Dawning Anew

Aquarius Records has changed owners, but its warm, informative approach to selling music remains intact

As Chien explains it, the model for the shop is more the friend who knows everything about music – perhaps he has eclectic tastes – whom you might ask for a recommendation from time to time. Doesn't such a strategy sound more pleasant than that of a chain store that bombards you with billboards for the new Limp Bizkit, the new Creed, etc. (they get paid to do this, by the way).

The immediate question is, What's going to be different about Aquarius now that Chien is moving on to other things? (She has her eye on a number of projects, the most pressing of which is getting Matt Gonzalez elected mayor.)

"One thing we're talking about," says Horrocks, "is maybe doing some sort of occasional print version of our e-mail list. A lot of people, I think, would probably read that who maybe weren't aware that we had a Web site. But we're pretty busy. It's hard to find the time to do stuff other than ordering the CDs and writing the reviews."

Indeed, Horrocks was busy doing inventory the other night when I took it upon myself to conduct an experiment. At about 8, I shuffled into Aquarius, poked around, then approached the guy behind the counter, Jim Haynes – who doesn't know me from Adam – and asked him a question: "I've heard a few things about this band Sun City Girls, but I'm not sure what they're all about. Can you recommend a record that might serve as a good introduction?"

Alas, Haynes could not offer such a record, not because he didn't know plenty about the band (he did), but because the best introductions to SCG are out of print – hence the $50 price tag at Other Music. He was nice enough not to direct me to the band's later, more challenging work. What he did do is ask me what I was looking for and then walk me around the store, pointing out various SCG members' side projects and other offerings that might suit my taste. I ended up buying an album called Night Recordings From Bali, which is exactly what its title indicates. Its songs are pieces recorded and mastered by Alan Bishop, formerly of, you guessed it, Sun City Girls. It's pretty cool, a visceral aural snapshot of some fiery Balian rituals that makes me wanna reach for the nearest bottle of firewater and cut a mean-ass rug. And it cost me about $15.

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