Illegal Aliens — Territory
(Bandcamp no#, 1989/2020, DL)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2020-09-23
The recorded history of The Muffins goes back to 1974 or maybe even earlier – even though their first album proper, Manna / Mirage, wasn’t released until 1978. The early Muffins circa 1975-76 were a very different band, and can be heard on some of the Secret Signals cassette releases (now reissued on CD) or the Cuneiform archival release Chronometers. From the beginning, multi-instrumentalist Dave Newhouse was a key member of the band, and he also had a second band alongside the Muffins called Illegal Aliens. They recorded an album’s worth of material over several years from 1975-78, even though it wasn’t officially released until 1989 on cassette as Territory. The primary band members were Newhouse on keyboards, saxes, bass, and electric guitar, and Scott Raffel on saxes, keyboards, drums, and violin, along with Billy Swann on bass, keyboards, and drums, and guitarist Steve Feigenbaum. Add about half a dozen guest players including drummer Gary Mayne, guitarist Barney Jones, trumpeter Reid Brown, and others, track depending. Like The Muffins, Illegal Aliens were an instrumental outfit, at least on the recordings at hand, and as one might expect displaying a strong jazz-rock sensibility with a healthy dose of experimentalism, for all in to hear on the opener “Captains in Council,” a five minute jaunt through a cavernous jazz landscape seemingly informed by a mix of Zappa, Soft Machine, period Miles Davis and more. “Sputnik” rings out with a funky madness that swims in a chaos of saxes until a snarly guitar solo with full sustain takes it away until the saxes rejoin the party. A percussive driven funkiness pulls “Code Napoleon” forward into both gentle and wild sax blowing. All over the musical map, “Journals” is the album’s long track clocking in at eleven minutes, and delivering some astonishing surprises. “Happy Charles” begins to deliver another Zappa-influenced slab, but switches gears midway into a crazy percussive invention. Closer “Wands” makes an even more inventive (or insane) saxophone trio with Lauren Liebenson joining in on soprano. Beginning to end, Territory is a formative statement that is now available again as a digital download.
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more