Thursday, April 30, 2009
The Coltrane of the electric organ's psych jazz behemoth. Massive shit.
"The late Larry Young was an organist whose fairly brief career had lots of highs and very few middles or lows. Take this session from 1973 -- his first non-Blue Note date as a leader and post-Lifetime -- as a for instance. It is startling for its fresh look at how the organ is used in jazz and in improvisation, period. On Lawrence of Newark, Young enlisted a host of younger New York session cats who were hanging around the fringes of the funk and avant-garde scenes -- James Blood Ulmer, trumpeter Charles MacGee, Cedric Lawson, and about a dozen others all jumped into Young's dark and freaky musical stew. Made up of only five tracks, rhythm is the hallmark of the date as evidenced by the conga and contrabass intro to "Sunshine Fly Away." Deirdre Johnson's cello opens up a droning modal line for Young to slide his organ over in what passes for a melody but is more of an idea for a theme and a trio of variations. Armen Halburian's congas echo the accents at the end of the drum kit and Young's own tapering pronouncements moving back and forth between two and four chords with a host of improvisers inducing a transcendent harmonic hypnosis. The centerpiece of the album is "Khalid of Space Pt. 2: Welcome." Sun Ra's edict about all of his musicians being percussionists holds almost literally true in Young's case. The soprano saxophonist sounds as if it could be Sonny Fortune (billed as "mystery guest"), but he's way out on an Eastern modal limb. Young's right hand is punching home the counterpoint rhythm as Abdul Shadi runs all over his kit. Blood Ulmer is accenting the end of each line with overdriven power chords, and various bells, drums, congas, and djembes enter and depart the mix mysteriously. Young is digging deep into the minor and open drone chords, signaling -- à la Miles -- changes in intonation, tempo, and frequency of rhythmic attack. And the cut never loses its pocket funk for all that improvisation. It's steamy, dark, brooding, and saturated with groove. The CD reissue has fine sound and sells for a budget price; it should not be overlooked. The DJs just haven't discovered this one yet. Awesome." - Thom Jurek
Friday, April 24, 2009
Seeing as we are knee-deep in Gong, I might as well bring out some Allen.
"Widely (and deservedly) regarded as the album that confirmed Daevid Allen's return to action at the end of his somewhat disheveled 1980s, Australia Aquaria is also the record that reaffirmed his own faith in the sounds and textures that made his earliest Gong work so fabulous. Rich in melody and sentiment (the gentle "She" is all but a universal love song) and drenched in moods that swing from ethereal to majestic, the album does not put one foot wrong -- a claim that Allen supporters had not truly been able to make since midway through the Planet Gong trilogy. Song lengths are especially impressive, generally ranging between seven and 14 minutes (the epic title track), but never outstaying their welcome. In fact, the only disappointment is that the album slipped past so unnoticed when it was first released."[AMG]
WE NEED TEN THOUSAND MORE DIGIRIDOO'S!!!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
"Entrevista a Campo-Formio
Por: Lorraine Rodríguez Pagán
"... Música corrosiva con sonido crudo, pero refrescante ..." Eso es precisamente lo que los integrantes de Campo-Formio quieren transmitir a través de sus composiciones musicales, y a mi entender, cumplen su propósito. Esta banda, que aunque es poco el tiempo que lleva presentándose, contagia con mucha energía y comunica una presencia escenénica que muy pocas agrupaciones musicales de hoy tienen."
These fuckers are stirring shit up, play close attention.
Jah Wobble is a founding member of the infamous Public Image Limited, characterized by playing dub-heavy bass on their first two albums. After creative differences he went on to release this, his debut album "Betrayal". He received heavy backlash from Lydon and company for using material from Second Edition/Metalbox. But even so this is a great record with a slightly different approach from PIL, fun and a tad sillier at times. Check out the rendition of Fats Domino's "Blueberry Hill".
Sunday, April 19, 2009
NON is Boyd Rice: pioneer, instigator, prankster, misanthrope, esoterica authority, and all around jolly fellow. He wrote for The Modern Drunkard for chrissakes.
"Boyd Rice's tongue is firmly within cheek (then again, when isn't it?) with this compilation of his work from the 1980s -- among other personages, the album is dedicated to Vlad the Impaler (pictured on the front cover feasting among his victims), Charles Manson, and "the Hero of Green River." Easy Listening for Iron Youth has one big disadvantage for the newcomer -- namely, no information at all as to where the compositions came from originally. Credits for his various collaborators (including Coil, Tony Wakeford, and Rose McDowall) are mentioned, happily, but otherwise the interested newcomer will have to start scrounging websites to find out more. That problem aside, the compilation is a well-sequenced peek into Rice's mind, covering both his musical and thematic extremes, from swirling, ear-piercing classical loops to murky crypto-religious invocations and subtle variations on seemingly straightforward rhythms. An emphasis on sound qua sound predominates for all the details of the presentation; such songs as the minimal beat and repeating notes of "Rise," the distorted howling of "Carnis Vale," and the fascinating mechanical drone/squall Coil-co-write "Predator/Prey" revel in the possibilities. Moments like what sounds like a Nazi rally audience on "Conflagration" and the distorted horns and recitations on "Scorched Earth" aren't going to please anyone who looks first and foremost at Non as the spirit of Hitler come to life (ignoring the fact that, for instance, Rice notably leaves that name off his dedication list). It's the wryest and blackest of humor at points, the more so because the music itself is straightforwardly serious and unsettling. Perhaps the creepiest moment: "Eternal Ice," which reworks the melody of the Christmas carol standard "Silent Night" into a distinctly less Christian setting, yet all while retaining a chilling, central calm." - Ned Raggett
Albert starts to shake the foundations of Jazz and Music in general.
"...Here, though the trumpet chair -- Norman Howard, a friend from Ayler's hometown of Cleveland -- is a weak link in the chain, this situation allows Ayler's music to shine through, more or less. Needless to say, the quartet with Grimes and Murray, which yields two tunes here -- the title track, which also features Henderson, and "Holy, Holy" -- offers the first real glimpse of Ayler in command. His statuesque take on the tonal and timbral fronts comes from both Ornette Coleman and the honking R&B bar-walkers. And in looking inside the various registers on the title cut, he explores the emotions inherent in timbral modulation without refracting the notes themselves too much. He moves from a whisper of great tenderness to a bloodcurdling scream, and it all sounds natural. On "Holy, Holy," the arco bass work by Grimes complements the intensity with which Ayler is playing. He goes for the upper register buoyed up by Murray's triple time, timberline beats and cross-handed polyrhythms, screeching to the point of sounding like a crying child, quoting hymns and blues tunes throughout. Howard's trumpet playing is no great shakes, but he moves through note displacement very well, opening up the harmonic registers for Ayler and Grimes to break through unencumbered. This is a revealing if not completely satisfying recording". - Thom Jurek
Friday, April 17, 2009
The RE were:
Sirone - Bass
Leroy Jenkins - Violin, Viola
Jerome Cooper - Piano, Drums
"The Revolutionary Ensemble were an extraordinary trio who unfortunately has a very limited discography, and what they did record is rather difficult to find. The Psyche is a case in point, released in 1975 on the small, self-produced RE: Records label and, as of 2002, unavailable on disc. It's a superb performance, however, consisting of three compositions, one by each group member, and can serve as a microcosm of what the band was about. Drummer Jerome Cooper was always the most concerned with extended and complex compositions. His lengthy "Invasion," which occupies side one of the album, is an episodic suite where the solos are integral to the piece's structure, not simply improvisations spun off of riffs. Even with the "limited" palette of violin, bass, and percussion (plus the composer on piano for a bit), Cooper is able to conjure forth a unique and fascinating sound world allowing both a clear exposition of his ideas as well as offering the personalities of the musicians to shine. Leroy Jenkins, the most soulful and bluesy of avant-garde jazz violinists, takes special advantage here in his extremely lovely solo feature. Sirone's "Hu-Man" is a freewheeling piece with an implied cadence as natural as rolling down a hill, but also with a melancholy theme once again driving directly to Jenkins' strength as he wrenches out another powerful, blues-drenched solo. Jenkins' own "Collegno" is a gorgeous and delicate work, giving lie to the notion that bands like this were only about screeching. Using the lightest of frameworks, the trio limns an exceedingly fine tracery of clearly etched yet breathtakingly fragile improvisations, never drifting very far from the feeling established at the outset until Sirone embarks on an arco solo that may threaten the integrity of one's woofers. The Psyche is a very fine recording by a wonderful and underrecorded trio; snatch it up if you're lucky enough to come across it."
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
More Circle for my friend Duke.
"Inside the sleeve of Circle's umpteenth album Katapult (there have been more than 25 since 1991) and under the disc are the initials "NWOFHM." They stand for "New Wave of Finnish Heavy Metal." This is the same band who've brought everything -- from their own version of a trance-inducing, circular, overdriven, droning update of classic Krautrock to restrained imaginative acoustic ambience (2006's Miljard), to rugged wily, punk ethos-infused boogie rock (2007's Arkades), to jazzed downtempo fusion à la Miles Davis' In a Silent Way and the sonic grooviness of Tortoise (2007's Tower). But this is no mere heavy metal recording -- death, black, progressive, power, or otherwise. Circle have too much of an individual ethos to downright ape anything. They have a "sound" that they've brought to every single record that bears their name, and even to some side projects of their individual members' (Pharaoh Overlord for one). That said, Katapult is yet another side of the band none of us has heard before. There are big repetitive rhythmic grooves, riffs, and psychedelic space rock moving ever forward toward nowhere but out. The pulse is constant and it breathes. But the vibe on this recording is downright dark and nasty. Hard and crunchy at the outset, "Saturnus Reality" opens with a full guitar throttle on a riff and a percussion throb powered by rumbling basslines you've heard in everything from early Hawkwind to Celtic Frost to Motörhead. But keyboards enter the picture as Jussi Lehtisalo growls à la Andrew Eldritch from the Sisters of Mercy at his most sinister, even as the backing vocals are sung in falsetto! "Torpedo Star Throne" picks up right where it left off, even as skittering snares, electronic loops, synths, and crunchy guitar start pushing from the back to the front and overtaking the tune, making the "circle" (no pun intended) spin faster and faster even as a big church organ plays at quarter speed to deepen the chill. And chill it does. There is something mysterious, and truly nasty sounding, about this album. Katapult is in some ways a return for fans of the old Circle, but it's something further out than the band has ever tried before. As the tracks move on -- all of them are relatively short, between three-and-a-half and six-and-a-half minutes (short for Circle in full-on pummel mode) -- alien sounds and deeper textures start to settle in. They never replace the guitars, bass, and drums, but they lengthen the shadows considerably and make themselves felt. What's left is a completely psychedelic, and seamless, mind blowing affair. Ambient soundscapes creep in on "Black Black Never Never Land," yet even as the title is chanted over and again, the six-string slash and burn and triple-timed drums never cease their incessant struggle for domination -- even as wafting vocals buried in the mix carry themselves forth to float just under the mix. Effects, textures, colors, shapes, and riffs begin to intermingle and entwine; they create a harrowing sonic journey for the listener in and out of tunnels of echo, reverb, weird '70s glam rock-style bridges to angular synth patterns (that are literally next to one another in the closer "Snow Olympics"), and so many other topsy-turvy flips and labyrinthine flops, that Katapult should be a mess. It's not. It's as tight a record as this band has ever pulled off while still sprawling into infinity. This is Circle at a whole new level in an entirely new direction and more focused and frighteningly intense than they've ever been. - Thom Jurek
Monday, April 13, 2009
"Aethenor is the trio of Stephen O’Malley (or SOMA) on guitar, contact mic and electronics, Daniel O’Sullivan on piano and percussion and Vincent De Roguin processing, mixing and playing organ. All three are credited with “room,” whatever that means, and I have an idea. On “Deep in Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light” the trio mines a brooding amalgam of cycling, industrial clatter and improvised/composed pieces, all seamlessly edited together to invoke a dark, meditative deep listening experience. Squealing hinges, droning guitars, rustling chains and bells banging up against concrete and wood add up to a room-saturating nightmare at high volumes that takes cues from sources as disparate as ancient Greek fantasy and modern minimal drone masters like Mirror and irr.app.(ext).
Across four untitled tracks the trio explores a subliminal sound sculpture reminiscent of the grim crawl of Nurse With Wound’s pulsing masterpiece, “Salt Marie Celeste,” (as evinced on the incredible opener “Untitled”—all tracks here are untitled), AMM and Organum’s organic-metallic free-falls, among others. What gets me though is the way the trio combines beautiful minimal drones taken from the early Krautrock drone handbook with striking found sounds (a cawing crow is employed brilliantly on the phenomenal second track) and unorthodox live percussion. And it’s all coated in a surreal glitchy haze to help throw even the most mesmerizing passages at least a little off-balance.
As for the album title, it’s a line from Homer’s “The Iliad,” which is hardly off the beaten path for O’Malley and his typically ancient concerns. The reading of many an epic sea-faring push into the oceanic abyss would likely benefit from an aural injection of this dark mood soup. “Deep in Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light” is one of the finest experimental albums of 2006." - Lee Jackson
The Cryptics' impressive demolition of pop music/fascist paraphernalia.
"A delicate balance between a love of Top 40 rock'n'roll and a genuine hatred of the culture which embraced it.' The theme behind Third Reich 'N' Roll, a sound montage/reorganisation of such old favourites as 'Pushin' Too Hard'/'96 Tears'/'Let's Twist Again'/'Hey Jude' (mixed with 'Sympathy for the Devil' vocals)/'Land Of 1,000 Dances'/'Hanky Panky'/'Let There Be Drums', to mention a few. Each new playing reveals a few more. The two sides: 'Swastikas On Parade', and 'Hitler Was A Vegetarian' are the past seen through the distorted prism of the present. Or vice versa. Funny too – and frightening: the point is made (but not belaboured), and can be ignored as you/I hear the sound..." - Jon Savage
Sound alchemist from NYC.
"Raz Mesinai -- aka Badawi -- was born in Jerusalem in 1973, and was raised in New York City. At age 11, Mesinai went into a record store looking for instrumental rap and came out with dub, hooking the lad to a life of delay and tape echo. A decade later, he was being hailed as one of the most important DJs in NYC. Meanwhile, Mesinai began studying rhythms of Persian, Indian, Yemenite, Moroccan, and Afro-Cuban styles at an early age. After making a number of basement recordings, Mesinai hooked up with friend John Ward to form the influential dub duo Sub Dub, which saw the friends draw on their love of hip hop, house, Middle Eastern, Irish, and dub.
As Badawi, Mesinai samples his own live playing, then digitally treats it through smearing, stretching, and looping. Badawi's ROIR recordings are filled with angular and hypnotic rhythms, subtle electronic processing, dubbed out fuzz bass, and creative compositions. Mesinai's music channels the spirit of dub masters Lee "Scratch" Perry, King Tubby, and Augustus Pablo, easing your body as it frees your mind."- Mat Mahoney
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Techno Animal were: Justin Broadrick (Godflesh, Jesu, Final, Ice, etc.) and Kevin Martin (God, The Bug, Ice, EAR, etc.).
"The biggest addition on Brotherhood are a cadre of underground hip hop MCs, from favorites like El-P, Vast Aire, and Antipop Consortium to hyper-obscure rhymesmiths Rubberoom and Sonic Sum. Rapping adds a crucial dimension to the Techno Animal sound (which can be somewhat static), and the group handles the addition well (Martin and Broadrick worked with many of the guests on other projects).
But what Brotherhood really reveals is how far Techno Animal has come in the realm of production. Martin and Broadrick cull the pieces of their compositions from a variety of places, but then layer on the effects processing so the source sounds are completely unrecognizable. The sounds become electronic drones, otherworldly howls, pulverizing static, and then are melded into harsh industrial soundscapes. These soundscapes are incredibly evocative and meticulously designed – it’s almost a wonder that the duo decides to obscure them with overdriven bass and distorted drum loops. Of course, if I want industrial-ambient flows, I can pop in some Future Sound of London. Techno Animal cares little for any desire for delicacy and subtlety, instead trading in the currency of aggression and intensity.
“Cruise Mode 101” cashes in on these quite well. A big, rumbling beat joins with a wobbly bass line so overdriven it sounds on the verge of collapse. Chicago rappers Rubberoom provide high-speed flows that match the production flawlessly (Techno Animal never fails to effectively back up the variety of rapping styles on the album). Drones, squeals, and some effective CD skipping effects (Oval influenced, no doubt) combine to make an incredibly driving song about – well, driving (incidentally, the song is an excellent one for the highway). Martin and Broadrick immediately slow things down for “Glass Prism Enclosure,” a more textured piece, with a shuffling, syncopated beat, dissonant string chords, and abstract rapping from Antipop Consortium.
The instrumental tracks often pale in comparison to the tracks with MCs, but contain wonderful intricacies as well. “Hypertension” and “Monoscopic” travel down paths of malevolent dub (similar to Scorn), the latter sounding like a wonderfully fucked Pole track.
But the instrumentals are easily overshadowed by explosive numbers such as “Piranha,” with Toastie Taylor blasting ragga-styled flows over a propulsive beat. The result is violent, almost primal, and one of the most stirring pieces on the album. “We Can Build You” comes across as a bit of a let-down – El-P and Vast Aire provide immaculate stylings as usual, but the track is a slower, come down piece. I would have liked to see the Def Jux crew spit over something a bit more visceral.
“Hell,” The final track makes up for any lack of intensity, featuring the criminally-underrated Dalek. A dark subdued beat and some metallic drones assist Dalek’s monotone rapping. The beat drops off for the breakdown, and Dalek’s rap is dual tracked – he verbally battles himself. The cacophony grows – swirling static, sirens, and atmospherics. The rapping slow burns into a fury, and the beat comes back in with full force, assisted by rollicking waves of bass, pitting Dalek squarely against the storm of noise. The hurricane subsides quickly and suddenly, perfectly ending the album." - G. Mueller
Friday, April 10, 2009
Here's a great Modern Lovers record for the kids. Put it on by the bonfire and all the cool cats'll shake them hips all night long.
Richman is the shit. Did you see that thing he did with the pick?
One of my favorites. This album takes me back to other times.
"What does a band do when they're trying to follow-up a masterpiece? Release another masterpiece, of course. That's exactly what the Meat Puppets did with 1985's Up on the Sun. Issued one year after Meat Puppets II, the songwriting had become more focused, the performances were tighter, and Curt Kirkwood's vocals had progressed from a high-pitched warbling to a soothing monotone. Up on the Sun catches the Arizona trio in a relaxed mood, for the most part; the tunes aren't wound up as tightly as its predecessor, with the album-opening title track, the instrumental "Seal Whales," and "Hot Pink" being fine examples." [AMG]
Suns to lift up in between
They told some stories like you've never seen
Monday, April 6, 2009
Great comp collecting the Master and Commander of the singjay style's most famous work. Includes the mighty "Anarexol" and the brilliant "Wa Do Dem".
Biddy Beng Beng
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Oh trouble move away.
I have seen your face
and it's too much for me today.
Trouble can't you see?
You've made me a wreck,
so won't you leave me in my misery.
I have seen your eyes
and I can see
hangin' on me.
Hangin' on me.
Friday, April 3, 2009
A towering figure in Jamaican Music history. This is pretty much a definitive anthology of the gruff-voiced slacking toaster's work, including such immortal classics such as "Mr. Loverman", "Pirates' Anthem", "Peeny Peeny", "Wicked Inna Bed", "Love Punany Bad" and the genesis of Reggaeton (and many other genres): "Dem Bow". Respect.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
British purveyors of the most exquisite drunken miserabilism. Check out Isabella Rossellini in the last song.
"Curtains finds Tindersticks exploring the same dark, string-drenched territory as their first two albums, and while it shares a surface similarity with its predecessors, there are subtle differences that make it a rewarding listen. The tone of Curtains is slightly brighter than that of the second album, with the songs unfolding into lush, affecting laments that recall Scott Walker at his finest. Though the sound is seductive, what is most impressive about Curtains is the songwriting. The Tindersticks have become more assured writers, letting the songs gradually develop into intimate epics. Stuart Staples' lyrics are similarly textured and subtle, with alternating layers of pathos and humor. Curtains, in many ways, functions as the culmination of what the Tindersticks set out to accomplish with their first two albums, and the results are appropriately stunning." - Stephen T. Erlewine
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
God bless Bongwater and those who sail(ed) with them.
"Kicking off with the great title track, a slow-chugging anthem with a sharp Magnuson lead and lyric, along with guest vocals from none other than the B-52s' Fred Schneider, Pussy pumps up Magnuson's vicious, intelligent feminism to an even higher level than before. From the barbed "What If..." and "Women Tied Up in Knots" to her incredible spoken word "What Kind of Man Reads Playboy" and more, she's on a very artistic rampage. Style, performance, sass, and rage combine brilliantly throughout. In general, Bongwater, with Licht back on drums in place of Sleep's rhythm boxes, continue as before, incorporating a more creepy sweetness at points. "Great Radio" is a standout, the group performing a slow, drony, and druggy piece with gentle power, while other songs like "I Need a New Tape" mix up the zoned psychedelic hush of past albums once again. Covers again crop up, both quite striking. The Weavers' folk standard "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" gets a lovely, haunting take, with guest banjo from roots music legend Peter Stampfel, while Dudley Moore's hilariously dismissive "Bedazzled," from the mid-'60s film of the same name, is tailor-made for a crackerjack Magnuson spotlight vocal. Throughout Pussy, pop culture is roasted over a slow fire in a multitude of ways. "Nick Cave Dolls," besides concluding with Magnuson's breathy, delicious whine about wanting one of said items, slips in everything from references to Hollywood and Dorothy Stratten to some of the notorious profane tapes of Buddy Rich abusing his band. The absolute hands-down winner comes right at the end, the lengthy "Folk Song." Tackling everything from wannabe rebels to corporate and political idiocy from the top on down -- not to mention a ripping dissection of then-recent hit-movie Pretty Woman that spares absolutely nobody -- Magnuson is in excelsis throughout." - Ned Raggett
Nick Cave Doll