Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Leviathan-Verrater (2002)

Those of you who live in San Francisco may have seen or even bought some of the many self released cassettes by the mysterious one man black metal band called Leviathan. Or some of you may have seen Andee or Allan sporting their Leviathan shirts, or you may have even seen Wrest, the man behind Leviathan lurking around AQ...regardless, Leviathan is the latest and certainly one of the greatest of the Bay Area black metal bands (Ludicra, Sangre Amado, Crebain, Draugar and the godlike Weakling [both also on tUMULt], etc...) who seem to exist in some sort of vacuum here while elsewhere, band after unoriginal band keep getting signed to huge labels and hyped to death even though most of them suck.
For this release Andee and Wrest went through the 13 full length Leviathan cassettes/cd-r's (as of the release of Verrater that number had leapt to 15!) Leviathan had recorded since 1998 to compile a good overview. But they couldn't whittle it down enough so one disc became two, with the first disc being the newer stuff, and disc two being the older, raw-er material.
Verrater is pure, primitive, cult, home recorded evil. Two discs, twenty two tracks, one hundred and forty three minutes of buzzing, howling, pummelling, black metal. Think Burzum, Darkthrone, Immortal, that sort of thing, but with all sorts of weird twists and sonic surprises. Yes, Leviathan is grimmer than grim metal that the frost & forest lords of Norway should bow down to, but it's also pure expression unfettered by genre restraints, although informed and inspired by them. Like Weakling, Mistigo Varggoth Darkestra, Caacrinolas, Ludicra, Potentiam, Enslaved, and some other AQ-championed black metal acts, this is not just one for fans of black metal only! It's dark, weird, noisy, disturbing art embodying one man's vision that should be heard by anyone into avantgarde, experimental, psychically and physically powerful rock music. From blasting howling fury to moody ambient blackness to off kilter weirdness to droning riffery to soul crushing heaviness. What's truly remarkable is that one man, playing all the instruments himself, and recording at home, can evoke such strong emotions and invoke such musical demons. Original, evil, hateful, misanthropic, bizarre and truly black metal. "

This man is utterly terrifying. I question his actual status as a man. Very rarely has music transported me to such dark landscapes and hellish conditions. It sounds like a bunch of horseshit but it's not. This is truly otherworldly music and not for the faint of heart. Nevertheless, I can't help but give it my highest recommendation possible because Wrest is undeniably a evil genius. Get schooled.

The whole of deceit

Monday, October 26, 2009

V/A-Nigeria Rock Special: Psychedelic Afro-Rock and Fuzz Funk (2008)

"To my, and certainly many others' delight, there are people out there compiling primers on genres that, to many in Western realms, have gone undiscovered for decades. Case in point, Sound Way Records' Nigeria Special series. Earlier this year, Sound Way released Nigeria Special Part 1 and 2, documenting highlife, Afrobeat and blues from Nigeria, while Nigeria Disco Funk Special followed, with, what else, Nigerian disco. The latest in the series is Nigeria Rock Special, a primer on rock `n' roll from Nigeria in the 1970s, a genre scene that was touched upon in Ginger Baker's Airforce touched upon this vibrant movement (and played some part in its expansion), though the depth of this incredible sound is much farther reaching.

Nigeria Rock Special features 15 tracks, hand picked from countless obscure gems released throughout the decade, which are collected in a stunning compilation. Ofege's "Adieu" starts off with an instrumental groove, oddly similar in tone to Stereolab, but distinctly Nigerian. The Action 13 follows, with blazing psychedelic organ, and group chants in the excellent "More Bread (To the People)". "In The Jungle," by The Hygrades, kicks up a hot and dirty funk; in fact, this must be what the `fuzz funk' refers to in the album's title. Ofo The Black Company's "Eniaro" mines an expansive territory, deep and fuzzy, psychedelic and vibrant. Apparently, this particular band became reasonably popular in Germany—who knew?

Mono Mono kicks out a solid funk-psych affair that's somewhere between James Brown and Tropicalia, which is a hell of a thing, really. Tabuka "X" offers the highlight "Finger Toe," which is a great title, whatever it means. Tabuka "X" actually was half-Nigerian, with the other half of the band being Ghanaian, and the band sang only in Engligh, though they released only one album. And might I add, it's extremely fun to discover little nuggets of info like this while letting the grooves wash over my eager ears. And The Funkees, who probably have the best name here, also offer a fantastic wah-wah laden trip out with "Acid Rock."

Considering this is the fourth volume of the Nigeria Special series, there's plenty of evidence to show just how fertile Nigeria's music scene was in the 1970s, spanning many genres, though much of it never made its way across the Atlantic in its day. Having a compilation such as this deliver these undiscovered gems to American and U.K. shores is an incredible gift. While there may be millions of songs out there that I'll never have the fortune of hearing, I feel just a little bit richer for having experienced the 15 highlights here."

You have to love compilations like this. An absolute joy to listen to no matter where or when, this is some soulful music that we should all feel lucky to have access to. Good times music for sure. Have at it.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Popol Vuh-In Den Gärten Pharaos (1971)

"Popol Vuh’s second release is notable for a number of reasons. Firstly, for its rather ingenious in its use of fledgling synthesizer technology. While following along the lines of other German pioneers like Tangerine Dream, Fricke essentially constructs a completely unique expressive vocabulary with the instruments. While Tangerine Dream albums like Zeit and Alpha Centauri were journeys to the furthest reaches of space, where human contact was not only impossible but unwanted, Fricke’s vision has to be considered far more "spiritual", for lack of a better word. The sounds of running water and consistently morphing bongo rhythms behind the title track create a three dimensional soundscape of serene bliss. Fricke’s Moog and synthesizer lines shimmer here, and while minimal and restrained in note selection, he manages to engage the listener in a direct dialogue that is simply tantalizing. Secondly, this is really the only place in the Popol Vuh catalog you’ll hear such an extraordinary work of this style. Sure, the later Popol Vuh albums are brilliant in their own right, but the lack of synthesizers and an intentional change of aesthetic leave Affenstunde and In den Garten Pharaos as the sole torchbearers for the kind of revolutionary stuff the group were doing early on. Incidentally, Pharaos is by far the better album of the two.

Divided into two rather distinctive side-long pieces, the album retains a consistent aesthetic that is powerful and effective throughout. While I’ve already sung the praises of the title track, the second piece "Vuh" might be even better. Here, Fricke employs what sounds like a church organ in the form of dramatic, sustained chords that make the piece far more intense and unrelenting. These lay the groundwork for the development of the piece. A percussive backdrop, accompanied by various other sound effects, builds around the organ theme, creating ebbs and flows in the intensity level. In all, it’s masterfully composed, and careful attention will result in the listener feeling those chord changes resonating throughout the depths of the soul.

In all, this has to be considered one of the Krautrock movement’s essential items. Fans of early Tangerine Dream will easily lap this one up, and others who may have found records like Alpha Centauri emotionally frigid may warm up to In den Garten Pharaos. An excellent album deserving of its legendary status."

Holy fuck. That's all I can say when I listen to this utter masterpiece. I feel pretty dumb putting one of the all-time best ambient albums by one of the all-time best ambient bands into words. All I can say is that you MUST experience this. MANDATORY. SPELLBINDING. INTENSE. EUPHORIC. INCREDIBLE. INSERT LOFTY ADJECTIVE. Go for the second track "Vuh" by the way.


The Time & Space Machine-Children of the Sun 7" (2009)

Pretty self-explanatory. Really cool shiny happy new track from Richard Norris. If you dig this band already, you should be all over this. In honor of some warm Chicago temps for the first time in weeks. Happy listening.

We are children of the sun

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Blue Angel Lounge-S/T (2009)

"In 1965, Nico played her first shows at The Blue Angel Lounge, a NYC club. So, The Blue Angel Lounge, formed in Hagen in 2004, is named after and pays tribute to its famous fellow countrywoman. A psychedelic band, this German quintet stands out from its peers in terms of form as their lunar and nebulous atmosphere evokes the dark romanticism of Cursed Poets. The blue angels' dreamlike dimension stems from its mysterious, disenchanted and penetrating singing, a ghostlike voice whose lament haunts you and gives you goosebumps.
But what do these lost souls talk about? About loneliness, pain, addiction, death and about love, of course.
Slowly but surely, "Looming Solid Massive Steamer" darkens the horizon and brings up precious rough edges, which are like little levitating stars, before the tambourine in "Ashes Round The Skull" electrifies and keeps boosting us.
If Nico was The Black Angels' 'godmother', who are second cousins of the Hagen combo, the German icon is for sure the mentor of the quintet who dedicates her the track "Desertshore", a vibrant tribute whose beauty is icy and poisonous.
Besides the recurring ghost of Nico, one can catch a glimpse of the shadows of The Velvet Underground, Spacemen 3 and also Joy Division in the Blue Angel Lounge firmament, hence one finds himself torn between narcotic dream (Orange in Green, A Hundred Years In Love) and biting disillusion (In Cold Water, The God), the whole thing being endowed with an elegant lyricism.
"I fear the devil in me" seems to be those tormented troubadours' motto. A exhilirating and spellbinding fragrance rises from these ten tunes, a scent that each listen makes even more delectable and hypnotic.
I bet that these German princes' "black sun" will keep blinding us over and over again..."

Attention Velvet Underground fans: You will eat this up. Great vintage sounding droning rock and roll. When people compare the Black Angels (another pretty good comparison for BAL) to VU, this band makes that whole deal sound silly. This is where it's at. Also of note: These guys are unsigned which is a goddamn shame. Support zees Germans and buy from 'em.

Ashes round the skull

Monday, October 12, 2009

Baby Grandmothers-S/T (1967-68)

This '60s Swedish psych trio is pretty obscure -- they only ever officially released one record, a 7" single that came out in Finland only -- but they haven't been forgotten 'cause the guys in this band eventually went on to play with such bigger, better-known acts as Mecki Mark Men and Kebnekajse. If you picked up that Psychedelic Phinland compilation we highlighted last list, you've heard "Being Is More Than Life" the B-side of their 7", it appears here too along with the A-side "Somebody Keeps Calling My Name" and several previously unreleased live recordings from the era (1967-'68), for a full hour of music in all.
The Baby Grandmothers really liked to jam, they had a thrice-weekly (Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays!) residency at the short-lived psychedelic Stockholm club FILIPS, where much of the live material found here was recorded -- there's a reproduction of a flier in the cd booklet advertising them appearing at FILIPS with AQ faves Parson Sound (oh for a time machine!). So if you dig mostly-instrumental electric guitar oriented psych improv, dosed with plenty of feedback and fuzz, there's plenty here to turn you on, from stoned moody meanderings to freaked out solo spasms. It's all rather raw and energetically alive.
The lengthy liner notes in the photo-illustrated 15-page cd booklet tell the whole Baby Grandmothers story, from their origins in a R&B combo called the T-Boones to gigs opening for Jimi Hendrix to their transformation into the Mark II line-up of the prog-psych act Mecki Mark Men and beyond.
FYI: the Encyclopedia Of Swedish Progressive Music also reviewed this list comes with a bonus cd containing another half-hour of unreleased live Baby Grandmothers recordings from FILIPS, different material than what's on this disc."

Dude, this band rules. As if the time period it was made wasn't enough for you. Those Swedes had something going in the late 60's and this is just another example of some very well done, unique psychedelic bliss. Go forth and grab.

Ugly like yo grandma

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cecil Barfield-South Georgia Blues (1976/2009)

Ok, we aren't sure if this is the best blues album ever or the most ridiculous, it just depends on who you ask. When we first played it, some of us thought it couldn't be real, it had to be a parody. Perhaps someone making fun of how anyone can play the blues, because the singing sounds like complete mushmouth gibberish! Seriously, you and your pals can have a fun drinking game trying to figure out what the hell he's saying! But it's really no joke, Cecil Barfield (aka William Robertson, more on that in a minute...), one of the last surviving Southern Georgian bluesmen (according to the liner notes) was discovered in 1976 by George Mitchell, who was touring the state for field research in hopes of finding unknown ol' traditional rural bluesmen for a planned festival. One of the scant few left was Barfield, who to Mitchell's delight was previously unrecorded, living outside a tiny farm town on a meager disability check (in fact, the original lp was released under the name William Robertson, because Barfield was scared that he would lose his disability benefits if he released the record under his own name).
Born in 1922, he first started playing when he was just five years old, making his own
instruments by attaching a neck to a cooking oil can and tying a string to it. Learning music from what he could hear off records at parties, Barfield's style comes from what he calls "rag pieces", bits of popular tunes picked up from round dances and parties and often individually reworked according to the player. His moaning, wrenching vocal style lends a definite outsider quality to the performance, but supports the superstitious nature of some of the tunes, where he's singing about evil spells called "roots". He even refused to be photographed, because he feared anyone could turn the photo face down and kill him. But of course it's this oddball quality that we love in these records, and of course what makes them totally recommended in our book!"

This man has been infecting the very recesses of my mind. Haunting, beautiful blues music unlike any I've heard. Most definitely recommended.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Black Diamond Heavies-A Touch of Someone Else's Class (2008)

"When I talked about the debut record from the Black Diamond Heavies, I made mention that they toed the line between heaven and hell, between sainthood and sin on almost every song. I talked about how rough and raw the keys were and how the kit exploded out of my headphones. I also talked - repeatedly to anyone who would listen - how kick ass these two men were.

Well, after what seems like an eternity, they are back with their sophomore release, A Touch of Someone Else's Class, and it is full of progression and changes. Sure the lineup is still in tact and some of the influences remain the same, but BDH don't seem as concerned with where they will end up when their time is up, knowing life is what it is and the only thing you can do is enjoy the ride. Aside from the terrific Nina Simone cover (Oh, Sinnerman) and the reference to Balaam's talking donkey on Numbers 22 (Balaam's Wild Ass), Leg seems to have stopped worrying about what the man above thinks.

Even on the most soulful ballad (Bidin' My Time), Leg's pontification is replaced with regret and questions about himself and the sound is bolstered by stellar backing vocals (courtesy of the Tour-ettes). It's much more personal, more fleshed out and really shows that BDH are more than just a killer blues duo that can make you spill whiskey and sweat as you stamp along on the floor.

Sure they can still hit you in the mouth with some blistering numbers - Make Some Time, as my grand dad would say, shakes like a dog shittin' razor blades under the weight of the heavy feedback on the keys and Van Campbell obliterating his kit and their take on Tina Turner's Nutbush City Limit is smoking - but they offer up a much more refined, even polished sound at times.

On the last record, they definitely drew from the RL/Model T Ford catalog, and on certain tracks - like the Model T cover (Take a Ride) or Everythang is Everythang - they still revisit those sounds, but they hit me more like the sessions RL did with Jon Spencer, right down to hovering back shouts. To me though, it's the huge shifts in sound that are even more shocking. Loose Yourself drifts to the edge of metal, with crazy arena choruses and thick sludgy sounds. Solid Gold is still a heavy jam, but it feels like the band (with the help of Dan Auberch) took the time to sand the edges - even if it was recorded in a mere three days. While this might be a bit concerning to fans that dug the first record, I'm actually surprised by how well the band makes the transition.

I could try to come up with something catchy to sum up, but the band found a little passage that totally fits - "Behold, as wildasses in the desert, go they forth to their work.""

Calling all Bob Log III/RL Burnside/early Black Keys fans. More filthy fucking blues for your inebriated evenings and whiskey infused debauchery. Go for it.

Quit grabbing my class!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Califone-All My Friends Are Funeral Singers (2009)


My immediate reaction to All My Friends are Funeral Singers was that it was a step back from the increasingly frayed atmosphere of 2006’s Roots & Crowns. It came off much more like a stepping stone from the band’s Perishable Records era, a mid-point between Roomsound and Quicksand/Cradlesnakes. But then I kept listening. After three straight days of the Califone discography, an unquestionable observation was apparent: By Roomsound, Califone’s sound was fully realized. In eight years and five full-length records, the level of consistency and dedication to exploring that sound has been incredibly admirable.

That sound, of course, is an atypical blend of the pastoral and the clamorous. Appalachian folk, rustic blues-rock and somber country ballads tattered with feedbacking psychedelia and throbbing, dissonant electronic abstractions. It’s a strange world where the likes of Townes Van Zandt and Can live harmoniously.

“Giving Away the Bride” kicks the new album off with a rudimentary barrage of shakers, drum machine, deep synth gurgles and Califone’s typical kitchen-sink rhythm section. The song’s melody is left to Tim Rutili’s hushed vocals, a bucolic plea lost in a mess of electronic cacophony. The following track, “Polish Girls,” a more straight-ahead electric guitar-driven rock song, begins to shake off the less-acoustic materials. Unfortunately for fans of the more abstract side of the band, All My Friends progressively bends toward the rootsy. Except for a few awkward steel drum-laden interludes, there is a lot more violin and banjo than feedback and looped clatter.

“Alice Marble Gray” all but makes up for the album’s handful of indistinguishable songs. Built out of an all-too simple tom and snare-rim rhythm with a looped guitar melody overtop, Rutili’s nonsensical mumblings mingle sweetly with his own overdubbed coos. Undemanding synth effects amble in and out of the mix, while a muted horn section ushers out the song. It’s Califone at its finest: a pastoral countryside tinted with all the colors of the city.

All My Friends are Funeral Singers is a companion piece to a feature-length film of the same name also written and directed by Rutili. Many of the songs from the album were written in conjunction with the script, so that may be some of the reasoning behind the seemingly anachronistic sound in relation to Roots & Crowns. Regardless, it is another well-made and executed Califone album, and it stays completely true to their concept. Consistency is underrated."

I love this band. Tim Rutili's voice is like butter smothered all over my ears. If that sounds oddly sexual, I'm sorry. As mentioned, it's a soundtrack to a movie they made and by all indications, this movie will rule. Great "avant folk/blues" as they are commonly described, especially if you focus on the rhythm. They have failed to disappoint yet, even this being their third or fourth best album. Very highly recommended.

Also of note: All of you Chicagoland readers should pop by the Contemporary Art Museum either 10/10 or 10/11 as Califone will play the new album and screen their film as well. It's cheap for students with an ID. They're on a national tour doing this but I wanted to alert the (assumed) large Chicago contingent. I'm going Sunday and I hope many of you go too.

Funeral love

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Can-Soundtracks (1969)

"Thanks to Irmin Schmidt, Can recorded a great deal of music for films which enabled them to stay financially afloat; procrastinating in realising their second album, much of it was collected on the inspiringly-titled Soundtracks, including Malcolm Mooney’s last recordings with the band (he left after suffering a mental breakdown onstage), and Damo Suzuki’s first. It’s a strange beast of a record, and often overlooked in Can’s oeuvre, heading down so many paths as to appear directionless, but contains some absolutely sublime moments. The elongated guitar shapes of “Deadlock”, the subdued, beatific and refracted lounge muzak of “She Brings The Rain” (Richard Ashcroft liked these lyrics), and the awesome, repetitive-beat, 15-minute lunar-eclipse of “Mother Sky”, which basically invents any band that’s ever tried to jam in cooler-than-thou concentric circles. "

This really is under appreciated given that Can made some of the best albums through and through EVER. But this one has got moments that foreshadow that consistency even if the record comes off as a bit scattershot. "Mother Sky" is the obvious highlight with its wailing guitar, pulsating bass lines, and thumping drums but songs like "Tango Whiskeyman" hints at some later Radiohead and "Deadlock" has a low-key psychedelic moments. Definitely an underrated album worth getting.

She brings the rain

Mandatory Repost: Teenage Filmstars-Star (1992)

By now, pretty much everyone knows who Kevin Shields is. He of shoegaze pioneers My Bloody Valentine. Who over the course of the last 20 years or so have released all of THREE records. But what about Ed Ball. A musical contemporary of Shields. A man Shields described as "A sensitive soul from another planet. A modernist musical alchemist", going on to say "Where other people struggle, Ed Ball plays what we're thinking." Ball, over the last 20 years, has released close to 40 records, a whole mess of amazing discs with UK mod popsters The Times, a handful under his own name, and a bunch with power poppers the Boo Radleys, among others. But what Ball is most famous for, at least around these parts, is releasing three of the most perfect, and perfectly fractured genius shoegaze blisspop records EVER, as Teenage Filmstars: Star, Rocket Charms and Buy our Record Support Our Sickness. Each a kaleidoscopic blurred and blown out avant pop fantasia of sound, mixing in gorgeous melodies, with all manner of found sounds, backwards loops, ethereal vocals, studio fuckery, with very little regard for form or function, for the rules of pop. Instead, seemingly feeling their way through a totally tactile world of sound, everything bristly or buzzy or fuzzy, smeared or blurred, wah guitars wrapped around roaring motorcycles, Spectorish wall of guitars spread over, skittery almost Stone Roses-y rhythms. The most obvious reference is My Bloody Valentine. And at the risk of receiving an avalanche of hate mail, Teenage Filmstars are better. They may not have invented the sound, and they definitely didn't perfect it, instead, they fucked it all up, twisted it and chopped it and doused it in FX, and flipped it backwards, and let it sprawl and spin out of control, wrapped tightly into perfect pop gems one second, then let loose in unhinged squalls of sonic whatthefuck meltdowns the next. Each of the three records growing continually more abrasive, more intense, heavier, more backwards, more fractured and freaked out, and somehow only getting better and better and better.
Star is the first proper release from Teenage Filmstars, and was released a year or two after MBV's epochal Loveless. Opener "Kiss Me" is TOTALLY cribbed from Loveless, but it sounds like it was recorded on a busted 4-track, the rhythm track supplied by a fluttery backwards loop, the guitars super distorted but also brittle, woozy and wavery, all wrapped round the main hook, a guitar / vocal harmony that is just incredible, soaring and wistful but sort of super rocking, the whole thing dripping in effects, Loveless filtered through DIY bedroom pop, and then filtered through the twisted musical mind of visionary sonic alchemist Ball. The track crumbles near the end, the guitars disappear, motorcycles zoom by, the drums all distorted, snippets of classical piano, the twitter of birds, disembodied voices, one intoning "this just might be the finest composition I ever wrote", which it might have been, if it weren't for the follow up "Loving", which follows a similar template as "Kiss Me", with the main hook, a hushed wordless vocals crooning along to a slithery guitar line, all over a looped tribal rhythm, and tripped out wah guitar all over the place. If this was just a single, "Kiss Me" / "Loving", A side B side, it would be hands down one of the greatest singles ever! But we've barely just begun. And it only gets weirder and weirder.
"Inner Space" predates the fuzzy gauzy drift of Fennesz and Jeck and Tim Hecker by 20 years, unfurling sweeping vistas of sound, intertwined with buried melancholy vocals, muted rhythmic skitter, and deep whirring strings. "Apple" is all sixties strum and whirling effects laden swoosh, simple pop stretched out and blurred and distorted into something slightly alien, a warm dreamlike missive from beyond the stars. "Flashes" is a strange sort of electronic calypso, with a subtle techno throb beneath divine female vocals, propulsive krauty drums, and of course loads of FX. "Kaleidoscope" returns to the more MBV style rocking of the openers, and does indeed sound like a shoegazing fuzzrock kaleidoscope, a swirling dizzying space pop jam, the sounds slipping from speaker to speaker, the drums relentless and hypnotic, the vocals buried, but the main guitar melody soaring over the wavery sonic swirl beneath.
Then comes a three song suite of tripped out avant weirdness, drifting fuzzy almost melodies, strange intercepted radio broadcasts, a super deconstructed version of "Kiss Me", looped and flipped backwards and transformed into something else entirely, deep whirling drones, weird voices, samples, deep black ambience, shot though with streaks of glimmering buzz, the sounds of engines, choir like vocals, damaged effects laden rhythmscapes, flange and chorus and delay and reverb all wrapped around little sonic events, laced into a delicate framework of tripped out sound. Until the closer, "Moon", a gorgeous explosion of distorted pop effulgence, thick warbly organs, epic melodies, the guitar so distorted they almost sound like white noise, almost proggy keyboards, the whole thing fracturing into a brief falling apart coda of drum freakout, and skipping lurching guitars. Holy Shit.
So maybe it's not that Teenage Filmstars are -better- than My Bloody Valentine. Just weirder, more fucked up, more spaced out, more fractured, more challenging, more out there, less like ANYTHING you've ever heard, more... oh fuck it, okay... BETTER!!! Bring on the hate mail!!
This reissue tacks on three bonus tracks, all good enough to have been on the record proper, but with way more of the backwards production that would come to define their sound on future records, blissed out fuzzy shoegazey power pop, but crumbling and often in reverse, and thus fantastic. Also included lengthy liner notes, as confusing and obfuscated as the music itself.
The other two Filmstars discs are getting reissued soon, and will definitely also be Records Of The Week, so immerse yourself in Star while you can, cuz it only gets better and weirder from here on out.."

So far left I'm not sure I've got the words for it. It's everything they say and more and I really can't do it more justice than that. Incredible visionary music and more coming soon.

Holy balls

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

V/A-Psych Funk 101 (2009)

"Psych-Funk 101 introduces the global phenomenon of psychedelic funk music, covering the golden years (1967-1980). This compilation focuses not on American and British bands but on the bands throughout the Global Village that were influenced by the likes of James Brown, The Meters, Sly and The Family Stone, Booker T and The MGs and The Bar Kays and unsung rhythmic forces such as drummers Bernard Purdie, Idris Muhammad, Earl Palmer, bassists such Carol Kaye and Jimmy Lewis. This compilation features bands who took that energy and combined it with the flair of psychedelic-rock musicians such as Jimi Hendrix and the ensemble known as Cream - as well as pop-rock acts taken by the experimental side of psychedelia such as The Beatles. But the global psych-funk bands added their own, unique cultural flourishes and the result is mind-bending."

Gave this a listen today and it is fucking insane. So grooved out. Get it quick, it may get taken down. Highly, highly recommended.

And thanks to Cassie for pointing this out. Damn good find.

Psyched out!

Slint-Spiderland (1991)

"More known for its frequent name-checks than its actual music, Spiderland remains one of the most essential and chilling releases in the mumbling post-rock arena. Even casual listeners will be able to witness an experimental power-base that the American underground has come to treasure. Indeed, the lumbering quiet-loud motif has been lifted by everybody from Lou BarlowMogwai, the album's emotional gelidity has done more to move away from prog-rock mistakes than almost any of the band's subsequent disciples, and it's easy to hear how the term "Slint dynamics" has become an indie categorization of its own. Most interestingly, however, is how even a seething angularity to songs like "Nosferatu Man" (disquieting, vampirish stop-starts) or "Good Morning, Captain" (a murmuring nod to "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner") certainly signaled the beginning of the end for the band. Recording was intense, traumatic, and one more piece of evidence supporting the theory that band members had to be periodically institutionalized during the completion of the album. Spiderland remains, though, not quite the insurmountable masterpiece its reputation may suggest. Brian McMahan softly speaks/screams his way through the asphyxiated music and too often evokes strangled pity instead of outright empathy. Which probably speaks more about the potential dangers of pretentious post-rock than the frigid musical climate of the album itself. Surely, years later, Spiderland is still a strong, slightly overrated, compelling piece of investigational despair that is a worthy asset to most any experimentalist's record collection."

I would imagine lots of you have this already but as one of my all time favorite albums ever, I figured I'd have to post it at some point. Just a mind trip in and out, not one weak moment and some of the most glorious blasts of energy in any music I've heard. "Good Morning Captain" is one of the greatest songs ever. I feel like a complete fanboy talking about this album but it's really just that good. If you don't have it, what are you waiting for?

P.S. Calling this album "post-rock" is moronic

Good morning captain

George Coleman-Bongo Joe (1969)

"There can only be one Bongo Joe, and that is the incredible George Coleman, in his own way as much an American original as Johnny Cash or Bo Diddley. Beloved favorite for many years at the New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Festival (where he once jammed with Dizzy Gillespie) Bongo Joe is perhaps the world's only virtuoso player of the empty oil drum (we're not kidding, folks), a man so ingenious that he could even turn petroleum refuse into something musical and sublime.

Born in Haines, Florida, in 1923, like many others he gravitated to Houston, Texas (known as `Baghdad On The Bayou' because of its booming oil business) as a young man. Somewhere in the late '40s, Coleman volunteered to fill the drummer's chair in a local band, improvising around his lack of a trap set by building his own kit out of empty oil drums and tin cans. Having to lug a 55-gallon Texaco Firechief barrel from gig to gig hindered his musical progress through normal professional channels, but he quickly turned to free-lancing on the streets, playing on popular tourist piers and heavily trafficked places like Seawall Boulevard in Galveston, working his way up to legendary gigs at the San Antonio World's Fair and later the New Orleans Jazz Fest.

The approach is primal, but not primitive: Bongo Joe drums on his oil cans with a thunderous, tympani-like effect, while discoursing rambling, insightful and hilariously funny lyrics that are often times more stories than songs. As Joe himself put it, `I rapbut not that bullshit they're putting down now. I play fundamental beat music.' And that it is`Almost 50 Minutes Of WORLD BEAT' the sleeve agreeably crows, and it's no mere idle copy. Whether draping his drums with an American flag or washing them in swirls of psychedelic green and red paint, there's something beyond the typical street-corner busker in Bongo Joe's persona festive, unbridled quality that isn't just musical, but draws on a tradition of pure entertainment, with elements from sideshows, comedy and even the circus. One of the true treasures of the bountiful Arhoolie catalog, Bongo Joe is the kind of record that will immediately break up a typically drab radio day, lighting up the phone lines and waking listeners out of the lull of typical programming. Try `Science Fiction,' `Innocent Little Doggie' (if you think Joe was just a novelty act, listen closely to the poignant insightfulness of the lyrics), `Transistor Radio' (more wry commentary) and `Dog Eat Dog.'”

I'm a rhythm nut and this record is perfect if you're into that good ole primal BEAT. Those beats are thick and in your face and Coleman is beyond entertaining in his "raps." But his drumming, pounding, beating. That's what you want this record for. Great record to groove out to.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

KMD-Black Bastards (1993/2001)

"My friend Josh and I can’t agree on anything. Oh, we can agree on generalities. We both like The Beatles. We both like to read. We both like girls. But it’s the specifics that get in the way, he with his Abbey Road, stacks of books and classy dames and me with my Rubber Soul, three paragraph short stories and women of questionable character. Because of this historical precedent, it absolutely confounds me that we are able to reach a consensus on K.M.D.’s much-slept on Black Bastards. He and I not only think that it’s a great album, we each consider it one of our favorite albums of any genre. The shock probably won’t resonate unless you’ve been on the receiving end of an hours-long Mac-beats-PC lecture.

Like the maniacal villain that I am.” Though Black Bastards never saw the light of day in the 1990s, it is a quintessential 90s release, building on the jazz and soul-laced production styles mastered by Pete Rock and Q-Tip. The late DJ Subroc is in top form here, layering dusty kicks with the inimitable flow of Zev Love X. Who is Zev? You may not recognize his voice here, but it is the “maniacal villain” Daniel Dumile before the years of alcohol and drug abuse that would ravage his voice. It’s Zev, in particular, Josh and I are able to find common ground on. His tangled rhymes can be playful (“Like Ebeneezer Scrooge I'm rude / My batting average is huge”) and his often dizzying pace invites repeated listens. Unlike the straight-forward deliveries of many of his then contemporaries, Zev Love X speaks more cryptically. Buried under deep bass tones, half the fun of Black Bastards is deciphering lines from the seemingly endless supply of now-famous Dumile wit. There’s something about hearing “Plumskinzz (Loose Hoe, God & Cupid)” months after your first listen and finally hearing “Don't drool with all the juice you dribble / Scribble the beeper code, so the X can gets a nibble” without question.

I never overdose on my diet of codeine and OE.” Though the subject matter does veer into black nationalism, a river of booze and drugs runs through this land. Counting the number of times O.E. and St. Ides are name checked would require more than fingers and toes. Songs drift by in a buzzed stupor, like the warbling hook of title track and the free jazz drum segues in “Suspended Animation” and into Subroc’s foray into emceeing on “It Sounded Like A Rock!” With “Sweet Premium Wine”, Subroc slips in a Bomb Squad-like siren of a squeal over the floor-rumbling bass groove. There’s enough dust on these cuts to dirty a dining table.

The roughness of the production only adds to the mystique on the Black Bastards saga. The album was shelved indefinitely and its mishandling, coupled with the untimely demise of his brother, sends Zev Love X into the underground, only to emerge years later as a masked supervillain. This is a story you tell grandkids. If current rumors are any indication, Black Bastards may not, in fact, be the last we see of K.M.D, with Dumile rejoining early K.M.D. member Onyx and Black Bastards guest-rapper MF Grimm. But for all intents and purposes, this feels like a swan song. The sped-up sample of Gil Scott-Heron’s “Pieces of a Man” on “What A Nigga Know? (Remix)” sounds like a begrudging epilogue to a career sacrificed at the altar of practical business decisions. If released by Elektra without pause, there is little doubt in my mind (and Josh’s) that Black Bastards holds its own against undisputed classics of its time. Obscurity is the only thing now keeping it from joining the upper echelon of hip-hop."

Dude, I mean come on. MF Doom, pre-mask? How could you not want this lost Hip-Hop classic? Amazing 2nd generation beats, production values and rhyme style. People who like A Tribe Called Quest will especially dig this. But if you're sick of hearing that utter shit rap at almost any party you go, see if you can sneak this on the sound system and watch it wreak havoc. Kause Much Damage indeed.

Smokin' that shit