Friday, 20 June 2014
I felt I should make an attempt at completing some of his huge discography, because the three albums he did in conjunction with Marco Melchiori were so beautiful. Compositions here are baroque, medieval, slightly adventurous but not excessively or predominantly so. There is less of the crystalline textures that made the three albums referred to above such masterpieces. When I posted the missing of the three on prognotfrog (Inchiesta sul Mezzogiorno) I mentioned the other two had been posted on the dusty shelf blog, sadly now in slight hibernation. Of course if you don't have a taste for classical music, you should not listen to these records.
By the end one is overcome with the sense we are in the court of King Arthur, but oh well-- the search continues, as I always say. And anyways we'll be hearing more from Luciani soon, like it or not.
Wednesday, 18 June 2014
Kalevala Orchestra - Abraham's Blue Refrain from 1978 [strongly recommended hard prog] + reupped Garuda by request
A Finnish rock group founded by Juha "Lido" Salonen in 1969. In the first years Remu Aaltonen and Albert Järvinen were also members of the group, but they left the band in the early 1970s. Kalevala's first album came out in 1972 ["People No Names"]; the music was prog rock with English lyrics. The band split up in 1974 but was soon reformed with some new members.
Kalevala's second album ["Boogie Jungle"] came out in spring 1975. The band's guitar player Matti Kurkinen died just a few months later in a traffic accident. The band continued and released their third album in 1977. After the album Kalevala toured in Poland and France but split up after the tours in 1978.
It's indeed odd that they appended the term "orchestra" for this album since this is the hardest rock they made, the preceding two having more funk to them. I think we can safely say this is just some bizarre humour, or perhaps as my wife loves to say, they were just all too stoned at the time, like everyone in the seventies.
Of the three albums, actually, the first has some mighty fine prog tracks too, but the third is by far the most impressive with an almost Tasavallan experience of odd inventiveness backed with some just wonderfully raw guitarwork (from Lido Salonen) as in the track "Panamanian Red":
Gotta love that surreal and evocative cover painting as well. (And the back!)
Monday, 16 June 2014
I generally find these technologically manufactured holidays somewhat consternating, but it having been Fathers Day yesterday, which is at least one unfortunate descriptor that appertains to me (along with so many other adjectives equally or perhaps more unfortunate), I decided to suspend the usual Diogenic cynicism for once and enjoy the occasion, which, as is well known, is a religious one in many Islamic countries: not only are fathers not allowed to do any work at all on this day, apparently in some parts of United Arab Emirates, each is given several virgin females from nearby tribes with which to entertain themselves. The mother then has to wear her veil backwards all day so she can't see anything. If she wears one of those full-body coverings (burka or chador) she must replace it with one of the bedsheets that has no eye holes. So for females, it's a day of fasting too, and also, a day of no speaking. What a wonderful holiday they have there for Fathers Day!!
Unlike Mothers Day, which some years back I remember we celebrated by buying a large pinata at the dollar store shaped like a mammary gland, which the toddlers in attendance would batter with very large dildos, until it finally broke open and spilled milk all over the heads, as well as aged cheese, at which point they began to cry and wail like never before (and it turned out quite a few were lactose intolerant)-- as usual the mothers had to clean up all the mess. My wife nixed the idea I had last year of celebrating it with some toy iv bags and iv stands and pretend epidurals and strawberry jello shaped like bloody placentas for the kids to eat. She completely cut me off when I started talking about representing the torn, bleeding vagina that is the inevitable accompaniment to the heartwarming, magical, and beautiful process of birth. I recall another time some years back when my company sent me on a self-help seminar/retreat in the wilds of Colorado that by sad coincidence fell on Mothers Day. The lifecoach guru, who had appeared on Oprah numerous times, told us to call up our mothers and tell them everything they did wrong when they brought us up. I was forced to call my mom long-distance on speaker phone before the assembled group and relate how I couldn't help it when I wet the bed and it was wrong for her to spank me in the middle of the night when it happened and install an electric eel next to me to shock me whenever my bed got wet. She denied it all, of course, and asked me if I wanted her to bring some wiener schnitzel next time she came over to visit her grandkids. Later we walked on some red-hot coals, took swimming lessons in a pool full of liquid nitrogen, then stayed all afternoon in a tent that was kept at 160 degrees F in order to sweat out all the toxins in our body. One poor obese man couldn't take it, he died of prostration and heat stroke. His unfortunate mother was forced to claim his body and bury it after being told by the entire group she was a nasty bitch-- what a terrible Mothers Day she must have had that year! I have some confidence she won't be celebrating it ever again, but one never knows, mothers will forgive anything.
Really, unlike Mothers Day which is a day of atonement in some religions, of wailing, gnashing the teeth, and wearing sackcloth, cursing the day you were born, a day that most men would rather try to forget and often succeed in doing, Fathers Day is universally a day for happiness and apparently such a celebration it appears in every culture known to man (notice I don't say woman) and to every tribe, even the remotest amazonian ones which have never been contacted, although it is known they nonetheless celebrate it. And the reason is obvious: it's completely angst-free. So yesterday I decided to celebrate both the fact of being a father, and the fact that I wasn't a mother, and informed all the women to leave us men alone with several bottles of wine and champagne, steak and lobsters, and of course copious quantities of Belgian beer. And because it was Fathers Day they were forbidden from going shopping at the mall, which inevitably led to at least one panic attack in the group. As is perhaps befitting, it's all about alcohol rather than hormones for us men. So we decided, each time we sat down, we'd drink three shots: one for ourselves, one for our dads, and one for our grandfathers (all of whom were still alive). We did the same at lunch when we gorged on barbecued meats. At dinner however my friend, after speaking with his highly agitated wife, sat down and informed us to only pour two shots this time for him. I almost wanted to cry, I said to him, so you mean-- something happened to your grandfather? He said, no, she just told me I have to quit drinking completely.
Now have a listen to "Klein Aber Fein" [i.e. small but excellent], the second track, and enjoy its deliciously relaxing summery sound with perhaps a beer for me:
You'll agree this is another wonderful discovery from my friend, progressive fusion along the lines of the Clareon I recently posted, with chamber elements and flute, and it goes out to all the poor fathers out there who just can't seem to convince their wives that there's a difference between women and men when it comes to caring for children: for them, it's instinctive to cater to their every need, love them, spend hours and hours playing baby games with them, for us men, it's just pure hell. And same for cleaning: I will never ever clean my house. But women seem to really love cleaning. Funny, isn't it? My wife spent the whole weekend cleaning the house for our Fathers Day extravaganza. I told her to stop, it was making me feel guilty, as I sat there reading the paper and listening to music. But still she went on vacuuming. "You're so selfish," I said, "you continue even though I'm telling you I'm really feeling guilty here-- it makes me feel bad. Don't you care about my feelings? Do you not even care that I feel bad? That I'm feeling horrible watching you??" I asked her, but she persisted in ignoring me. "Cut it out!" I said-- "quit vacuuming, I can't hear this record!!"
Unfortunately her silence did not last long after that.
Friday, 13 June 2014
The Mystic Moods Orchestra, created by audiophile Brad Miller, mixed orchestral pop, environmental sounds, and pioneering recording techniques becoming one of the choice audio aphrodisiacs of the 60's and 70's. The first Mystic Moods Orchestra album "One Stormy Night", became Philips' most popular release in 1965. Throughout the rest of the 60's and 70's, they continued releasing similar styled recordings and their recordings continued to be reissued throughout the 80's and 90's.
I am not sure of the choice of the word "aphrodisiacs" in the above paragraph, though the next release was beautifully entitled "Erogenous"-- a word which for a man is an aphrodisiac in itself probably.
Wikipedia has more on this very interesting man, who without a doubt, probably sported very bushy chest hair and a shirt unbuttoned to his navel:
"Brad Miller was born in Burbank, California, and had developed an interest in railroading in his teens. After a few years of hanging around rail yards and learning all the lore of steam and diesel engines, he decided to record the sounds of some of the last steam locomotives operating on a major rail line. Eventually, around 1958, he and his friend, Jim Connella, formed a company called Mobile Fidelity Records and started cutting records from these field recordings, which they released through railroading magazines and model train shows. Sound effects recording was quite the rage at the dawn of stereo, and one of these albums of train sounds was even reviewed favorably in High Fidelity magazine. A few years later, Ernie McDaniel of San Francisco radio station KFOG decided to put one of Miller's albums, "Steam Railroading Under Thundering Skies," and an easy listening album, on separate turntables and broadcast them together. His late-night stunt produced a barrage of listener phone calls (most of which were positive), much to his surprise. He later related the episode to Miller, who was inspired by the idea.
While working with arranger Don Ralke, Miller recorded a series of tunes, most of them Ralke originals, played by a string-laden orchestra, then mixed in a variety of environmental sounds he had collected. He took several months fine-tuning the blend, then cut a deal with Philips to release it under the title of One Stormy Night, credited to the Mystic Moods Orchestra.
With the help of producer Leo Kulka, Miller quickly developed a series of One Stormy Night clones: Nighttide, More Than Music, Mexican Trip, Mystic Moods of Love. Don Ralke wrote most of the material and did all the arrangements for the first few albums. John Tartalgia did a few more, then Larry Fotine became the primary arranger when Miller and Kulka moved to the Warner Bros. label. The musical content shifted to mellow covers of current hits ("Love the One You're With"), and Warners modified the packaging of the albums to make sure there was no mystery that these were records to serve as the preamble or accompaniment to getting it on. Erogenous came with an inner sleeve that, when pulled out, showed a nude couple in soft focus.
In 1974, Miller founded his own label, called Sound Bird Records, and reissued many of the Mystic Moods Orchestra albums, as well as albums of environmental sounds without music and more train recordings."
And check out their huge discography to get an idea of just how popular this stuff was back in the day.
Today we will find it a bit debatable whether or not this music can be the prelude to love. Were the humans of the seventies different than the human beings currently alive on the planet?
I think Larry Flynt would have agreed.
With the hokey introductions this album reminds me a lot of the old classic Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a hugely popular book that was made into an incomprehensible movie about a seagull that flies the world to achieve enlightenment (and it probably is at least partly indebted to it, considering it came a year or so later). I really loved it back in the day when we'd watch it stoned. At that time it just seemed so profound, rather than simply laughable as would be the experience watching it today. The music written by Neil Diamond also became omnipresent forty years ago, for difficult to understand reasons. Compared to the movie, the book is quite trite and banal without a doubt-- you can amuse yourself for quite a few minutes reading the synopsis of the story on the above link. What was interesting about the movie, particularly back then in the seventies, was without a doubt the sheer bizarreness of the endless shots of a talking seagull discussing self-improvement and encountering odd angel-like seagulls. It's a classic.
Here's the first track, "I Am, It Is" (notice the resemblance to Neil Diamond's hit 'I am I said')
Tuesday, 10 June 2014
Now here's a big one, a monster as they call them, for all you young prog collectors out there. I had this one some time back and had a good listen before sending it off on its relay-race way to do the rounds of the collectors, each person ripping and sharing it with a few private select friends or perhaps friendly moles, jealously guarding it like a leprechaun with a hoard of gold coins or maybe a secret passageway to the land of beer and honey. So instead I thought we might as well let everyone hear it and judge its value-- does that make any sense? Or are you more inclined to, like the squirrel that has been living in my garage all winter, amass the most astonishing stash of little nuts hidden in the insulation and rafters of my home's attic so there is enough food for centuries of generations of squirrel until their doomsday arrives in the year 3030?
I see Tom Hayes has reviewed it already for rateyourmusic:
"Take a Long Look" is on Airborne records, which is a custom label pressed by QCA. QCA (Queen City Albums), from Cincinnati (naturally enough, since Cincy is known as the "Queen City"), is like Rite Records or RPC in that they were a custom pressing plant. Their main raison d'etre was to press demo albums to shop around for a label deal. Which explains why many of these type of albums are extremely scarce and usually have poor sound. Due to the label being from Cincinnati, everyone just presumed the band was from there as well. However there has been at least one former ebay auction where the dealer stated they were most assuredly from Fort Wayne, Indiana - the same town that Ethos were from!
Even though it's Midwestern by locale, musically it reminds me of the more song-oriented UK underground circa 1971. Bands like Still Life or Noir came to mind, though certainly not as compelling as those. It's slow moving, with organ as the dominant instrument. The songs are well crafted though, and the band most certainly had talent. It would have been interesting to hear what they could have come up with had they the proper financial support and appropriate studio time. As stated earlier, the album is definitely a demo, and possesses a muddy sound.
"Take a Long Look" is not a good choice for a reissue - unless the band wants to reform and expound upon these ideas further. Or there's a studio tape hiding in the closet. Definitely worth hearing, though, if you get the chance.
By the way I sold my copy for several hundred dollars, in a classic example of the economy of house-flipping before the crash, so be prepared to pay a little if you want the original.
Here's the title track, which I really like a lot, especially the Deep Purple kind of sound with combined, unison hammond / guitar (referring of course to pre-DP in Rock).
Saturday, 7 June 2014
Yes sure let's pull out our trumpet when we're at the beach on a summer's day and play some jazz-- why not?
How can we go wrong with this lineup? Of course I was searching through that Uschi Brüning discography again for some more magic or chemistry like what happened with Günther Fischer back in 1973. Here on a Polish release she sings on tracks A1 and A3 with Klaus Lenz who made some really gorgeous big band / fusion records in the seventies, along the lines of Noctett, Wolfgang Dauner's United Jazz + Rock Ensemble, all of whose records are worth hearing (and I think are easily available nowadays, having been mostly rereleased to CD) and so many other high-powered fusion or progressive big band artists back then.
In overall flavour this leans more towards the big band sound rather than fusion and rock, but the compositions are as progressive and far from the 'swinging American jazz' I hate so much as you can get, full of the education of modern European music.
A bit of translated bio of Klaus, courtesy Wikipedia, and Google Translate (I love that reference to Nestor!)
"Klaus Lenz (* March 22 1940 in Berlin ) is a German jazz musician , bandleader and composer, especially in the styles modern jazz . He lived until 1977 in the GDR and is considered Nestor the GDR jazz scene.  Many well-known artists such as Manfred Krug , Günther Fischer , Reinhard Lakomy , Henning Protzmann ( carat ), Günter Baby Sommer and Ulrich Gumpert learned with him the musical craft and played with him a successful albums. Klaus Lenz played with constantly changing line-ups, a testimony to his constant search for new forms of musical expression. With every formation he reached a high standard. In addition to his commitment as a jazz musician, he composed in the pop field, he arranged for renowned orchestra and wrote film and theater music, among other things, for the DEFA films wedding night in the rain (1967), Käuzchenkuhle (1968), With me not, madam! ( 1969), Sleeping Beauty (1970), Hey, You! (1970) and Stülpner Legend (1972/1973)."
How interesting it is to me that cognitive and computer scientists feel we are very close to approaching artificial intelligence, given that the above translation is so hilarious. Of course, this statement has been issued as a prediction for many decades now and it will continue on for many decades before a realistic appraisal of human intelligence comes about. A very interesting new approach involves 'mapping neurons' which, surprisingly, is almost completely possible in the case of for example the mouse brain, though likely to take several years. It will be interesting to see if such a map of connections will bring us closer to understanding the brain or simply create more confusion because of the missing information, for example, regarding synaptic neurotransmitters and how they communicate, the hormonal signals, or some physiology inside the neurons that changes during thinking. But I do know this, no one will be able to ever explain to me why I love music so deeply and passionately and how that works in my brain, why it takes me straight to heaven when I hear something as beautiful as the opening to B1 "Permutation" with its shockingly angular riff:
Wednesday, 4 June 2014
Her appearance is somewhat like Marlene Dietrich who few I am sure remember today. Oddly enough before I knew her roles as actress I came to love her sexy and husky voice as a singer when I was a child. I take it she sang some numbers in the old movie "Destry Rides Again" and "The Blue Angel." I particularly loved the lush orchestral romance of "Lazy Afternoon," derived from some old Hollywood movie now lost to the mists of time...
This record is quite pop oriented, with vocal jazz and rock numbers, similar in a way to the earlier Uschi Bruning but invariably, not as good. The band "Gruppe Obelisk" that showed up in the 1979 VA release, Auf Dem Wege, performs behind her in a few songs.
More information here.
Monday, 2 June 2014
This is by far his best work, and I include the material from his earlier band "Whipping Post" which anyways is not progressive, merely blues-rock garbage. The mellotron is what makes this for me just succulently, nostalgically heavenly.
What about the cover drawing-- is it a flock of sheep behind the oddly coated man in the hat? When I look closely, I fail to see any heads or faces to provide some reference. The other side of the gatefold doesn't provide any clues. Very mysterious and evocative, as is the light emanating from him. I really love the transmission lines, which make for such an odd image. Unfortunately, my friend who did this rip did not scan the inside so credits for this are absent. Anyone with more information please help.
As with the other great album he did, "Warship Suite", C. B. plays all the instruments here. Please note that the remainder in his discography, all of which I've heard, is utter crap!
Now here's the first track, notice straightaway that mellotronly heaven: