Sunday, 15 January 2017

More Peter Berkow with Thesis from 1975

The art is always great in his LPs.  Unlike the previously posted brilliant concept album Faculty Recital (which came out the next year), this is a collection of acoustic guitar tracks.  Back there I went into detail with his discography.  Note again the university-life lyrics.  Did Peter ever complete his degree, I wonder, presumably in cultural or african studies?  and then pass himself off as black like Rachel Dolezal?

The extraterrestrially-influenced track I loved so much about disappointing his poor immigrant father by becoming a musician instead of a scientist (the opposite path to the one I personally followed) reappears here (I run too), almost identical in sound.

All the tracks are by Peter save the last two which were cowritten.  That final meditative one is particularly poignant:

Surely a great lost artist.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Lubb Dupp - Psychotronic Metamorphosis II, 1982

The title is quite familiar to anyone with a medical background being the auditory transliteration in the old bygone days of the (normal) sounds the heart valves make when they open and close, called S1 and S2 more scientifically.  Anyways, doctor knows best, great title-- archaically elegant, and the artwork is quite interesting as well, perhaps typical of the DIY / homemade crafts style of the early 80s LP covers we were made so familiar with in the frequenting record stores era.

Unlike the preceding instalment all the bands here are quite unknown-- luckily or suitably I should say, since most of the music here is quite experimental, approaching concrete-ness in its auditory impossibility.

The second track, by one Glass Philosophy is quite listenable however:

But as a whole this is nothing like the prior instalment.

Here's some useful information (haha):

A1 – 犬狼都市 - 天地核
A2 – Glass Philosophy - ギャンブル
A3 – 腐乱死体 - 腐乱死体
A4 – D:R:Y: Project - レクイエム・フォア…
B1 – サラマンドラ館 - たこの吸出し
B2 – サラマンドラ館 - 栄養クリーム
B3 – Location - T.V.L
B4 – フリーメイソンズ・ブラックブレイン - なぜならば…
B5 – Anima - Grey City

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Jigsaw - Puzzle from 1981 Germany

This rarity from Switzerland presents very light fusion from the early eighties, difficult to get a grip on with its sheer slipperiness...  perhaps like tofu served in an inadequate nonspicy sauce, or rather, a very dry wienerschnitzel without potato salad.

First track:

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Toni Edelmann in Maisema / Landscape form 1982 Finland

It starts off unpromisingly with a tangled mesh of melodies, probably improvised, as well as aimless shamanlike chanting upon a cold and dark atmosphere befitting the land of origin before the piano of Edelmann takes up the famed half-diminished chord of Wagner's Tristan (here Eminor7 flat5) to a B minor 9, which slowly atonally builds up until tutti orchestra brings on the light in harps and gliassandos.  This leads nicely into the second track introduced with crystalline vibes playing the first electromagnetic radiation in the visible spectrum, called Aamu (Morning):

And later the song builds again with the entire string section and a luscious sax solo, very similar to excerpts from the recent Aaltonen / Donner Strings masterwork.

Information on this composition here.  Notice that he cedes the piano player's bench to others on most tracks, and that famous Finn Esa Helasvuo (Think-Tank-Funk-- a very similar album minus the funk, and Q) plays on the last one.

Toni's output overall is quite mixed if you look at his discography, presumably this was his magnum opus.

A difficult, but necessary piece of music, in my opinion.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Kennlisch, 1976, another rarity

From Tom:

Kënnlisch - s/t. 1976 private.

Here's another major league rarity sent in from The Alaskan Connection. This is another one I'd never even heard of until now.   Terms like "haunting folk" and "folk psych" are two of the most overused in the music collecting business. There was a time in the early 90s that I was truly excited to hear the albums that these collectors described ("enchanting", "mystical", "from the mists of time","shrouded in mystery"). Until I did. Most of the albums in this field are purely folk, with maybe a few minutes of electric instrumentation. And much of it is drinking around the campfire music, hardly the dark / mystical imagery that they would have you believe. With that in mind...

Kënnlisch is haunting folk personified. 

The group is made up of two members, the Macherey brothers, and it's Philippe who makes this album very interesting. He plays electric guitar, harmonium and Moog. The latter element in particular makes this one far more interesting to me. And the harmonium recalls Windy Corner at their best. Though the location of the recordings is in Paris, I would suspect the band is Alsatian. I say that because there is a distinct German quality at play here. There are sparse vocals in French, but they're sung more forcefully. As well, the brief narration sounded Germanic to me (though still in French). The downside of the album is a few tracks are simply Jean-Francois strumming his acoustic guitar. I could see doing that for one song tops, but with about 30-35% of the album like this, it begins to drag a bit.   

If there's a hot commodity in the collector world right now, it's psychedelic folk. This one is actually close to living up to its name. 

Not a cheap record either, I might add.  I would definitely second his opinion though with regards to mislabelled haunting folk-- at this point I specifically steer away from anything described with the dreaded 'psychedelic' label.  Replace that with the word 'ordinary' and you get pretty much as close to the truth as you could hope.  On the other hand, as you have seen on this blog, there are plaintively haunting folk albums which are totally unknown and do deserve the positive assessment, like the recent Rosemarie Taylor.  But curiosity always has to get the better of us I guess.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Return of a fave: Feigenbaum and Scott's Things Are More Like They Are Now Than They Ever Were Before (1

From 6 and a half years ago:

Feigenbaum and Scott is a little more challenging but it's really worth the effort to understand.  Basically we get intelligent composition at its best, with various mixtures of acoustic guitar and chamber instruments, flutes, clarinets, some electric guitar, in a style that could be described as similar to canterbury-zappa except it's very different. A slow opening ("And night into day") leads to a surprising a cappella passage like gentle giant ("the earbenders") then an experimental piano piece with some gorgeous hopper-style sustained fuzz bass and guitarwork. It ends with a handful of flutes playing a superb chamber piece a la egg (why isn't this stuff played in the local symphony hall????), then comes some canterbury style singing ("cirrus mist") with electric piano. "Sunday drive" is a bizarre throwaway jazzy beat sax song. In "morning thrash" we get a crazy soprano sax soloing on top of acoustic guitar. Like the other progressive masterpieces, you can listen a hundred times and every time find something new you hadn't noticed before.

Title track is very zappaesque in instrumentation but I dare say more composed than average zappa, less jumpy. Continues on into the oddly titled "egress gnome odd" which is perfection in chamber rock, mixing bassoons, clarinets, flute, in a really interesting little cantata, then "guitar orchestra" with an acoustic guitar duet in the default key of E weaves some really unusual harmonies and dissonances together.

The stunner of the album is the closer, "One's day." Starts with a screeching sax, then henry cow-like blasts of electric guitar, moves on to flutes and reeds on quick strummed acoustic chords, then suddenly stops dead and a beautiful flock of woodwinds plays a gentle melody over an acoustic guitar's A minor chords to close out the work

The last track which seems to summarize the course of the day:

Information here.

Of course, Feigenbaum was the founder of Cuneiform Records.
And perhaps this title is an apt opener for the coming four years of Trumpism.  Be sure that his long day's passage into night will not be a peaceful one, but taking Rob Ford and Toronto as a template, will be marked by scandals, nastiness, and the turning against him of previous sympathizers in desperate attempts to neutralize his power and threats, until eventually something causes him to fall like Ozymandias to behold the monument in the dust, because in human history it's always been true, that the revolution will eat its own children...

Monday, 2 January 2017

JOČR + others in Dialogy / Studie (1978) and the related Jazz Ze Studia "A" (1976)

What a beautiful album painting!  Many of these Eastern European artists had such an incredible visual sensibility...

Well here we go again with the iron curtain classicalized fusion.  I certainly never get tired of it and frankly it's shocking how much of it was made back in the day.

Note that the orchestra I've abbreviated as JOCR is described thusly:

Big band of the Czechoslovak Radio, originally established in 1960 in Prague as “Taneční orchestr Československého rozhlasu” (Czechoslovak Radio Dance Orchestra, 1967–1968 also known as Orchestr Karla Krautgartnera and led by Karel Krautgartner until 1968. Having identical personnel as the latter two, this orchestra name was used for jazz recordings and releases from 1962 until the early 1990s, usually conducted by Kamil Hála.

What is of note for the prog historian is that they played in a famous collaboration album with Modry Efekt (THE masters of Czech prog without a doubt): Nova Synteza 2.  That was in 1974.  It might be that these artists especially the pianist / composer Kamil Hala will be a rich vein of new material to mine.  We shall see.

From the earlier 1976 album Jazz Ze Studia A, the track called Fire River gives you an idea of the kind of tasty counterpoint fugal fusion we are dealing with:

Compositions by a variety of artists.

Moving on to the 1978 album, here listed.  Exactly as I was expecting we have a unique blend of jazz with modern classical music played by orchestra.  This time, compositions by Pavel Blatny.

The first track called D-E-F-G-H-A (why the H?) is quite unpromising, being in a deplorable C major, though it does have some nice brass fusion in the mid-section, sounding a bit like a salad university days exercise in composition.  On the other hand, track B2's Dialogue is quite atonal in its mastery:

It's hard to escape the influence of Stravinsky, wherever you might be, in space or in time.  I guess my one minor complaint would be that taken as a whole this is lacking in cohesiveness and seems to diverge abruptly between baroque-style classical and atonal elements, especially in the last track.  Also more than half of the total musical time comprises improvised solos, which is a bit above the median for Eastern European fusion.

I should also mention this other album in conjunction with Michael Kocab (remember him?) and Eva Olmerova, as worth seeking out and hearing.  Note that it was released officially to CD and therefore can't appear here by state rules and the Great Putin's direct orders, on penalty of getting all party emails hacked.  And all hail the Tiger-Bear of Siberia, future ruler of Greater Europa!  May your conquests exceed those of Alexander, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, British Empire, and Kardashians all combined!  And go on to planet(s) of Proxima Centauri, nearest non-sun star!  Hahaha!!  Let us drink toast of vodka to this, from oil barrel!