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Listed: Black to Comm + Pylon

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Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Sound assembler Black to Comm and Athens, Georgia legends Pylon.

Listed: Black to Comm + Pylon

Black to Comm

Marc Richter, who runs the Dekorder label, constructs intricate songs under the name Black to Comm, layering shreds of scratchy vinyl recordings, field recordings and live instrumentation in dense hypnotic patterns. Still Single called a recent 7” “Awe-inspiring drone/chop pieces… a biorhythmic chorus of milky heartbeat percussion oozing under multifaceted layers of sound – synths, vocal samples, and field recordings get supercollided into shimmering worlds of new sound.” Richter’s latest album, Alphabet 1968, is out now on Type and was given a great review here at Dusted. Richter chose to write about his favorite music from his hometown of Hamburg, Germany.

1. Abwärts - Amok Koma LP
The second or third LP I ever bought when I was 13 or 14 years old right after We Are Not Men - We Are Devo and Fear of Music (before that I mainly listened to 10CC, Supertramp and Genesis tapes I got from my beautiful female French cousins). I don’t own a copy these days, but I still know every second. A true classic, but I won’t listen to it again - I’m sure it sounds better in my memory (like so many other records).

2. Palais Schaumburg - Palais Schaumburg LP
It’s amazing to see who played in that band: Holger Hiller, Moritz von Oswald, Thomas Fehlmann, FM Einheit.... On their first album (on Phonogram, nonetheless), the band is introducing a weird teutonic Dada-Funk to the German public while Hiller is re-inventing the language altogether. If you like this one (you will), you have to search for the Hiller/Dorau opera Guten Morgen Hose on Atatak!

3. Cpt. Kirk & - Reformhölle LP
Truly original music inspired by Robert Wyatt, Talk Talk, free jazz and so much other stuff that no one was listening to in 1992. Singer Tobias Levin has recorded the most recent Faust album.

4. Faust - IV & So Far LPs
Simply the most amazing rock band of all time. Fanfares, tape collage, drones, freak-outs, gorgeous songwriting, ingenuous lyrics and revolutionary artworks. True visionaries! Faust played a secret gig in the stairway at my Dekorder birthday festival last year. Also check: Slapp Happy, Tony Conrad w/ Faust, Dagmar Krause, Anthony Moore...

5. Isolee - We are Monster LP
I’m not sure if Rajko Müller still lives in Hamburg, but I think he did when this album came out. "Schrapnell" sounds like a lost Harmonia track. This is how house music should sound like. Organic and fluffy (I like that word).

6. Red Crayola - Malefactor, Ade LP
I love how Mayo Thompson re-invents the band every decade or so. This is the Hamburg version from the late 1980s (w/ Albert Oehlen, Andreas Dorau, Werner Büttner and Rüdiger Carl). Not the best RC album but still essential avant-pop anyways. Including Mayo Thompson singing in German. Hilarious!

7. The Scorpions - Spiders on Phasing LP
There’s another band from Hannover you might have heard of. They have a few popular whistling songs. But this is the real deal. If there is something like electronic cut-up Schlager/Blues experimentals – this is it. Not to be confused with experimental blues though! Does that make sense? A perfect Christmas soundtrack for your loved ones. Tietchens/Kubin/Buhre. Also check: Liedertafel Margot Honecker!

8. Dial Records
Lawrence, Pantha Du Prince (recently signed to Rough Trade!), Efdemin.....you need them all. These guys have created their own genre. Techno Romanticism? Sounds terrible.....but it’s true. Now expanding their cosmos with releases by Phantom/Ghost, Christian Naujoks, JaKönigJa...

9. Jaques Palminger - “Deutsche Frau” 7"
The funniest, most talented and best dressed man on this planet. Word!

10. Antonia Leukers - Hasenlove LP
Institut Hasenbart is a mysterious collective of artists and scientists from Hamburg researching the relevance of rabbits in art and life (sounds a lot more serious than it actually is). This is the first musical output by one of their founders. A musical about love and sex (between hares, of course) pressed on a beautiful picture-disc LP showing two rabbits licking each other. (Can I say this here?)


Pylon, formed in the late 1970s, was one of America’s great New Wave bands, coming out of a fertile Athens, Ga., scene that produced the B-52s and R.E.M. The band made only two full-length albums during its early 1980s initial run, Gyrate in 1980 and Chomp two years later, but their fusion of brash post-punk rhythms and jangly pop influenced many other bands. In 1987, when Rolling Stone named R.E.M. “America’s Best Band,” Bill Berry demurred, saying that Pylon was actually better. The band, which had broken up shortly after Chomp, reformed in 1988 to tour with R.E.M and cut a third album, Chain in 1990. They went on hiatus again for most of the 1990s and re-emerged in a series of reunion shows in the mid-aughts. Earlier this year, Pylon singer Vanessa Briscoe Hay and guitarist Randy Bewley teamed up again in a new band called Supercluster. They were recording Waves, the new band’s first album, when Bewley tragically died of a heart attack. Hay and bassist Michael Lachowski took part in this week’s Listed.

1. Depeche Mode - Violator
This album didn’t ever have any influence on Pylon, or me as a Pylon member, and although I played some tracks from it when I DJ’d during the ’90s, I wasn’t devoted to it. But for some reason, this got into my "mode" for when I am drawing in my studio. It’s one of only a few that I allow into that environment, along with Television Marquee Moon and the first album by Now It’s Overhead. Beer, whiskey, headphones, art. (Michael)

2. Plastikman - Consumed
When I had my DJ store (1998-2003), I got to hear most of the crucial stuff of that era, and was blown away by LTJ Bukem, Toshinori Kondo’s with DJ Krush, etc. Somehow, I became an advocate for Consumed. Once, at the store, we created a Valentine’s room, and I played this on repeat through hugely competent PA speakers, rumbling and soothing. I admire the tenacious purity of it, like a Michelangelo Antonioni movie. (Michael)

3. Iron Butterfly - Ball
When you live long enough and start name-dropping old shit like this, it isn’t so much a sign of clever insight as it is of long experience. Of course, there are dozens of doozies like this that I could site as major faves and influences. But I picked this one because I was just listening to it, and I really never tire of certain music from certain times. We all have those, right? (Michael)

4. Rammalzee Vs. K-Rob - Beat Bop
How many times I’ve come to the conclusion that it is the best track ever made? After “Planet Rock” came out, I bought whatever I could find on Tommy Boy, Sugar Hill, Profile, Sunnyview, Def Jam, D.E.T.T., Celluloid, Cutting, and other electro-boogie, early hip-hop stuff. But this – Rammalzee’s vocal and the reverb – gives me goosebumps. Hey RVNG, can y’all do this song please – extend and flatten it without ruining it, like “On The Road Again”? (Michael)

5. Carlos Santana & Mahavishnu John McLaughlin - Love Devotion Surrender
I’m a sucker for monotony and drone. This has been a reliable source of such transcendence for years, but now I’m more inclined to listen to artists like Luomo (esp. Vocalcity, The Present Lover). I love getting lost in music. I love how our current label, DFA, shares that philosophy, love their nine-minute remixes and dance music releases – and Supersoul. On that note, I’m going to go listen to the new Field album that my friend Smokey gifted me on iTunes today… (Michael)

6. James Brown - Ain’t It Funky?
Pylon used to warm up before shows sometimes by listening to "Cold Sweat." Ain’t It Funky contains mostly killer instrumentals recorded in 1968 and 1969. It’s nearly impossible to sit still while listening to Mr. James Brown, the original godfather of soul. I have spoken to engineers who were there when Mr. Brown recorded. The band would hit a groove playing sometimes for an hour and he would suddenly come in and do his thing, and the reels had better been rolling. After recording a take, Mr. Brown would usually get on the organ and the band would play an instrumental version of the song.

7. Kraftwerk - The Man Machine
Totally cool record which played at many parties I attended back in the summer and fall of 1978. We would put on an album and then flip it over. If we liked it, we would flip it over again. Great dance music with very beautiful Moog and Korg work. Highlights for me: “The Robots,” “The Model,” “Neon Lights.” I wish that I could have seen them perform at least once. Cover inspired by the work of modernist El Lissitzky. Fashion took a big turn about that time for the art students. Hippie to narrow tie in weeks, and Kraftwerk was partially to blame.

8. The Ramones - Rocket to Russia
Surfin’ sounds combined with three chords combined with Joey and Johnny and Dee Dee and Tommy. Some bands are just good, but the Ramones were great! I had the pleasure of seeing the Ramones in 1978 in Atlanta. My friend Rhonda and I waited at the front of the stage through two other bands that we didn’t care about at all so we could be right up front for the Ramones. We were nearly crushed to death by the onslaught of fans who rushed the stage when the Ramones finally came on. I still treasure my Ramones guitar pick that Johnny dropped.

9. LCD Soundsystem - The Sound of Silver
I spent a solid month listening to this album over and over and even painted a painting while listening to it. "All My Friends" and "Someone Great" are absolute magic. Some of the best electronic pop music ever with well written and honest lyrics. "North American Scum" makes me laugh and dance at the same time. It verbalizes some of those feelings of embarrassment I felt under the former president. The production is amazing. I recommend at least one listen with the headphones on.

10. Jennifer Warnes - Famous Blue Raincoat
I was torn about which Leonard Cohen record to put on my list, so I’ll put this album of covers of Leonard Cohen songs down instead. I listened to this album and Isao Tomita’s "Snowflakes are Dancing" during labor for my daughter Hana back in 1987. I had to special order it and it came just in time! Jennifer Warnes has the most incredible voice-she is a modern Ella Fitzgerald and Leonard Cohen is, well Leonard Cohen, he is so depressing and honest and funny. I saw him perform recently, words do not suffice how great he was. Also recommended 10 New Songs by Leonard Cohen if you have not heard it.

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