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Music Reviews

Build An Ark ?Peace With Every Step? [Plug Research]

Hunter Gatherer   7/5/2005   A Library, CD

This collective of 20+ musicians was formed shortly after a post-9/11 concert called ‘Our Cry For Peace? put together by Carlos Nino (Ammoncontact, Hu Vibrational) and Dwight Trible (Pharoah Sanders Quintet).

They are called Build An Ark and their mission is to inspire peace and love throughout the world. Okay, so they failed at that. But how is the music?

Very good with a definite seventies-feel, unpretentious, earnest, freewheeling. Soulful jazz loaded up with African rhythms and influences. A sunny afternoon jam session among friends. It starts with a life-affirming cover of Pharoah Sanders‘s You Gotta Have Freedom and continues in that vein for an hour. The album is dedicated to Sun Ra and everyone who played in Arkestra to give you a further idea of the musical inspiration.

If you can handle lyrics like ‘put down your gun and pick up your baby? and ‘swallow your mushroom cloud? then this CD is for you. I like uplifting music, but maybe not this uplifting. After listening to a few songs, you will think twice before stomping to death a defenseless hippie.
–Hunter Gatherer

Caribbean Sampler [coll] – [Rounder Records]

Rococo   7/5/2005   CD, International

Another cruise through the Lower Antilles with Alan Lomax, circa 1962. This set of field recordings includes 31 selections from Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Carriacou, St. Lucia, St. Barthelemy, Anguilla, Trinidad, and Nevis. Recorded at a time when many of these islands were achieving independence from the British Empire, it was Lomax’s hope that by finding cultural commonalities among the peoples of the Caribbean, he might contribute to a postcolonial Caribbean unification. Lofty ambitions for a guy with a tape recorder. What he found and documented included a myriad of musical styles with roots in African, French, English, Celtic, Spanish, and even East Indian cultures. A remarkable musical survey with excellent liner notes.

Build the Ark [coll] – [Trojan Records]

Rococo   7/5/2005   12-inch, Reggae

Here’s the third in Trojan’s series of triple-LP box sets documenting Lee Perry productions from the oh-so-crucial 70’s. This box focuses on singles, alternating the vocal A-sides with the instrumental/dub versions. My advice is to head straight for Side Four, which features superb vocal contributions from The Meditations, The Congos, and Junior Murvin. But if it’s truly wacked-out dub you’re looking for, better check Junior Dread’s “A Wah Dat/Dub Dat” on Side Two. Even a genius like Lee Perry, however, can’t redeem Sharon Isaacs’ cover of perhaps the most heinous song ever written, “Feelings” (Woah woah woah…) Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Bazaar: Rare Jazz/Fusi [coll] – [Cosmic Sounds]

Rococo   7/5/2005   12-inch, Jazz

Following up collections from Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Russia, the latest stop on Cosmic Sounds’ jazz tour of Eastern Europe is 1960’s Poland. And it’s a rousing success. Among my favorites are the four tracks featuring vibes player Jerzy Milian: three under his own name and a fourth as featured soloist with Jan Wroblewski and the Polish Radio Jazz Orchestra. Then there’s a really swingin’ track by the Novi Singers, one of the all-time greatest jazz vocal groups’from any country! Pianist and film composer Krzystof Komeda, perhaps the most familiar name here, is oddly represented by two versions of the same composition (“The Kitten”), both programmed on the same side of the record. Aside from that minor quibble, BAZAAR really is a valuable and entertaining document of a mostly ignored part of jazz history.

Next Impressions [coll] – [Concrete Grooves]

Hunter Gatherer   7/5/2005   CD, Hip Hop

Chris ‘Presto? Douglas and Charles ‘Web? Yao are the force behind the Concrete Grooves label. This is the follow up compilation to ‘Impressions on Concrete? called ‘Next Impressions.’

This CD contains 17 tracks of soulful, jazz-influenced hip-hop grooves, most of them instrumental. A few of the instrumentals could be mistaken for a Ninja Tune release. But this music lies somewhere between hip hop and downtempo.

I got into all of the tracks, but the highlight is the cover of A Roller Skate Jam called Saturday (De La Soul) that Trinity starts her show with.

The music would work well as beds or transitions to/from soul, jazz, hip-hop, just about anywhere, in fact.

Instros: 1 (w/talk at begin.), 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10 (false stop), 11, 12, 14, 15 (false stop), 16

Language: 2 (shit), 13 (shit, bullshit)
–Hunter Gatherer

Battery Park Cologne.. [coll] – [Emi]

Rococo   7/5/2005   12-inch, A Library

Here’s the first of two 12″ EP’s featuring artists from the second annual Battery Park electronic music festival in Cologne, Germany. The first track, by Dr. W and Mr. Fluex (sic), is a fantastic electro-soul workout with computerized vocals from Nik Frost. We’re talking “Prince meets Kraftwerk” here. The last track, by Computerjockeys, is an amazing rhythmic tour de force, almost drum’n’bass-like, incorporating the sampled sounds of a ping pong game. You have to hear this one to believe it! In between these tracks are two more from Dr. Walker and M. Flux, probably fine tracks by themselves but completely eclipsed by the aforementioned two. Bring on the second volume!

Afrojazzfunk [coll] – [Superclasse]

Rococo   7/5/2005   CD, Soul

DJ Zaz hand-picked these nine quintessentially-70’s grooves that are definitely more “jazz funk” than “afro.” In fact, some of them border perilously close to disco! Check out the highlights, though: some fine electric piano from Mal Waldron on the Lafayette Afro-Rock Band’s “Red Match Box;” the short-but-sweet funk of “Pat’s Jam” by Seven Seas; a GREAT guitar solo on “Sweet Lovely Girl” by The 13th Floor; and the AWB-ish funk of “Funky Bafoussam” by Jean-Michel Tim et Foty. If you can appreciate these tracks, then gorge yourself on the full 70’s retro-feast.

Young, Claude – “Numbers Ep, the ” – [Deta Records]

Rococo   7/5/2005   12-inch, A Library

Detroit icon Claude Young (aka The Brother from Another Planet) checks in from London this time with an EP on the brand-new Deta label. Five tracks total, but really only two proper tracks and a bit of fiddling. “The Numbers” on Side A is a propulsive, moody, and multi-layered groover, bracketed by a short preample and coda. “Ghost” on Side B is a throbbing slice of dubby, filtered tech-house, followed by a bit of reverse-mastered soundscape to wind up the EP. Overall, this is about as experimental as the dancefloor gets. Sad to note that, like many of Detroit’s greatest, Claude had to go overseas to get this released.

Wimme – “Gierran ” – [Northside]

Rococo   7/5/2005   CD, International

Wimme (“Vim’ -may”) Saari sings in a style known as yoik, a traditional style of unaccompanied singing from Finnish Samiland. But this CD is FAR from traditional. As on his previous (debut) album, Wimme has again collaborated with members of the Finnish ambient techno band RinneRadio to produce a totally compelling hybrid of folk and electronic music. The Samis have strong cultural ties with Native Americans, resulting in a curiously alien-but-familiar quality to the vocals. The opening track is perhaps the most dramatic, featuring shamanic chanting against a backdrop of thudding electronic beats. Other highlights include: the propulsive “Rainbow,” which recalls the sound of a jew’s harp; the aquatic dub of “Destiny;” and the 10-minute ambient opus “Angelica Archangelica.” Scattered throughout the CD are short acapella tracks which serve as a more traditional counterpoint to the experimentation elsewhere. Another stunning release from Wimme.

Why? – “Oaklandazulasylum ” – [Anticon]

Rococo   7/5/2005   A Library, CD

With only the most tenuous connections to hip hop, this solo album from Anticon’s Jonathan Wolf (aka Why?) further expands the stylistic palette of that adventurous Bay Area collective. It’s a bedroom production that sounds a lot like the softer side of Shimmy Disc in their glory days. Quirky melodies, constipated and otherwise processed vocals, acoustic guitar strumming and oddball samples all mix together to keep things varied and interesting throughout. Programmed beats surface here and there, but mostly the album has a folky tripout vibe, flowing seamlessly through a variety of half-baked and fully-baked ideas.

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