Peter Margasak,Reader music critic
Colin Stetson, New History Warfare Vol. 2: On his second solo album, the Montreal saxophonist (who's been a key contributor to recent work by Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, and Laurie Anderson) perfects radical extended techniques (circular breathing, tonguing tricks, harmonics) to create unexpected, instrumental pop tunes. Anderson and Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond contribute vocals on a few songs, but Stetson's lone horn needs no help—no overdubbing, no electronic manipulation, no bullshit.
Lee "Scratch" Perry, "People Funny Boy": This 1968 debut single by the legendary reggae producer and artist shows up in the entertaining documentary The Upsetter: The Life and Music of Lee "Scratch" Perry, which screened last month at the Gene Siskel Film Center. It was one of the first tracks to slow down the rapid clip of ska into the more leisurely rocksteady feel, and the loop of a crying baby is a prescient, effective use of sampling. But it's Perry's killer phrasing and the song's sunny melody that have steadily haunted my brain over the last month.
Source: Music of the Avant-Garde, 1966-1973: A mind-warping anthology of material published in the great experimental-music journal Source, including manifestos, lectures, interviews, scores, and photos (among them a priceless shot of Richard Serra, James Tenney, Steve Reich, Bruce Nauman, and Michael Snow performing Reich's brilliant process piece "Pendulum Music") contributed by some of the greatest musical minds of the last half century: John Cage, Anthony Braxton, Cornelius Cardew, Harry Partch, Pauline Oliveros, and Morton Feldman. A total treasure trove of ideas, humor, and experimentation.