Music Reviews

Pike, Dave – Set – “Got the Feelin’ ” – [Disques Wagram Ltd.]

Rococo   7/5/2005   12-inch, Jazz

Vibes player Dave Pike has spent a lifetime in jazz: recording his first album in 1956; working with Herbie Mann during the bossa nova craze of the early 60’s; touring and recording in Europe with the Dave Pike Set from 66 to 73; returning to the States and recording three albums for Muse in the 70’s; and finally, after several personal hardships forced an early retirement, releasing a well-received comeback album in 1998 on San Francisco’s Ubiquity label. This long-unavailable session from 1969 is 3/4 funk, 1/4 lounge, and 100% groovin’. Organ and vibes dominate the set of original tunes and instrumental cover versions of everything from James Brown to Burt Bacharach. And pay no attention to that buzzing sound in your speakers–it’s just an un-miked Dave singing along with his vibes!

Pharoah’s Daughter – “Out of the Reeds ” – [Knitting Factory Records]

Rococo   7/5/2005   CD, International

Pharoah’s Daughter creates one of those global fusion vibes that makes it hard to pinpoint origins. Suffice it to say that this sounds…exotic. Elements of Indian, African, Middle Eastern, and Eastern European traditional musics intertwine via some lovely female vocals (mostly in Yiddish), various percussion instruments, strings and reeds. Produced by Anthony Coleman, it’s “tasteful” enough to be a hit on NPR! An uncharacteristic release from Knitting Factory.

Perry, Lee – “Kung Fu Meets the Dragon ” – [Justice League]

Rococo   7/5/2005   12-inch, Reggae

More evidence of the otherworldly genius of Rainford Hugh Perry, captured in his prime at Black Ark Studios circa 1975. This dub “concept album” is based around instrumental tracks that were, for the most part, recorded specifically for this release, a musical tribute to the kung fu flicks of the 70’s. Joining The Upsetter’s band on this experryment is the melodica master Augustus Pablo. Weaving in and out of almost every track are the martial arts musings and mumblings of Scratch himself, carried to extremes on the wacked-out “Flames of the Dragon.” “Black Belt Jones” adds some whistling accompaniment to Scratch’s moaning and groaning, and “Skango” is perhaps the most melodic offering here, a swinging instrumental featuring the horn section of Bobby Ellis and Dirty Harry. It’s all good.

Parker, Andrea – ” Ballbreaker/Some Other Level” – [Mo Wax]

Rococo   7/5/2005   10-inch, A Library

One of the few women in contemporary electronic music returns for her third, eagerly-awaited release on the Mo’ Wax label. Following the “Melodious Thunk’ and “Rocking Chair’ EPs, this 10” finds Ms. Parker venturing into more abstract/experimental territory with two dark exercises in electro-dub. ‘Ballbreaker’ begins minimally and rather aimlessly before being focused by a heavy, stabbing synth pattern and some skittery, Autechre-ish beats. Eventually the whole thing decomposes at the end. “Some Other Level” uses similar textures but adds what sounds like an electric bass and strings for a fuller, and even funky, sound. Like its predecessor, this track too decomposes at the end. Parker is certainly widening her palette with this release and it makes her forthcoming album even more eagerly anticipated.

Out in Worship – “Sterilized ” – [Perishable]

Rococo   7/5/2005   A Library, CD

If you have an hour to spare between the next two Bill Laswell releases, you might want to check out this eclectic new project from Joe Goldring and Doug Scharin. Incorporating elements of dub, jazz, post-rock, ambient and ethnic musics, this mostly-instrumental album is by turns hypnotizing and exhilarating. Guitarist Goldring (Clodhopper) and percussionist Scharin (HIM, Directions in Music) anchor the sound, but the album is clearly a studio overdub creation, peppered with hauntingly beautiful strings and guitar textures, turntablist sounds and samples, bass and more bass. (One track even has three bass players!) The album starts and ends with two ambitious tracks of 15+ minutes that define the breadth of the group’s sound; in between are three shorter tracks which explore specific ideas. There’s much to admire in all of them.

Organized Kryme – “Vibe, Volume 1 ” – [1ST-STEP Records]

Rococo   7/5/2005   CD, Reggae

Johnny Osbourne has one of those classic reggae voices, and what a pleasure it is to hear him singing again with newcomers Organized Kryme. The format is roots reggae and dub, with four Osbourne vocals and their respective dubs alongside six other originals. The band is tight, the sound is modern but not overproduced, and the end result gives one hope that roots reggae has more of a future than just archival reissues.

O’farrill, Chico – “Heart of a Legend ” – [Milestone]

Rococo   7/5/2005   CD, Jazz

HEART OF A LEGEND is both a new work and an exuberant summation of the 55-year career of latin jazz composer, arranger, and conductor Chico O’Farrill. Twenty years ago, O’Farrill composed the score to a film by Cuban filmmaker Jorge Ulla. Now Ulla returns the favor by producing both a documentary film on O’Farrill and this accompanying album, which re-scores many of the pieces from that original film, along with some unreleased material and some latin jazz classics. The album is bulging with talent, including appearances by Gato Barbieri, Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D’Rivera, and others. Some personal favorites: a swing blues with vocals by Freddy Cole (Nat’s brother); the multi-sectioned “Trumpet Fantasy;” a streamlined version of the classic “Manteca;” and “Sin Tu Amor” a bossa-like confection with sultry female vocals. But there’s much, much more to enjoy here. On Milestone Records, and this truly is a milestone for Chico O’Farrill.

Nocturnal Emissions – “Futurist Antiquarianism ” – [Soleilmoon Recordings]

Rococo   7/5/2005   A Library, CD

Nocturnal Emissions is the alias of industrial music pioneer Nigel Ayers who, like Richard Kirk of Cabaret Voltaire, has tirelessly continued to explore his own electronic landscapes for the past 20 years. Ayers says his music evolves out of “a desire to create sounds which are outside the ‘normal’ listening experience – sounds that evoke dreamlike states or the exploration of strange realms.” Well he has certainly succeeded with this disc. Perhaps the most uncharted realms here for Nigel are the junglist rhythms which show up on several tracks,”Earthlights” being the most successful. Elsewhere we slide back into an almost subterranean ambience, with the occasional hint of birds or insects or…some totally alien life forms.

No. 9 – “Micro Films ” – [Locust Music]

Rococo   7/5/2005   A Library, CD

Wow. This is one absolutely GORGEOUS electronic album, probably the best I’ve heard all year! No. 9 is the pseudonym for one Joe Takayuki, and MICRO FILMS is his third solo release. Primarily electronic, the album also incorporates some acoustic guitar and environmental field recordings to convey a warmer, more organic vibe. At times it echoes the jazz sensibilities of Four Tet, the playfulness of Mice Parade, the rhythmic complexity of Squarepusher, the cut-up techniques of Herbert, the pastoral ambience of The Orb, and so much more. But that’s not to say it’s a pastiche or copy of anything else. It’s a truly original work by an original artist that I hope will be around for a long time to come. Time to join the No. 9 revolution!

Murray, Sunny – “An Even Break ” – [Byg Records]

Rococo   7/5/2005   12-inch, Jazz

If ESP-Disk was the original home of free jazz, then the French label BYG/Actuel was its summer vacation home. Between 1969-1971, BYG/Actuel recorded and released 52 essential documents of boundary-breaking music, including this exhilarating quartet recording led by drummer Sunny Murray. A frequent sideman to Cecil Taylor and Albert Ayler, Murray is accompanied here by the double saxophone assault of Byard Lancaster and Kenneth Terroade, with the Art Ensemble’s Malachi Favors on bass. Spiritually grounded yet totally “out there,” this is free jazz at its apex.

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