s Thai Orchestra, Malcolm X Memorial and Last Kind Words. Well, they're all pretty much super. The only ones I'm not wild about so far are Ntsamina and The Rats- though I do love Fred Cole, especially Dead Moon.

Likewise an outstanding selection, with even more of an emphasis on oddball experimental, psych and outsider music. They also sell cds & bizarro arthouse movies. They have handmade Rick Bishop cd-rs, Sublime-Frequencies and Siltbreeze Releases and handdrawn Sun Ra records on their wall, all great indications of what Exiled is all about. This is the place that turned me on to likely the best African Psych record that you've never heard; Chrissy Zebby Tembo and Ngozi Family. Trust me, buy it NOW! Exiled also has a nice website, which Mississippi is lacking. When at home, I pretty much browse Other Music, Boomkat, Forced Exposure, eMusic and Exiled Records to stay up on what's new in the stores. Exiled only puts up albums they like, which makes browsing less tedious and also just prompts me to look into just about everything they put on. For you out-of-towners, its also a great place to buy those Missisippi releases, which you should definitely DEFINITELY do.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Acoustic Laptops

An artist named Origami Boe apparently makes these Acoustic Laptops, like the one pictured just above. They're basically small wooden boxes outfitted with all kinds of acoustic noisemaking doodads and gadgets. He performs sound installations with them and also sells his boxes to interested parties. My brother Zack and I have lately been brainstorming ideas for unique artisan mobiles we could make that would incorporate perpetual motion, magnified light, prisms, moving shadows, etc to create hand cranked off-the-grid analog light shows. I'm starting to think it would be sweet to have one of these Acoustic Laptops as well. That way we could start having experimental acoustic audiovisual lullaby jam sessions each night at my son Amos' bedtime. 

Sagan Om Ringen by Bo Hansson

I am forever indebted to my pal Nate Ashley for dropping this delicious morsel of Swedish concept prog on my figurative doorstep. This is Bo Hansson's 1970 "soundtrack" to The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Need I remind you that no such feature film, cartoon or otherwise, was even in the works back way then? This thing is Hansson's imaginary soundtrack to the books and let me just say, it is mighty sweet. Just look at that Rodney Matthews artwork. Amazing! So nerdy...That's actually one of the LP's alternate covers, but I think its the best. I've read on allmusic that BH was a heavy-hitting keyboardist of his day. He'd apparently recorded a handful of unreleased studio sessions with Jimi Hendrix that seem like they'd be worth hearing. If anyone out there has a line on those please let me know...Now, "Go in peace"... to Middle Earth.