Michael Hersch’s composition is based on writings by W. G. Sebald (see liner notes for a track by track description) and is played on cello and horn (by the composer’s brother Jamie). Contemporary classical music that is dramatic and mostly somber, moving from difficult passages to lovely melodies. Many short tracks will play well together. Another home run for Innova Recordings.
Whimsical, zany, and by turns beautiful, these instruments combine to make us think. Tracks 9 onward are a suite dedicated to cellist Tom Cora using samples from his work. Tracks move smoothly from one to another, meant to be played in multiples. Photography by Heike Liss who is the wife of guitarist Fred Frith who is on faculty in the music department at Mills College.
Good energy and fine playing from this trio’s inspiration from West Coast jazz. Well recorded with distinct sound for each instrument. Mysterious Eastern sounds with very interesting bass, flute and MalletKAT (a sort of electronic marimba).
Thirteen original tracks from this Seattle based instrumental surf trio are a lot of fun. Well played, it is unmistakably surf music with a modern twist. Some horror, Spanish touches with a reverb crash here and there. Good energy, danceable.
This EP from the three-piece surf band from Alameda, California has four high powered tracks. Lots of skillful playing, loud effects and melody. Excellent 3-D cover and glasses included. Nothing subtle here, thank goodness.
If Kenny Burrell has ever sounded better, I have not heard it. Fine guitar gymnastics and lyrical interpretations of these tunes including some nice octaves, a la Wes. Excellent piano from Richard Wyands. Overall engaging, good energy, groovy.
Fine instrumental work from the Santa Cruz band. Excellent playing from the long established trio – Jim Thomas on guitar, Martyn Jones on drums and Jennifer Burnes on bass. Tends toward the mellow psychedelic side and causes us to ask the question – “is this surf music?” I like track 13 for its energy, some other tracks for their hypnotic trance.
Rodrigues, Ernesto/ Greenlief, Phillip/ Swafford, Tom – “Sidereus Nuncius” – [Creative Sources Recording]
The track/album name comes from a 1610 astronomy work by Galileo. Sidereus Nuncius is often translated as “Starry Messanger”. Here it is a highly improvised musical work for viola, violin and tenor sax. Very breathy, wispy, fluttery and delicate. Recorded live in Seattle in 2006.
The Kilaueas from Berlin, Germany give their interpretation to modern surf music. All the tracks are composed by the band – the playing has an excellent level of technical and musical quality. The sound on this vinyl recording is very good. Great fun to explore the variety of styles!
The Insect Surfers from Los Angeles claim to be “Planet Earth’s Longest Running Modern Surf Band” but they continue to re-write the principles of modern surf music. In terms of musicianship, composition, and complexity, Datura Moon keeps them in a class by themselves. Jump around and dance to their great surf sounds or trip out on the psychedelic title track. Recommended!!!
Mike is the lead guitar of the Swedish surf band The Barbwires. Here he gives us a nice single that combines surf, Latin beats, and exotica. All this on a Spanish record label – fun!
Van Der Aa is a young (born 1970) contemporary Dutch composer. Here works seamlessly combine recordings (I believe from the same musicians) and live music. Resolutely avant garde, but very listenable. I especially like Auburn for guitar and soundtrack, but it is all good.
Recorded live in Lisbon in 2015 with the Red Trio (bass, drums, percussion) and their Guest John Butcher on tenor and soprano sax. Free and abstract, all improvised with a fine collaboration that interweaves Butcher’s foundation with the trio’s response. Musically interesting and engaging.
Up and coming surf band from Orange County – great playing on mostly original tunes. They hit many surf influences such as outer space, Mexican sports, horror, Spaghetti Western, and soundtracks. A few spoken word snippets are thrown in. Fun!!
This 4-piece surf band from Mexico performed at the Surfer Joe Summer Festival on the night preceding KFJC’s live broadcast in 2016. True surf sound, well played, choice of tempos from slow to rapid fire, some unusual harmonies for surf. Track 12 is a very nice vocal in Spanish.
German reed player Gebhard Ullmann and pianist Achim Kaufmann meet for a highly improvised conversation. Difficult at times, but overall very emotionally and musically satisfying. Poignant quiet parts, shimmery bell-like sounds, original.
Los Angeles based Tikiyaki 5-0 is a combo of 4 musicians (bass, guitars, keyboards and drums) from the much larger Tikiyaki Orchestra. This EP features originals plus covers of Arthur Lyman’s “Taboo”, Les Baxter’s “Enchanted Sea” and “Song of Delilah”, and the surf classic “Shockwave”. Extremely good players and fine arrangements give us this wonderful intersection of Tiki and surf.
Gyorgy Ligeti (pronounced jurj LIH-geh-tee) lived from 1923 to 2006. His early life was in Hungary where his creativity was restricted by first Hitler and then Stalin. In 1956 he fled to Vienna and also spent time in Cologne. In 1972, he was a composer in residence at Stanford University. His music is heard in soundtracks of Stanley Kubrick’s films such as 2001. Considered one of the leading avant garde twentieth century classical composers, his work embraced 12-tone and electronic music, especially music made with conventional instruments made to sound like electronic sources. This 5-CD set is a treasure chest of various styles and includes a book where the composer discusses each piece. Many pieces are very spare, very high frequency notes played by strings give a signature sound not unlike a swarm of cicadas. Other pieces are lush and lyrical. Some vocals are playful, all are very original. Most is not all that accessible, so don’t expect comfortable soundtrack material.
PGM: Very great dynamic range, from almost silent to very loud.
The Gillbillies describe themselves as a three-piece instrumental outlaw gothic western surf-a-billy cowpunk band – they break the mold with their long beards, cowboy hats and choice of guitars. Frequent gigs in the San Francisco Bay Area and appearances at the last two KFJC Surf Battles have won them respect as showmen and fine musicians. Twangy, energetic new takes on some classic surf tune covers.
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