Experimental/Alternative: This is a fantastic CD containing four songs from the 14-member collective that calls itself Strings of Consciousness, and 9 remixes by various artists. Mellow, cool sounds emanate from this union of acoustic music (cello, violin, double bass, guitar, trumpet, vibraphone, piano, Tibetan bowls, harp, harmonium, saxophone) and digital technology (laptop, samplers, turntables, electronics). Indeed, the music is atmospheric and gorgeous with amazing sounds emanating from depths of emotional consciousness, flowing together to beautiful effect. Voices are heard only on 1, 9, and 10. 10 is an intense set of edicts reminiscent of Orwell???s 1984. PGM: FCC on 10 (???fucking???). Last two tracks are MPG1 videos. 10 ends at :17 and others end as early as :08.
Other/Experimental/Jazz: I absolutely, positively love this–it is way too short, in my opinion, and that is my only complaint about it. Gianmarco Liguori hails from New Zealand, and composes fabulous music even though he doesn???t read music. On Side A he offers us ???Penta,??? whose catchy beat is reminiscent of Take 5 with a bossa nova feel. Kim Paterson smoothly inserts trumpet into the mix of drums and congas (also from Paterson) and fender rhodes and synthesizer from Murray McNabb. Liguori is of course on guitars and synthesizer. The layers of jazz are cool and effervescent like the fizz from champagne served at a fancy bar. Side B has ???Beat Instrumental,??? which I like even better than ???Penta.??? There is a jazzy lounge feel, cool, smooth, cosmopolitan, with bass by Liguori and Andrew Atwill. Both sides fade out, leaving you feeling like you???re waking from a dream you don???t want to let go. Fabulous.
Improvisation/Experimental: This is Yeager???s debut CD. The young musician, who was raised and educated in Indiana but now lives in the Bay Area, is a performer, composer, and improvisor. These tunes are simple guitar strummings mixed gently with computer blipping and popping to create a soothing, mellow ambience conducive to dreaming, relaxing, spacing out. Each of the 14 tracks is lovely, but not incredibly distinguishable from the others. Good for mixing, calming down a set, destressing. Try: 4, 1, 6, 9, 11, . PGM: Track 7 has very quiet spaces but doesn???t end till :06. Others end as early as :05.
Rock: At first blush, this CD seems to offer a great band with hack vocalists, but after the first two tracks you realize that the Television Personalities (TVPs) are so much more. This is a live recording of a 1985 concert in France, with most of the 17 tracks written and sung by Dan Treacy of England. Although the group never enjoyed major commercial success, Treacy on guitar, Jowe Head on bass, and J.J. Bloom on drums deliver some great 60s sounds and interesting lyrics. Yes, the vocals on the choruses are sometimes laughable, but they???re supposed to be. As the liner notes say (in French): ???Because the discs of the TVPs are, finally, as funny as some sad clowns.??? Picks: 13/14, 9, 8, 6, 3. FCC: Track 8: ???fuck???; Track 17: ???I ejaculate on you???. PGM: Although most songs track since this is a concert, 6 ends at :28, 12 at 1:10, 15 at :12, and 16 at :08, some with talking intros to the following tracks. Play 13 and 14 together because they are a unit.
Black Forest/Black Sea is comprised of Jeffrey Alexander on guitar and Miriam Goldberg on cello, although they also play electronics, omnichord, live sampling tools, and other things (sitar?). Side A of this fourth full-length release also features Margot Goldberg and Stefano Pilia, while Gillian Goldberg lends her lyrics to Side B. Side A is a 19:20 instrumental exploration of atmospheric, exotic drone that is more disquieting than calming. About 5 minutes in the guitar gets more melodic and acoustic sounding, and toward the end there is the distinct sound of a whistling teakettle, and something that sounds like a hog squealing. It would fit in well on Peaksville Asylum. The first 12 minutes of Side B (which I believe are one single track) consist of the weird sounds of bird whistle imitation (by a slide whistle and human?), and Gillian Goldberg’s rich vocals in the first few minutes. Tambourines come in and then there???s a psychedelic folk-acid freakout that makes time expand. Right before the 7 minutes of the second track is an abrupt change-up signalled by cello chords and bells in background. The second track is much more mellow with melodic guitar that offers the calmer side of folk.
Solo Piano: ???This album consists of live recordings of the first halves of two solo piano concerts laid side by side, woven in and out of each other…All music is in the order it was performed.??? So say the liner notes to this CD from innovative, genre-defying Bay Area pianist Thollem McDonas. His virtuosity is evident on every track, as is his classical training. The intensity of McDonas??? limber fingers racing and chasing each other on the keys is alternately eye-opening and mesmerizing. If you enjoy classical music, piano in particular, this CD is for you. Even if you don???t, you may want to slip one of these tracks into your set to shake things up a bit–they are accessible in a KFJC kind of way. PGM: Tracks end as early as 0:11. Picks: 3, 5, 6, 9.
Cosmic Debris Volume II – Coll.: CD (2007) A Silent Place
Avant garde/experimental/improv: Steve Roden delivers the first two tracks, and My Cat Is An Alien (MCIAA) provides the third and last track. Maurizio and Roberto Opalio from Torino, Italy (MCIAA) give us 19:38 of “multilayered echoes of voice, toy piano, space drones” along with a tumult of Japanese bells played by Ramona Ponzini. Steve Roden, a visual and sound artist from California, opens the CD with a 13:08 piece using objects and field recordings to create a starry soundscape that summons images of spaceships during graveyard shifts. His second track is melodic, upbeat, and pleasant, featuring Roden on electric guitar. This simple song lasts 6:52. Tracks 1 and 2 start quietly and end early at 0:13 and 0:08, respectively. Track 3 ends with sounds of MCIAA packing up and leaving stage, with footsteps walking away underneath the sound of the Japanese bells.
Carter Tutti: Feral Vapours of the Silver Ether CD (2007) Divine Frequency
Ambient electronica: Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti turn out a shimmering release of utterly relaxing, trippy ambience that takes you ???into the sunset sky and a misty door??? (as the lyrics in Track 2 say). Every song on here is a gem in its own way, but if you???re looking for instrumental ambience, try 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, and 11. The other tracks feature Cosey???s clear, sometimes sultry voice (see 6 especially) delivering lovely lyrics. Track 4 sounds like she???s chanting a high mass, whereas 9 is like a requiem where you let go of life (???breathe life???s fire and shine…now all past glories rest???). 5, 7, and 8 are my favorites, but try them all for yourself to see which psychic beats emerge from the primordial ether to speak to your unconscious. PGM: All end as early as 0:10.
Americana: This second album from Chicagoan Scott Tuma is so lovely it???s heartbreaking. Only for the sentimental, these mostly instrumental pieces feature guitar, banjo, and occasional bells. Only the first and last tracks have vocals, a female making strange, haunting, child-like utterances. Tuma???s strength is in his ambient mellowness and lovely guitar work that floats in and out like a lullabye, a nostalgic one at that. PGM: Tracks 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, and 11 end a bit early, and 11 starts quiet. Field sounds (wind, bird chirping, chalk on board?) on 1, 8, and 12. Picks: 2, 4, 10. Ambient peace: 5, 6, 9, 11.
Experimental/Psychedelic/Pop: The UK group of David Lazonby and Graham Bailey call their white vinyl an ???apocalyptic torch song??? in two parts (sides A and B, each of which is about 3:25). Side A is the calmer, more organized side, with clean-sounding guitars and drums, but it ends with an air siren that Side B picks up and takes off with into a more chaotic psyche reprise of the chorus ???The Plane???s Gone Dad.??? The m??l??e of sounds is due partly to additional voices, partly to the full-throttle guitar . The instruments fade first, then the voices, and finally you???re left with blips and bleeps and voices hitting notes, and at last you hear only a field recording. Very interesting and definitely something you???d hear on ???Apartment Life.???
Psychedelic Rock: First Communion Afterparty (FCAP) is a young band with high ideals in every sense of the word ???high.??? They are ???committed to an entrancing psychedelic layer-cake of sound,??? and they create this with guitars, keyboards, tambourine, and drums. The vocals are hazy and peripheral, although strong at times. FCAP see themselves as a family that likes to make music together, and this album supposedly cemeted their bond and helped them grow. Their sound is reminiscent of ???Go Ask Alice.??? See for yourself. Tracks 5, 4, and 6 are my favorites, and 6 may contain ???fucking??? but I just can???t tell so it shouldn???t be a problem with the FCC. Side A has 7 songs that follow close upon each other???s heels, with cheers and claps often the only indication of separation. Side B is blank, so skip it.
PGM: Track 6 flows pretty smoothly into 7 so you may want to just play both.
3-Word Review: Psyche-Rockers Escape Minnesota
Jazz Duo: Different Strokes is Yehudit on five-string electric violin and Beth Snellings on cello. Together they offer up 10 tracks (7 of them from a 2004 concert in San Francisco) of standards mixed with original compositions, with nary a bad one in the bunch. The liner notes are a must-read, and on them you can follow the smiles to my favorites. Particularly noteworthy is the way each musician takes turns playing solos, so eventually the violin and cello seem almost interchangeable and seamless (2, 8, 5). Clearly these women are secure in their musicianship and have no trouble sharing the spotlight. This is a CD that swings, and many will enjoy dropping it into their sets for a snazzy energy boost.
PGM: Each song ends as early as 0:09.
3-Word Review: Positively Primo Pizzicato
Experimental/Trance: Seven relatively short songs from this Australian duo with an international flavor that would definitely go well on Ann Arbor???s show. Impressive percussive beats from Nisa Venerosa, intriguing lyrics that often sound like chanting, and organ and sax overdubs from Jarrod Zlatic characterize this release. Tracks 1 and 7 bookend the songs with their lively rhythms that get your heart beating. Track 6 stands out for its sax and percussion which build momentum nicely. – Pax Humana
Compilation: This special premium for WFMU???s 2008 fundraiser has something for everyone–it begins with Lau Nau???s unique brand of Finnish folk (CD1, 1) and ends with Marissa Nadler???s high-pitched folk crooning (CD2, 13), with a variety of genres sandwiched between. There???s an abundance of rock, with standouts from Sloan (CD2, 9) Kelley Stoltz (CD1, 6), and Armitage Shanks (CD2, 11). There are fine electronics from Antiguo Automata Mexicano (CD1, 9); some cool jazz from Slow Six (CD2, 4); and some stellar international conga and island flavor from the Budos Band (CD2, 5) and Extra Golden (CD2, 12). Give it a try–you won???t be disappointed. PGM: CD2, 4 gets very quiet at 0:20, and CD2, 10 basically ends at 0:17 with irrelevant talking.
humana 8/11/2007 A Library
World music: A breath of fresh air from a musician who refused to listen to his father’s negativity about how no one could be successful as a musician. Clearly Daby Tour?? has the heart of a musician and this CD proves his father wrong. Defying ethnic categorization, Tour?? mixes his African roots with his exposure to the “bubbling Parisian jazz scene” to compose, arrange, sing, and play all of the musical instruments on this album of positive, upbeat songs. “What I’m trying to do is to give people the best moment possible whilst listening to this album.” With his lovely vocals and skillful guitars, he succeeds. They’re all under 5:50, they all end at least a few seconds early, and they’re all great, but try 2, 5, and 9.
humana 8/3/2007 A Library
Free improvisation jazz recorded in New York circa 1966 and 1967. Apparently Sun Ra’s only directions to his Arkestra were when to start playing and when to stop. “Lost in Space” best describes this music, thanks to close proximity of a microphone that amplifies horns and strings through reverb and distortion.
1 (10:17) Full of energy, loudness, chaos. Not calm at all, but persistent in its noise. Pauses at 0:44, then the metal percussion serenades us until the song ends at 0:07. Horns dominate.
*2 (12:47) Percussion dominates. A piece of sheet metal is used to accompany other-worldly, wordless vocals described as “gargling” in the liner notes. A plucked string signals the end at 0:11.
3 (20:23) First half of song features a ukelin, which is a bowed and strummed zither from the early 1900s. Dutar and bandura are the strings featured in the second half of this song. Ends at 0:10.
4 (10:29) Sun Ra plays squeaking door (with Mini-Moog) as accompaniment to strings and percussion. Gives new meaning to what liner notes calls “musical uncanny”.
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