By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Though tweaking and tinkering all they want, musicians still adhere to French poet Paul Valéry's adage that "a poem is never finished, only abandoned." While the decades-old formula of your grandma on bongos and fussbudgety grandpa Mark E. Smith would normally constitute the Fall, here Smith + blip-pop experts Mouse on Mars = Von Südenfed, a collab founded on a remix of the latter's squishy 2004 single "Wipe That Sound." The cutesy squelches and cooed command of the original are replaced by a harder Siouxsie "Peek-a-Boo" beat as Smith looks down his disco nose, wipes that down, and sneers through his sinuses: "You don't look like no goddamned singer-songwriter to me."
Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas
From Reinterpretations (Eskimo)
While luminaries in that ever-expanding space-disco sky, Norwegians Lindstr & Prins Thomas spent too much time gazing into the lite jazz of softies like longhair Andreas Vollenweider and beardo Bob James on their self-titled 2005 debut. With its tickled pianos and twinkling Arp synths, "Turkish Delight" was at best a power nap amid an album's worth of afternoon meditations for pony-tailed executives. For Reinterpretations, they effectively make you forget the snooze, emphasizing instead left-field disco. Arpeggiated starbursts worthy of Giorgio Moroder, along with hand-claps and drums right out of Arthur Russell's closet, blend together and dilate for 10 mesmeric minutes.
From Joanna Newsom and the Ys Street Band EP (Drag City)
Barely six months after the portentous, harp-plucked prog of Ys, Joanna Newsom casts the dead weight of producer Steve Albini, mixer Jim O'Rourke, and arranger Van Dyke Parks overboard. Leaner, lighter, and commanding, she sails even further out on Ys-capper "Cosmia" here. Eschewing Parks's hurried, overorchestrated Disney drama, Newsom's harp calmly hews into accordance with accordion, banjo, drums, musical saw, and tamboura. Her touring band balkanizes the original as it doubles the length with a coda that teases out clement drones, their low-key shimmer eclipsing that earlier final draft.