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Music Reviews

Crossing, The – “Voyages” – [Innova Recordings]

Medusa of Troy   10/16/2019   A Library, CD

The Crossing is the artist, in this case, a professional choir that specializes in performing new classical music. Donald Nally is the conductor. Voyages is the title of the album, the two works that make up this album, and the underlying 6-cycle poem, composed in 1921–1926, as a paean by the poet Hart Crane to his lover, a Danish sailor. Robert Convery is the composer of the album’s first half, the choir singing his 1994 arrangement of Crane’s words a cappella, poems intact. Benjamin C.S. Boyle composed the second half of the album as a cantata, where stanzas are plucked from the underlying poem and the choir is accompanied by its in-house string ensemble, with soloists emphasizing particular passages. The first six songs, Convery’s a cappella arrangement, are sweet and melancholy and faint enough that you may want to pay close attention and have the poem in front of you to make out the words. In Boyle’s half, the strings tend to be dramatic, undergirding the emotion in the words and forcing the soloists to be more emphatic.

But which, if any, should you play? Convery’s “Voyages” is good for quiet but deep listening. Boyle’s “Voyages: Cantana No. 2, Opus 41” provides more obvious peaks and valleys for the listener. Neither quite reach the delirious, dizzying sweep of words and feeling as an out and proud statement of queer desire from a time where such a thing was punished by law and society. However, both compositions, and the album as a whole, are lovely.

Musicians of The Nile – Charcoal Gypsies – [Realworld]

aarbor   10/16/2019   CD, International

The Musicians of the Nile were discovered in 1975 and performed at the 1st WOMAD festival in 1983. They are apparently a part of the gypsy tradition. Listening to them the link to gypsy music is less clear. The tracks on this album are flutes and buzzy reed instruments which remind me of a homework assignment I had in an Ethnomusicology class once: to listen to a piece like this and transcribe it into musical notation. AArbor

Reflection – Morerroronus World, The – [Clear Records]

aarbor   10/16/2019   A Library, CD

On the Clear label out of the UK, Reflection is 2 Japanese brothers: Ichiro and Kenji Taniguchi. Their debut album in 1996 was Erroronus World, this album from 1997 is the remix album with offerings from such heavy hitters as Plaid, 4 Hero and Morgan Geist among others. Check out tracks 2,3,4,6 and 7. AArbor 

EEDIO – Hero – [Device Recordings]

aarbor   10/16/2019   12-inch, A Library

Bertrand Alix is EEDIO. He’s a producer from Chilhac, France. This EP is his 2nd from 2003. He claims that his influences include: Depeche Mode, Boards of Canada, Sigur Ros and Massive Attack. Check out B2 Modulation.

AArbor 

Ima – “Ende” – [Buh Records]

lexi glass   10/15/2019   A Library, Cassette

This cassette is the first official single from IMA, the local electroacoustic duo of percussionist Nava Dunkleman and sound artist Amma Ateria. Compared to the live recording of their performance at the 2017 Garden of Memory festival (in our library), Ende is a much darker and more menacing vision; IMA describes this work as the “beginning of awakening to the aftermath of destruction and devastation.” Over four short vignettes, Dunkleman’s percussion moves from delicacy to total collapse, while Ateria’s electronic atmospherics build a heavy sense of dread. “Flower of Dust” (T2) incorporates fragments of Japanese poetry that build on the theme of downfall. The tape ends too soon, but luckily IMA’s first full-length LP is due out later this year, and I look forward to hearing more of their consistently elegant work.

Presson, Lee and The Nails – "Last Request" – [Self-release]

Sir Cumference   10/12/2019   A Library, CD

KFJC is getting a pre-release of the latest release of the Bay Area’s own Lee Presson and the Nails. Lee goes full Goth Swing with this selection of spookier tunes (and a couple not-so-spooky) just in time for the Halloween season (the album will be released on October 25.) My favorite is the Mission Impossible theme mashed with up with Take Five (don’t tell me you never wanted to do that yourself!) A swingin’ version of the theme to Psycho is sure to get your toes a tappin’ just before you hit the shower. I’m sure anyone could find something to squeeze into a set or two…

Tejada, John – “Matrix of Us, The” – [deFocus]

aarbor   10/9/2019   A Library

John Tejada was born in Vienna, Austria, but now operates out of L.A. From 2000 this is his 2nd release. “Summer Spell” [1] has a warm, electro shuffle, while the spoken word and vocals on “Genetical Love” [2] act as a counterpoint to the piano and looped string section before the beat kicks in. “Disappear” is stringy synths w/ electro beats, and the deeper bass of “Can’t Tell Time Anything” continues the easygoing vibe. “reach for the Lights” [8] is a fun boogie. I liked this album better than some of his others.

AArbor 

Afro-Peruvian Classics: The Soul of Black Peru [coll] – [Luaka Bop]

aarbor   10/9/2019   A Library

Afro Peruvian music is a blend of Spanish, Andean and African traditions. The language comes from Spain  along with the preference for the guitar, and poetic forms like the decimaand the copla. From the Andes melancholy musical forms. From Africa the dance rhythms. Pantheistic religious are common to both the Andes and Africa. In addition to the guitar, 3 instruments are important to this music: the cajon and the cajita – both musical boxes and the quijada de burro – a jawbone with loosened teeth which vibrate when struck.  The instrumental intro of each track gives you a clue as to what to expect. Try 2,3,4,8,9,12, 13  You may want to compare the renditions of the songs of the same name. 

AArbor

FESTIVAL IN THE DESERT [coll.]

aarbor   10/9/2019   A Library

The Festival au désert or “Festival in the Desert” was an annual concert in Mali, showcasing traditional Tuareg music as well as music from around the world. The first Festival took place in 2001 in Tin Essako, then in Tessalit in 2002, and in Essakane from 2003 to 2009. From 2010 to 2012 it was held on the outskirts of Timbuktu because of security concerns which have prevented it from taking place since. This is a recording from the 2003 festival. It is a veritable Who’s Who of African artists, many of whom we have in our collection including: Tinariwen (who became known largely due to this festival), Afel Bocoum, Oumou Sangare, Ali Farka Toure… Robert Plant also appears on track 4.  Of the less well known players I liked tracks 5,6,10, 12-14, 16,18, 19                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                AArbor 

MACHITO AND HIS ORCHESTRA – Afro-Cubop

aarbor   10/9/2019   A Library

From 1979 this is an excellent example of the merger between New York’s jazz scene sound with an Afro-Cuban sound. Machito, who was born Frank Grillo in Tampa, FL in 1912 moved to Cuba in his youth, returning to the U.S. in 1937 and played with Xavier Cugat and Noro Morales. He founded his own band around 1939-40 which married Latin music and American music. Don’t miss Charlie Parker on tracks B1-3 (Mambo, Lament for the Conga, and Reminiscing at Twilight). Harry Belafonte appears on B6 (Lean on Me). AArbor 

JEANNEAU, LAURENT – Music of Southern and Northern Laos

aarbor   10/9/2019   A Library

This is Laotian music from the ethnic minorities of both the Northern and Southern parts of Laos. In the South the Molam tradition is central to the popular music (as it is in Cambodia). A mouth organ (Khene) accompanies the singing. The type of Molam varies by the geographic regions. Northern Laos is a mosaic of ethnic minorities and sounds. Check this out!  AArbor

PRAED – Doomsday Survival Kit

aarbor   10/9/2019   A Library

Praed is Raed Yassin and Paed Conca of Lebanon. Their sounds is a mixture of Arabic popular music, free jazz and electronics. The Doomsday Survival Kit their latest release from 2018, is 4 relatively long tracks which are definitely worth playing. AArbor 

CINEDELIC SOUND: Music for Advertisements [coll.]

aarbor   10/9/2019   A Library

Upbeat music for ads, TV, soundtracks A delightful 2 CD compilation of upbeat music which could be used for ads, TV, soundtracks …  You can definitely dance to a lot of these tracks especially on CD1. The sounds come from various parts of the world: Brazil, India, Italy – and various styles: rock, surf, funk, jazz, space age bachelor pad. Just enjoy – it is definitely great music to donate by.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

AArbor 

Hypnagogue – “Distant Light Receding” – [Self Released]

lexi glass   10/8/2019   A Library, Cassette

This 2019 cassette is the debut release from Hypnagogue, the solo project of Massachusetts-based artist James Rosato. On Distant Light Receding, Rosato uses guitar and magnetic tape to evoke the “harsh beauty of a coastal New England winter.” But to my ear, there’s no harshness at all to be found in these dreamlike drones, just a quiet warmth, like a lit candle on a snowy night. Five tracks over two sides that drift into one another in a continuous slow burn.

Smoke Below – “Isolation 3000” – [Ehse Records]

humana   10/6/2019   12-inch, A Library

This is a very pleasant sounding release from Smoke Bellow, whose primary members composed this music in a backyard shed after they traveled to Melbourne from Baltimore. Although they felt isolated (thus the name of the album), the electronic tunes on here are fairly upbeat, and the voices, though echoey at times, sound imbued with wisdom gained from being in isolation. They have since returned to Baltimore and added a band member. The final track is my favorite with its flute and horn sounds.

Sun Ra and His Solar Arkestra – “I Roam The Cosmos” – [Art Yard]

humana   10/6/2019   12-inch, Jazz

This is an unreleased performance recorded at Slug’s Saloon in New York in July of 1972. It’s pretty incredible that, even though Sun Ra left this earthly plain in 1993, his words, music, and compositions continue to reverberate through time and space. Vocalist June Tyson recites the lyrics to “Astro Black” over the backdrop of “Discipline 27-II”, followed by a call and response between Tyson and Sun Ra set to the horns and instruments of the Arkestra. The vibe is mellow and accessible. The liner notes are a must-read as they describe Sun Ra’s connections to Egypt, the sun, and the cosmos.

Zorn, John – “Music Romance Volume Two: Taboo and Exile” – [Tzadik]

Medusa of Troy   10/2/2019   A Library, CD

Taboo And Exile is part 2 of Zorn’s 3-part Music Romance series, released by his Tzadik label in 1999. For those new to Zorn’s wide swath of compositions, the album functions as an introduction and a sampler of Zorn’s many musical styles: jazz (Track 10), punk (2, 5), surf (9), Jewish music (3, 6, 8), experimental (7), exotica (1, 4, 11, 12). Track 10 (“The Possessed”), a free jazz tune full of skronky, screeching, screaming sax, is the only song where Zorn plays. Musicians on various tracks include: Marc Ribot, Fred Frith & Robert Quine [guitar], Bill Laswell & Greg Cohen [bass], Joey Baron, Dave Lombardo and Cyro Baptista [percussion], the Masada String Trio [strings] and vocalists Mike Patton and Miho Hatori. No apparent FCCs on the 2 vocal tracks. From grinding, fuzzy guitars to tribal rhythmic drums to lush, sweet strings, I love almost everything about this album – except the cover. I find the cover abhorrent. YMMV. But play this album.

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