Vantzou, a native of Kansas City who's lived in Brussels, Belgium, since 2003, made her first record as half of the Dead Texan with Adam Wiltzie (of Stars of the Lid fame), and in 2007 she toured as a member of Sparklehorse. Not long after, she started work on her solo debut, No. 1 (Kranky), but it took her more than three years to finish, and it didn't come out till late 2011—the sumptuous detail in the beautiful recording certainly sounds like the result of a labor-intensive process (she also works as a filmmaker and visual artist, which further explains the delay). Vantzou's synthesizer parts are extravagantly enhanced by a string quartet and muted yet lyrical French horn, flute, and clarinet. The ten-part suite alternates between lush, hypnotic drones and meticulously scored, contrapuntal melodic filigree, shifting seamlessly from mood to mood and texture to texture. The music feels cinematic in its drift from ambient placidity to gently surging motion, and despite the gorgeousness of the melodic fragments, the album is best experienced as a whole, for a cumulative effect. On Wednesday Vantzou will be joined a string quartet, and I'm more than curious to see how they'll fill the space with sound—I'm also hopeful that the audience will give the music the quiet attention it deserves. Below you can hear the suite's opening piece, "Homemade Mountains."Last June I wrote about a rare local performance by prolific pop savant R. Stevie Moore. Since that Bottle show, the DIY veteran has enjoyed an unusual surge of exposure, turning up on the cover of the Wire and being cited as a huge influence by Ariel Pink. None of the acclaim has done anything to alter his weirdness or his unfussy aesthetic, but it has allowed more of his music to reach us. In 1996 Jason Willett of Megaphone Records put together a sprawling CD collection of Moore's music from the late 60s to the early 80s, but it wasn't released then—or when Willett and Moore tried again in 2008. Luckily this summer Megaphone joined forces with Knock 'Em Dead Records to release an expanded version of the anthology, titled Hearing Aid, on double vinyl. The collection zeroes in on Moore's strong pop instincts, though his quirkiness and occasional moment of excess are both in evidence. It's kind of a greatest-hits comp from a guy who doesn't care what a hit is. Moore has kept a lot of his old records available digitally, and I'm taking advantage of that to share one of the songs featured on Hearing Aid below: "Girl Go."
Christina Vantzou photo: Julie Calbert
R. Stevie Moore photo: Max Janoff
Alireza Ghorbani & Dorsaf Hamdani, Rapture: The Rite of Khayyam (Accords Croises)
Ilaiyaraaja, Solla Solla (B-Music/Finders Keepers)
Dollshot, Dollshot (Underwolf)
Dizzy Reece, A New Star (Jasmine)
Nick Hennies, Jürg Frey: "Metal, Stone, Skin, Foliage, Air" (L'Innomable)