Monday, November 30, 2009

Let the Festivities Begin!!



"The video features Bob Dylan & Santa Claus."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Transparent Things - Fujiya & Miyagi
(#10, 2006)

Fujiya & Miyagi are not a duo, and they are just pretending to be Japanese. In reality, three or four British guys on some kind of electronica. But also playing out as a band, like live and everything! And sampling aspects of the giants of Krautrock for good measure.


"Ankle Injuries" from Transparent Things (2006)

Apparently, this was actually considered appropriate dance-club music somewhere at some time, which is weird but fine by me. It's upbeat, catchy, propulsive. If this was typical club music, I might actually go more often (ever). But it really makes me want to drive around rather than dance. That's from the motorik, because Fujiya & Miyagi are British, minimally fronting as Japanese, playing under the influence of Neu! and Can.

The rhythm for opener "Ankle Injuries" compares favorably with the opener from Neu! (1972). Then "Collarbone" adds a bit of Isleyesque guitar funk to the stew, and "Photocopier" some even more funky organ sounds (plus a middle-eight break straight from Pong). What all three have in common, though, is a modern, restrained, British version of Damo Suzuki's mumbly, breathy vocal style. The words are all there, written in crazy-meter verses, so the syntax and timing fit together all wrong. Things get even Krautier on the instrumental tracks...


"Conductor 71" from Transparent Things (2006)

I had to make videos for that one and "Cassettesingle," because apparently people only like good music with vocals. Who knew? Okay, back to the singing songs with the words... Title track "Transparent Things" gets super-deep about that reassuring feeling one gets from looking through plastic or whatever. And "In One Ear and Out the Other" serves up quite the groove as well as such chantable lines as "You've got to know your place on the food chain."

Because I think it's funny, I went ahead and got the Japanese import of the fake-Japanese band's cd. It has two Japan-only tracks, and here's the more interesting one:


"Electro Karaoke in the Negative Style" from Japanese cd

Lots of music covered here is unlikely to interest even the three people reading this. That's practically the whole self-defeating purpose of the Headspace. But I think Fujiya & Miyagi is for everyone but the most soul-wrecked among us. Otherwise:
"your little arms swing on monkeybars in search of applause,
like pixelated scraps of jazz mags in your head..."

Transparent Things
Official - fujiya-miyagi.co.uk/
Myspace - myspace.com/fujiyaandmiyagi
Purchase - Amazon
iTunes - Fujiya & Miyagi

Genre - Motorik Neo-Retro Electronica
Review - Stylus Magazine

By the way, the photo-copee-er hums Yellow Magic Orchestra. Also, F&M released Lightbulbs last year, but I haven't heard it yet.

Sigh EP - The Angelic Process (#9, 2006)

The Angelic Process was a musical duo from Macon, GA, who mixed dark dirge drone-doom with ambient soundscrapes and blasting noisebursts. Like extreme metal genres with all the pointy spikes eroded under a gauze of sludge. Others also mix these elements up, but they were the first I'd heard. Unfortunately, the male half of the duo, K. Angylus, died last year from causes unpublicized.


"Sigh" from Sigh EP (2006)

Well, not sure what else to add to that. This is an EP, which makes it a good introduction to what can be sometimes extreme and sometimes pretty, sometimes both and sometimes experimental or even improvised sounding. Songs generally move from section to section, often abruptly, without the natural flow of post-rock or metal. I've also noticed that different records have certain songs named "Mouvement" with a subtitle - so that might be some inter-album arrangement. Supposedly, the last album is their best, and I really like the artwork, but haven't picked it up yet.

How 'bout some more music?


"Trance to the Sun" and "Mouvement: With Mouthfulls of Blood"

Sigh
Official/Myspace/Purchase - /theangelicprocess
iTunes - Only the 2007 one...

Genre - Ambient Shoegaze Black Metal
Review - Rock Beast

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Enchanter Persuaded - Sinoia Caves,
Axis of Evol - Pink Mountaintops (#8, 2006)

Black Mountain certainly is a strange cast of characters. These two side projects couldn't be more different, from each other and from their main gig. Sinoia Caves is keyboardist Jeremy Schmidt, who also does album art as a sideline. The early-'70s prog and Krautsynth influences are crystal clear. Pink Mountaintops comes from singer-guitarist Stephen McBean exploring lo-fi indie-folk, garbage-funk, and beatbox drone-gospel.


"Naro Way" from The Enchanter Persuaded (2006)

Schmidt's art (for this, Black Mountain, Zombi, and Majeure) recalls the early-'70s glory days of UK rock arthouse Hipgnosis, forever to be linked with Pink Floyd covers. Rick Wright on synthesizer would be a proper touchstone, and to be honest, Rick Wakeman too - although I can't imagine him wearing a cape or eating dinner during a show. Epic #1, "Dwarf Reaching The Arch Wonder," opens the album with a swirling ambience, journeying through the underworld and outer space, maybe Middle Earth too. "Naro Way" was all over Top 40 radio in some wonderful alternate dimension, but atypical here with its vocals, guitar, and inviting rhythms. The next two songs provide a perfect balance between its directness and the otherwise epic sprawl. Check them out here:


"Through the Valley" and "The Wicker Chair"

Groovy! Can you dig it? Epic #2, "Sundown in the New Arcades (Milky Way Echo)," makes it about as explicit as possible, verging on a sound-sample collage of Pink Floyd's "Echoes" (but just the spaciest parts). I'm not sure if final track, "Evil Ball," intentionally references the Loknar. But it would definitely make suitable soundtrack for Métal Hurlant illustrations. So now it is.


"Comas" and "Cold Criminals" from Axis of Evol (2006)

The no-beat "Comas" leads into the downbeat "Cold Criminals," having like many songs the distored sound of a reverse-engineered dashboard casette deck recording (plink!). Also the garage-punk-dance-hit "New Drug Queens." The closest to Black Mountain's sound, dronepic "Slaves" seems to point the way to prog-suite "Tyrants." (Epics here are half the length of Sinoia's.)



"Plastic Man, You're the Devil" kicks off a concluding trilogy of righteous God v. Devil tunes. It's a bit Dylanesque, with a corroded slide hook. "Lord, Let Us Shine" is the aforementioned beatbox drone-gospel with laid-back, revival-tent-testifyin' rap. Finally, "How We Can Get Free" (live excerpt) is seven-and-a-half of minimalist guitar pluck and reverb-laced lines like "Jesus in a holy rage, won't you tell us... aw, how we can get free?"

The Enchanter Persuaded
Official - pinkmountaintops.com
Myspace - Sinoia / Pink
Purchase - Caves / Mountaintops (both Jagjaguwar)
iTunes - S.C. / P.M.

Genres - Hippy-Synth / Indie-Pop
Review - AllMusic Guide / Dusted

Axis of Evol

Friday, November 27, 2009

Psychedelic Ills of the Mirrored Eye

In looking around for something else, I found the video below. First I'm hearing of it, so I went looking for more info as it droned in the background. And I found Pitchfork's 1.4 review. Sweet!

Just for comparison, I'm putting something from each of the bands cited as doing music like this "right."


"Mantis" by Psychic Ills from Mirror Eye (2009)


"Tuesday Rollers And Strollers" by White Rainbow
from New Clouds (2009) [part 2]


"Fuck It" by Valet from Naked Acid (2008)

And while looking for those videos ("valet" isn't the perfect search), I found several for Brainwashed's The Eye. To browse them directly on YouTube, enter "Eye" in the Search Uploads box and click the button: here. They have shows on various weirdo music acts, not all on YouTube...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Top 10 Albums of 1988!

Adding three or four 20th century lists each month was clearly too ambitious, even with skipping the first '60s one (1961). So I'm scaling it back for December. I won't swing for the old-school cycle ('60s-'90s), just whatever gets done. 2005 will be dropped in favor of a 2009 extravaganza, including whatever guest lists I can wrangle. And maybe we'll get a bit more non-Top 10 infotainment!

But for now, the last of the first go-round of randomized previous-century decades: 1988. Missing many, but not all, of the 'classics' of the era. What a racially-divided time Reagan had bequeathed us, with some of the blackest music of the decade and definitely some of the whitest. I was in college, good times for good music!


#10 Albert - Ed Hall

Albert
"Reading" [live] from Albert (1988)

Genre - Hill Country Noise Rock
Wikipedia - /wiki/Ed_Hall_(band)
Location - Austin, TX

iTunes - Ed Hall
Lala - Albert
Purchase - Amazon

Probably only Ed Hall's 4th best album, and their debut, it's a real rollicking guitar freak-out of punk-inflected crazy. It's the proto-Ed, but not to be overlooked for the afficianado of the pre-grunge noise. Slightly less of the bottom-end funkiness and expansive shred of later work, with a heavy helping of punkoid outbursts. But "Candy House" points the way. Vastly underappreciated!


#9 Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1 - Traveling Wilburys

Vol. 1
"Handle With Care" from Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1 (1988)

Genre - Classic '60s Beatlesque Roots Folk-Pop
Official - travelingwilburys.com/
Myspace - myspace.com/travelingwilburys
Location - Worldwide

Review - Stylus Magazine
iTunes - Traveling Wilburys
Lala - Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1
Purchase - Amazon

I believe this might be the first mega-hit to grace the Top 10s (at least US chart-wise). It's well-deserved, even if the cassette once destroyed a car tapedeck of mine. George is my favorite Beatle, this would have been my first real listen to Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison's re-emergence was as heartwarming as it was unexpected. And I've never been a big ELO or Tom Petty hater, so... Everything about the record is loose and fun, in a really unaffected way for superstars of this caliber.


#8 Those Who Know History Are Doomed to Repeat It - Henry Kaiser

Those Who Know History
Crazy Backwards Alphabet... from 1987

Genre - Guitar Virtuoso Goofing on Covers
Official - henrykaiser.net/
Location - San Francisco, CA

Review - All Music Guide
iTunes - other Henry Kaiser
Purchase - Amazon

In 1988, a record of Grateful Dead and Captain Beefheart covers, with soundtrack and themesongs, mixing semi-non-ironic pop treatments with psychedelic guitar wank, and released on SST, was right in my wheelhouse. I didn't continue to follow the Bay Area guitarist, grandson of the famous Bay Area industrialist, but I've checked in from time to time. More recently, he's worked on a series of tribute projects to Miles Davis' late-'60s early-'70s rock-jazz experimental phase: Yo Miles!


#7 Moss Side Story - Barry Adamson

Moss Side Story
"The Man With The Golden Arm" from Moss Side Story (1988)

Genre - Concept Jazz-Noir Ersatz Soundtrack
Official - barryadamson.com/
Myspace - myspace.com/barryadamson
Location - London, England

Review - Guy's Music Review Website
iTunes - Barry Adamson
Purchase - Amazon

Dramatic interpretation, muted piano-bar ambience, smooth jazz crooning, and saxophones - that's what we're all about here at the Astral Headspace... Especially when mixed in a martini shaker with crackling industrial drum machine, musique concrète, and Diamanda Galas! The soundtrack album that would be its own movie, shifts beneath you like a convoluted noir plot should, lulling just enough to sneak in a pistol-whipping now and again. The Bad Seeds bassist would eventually do actual soundtrack work for Derek Jarman and David Lynch.


#6 Two Nuns and a Pack Mule and Budd EP - Rapeman

Two Nuns And A Pack Mule
"Hated Chinee" from Two Nuns and a Pack Mule (1988)
[Includes live version of title track from the Budd EP]

Genre - Pigfuck
Myspace - myspace.com/stevealbinirapeman???
Location - Chicago, IL

Review - Mark's Record Reviews
iTunes - Not on your life...
Lala - 30-sec clips of Two Nuns and a Pack Mule/Budd
Purchase - Touch & Go

Controvery just seems to follow Steve Albini. I mean, can't a guy just name his band Rapeman? Following the abusive Big Black, Albini joins with Scrach Acid's rhythm section for only one full-length. Each of the power trio was a titan of what he did, and what they do here stops and starts and scrapes, rhythmic and dissonant. Incapable of not giving offense, ugliness crawls through the gutters from the aggressively anti-vegetarian "Steak and Black Onions" to the drunken slut of "Trouser Minnow." Still...


#5 Straight Outta Compton - N.W.A.

Straight Outta Compton
"Gangsta Gangsta" from Straight Outta Compton (1988)

Genre - Gangsta Rap
Official - nwalegacy.com/
Myspace - myspace.com/nwa
Location - City of Compton

Review - Pitchfork
iTunes - N.W.A.
Lala - Straight Outta Compton
Purchase - N.W.A. Store

G-Funk ground zero. Dre's production, Cube's flow, Eazy's vision. Not a perfect record, but that's a lot of high-quality product for either a first record or any rap album. Not sure if its influentuality is a pro or con, but in and of itself, an all-out classic.


#4 Double Bummer - Bongwater

Double Bummer
"Lesbians of Russia / Jimmy" from Double Bummer (1988)

Genre - Druggy Independent Psychedelic Pop Music & Spoken Rants
All Music Guide - Bongwater
Kramer Official - kramershimmy.com/

Review - Stylus Magazine
iTunes - other Bongwater
Lala - Too Much Sleep
Purchase - Amazon

So, let's say there's this guy - and a girl. And they take a lot of drugs. Like, think of a lot of drugs. No, more. No, much more. Okay, triple that. So, these people are doing a lot of drugs, and they have access to musical and recording equipment. Because they love druggy music (and drugs) and have all this equipment (and time), they will make song after song after song. Each more inspired and frenzied and ramshackle and almost-finished than the last, before moving to the next one. About half are covers of classic songs from the heyday of drugginess. When they get a double-album's worth, they release it. And it's glorious.


#3 It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back - Public Enemy

It Takes A Nation Of Millions
"Night of the Living Baseheads" from It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)

Genre - Serious-Minded Hip-Hop
Official - publicenemy.com/
Myspace - myspace.com/publicenemyofficial
Location - NYC, NY

Review - Slant Magazine
iTunes - Public Enemy
Lala - It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
Purchase - Amazon

Relentless. It's interesting to think how the '90s would have been different if Public Enemy had had NWA's influence and vice-versa. Neither group ever reached the heights of 1988 again. NWA's tunes were dope, PE's were bombs! Rock, beats, anger, thought, Flav, black noise. Look, "She Watch Channel Zero?!" is entirely built on Slayer's "Angel of Death" and James Brown's "Funky Drummer."
How low can you go?


#2 Daydream Nation - Sonic Youth
The Whitey Album - Ciccone Youth

Daydream Nation
"Silver Rocket" [live] from Daydream Nation (1988)
"Macbeth" from The Whitey Album (1988)

Genre - Post-No-Wave Indie-Skronk
Official - sonicyouth.com/
Myspace - myspace.com/sonicyouth
Location - Manhattan, USA

Review - Dusted Magazine
iTunes - Sonic Youth
Lala - Daydream Nation
Purchase - Amazon

Can't remember where I heard it, but I believe the complete title was It Takes a Daydream Nation to Put Up with Us. Both bands are from NYC, and Nick Sansano co-produced this and engineered PE's #3 entry. Considered by some to be the greatest album of the '80s. If you don't listen to Sonic Youth or don't own this record, it might behoove you to rectify that situation. Ciccone Youth is experimental toying with electronics, noise and contemporary hit-factory dance music. It's mostly cooler than it has any right to be.


#1 Hairway to Steven - Butthole Surfers

Hairway to Steven
{Horse Urinating}["Rikki"] from Hairway To Steven (1988)
Genre - Freak Primordial Disturbance
Official - buttholesurfers.com/
Myspace - myspace.com/losbuttholesurfers
Location - Austin, TX

Review - Guy's Music Review Website
iTunes - Butthole Surfers
Lala - Hairway to Steven
Purchase - Amazon

It was a close call, and I switched 'em at the end. But Sister (1987) is my favorite official SY album, and Hairway is my favorite Buttholes studio album. And I generally like BHS more... and it's my list!! So I figured if I was going to write about just one 1988 album, I'd rather write about this one. Believe me, you can find plenty of paeans to Daydream Nation out there.


Ciccone
Cool and hot. Black and white. Blockbusters and superunknowns.
Nineteen hundred and eighty-eight!!


Hairway toooo

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Beyond the Astral Waves...
Astral Headspace, Vol. 2

See this Comp Index post, or the COMPS section at right, for current Download links.

Beyond the Astral Waves...
It's back! The second ever Astral Headspace compilation download, following on the inaugural Astralnauts Are Go!! This time, it's musical.

Beyond the Astral Waves... Astral Headspace, Vol. 2 boasts 19 tracks, and almost two hours, of the most easily-clicked music available on the cyberweb. Don't forget to use the instructions for downloading .zip files from MegaUpload (step #3 forward).

The Audiobelisk
[Or click the audiobelisk to download.]


Beyond the Astral Waves... Astral Headspace, Vol. 2 (2009)

01 "Melody Day" - Caribou
- Lush yet bombastic electro-pop from #4 album of 2007, Andorra. Mp3 downloaded from Pitchfork's Best Songs of 2007 list.

02 "Collarbone" - Fujiya & Miyagi
- Can- and Neu!-influenced electronica from #10 record of 2006, Transparent Things. Mp3 downloaded from Pitchfork's Best Songs of 2006 list.

03 "Something in the Way" - Best Coast
- Sweet 'n' hazy, lo-fi garage pop from the new thing with half of Pocahaunted. Mp3 downloaded from Pitchfork's Forkcast blog.

04 "Flowers of Ours" - The Asteroid No. 4
- These Flowers of Ours: A Treasury of Witchcraft & Devilry and mp3 available from label The Committee to Keep Music Evil.

05 "That Girl Suicide" - The Brian Jonestown Massacre
- Methodrone and mp3 available from label The Committee to Keep Music Evil.

06 "Blood on the Sand" - Ganglians
- Off-kilter psych-pop, driving and chanted. Mp3 downloaded from Pitchfork's Forkcast blog. Yeah, I know...

07 "Better Off Alone" - The Black Angels
- Texan psychedelic drone-rock from #3 album of 2006, Passover. Mp3 downloaded from Austin's KVRX Local Live archives.

08 "Deep in Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light I" [excerpt] - AEthenor
- Excerpt from #6 record of 2006. CD and 4 excerpts available from label VHF Records.

09 "Farewell" - Boris
- More Japanese shoegaze heaviness from the one before their #6 album of 2007. Mp3 downloaded from Pitchfork's Best Songs of 2006 list.

10 "Dysphoria" - Cloudkicker
- Solo metallo-electronix home recordings, all output available for free at cloudkicker.uk homepage.

11 "Black Needle Rhymes" - Six Organs of Admittance
- Prettier than I'd imagined from having listened to Badgerlore. Mp3 downloaded from Austin's KVRX Local Live archives.

12 "To Clean" [live] - Woods
13 "Rain On" [live] - Woods
- Live bootleg of melodic lo-fi weirdos that opened for Dungen earlier this year, that I'm slowly getting into. Mp3 downloaded from Pitchfork's Forkcast blog.

14 "Apple Orchard" - Beach House
- Another dream-pop mp3 downloaded from Pitchfork's Best Songs of 2006 list.

15 "Magnet's Coil" - Sebadoh
- We're about due for a Sebadoh post... great band! Mp3 downloaded from Austin's KVRX Local Live archives.

16 "Always Returning" - The Quarter After
- Self-titled album and mp3 available from label The Committee to Keep Music Evil. (As always, that means garage/psych/pop in some '60s style.)

17 "Elevator music" - The Tape-beatles
- All band's experimental cut-up output available at UbuWeb's .Mp3 Archive.

18 "Neptune with Fire" - Ancestors
- A mighty progressive doom epic, the early going will not prepare you. Neptune with Fire album on, and mp3 taken from Tee Pee Records.

19 "Treeship" - Memory Tapes
- Electro-synthetic epic from original bunnygl!tch savants. Seek Magic (bonus disc) available from Rough Trade. Mp3 downloaded from Memory Tapes blog.


Again, sorry about the random bitrates and volume levels. I'm just compiling the original free promotional downloads directly, from various sources. Even so, do the right thing!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Grateful Dead (#1 in 1972)

1972. The Grateful Dead were on a roll, having released four of their best albums ever: Live/Dead (1969), Workingman's Dead, American Beauty (both 1970), and Grateful Dead (1971), known as "Skull & Roses." Title proposed to Warner Bros.: Skullfuck.

1972
How to follow that? Well, how 'bout a monumental two-month tour of Europe, yielding a triple-"live" album? Plus three members' "solo" debuts?? "Live" because Europe '72 is based on live multi-track soundboard recordings, played in a studio through the stage sound system, then cleaned-up with overdubs and edits. "Solo" because rhythm guitarist Bob Weir's Ace is a Grateful Dead record with only Bob songs, and drummer Mickey Hart's Rolling Thunder has most all of the surviving Bay Area hippies on it (plus the titular Shoshone medicine man). Only Garcia is truly solo, with Jerry doing everything but the drums, provided by the jazzier one.



So, one at at time: Europe '72! If I was asked to suggest one Dead album to own, it would be tempting. If asked to suggest one live album, it's a lock. You get sweet 1970 album highlights like Truckin', Sugar Magnolia, and Cumberland Blues. New songs like Brown-Eyed Women, Ramble On Rose, and Jack Straw. The definitive released versions of China > Rider and Morning Dew. There's some signature noodley explorations, but much more of the ol' time party-rockin' jams. Hell, even a Hank Williams cover! The only possible issue is the shortage of blues-belting from Pigpen, who would die within a year. (Corrected with 1973's memorial Bear's Choice, compiled by Owsley Stanley.) This line-up had everything... Pigpen's organ and harmonica balanced with new member Keith Godchaux's piano. Double-drummers at the height of their power. [Edit 11/28: just caught some Fillmore doc on PBS, and made me rethink and recheck: Mickey wasn't playing with the band in '72 - solo drummer, d'oh!!!] The front line firing on all cylinders, and then some! This is some seriously primo triple-live stuff, man.

Rolling Thunder
None of the solo records can match those heights, but they're all good too. Garcia has Dead mainstays like Loser and The Wheel. But also several weird electronic noise experiments - used in the opening to The Grateful Dead Movie (1977). Ace has the full band going on other long-time lynchpins, plus great nuggets like Cassidy and Mexicali Blues. Definitely a fertile period for Weir songwriting, maybe the only one. But the Grateful Dead were never a top-flight studio band, and Rolling Thunder has the most Dead-like ragged, lived-in feel of the three. Clearly made on the casual with buddies in a ranch-home recording studio, it's the least professional and most personal. Probably not the place anyone would start, but still criminally overlooked within the Dead library.

1972 is among the most highly revered years from the Grateful Dead, up there with 1977, 1970, 1989-90, 1967-68. These things are determined almost entirely by the live show history, but this particular peak is also reflected in the official record.

Concertgebouw Amsterdam
In case you couldn't make it... the Europe '72 tour!!
(Links to streams, with DeadBase tape rankings.
Seriously... Rotterdam.)

04/07/1972 [n/r] Wembley Empire Pool, London
04/08/1972 [released] Wembley Empire Pool, London
04/11/1972 [n/r] City Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne
04/14/1972 [#136] Tivoli Concert Hall, Copenhagen
04/16/1972 [n/r] Aarhus University, Denmark
04/17/1972 [#310] Tivoli Concert Hall, Copenhagen
04/21/1972 [n/r] Beat Club, Bremen, Germany
04/24/1972 [released] Rheinhalle, Duesseldorf, Germany
04/26/1972 [partial, #473] Jahrhundert Halle, Frankfurt
04/29/1972 [#474] Musikhalle, Hamburg, Germany
05/03/1972 [#475] Olympia Theater, Paris
05/04/1972 [#476] Olympia Theater, Paris
05/07/1972 [released] Bickershaw Festival, Wigan, England
05/10/1972 [#477] Concertgebouw, Amsterdam
05/11/1972 [#23] Rotterdam Civic Hall, Holland
05/13/1972 [n/r] Lille Fairgrounds, France
05/16/1972 [n/r] Radio Luxembourg, Luxembourg
05/18/1972 [#478] Kongressaal, Deutsches Museum, Munich
05/23/1972 [released] The Strand Lyceum, London
05/24/1972 [partial] The Strand Lyceum, London
05/25/1972 [partial, #479] The Strand Lyceum, London
05/26/1972 [#35] The Strand Lyceum, London

Europe '72
Official - dead.net/
Myspace - myspace.com/gratefuldead
Purchase - Amazon
iTunes - Grateful Dead

Genre - Ur-Jamband
Reviews - Sputnik Music, AllMusic Guide, Sputnik again, AllMusic again...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Deep in Ocean Sunk the Lamp
of Light - AEthenor (#7, 2006)

A supergroup of noiseniks, AEthenor takes avant-experimentalism into dark new realms. They are: Stephen O'Malley of Sunn O))), Daniel O' Sullivan of Guapo, and Vincent de Roguin of Shora.


Part I of Deep in Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light (2006)

The title seems to be a quote from The Iliad (~8th century BC), and I believe it's intended to describe the content of the record. It sounds like it's supposed to represent the non-anthropomorphic journey of the lamp. Somewhat... maybe. It's possible I'm too literal, and projecting too much from the title/concept to the various sounds. These are site-specific recordings, to the extent that each member is even credited with playing "room." And although there is guitar, keyboards and percussion, it does come off as a spatial audio experiment - in four parts.

Deep in Ocean
Part I starts quietly, with an ambient wash and clattering noise coalescing into a metallic waveform. Gradually it builds, from shoreline tide to the open sea crashing. The rhythm transforms, with more percussive clattering, and we're closer to a wooden vessel creaking on those same heavy waves. There's music somewhere, submerged in the noise. It won't get any more literal for quite awhile, but suddenly the surface wave phenomemon recedes. Part II is more diffuse and open, centered on brittle electronic noise and keyboard. The contrast with Part I's rhythm does evoke peaceful descent through the icy void beneath a stormy surface. Part III becomes less literal still - spooky and ambient, it feels dark and claustophobic. The lamp seems to be in the lower depths, blackness closing in, with the occasional blind and phosphorescent monstrosity swimming much too near. Finally Part IV has the most musical activity and motion since Part I, and in my imagination, huge cliffs above the ocean floor rise and surround with accelerating speed.


Parts III & IV of Deep in Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light (2006)

Regardless whether I'm over-analyzing the specifics, definite moods and sensations are created through the enveloping, impressionistic sound story. The music, noise, rooms, recordings, all work together impressively. It's not a rock band by any definition, but still sounds good.

Deep in Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light
Official/Myspace - myspace.com/aethenor
Blogspot - /aethenor...
Purchase - VHF Records
iTunes - AEthenor

Genre - Experimental Dark Jazz
Review - Dusted Magazine

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Discovery of Bert Jansch

This is kind of a reminder to me: Remember to do a full post on music found via British music magazines' supplementary cd's.

Okay. So as to avoid being the worst post ever, here's a prime example!


"Blackwaterside" from Jack Orion (1966)

The August 2004 issue of Mojo Magazine came with a complimentary mix cd, The Roots of Led Zeppelin. I certainly knew a bunch about the "roots" (appropriation) of blues songs like "Whole Lotta Love" (Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon) and "The Lemon Song" (Howlin' Wolf). So... no surprise to find bluesmen like them, Robert Johnson, even Blind Willie Johnson and Bukka White.

What is great, beyond the opening "Long Tall Sally," was the acoustic folk stuff. I didn't really that "Black Mountain Side" was basically a cover. And that the original is so spine-tinglingly awesome! Same with Joan Baez's "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You." And it's always nice to have an extra John Fahey tune on hand!

Anyway, Bert Jansch was a guitarist in British folk stalwarts Pentangle. Wait... maybe this should be titled "The Discovery of Blackwaterside" instead. Still, no less a man than Johnny Marr said: "He completely re-invented guitar playing and set a standard that is still unequalled today... without Bert Jansch, rock music as it developed in the '60s and '70s would have been very different. You hear him in Nick Drake, Pete Townshend, Donovan, The Beatles, Jimmy Page and Neil Young. There are people playing guitar who don’t even realise they’ve been influenced by him one step removed" (according to Bert's official website).


"White Summer/Black Mountain Side" - live 1970

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Whaddya Mean, Krautrock?

The recent best of '72 and French prog things got me inspired to do a Whaddya Mean, ...? post - just for Krautrock!!

Sometime around college, I heard Tago Mago (1971) and Autobahn (1974), and Big Black's cover of Kraftwerk's "The Model." But I doubt I put them all together too much.


Like quite a few musics, my full awareness of Krautock started with the Spin Alternative Record Guide (1995, OOP). In addition to entries for Can and Kraftwerk, this was appended to Faust's:
After Faust, you'll surely want to venture further into the Krautrock hinterland. Start with Neu!, a group something like Germany's Television. Combining radiant guitars with the unsyncopated symmetry of the motorik beat (also used by Kraftwerk) to create an aura of restrained elation...

Amon Duul II lay at the baroque end of the Krautrock spectrum; imagine Led Zeppelin produced by John Cale and you'll get some idea of the grandiose delights of Phallus Dei, Dance of the Lemmings, and Yeti. As for the rest... Ash Ra Temple's [sic] lysergic raga-rock and Popul Vuh's pellucid, almost Gothic instrumentals can be taken straight, but Brainticket and Guru Guru walk a precarious line between sublime and ridiculous.
If you think that didn't spark my interest, you don't know me!
(And maybe you don't, but it did.)



Around the same time and unbeknownst to me, crazy Julian Cope (of The Teardrop Explodes) was self-publishing Krautrocksampler (1995, OOP). He defined Krautrock very narrowly, as music that could not have been created anywhere but in the late '60s and '70s German rock underground. Therefore, he leaves off some landmark albums from his otherwise seminal Krautrock Top 50 list.

A couple more genre'l notes before we dig into the exemplars. The term Krautrock was originally coined by the contemporary British music press, apparently as a condescending perjorative. It gained currency when it was embraced by some of the acts themselves (especially Faust's song with that title), by John Peel, and obviously later by Julian Cope and others approvingly. Cope would definitely not include a band like Brainticket (they're Swiss), but I'm going wide.

Still, he's pretty right on: the only thing drawing together Velvet-y agit-funk and side-long synth-suites is their roots in the German youth counterculture of the '60s.


Kraftwerk
Top shelf
The seminal bands that are centrally identified with the genre. Many of their members cross over into other important Krautrock acts or made a mark solo. Band name links go mostly to All Music Guide biographies, song titles go to the best YouTube clip I could find - without repeating previously posted songs.

Amon Düül II "Eye Shaking King" [live] Yeti (1970)
Ash Ra Tempel "Amboss" [pt. 2] Ash Ra Tempel (1971)
Can (Malcolm Mooney) "You Doo Right" Monster Movie (1969)
Can (Damo Suzuki) "Paperhouse" [live] Tago Mago (1970)
Can (post-Damo) "Chain Reaction" Soon Over Babaluma (1974)
Faust "So Far" So Far (1972)
Guru Guru "Der LSD Marsch" U.F.O. (1970)
Kraftwerk (early) "KlingKlang" Kraftwerk 2 (1972)
Kraftwerk (mid) "Autobahn" Autobahn (1974)
Kraftwerk (late) "Metal on Metal" Trans-Europe Express (1977)
Neu! "Negativland" Neu! (1972)
Tangerine Dream "Origin of Supernatural Probabilities" Zeit (1972)


Popul Vuh
Second class
All of these acts show up in Cope's Top 50 albums list, but they're not the major names. For the most part, they were more experimental, shorter lived, and/or not quite as titanic as the top shelf bands.

Amon Düül I "Im Garten Sandosa" Psychedelic Underground (1969)
Cluster "Plas" - Cluster II (1972)
The Cosmic Jokers "Galactic Joke" The Cosmic Jokers (1974)
Harmonia "Dino" Musik Von Harmonia (1974)
La Düsseldorf "La Düsseldorf" La Düsseldorf (1976)
Popul Vuh "Vuh" [pt. 2] In Den Garten Pharoas (1972)
Klaus Schulze "Bayreuth Return" Timewind (1976)
Walter Wegmüller "Der Narr" Tarot (1973)


Cottonwoodhill
Third tier
There's some great stuff here, and some of it's way, way out there. But these are more obscure, or drifting away from what really makes the music Krautrock. Still worth checking out... if your interest hasn't already run dry.

Agitation Free "Malesch/Rücksturz" Malesch (1972)
Brainticket "Black Sand" Cottonwoodhill (1971)
Dzyan "Back to Where We Come From" Electric Silence (1975)
Eloy "Castle in the Air" Floating (1974)
Golem "The Returning" Orion Awakes (1973)
Sand "Old Loggerhead" Golem (1973)
Xhol Caravan "Pop Games" Electrip (1969)
Embryo "Radio Marrakesch/Orient Express" Steig Aus (1973):



Nowadays
Expanding from those included on the old 3 Who Would... Kraut post. Don't want to overdo it by including anyone I can imagine being heavily under the influence, but I'm also leaving out avowed admirers such as Radiohead, Flaming Lips, and Wilco. They just don't often sound Krautish.

Cloudland Canyon "Krautwerk" [live] Lie in Light (2008)
Fujiya & Miyagi "Cassettesingle" [live] Transparent Things (2006)
Go-Neko! "Primates" Una Especie de Mutante (2008)
Jonas Reinhardt "Modern by Nature's Reward" Jonas Reinhardt (2008)
Maserati "The World Outside" Inventions for the New Season (2007)
Space Debris "Japanese Girl" Elephant Moon (2008)
Stereolab "Les Yper-Sound" Emperor Tomato Ketchup (1996)
Tortoise "Dear Grandma and Grandpa/Along the Banks of the River" Millions Now Living Will Never Die (1996)

Cloudland Canyon + Lichens
This is pretty damn cool. Is that an e-book?

In Return EP - Torche (#6, 2006)

Torche hails from the southeastern United States. Their brand of punishing stoner sludge metal incorporates such weird components as melodic hooks and pscychedelicism. But only sometimes, to add flavor.


First three songs, from In Return (2006)

I heard that last year's Meanderthal full-length was good, but so far, an EP's worth of Torche is enough for me. After the bludgeoning intro-mental "Warship," the title track shows some QOTSA stoner-rock influence before devolving into primordial sludge. Then "Bring Me Home" slows down and spaces out, with trippy lead guitar and drawled out shouting.

The rest of the album mostly covers similar ground. The walloping, galloping "Rule the Beast" goes into a psychedelic breakdown, before unleashing a metallic guitar solo. "Olympus Mons" is a short but stately doom instrumental. Actually all the songs are pretty short for this style of music - mostly under 3 minutes. Finally, it becomes most heavy with the appropriately-named "Tarpit Carnivore" and "Hellion."


The packaging was designed by John Dyer Baizley, of Baroness fame, and it's pretty nice 10" gatefold stuff. With like a million different versions of colored vinyl, included in the homebrew video above. So 7 songs, 20 minutes: a perfect dose!

In Return
Official/Myspace - myspace.com/torche
Blogspot - /torcheband...
Purchase - All That Is Heavy
iTunes - Torche

Genre - Headbangin' Rock Fury
Review - Crustcake

Friday, November 20, 2009

You Are There - Mono (#5, 2006)

Mono is a Japanese post-rock quartet, who play instrumental guitar music with an emotional tone and a soundtrack sound. Typically, a sad and slow section will build and explode into a louder and more distorted section, then then the cycle repeats. Strangely, their last few albums have been produced by Steve Albini. Not so strangely, the last couple have been recorded with small orchestras.


"The Flames Beyond The Cold Mountain" from You Are There (2006) [part 2]

I really dig Mono, and this (their fourth or fifth) is clearly one of the best - mostly considered the zenith of Mono-ness. I can't improve on this detailed write-up of the album, so I won't try. At times wintry and mournful, at times boiling over with heat and passion. That's Mono.

The songs are sequenced like a message in Morse code: long-short-long long-short-long. The short songs are quiet and lyrical. The long songs are quiet and lyrical, until they start gradually building up the intensity, then they ungradually break into loud and noisy, somehow working back to the quietude, until they settle back down to repeat, or end.



The first song is illustrated on the cover (below, live version embedded atop). The guitar interplay here seems more organic, especially during the gradual builds. The third song, "Yearning," is probably the most fully-formed and still a live staple. The quiet part sounds hesitant and spare, but when the noise churns up a head of steam, the drums break over the top, accentuating the chaos. I believe it may be Mono's most rifftastic song ever!



"Are You There?" Almost a title track, the strings feature more prominently here. It never brings the full-bore noise attack, staying relatively subdued throughout. Then a piano ballad? From Mono? Yes. And the message ends with "Moonlight," the most ethereal of the four epics. The distinct sound comes from even more symphonics, even more-reverbed tremolo-picking, and occasionally jazzy, swingin' drums. By Mono standards...



But the cycle must be completed, so there is one final crescendo before a long winter's nap.

You Are There
Official - mono-jpn.com/
Myspace - myspace.com/monojp
Purchase - Temporary Residence Ltd.
iTunes - Mono

Genre - Cinematic Heartstring Post-Rock
Review - Pop Matters

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Frog Prench: Zeuhl vs.
Radio Gnome Invisible

Here's another subject I'm not an expert on: Franco-progressive bands. But I do know there's really only two major ones, and enough to group them both together in one post. Magma, the brainchild of drummer Christian Vander: Zeuhl, Kobaïa, Rock In Opposition... And Gong, the project of guitarist Daevid Allen: Pot Head Pixies, Zero the Hero, Radio Gnome Invisible...

Magma is the crazier one. Further out on the prog end of the rock spectrum, almost into avant-garde composition. Seems like if you dig it, there's plenty to dig deep into - with historical live jams.



Maybe these quotes will help you decide if you're down with Magma.
Kobaïan is a lyrical language created by French drummer and composer Christian Vander for his progressive rock band Magma. It is the language of Kobaïa, a fictional planet invented by Vander and the setting for a musical "space opera" sung in Kobaïan by Magma on ten concept albums.

French drummer and composer Christian Vander formed progressive rock band Magma in late 1969 in an attempt to fill the void left by the death of American jazz musician and composer John Coltrane.

Zeuhl means celestial in Kobaïan. Zeuhl typically blends progressive rock, symphonic rock, fusion, neoclassicism, aspects of rock in opposition and vocal elements of African-American spirituals and Western military call and response. Common aspects include dissonance, marching themes, throbbing bass, keyboards including piano, Rhodes piano, or organ, and brass instruments.
As one might expect, the music from Kobaia several hundred years from now is very unlike what we are accustomed to on twentieth century planet earth. Magma's music is very strange, beautiful, and ultimately rewarding, but it does require an open mind on the part of the listener. It is music that must be experienced fully with body, heart and soul: not simpley a cerebral performance of some kind of space opera by clever musicians, but a full blown spiritual experience with the music acting as the connecting vehicle between performer and listener.


That's right: zombies.

Udu Wudu

Gong is more traditionally psychedelic and proggy, being sung in English but making not necessarily more sense. The 3-album tale of Zero the Hero, an intergalactic plan to raise human consciousness via the Angel's Egg, initiated over the Radio Gnome Invisible wavelengths, from a command center in the Hymnalayas of Tibet. 'Tis a bit silly, but often groovy live.



Here's the resource background for your Gong preview reading.
The Gong mythology is a collection of recurring characters, themes and ideas that permeate the rock albums of Gong. The story begins when a pig-farming egyptologist called Mista T Being is sold a "magick ear ring" by an "antique teapot street vendor & tea label collector" called Fred the Fish. The ear ring is capable of receiving messages from the Planet Gong via a pirate radio station called Radio Gnome Invisible.

Meanwhile, the mythology's central character, Zero the Hero, is going about his everyday life when he suddenly is compelled to seek after heroes and starts worshipping the Cock Pot Pixie, one of a number of Pot Head Pixies from the Planet Gong. These pixies are green with propellers on their heads, and they fly around in tea-pots.
Zero's (drug-induced) trip to the Planet Gong continues, and the Pot Head Pixies explain to him how their flying teapots fly (a system known as Glidding). He is then taken to the One Invisible Temple of Gong.

Inside the temple, Zero is shown the Angel's Egg — the physical embodiment of the 32 Octave Doctors (descendants of the Great God Cell). The Angel's Egg is a magic-eye mandala, also a sort of recycling plant for Pot Head Pixies.
A grand plan is revealed to Zero...


Wha?

2032 (2009)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Borbetomagus?!

Who's up for a little Snuff Jazz? Borbetomagus!!



This Saturday night - on Navigation.

Borbeto Magus
Noise!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Whole Mess o' Bluesmen (A-M)

While driving this morning, I heard this song on 91.7fm Rice Radio, and decided right then to open up an Astral Headspace Juke Joint!

Mississippi John Hurt (1892?-1966) "Nobody's Dirty Business" ~



Rev. Gary Davis (1896-1972) "Death Don't Have No Mercy"

John Lee Hooker (1917-2001) "Boogie Chillun"

Lightnin'!!
Lightnin' Hopkins (1912-1982) "Lonesome Road"

Son House (1902?-1988) "John the Revelator"

Elmore James (1918-1963) "Dust My Broom"

Mississippi John Hurt and Skip
Skip James (1902-1969) "Hard Time Killing Floor"

Blind Lemon Jefferson (1893-1929) "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean"

Robert Johnson
Robert Johnson (1911-1938) "Crossroad Blues"

Leadbelly (1888-1949) "Rock Island Line"

I'm no kind of Blues expert, so I went with classics or songs I knew, and especially focused on awesome stage names and iconic blues-style song titles.

Blind Lemon Jefferson