Thursday, December 20, 2007
Aaron and Adrienne Snow have been making music together for many years usually within the wonderful band Landing, but now as they bring their first human child into the world we here at States Rights are bursting with pride to bring you their first music child as the band Paper.
As As is simply gorgeous, the most rhythmic based music from the Snows it finds them exploring areas inspired by Kraut, drone, shoegaze, and more. It is soft, beautiful, and at at times ambient but also driving, strong, and the kind of record you can listen to over and over again
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
"Eckords" is the first release by Flash Lights, the duo of Liz Harris
(better known as Grouper) and Bay Area sound sculptor Jorge Behringer.
Here, Liz's spectral vocal transmissions (the ones that blew our collective
minds on last year's superb opus "Way Their Crept") are augmented by
disorienting field recordings, bubbling electronics, meditative guitar lines,
and Jorge's angelic, processed viola. Each piece is unique and bursting with
vibrant, otherworldly energy, running the gamut from almost poppy (!)
songforms, to distant choral ghost codas, and moving effortlessly from
seering blasts of electronics to calm, glacially evolving, painstakingly
wrought towers of dynamic vocal murk. Beautifully mastered by Pete Swanson,
presented in a sleeve adorned with Liz's wonderful black and white artwork.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
The Social Registry is pleased to announce the debut full-length album from London-based Sian Alice Group. The album, 59.59 is set for a February 19, 2008 release. The band is already on the rise in its native England having opened a string of shows for Spiritualized and received a flurry of attention in the press.
At the core of Sian Alice Group are multi-instrumentalists Rupert Clervaux and Ben Crook who formed the group along with vocalist Sian Ahern in late 2006. In order to flesh out their sound they bought in Sasha Vine and for live shows have added Douglas Hart (Jesus & Mary Chain) and John Webster Johns. 59.59 was recorded and produced predominantly during the summer of 2007 by Clervaux at Sian Alice Group's central London studio where the group are able to enjoy complete self-sufficiency, enabling full flexibility in their creative process (Clervaux is a professional sound engineer and producer who currently works with Treader records and Spring Heel Jack). As a testament to the open and collaborative nature of Sian Alice Group, the group welcomed other musicians in to the studio and, for the album closer 'Complete Affection,' were joined by John Coxon (Spiritualized, Spring Heel Jack) on guitar and Brian DeGraw (Gang Gang Dance) on lead piano.
As work began on London-based Sian Alice Group's debut full length 59.59, it became clear early on that it would not simply be a collection of songs. The music which they have brought to bare is a much more fully realized experience that moves through traditional pop songwriting and dynamic instrumental composition while tempering it with studio improvisation. The title of the record comes from its running time and, as this suggests, 59.59 manipulates elements of texture, pacing and timbre as if it's one sweeping composition. It is an epic record that showcases the talent, range and ambition of this young group, taking in elements of various genres and making them their own. At a time when the musical landscape seems inundated with derivative retrogressive guitar bands, or acts reliant on sequenced beats and oscillator knobs, Sian Alice Group's more classical inclinations show their willingness to tread their own path. Sian Alice Group have already received a number of lazy comparisons to Shoegaze music, something that they should shrug-off with ease after the release of this album. The stylistic range of 59.59 is way more far reaching than such a reductive comparison would imply and further brings to mind references such as Arthur Russell, Angelo Badalamenti and Steve Reich. The album even features a song, 'Motionless,' that is inspired by the music of legendary Detroit techno pioneer Jeff Mills, and loosely based on his track 'Solid Sleep'. They look set to be a big part of the musical landscape of 2008, and we are proud to be a part of it.
After a decade as one of indie rock's most consistent, versatile artists, Smog's ninth album catalogs the sounds and emotions that Bill Callahan explored on previous albums. Dongs of Sevotion borrows Wild Love's chamber rock arrangements, Red Apple Falls' droning folk, The Doctor Came at Dawn's painful honesty, Knock Knock's sardonic humor, and even nods to Burning Kingdom's album artwork. While these eclectic influences could have had scattered results, Dongs of Sevotion is remarkably spare and focused; over half the album is just Callahan on vocals and guitar and/or piano, with Tortoise's John McEntire on drums. Not surprisingly, the starker songs are the most lyrically loaded. On the coming-of-age ballad "Nineteen," Callahan laments, "My movements were slow/She didn't even know/What she was taking away," and on "Devotion," he notes, "There are some terrible gossips in this town/With jaws like vices and eyes like drains." "Easily Led" and "Distance" are musically and emotionally similar, tending to blend together in the middle of the album. However, Dongs begins with "Justice Aversion," a survival-of-the-fittest tale set to icy, detached synths, and "Dress Sexy at My Funeral," a warm, sensual recounting of a man's final wishes: "Tell them about the time we did it with fireworks above us" -- a one-two punch that captures the album's range. "Bloodflow" mixes a Jew's harp, cheerleaders (the "Dongettes," natch), and a galloping beat, and rhymes "tete-a-tete" with "machete," distilling the album's twists and turns. But Callahan saves the best for last: "Permanent Smile" a song of devotion that, with its echoing drums and rippling piano loop, sounds like a collaboration between Phil Spector and Philip Glass. It's this reverence and irreverence that makes Smog so enduring, and Dongs of Sevotion another strong album.
Inspired by post-punk, Krautrock, and the most minimalist indie rock, the spare, intense sound of Klang is the brainchild of guitarist/vocalist Donna Matthews, bassist Isabel Waidner, and drummer Keisuke Hiratsuka. Matthews was one of the driving forces behind Britpop luminaries Elastica, but the band fell apart -- collectively and individually -- due to a vicious cycle of drug abuse and blocked creativity, and she left the band in late 1998. After taking some time to readjust after Elastica's fallout, Matthews was ready to make music again, and she began collaborating with the German-born Waidner, who worked in a London record store that Matthews frequented. Their music was largely electronic until the addition of Hiratsuka, a Japanese expatriate who also shopped at Waidner's store.
As a trio, the group's style expanded to include more rock elements as well as their previous electronic and experimental ideas. By late 2002, their sound had jelled and they adopted the name Klang (which is German for, fittingly, "sound"). On the strength of some of the demos they recorded at that time, Klang were featured on a Sonic Mook compilation and also scored a gig opening for Erase Errata on their U.K. tour, as well as slots supporting the Futureheads, French Kicks, and Max Tundra. In spring 2003, they released their debut 7", Love, on the Damaged Goods label, and spent the rest of the year playing shows with the Kills, Pink Grease, and Black Box Recorder while finishing their first album. No Sound Is Heard arrived in summer 2004 in the U.K., and in the States in early 2005.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Sweet Love For Planet Earth Ep
Fuck Buttons was conceived by Andrew Hung & Benjamin John Power in the winter of 2004, Bristol UK.
Initially the group was born as an outlet for their nihilistic-noise tendencies but quickly, the two Fuck Buttons realised they could harness the use of noise as a tool to immerse and evoke. No longer afraid of melody or rhythm, the group started fusing all these elements to the point when drone becomes melody becomes rhythm.
With their electric live performances sealing the notion that the two Fuck Buttons are attempting some kind of transcendence between the listener and the Universe itself, one could easily envisage one’s psyches being shaken by the very rumbles of the earth’s motions.
Tribal beats and subtle beautiful melodies weave amongst contorting Technicolor drone-scapes while preaching distorted-vocals scream for dear hope herself…
Fuck Buttons straddle you between the wall of sound that lies between the beginning of destruction and the end of birth. This grand noise will fondle you into a state of immersed euphoria.
It was nearing the end of the sixties’ decade. My brothers, Doug ,Daryl and I were living in Malibu, surfing and gigging around the Los Angeles area in various bands including our own. We came from a very musical family; our father Carmen Dragon was a well known symphony conductor and arranger around Hollywood, our mother Eloise, a colaratura soprano singer and our two sisters, Carmen and Kathy played harp and flute respectively. I was the youngest of the brothers. I played drums and was dabbling with recording equipment and photography. My brothers played great keys. Daryl also played the vibes, bass, guitar and a few other instruments.
That all being said, it was a great time for music. The Beatles with George Martin opened up a big door to just about anything musically and production-wise. Hendrix was blowing minds with his trip and Zep defined new parameters for rock and roll. Around the same time The Doors and others were freaking us out with their hypnotic sounds. Doug and I thought it was time for us to enter the arena and put something “serious” on tape. We hooked up with my high school buddy/recording engineer Donn Landee who was working at Sunwest Recording Studios in Hollywood at the time. We worked out a “spec deal” and arrived in the off hours, sometimes after our club gigs around 3 am and working ‘till morning. We became more “driven” as we laid down more tracks; Doug and I had never explored this territory before, especially in the vocal department. I was playing my usual “jazzy” style with Doug laying down the groove on the keys. Doug was singing the low parts and I was experimenting with high layered harmonies. Donn added his great recording and production ideas and as we listened to the playbacks we were all fired up! There was a unique sound coming from the JBL control room speakers…
We called it BFI, for “Blue Forces Intelligence”! Don’t ask me why. We were certain we had a “hit”. We shopped the finished product all over Hollywood to the major labels with no luck. We got comments from the big boys like “Great production but I don’t hear a hit” to “We can’t fit it into a niche”. After a few months we became discouraged and shelved the tapes. It was fun recording, but The Dragons and the BFI project seemed destined to obscurity.
Advance the clock 37 years…I get an e-mail from Kevin, DJ Food at Ninjatune, and he says he loves the song “Food for my Soul” by The Dragons and wants to include it in his latest mix. He found the song on a surf film soundtrack album that I produced that was released in the mid seventies. I had put that one BFI tune on that record because the film’s producer, the late Hal Jepsen, really liked it. I told Kev there was more that was recorded at the same time period and sent him MP3s of the album. He liked what he heard. All I had in my possession was a copy of the master tape. I tracked Donn down after losing contact with him decades ago. I asked him if he knew where the BFI master tapes were. He said he was “looking right at them”. Miraculously, the tapes were “rescued” in 1974 by his friend, Howard Weiss when the tape vault at Sunwest was being cleaned out and they were headed for the trash .What a trip.
We’re now up to speed. “BFI” is now released. My brothers, Donn and I couldn’t be more pleased. In the mid seventies, Doug moved to Hawaii. Around ‘79-’80, he made a name for himself gigging around Australia. Daryl went on to join Toni Tennille as “The Captain”, and I am still producing and recording bands and now doing music television, occasionally drumming and “beaching it” in the Santa Barbara area.. Donn went on to make records at Warner Brothers with Ted Templeman, Lenny Waronker and Ed Van Halen. He is currently doing Internet commerce and still photography.
The source material for every piece on Playthroughs is guitar: acoustic, electric or otherwise. From Sept. 2001 to April 2002. Keith Fullerton Whitman transformed raw guitar tones via laptop computer into the tracks on Playthroughs. Whitman has used ring modulators, granular re-synthesis algorithms, banks of delays and special effects in a process that owes much to Terry Riley's Time Lag Accumulator setup and Steve Reich's Phase Pieces. Technology and Whitman's careful selection of notes combine to create shimmering drones and deep waves of sound. Though the source material was improvised guitar and the procesing involved computer technology, Playthroughs reflects Whitman's mastery of composition.
John Maus lives and works in Austin, Minnesota. Although first drawn to our attention as a core member of Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti and keyboard player with Animal Collective's Panda Bear, Maus has proved himself to be an extraordinary musician with a distinctive sound in his own right.
Perhaps co-conspirator and collaborator Ariel Pink perhaps has the definitive insight into the talents of the man:
"John Maus is a maniac on a bloody crusade; a tortured evangelist on a mercenary quest to rid our world of villainous defilers of The Gospel of True Love. By turns shockingly infectious and disarmingly unpredictable, his music conflates a perplexing marriage of Moroder's 'Never Ending Story' and classical 12-tone renegades of 20th century past, harking THE NEW path which resurrects romance from its post-modern shackles, and reignites the promise of a better world."
'Love Is Real'
Second album 'Love Is Real' is an apocalyptic journey through the nostalgic streets of our home towns deep into the recesses of the human heart. It is a map of self discovery, rejection and escapism captured across 14 songs of melancholic baroque pop music. Similar in style to his 2006 debut 'Songs', the album is a mixture of exploratory synthesiser theatrics, tensely-strung bass lines and insistent drum machine clicks and pops, all set off by John's deeply resonant reverb-drenched vocal. 'Love Is Real' is a more reflective and realised effort than 'Songs' however, focusing its attentions on impulsive song writing and inspired musicianship, replacing the reminiscent feel of the first record with genuine poignancy.
'Love Is Real' is an album of contrast, of obscurity and familiarity, of darkness and light. Moments of intense disco anxiety warning against the sin of avarice - "Too Much Money" - find themselves rubbing shoulders with romantic virtuoso fugues - "Green Bouzard". The juxtaposition of the buoyant 80's synth pop alongside John's sombre, sometimes even morose lyrics is another good example of this tension. "Without you girl, I'm going over the edge" Maus sings over the four-to-the-floor dance rhythm of the album's prescient closer 'Times Is Weird'. Over the fantastical keyboard gymnastics of 'The Whole World's Coming Apart' John finds relief in repeatedly confessing "This is my nightmare, my nightmare". It's contrasts like these which point towards John's preoccupation on this album with confused emotions and misunderstood intentions.
Whilst 'Love Is Real' maintains the same anthemic genius and sense of humour that it's predecessor revelled in - the impassioned 'Rights for Gays' being perhaps the most neurotic example - this album finds its strength in its more delicate and revealing moments. The superbly mournful 'Do Your Best' is an elegiac paean to true love - "Reach out your hands to the one alone, in the city tonight" croons Maus to baritone abandon, sounding like a man resisting his own best advice. Similarly 'Tenebrae', the album's tour de force, follows the grand tradition of many classical composers who have tried to convey the suffering, 'great noise' and joy of the Holy Week in music over the last 300 years. It is a stately and majestic song which soars and pulses into inevitable splendour becoming the focal point of this remarkable album.
'Love Is Real' is a record about facing the demons within, searching through eternity and finding hope in the darkness of these uncertain times. It's about never giving up and holding out for the one you love. Put simply it can only be an album by John Maus.
The For Carnation was a low-key, mostly acoustic vehicle for ex-Slint/Squirrel Bait member Brian McMahan, whose previous projects had all made their impact through jagged, noisy art-punk. Mirroring his old bandmate David Grubbs' evolution with Gastr del Sol, McMahan continued to explore the complex, cerebral patterns that were his stock in trade, but with delicate arrangements and far subtler dynamics. Slint fans were taken aback by the For Carnation's low-key sparseness, and while it wasn't as groundbreaking as McMahan's earlier efforts, the quietly unsettling creepiness of its best moments was rooted firmly in the leader's trademark aesthetic. McMahan was the lone constant in the For Carnation, which shaped up as a revolving-door outfit with collaborators coming and going from other projects; the initial lineup featured several members of Tortoise, who gave way to a collection of Louisville and Chicago scenesters.McMahan formed the For Carnation in 1994 as the latest in a series of high-profile indie outfits. Beginning his career in Louisville's seminal post-Husker Du punkers Squirrel Bait, he next moved on to the groundbreaking math-rock unit Slint; following their breakup, he moved to Chicago and played for a short time as a sideman in Will Oldham's Palace Brothers project, along with former Slint bandmate David Pajo. McMahan and Pajo started jamming on their own, along with ex-Slint/Squirrel Bait drummer Britt Walford, who stayed around only briefly. Pajo had begun playing with post-rock bigwigs Tortoise, and two of that band's members -- Doug McCombs (bass) and John Herndon (drums) -- came on board to fill things out, completing the first version of the For Carnation. This lineup recorded the three-song EP Fight Songs, which was released on Matador in 1995. Pajo subsequently left to concentrate on his other projects, which included Tortoise as well as the solo venture Aerial M and several sideman gigs.McCombs and Herndon continued to play sporadically with the group, but their full-time commitment to Tortoise made things difficult. McMahan pieced together the next For Carnation record, 1996's relatively brief full-length Marshmallows, from contributions by McCombs and Herndon, and those of a new lineup featuring onetime Rodan drummer John Weiss,guitarists Tim Ruth (also of Slint offshoot) Evergreen) and Michael McMahan (Brian's brother), plus additional contributions by hotshot Chicago producer Brad Wood. The For Carnation subsequently embarked on its first national tour, with a lineup featuring the McMahan brothers and an all-Louisville supporting cast of guitarist Tim Furnish, bassist Todd Cook (both ex-Crain), and drummer Kip McCabe. By this time, the group's brand of post-rock was drawing comparisons to Gastr del Sol, as well as slowcore bands like Codeine and Low.The For Carnation later split from Matador to sign with Touch & Go, and McMahan returned to Louisville and set about crafting new material with a lineup of Michael McMahan, Todd Cook, and the returning Britt Walford (then also in Evergreen). Meanwhile, Runt reissued the band's first two EPs together under the title Promised Works. Walford returned to his other commitments later in 1997, and was eventually replaced by Steve Goodfriend; guitarists/keyboardists Bobb Bruno and Rafe Mandel later came on board as well. Finally, in 2000, Touch & Go released The For Carnation, the band's most substantive and fully realized record to date. Boasting considerable involvement from Tortoise's John McEntire, the album also featured guest spots from the Breeders' Kim Deal and that dog.'s Rachel Haden.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
From Here to Eternity is Moroder's quasi-instrumental masterpiece, a continuous mix of banging Eurodisco complete with vocoder effects and this statement on the back cover: "Only electronic keyboards were used on this recording." The metallic beats, high-energy impact, and futuristic effects prove that Moroder was ahead of his time like few artists of the 1970s (Kraftwerk included), and the free-form songwriting on tracks like "Lost Angeles," "First Hand Experience in Second Hand Love," and the title track are priceless.
Having worked on some groundbreaking albums over the last decade Ekvílibríum is Valgeir Sigurðsson's own debut, but here he has revealed that as well as being a gifted producer, engineer and musician, he is equally skillful as a crafter of songs and instigator of a cascade of emotions.
Valgeir is joined by a number of guests on Ekvílibríum, such as Nico Muhly, Samuli Kosminen, Warren Ellis, Guy Sigsworth, and a a string ensemble. The album also features vocal performances from Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, who helps craft 2 of the songs, as well as Faun Fables' Dawn McCarthy and J. Walker aka Machine Translations.
This long overdue CD compilation of Donnacha Costello's Colorseries draws on the artist's own favourite selections from the 12"s and even throws some unreleased material into the bargain. It was 2004 when Costello embarked upon the project and even after three years of rotation by DJs like Josh Wink and Loco Dice it's still a pleasure to listen through the assembled tracks. Thanks to a mixture of digital finesse and classic analog equipment Costello's productions sound incredibly warm and soft, with the contoured bass of 'Grape A' and the bright beams of synth in 'Mustard B' still making for some immensely tactile listening. In amongst the classic techno dynamics of the series you'll also find a few opportunities for downtime ambience: the cuts from the Cocoa 12" are every bit the mug of auditory hot chocolate the title suggests, with a particularly mellifluous unreleased track making the cut, exhibiting a grip on muted, reverberant synth tones worthy of classic-era Boards Of Canada.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Mortise and Tenon
Spawned from the formidable Louisville, KY collective known as Black Velvet Fuckere (Valley Of The Ashes, Phantom Family Halo, Kark, etc.), Sapat resides as the centrifugal force in this Midwestern psychedelic madrigal set in the psychosexual backwaters of the mighty Ohio River. For the entirety of the '00 decade, members have kept busy collaborating with and/or massaging the egos of various and sundry avant-pontiffs such as Robert Fripp, Magik Markers, Dead Child (David Pajo's metal band. That's right, David Pajo!) and Eugene Chadbourne -- when not honing the orgone energy of Sapat.
The Fall of '06 saw their debut release, a seven-inch on BVF entitled Tongue-Tied & Staid that had a few astute bloggers comparing the action within to "aggressive blues a la Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band." However, for this self-titled full-length release, Sapat has opted for a different, more organic sonic waft. Acoustically packed to the gills, the octet effortlessly strums and blows breezy vibes, emitting kosmisch melodies and Teutonic ambience that channel-- Julian Cope-like-- past giants such as Limbus 4, Siloah and Lord Krishna Von Goloka (you know, the A-team of Krautrock). Once you launch into the group's spacey and entrancing, yet calming and soothing asteroid belt, you might mistake the Ozarks for the Alps if you're not careful. And who could blame you? You're way up there and the air's thin; hallucinating's a must.
The Fall of '06 saw their debut release, a seven-inch on BVF entitled Tongue-Tied & Staid that had a few astute bloggers comparing the action within to "aggressive blues a la Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band." However, for this self-titled full-length release, Sapat has opted for a different, more organic sonic waft. Acoustically packed to the gills, the octet effortlessly strums and blows breezy vibes, emitting kosmisch melodies and Teutonic ambience that channel -- Julian Cope-like -- past giants such as Limbus 4, Siloah and Lord Krishna Von Goloka (you know, the A-team of Krautrock). Once you launch into the group's spacey and entrancing, yet calming and soothing asteroid belt, you might mistake the Ozarks for the Alps if you're not careful. And who could blame you? You're way up there and the air's thin; hallucinating's a must.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
"It's really about the unpredictable mischief of real life - it's sort of chaotic our life. It's about humans and the things we turn to, and looking for fun and stimulus and meaning and stuff." Robert Wyatt
Robert Wyatt is one of my favourite singers, writers, makers of wonderful music. It is with pleasure that I can introduce you to this, his latest album, and first for Domino.
I first discovered Robert Wyatt's music when borrowing, and then stealing, Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard from a library. Then came a second-hand purchase of the 'Shipbuilding' 7", which I played repeatedly, not even thinking to flip it over. A few years later, it was my near-20 years late discovery of the Mid Eighties compilation and Old Rottenhat that really fixed my glue to Wyatt's music. I was obsessed (and not least by that very b side to 'Shipbuilding' - 'Memories of You'). It seemed in Robert's 'home' recordings, these unfinished-sounding, and barely accompanied, odds and ends - covers, originals, spoken pieces - with just wonderful synthesizers, percussion and piano to support the familiarly fragile voice, I had found home. I've been delving further and repeatedly into his deep well for a few years now, and it is no surprise to even find his songs cropping up in many of my DJ sets, as well as my home listening. With Dondestan, Shleep, Cuckooland and now Comicopera, Wyatt seems to have found his own 'home' music - each record intimate and sophisticated, played with (the suggestion of) ease and curiosity. And also fun.
Comicopera, divided into three Acts - 'Lost in Noise', 'The Here and The Now', and 'Away with the Fairies', continues where these albums had left off, but it is initially less dense than Cuckooland, and more light and live sounding. Robert says he was keen to have the sound of a group of musicians playing in the room together, but more importantly, to have friends (furthermore than musicians who play these particular instruments), playing together:
"Music isn't just an abstract pleasure, it is company, when you play a record. Why I like Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus, the Big Bands - is because every character in the band is identifiable as that person - there's this group of humans in a room." (Wyatt)
That gives this record its sense of spontaneity, despite its deliberate pacing and construction as something of a three Act 'Opera':
"Musically, the changes are quite abrupt. And the narrator actually shifts. At the end of the second section I'm both the euphoric bomber ('A Beautiful War'), and the apoplectic bombed person ('Out of the Blue'). It shifts about in a way that I haven't consciously done in the past."
In Act One, the album opens with a plea for patience - Anja Garbarek's 'Stay Tuned', and as stated, a fair amount of light has crept in (from which end of the tunnel is it not clear...). We are treated to love songs (of sorts), before Act Two threatens to brighten further, with a community and carnival-esque feel pervading the mood; before at the close of the Act, the bombing takes place. Act Three, 'Away with the Fairies', the darkest, and most noisy, recalls some of the unsettling mood of his 80s productions, where odd synths underpin the voice and minor chords are wedged next to each other in close chromatic proximity. Act Three also marks the shift from songs in English language to Italian and Spanish - a pivotal moment in the record from which point onwards Robert claims he refused to sing in English, as a protest -
"After the bombing - it's to do with feeling completely alienated from Anglo-American culture at that point. Just sort of being silent as an English-speaking person, because of this fucking war. The last thing I sing in English is "you've planted all your everlasting hatred in my heart". I then wander off round the world searching for different kinds of meaning - whether its avant guard, or revolution, or serialist fantasy, or religion, or all those things. Pretentious or what?! Well I don't care anymore."
Before you reach that final segment (the inverse of the traditional Comic Opera light and uplifting ending), this feels like it could even be Robert Wyatt's 'pop' album. He's openly a fan of 'tunes', and the deep influence of songs such as 'Raining in My Heart', covered on his last record, has perhaps had an impact on the melodies and compressed structures of these new performances. But the depth of the journey here, from start to finish, is magnificent, and stopping off along the way for the sublime steel pan and sax battle of 'On the Town Square'; or for the frantic song of bomber versus bombed, featuring Brian Eno's sampled voice replayed by Wyatt on synthesizer, 'Out of the Blue', seems only to be expected in an album as enjoyable and ambitious as this.
"Greeks divided things into Comedy and Tragedy, and Comedy didn't mean funny, it meant just, 'about human foibles', as opposed to tragedy which is about Gods and Destiny. So this is about human foibles. I want to emphasise that because I do end up singing a kind of hymn to Che Guevarra, but I'm talking about human foibles, I'm not looking for new Gods."
There are some of Wyatt's best songs here, seemingly tossed off with ease. There are love songs of sorts, but love songs of tolerance as much as simple delight. 'Just As You Are', for example, is further from the sentimentality of the Billy Joel/Barry White classic, than should be possible with such familiar linguistic terrain. It is about living with someone else. The emphasis here is on realism; on the gaps and distance as much as the closeness, between lovers. The song crops up later in 'Fragment', in what sounds like reversed, compressed form, an anarchic and crude remix - either undermining the beauty of its original version, or emphasising, via cut up repetition, the implicit contentedness versus resignation of the lines "I'm never going to change a thing about you". Songs like 'Just As You Are' and 'A Beautiful War', are, melodically so sweet, but they veer away from any safe 'pop' territory in the tension between mellifluous beauty and lyrical harshness. For others the juxtaposition is the other way around, but it is this tension, which is central to Comicopera's mastery.
"When I'm writing I write completely on automatic - actually a better word is composing, meaning putting together, because I didn't write the first song or the last one - so when I'm putting together a record I do it completely instinctively, like an animal hunting for food or whatever. And only once I've done it do i work out what I was up to. I don't think beforehand, I think afterwards. I find that plans ahead, concepts ahead limit you."
Whether or not the concepts that help elevate this record above a mere loose collection of songs came before or after, it is clear that the editing process, the composition here, and the songwriting itself, is quite astounding. There is so much to find, and to return to, in the generous 'company' of this record.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Arab Strap followers anxious to listen in on more of Aidan Moffat's tales of infidelity, drunkenness, and other various forms of sloppy debauchery will hear nothing of the sort in Hypnogogia, his solo album credited to Lucky Pierre. Throughout, Moffat utilizes the style of leisurely paced, bass-heavy hip-hop beats heard in many an Arab Strap song and casts a somewhat limited range of moods -- sadness to eeriness to outright terror -- with the use of sighing cellos, twinkling melodies, and plaintive pianos. It's not all thumping rhythms, however; "Ghost One" and "Ghost Two," two of the album's most pensive and exceptional moments, are beatless, with echoed piano and unsettling drones wafting throughout. "Nurse Flamingo" sticks out like a sore thumb, but somehow manages to fit the flow of the album, swiping its chiming melody and tropical nuances from easy listening albums. Despite the album's consistency, nothing tops the opening "Angels on Your Body," a dramatic track with spectacular use of machine claps and an elegy of strings so alluringly mournful you'll want to swim in it. Despite the absence of Moffat's mate, Malcolm Middleton (the man usually credited in the duo's liner notes as "most things musical"), and despite the absence of Moffat's slurred miserablisms, Hypnogogia could've been released as a proper Arab Strap album without blemishing the reputation the name carries. More importantly, Hypnogogia shows that Moffat is adept at conveying his feelings without the use of words.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Review by Margaret Reges, All Music Guide
Swedish indie acts are notorious imitators, and The Mary Onettes are no exception. Their eponymous debut sounds eerily familiar -- there's the synthiness and jumpy new wave basslines of Echo & the Bunnymen ("Void" is a good example) and just a touch of jangly R.E.M. guitar work ("Pleasure Songs"). In this respect, the Mary Onettes could be lumped in with other Scandinavian shoegaze worshippers, and those familiar with Swedish indie pop will no doubt reach for comparisons to bands like Lane and Celestial. All of this sounds great on paper, and to be honest the album itself sounds pretty darn good at first. "Pleasure Songs" does a great job of blending their jangly alt-rockiness with their shoegaziness, and for all its familiarity it sounds quite fresh. Sadly, the remainder of the album relies on nondescript, by-the-book synth-pop fare, and the album suffers as a result. The Mary Onettes are literally consumed by their influences, and there's little to distinguish them from the Bunnymen. Now, relying on an array of tried-and-true shoegaze clichés does not a bad record make, and the Mary Onettes manage to do justice to their synthy trappings. This album is more than merely listenable; to be perfectly honest, it's essentially a technically flawless debut. The songs are catchy, the atmosphere is pleasantly foggy, and Philip Ekström is a subtle and versatile vocalist to boot. But the band leans too heavily on its influences, and when it comes right down to it there's very little difference between the Mary Onettes and Echo & the Bunnymen. So why not just cut out the middleman and listen to the real thing? The Mary Onettes, barricaded as they are in their influences, offer little reason not to. Not on this release, at any rate.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
A Mountain of One's Collected Works is like a drugged out fleetwood mac, pink floyd's meddle, the full blown 70's santana, arthur russell, laurel canyon, air's moon safari, jj cale, talk talk, madchester, the 1st beta band ep, the verve's northern soul. that's the only way of describing the step up that amo1 have taken with this set. a true magical spell, and one that is going to soundtrack many memories for a long, long time.thanks Rough Trade!
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Wooden Shjips, a quartet from San Francisco heavily influenced by the experimentalism of psychedelia, classical minimalism, and garage rock excess, started as an experiment in rhythmic primitivism and group improvisation. The current roster brings a more structured rock approach to its performances, utilizing a traditional lineup of drums (Omar Ahsanuddin), bass (Dusty Jermier), organ (Nash Whalen), guitar (Erik "Ripley" Johnson), and vocals.
Here is the mystery of Seattle’s Cave Singers: They never listened to much folk music, they never intended to play folk music, and more importantly, their guitarist never picked up the instrument until recently. Yet, this strange trio is writing and performing some of the most hypnotizing folk music we have today.
One listen to Invitation Songs, however, and you’re ready to call bullshit on them. It sounds like an updated version of the Anthology of American Folk Music. Not the graduate-student, learned interpretations of folk music circa 1962, but folk music approached by way of punk rock. It's sparse, melodic, creepy, and alluring, like the widow mourning graveside in Johnny Cash’s “Long Black Veil”. Guitarist Derek Fudesco's bottom-end acoustic work sounds like Mississippi John Hurt's soft, rolling finger plucks. Singer Pete Quirk's appealingly nasal voice simultaneously echoes Arlo Guthrie and a mosquito's buzz. And drummer Marty Lund plays like he's slapping a newspaper on a kitchen table.
Though Quirk spent time in Seattle post-punk group Hint Hint, Lund in Cobra High, and Fudesco as bassist for Pretty Girls Make Graves and the legendary Murder City Devils, maybe they’ve been folk artists all along and we just haven’t been open to the idea.
The band maintains that they never made a conscious effort to play a certain 'style' of music, and that, besides the odd Dylan record, their favorite bands are still the Replacements, the Pixies, Fleetwood Mac. With that in mind, I do believe it was Big Bill Broonzy who quipped: “All music is folk music.”
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Their debut rides off the release of the single, "2080/Sunrise" that garnered stacks of nice press quotes. The album is a mesmerizing journey, and quite overwhelming for a premiere release. Live, this group brings out the boogie, radiating heat waves and rhythms. Songs once laid to tape are constantly restructured and reworked, show to show, for a new experience.
After years of outer space exploration in Yume Bitsu and Surface of Eceyon, as well as stints as a hired gun for a multitude of artists including Dirty Projectors, Jackie-O Motherfucker and Devendra Banhart, Adam Forkner decided to turn his focus inward and began to record solo material. And focus he did, working at a dizzying pace that culminated in the production of the 5CD/1DVD White Rainbow Box (2006 Marriage Records). The remarkable thing about that album was not that it was 4.5 hours long, but that the overwhelming majority of it was of extraordinary quality and not mere filler.
With the release of ...Eternal Now, White Rainbow has surpassed typical solo project territory and is now a virtual elemental force. At a somewhat brief 71 minutes, his kranky debut pulses and flows with mantric chants, clattering percussions, sighing sustains and guitar leads unashamed of their scorching transcendence. He breathes new life into archaic sub-genres such as progrock, new age, and hippie folk incantations, while never stooping to the negative aspects of any of them, and at the same time remaining a step ahead of the technologically crippled and virtuosuo-less looper pedal scene. Prism of Eternal Now leaves behind the bounds of gravity for a free floating meditational headtrip of inner space exploration.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Mahjongg's is a creativity that’s unlikely to grace your stereo for eons, with a combination of purpose, musical know-how and the production smarts to seamlessly fuse 70's lo-fi guitar, polyrhythmic drum explosions and fuzzed-out bass lines. But it's not just an insightful collection of what's come before. They've got tones, bleeps and beats too. Just like the genreless melee Black Dice or Animal Collective craft so effortlessly, Mahjongg take that initiative and coincide it with some well sourced cohesion. In short: RaYDONcoNG 2005 is a contemporary masterpiece.
Mahjongg are not about hype, they're about music, and challenging your perceptions on music. They might be about to take over the world, but really - who cares what they're doing unless they're on a plane right now to play in your living room and change your life. Short of that, at least RaYDONcoNG 2005 exists, right?
Montreal’s Montag (a.k.a. Antoine Bédard) charts a new direction on his third album Going Places. Overhauling his delicate touch with vintage instruments, and transforming his sound into explosions of incandescent electronic pop, Montag fleshes out his lush sophisticated songs with guest appearances from musical friends Anthony Gonzales (M83), Owen Pallet (Final Fantasy), Amy Millan (Stars), Au Revoir Simone, Victoria Legrand (Beach House) and Ghislain Poirier.
Moving through the personal, Montag visits his lover in a pop anthem (Best Boy Electric) and the transformed ghosts of his family with nostalgia both sublime (Hi-5 au DJ) and ironic (Alice). Singing in English and French, the solo artist also forays into the social, imagining uprisings on Vancouver’s troubled streets (322 Water) and the eager compliance of a young battalion (Mechanical Kids). From blissful orchestrations (Safe in Sound, No One Else) to a sparse, boy-on-boy duet (Softness, I Forgot Your Name), Montag’s Going Places allows passage into landscapes full of color and contrast, at once vivid, intimate and other-worldly.
This is Paul Dickow's second full length for kranky and third as Strategy. He is extremely busy running the Community Library label, which will be releasing a 12" version of this album's title track, while also collaborating in the trio Nudge, and recording and performing solo work.
Three years have passed since Drumsolo's Delight, and Strategy finally comes forward with a new full-length. His third album to date, Future Rock focuses Strategy's diverse interests into a single point, while still drawing directly from the dense, shimmering sonic language established on Delight.
Based on a refined studio process that incorporates multi-tracked live instrumentation, archaic synthesizer equipment, archived recordings of improvisations and band practices, digital sound design, and sound of non-musical origin, the album is a polyglot solution of genres. Musical quotations, discrete sonic jokes, and skewed musicological impressions are blended into a dream-like, impressionistic musical composite which confounds and compounds music's past, present, and future. A gauzy, vibrating curtain of sound, much like the one that made Drumsolo's so distinctive, ties together all the songs as do the signature Wurlitzer electric piano and old-school spring reverb.
Incorporating compositions that have taken years to develop, a handful of close collaborators (including his cohorts from the band Nudge), and using source material that dates as far back as 2000, Future Rock is easily Strategy's most complex, narrative, ambitious and overtly "pop" record to date; as well, it's practically a thesis statement for his vision of a genre-free musical world. To date you've heard Strategy dabble in everything from headphone-oriented ambient music to house and dub; this is the work that brings it all together.
Justus Kohncke is a sponge and seems to have soaked in the whole history of pop music with all its inherent, structural beauty and styles. Five years after his debut album of cover versions “spiralen der erinnerung” and two years after his album “was ist musik”, Kompakt deemed it high time to wring out the sponge - filled with impressions collected during Justus’ numerous spectacular freestyle dj-performances all over the world. Combining Kompakt's techno message with disco jewels of the last three decades the man is full of knowledge and somewhat prone to regular, scientific analyses of his all-time, most favourite songs. Fighting on the front line of new club sounds Justus' track “timecode” was by consensus one of the biggest hits of 2004 - yet he plays the pop card so unashamedly, killing two birds again with one stone. “Schwabylon” is hard and elegant cruising disco funk Daft Punk would have loved to add to their recent album; “herz aus papier” is a cosy ballad called made in cooperation with Barbara Morgenstern; and there is the intoxicating, exotic and psychedelic version of “the answer is yes” and of course Kohncke‘s famous brand, his german electronic pop music for the charts of tomorrow (“wo bist du”, “alles nochmal”). The heart of the cd album is the 10-minute disco track “elan”
Rod Modell is a sound designer / electronic music producer from the Detroit area. Began producing music in the mid-80's using analog synthesizers and drum machines. To date (July 2007), Modell has about 60 releases to his credit. Rod's work was focused on elecrto-acoustic experimentation in the early years, making musique concrete compositions with a 4-track cassette machine and field recordings, then branching into industrial soundscape work. More recent recordings utilize more structure and beats, but still retain the atmospherics that Modell is known for. Mood is of paramount importance in a Rod Modell recording (often created with field recordings). Sadly, this element seems to be lost in much of the clicks+cuts DSP music of today. One of Modell's favorite pastimes is making middle-of-the-night recordings with his portable DAT machine and dummy-head microphone. In the mid-90's, Modell started Deepchord Records (w/ Mike Schommer) in Detroit, as an outlet for his music. Deepchord has experienced tremendous popularity (some say cult status) within the dub-techno world. Formed in the mid-90's, DC was one of the original perveyors of this sound. Hordes of immitators came in the following years after DC, but DC's status as one of the originators is firmly embedded in musical history. Somewhat similar to the mid-90's Berlin sound, but with warmer sensibilites... seeming to pull more elements from Chicago's house and Detroit's techno heritages, while avoiding Berlin's more metallic edge. Someone recently described Berlin's sound as Black and Grey, and DC's sound as Brown and Red.
After four sellout twelves and a barrage of critical acclaim - Deepchord's full length Echospace excursion "The Coldest Season" is at long last available on CD and Download - featuring material not featured on the EP's and different versions of familiar tracks - all expertly blended and mastered by Rod Modell for your enjoyment. Produced using nothing but vintage analog equipment : Roland Space Echo, Echoplex, Korg tape delay, vintage signal processors, noise generators, Sequential Circuits 8 bit samplers & numerous analog synthesizers - this project goes back to the heady days of Berlin-based proto dub/techno variations, recorded and produced in Detroit and Chicago. Three of the worlds most important Techno cities colliding to form a whole that perfectly bridges the gap between The Motor City's emotive arrangements, The Windy city's percussive robustness, and Berlin's life-altering Basic Channel continuum. Listened to in one sitting, "The Coldest Season" chooses a different arrangement and track selection to slowly build up momentum and space - taking in the muted steppers reduction of "Abraxas" and the icy soundscaping of "Ocean Of Emptiness" before reaching a crescendo of sorts with the radiant techno of "Elysian" and the majestic dub killer "Empyrean" - the most revered track on board bringing this 80 minute album to a perfect close. Where Echospace go from here only time will tell - but for the moment "The Coldest Season" is a perfect distillation of dub techno and BASS reductions for 2007 and beyond.
From George Clinton and De La Soul to Ornette Coleman and Frank Zappa, a lot of great artists haven't hesitated to be self-indulgent. It's a question of how self-indulgent an artist chooses to be, and on Psychoanalysis (What Is It?), Prince Paul is much too self-indulgent for his own good. Known for his membership in the group Stetsasonic and for producing De La Soul, Queen Latifah, and others, Paul has an impressive resume. But this unfocused, incoherent CD wasn't his finest hour. Though it contains a few worthwhile rap tunes (including "Psycho Linguistics" and "J.O.B. -- Das What Dey Is"), Psychoanalysis isn't a rap album so much as a collection of soundbites, samples, and dialogue played over tracks. Overall, the album is pointless and serves no purpose other than Paul's desire to amuse and entertain himself. He may have gotten a few laughs out of it, but listeners will be left out in the cold and find themselves asking if there is a point to all this.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
after their homage to their moms and the digestion of piled up experiences of their musical freshmen years, the arts-and-crafts duo modeselektor will now release their second album �happy birthday�.
the record is once again a description of the state of mind of the little buggers from berlin-wedding. the constant state of mind is definately clear: hanging out together all the time. not only professionally (tours, studio ...), but now even more in their privat lifes to. because, smart asses will have reasoned already, both will become fathers very soon, almost simultaneously. happy birthday!
but back to their labor-pains: after 111 slashings and burnings of the dancefloor from sydney to iceland last year and driven by the ungovernable spirit of gold-diggers, gernot and szary holed up at their mobile airstream caravan recording studio in order to give birth to �happy birthday�.
the conditions of production were - and no flattering here - adverse. but thanks to digital transfer technology and a mild winter in berlin, all came together nicely in the end. thank god, because the album is supposed to release modeselektor�s monkey of success, its joy and energy and was supposed to also be a celebration of themselves - yeah!
there was of course spoken support in the past, and some of it turned into a musical one: thom yorke, maximo park, puppetmastaz, paul st. hilaire (of course!), otto von schirach, siriusmo and the french rap gang ttc.
the repertoire of �happy birthday� goes from hard rap à la french to the term dubstep in the broadest sense. new urban word scraps buzz around all the time to descripe modeselektor�s style: eurocrunk, continental grime, tech-rap ... the list is long. mr. bronsert and mr. szary don�t like to post a genre sticker on their music anyway, so they don�t really care. they just do great music, no matter what style.
and another good thing - their tendency to not take themselves seriously is unbowed and so this album is great fun for everybody - moms, dads, sibblings, grandparents ... �happy birthday� seems to be a bit more mature. maybe. but nonetheless not less attractive. like the two gentlemen themselves ....!
The term Krautrock gets bandied about pretty loosely, and it has been used on more than one occasion to describe this 1973 effort by the little-known Sergius Golowin. Looking at its vintage and its cast of players, it's easy to see how it earned that label: members of the band had recorded with such legendary Krautrock ensembles as Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel, the Cosmic Jokers, and Wallenstein. Nevertheless, Lord Krishna von Goloka is probably a little too ambient to qualify as rock of any kind. It is, however, a pretty tripped-out affair, and one that is likely to satisfy fans of early-'70s kosmiche rock.
The album is divided into three long tracks, but it would be wrong-headed to discuss these as individual "songs." Rather, the three pieces exist as atmospheric soundscapes, each sharing similar terrain. Folk, classical, and Eastern elements bump headlong into more psychedelic components, provided largely by Schulze who contributes everything from electric and acoustic guitar to organ, Mellotron, percussion, drums, and electronics.
Throughout the proceedings, Golowin serves as a sort of German Timothy Leary, gentling imparting his wisdom on all things mystical. He speaks, whispers, and sighs, but never sings. In short, it's all laid on a bit thickly. Fortunately, the genuinely intense musical performances cancel out the more indulgent moments, ensuring that the album never devolves into period camp.
"Migrations, Emanuele Errante's debut album, is a perfect choice to inaugurate Apegenine's Chapitre, a series dedicated to ambient music, field recordings, and modern composition. Migrations' eight electro-acoustic settings are soothing, multi-layered fields of loops that sit naturally alongside the similarly pretty recordings of Marsen Jules, Gas, and Kompakt's Pop Ambient installments. Errante's wide-ranging instrumental palette adds contrast with the harp plucks and strums that dominate “Rugiada” followed by the strings and piano of “Nubes.” “Calabria,” with its surging waves, Gas-styled strings, and repeating piano ping, is as moodily atmospheric as the fog-drenched moors of Wuthering Heights, while “Wheels” is equally motorik and hazy, as its layers blur into a repeating mass that vaguely resembles Reich's Music For Eighteen Musicians. The words contemplative, ruminative, and serene come to mind while listening to this accomplished collection of lulling ambiance. ."
Nonloc is the solo guise of Mark Dwinell, the guitar-slinging ringleader of East Coast spontaneous trance rockers Bright. When composing on the spot with Bright, Dwinell directs the minmailst, krautrock inspired jams into melodic and sonically layered songs, draping over it impromptu vocals in a manner loosely akin to any number mid-70's Kraut legends, or the philosophies of Damo Suzuki and his instant compositions. Nonloc takes direction from the Bright model, but springboards away with a more refined perspective. Between Hemispheres, the second solo album for Dwinell as Nonloc, is a heady excursion into repetition and the unyielding strength of unrepentant melody.
Fascinated by minimalist composers such as Steve Reich and Terry Riley, Nonloc seeks to focus on the microtonal universes and hypnotic netherworlds minimalism awakens from repetition, while constructing ivory towers of melody enveloped top to bottom with softly barbed hooks. Acoustic and electric guitars provide focus instrumentation, but the elaborate color accumulation of Between Hemispheres is dominated by alternate layering of acoustic instruments such as piano, accordion, mandolin, and cello. Whereas Bright will use vocals sparingly as instrumental color, Nonloc spices up the instrumental forays by peppering tunes with lyrics that are direct and at times strikingly personal.
Impeccably recorded, Between Hemispheres is a long-playing lullaby for intimate, contemplative twilight stares into candlelight.
Monday, September 03, 2007
A Place To Bury Strangers have often been called "the loudest band in New York". This may very well be the case, but unlike much so-called "loud" rock and roll that's out there, APTBS is not loud simply for the sake of it. The sonically overdriven sound they've accomplished is no clumsy accident, but a carefully cultivated and well-maintained entity all its own, fostered by an unbridled passion that's clearly evident in every live show they play and each recording they make. A Place To Bury Strangers does not so much play songs as allow them to pour out. They are songs about longing, heartbreak and confusion played extremely well and at a passionately loud volume.
While there are obvious reference points: Pornography-era Cure, early Ride, My Bloody Valentine, and pre-1990s Jesus and Mary Chain, the sound is all their own, in part due to singer/guitarist Oliver Ackermann's day job of building custom guitar pedals (see deathbyaudio.net). Coupled with the solid bass of Jono Mofo and the relentless drumming of Jay Space, the APTBS team is a force to reckon with.
These ten songs have been floating around for years on CD-Rs sold at shows and MP3s circling around the Internet, but are presented here uncompressed in their full glory, professionally mastered for CD. From the time that Killer Pimp first approached APTBS to release these songs until the time of the release, interest in the band has exploded, they have played South By Southwest, and have been offered recording deals with bigger sized labels.
At the time of release, many of these songs are being given new treatments for a wider release on a larger label. This disc serves as a document of the songs dirty and raw early incarnations and will no doubt become a collectors' item over time.
The origin of the band's name is biblical.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Swedish disco explorers Studio bridge a gap between the current wave of Scandinavian retro disco activists (Lindstrom, Prins Thomas and so on) and more song-oriented dancefloor sounds. Clocking in at a mere six tracks West Coast might sound like it might be a tad brief, as albums go, but nonetheless the album nearly clocks up an hour's worth of play time and without doubt crams in an impressive run of ideas. 'Out There' serves as an excellent opener, and itself serves as an example of the group's ability to flirt with all manner of different sub-genres. It's a piece of gloriously lurid neon audio, made up of addictive early '80s-themed passages, even dropping some 'I Feel Love'-style synth arps before switching to a skanking reggae rhythm towards the end. There's something a bit Duran Duran about 'West Side', but somehow that doesn't seem at all like a bad thing. One of the album's more concise pop numbers, 'Self Service' is a clear highlight, sounding like a cross between Saint Etienne and The Knife (but with male vocals). Offering a different slant on Studio's approach to pop, 'Origin' goes a bit Madchester, featuring some bluesy guitar riffs set to a sloppy early-nineties style breakbeat. The whole of West Coast is united by a very specific produxction sound - one which while constantly referencing retro dance music trends always sounds full-bodied and weighty in a very modern way. Splendid.
"As gorgeous a piece of guitar-less indie pop as you're likely to hear this year. Beirut fans looking for more to fuel their hunger should look this way.." - Boomkat
Alaska In Winter came about when art student, Brandon Bethancourt spent a semester recording music in an isolated cabin on the south coast of Alaska. Upon arrival back in New Mexico, he teamed up with Zach Condon of Beirut, Heather Trost of A Hack And A Hacksaw (a Neutral Milk Hotel side-project), and Rosina Roybal (who played viola in the Kanye West symphony) and thus finished the album 'Dance Party In The Balkans'.
Brandon takes much of his influence from all his early years of growing up in the (American) South West, immersed in the musical low-rider culture of Santa Fe, New Mexico, as well as a slight Arabian influence on the part of his parents and their Byzantine church music.
The Conference of the Birds
The tightly-woven strains of Carnatic music have had hallucinogenic qualities for centuries. Practitioners such as Shankar and mandolin master Srinivas have brought the musical powers of their native lands to vastly wider audiences - Saddar Bazaar take the essence of Carnaticism bravely into the world of raga rock, beyond even the efforts of such past groups as Third Ear Band or Between. Amongst a collection of the requisite instruments (sitar, tabla, dholak, kubing, guitars, keyboards and sundry percussion) the quartet trade gently cascading riffs of piquant melodies (Sukoon) against hotbeds of strident percussion and trance rock (Baraka, Arc Of Ascent). Saddar Bazaar's psychedelic ragas function as both a reflection of the galvanising power of music's tradition and an re-affirmation of its' cultural identity in the modern world.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
A beautifully remastered version of the first album by Azymuth -- presented here with a full bonus CD of new remix tracks! The core album is one of the sweetest electric records to come from 70s Brazil -- the fabulous first effort from the Azymuth trio, and work that's hardly been matched again! Although the group here have plenty of the warm keyboard touches of their more famous later work, they're also moving in territory that's a bit more abstract as well -- using some noisier electronics amidst the smoother ones, to create a style that's somewhere between fusion, electric funk, and some of the more soaring Brazilian rhythms of the post-bossa years! The keyboards of Jose Roberto Bertrami are worth the price of admission alone -- and include Fender Rhodes, Arp, and clavinet -- plus bits of Hammond organ too! There's more than a few great breaks and samples on the set -- and titles include "Brazil", "Caca De Conta", "Melo Dos Dois Bicudos", "Manha", "Periscopio", and "Montreal City". The second disc is just as great as the first -- and features 11 great remixes, all by talents very sympathetic to the classic sound of the original -- tracks that include "Wait For My Turn (Yam Who rmx)", "Linha Do Horizonte (Mr Beatnick rmx)", "Estrada Dos Deuses (Recloose rmx)", "Seems Like This (As One rmx)", "Periscopio (Marc Mac rmx)", "Morning (Peanut Butter Wolf rmx)", "Caca A Raposa (DJ Venom rmx)", and "Montreal City (Volcov rmx)".
If you're going to kick off an album with a song called "Divers Do It Deeper," you should either be really good with the comedy or just really good, period. Sorcerer, the nom de plume (or beat) of Dan Judd from the band Call & Response, aims for the good in general, happily, and if White Magic isn't a suddenly out-of-nowhere high point for music in 2007, it is an easygoing but not lazy blend of dance styles that aims for the gently upbeat. Like a fair number of fellow musical travelers, Sorcerer's main fascination seems to lie with a kind of not-quite-real-but-close vision of dance music at the turn of the '80s as a multifaceted blend between understated funk and disco, proto-chillout jazz, and early digital electronic production in general. If the vision isn't per se unique, the execution matters most, and while White Magic almost works better in individual moments rather than as a full album -- though it might have worked best as a continual mix -- those moments can be solid ones, as with the tight guitar riff on "Surfing at Midnight" and "Egyptian Sunset" or the just-anthemic-enough synth flow on "Blind Yachtsman" and "Airbrush Dragon," the latter of which manages the neat trick of suggesting any number of electronic pioneers and popularizers without specifically sounding like any. An even better standout is "Slow Burning Hands," which seems to have everything from a slowed-down mariachi beat to lush electric guitar washes interspersed with soft acoustic filigrees. It might not be a full-on beat apocalypse, but as its own take on a form it's still a reflective treasure, suggesting sunny beaches and the ability to get away from it all, even if only briefly. by ned Raggett
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
“Songs For The Young At Heart” is an enchanting side project bought to you by Dave Boulter and Stuart Staples of the Tindersticks. Inspired by memories from their childhood of music from the radio, school room and television, “Songs For The Young At Heart” features the sunny, simple, dark and sad songs from the halcyon days of school holidays and endless summer afternoons. Hand picking a selection of guest vocalists and story tellers, the album includes the likes of Cerys Matthews singing a sublime version of “White Horses”, Bonnie Prince Billy’s melancholic version of Puff The Magic Dragon and Jarvis Cocker reciting the tale of “Albert & The Lion” which takes you back to the days of Jackanory. Lovingly and beautifully presented, “Songs For The Young At Heart” is for everyone, whether young, old or especially just young at heart…
“Songs For The Young At Heart”, released on February 26th, first comes in a limited edition run packaged in a hard paged children’s book featuring the tale of “Albert The Lion” with illustrations by cult artist Sexton Ming. A video of Jarvis Cocker telling the story of “Albert The Lion” – where Jarvis sits in an actual lions cage WITH the lion – will also be available.
1.Theme For The Young At Heart (Stuart Staples)
2. Uncle Sigmund’s Clockwork Storybook – Sung by Robert Forster (The Triffids)
Originally by The Spinners in 1967
3. Florence’s Sad Song – Sung by Stuart Murdoch (Belle & Sebastian)
From “Dougal & The Blue Cat” – 1972
4. White Horses – Sung by Cerys Mathews
Originally by Jacky Lee in 1968
5.The Lion & Albert – Told by Jarvis Cocker
Original monologue by Marriott Edgar
6. Robinson Crusoe – Performed by The Tindersticks
Theme from the television programme from 1965
7. Hushabye Mountain – Sung by Stuart Staples
From Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – 1965
8. Morningtown Ride – Sung by Suzanne Osbourne
9. Inch Worm – Sung by Kurt Wagner (Lambchop)
Hans Christian Anderson soundtrack 1952
10. Mary, Mungo & Midge – performed by The Tindersticks
From the BBC TV series 1969
11. The Three Sneezes – Told by Martin Wallace
12. Puff, The Magic Dragon – Sung by ‘Bonnie’ Price Billy and Red
Originally by Peter, Paul & Mary in 1963
13. Hey, Don’t You Cry – (Stuart Staples) sung by Stuart Staples
Monday, July 30, 2007
Music beyond description -- a unique blend of disco, funk, avant garde, and dub -- the wonderful world of the late Arthur Russell! Russell was a bass player by trade, but he was schooled in both classical and Eastern music forms -- and brought an incredibly fresh vision to his work in New York in the late 70s and early 80s. To some, Russell was a groundbreaking disco pioneer -- with an offbeat production style and unique conception of rhythm. To others, Russell was a performance artist and avant garde musician -- working in circles that included Phillip Glass, David Byrne, and Robert Wilson. This mix of modes was very much a part of the post-disco, post-punk sound of New York at the time -- and nobody summarized it (or allowed it!) better than Russell himself. This excellent set from Soul Jazz is one of the first to truly give him his due -- and it brings together a large amount of his disco-related projects, plus a few more introspective numbers cut under his own name. The sound is incredible -- unlike anything you could categorize -- especially on the Russell-titled numbers -- and as always with Soul Jazz, the whole thing's beautifully packaged, with rich notes on the music and the person behind it! Titles include "Go Bang (Francois K mix)" by Dinosaur L, "Wax The Van" by Lola, "Is It All Over My Face (Larry Levan mix)" by Loose Joints, "In The Cornbelt (Larry Levan mix)" by Dinosaur L, "Pop Your Funk" by Loose Joints, "Schoolbell/Treehouse (Walter Gibbons mix)" by Indian Ocean, and "Let's Go Swimming (Walter Gibbons mix)", "A Little Lost", "In The Light Of The Miracle", and "Keeping Up" by Arthur Russell himself!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
For the second installment in the collaborative series of split albums between Temporary Residence Ltd. and Hydra Head Records, we find a match made in heaven with the ethereal, grandiose dirge-pop of Jesu splitting sides with stately, deserted majesty of Eluvium. Already fans of each other's music, the two artists sought to compliment each other and in the process stretched their individual sounds to their outermost limits. Jesu shoots for the moon with a trio of fuzzed-out tunes that owes more to first-wave British shoegaze groups like Swervedriver and Ride than Broadrick's own roots in Godflesh and Napalm Death. It's a beautiful and brilliant evolution in Jesu's already accomplished career. Eluvium aims for the heart of the sun with his magnum opus, a three-part collaboration with Jeremy deVine that stretches Eluvium's contemplative drones to a staggering twenty-one minutes, in which time the song transforms from a lonely rattle to a seismic, swirling storm of sound that grinds the piece to haunting quiet. As with all records in this series, this is strictly limited to 4,000 copies - 2,000 Hydra Head versions and 2,000 Temporary Residence Ltd. versions. The music and the artwork is the same on all copies, but the vinyl colors, label colors, and outer sticker colors will vary. We live to comfort you with our music, and confound you with our methods.
1. JESU: Farewell
2. JESU: Blind & Faithless
3. JESU: Why Are We Not Perfect?
4. ELUVIUM: Time-Travel Of The Sloth Parts I, II, & III
"Music Is My Drug!" Arthur Verocai.
In 1972 a repressive Brazilian military dictatorship frowned on artistic impression that might influence the youth of the country. However, producer, arranger and guitar player Arthur Verocai released a self-titled album on Brazilian based Continental Records that challenged the musical conventions of the day. His subtle protest experimented with new musical directions, and used figurative language to sneak under the censorship radar.
Luv N'Haight records is honored to release its first full-length Brazilian album. It's super rare and will appeal to fans of the folksy soul and lo-fi electronic experimentations of American artists like Shuggie Otis or the orchestration of producer Charles Stepney. Closest Brazilian comparisons would be to Tim Maia and Jorge Ben. This unique recording has a touch of folk, more than a hint of funk, jazz style soloing, amazing 20 piece string arrangements, blending of electronics and keyboards with organic sounds,
and superb soundtrack style music.
"I used to listen to Blood Sweat and Tears, Chicago, Stan Kenton, Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Web, Frank Zappa, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans and Miles Davis, Milton Nascimento, Bossa Nova, among others," explains Arthur Verocai. "In Brazil we had many musical influences, and by that time there wasn't a hegemonic one in the market. In this way my album reflected a search and musical experimentation. I was in an adventurous mood on this album and that led me to explore new melodic, harmonic and rhythmic paths.
Verocai arrived at the 1972 album with a number of accomplishments under his belt. He'd produced the Ivan Lins 1971 album "Agora" which was influenced heavily by the sound of North American soul. He had contributed string arrangements to Jorge Ben releases, too. "I also produced two albums by a singer named Célia for Continental and the president of the company was delighted with the results. He invited me to produce an album using my own compositions and I agreed as long as I was able to choose the musicians to perform with me. All the strings sessions featured 12 violins, 4 violas and 4 cellos, always with one or two percussionists. The idea of mixing strings with contemporary sounds came from my desire of searching for new paths. I think this album was very rich in terms of both quantity and quality of musicians!"
Verocai wasn't messing around with his line-up of musicians, which included Brazilian legends like Robertinho Silva, Pascoal Meireles, Luiz Alves, Paulo Moura, Edson Maciel, Oberdan Magalhães (Banda Black Rio), Nivaldo Ornelas (Milton Nascimento band) and Toninho Horta.
Born Arthur Cortes Verocai in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 17/6/1945, he studied music with Léo Soares, Darci Villaverde, Nair Barbosa da Silva, Roberto Menescal and Vilma Graça. In 1966 Leny Andrade included his song "Olhando o Mar" ("Looking at the Sea") on her "We Are There" album. Two years later Verocai participated in Musicanossa an event that brought together composers, musicians and singers in presentations to play live in the Santa Rosa Theater in Rio de Janeiro, for which he wrote his first arrangements. The live recording of the event included the songs "Madrugada" and "Nova Manhã", composed in partnership with Paulinho Tapajós.
By 1968 his main gig was working in Civil Engineering in Rio de Janeiro. He still managed to perform and participate as a composer at many of Brazils famous Festivals of Music. He was working with artists like Paulinho Tapajós, Elis Regina, Creuza Maria, the Golden Boys, and Evinha. In 1969 Arthur Verocai began his professional career as musician and arranger. He scored the music for the theater show "Is The Greater", and wrote his first arrangements for orchestra. He arranged records by the Terço, Jorge Benjor, Elizeth Cardoso, Gal Costa, Quarteto em Cy, MPB 4, Célia, Guilherme Lamounier, Nélson Gonçalves, Marcos Valle, and others. His music also appeared in the musical "The Life of Braguinha", alongside Elizeth Cardoso, Quarteto em Cy, MPB4 and Sidney Magal. By 1970 he was writing for other groups and regularly composing music for multiple TV shows and incidental music for TV series.
The 1972 self-titled album allowed Verocai to take his interest in instrumental music even further. "I always wanted to compose soundtracks in great style, as in the cinema, but this wasn't possible with television work," he says. "My opportunity came when I was recording this album. I created a rhythmic cell in the acoustic guitar with the harmonic line. I added bass and the non-conventional drums and the percussion with a very smooth orchestration in blocks (four trumpets and a flute) plus the delicate touch of the strings (12 violins, 4 violas and 4 cellos). At the end of the song, Oberdan Magalhães played and sang with his flute." The resulting track is "Sílvia".
"Presente Grego" is perhaps the funkiest track on the album. "This song was influenced by American soul and funk," says Verocai. "By 1972 many of the musicians of my generation were feeling the same influences. Because of our exposure to all many musical influences, we put a distance between us and the conventional recording styles. "Presente Grego" means "Greek gift." It is an expression that comes from the horse of Troy, a gift from the Greeks that hid the warriors that defeated the Troyans. Likewise, the military dictatorship, under the appearance of a good government, practiced censorship and oppression", he explains.
In addition to the funky soul elements the album features many solos from artists obviously well schooled in Jazz. Check the soloing in "Pelas Sombras" or "Karina", where saxes blow hard and true against the backdrop of Brazilian rhythms. "My musical preferences go from J.S. Bach and Villa-Lobos, to jazz musicians like Tom Jobim, Milton Nascimento, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Oscar Peterson, Wes Montgomery and Bill Evans," explains Verocai. "I remember Edson Maciel, was invited to a studio session at 9 AM and was to perform a solo on "Karina." He asked us to wait for a while because he wanted to be inspired by some "cachaça" (a Brazilian liquor made from distilled sugar cane juice). While rehearsing, he asked for a little more "cachaça" to bring on some more inspiration. This happened twice until he found his inspiration and performed a tremendous solo!" remembers Verocai.
In the years after the album release Arthur Verocai became a music advertising executive, creating and producing albums for customers like Brahma, Fanta, Petrobra's, South America, Souza Cruz and was even honored with the Colunistas Prize in Advertising. Since 1983 he is the main proprietor of Studio "V" - House of the Sound and in 2002 he released a solo album "Arthur Verocai - "Saudade Demais" featuring a collection of his work as composer, including some unreleased songs.
Arthur Verocai's musical peer Ivan Lins has this to say about his great friend, "Arthur is a very dedicated musician. He has always been. Not only dedicated but very talented also. He made this record years ago just for the fun of it without much publicity. And now will strike back. That's great!"