Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Canadian Marcia Meyer's magnificent oeuvre, part one, Phases`from 1981 -- and Happy New Year to all!!

This was one of the most shockingly (to me) beautiful records my friends ever dug up out of the fields of oblivion and it's still very little known.  How they discover these lost albums I will never really understand but I have the utmost respect for their crate-digging acumen which I cannot quite equal in my efforts.  Briefly we have here a kind of proto-new age, without the silliness or simplicity, augmented by chamber instruments including flutes, on an acoustic guitar and piano basis with occasional soprano singing from the artist, and some very tastefully arranged string quartet textures on certain songs.  So for those who don't like a slightly schmaltzy style, it will be a turn off or a bad trip, but for those willing to open their minds and let the artist speak to their heart, this will be a revelation or passage through enlightenment in the best tradition of a magic mushroom, as it was to me.  The databases describe this as psych, folk, or acid, but really it's best referred to as proto-new age progressive chamber music.  And of course she plays all instruments and wrote the arrangements.

Like in the case of Kurt Memo's album recently posted in lossless, this is clearly a labour of love on the part of an utterly uncompromising artist who believed in her work even when the entire world couldn't care less (it was pressed by her).  How heartbreaking it must have been for her to have such an icy reception to what we can now see is such beauty.  It reminds me of another similarly maligned artist, Nick Drake's 'Fruit Tree:'

" Fruit tree, fruit tree
No one knows you but the rain and the air "


Fruit tree, fruit tree
Open your eyes to another year
They’ll all know
That you were here when you’re gone "

And throughout of course we get such a strong sense of the bond between musician and natural world, she could also have called this is a love song to the earth or paean to nature, we hear of rivers, ocean, trees, etc., the flute and guitar duet on side two is like a stroll through a cedar forest full of birds and life on a sunny day...

Note that she made another record two years later which is not in the discogs database but it is just as beautiful.  So the cold reception she must have received, for what she probably realized was a masterpiece, did not discourage her yet-- thank god.

Here is one of the most haunting songs and it features her gentle singing, called 'It's a long song':

This song is reprised instrumentally at the end of the record.

For an example of the 'progressive chamber' aspect, here we have the 'Phases II':

For me this is the best way to close out the old year, and I hope that others will agree, in particular those who are into folk and more intimate acoustic music such as the fans of Ezhevika Fields.  And very shortly I will be back with her second album.  But I wish that like Nick Drake her music could be popularized and known again.  I'm not holding my breath for that of course.  Happy New Year to everyone out there, and let's soon get on with our work of exploring and disinterring more beautiful music that no one yet knows about!! And you can be sure I still have a few up my sleeve.

A quick update, it appears her music is available directly from the artist on her website.  I will point you there and ask you do not share the download and I encourage you to purchase directly from her.  My apologies to the artist!

Monday, 29 December 2014

Denise EP (Germany) - You Have to Hear It [1977]

This is a little-known German hard rock band but I sincerely wish their little cockroach EP could be played everywhere, yet it's not even expensive as you can see from the discogs entry (about 20 euros).  As we know in the late seventies to early eighties the great German engineering geniuses managed to replicate and even surpass the rock, fusion, and jazz invented and perfected in the United States and Great Britain, and it was such a prolific area to explore that to this day I still have not reached the bottom of this wonderful oktoberfest barrel of music...  Here the outstanding track is the last hard rock number about the "Kitchen Cockroach" and you and I will never of course come up with a better title for a song, nor better cover drawing.  Speaking of cockroaches I was amused in a recent New Scientist article to read about the secret to its success (though let us not forget the help of humans in propagating an animal that is really tropical to subtropical): its ability to consume any kind of food is due to a symbiosis with various microbial species that help it digest everything, showing once again how symbiosis and cooperation can be the secret to natural success, just look for example at the case of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt or even better, Ronald Reagan (who also could go, like the cockroach, months without feeding) and the M. Thatcher who would digest all the food for him so he could swallow without chewing or even thinking, sometimes even from mealy cue cards placed far behind him filled with those scrumptious words like deregulation and free trade and welfare moms...  It is notable that sometimes she would exit his digestive tract (probably via the anus) -- similar to the way corals expel the algae they are symbionts with -- and then she would be seen in speaking tours, for example, in Trafalgar Square, without ol' Ronnie.  Magnificently interesting.

And be sure to listen to the lyrics, here is what I heard at what point:

"This song is about a small animal
that wanted to be a great rock star
but he was too small..."

Friday, 26 December 2014

Radavique's B-sides from Netherlands 1984 [lossless!!]

And what a gorgeous cover graphic, again!

I believe this was posted in mp3 before, this is an upgraded rip in lossless for a great little eighties-influenced art rock / progressive album.

Information can be found here:

Year: 1981 - 1984 Place: Enkhuizen

Band Members:
John van der Schaaf - Drums (1980-1984, Split Level) Middelkoop Martin - Guitar, Bass, Vocals Jan Koehoorn - Keys (1983-1984), former Redpoint, Split Level Jan de Jager - Keyboards, Vocals (ex- Reformed Accountable) Matthijs Boertien - Guitar (1974-1978, former Heaven, Captain) Ton Stavenuiter - Bass (1974-1978, former Reformed unaccountable) Johan Muller - Vocals, guest on the plates, Redpoint member Jaap van Zoonen - Bass (1980-1984, former SHOKE) Hans Vos - Drums (1974, member Clapham Junction to Jazzy Day) Kees Stumpel - Drums (1974-1978, former Heaven, to Enge Buren Band)
Live: 1974-1978 
Studio: 1980-1984

Rectilinear symphonic, dominated by keys, all short numbers.  Pearls of the dawn, and I will, I hear have a different style hear with folky influences and female vocals. The album was released as a private oil and is highly sought after by collectors of Dutch progressive music. As such Radavique was also included in the booklet  Private English of Limburger Jean Jobses."

[Thanks to google translate for the poetry as usual --The Editor.]

And you can see from the discography, there was no a-sides record, the title must be a joke.
But the music is no joke.  It's great and slightly progressive pop that all of us can now appreciate, 30 years later...  And for most of you out there I'm sure a nice welcome break from the fusion and jazz.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Part of Art, Son Sauvage. Germany 1983

As mentioned before this is a much more stunning and impressive record from this team including Herbert Joos, who 'composed' the third song as you can see (I get the feeling it's mostly improvised).  You may be aware that a crappy mp3 was circulating online for some time now, but unfortunately, in mono, which drives me absolutely crazy, we are not living in the nineteen forties anymore...

Here is jazz plus classical music at its utmost, elevated level of performance, creation, and understanding.

As I said with regards to Morricone, for us this music makes up in beauty what it lacks in popularity.


Except, of course, those who don't celebrate it, like the Muslims and Jews, who I really don't want to offend, or the Confucians and Buddhists, or even the Atheists, of whom I am one, and therefore of course I couldn't care less about Christmas in any case, except for the fact my children are entitled to many many toys at this time for no apparent reason, certainly not because they are well-behaved...

Monday, 22 December 2014

CINEVOX 1203 (1983) Sonorizzazioni - Ecologia (featuring the incomparable Ennio Morricone) [lossless upgrade]

When I first heard this I fell out of my chair, again.  The amazing Morricone, responsible for so much fantastic Italian soundtrack music, can always make a beeline straight into my soul with his warm and expressive melodies and sounds, tinged often with melancholia, as in this instance.  Probably still his most famous is the theme for "Once upon a time in the West".

I wonder in particular if some of these fantastic compositions made their way into some of those late night art movies we watched when young, my brother and myself, in which sundry young and hairy Italian starlets got naked for older men and were apparently available, vaginally, for any man who sought their company for the night...  ah those good ol' days....

Note that Carlo Rustichelli was also a huge and prolific soundtrack composer, as were the other contributors to this record, Gaslini, Bixio, Piccione, and Ferrio.  So this explains the amazingly high quality of the music here.  A relatively poor rip was circulating before that really didn't do this music justice, so I bought the record, I had to.

First track, one from Morricone:

It's amazing what a skillful composer he was, especially in the late seventies period: oftentimes a theme in a minor key would gracefully pass into an unexpected major key, as in the soundtrack for "Cosi Como Sei" before returning to minor, like a life of sadness interspersed with unexpected happiness.  I'm reminded of American poet Robert Frost's fantastic line:

"Happiness makes up in height what it lacks, in width"

And in fact we can say the same about this music we love so much, that for us it makes up in beauty, what it lacks, in popularity...

Note the two different covers, of which the top is a little more attractive, no question.

If anyone has more information on this release, such as where these tracks appeared in movies, I'd really welcome it.  I really have to wonder how many stunning songs are lost to time altogether now from these old Italian soundtracks, if this is any indication of the quality thereof.

Ennio's Mesa Verde:

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Secret Oyster's Karsten Vogel in 1983's Signature [by request!]

Karsten Vogel ex-Birds Of Beauty, Burnin Red Ivanhoe, Secret Oyster, Taylor's Free Universe...
Danish composer, conductor, saxophonist and music teacher, born 11 January 1943 [and now 71]...

As briefly mentioned with regards to bandmate Knudsen from Secret Oyster (SO), he made quite a few interesting jazz-rock-folk albums after SO, in the late 70s early 80s.  Too bad these are still relatively secret themselves, but beautiful like pure pearls in oysters.

In this particular album you'll notice shades of SO's beautifully thoughtful side as in the track "Mind Symbol," and like me, it will break your heart when you think of how gorgeous SO could be at its height in its stay in the Krankenhaus or the inimitable, incomparably beautiful Astarte:

At the same time there is a curious dichotomy where half the songs are gospel-like simplistic progressions, with sax raining down from above, reminding me of those Keith Jarrett-like tendencies to play rollicky gospel that to me really detracted from his advanced compositional capabilities.  But overall, from this record, we can here get a sense of just how much of SO was Karsten's creation, such as the piano obliggatos in minor keys over which his sax flies and weaves its aerial beauty, so I ask you please, Karsten, to fly high like the beautiful bird that you are, for us....  

And have a listen to the other two records before this one too if you get a chance... they're well worth hearing.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

L'instant de Oz Quartet

Wow, another stunning cover painting, right?  Check out the post-apocalyptic housing projects with abandoned school playground where non-whites are routinely and randomly arrested for crossing the street, minding their own business... oops that sounds like 2014...

The addition of violin, so common in french fusion, adds a nice classical component to the jazz, which is superbly played and always interesting.  It sounds similar to the Art Zoyd guitarist's Alain Eckert's album, perhaps crossed with some Claude Barthélémy compositional style.  It's amazing how in this period the French musicians imported so much advanced dissonant, modern classical elements into their jazz.

A good record for those like me who enjoy this style.  Compositions by Didier Sarrazit (the guitarist).

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Kurt Memo's Captain Thunder from 1977, lossless upgrade

Remember this gorgeous little gem of pop-prog?  Way back in 2010 I posted an mp3 of it, and Memo himself said hi in the comments section, thanking us for the kind words.

I think we all have the softest spot in our hearts for the music of our childhood. Well this album takes me right back to those bell bottom long collared days of the seventies before environmental disaster, resource depletion, overshoot and collapse, when the future was so bright with hope, utopia was sure to come in our lifetimes, and permanently, and we were soon going to colonize the nearest stars and galaxies... Boy did we ever blow it! Look at us now! But like the great gatsby, the dream was never really possible at all, it was all just an illusion.

This album is one-man-band production by german Memo Kurt, about whom I can't find much information at all. If he ever reads this, I would tell him I love him, I'd bow before him and kiss his hand for this one. Overall sound and production remind me of Hudson Bros, for those who know them, who did 'So you are a star'. Actually, several tracks are reminiscent of Rhino's Have a nice day Comp, but the songs are as enjoyable as those number one hits, I dare anyone not to sing along after a couple of listens. The hooks are ingenious! 'Gone to another' (which once again reminds me of 10cc's I'm not in love, it seems a lot of songs do) starts with a 'got to get you into my life' octave-reaching melody, then moves into an interesting whole tone down chord progression (i.e. A - G - F). Check out the synthesized voices in the background... This takes me right back to the lost world of my childhood, when in my backyard I could collect a dozen toads in an afternoon, then go to the pond a block away and catch a bucketful of huge bullfrogs, fish for catfish, bring them all home, and forget about them overnight, thereby horrifying my mom in the morning when she found them all dead... At our school on weekends we would catch monarchs and cicadas, or collect their caterpillars and feed them milkweed all summer, some died, but most of them survived to go on to their continental migration... My children will never experience this, and it makes me sad. This music also fills me with the sadness of loss. For a lot of reasons. For one thing, the craftsmanship is something that is not going to be heard anytime soon on radio. Moreover appreciation for it is lost, few people can enjoy this kind of music. It's not like literature, where a consensus is established for what great writers have emerged and have stood the test of time. In music, the test of time is so easy, it's something a three-year-old can pass. Adults fail it. It's like a stalinist regime, where any sign of intelligence or creativity will doom a person to an early disappearance. What is doubly sad about the paradise lost is that, as Jane Jacobs once said (regarding cities), we have lost not just the old world, but the memory of what it was like. So that we don't realize we are actually living in a diminished, deteriorated world. In descriptions of the new world when it was 'discovered' by Europeans in the 15-16th centuries they describe rivers so full of sturgeons or salmon you could reach in and grab them, a caribbean so full of manatees and sea turtles it was difficult for ships to pass through sometimes, something like 50 million bison populated the great plains, which humans reduced down to 200. Passenger Pigeons were thought to be the most numerous animal on the planet at possibly 100 billion, they're all gone now. So the full, entrancing world I remembered from childhood was already a diminished world.

A couple of songs have that diatonic major seventh sound so typical of the era (think 'songbird' (streisand not fleetwood mac)), 'Blind man' starts in C major then moves up to D flat major through ingenious use of A flat suspended, then amazingly the song returns back down in the bridge. 'Happy song' is like that eskimo or whatever pop song played so much on AM radio. Captain Thunder the title track is just pure lush pop bliss.
I hear,
"I'm gonna be tokin', I'm gonna be laughin' like columbus when he found the world was round....
"I'm gonna be flyin' with the people who put magic in the air...
"I'm gonna be sittin with Gagarin as he orbits round the world...
I'm captain thunder, from the seventh sun, and I get around...
Ah!! oh! those seventies lyrics again! They should be included in the next time capsule, for when the future was so full of hope (and petroleum). Or as my wife always puts it, regarding my 70s utopia, "they were all high. That's all."
Even if you don't have a taste for this style, pay attention to the last song. It's well worth the price of admission, as they say, an incredibly orchestral synth block plays a dramatic riff like greek Axis' second album's first song. Then some nifty synth solos are executed over energetic funkishness. It closes with a sung passage with mello-flute.

The cover again is an amazing painting. (Artwork By - Ulf Krüger)

In the comments section we see Memo address the review:

Hallo Stefan,
it's me, Memo Kurt :) Thank you very much for your comment on Captain Thunder that I just found, it is very much appreciated.
If you want to, you can contact me anytime.

Another fan implores him for info:

 Anonymous said... 
Memo, we have been looking for you for quite some time. We have only heard "Piano Bar". What ELSE are we missing? We consider you a musical genius. 

But Memo is silent...
Let the music speak for itself!!

Friday, 12 December 2014

Stubbs' The Prime Moving Lumps from Japan, 1985 (Kojiro Yamashita)

A stunning cover and an equally astonishing set of music.  You can tell from the title that we are dealing with the Canterbury sound here, the artist's name is Kojiro Yamashita, a keyboardist whose style is highly reminiscent of Dave Stewart and Alan Gowen and all the lot of those brilliant British artists.  It's equally shocking that this magnificent album is so completely unknown, since it constitutes Canterbury fusion at its highest level and accomplishment.

Now don't be put off by the WW II Japanese yelling followed by Monty Python beginning-- suddenly and with no turning back we are launched into those awesome fuzzy keyboards and strange twists of melody and chord that are the hallmark of this style.

I guess what puzzles me the most is what happened to that wonderful harsh fuzzy hammond organ sound that was so Mike Ratledge-- why does no one use it anymore today?

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Part of Art, Moebius, Germany 1981, plus bonus: Mofoya's Send a Message new stereo rip by request!

Part one of a two-part on this aggressively advanced jazz outfit from Germany.  However, this installment is slightly less interesting vis-a-vis their 1983 album which will turn out to be more composed, less 'fly your freak free jazz flag high.'

Note the involvement of Herbert Joos, who plays flugelhorn and trumpet (and is also notable as an artist, obviously responsible for cover design).

More coming soon.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Kenneth Knudsen's Anima (1979) in a new lossless rip

This Danish keyboardist was a member of Coronarias Dans and Entrance and the inimitable Secret Oyster...  He struck out on his own with this keyboard album in 1979.  As one can expect it's full of progressive ideas and highly interesting, lacking the total energy of a group like Entrance, but worth hearing without a doubt.  There is more of the Coronarias classical music influence here than fusion.

From my wonderfully generous friend:

Kenneth Knudsen is a Danish Jazz keyboardist and composer. Studied architecture in Royal Danish Academy of Arts. He participated in over one hundred albums with such ''stars'' as Arild Andersen, Svend Asmussen, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Karsten Vogel, Palle Mikkelborg, Miles (Aura) Davis and Indian Violinisten L. Subramaniam and groups like Secret Oyster, Coronarias Dans, Anima, Entrance, Bombay Hotel and Heart To Heart Trio.

Secret Oyster in particular like most of you out there has a special place in my heart.  Thankfully their output has been rereleased to CD.  Incidentally one underestimated member of that group who made some delightfully original music on his own is Karsten Vogel.  Check out some of his earlier records if you want to explore some new material.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Czech band MAHAGON's oeuvre, 1977 to 1980 [no download, available on CD]

Yes we know there is a masterpiece inside at least in the case of the first record, from the great beauty and artwork of the cover... and indeed this is a gorgeous masterpiece of eastern European progressive fusion... I've mentioned before how astounded I was as an adult when internet music broke, to discover that Europeans not only mastered jazz in a sense they surpassed the American style of swing with inventiveness and the importation of classical elements...  Equally surprising was the revelation that in the communist era artists were able to manufacture this 'capitalist and debauched bourgeois' music to perfection, seemingly against any official sanction I believe.

About this band:

"Czech jazz-rock/jazz-funk group. Formed in 1973 in Prague, led by bass player Petr Klapka. Since 1976 featuring vocalist and Klapka’s wife Zdena Adamová. Disbanded in 1980 after Klapka’s and Adamová’s emigration to USA. "

As a treat I've uploaded a gorgeous new lossless rip that truly does this warm and happy, energetic music justice, and as well an mp3 of the second album, a homage to Van Gogh, which suffers a bit in creativity, perhaps due to the loss of one ear in the intervening years.  Unfortunately the lost ear was the progressive one.  As well I've included their little-known third album done in conjunction with Jan Spálený -- "Czech band leader, composer, arranger, writer, producer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist. "  This appeared on a 2-for-1 CD of Edison.

Bros, it don't get any better than this...

The first album by Spaleny, Edison, is quite fabulous as well, recalling the best of famed progressive songwriter Dezo Ursiny:

Here's the first track for a quick and delicious taste of the oddball songwriting:

Monday, 1 December 2014

A little curveball: Cora Vaucaire, 2 albums and an EP

I'll never forget when my father played for me an old single he had of Cora Vaucaire, a French singer from Marseilles, with the song "Trois Petites Notes de Musique" perhaps when I was about 7 years old.  We loved it to death and copied all the lyrics, though there were many words my brother and myself didn't understand at the time, especially the line 'font la nique'.  Many years later when I traveled to Paris on my own I searched the record stores for more from her and found this poor little compilation in a slightly abused condition and played it at home.  I was absolutely shocked when I heard its contents for a few of the songs.  One of them I've even quoted before, it's the song about the Young Lovers, a poem by Prevert the great French poet (she made a couple of albums out of his poetry), in which everyone stares at them with anger and hate, but they are in their own world, higher than the skies.

She was not the most attractive female-- not like the beauty of Bojoura, but her voice was/is really gorgeous, in a very deeply expressive and pure, emotional way.
"Encore un Ete" which is by a certain Guy Beart is about how short the summers always are.  Each stanza is a description of what she sees:  "now the beaches are like deserts," "in the train stations, you see handkerchiefs that shake" but it's not until the last line that we understand the missing element: "you got back on the train, while I got back on the road..."  Was it an affair between married people? (as I would presume since this is France after all)--  Was it a short summer romance?  We don't know, the beauty of the song is in what's left unsaid.

Here it is:

Even more beautiful, and to me one of the most outstanding folk songs I've ever heard, is the "Complaint of the King Renaud."  It's credited to traditional but I have trouble believing it could really be an old lyric unrevised.  Again, a masterpiece of what's left unsaid.  The king has died and the mother of the princess has trouble informing her:

"When King Renaud came back from war, holding his guts in his hands,
his mother was on the crenaud watching come back her son.
"Renaud, be happy, your wife has given birth to a king!"
"Neither wife, nor son, will I be happy for.
I feel death is passing through me, so make a bed,
but make it so quietly, that my wife will never hear."
[now it's the wife who speaks to the mother:]

"Tell me, my mother, my dear, why are our valets crying thus?"
"My daughter, my dear, whilst bathing the horses, we drowned the most beautiful."

"Tell me, my mother, my dear, for a horse so to cry?
When my king Renaud returns, he will bring a more beautiful.

Tell me, my mother, my dear, why do I hear knocking so?"
"My daughter they are the carpenters, who are fixing the floor."
"Tell me, my mother, my dear, what should I wear today?"
"Take the green, take the grey, take the black to decide."

"Tell me my mother my dear what does this black signify?"
"A woman who had a child, the black looks better on."

When she arrived in the church, the stool was given to her,
but she noticed when kneeling the fresh earth disturbed.

"Tell me my mother my dear, why is the earth so refreshed?
My daughter, my dear, I don't want to hide it from you anymore.

Your king Renaud is now buried under the chapel."
"Renaud, my king, my comfort, so you are now with the dead?
Renaud, my king, my comfort, so you are now in the grave?
My mother, tell the gravediggers, to make it big enough for two--
and let the space be big enough so that my baby can be in too...
Earth open up, I must go there with my king,"
and the earth opened up, and the beauty was there entombed.

Here's that song:

Amazing, so vivid.

For everyone there is probably some childhood music that is unforgettable.  For me this is it, along with the folk music from my country and those old seventies hits I listened to all night long on my little AM radio night after night, songs like "Telephone Line" by ELO.

With regards to the song "Trois Petites Notes" with which I opened this post there is a story behind this too, which I didn't learn about until much later in University when I spent hours upon hours researching art and movies when I should have been attending lectures-- my father had no idea about it. It was the theme song for a 1961 film called "Such a Long Absence" by Marguerite Duras, the famous French screenwriter responsible for Alain Resnais's Masterpiece "Hiroshima Mon Amour" (1959) which I still think is a brilliant art movie, for those who like art movies (and more recently the infamous movie "The Lover" with Jane March) .

Une aussi longue absence has a brief description on imdb as well--  A cafe owner meets a man she thought is her husband who was lost in the war years before (presumably the second world war) but he doesn't remember anything.  She has great difficulty connecting with him but he mentions things only her husband knew.  Needless to say it is indeed him, and we find out at the end [spoiler alert?] that he has changed because he had brain damage.  Not a movie of the same caliber as Hiroshima, but still really heartbreaking.  Think about it when you hear the song I am referring to, which is about how three little notes of music keep bugging you until you turn the page and they go to sleep.  (Youtube link.)

I will be honest, there are tons of songs, the majority in fact, in these two albums that I can't abide (in particular I can't stand that old jazz standard Autumn Leaves which has been recorded by law by every jazz artist who ever lived at least once), but the few good ones are really classic...