Sunday, December 11, 2016

Gentle Giant - Three Friends

Been a little quiet around here lately. Mostly been listening to things too new to share / things shared elsewhere. But this one's been on repeat for a month or so. I'd never paid GG much mind - kind of lumped with a bunch of unheard British prog I didn't think I needed to listen to. Everyone makes mistakes.

From wiki: 

"This was the band's first concept album, and was based around the theme of three boys who are "inevitably separated by chance, skill, and fate" as they become men. Over the course of the album, the three friends travel on from being childhood schoolfriends to become, respectively, a road digger, an artist, and a white-collar worker. In the process, they lose their ability to relate to each other or understand each other's lifestyles."

Easy to make the analogical leap across the pond...

Really love the jazzy opening to "Schooldays" and the vocal arrangement, the multitracked touches to "Working All Day"... solid through and through.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Teddy Lasry - Seven Stones

Going to a so-called new age/crystal power concert tonight. Advertised as "a night of healing." No better time I guess.

Or let those wounds sting and smash the 1% white supremacist patriarchy.

Either way, you'll need to chill out/rebuild your strength sometime, and this mix of tunes by French library whiz Lasry will aid you well. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

"Blue" Gene Tyranny - The Intermediary

Beautiful interplay between mildly harsh electronics and piano that itself shifts from jazz tropes to note clusters I have trouble imagining a human being playing. This post comes hot off the heels of seeing Matmos interpret sections of Robert Ashley's "Perfect Lives" (to which Tyranny contributed), a stunning rendition, check it out if you haven't already, Europe! 

(Not surprising, but, no youtube preview...)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Robert Fripp - God Save the Queen / Under Heavy Manners

Robert Fripp seems like a quirky, totally self-contained individual who likes to make metalingual commentary during interviews. He also seems like the kind of musician who would actively pursue anyone sharing his music in this fashion, but hey, looks like this record's been out of print since its initial release in 1980. Anyway, some of you already have this one, but if not...

A divided collection - "Side A" contains the type of Frippertronics we'd come to expect from his collaborations with Eno, while "Side One" (B) explores Discotronics, or the interplay between those loops and bass/drums, as well as, on "Under Heavy Manners," David Byrne warbling about hearing trumpets and divergence. The rhythm section on "Zero of the Signified" actually sounds more Kraut-y to my ears, definitely the highlight of the record for me, ending on one of the loveliest loops I've heard Mr. Fripp construct. A real pleaser for guitar-loop geeks like me and otherwise.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Pillman Radiant Mix

A mix I was inspired to make after starting to read "Roadside Picnic" by the brothers Strugatsky. Imagine Blade Runner as a GTA-style VR game where you can explore the murky neon-soaked spaces of the marketplace... here's your soundtrack. Future-focused electronic pop, twisted vocal samples, footwork, synth music, blah blah blah...
OPN – I only have eyes for you
lena platonos – markos
kelela – bank head
phork – the rhythm of two kalimbas (soundcloud)
rp boo – your choice
aragon – horridula
motion graphics – mezzotint gliss (visible cloaks remix) (soundcloud)
errorsmith and mark fell – cuica digitales / jessy lanza – oh no
fit siegel – carmine
dj Rashad feat. spin – show u how
Justin Kelly – vgf (soundcloud)
dialect – waterfront epiphany
mark Pritchard – under the sun
Fatima Yamaha – what’s a girl to do
shy layers – for you

Or, get it here

NTS radio, if you're out there listening, I'd love to host a show! Seriously. Wishful thinking...

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Toshifumi Hinata - Sarah's Crime

A lovely collection of arrangements for synthesizer, piano, strings, and is that melodica, harmonica, or something else? I find it hard to tell. Heard about Hinata from a post on the Listen to This! blog a while back, someone did a write-up on Reality in Love, which I recently described to a friend as "one of the most beautiful albums I've ever heard." I did not feel guilty of hyperbole when expressing this sentiment.

Sarah's Crime is Hinata's first, apparently. Sounds, like many of his works, like the score to an imaginary film (I can't help imagining a Studio Ghibli-type sequence panning over meticulously drawn landscapes and exploring dimly lit rooms, somber faces...). Alternating from gentle movements between electronics and acoustic instruments to Satie-sounding piano interludes... probably the perfect soundtrack to your rainy weekend.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ulrich Schnauss - Far Away Trains Passing By

Pleasant if slightly dated, straddling the line between ambient and unobtrusive beat-oriented electronica, perfect for early/mid-morning commute or general mid-week drudgery (Slowdive's "Souvlaki" is also a good point of comparison). Think I heard about this record via the always-informative dream chimney 'track of the day' forums. Highlight - the lo-fi nature sounds overtaken by the phaser/chorus kraut-y bliss of "Between Us and Them," channeling "Deluxe"-era Harmonia.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sophie and Peter Johnston - Sophie and Peter Johnston

Heard about this sibling duo via the bandcamp page for an album I've already raved about, but why not rave about it again, Ice Choir's Designs in Rhythm. Cited as one of the latter group's influences, this album certainly shows why - layers of blissful FM synths (say, during the chorus for "A Bigger Temptation"), YMO-style syncopated MIDI sequenced runs in the classic opener "Television Satellite"... this is one of those gems of the maximal 80's synth-pop era (Scritti Politti's "Cupid and Psyche" is another good reference point, but might I suggest also the vocals of Sade on a track like "Torn Open"?). 

Sliding through the shimmering synths, reverb soaked drum track and what sounds like a melodica patch on the instrumental "Take That Jerkin Off!"... an eaaaaasy way to slide into Tuesday.

P.S. If you can't get through the throw-away closer rap track "Brain Def"... I get it. 


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Bowery Electric - Beat

Heard about this album via my favorite facebook meme generator, "I'm sad and I listen to loveless every night." Digging everything about this record, from the b/w overpass image on the cover to the nice mix of shoegaze fuzzy warmth and the insistence of that sampled beat which doesn't get old, despite popping up on 75% of the songs here. "Fear of Flying" is a highlight for me, but I think the highlight comes, for me, when the drums sound like actual drums, on "Black Light." 

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Mercury Program - A Data Learn the Language

A post-rock album?!?! On this here blog???

Hey, why not... this album lands on the spectrum of that harried non-genre/catch-all term that I particularly enjoy (think Tortoise as opposed to any number of soft/loud guitar-centered acts). Solid playing throughout - drums, guitar, bass and mallets. I particularly enjoy the opening of "Slightly Drifting," comparable to Oval or another post-rock highlight for me, a jazzy group from down under called Triosk (I'll put their stuff up here if desired). 

(I think this album is out of print, but, dudes of Mercury Program, if there's still money to be made off this one, lemme know and I'll take this down.)

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Lena Platonos - Μάσκες Ηλίου

BTW, Google translates the album's title as "Sun Masks," seems to go with the cover - maybe just "Sunglasses"? Any Greek music bloggers out there, come to our rescue?

I'm sure a lot of people could tell you more about the somewhat mysterious (to the English-speaking world, at least) Lena Platonos. So I'll let Dark Entries Records do it; this is from their rerelease of 1985's Gallop:

 Λένα Πλάτωνος (Lena Platonos) is a Greek musician, pianist and music composer. One of the pioneers in the Greek electronic music scene of the 1980s, she remains active today. Lena was born on the island of Crete and grew up in Athens. She began learning how to play the piano at the age of two and became a professional pianist before turning eighteen. Soon afterwards, she received a scholarship to study in Vienna and Berlin, where she was exposed to jazz, rock and Middle Eastern music. She returned to Greece in the late 70’s and began working with the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation. She released 3 collaborative albums between 1981-1983 and her debut solo album in 1984.

You can definitely hear the piano training in songs like "Lego." But what's really astounding is the amount of ground this album covers - jazzy progressions, bossa nova beats, dark electronic soundscapes - while sounding completely well-formed/at ease with itself. I can tell it's going to take quite a few listens to wrap my head around this one, but I'm ready for it.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Durutti Column - Amigos em Portugal

I'm reading Philip Roth's The Plot Against America at the moment. As well as some clear overtones with the current political situation in the U.S., you get some lovely passages like this, where the narrator describes his artist brother:

[He] was known throughout the neighborhood for being able to draw 'anything' - a bike, a tree, a dog, a chair... -  though his interest of late was in real faces. Kids were always gathering around to watch him whenever he would park himself after school with his large spiral pad and his mechanical pencil and begin to sketch the people nearby... All the while his hand was working away, he'd look up, down, up, down - and behold, there lived so-and-so on a sheet of paper. What's the trick, they all asked him... as if tracing - as if outright magic - might have played some part in the feat. Sandy's answer to all this pestering was a shrug and a smile: the trick to doing it was his being the quiet, serious, unostentatious boy that he was.

I like to imagine Vini Reilly in this manner, with his light touch and penchant for baroque filigrees of delay'd clusters, bringing to life the emotion of a memory out of the seriousness of silence. His music always impresses in the strongest sense of that word - it burdens me with the power, the force of its gentle insistence.

Amigos em Portugal is one I'd forgotten about, but a real gem from his early days. Indeed, insistence is a keyword here - even the production seems more upfront, stripped down than usual, his voice cutting through the mix from "Wheels Turning" on with unusual clarity. Some songs that I'm sure will become favorites of mine from his catalog. A find for any DC fan.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

John Martyn - Sunday's Child

I've been having some conversations with my British colleagues about the precise level of greatness of this man - "oh have you heard this?" "do you know this one?" - your basic music geekery praise showering and careful historicizing, tracing the discography and genealogy of influence. Not to reduce those chats in any way, I love them, was that not evident? 

But I think I am reducing these conversations about the late Mr. Martyn to a type, and that isn't fair to their subject, who was and continues to be a figure that draws a singular sort of response. A "legend," sure, but there's something that sets him apart, maybe tied up in the ineffability of those Echoplex'd soundscapes he churns out with seemingly such little effort, as at the very end of this album ("Call Me Crazy," to be followed up several years later by the incredible "Some People are Crazy"). "He makes it look easy," a friend said, and maybe that's a place to start with John Martyn - it's difficult to separate the man and his expression, his incomparable stage banter, his grumpy yet teddy-bear-like persona... hence the cultivation of a certain myth (BTW - if you want to get a great taste of this personality I'm referring to, check out the Bullion/Allday John Martyn mix over at Test Pressing, the stage banter interludes and the little essay make it well worth your while alone). 

This is one I hadn't heard until today, but I've been listening to it on repeat on a suitably slow-moving Sunday morning/afternoon. I suggest you do the same, any day of the week will do.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Taeko Ohnuki - Copine.

Oh, just your standard, mid-'80's, Francophile, utterly masterful Japanese synth-pop record. I know I heard the lead-off track, "Les Aventures de Tintin," somewhere recently - maybe that Ice Choir mix? Dunno. Anyway, this album's got some range, apparently it was arranged by both Ryuichi Sakamoto and Yasuaki Shimizu, so that gives you some idea... my favorite track is featured below, nice mix of MIDI-fried syncopation and wavering arpeggios (strings? horns?), probably courtesy of Shimizu, whose own music I really need to share here at some point...


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Pascal Comelade - Paralelo

Saw that M. Comelade will be playing with Richard Pinhas (!!!) near me in January. Pascal Comelade, the name sounded familiar, then I recalled a really enjoyable album he put out with Jac Berrocal, Jaki Liebezeit, and others in the '90's. Maybe I'll put that up on here soon.

This album is a very nice mix of electronics on the listenable side (for me) of harsh and acoustic instrumentation (some piano, clarinet). Robert Wyatt is cited in one of the track titles, not sure if he plays on this, though that vocal loop attributed to Gavin Bryars in "Automne" sounds a lot like him... Also hearing traces of Harmonia (The loping loop of "Nicaragua") and Throbbing Gristle/Tolerance (the long siren sound/drum track of "Mouvement décomposé"). If you dig that stuff, chances are good you'd dig this!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bert Jansch - L.A. Turnaround

This choice is brought to you by... the seemingly institutionalized languor of Sundays in France and my missing Los Angeles (places, family, friends and felines). Often on late night French TV you'll find documentaries about some overdetermined moment in Hollywood history, replete with archived interviews with actors/directors/producers and plenty of stock footage of the downtown LA skyline, film studios, palm trees, what have you. I'm surprised to say that these images sometimes make me long for places I so often grumbled about while inhabiting them - home is where we make it, but also where we've been, inescapably.

Soothing these feelings of spatial disconnection, Mr. Jansch walks us through stories of sea captains, travelling men, and presumably more topical issues (political corruption, drug addiction...). Another wonderful player/singer I waited too long to check out. This album, not least because of its opening track, is perfect for a slow-moving Sunday morning.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Robbie Basho - Visions of the Country

I'm not sure why I never sought out Robbie Basho's music. Maybe I thought I had to pick sides in the American Primitive tradition? (I went with John and Leo.) My loss. This album is incredible in its emotional and technical range - I had no idea he was a piano player, but "Orphan's Lament" followed by "Leaf in the Wind" might be my favorite section of the album! His voice justifies that overused adjective, haunting, reminding me often of Antony. And of course the guitar playing throughout is superb. A fine introduction for me, I look forward to exploring his catalog!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Kenny Wheeler - Gnu High

The cover of this album sticks out in my memory, but I'd never heard it before this morning. A particularly strong set from the Standards trio and some lovely flugelhorn soloing by the late Mr. Wheeler. This is my introduction to his playing, and I'm ready for more. I'm also particularly taken by Jarrett's solo exploration about 8 1/2 minutes into "Heyoke." There may be a spate of autumn jazz albums on this blog, be forewarned.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Michel Chion - Requiem

Stumbled upon a post for a sound art/noise music festival happening this weekend where I'll have the honor of hearing M. Chion perform this piece. I know him primarily as a writer on sound in film, but I had the vague awareness that he made electroacoustic music with le Groupe des recherches musicales (INA-GRM) (think Bernard Parmegiani, Michel Redolfi). This work is quite powerful, just listened through it for the first time, the relationship between the treated sounds (which can be quite harsh at times, attention) and reciting voices building meanings throughout.

What Chion has written about the piece / my translation...

Le Requiem a été composé en pensant moins à cette majorité silencieuse que sont les morts qu’à cette minorité agitée que sont les vivants; pour l’auditeur, il se propose comme un parcours dramatique accidenté dont les courbes et les soubresauts traduisent une incertitude fondamentale devant la vie, la mort et la foi. [...] Avec le Requiem, je n’ai pas voulu livrer de message, de manifeste pro- ou anti-religieux. Il s’agit plutôt d’un témoignage personnel, où j’invite l’auditeur à se projeter lui-même, s’il lui plaît d’habiter cette musique de son expérience et de sa sensibilité.
I composed Requiem thinking less of the silent majority of the dead than of the agitated minority of the living ; for the listener, it is intended as an uneven dramatic journey of which the curves and jolts translate a fundamental uncertainty before life, death and faith… With Requiem, I didn’t want to deliver a message or a pro-/anti-religion manifesto. Instead, it consists of a personal testimony, where I invite the listener to project themselves, if it pleases them, to live within this music of their experience and their sensibility.

Here you go... 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Jah Wobble, Jaki Liebezeit, Philip Jeck - Live at Leuven

"It's raining today..." - some guy

I forgot what rainy days were like living in the desert. The humidity breaks, things cool off, less people in the street - you stay in, you do the things you've been meaning to do but keep putting off (if you're lucky and don't have to slog off to work) - reading, writing, listening to some tasty dub/electronica loopiness.

This lives up to my expectations of what a collaboration between these three artists would sound like = quite good. Tight-as-heck rhythm section that barely deviates once they've set things up, and Jeck doing his funny business on the turntables (I want to say?). Good for wet afternoons.

Oh, and do check out the Listen to This! blog, they posted a mix that introduced me to a fantastic group, Ice Choir. Recommended for you fellow YMO/Scritti Politti nerds, 100% ear candy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Eroc - Eroc 1 (1975)

Grobschnitt aside, here's the real deal. It's been posted before on blogs, but I imagine a fresh run is warranted...

This ambitious (in the best sense), protean record sounds like the result of someone bursting with ideas, normally constrained by the necessary compromises of working in a band, who is suddenly able to explore and make all the calls. It's pretty much all over the shop - about half is filled with gorgeous synth journeys, experimental vocal echo pieces, etc., while the other half sounds like the lost soundtrack of a genre-crossing western/teen beach movie. Absolutely wonderful. This is the 2007 German CD reissue with several bonus tracks, some of which I haven't heard yet...

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Grobschnitt - Jumbo

Bienvenue à

So I had this romantic idea that living in Europe, I'd come upon my favorite chanson/rock français and kosmische records for cheap, because, hey, they must be swimming in copies over here, right? Not so much - it would seem the vinyl craze is just as heavy/heavier in France (for example, it would seem that people are more than willing to pay well over 15 euros for ECM records...). I did see a decent copy of the third album of these OG weirdos for 10 euros.

Grobschnitt (no idea what the name means, but it's silly) seems to straddle very adroitly the fine line between krautrock jamming and prog pretension. I mean, look at that cover - these guys were a bunch of goofs that knew how to play. I got into them via the solo work of drummer Joachim Ehrig, a.k.a. Eroc - you'd be well advised to check out his meandering masterpieces (S/T I - IV). The songs on this album remind me at times of his solo work, more of prime Guru Guru. Not super into the vocalist, but he sounds OK when he sings in German. Choice jam: "Sunny Sunday's Sunset/Sonntag's Sonnabend."

N.B.: This version contains both the English language and German language recordings.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Larry Heard - Sceneries Not Songs, Volume One

I'll be gone for about two weeks, wrapping things up over here then crossing the pond for a year. Once I'm settled more posts will follow... I know, you've heard it all before... lemme leave you with a good one for now. 

Some essential house, more complexity and ear for the melodic than I'm used to from the genre. This guy's great, looking forward to sharing more of his recordings with you. Lovely stuff for bittersweet end-of-summer sunsets. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Bobby Hutcherson - Happenings

Just heard the sad news that this wonderful musician passed on a few days ago. I remember going to a certain record store as a high school/college know-nothing and getting turned on to this guy's beautiful sounds (thanks, Dr. Jazz). This is definitely one of my favorite jazz records of all time, you're captivated from those opening notes.  

Rest in power, Mr. Hutcherson.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pluramon - Pick Up Canyon

Before listening to my spiel, go over to Listen to This! and snap up David Astri's Do it Right. First heard "Safe and Sound" over at Warm and Gooey and have been vibing to it ever since. Cheers. 

Pluramon is a project headed by Marcus Schmickler, who makes some pretty sick loop-based electronica and apparently has some really cool friends (Jaki Liebezeit, Julee Cruise). This one features Jaki on drums, with Marcus layering murky, oscillating tones on top. Antecedents that come to mind... Harmonia's first album (this really does sound like the perfect marriage of kraut and 90's loop/glitch), definitely the tape-loops of This Heat, even a darker Jan Jelinek. Couldn't recommend this more highly with your morning coffee or your nightly rambles. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dif Juz - Soundpool (Huremics + Vibrating Air EPs)

Don't know much about these guys other than their affiliation with 4AD/Cocteau Twins, and I'd really love to hear that unreleased collaboration with Lee Perry (see their discogs page)! This one's great for long days of summer reading, I love the sound of the drums in the mix, and those guitar-playing brothers can make a lovely racket with their delay pedals. I also recommend their LP Extractions.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Teddy Lasry - e=mc²

Gentle electric piano soliloquies into Mike Oldfield-esque prog bombast, Riley/Reichian minimal progressions meet hand drums and synthesized birds of the jungle. This one's both out of this world and firmly within it, depending on the moment. All killer no filler. I look forward to listening to and posting more of this man's work and that of his French library music colleagues.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Reup requests welcome.

Just post your requests here and I'll comment with a link. Otherwise, the pre-zippyshare link site will act as an archive for you to peruse.


Tri Atma - Yearning and Harmony

Philip Perkins - Drive Time

A lovely slice of morning music for your commute. Puts me in mind of another wonderful audio journey, Ernest Hood's "Neighborhoods," which you can find here at one of my favorite blogs/radio shows. Field recordings mixed with lovely vignettes, a tasty mix of electronic and acoustic sounds. Highly recommended.

Check out the artist statement on the back cover:

Check out an earlier, highly informative post of the album on the sadly defunct continuo blog...