Officer!, Ossification
Officer!, Ossification

Peter Margasak,
Reader staff writer

Various artists, Jazz Gems From Gennett-Champion One of the few good things about moving is stumbling across things you’d forgotten you owned. This week I rediscovered this entertaining compilation of early jazz cut between 1928 and 1934 for Indiana label Gennett and its imprint Champion, both owned by the Starr Piano Company. Most of the bandleaders were minor (though some of their sidemen, including Herman Chittison and Al Sears, would become well-known in jazz circles), but the music is vibrant and fun.

Officer!, Ossification I didn’t hear Ossification when it came out in 1984, but I’m glad this wiggy art-pop record is back. Officer! was led by imaginative British guitarist Mick Hobbs, best known for his band the Work but also a collaborator in Family Fodder, the Momes, and others. He’s joined by a slew of Rock in Opposition types (Tim Hodgkinson, Catherine Jauniaux, Tom Cora) on 14 warped, dissonant ditties that balance classical rigor and absurdist humor.

Chris Wild and Ensemble dal Niente, Abhanden Chicago-area cellist Chris Wild is supported by members of Ensemble dal Niente on his excellent debut. On Spiral, a gorgeous, hauntingly lyrical piece by Cambodian composer Chinary Ung, Wild’s stately playing bridges Greg Beyer’s liquid, ringing tuned percussion and Mabel Kwan’s glassy, resonant piano; the solo piece “Memoria,” by Marcos Balter, is an elegant, occasionally raw exercise in accretion and reduction. The album also includes work by Claude Vivier, Daniel Dehaan, Andrew Green­wald, and Eliza Brown.

Peter is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .

Screen shot from the video for the Rolling Stones' "Respectable"
Screen shot from the video for the Rolling Stones’ “Respectable”

Cooper Crain, guitarist and keyboardist in Cave and Bitchin Bajas

BYM Records Blow Your Mind Records of Santiago, Chile, has been releasing psych/fuzz/pop/dub/rock for five years, fueled by avocados, pisco, San Pedro cactus, weed, and ceviche. One of the most truly DIY projects I’ve ever seen, BYM pumps out the best vinyl you can find, assuming you can find it—its HQ includes an office, several rooms where people live and make art, a lounge with a deep record collection, and an eight-track analog studio where most BYM releases are recorded. Studio and label owner Nes even cuts the vinyl himself. Bands: Follakzoid, Watchout!, La Hell Gang, Chicos de Nazca, the Ganjas, Holydrug Couple, Nueva Costa, La Golden Acapulco, A Full Cosmic Sound, Acid Call, Nairobi.

Watchout! in Chicago Chile’s supertight Watchout! recently played four Chicago shows. Their high-energy, hook-heavy fuzz pop drives its shredding riffs and Hendrix licks with pulsing, blown-out bass grooves and repetitive Latin rhythms on drum set and congas—and they end most nights with a 20-minute jam on Os Mutantes’ “Bat Macumba.” Permanent Records has re-pressed their most recent LP, 2011’s Flashbacker, so don’t miss out this time!

The Rolling Stones, “Respectable” Mick Jagger said that it was important to the Stones to be influenced by what was going on around them, and during the making of Some Girls, punk was getting big. “Respectable” was meant to be a midtempo number, but once Keith Richards got hold of the chords, it became the upbeat, snotty rock number we know today. The video is worth watching repeatedly at high volume.

Cooper is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .

Shake Rattle & Read, which sells used books and records at 4812 N. Broadway
Shake Rattle & Read, which sells used books and records at 4812 N. BroadwayCredit: Tom Cruze/Sun-Times Media

Scott McGaughey, synth player in Chandeliers, production at Drag City

Gentle Giant Oh Gentle Giant, why do they taunt you so? Are you the Ken Russell of rock? Is prog still the fattest chapter in the Book of Battered Genres? These court jesters had acrobatic synthesizer skills and the occasional twisty medieval goatee—but they also clearly love music. The fantastic variety of their records inspired J Dilla and Madlib to sample them; bits of Gentle Giant sound like modern cut-ups, but it’s always mere mortals laying it down. There are so many great places to start: Interview, Free Hand, The Power and the Glory. . . .

The Shout Based on a story by Robert Graves, this 1978 film brings nonstandard players to the Mysterious Stranger Tears Family Apart plot: glib experimental musician and devoted wife fall into slippery triangle with hunky black-magic sorcerer who’s learned the deadly “terror shout” in Australia. Time-travel editing makes this a puzzle that invites obsession. The soundtrack by Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford of Genesis hovers like a ghost and pounces at all the right moments, but the devil’s best details are in Rupert Hine’s microscopic, ear-shattering sound design.

Shake Rattle & Read I wish every block had a store like this. Tucked between the Green Mill and the Uptown Theatre, this cozy mainstay is packed with affordable treasure. Favorite recent finds: Wally Badarou’s “Chief Inspector” 12-inch, Synergy’s Sequencer on tape, Ancient Dreams by Patrick O’Hearn—not to mention books on William Friedkin and the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The staff is always friendly and excited about their wares. Support!