Wired – Free Improvisation (MYA – Europe)
Legendary free music release on Deutsche Grammophon, recorded between 1970-73. Gtr-org-bs-perc-elec combine spontaneously, transporting you to a destination of sonic bliss. A rather consonant free music exploration of the acoustic analog variety with smart electronics in supporting role. Not afraid of space, the quartet’s delicate communications interchange and disperse with timeless agility. Rare moments of clash mark climax and redirection that is woven into a fabric of sonic wonder. Subtle yet powerful- Dense yet never cluttered. Final recording opens with war sirens to marvelous dramatic effect. Ranta collaborated with Harry Parch, Bottner played in Stockhausen’s ensemble, Lewis studied under Dvorak and Plank is considered among the premier German producers. This document is the work of masters in an offering to the Gods – and the Gods looked down and smiled.
Wired – Free Improvisation (MYA – Europe)
Wadada Leo Smith – Light Upon Light (Tzadik)
A fucking masterpiece of sophisticated psychedelia that transcends being a hybrid of jazz and classical. Dreamy, transporting tones wind and mesh through space as a sonic counterbalance. (3,5) Trumpetronics, (1,2,4) String pieces. (3,5) Toshinori Kondo’s ‘Nerve Tripper’ sound – beats + master composer’s awareness of passages’ natural spaces = Wadada Leo Smith ! Proof left to the listener as an exercise. (1,2,4) Similar to Once Festival material (see Tyke), searching phrases unfolding clusters, mid and low-register cello sound, intense minor key stuff but not dark. Stravinsky/Bartok moves with an AMM sense of space, very powerful yet subtle. (4) is like a psychedelic symphony only with a small ensemble. (3) gets to Japan psych chant rock spaces but from an African jazz point of origin.
Sixes – Organ Cuts
Not chainsaw stuff ! Soundscapes from the noise quadrant. Reminds of early Merzbow (singles, Rainbow Electronics) bu with more continuity, less dense and less harsh. 2 tracks about 30m each but with 8-10 m passages in each. (1) Noisetronics / sirens, wind, tracers-vapors of notes / merzbow under tuvan influence, note factory stuff. (2) organ treatments, minor key stuff / minimalist handsaw, tronix bikers / galactic awareness through better electronics.
Robert Montoya – Robert M (Accretions)
A dialectical synthesis of drone and beats with timing that is resolute yet spacey and textures that are synthetic yet lush. Anomalous and amorphous soundscapes (like euro-movie soundtracks at the moment of denouement) give a feeling of train travel through a foggy mountainous landscape. Montoya compiles sounds from television and layers them into soundscapes that transcend the medium and consciousness altogether. Tio Mate (5) is a compelling piece of pulsing soundwaves under Burroughs soundbytes. Sinestre (2) is a sonic colossus that attempts to communicate with other forms of intelligence – let them know you get the message- Play the shit out of this !
Radio Phnom Penh – s/t (Sublime Frequencies)
More radio transmissions from SE Asia courtesy of Alan Bishop, this time from Cambodia. Authentic Asian 60’s pop with somewhat tribal beats sound underneath. The feel of classically trained musicians having fun in pop expressions of celebration. Lack of production quality is outweighed by the crisp execution of pop constructions that are probably well known by all in the village for generations. Familiarity to the point of an unstrained memory of passages that give a flowing sound around tightly arranged and performed tunes. If you liked Neung Phak’s “Tui Tiu Tui”, why not get a taste of the real thing !
Ellery Eskelin – Ten (Hat Hut Records)
10yr anniversary of the outside jazz trio of Eskelin, Parkins and Black. EPB explore underdeveloped textures in jazz. Forget the Grey Poupon Shit, ‘Ten’ is alive with spirited lyricism of theatrical quality and force. Marc Ribot appears on guitar on last half of cd. Jessica Constable delivers stellar vocal energy on 4 tracks, comparable to Fontella Bass w/ Art Ensemble of Chicago in feel. 2-8 minute tracks, adventurous sound. No formal attire required, just a head for sound reflection.
Ranaldo Licht Krieger DJ Olive Marclay – Text of Light (Table of the Elements)
Drifting, mesmerizing drone traverses the depths of sonic possibilities. Signals, feedback and transmissions pulsate in a collective continuum. Like a beam from a lighthouse, guitars cast in and fade out leaving you to ponder the complex ultra-ambient soundscape. Waves of combined sounds emanate up from the pulses of each artist’s contribution. Two guitars, percussion, turntables and electronics make for dense textures. Masterful timing gives this free improvised offering a stellar compositional quality.
18m=> play the whole damn thing !
William Hooker Quartet – Lifeline (Silkheart)
(1) Loosely woven alto sax runs accent the percussive conversation b/w Wm Parker and Hooker. Double sax solo opens into main theme followed by a Hooker recitation then 40m+ of blowing and pounding. Not as edgy as a Vandermark or Brotzmann piece, it flows fluently, unburdened by structural constraints, as if exploring the edges of familiar territory without wandering. (2) ts-trb-pn-dr, Chamber jazz w/choppped piano and recitation setting up a blowout. (3) same instr as 2, a Muhal Richard Abrams type blowout (Wise in Time-condensed w/o percussion). Refined yet relentlessly unleashed jazz energy.
3w: Flowing Forceful Free-verse
Parker Drumm Zerang – Out Trios Volume 2 (Atavistic)
A musical maelstrom of free sounds from 2 gtr w/ elec and drums of the organic noise variety with fuge-like interchanges as home base. Sounds like what the main character of Memento heard in his head when he tried to remember shit. Flashing, percolating meshes of sonic sorcery with sustained ferocity. The 2nd release of the Out Trios on Atavistic but definitely not 2nd place stuff. Ranges from an active continuum of surging flashpoints with chopped guitar to Hafleresque soundscapes with driving drums or chord progression mutations. Out of the Chicago scene, Parker (Chicago Underground Duo, Isotope, Tortoise), Drumm (Vandermark territorial band) and Zerang (Solisitice w/ Hamid Drake) get OUT and take you on their journey to the other side – the OUTSIDE ! “Onslaught” smashes the sonic barrier.
3w: Massive Memento Maelstrom
David S Ware Quartet – Oblations and Blessings (Silkheart)
No bowties here, this is the HARD stuff ! Jazz in attack mode elegance and ballad ballistics. Ware catches the TRANE out of town and out of the stratosphere, blasting the quartet’s way to new truths communicable only in phrases of music. The musical messages within have concise urgency like a war zone reporter on a 1m call to the main bureau. This is Ware in ’95 backed by Shipp, Parker and Dickey – a classic quartet of ts-pn-bs-dr whose heritage is of pure late Impulse era Coltrane Quartet stuff. Undeniable momentum forward, upward and OUT, leveraged by Shipp’s McCoy Tyner/ John Hicks style of comping.
3w: Coltrane Resurrection Revelation !
Deerhunter – s/t (Stickfigure Records)
Tight and dirty rock sound with standard song structures delivered with undoubtedly above standard, angry and pissed off vocals. Riffs reminiscent of SoCal early 90’s rock (Drive Like Jehu’s 1st, Distorted Pony) are hypercharged by the vocalist’s undying conviction that everything is still fucked – thus the necessity for a refrain of the straight ahead pissed off rock sound. 2 gtr-bs-dr with some other stuff occasionally dubbed on top, this foursome from Atlanta definitely give an urgent sound to otherwise familiar structures in this debut release.
3w: Repenting is Weakness
Se Piagi Se Ridi- Perfect for the next wake party you may be planning. Maybe like a Caroliner pop excursion if it existed. Funeral organ, banjo (?) and drums accompany this eulogy for the pop song. Childlike vocal wanderings call you to the netherworld where pop icons are smothered with makeup buff pads. Slightly disconnected and ethereal but luring nonetheless. A rather mature sound in an unusual space from a quite unusual band. Strawberry Banana- that lost backtrack to the Abba song that Bjorn farted around with for years but never found the right lyrics for- another stake in the false heart of pop music, the jokes on those who thought Deerhoof could never make it as a pop band.
3w: Caroliner on Prozac
This is one of the most memorable releases I’ve heard in awhile. Corrina Repp (her parents named her after a Bob Dylan song) is from Portland, Oregon and has been playing music in various bands for 10 years. This was released in fall 2004. In style it’s similar to Cat Power, with its spare instrumentation and lovely female vocals. Very subtle piano, guitar, and slight electronic moments. This is mystical! (added 2-8-2005)
From 2000. Treatises on love that blend elements of classical, jazz and poetry. It begins with male vocals and classical piano (track one), moves to dramatic strings and piano (track two) to spoken word and operatic (track three) to crazy drama with male throaty vocals that can rival the best metal performer (track four) to jazz-inspired with scat singing (track seven), along with some instrumental tracks glueing it all together. (added 2-8-05)
This is another release (pulled together in November 2004) from Sublime Frequencies that collects musical gems from around the world. Sumatra’s been in the news lately in the weeks following the December 2004 tsunami, so it’s nice to harken back to some less tragic times and hear Sumatran folk and pop music circa 1960s through the 1980s. It’s quite a range, from Indian-style pop to more sedate folk with simpler percussion. Strings, psych, crazy pop, and some nice female vocals. Track 11 is a pleasant folk song with male and female vocals. (added 2-8-2005)
Sad World is two people: Dr. Atmo – real name Amir Abadi – a DJ/composer/architect and Ramin – full name Ramin Naghachian – both born in Iran and currently living in Frankfurt, Germany. (Fun fact: Dr. Atmo performed at and designed Frankfurt’s XS club.)
This 1996 release combines the first two Sad World CDs, orginially released in 8/1993 and 5/1994. We also have the third and last, Sad World III, in A. All three are on Pete Namlook‘s FAX label, one of the leading purveyors of ambient music.
Sad World is ambient electronica with a strong Middle Eastern influence. The track names evoke a time of greater glory for Muslims with great halls like Apadana, cities like Samarra, which was briefly the capitol of the Muslim world, and Cordoba, the center of Moorish culture in Spain.
The music on these CDs contains some relatively brief tracks of 5 and 10 minutes and one longer tracks of 20, 30, and 40 minutes. They contain synthesizer drones, interesting samples (voices from American broadcasts, choirs, talking, chanting, singing children), instruments like sitar and, I think, a didgeridoo, sometimes there are downtempo drum loops giving the hint of rhythm.
You can actively listen to these tracks and trace their slow development and changing textures, or you can just float along with it and enjoy the ride.
1982 sounds like next week. Pope’s tenor pumps
nectar over Cornell Rochester’s passionate
percussion and Gerald Veasley’s force-to-be-
reckoned-with electric bass. You heard me,
electric…normally that sends a shiver in
one ear, down the spine, back up and out the
other ear…electric bass in jazz can sound
like a rubber tree in a cartoon. The range
and expression of the upright tower over its
cousin. But this is exceptional, Veasley is
nimble, from deep-fried rumble to lighter
than air harmonics. This release should get
some nice crossover on plenty of shows. At
times there’s a manic power that makes you
think of Japan’s Ruins. Besides a secret
tunnel to rock, there’s another big one to
funk. Still the thrill to the ride is Pope’s
sweet sax sermonizing, matched by his often
heart-stopping (and in some spots heart-
shattering) composition. Drums were recorded
a bit flat…but everything else soars. This
is a blessing from on high.
A hippy vibe with Black Pride coming from the flip side of
Motown Records. This album oozes “lanquidity” coasting from
note to note. I preferred the first side, guided by label
co-founder and trombonist, Phil Ranelin. He keeps bassist
Charles Eubanks popping, and then adds vocals from Jeamel
Lee on two tracks to pour a little Angela Davis gasoline
on the simmering warmth. By the time that side ends, he’s
built up a firecracker of a number with “How Do We End
All Of This Madness” on which he sings as well. Ranelin’s
trombone adds to the curvaceousness of this release, only a
few moments of Wendell Harrison’s sax spike up out of the
mellifluous melange. What holds this all together, and
maybe holds the spiking solos back, is the omnipresence of
electic piano. It’s just an instrument that fills, often
prettily, but rarely commands. It is more dominant, along
with some flute on the side that Harrison composed. Some
30 years later, Ranelin is still rolling, co-creating his
own label with artistic control back then showed a lot of
foresight and soulful sound.
It may well be that Goofus and Gallant are the same
person. It also may well be that the P. Boys are a
brother/sister combo Oliver & Angela Alden, along with
their childhood friend Dean Douglas. It may be that
this started as a lark, and still continues as one.
A goofball gumball assortment of pop drops, and to
“clear” the palate arcane swipes from out-of-print
kiddie vinyl. In the lyrics, on top of plenty of
square phrases rhmyed into round holes, we get nods to
Tzadik, Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair
(not Sharrocked, nor Waters’d down…but tinted blonde
or yellow if you will). If the Frogs and Danielson
Famile adopted Vincent Gallo, would Brown Bunny have
had “Brown Underpants” as its theme song? It’s like
they have created song-poems direct and eliminated the
middle matchbook man. Or maybe they’re college DJ’s,
big kids in the treehouse like us?
Featured clarinetist Perry Robinson has played with the
Fugs, Pete Seeger as well as various jazz luminaries
like Archie Shepp, Charlie Haden, Don Cherry. For me,
the clarinet is the neediest of reeds; too often it has
a thin timber and a sort of whininess. Over the course
of these two discs, we get a broader display. On the
studio disk we embark in a toe-tapper riding a slinky,
spiraling melody. “Blue Flower” starts blown-out but
gentle, like writing a poem with a hangover. Over time
its scratchiness goes smooth. Ultimately we get more
flurrious and wobbly playing on “Fence in the Snow.”
It’s a crazy beauty that starts w/ xylophonic tinkery
and includes Parker dervishing on one of his found
foreign reeds himself. That winds up with some weird
aquatic vocals. Aces! The second live Tonic disc finds
Parker as ebullient as ever. The improvising is wide
open, and people can come in on many wavelengths
from Dixieland, to Bop, to vague Klezmer marches to
other regions of imagination.
12345 S. El Monte Road Los Altos Hills, California 94022
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