Looking ahead: Feb. 2006-March 2006

Slowly but surely, I’m starting to get bits and pieces here and there about upcoming releases, so it seemed like a good time to look ahead. Most of what I list are things I’m looking forward to, and many of them have been mentioned before in their own items.

Wayne Horvitz, Whispers, Hymns, and a Murmur, Feb. 21

Ron Samworth, Peggy Lee, Bill Clark, Wayne Horvitz, TBD, March 6

It’s feast or famine when it comes to Wayne Horvitz’s release schedule. One year, he’ll release multiple discs. Other years, nary a peep. Whispers, Hymns, and a Murmur is a collection of pieces for string quartet, and it’s being released on John Zorn’s Tzadik label. Tzadik is rather approximate with its release dates, so the album will start trickling into stores after that date.

Horvitz’s new chamber quartet comes out with a disc of its own a few days later on the Songlines label. I haven’t heard much of this new ensemble, and I’m not sure if this album is the same one mentioned on Horvitz’s official site. The Songlines site isn’t any more helpful.

ACO, mask, Feb. 22

It wasn’t until I finally plunged into Sigur Rós this year did I finally see ACO’s inspiration for recording irony in 2003. The fact “Machi” was produced by fellow Icelanders múm should have been a big hint.

irony was a drastic but logical step in ACO’s ouvre. And while I wish a three-year wait yielded a full-length album, I’ll welcome anything by an artist whose music influences my own songwriting.

SLOTH LOVE CHUNKS, Shikakui Vision, Feb. 8

Nakao Kentaro is pretty much the guy who broke up Number Girl, and while I miss that chemistry between Mukai, Inazawa, Nakao and Tabuchi, the luxury of time makes me wonder whether Number Girl was starting to show some wear. That’s just a round-about way of saying Num-Heavymetallic hasn’t stayed with me in the same way as other Number Girl albums.

Nakao is now a founding member of SLOTH LOVE CHUNKS. I could be diligent and research some historical facts about the group, but I’m feeling lazy. I just know SLOTH LOVE CHUNKS has a female lead singer, and some of the samples over at Tower Records Japan make me curious about the album but not exactly covetous.

Then again, I was nicely surprised by how toddle turned out, and for a Japanese release, Shikakui Vision is on the cheap side. I can even order it from YesAsia.

VOLA & THE ORIENTAL MACHINE, Waiting for My Food, Jan. 25

With Ahito Inazawa joining Mukai Shuutoku after Number Girl’s demise, it didn’t feel like the group totally went away when ZAZEN BOYS surfaced. But Inazawa departed ZAZEN BOYS — creative differences, and all that — and now he’s got his own band, VOLA & THE ORIENTAL MACHINE.

Waiting for My Food is the band’s debut mini-album on the Daizawa label. What is it with the UK Project labels — do they not believe in the power of streaming media?

Sasagawa Miwa, Yoake, Feb. 22

Amata was a sophomore slump if only because Jijitsu set a pretty high bar. So I’m hoping Jijitsu wasn’t Sasagawa Miwa’s one shining moment. We’ll see …

Likkle Mai, Roots Candy, Feb. 8

As singer for dub group Dry & Heavy, Likkle Mai commands a powerful presence. So let’s see whether that presence can stand on its own without Dry & Heavy catching her back.

The Flaming Lips, At War with the Mystics, April 4

Yeah, every hipster on the planet will be camped out in front of the record stores for this one.

Hajime Chitose, Haru no Katami, March 8

Hey, I’m just glad she’s back.

Nirgilis, “sakura”, March 1

I didn’t warm up to the band’s second album, and I’m curious to see how Nirgilis does without founding member Moyo Satake. Let’s see if they make to a third album, though.

Stephen Sondheim, Sweeney Todd, Jan. 31

OK. So Broadway Masterworks was supposed to release re-mastered versions of four Sondheim shows — Into the Woods, Merrily We Roll Along, Sweeney Todd and Sunday in the Park with George.

First, they were supposed to be out in March 2005. Then they got bumped to September 2005. Now they’re bumped to Feb. 2006, according to Amazon, although the Broadway Masterworks site proclaims “coming soon”. If that’s their idea of “soon”, I hate to see what “future” means.

In the meanwhile, Nonesuch is releasing a cast recording of a new stage version of Sweeney Todd in which all nine cast members double up as the orchestra. How do they pull it off with a score like that?

I really hope the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp rumors of a film version turn out to be false. I can’t picture Depp with the low vocal range the part of Sweeney requires.

While visiting the Nonesuch site, I noticed Stephen Merritt is going to release a new disc on March 14. It’s not a Magnetic Fields album? Showtunes? How gay is that?

Buffalo Daughter, TBD, Feb. 22

There’s going to be more than five tracks on this one this time, right?

Yaida Hitomi, “Go My Way”, March 15

I’d written off Yaida right around her third and fourth albums because they showed no progression. Here today-gone tomorrow, however, was a surprising return to form. I’m curious to see if she can shake the shackles a bit more.

Utada Hikaru, “Keep Tryin'”, Feb. 22

Dammit, woman, release a Japanese language album already!