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We’ve come to expect it from New Zealand and Japan; the Finns and the Norwegians, but sometimes it’s the Italians that pop up when you’re not looking…
Multimedia artists/ musicians Gianluca Becuzzi and Fabio Orsi are on the mark with their great new “Wildflowers Under the Sofa”.
The music starts out minimallistically; imperceptibly it begins to inhabit crevices and folds of the brain with warm, organic guitar; then comes the chill of the rain and the hum & the drone of the generators and the opening & the closing of the doors… many changes and transitions, all happening seamlessly, naturally. Then, a scratchy, galloping guitar ends it. A beautiful journey, somewhat akin to Electric Bird Noise, and that’s just the first track, albeit 20 minutes.
Track 2: beautiful, angelic; then a confounding, contrapuntal bass line and a static sheen, ala Nurse With Wound, with a sudden, perfect ending.
Track 3 starts underwater with an echoey sonar tone; heavy rain on tympani drums; the birds and the flames; heavenly organ chords. Lastly, a beautiful, melancholy piano theme.
Stick with it, this release really delivers. Very nice.
1. “First Flower” (20:20)
Drop the proverbial needle anywhere on this compact disc by Bob Brozman and be prepared to take a musical journey that crosses many borders and genres. Skipping from Hawaiian to Klezmer to French to Indian to African and Okinawan it travels the world, sometimes within one song. All instrumental and all Bob, all the time…actually, it’s called the Bob Brozman Orchestra, because he multitracks a myriad of stringed instruments. He is helped out here and there by a couple of people on percussion, though. A well deserved egofest from a massively talented figure of blues/folk/world music, it is consitently exotic and smooth, but with a punch, like Martin Denny on steroids.
By my count, this is the seventh release of the three nutty Germans who called themselves Guru Guru. Released in 1973, it finds them tight and in top form musically, but running out of ideas and focus. The two shorter tracks, “Samantha’s Rabbit” and “Woman Drum” are fun and quirky. The two longer songs that finish the disc, “Der Elektrolurch” and “The Story of Life” are sufficiently psychedelic, if not affected and dated, but the longest track “Medley” is a mess of disjointed, chopped up, rehashed fifties rock and roll and disappointing originals.
An interesting time capsule into one of the rockier, less proggy Krautrock bands of the early seventies.
Shoe gazing, guitar grazing, organic netherworld of scraping, scratching moonscapes. Athens, Georgia trio Zepubicle, recorded this long, continuous piece live at Mercury Art Works gallery in December 2006. For convenience, the piece is broken into 5 tracks with Marshall Marrotte on guitar and bass, Killick on h’arpeggione, Jeff McLeod, guitar and Chapman stick, and guest Tatsuya Nakatani on percussion. At times, quiet as to be almost imperceptible. Other times exploding into crashing chaos.
A jazz ensemble loses its way or a rock outfit forgot to wake up one day?
Norwegian chanteuse Susanna Wallumr??d, who is also half of the Rune Grammofon duet Susanna and the Magical People, whispers her way through this hushed, low key release. This is late night balladry, not to be exposed to sunlight for fear of shrinking into nothing. She steers close to pop and jazz vocal territory, staring them down in her headlights and barely grazing their fur as she whistles past, narrowly missing them. Spare, sparse, mostly piano, guitar and vocals, this is a beautiful edition to the library.
Lo-fi psychedelic garage sludge is what you would expect of a live from Europe release from Japanese band Marble Sheep, and that???s exactly what you get; nothing more and nothing less.
Like MC5 on acid or Hawkwind on beer, Marble Sheep are relentlessly and unapologetically heavy and psychedelic. The sound on ???Raise The Dead- 2006 March Europe??? is distant and tinny, but I suppose that adds to its charm, giving it a bootleg feel, as if you???re listening in, uninvited. Good fer what ails ya.
Marby, the Marble Sheep mascot sez, ???Keep on rockin??? and keep on blazin???, Ken-san!???
Spoken word and acoustic & electronic instruments weave together for an atmospheric aural soundscape that evokes a smoky detective pulp magazine: eerie, edgy, erotic and at times intense. Jazz, classical, prog and digital elements all play a part in this noirish cinematic tome.
The brainchild of French laptopist Philippe Petit and guitarist Herve Vincenti, Strings of Consciousness have morphed into a truly international ensemble of about a dozen musicians, with the likes of Brit Hugh Hopper (ex-Soft Machine) helping out on bass, and other French, British and American musicians.
San Franciscan band Oxbow vocalist Eugene Robinson does a brilliant take with his words on the epic ???Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness???(Tr.3). Possibly destined to become the ???Hamburger Lady??? of our time, it all too poetically describes wiping down and loading bullets into a gun before paying a visit to a friend who has wronged him. Forced to retreat when his friend is found in the company of others he takes out his aggression on a barking dog.
Other featured vocalist/ lyricists are J.G. Thirwell (Foetus, Tr.1), Scott McCloud (Girls Against Boys, Tr.2), Barry Adamson (Magazine, Bad Seeds, Tr.4), Pete Simonelli (Enablers, Tr. 7) and French artist/ poet Black Sifichi (Trs. 6, 8).
LANGUAGE: Track 7, “In Between”.
The ever elusive Texan, Sterling Richard Smith (better known as Jandek), started recording in 1978 and has some 50 albums under his belt, but has only given two interviews in that time, and didn???t perform live until 2004. With such mystery surrounding him, he has garnered quite a cult following. Enter Eric Schlittler of Summersteps Records, who has released 3 Jandek tribute CD???s, including this one, ???The Corwood Variations???, which is meant as a companion (not as a third volume) to the first two, as these are leftovers and outtakes. Personally, I think this is the best of the three releases, with some real gems to be found.
Not to be missed is the four part suite that is ???Painted My Teeth??? (#18) . Part sampling and part live performance, it is simply brilliant in its incongruousness and sense of humor.
Other standout tracks: 1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 19, 23.
Hailing from the western most point of Africa, Dakar (the capital of Senegal), but based in Paris for many years with his band Bayefall Gnawa, Nuru Kane draws his influences from many places. Inspired by a trip to Morocco, he took up the guimbri (a 3-stringed guitar-like bass) favored by the trance music of the Gnawa people. Also influenced by Griot (west African wandering poets) and African blues (ala Ali Farka Toure), he chose to record this album in Scotland, of all places. The Scot producer, Martin Swan, adds occasional fiddle and accordian, with wonderful results. But make no mistake, backed by other African musicians, including some members of his band Bayefall Gnawa, this is authentic African folk, not generic world fusion. Some tracks are electric beat based and some are acoustic slow blues. I prefer the latter. They are soaked in the deep heartfelt soul of Kane’s voice and his expressive acoustic guitar playing. Most songs are sung in the Senegalese national language (French), but other African languages surface from time to time.
I especially like tracks 1, 4, 6, 9, 11 & 13.
Wooden Wand is back with an EP of stripped down, straightforward Dylanesque folk with few flourishes. Helped out by Satya Sai (The Vanishing Voice) and Keith Wood (probably not the rugby player), who call themselves The Omen Bones Band on this release, its mostly acoustic guitar and voice:
1. “Wand Arise” (1:56)- A dark hippie love anthem in a minor key.
LANGUAGE: (“MONKEYSHIT”) TRACK #2
Vancouver’s Now Orchestra have been a 15-piece improvisational ensemble since 1977. On this 2005 Victo release they are joined by pianist Marilyn Crispell with phenomenal results. Veteran Crispell has worked with the likes of Reggie Workman and was with Anthony Braxton’s band for 10 years. She worked previously with Now Orchestra in 1988.
Tracks 1. “Pola” & 3. “March” are throwaway exercises in jazz charts for musicians only.
Track 2. “Yin Yang” is the only Marilyn Crispell composition and it is breathtakingly brilliant. Like a concerto grosso in 3 movements, the first features ghostly guitar and whispering flute. The second movement begins with Monty Pythonesque clippity clop coconut percussion and jumbled bass, then horns searching for???a cascading piano solo. Movement 3 is a sublime ambient tension releaser.
Track 4. “M.C.” builds slowly to a free jazz crescendo with clanging piano solo, then breaks for a melancholy interlude before ending with a scatting wild-woman finish.
Track 5. “Broken Dreams” is beautiful and subdued, bridging the gap between jazz and modern classical with a quavery voice coming in at the end.
Track 6. “Suffused with Blue Light”begins with quiet cacophony giving way to a brilliant bass solo and a cool spoken word section before returning to chaos.
Cocktail jazz with a twist (shaken, not stirred). A few of the shorter tracks on ???Triptych Mirror??? border on cocktail jazz, but don???t let that stop you from exploring the excellent debut release of ARC Trio on Circumvention Music.
The two 10 minute tracks (#4 & 6) are the most adventurous and interesting, by far. They weave through different textures, utilizing the extreme reaches of the sounds that a simple piano trio are capable of. Tracks #1 & 2 rip, also, with the subtle urgency that dominates this mostly low key disc. Throughout, the playing is kept loose, but not too tight. Tight, but not too loose.
These guys are each involved in multiple projects in multiple genres down San Diego way, and its obvious they are all consummate musicians with a lot to say.
A dragon headed locomotive on square wheels burning acrid plastics wobbles out of the station. Slowly pushing uphill it shudders and vibrates. Reaching the crest it starts down, gaining momentum, rumbling, shaking, picking up speed, almost plunging off the tracks into the abyss below, but it miraculously reaches the bottom and starts up the next hill.
Cecil Taylor on piano is the rumbling engine. The fire breathing dragonhead is Bill Dixon spitting into his trumpet and drummer Tony Oxley comprises the square wheels on this excellent live free jazz CD recorded May 19, 2002 in Quebec.
Consisting of three tracks clocking in at 45 minutes, 8 minutes and a minute-and-a-half, this is for the adventurous free jazz spirits, but it pays off with excellent creativity and musicianship.
Holy high rollers, Batman, its Satoko Fujii Orchestra Kobe!! Like a high school marching band gone insane on spiked kool-aid. Like a beret wearing, pipe smoking Godzilla, with shades (of course) and a big bongo, this is dark brooding heavy hip Japanese big band. Like crazy, man!
Satoko Fujii and her cast of crazy cats come off like a hipper, more energetic, more creative, whacked out Carla Bley Big Band. This is film noir detective flick Batman cartoon music that rocks heavily (in a figurative sense, of course) and swings wildly. There???s plenty here for everyone, from free jazz aficionados (#3 & 5) to those who think jazz is pooh (I know you???re out there) (#1 & 2) and all those in between.
This is fun stuff! I would love to party with these people! I know someone would be wearing a lampshade by night???s end (and it just might be me).
Striking a balance between melodious bop-blues and cacophonous avant-garde (akin to Pharoah Sanders), hard blowing tenor-man Ware is accompanied by his stellar quartet, who at times subtley outshine him, especially the sublime Matthew Shipp on piano. Excellent, also, are longtime quartet member William Parker on contrabass and relative quartet newcomer Guillermo E. Brown on drums. A live recording from 2006, the album is dedicated to jazz greats recently departed from this mortal coil: Alice Coltrane, Dewey Redman, Michael Brecker and (R&B saxophonist) Larry Curtis Potts. Ware enigmatically espouses his Hindu beliefs in the liner notes, no doubt, to the confusion of many.
1. ???Introduction??? (1:51)
The rest are garnish.
Bill Callahan has gone solo from his band Smog, which is pretty funny considering he was its sole member. After eleven Smog albums he no longer feels the need to hide behind a moniker, unlike labelmate Will Oldham and ex-girlfriend Chan Marshall (aka Bonnie ???Prince??? Billy and Cat Power respectively). He has a new found sense of self, which results in a subtle work that transforms from generic to sublime after repeated listenings.
The first track, ???From the Rivers To the Ocean??? seems pretty obviously influenced by and inspired by his girlfriend Joanna Newsom with its playful imagery and arrangement. There are gospel touches, bouncy (as opposed to dirge-like) country, and even French pop (ala Serge Gainsbourg) influences that are new for a Callahan release. This is not a downer record, which may lose him a lot of Smog fans. Callahan???s not sure anybody???s listening anymore, anyway, or have been for ten years, and he???s okay with that. He just wants to play his music and speak his peace.
Tracks 1, 4, 5, 8??& 9??work for me.
The cover may have the appearance of a Windham Hill release and the track titles may sound all new age syrupy (Sun Ray Colors and Rainbow Images), but this disc of free jazz improv duets by Wadada Leo Smith and Adam Rudolph is not for the faint of heart. This is quiet, but heady stuff. Recorded in concert in 2002 (audience edited out), released in 2006, it is at times ethereal, rocking, worldly, whispering, but always transforming and moving on. Smith makes his trumpet and flugelhorn chortle, choke, whisper, belt and sing and Rudolph does everything else, playing handrums and percussion and reeds from all over the world and even taking a stab at Tuvan-style throat singing alternating with scatting.
Following is a list of the track titles and what they should have been:
1. ???Beauty: Aquamarine Night??? (3:30)- Waiting for Godot
The sun rises over a Finnish fjord and the ice of a calving glacier sparkles, splintering the light into a thousand dazzling rays that mesmerize the mind into a trance-like state. The electric piano and percussion of Circle???s new ???Tower??? release evoke such mesmerization. Gone are the electric guitars, guttural vocals, space funk and sound effects of past Circle releases. This is layer upon layer of echoey keyboards over jazzy, subdued drums and sparkling percussion. Like Can on a slow day or Cluster and Eno on an upbeat day, or if Terry Riley were to sit in for Joe Zawinul in an early version of Weather Report, the music is hypnotic, jazzy, spacey and all instrumental. Melodies are not important. They float in and out on the layers of this brilliant release. Rarely does an album come up with a sound that is so unique and yet so familiar and keep up the cohesiveness and the interest for its entirety.
Joining Circle on this release is longtime collaborator Verde (Mika Rintala), multi-instrumentalist and electronic instrument inventor, seen waving his hand over his UFOX air humidifier theremin on the back cover.
Track titles are:
1. “Gerde” (6:40)
This is the New Wave of the ???New Wave of Finnish Heavy Metal???.
Vocal pyrotechnics spiced up with the electronics of a theremin with moogerfooger (analog effects pedals), Makigami Koichi???s album begins and ends with Tuvan-style throat singing. In between he sounds like everybody from Popeye to a Buddhist monk. The aural soundscape of the album is quiet, but is kept interesting with occasional outbursts and unexpected sounds.
Koichi dedicates this album to synthesizer pioneer Robert Moog, and Tuvan throat singing master, Gennadi Tumat.
In the past, Koichi has performed with the likes of John Zorn and Meredith Monk.
What would you get if you threw Eddie Van Halen, Juliana Hatfield and a crazy drummer, like say Zach Hill of Hella in a room, locked the door and threw away the key? Why, ???In Advance of the Broken Arm???, Marnie Stern???s new Kill Rock Stars release, of course. Stacatto finger tapping electric guitar, frenectic drumming and girl-like vocals, Stern shreds and wails, while Hill produces and pounds the hell out of the skins. Often abrasive, sometimes cutesy and definitely on the trebly side, the disc has its own unique sound that sometimes wears a bit thin. It picks up at the end, though. The last three tracks are some of strongest.
Try tracks 3,5,11,12,13.
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