Henri Texier – “Le Piroguier” (1976)
This is music that can only be called genre-free–spare, pure, feeling equal parts experimental and folk-made, calling to mind only other iconoclasts like Brigitte Fontaine & Areski or Emmanuelle Parrenin in its spooky stillness-through-rhythm. Consisting solely of acoustic and organic sounds–handclaps, wordless vocals, single-note bowed strings, and upright bass played in a whirling fashion–it feels vaguely Turkish or Moroccan. It’s elemental and at the same time futuristic, small and yet suggesting wide-open space. Simply beautiful–and inexplicably out of print, so grab it at the ever-essential Mutant Sounds.
The Congos – “Solid Foundation” (1977)
Produced by Lee Perry, I admit I wish ‘Heart of the Congos’ had been produced in stereo, to let the dub and the elements breathe a little. But the record contains some of the most beautiful melodies (and staggered harmonies) I’ve ever heard in pop music; they achieve a floating, haunting, convincingly religious quality. The 2-disc CD reissue doesn’t add anything revalatory, but it’s good if you need just a little more (since the Congos don’t seem to have produced much); otherwise, you won’t do much better with your $13 than picking up a single-disc copy.