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From the post-punk alt-prog ashes of Cerberus Shoal arose the acoustic freak-folk of Fire On Fire (FOF). Members of FOF include Big Blood???s Caleb Mulkerin and Colleen Kinsella, as well as Chriss Sutherland, who makes his solo debut here. All have been fixtures on the South Portland, Maine music scene for a dozen plus years. Mostly a lo-fi solo acoustic affair, Chriss is helped out on banjo, flute, harmonium and vocals by his fellow FOF members.
Chriss spent some time as a troubadour in Spain at the urging of Wooden Wand???s James Toth and he occasionally breaks into a Spanish chorus to great effect. Much of the album comes off dry and dusty as the Spanish Plain and sometimes he???s as morose as a moss-covered Maine moose, but Chriss seems to have a spirit that can???t be crushed for all its world-worn edges.
Standouts include 1,3,8 & 9. ???Coyote Tonight??? is fucking genius. Don???t miss it.
Suishou no Fune (soo-ee-sho no foo-nay) formed as a duo of female guitarist/ vocalist Pirako Kurenai and male guitarist/ vocalist Kageo in Tokyo in 1999. They have gone through a number of bassists and drummers since then, but with ???Prayer for Chibi??? they are back to the original duo. According to their website: ???Chibi was a love cat of Pirako and Kageo. He died for a disease on February 13, 2007. This album is a memorial album to him.??? (You gotta love those Japanese-English translations.)
Japanese poetry set to improvised psychedelic dream music is the name of the game here, which is probably of no surprise, but on this two disc set they take their time and stretch out, way out. Eight tracks averaging 15-minutes each. All tracks have their own character, but sometimes the differences are very subtle. Most tracks start very slowly and quietly; in come the plaintive wailing vocals; more slowness; then a building wall of feedback as a crescendo toward the end.
I.1.???Prayer???(23:19) Bells; space; at 14-mins. strumming w/ an echoey lead.
That Chibi must have been one helluva cat.
Young British steel string guitar stalwart James Blackshaw solicited artists he knows and respects to appear on this very nice Important Records collection; his goal: to compile ???experimental music for solo stringed instruments, with little to no overdubs???. The result: a very cohesive, yet always interesting, imaginative, reflective string extravaganza.
1. Chieko Mori (koto)- ???Spiral Wave???(5:48) Bluesy, loping koto, slowly building up in layers, forming a jigsaw puzzle in the mind, with three-dimensional kaleidoscopic aural pieces.
2. James Blackshaw (guitar)- ???The Broken Hourglass??? (10:48) As the title suggests: a timeless piece, morphing through many tempos, with graceful assuredness and a tinge of a broken heart.
3. Helen Espvall (cello)- ???Home of Shadows and Whirlwinds??? (10:16) Espers cellist delivers another appropriately titled piece that darkly dips and dives through deserted mansions and abandoned cemeteries with an experimental wistfulness.
4. Jozef van Wissem (lute)- ???The Mirror of Eternal Light??? (14:05) Dutch Renaissance lute player known for reinventing and deconstructing the genre by using mirror or palindrome techniques (playing combinations of compositions forward, then backwards) and using subtle electronic sound manipulation. Fascinating.
5. Chieko Mori (koto)- ???Tokyo Light??? (6:04) A quiet, peaceful piece that beautifully demonstrates the traditional bent-note sound of the koto.
The title of the compilation is taken from Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges’ famous wartime short story that delves into double spies, labyrinths and quantum mechanics.
Stunning . . . is a word that leaps to mind when listening to Barry Guy???s ???Folio???. A dialogue, or trialogue, if you will, between the Rational, the Emotional and the Subconscious (or Eternal); it was inspired in part by a 1912 pre-revolutionary Russian play by Nikolai Evreinov, ???The Theatre of the Soul???, which takes place in the soul of the protagonist, within the space of 30-seconds, immediately preceding putting a gun to his ribs and pulling the trigger.
Guy, as composer and improviser, has conjured all the emotion and intensity you would imagine from such a scenario, although he takes nearly 60-minutes to complete it. The 14 movements are broken into ???Commentaries,??? ???Folios???, and a reworking of a 1553 piece by Diego Ortiz, ???Recercada Primera???. They range in length from one-minute to twenty-one-minutes. Guy???s double-bass plays the part of the Rational. Guy???s wife, Maya Homburger???s baroque violin plays the Emotional parts, and Muriel Cantoreggi???s violin along with the string orchestra represent the Subconcious.
Barry Guy has been a member of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, the London Jazz Composers Orchestra, Christopher Hogwood???s Academy of Ancient Music, the City of London Sinfonia and the Michael Nyman Band. He has played with the Hilliard Ensemble and Evan Parker???s Electro-Acoustic Ensemble. In other words, the guy gets around (pun intended), and he knows no boundaries; equally comfortable in the early music movement, jazz, free improvisation and new music: both playing and composing.
Magnificent . . . is another.
With their album covers, Acid Mothers Temple have paid tribute to, or mocked Amon Duul II, Gong, King Crimson and Steeleye Span. Their album titles have been borrowed, or stolen from Black Sabbath, Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix and Steppenwolf. They have collaborated with cosmic prog era stalwarts Gong, Guru Guru and Trad Gras Och Stenar. On this solo album, Acid Mothers frontman Kawabata Makoto, is inspired by Eastern influenced Kosmische Krautrock new age hippies (and soundtrack gurus) Popol Vuh and their similarly titled ???Hosianna Mantra???.
???Hosanna Mantra??? is a shimmering, radiant, stark and droning release. Makoto uses only electric guitar, bouzouki and sitar, for a very mesmerizing and meditative effect.
Originally released as two 20-minute tracks on a limited edition 550 copy vinyl pressing, the first 100 of which came with a 7-inch with two 7-minute tracks, this CD version includes all four tracks.
1. ???Scarlet Phenomenon??? (20:11) – Starts with a drone, then a cyclical strumming and eventually washes of ghostly tones, a lonely distant wail, and some backward sitar toward the end.
2. ???Hosanna Mantra??? (19:33) ??? The simplest and maybe strongest track keeps up a fairly constant distant muddy drone with sitar washes and a tympani sound (electric guitar) appearing toward the middle. Perfect late, late night music.
3. ???Door of Your Enigma??? (7:07) ??? Reverb drenched repetitively strummed bouzouki with distant humming.
4. ???You Are All of My Love??? (7:11) ??? A plucked classical/ jazz electric solo guitar.
Kawabata in the Cosmos.
The scene: a pointillist Zen saloon somewhere on the Western Bardo Plain. In bursts Gamera, lookin??? to brawl with Billy the Mountain. Lee Van Cleef tells him to cool his chops and have a sip of sake. Several cauldrons later, while trying to distinguish up from down, they notice the music in the barroom. ???Say, who???s that slingin??? the ???lectric guitar???? rasps Van Cleef. ???Why, that???s that Kaiser boy, Henry???, coughs Gamera, ???and tootin??? the Japanese flute is that Kiku Day gal. I???ve always been a sucker for the shakuhachi. It???s in my blood, I guess.???
As they stumble through the swingin??? doors out of the tavern, arm and arm, and down the dusty street, the music rips and tears gaping holes in the sky, and the double suns set into the east.
Experimental improvisation for acoustic or electric guitar and shakuhachi. The soundtrack to your next imaginary soba noodle western.
Stuck on the bottom of the black Mississippi mud. Pulled free with Fahey???s 4-wheel drive & a rope. Slow crawling snake charming shaman drifting radio-tube/transistor dustbin drone under raga fogger lo-fi guitar; buzz, strum, shimmer and shake, Mr. Lungfish Higgs. Indian classical hobo camp mulligan stew-on-a-stick. Appalachia bird-dog echo box blues. Fuzzy barbiturate tales of hallucinatory melancholy. Limited instro ???05 cassette cum disc release a la carte. Peyote swirling field flopping cloud gazing minstrel dust. Brain tickling string popping gran’pappy porch juice.
You know that little piece of lint that goes flit, flit, flit in the corner of the screen as the frames roll by? Annoying, yet intriguing. Impossible to look away (or in this case, stop listening). Welcome to the world of the Dirty Projectors.
What we’ve got here are three acts in one. There’s the wailing folksinger, off in one room, caterwauling like a crucified Tim Buckley with a dagger in his side. In another room, there’s two women coming up with harmonies tighter than identical twins. In fact, they sound like two heads coming off the same body, with strange melodies, like a made up language. Then there’s the band, playing Caribbean rhythms all herky jerky, like Capt. Beefheart’s Magic Band on vacation in St. Kitts. Throw them all in the same room and count 1, 2, 3… Ladies and Gentlemen, the Dirty Projectors.
Brooklyn based David Longstreth, and his current cast of rotating characters, chose to rework Black Flag’s 1981 “Damaged” on “Rise Above”, with the lyrics as a jumping off point. The music bears no resemblance to the original, or anything else you’ve probably ever heard, for that matter.
Their 2005 “The Getty Address” was a concept album (using the lyrics of “Eagles Greatest Hits, Vol. 1″) about Don Henley contemplating suicide and looking for the “shape” of love. Huh? Go figure.
LANGUAGE: “FUCK” on 3. “Depression” & 6. “Police Story”.
Acoustic steel-string fingerstyle folk, American Primitive Guitar, Takoma School, whatever you want to call it, John Fahey, first in the 50???s, Robbie Basho in the 60???s and Peter Lang & Leo Kottke in the 70???s, forged a style of solo instrumental guitar playing that has been mimicked by many and taken to many different levels. Michael Hedges took it into outer space. William Ackerman took it to the bank. Sir Richard Bishop, James Blackshaw, Ben Chasny have dabbled in it and served it well, but Cul de Sac???s Glenn Jones with ???Against Which the Sea Continually Beats??? distills it to its very essence. Honoring his predecessors and fallen friends (Jones befriended both Fahey and Basho before their premature deaths), he nails it on the head and drives it home. A perfect balance of light and dark, fast and slow, short and long, slidin??? old-timey and hypnotic raga style, wedding songs and requiems, it???s all here. Jones takes 30 years of practice and refinement and delivers it where needed.
This is Jones??? second release of solo 6 & 12 string guitar music, the first being 2004???s darker ???This Is the Wind That Blows It Out???. He could just stop right here, because it???s hard to imagine a better one. Let???s get one thing straight, though, Jones is a capo man, and proud of it. Not just any capos. He hacksaws ???em, making his own custom 1/2 and 2/3 size capos, leaving some strings open (he sands them while watching old episodes of Sgt. Bilko). This allows him to come up with all kinds of unusual tunings that he incorporates on ???Against Which the Sea Continually Beats??? with welcome results.
Jones delivers as fine an example of (insert genre here) as you???ll likely find. Try it today. It???s fingerpickin’ good!
Daniel Humair was born in Geneva, Switzerland in 1938, but has been a fixture on the French jazz scene since the late 50???s, playing with American expatriates, such as Chet Baker, Kenny Dorham, Oscar Pettiford and Anthony Braxton and French legends, like Stephane Grappelli and Jean-Luc Ponty. He has also appeared on many soundtrack albums, including 1972???s ???Last Tango in Paris???.
Little information is available about his solo release, ???Drum Vocalo???. It may or may not have been originally released in 1970 or 1974 (depending on the source). I’d wager on ’70, though. It may or may not be soundtrack music, as the subtitle ???Drums for Screen No. 1??? would imply. It is a very hip and cool record, however, of that there???s no doubt in my mind. Drums, scatting, recording and tape effects are incorporated into 16 very different tracks that run the gamut from jump blues to psychedelic workouts.
Every track is in the 2-minute range and every track is worth a spin, so roll the dice, see where it lands and let it ride.
Drummer Glenn Kotche has collaborated with Nels Cline, Jim O???Rourke, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, Kronos Quartet, Nickel Creek and is a full-time member of Wilco and Loose Fur, but his 2006 release ???Mobile??? is all Kotche and all percussion. Written and performed entirely by Kotche at the Loft in Chicago, ???Mobile??? never lets up from start to finish.
2/3. ???Mobile Parts 1,2 & 3??? (9:21) Propelled along with a prog-like momentum. (Note: 2. tracks into 3.)
5. ???Monkey Chant??? (11:29) Epic interpretation of an ancient Hindu monkey battle.
6. ???Reductions or Imitations??? (3:18) Childlike jazz piano to hip hop beats and back again.
8. ???Fantasy on a Shona Theme??? (4:06) Hypnotic solo vibraphone.
David Wightman (Powdered Wigs, Extreme Animals, Fortress of Amplitude) tries his hand at serious (or is it?) composing with ???Magnum Opus???, performed here by the 15 member Fresh Clap Ensemble and conducted by Nicholas Deyoe:
1. First Movement (4:48) A short beginning burst, then imperceptibly low volume for 30 seconds; Baroque-like snippets; loud/ quiet parts. It reminds me of one of my favorite Baroque composers, the bizarre and obscure Bohemian Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, but with frustrating disparities of volume level.
2. Second Movement (16:37) Starts with a weird take on the first movement of Beethoven???s 5th (first minute), morphs into a quiet repetitive Phillip Glass-like minimalist section (four minutes), then a Glenn Branca wall of noise (for ten minutes), a couple of false endings, and a cutesy Mary Had a Little Lamb-like ending (one minute).
3. Third Movement (7:47) Akin to Barber???s Adagio, the best, most serious movement is all but ruined with a drum kit coming in near the end and some noodling proggy electric guitars.
San Diego based Wightman has to have his hands in everything, with the ambient/ prog/ metal of Fortress of Amplitude, the electro-funk/ cabaret/ hardcore beats of Extreme Animals and the pseudo-classical/ electro-modulation/ sampling of Powdered Wigs. Maybe with time and effort he can become a serious composer with original, interesting ideas.
Sticking his neck out with a soul stripped bare intimacy, Pumice???s Stefan Neville has come up with a masterwork of profound elegance and intrigue. Since 1991, the New Zealander has been quietly releasing homemade and private cassettes and CD-R???s down under. With the 2004 American release of ???Raft??? (Last Visible Dog) he???s been on the U.S. radar. ???Yeahnahvienna??? was recorded in 2004 during an artist???s residency at Quartier 21 in (guess where) Vienna.
Stark, naked ballads on acoustic guitar are made interesting and intriguing with fuzzy distorted vocals, random percussion, harmonium-like droning organ and squeaky squealing machinery.
Fragile and fractured, Neville, at times, sounds as if he???s ready to put a gun to his head, but ???Yeahnahvienna??? is not without tons of charm, which propels it easily through the difficult moments.
The first two tracks (???Abominable??? & ???King Korny Remains???) are sans effects, and are consequently the least interesting. With the arrival of organ, percussion and distorted vocals and a marked increase in length (from 6 to 13 minutes) tracks 4, 7 & 8 (???Wild Dogs???, ???Teas Tasting Fair??? & ???Darkpark???) become entirely mesmerizing and hypnotic in their deceiving simplicity, which makes them feel half their actual length. Adding to the overall cohesiveness, the 2-minute instrumental ???Worsted??? shows up 4 different times (3, 6, 9 & 10) with altered tempos and mixes.
Recorded in the hayloft of a barn on the Canadian prairie on a summer’s day by three Indian musicians and a Canadian dobro player, “Slide to Freedom” is an odd mix of Indian classical music and Mississippi delta blues. Three tracks (1, 4 & 7) include vocals (two being Mississippi John Hurt and Blind Willie Johnson standards and one Doug Cox original), five tracks are instrumentals in the Indian classical vein.
Doug Cox plays slide resophonic guitar on this release. Salil Bhatt and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt play satvik veena and mohan veena, respectively. These instruments were invented by their players, but have become established enough to be added to the list of Indian classical instruments. Each resembles an archtop hollow bodied guitar with f-holes, but have 19 strings total (3 melody, 4 drone and 12 sympathetic, give or take).
Just like the breeze on the summer day when it was created, the music floats light as air, waving by like the amber wheat on the wind. The playing is excellent. The Bhatts (father and son) are stunning musicians and Cox does his best to keep up. They’re backed tastefully by Ramkumar Mishra on tabla.
Steve Kaul & the Brass Kings are a Country Blues Americana minimalist trio, featuring resonator guitar, washboard and washtub bass. All that???s missing is the laundry soap. Seriously though, released in 2006, this is first full length from the Minneapolis, Minnesota trio. It starts out with a serviceable version of ???Muleskinner Blues??? that picks up steam as it goes. Luckily, Kaul doesn???t attempt a yodel with his dark, growling voice.
???Rural Methlab Blues??? (track 2) brings an interesting perspective to cooking crank. An educated loser and his aimless girlfriend catch word that the law is on its way to their little hideaway, so they decide to blow the shack sky high on their way out.
There???s a couple of nice instrumentals (tracks 4 & 13) and a lot of dark, brooding songs about the American experience. The sound is akin to Kevin Welch and the stories are along the lines of James McMurtry???s, but Kaul doesn???t quite have the talent of those two gentlemen. He does, however, add some Middle Eastern flourishes to the music, which gives the trio a unique sound. Not to mention that washtub bass, washboard and resonator guitar is not a very common lineup these days, either.
Violinist, composer and educator Jason Kao Hwang, has recently written a chamber opera, ???The Floating Box- A Story In Chinatown???. He is the former front man of the Far East Side Band and has worked with Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, Butch Morris, Reggie Workman and William Parker. He was born in Waukegan, Illinois.
Korean Sang-Won Park plays the kayagum and ajeng (two types of Korean zither: one bowed, one plucked) and sings. He has collaborated with Laurie Anderson, Henry Kaiser, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Bill Laswell. He makes his living by operating two flower shops in New York City.
The unfortunately titled ???Local Lingo??? brings the two of them together to forge an interesting sound that at times reminds me of a tuxedoed concert violinist being mocked by a Neanderthal playing a cello with a club. Other times, the sound is much more sophisticated and Eastern. The difference is the kayagum, a 12-stringed plucked zither and the ajeng, a 6-stringed zither bowed with a resined stick. The sound of the bowed zither is like fingernails on a chalkboard. The stick, instead of sliding smoothly like a conventional horsehair bow, drags and skips across the strings. At times it sounds humorous, other times annoying, so needless to say I prefer the plucked zither tunes, which are tracks 2 & 3. Track 3, ???Grassy Hills???, the longest track at 15:07, is the best and well worth a listen.
Hariprasad Chaurasia (Ha-RIP-ra-sod Char-AYSH-ya) is a master of the bansuri, or North Indian bamboo flute. His predecessor, Pannalal Ghosh raised the instrument from the folk level to the classical repertoire. Chaurasia perfected the performance of the instrument in the classical realm, then began to explore outward, encompassing other genres. Eventually, he settled back into the tradition of Indian classical raga form.
This collection spans the years 1967-1995 and includes both traditional and nontraditional works. The first disc includes the ???Innovations??? or explorations into other genres and features some western instrumentation, like guitar. Track 2 includes guitar and some sort of bass-like instrument, and is the only track that sounds a little cheesy for my taste. The other tracks of the two discs are all excellent. Disc two contains all ???Traditional??? or classical pieces. It???s great to hear an instrument not familiarly heard in Indian music. And it???s played with such dexterity and finesse. Chaurasia truly is a phenomenal musician and he knows when to take a back seat and let other musicians shine, too. A great collection, with tracks running from 5 to 30 minutes.
At times a haunted hush; other times feedback frenzy, Hisato Higuchi delivers an album of solo electric guitar with occasional voice. ???Butterfly Horse Street??? is the former puppeteer???s fourth release (second to the station). Tokyo based Higuchi comes off as a sedate Grant Green stroking slow jazz chords, then breaks into Hendrix-like feedback when you least expect it. His voice, a high whisper shows up occasionally humming along. Nice for beds, for layering and as a main course.
Loren MazzaCane Connors, guitar improviser: purveyor of avant-garde blues, experimental jazz, noise, drone, folk, and on this collection, Irish airs. Inspired by blind 18th century harpist O???Carolan and released in 2007, ???As Roses Bow??? is a 2 CD set of melodic miniatures culled from 10 albums, recorded between 1992 and 2002. These pieces flowed forth from Connors, ???I never had to labor over their completion. They seemed to just be there in me???, he has said. They are simple, pure and achingly beautiful.
Connors??? wife Suzanne Langille provides vocals on four selections (A2, A4, A8 & A17), the rest are instrumental electric guitar.
Over his lengthy career he has recorded under numerous names: Loren MazzaCane, Loren Mattei and Guitar Roberts and has released over 50 records. Connors was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1992 and is still performing and recording in 2007.
The firelight flickers; the shadows on the cave wall dance, shift. The smell of wood smoke hangs pungent, spicy. This is the Great Tribal Council of the bay area freakfolk movement. Represented nations are Deerhoof and 7-Year Rabbit Cycle (Rob Fisk), Six Organs of Admittance and Comets On Fire (Ben Chasny), Yellow Swans (Pete Swanson) and Grouper (Liz Harris).
Mesmerizing music meanders through the cave. Slow and unhurried. Hollow and reverberating. Occasional chanting arises from the void. As the night continues, altered states are achieved. Staring into the fire ring transfixed, the mind wanders to other worlds. The wind howls through the cave and extinguishes the last of the embers, but no one notices. Their minds continue their interplanetary journeys, never to return. Wandering the vast, empty universe for eternity???
Tr. 2 is short and sweet. Vox on trs. 3, 6 & 8.
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