A gorgeous slice of violin-based advanced fusion from Germany, surprisingly still little known. But let it be further known now...
Wednesday, 30 December 2015
Monday, 28 December 2015
The old Lewers Street in Waikiki was the main but least respectable path between the long beachside boardwalk and the main boulevard running parallel behind, called Kalakaua. Full of cheap motels with backpackers, surfers, and bums, an old McDonalds and some coffee joints, it was deemed inappropriate for the upscale tourists that were pouring in from both N. America and more importantly Japan and was taken away more than a decade ago, to be replaced by an astroturfed outdoor mall renamed "beach walk" full of the mandatory Starbuckses, the ubiquitous P.F.Changs, Hard Rock Cafes, and Ruth's Chris Steakhouses found in every American city nightspot area or generic mall, but thankfully, a heavy helping of Hawai'i-content smaller boutiques sprang up among the weedy and totally unnecessary proliferation of Honolulu Cookie Co's.... and there a month ago, hanging from the wall of a new surf shop, I saw a display of old Hawaiian LP sleeves: the previous Kalapana, Olomano, Country Living, Seawind (in my opinion the best), Tender Leaf, and Home Grown... my jaw dropped when I saw those covers... I didn't know any of them at the time but, needless to say, I proceeded to collect a huge mass of seventies records from the islands, and here are some of them...
This VA compilation features some unknown artists and some who gained fame in that era like Country Living. Notes on the rear are quite instructive for those who are curious though as usual discogs has all the database information. As far as I know a series of four such records were made by the radio station up until 1980 and I'll post them all for some variety show fun.
For myself the mix of baroque fuguery with acoustic guitar and piano from an artist called "Cooper's Still" is the most delightful find though how that integrates with a depiction of the Big Island is not as clear, perhaps due to the constant fog and rain that envelops the windward, Hilo side :
"Nothing less than paradise-- it calls to me..."
When we're done with these Hawai'i rips I'll mention my favourite records from there, other than my amazing discovery Mofoya, and the aforementioned Seawind albums.... sadly, some are available on itunes and thus will not be downloadable.
But through it all, Hawai'i calls to me...
Saturday, 26 December 2015
A really unique little library, unknown and rare, from Germany 1976. From Beatedelic:
Very rare german private press LP from 1979 [actually 1976- ed.] but the whole production has a late 60s, early 70s feel. The album contains a great mix of vocal and instrumental tracks and presents an impressive range of styles from Funk and Jazz to Latin and also one track in a psychedelic / progressive vein. Instrumentation includes e-piano, wah-wah guitar, scat-vocals and percussions.
The band did not release anything else, at least under this name.
Summits – Beat + Pop - Grundformen Und Tänze
Label: Georg Kallmeyer Verlag – 7102
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album
A1 Strange Exchange 2:00
A2 Como Un Helado Famoso 2:00
A3 Rumplestiltskin 1:55
A4 Sky High 2:00
A5 Shufflin' Around 2:03
A6 Flotante 1:46
A7 Naja 1:25
B1 Face Of Sadness 3:15
B2 Porfía, Por Favor! 1:45
B3 Spell Of A Passing Moment 1:41
B4 Canción Con Árbitro 2:27
B5 Drei Über Vier 9:30
Released with a big map consisting of how to dance to the tracks.
This particular note is interesting, as my copy did not have such an insert. On the other hand it's been pointed out there was an accompanying booklet, released separately, by the producer Marianne Ehrich. You can see such a copy for sale here on abebooks. Perhaps the book was the more important product, with the music as an audio illustration for its benefit? Someone might be able to enlighten and if so please comment below.
The overall tone of this very interesting little document of those wonderfully inventive 70s, with the female vocals and upbeat tempos, is very similar to the Luna Set Art album I posted before, minus the synthesizers. As in the review above, the band plays all kinds of different styles including bossa novas, swing jazz, funk, mellow library instrumentals, progressive songs a la Racaille, and a long psychedelic jam in the last position called three over five, presumably the dance steps or tempo measure. I cannot say this is a masterpiece however, more of a curiosity. For our purposes the most progressive or intricate and original pieces stand out as the A6 Flotante (very reminiscent of the Modern Sound Quartet stuff):
and the Spell of a Passing Moment:
What a lot of work put into such a lost cause (today)... but let us now return it to our collective memory.
Thursday, 24 December 2015
Posted relatively recently, this item has witnessed a huge demand for its availability among our readers, which it well deserves in terms of the quality of its contents, and by permission of the ripper it can now be made available...
The original post:
Very beautiful private pressed prog album reminiscent of Pete and Royce or other slightly laid back Dutch albums such as Mirror, Marakesh, Saga with a strong Genesis influence. I will post a couple of exemplar songs to give you an idea of the record, notable are the tracks B3 Jump with its minimal synth a la ping pong and the last track, B5, Imagine Another World.
Merry Christmas to all!!
Tuesday, 22 December 2015
Hard on the heels of the bombshell Tetelestai comes this other proggers' dream platter.
"They were all males, and well-built, their hair was white, cut short, their eyes were blue, their skin was white, thus-- they were caucasians..." Goes the intro describing the aliens exiting their UFO-- wow-- what a relief they were not black or god forbid-- Asian! or if they had arabic features? We would have to bomb area 51-- right, president Trump?
Side two is the progific monster-- the prognificent masterwork AOR'ing through a bombastic prose of dissonances and tritones, FM-(the Canadian band)-style synthplay and outright lyrical silliness. The first side definitely has more of a Klaatu art rock workaday aspect to it especially with the overlong Walter Cronkite-like intro excerpted above. But revel in the finale of the work from these one-off Burlington, Ontario, Canadians here below which casts all the energy of amplified music into one melting pot of hot compositional alchemy:
Oh and speaking of (the, or a) Donald, given that he has declared personal bankruptcy thrice already, wouldn't it be fantastic if the first thing he did when he inevitably gets elected is declare bankruptcy for the whole United States? All those poor people (the 99 percent of the population I mean) with their outrageous credit card debts too would also be forgiven... or enslaved. Whichever works best. Hey, the Russians did it, just ask his soon to be BFF Putin. And what an amazing bromance that will be: both dating models and Miss World contestants, hunters of bears and other hunters, leaders of ex-cold war empires, surely they could kill Cecil the lion with their bare hands unlike those pathetic facebook dentists, I would go so far as to say they might even fall in love and when they get married, light up the sky with firecrackers and cruise missiles-- remember, the intercontinental ballistic kind, we'll no longer need then... the fallout will solve the global warming problem, which doesn't really exist according to them, at the same time... I mean, I make fun of the czar poutine, oops I mean the Russian Czar Putin a lot, but who wouldn't? He has turned himself into a caricature, single-handedly.
And I love Trump's response yesterday, that he can see himself "working with the Great Putin:" uh, didn't Britain say the same thing when Hitler first came to power? So let's just 'give Ukraine' to the Russians I guess, and Syria to Assad? Doesn't matter what those poor Ukrainians or Syrians actually want, "they're fired!"
Millions of pages of course have already been written about this oddly haired bombastic man, clearly a pathological liar as per the famous Colonel Sanders, who after years of the Apprentice can't differentiate Television from Reality anymore, but isn't the majority of the US electorate in the same boat, after all? I mean, how many of them have read "Brave New World" or "1984--" or have heard of a demagogue?
But don't discount Donald in the US, they did the same with Rob Ford the crack addict back in Toronto, they thought he had no chance of winning ever, I mean, just because pot is legal doesn't mean you have to vote for a crackhead, but they elected him anyways, and Marion Barry was reelected as mayor of Washington-- after serving a jail term...
Yes: the machines have landed, America... they landed long ago...
Sunday, 20 December 2015
Again I have to interrupt my humble preplanned series of albums to bring you a wonderful discovery. I have to thank the assistance of my friends again, appropriately this time of year, without whom I would never have the chance to hear so much fantastic music nor be able to share so much without incurring a horrific financial cost which is not exactly in the bank account or rather, credit line, this year...
Not the most catchy name for an artist but a gorgeous piece of music that landed out of the blue from the grace of my friend's diamond needle reminding me most of the New Cross mix of new wavy prog with echoes of my wonderful discovery of heretofore Rantz. Right from the prologued spoken biblical anecdote (Israelites taken to Babylon) with the guitar /synth arpeggiating a colourful musical tapestry we know we are in the great American progressive tradition:
Here there are hints of Fripp's guitarwork, especially with the reliance on insistent obligato patterns, hyperemotional Hammill singing, perhaps interpreted through Peter Gabriel, synth-abetted orchestral compositions with their crashing drama-- everything we ask for from this style. Sometimes I'm reminded of American band Babylon, surprisingly for this style of vocalist there are three part harmonies in places. I think what I love most is the dramatic changes in tempo and style that each track features, an aptitude that Genesis really mastered but that is lacking (among many other things) in the "neoprog" genre, to which some might compare this as well, appropriately at times. Track A3 (Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream) really illustrates this nicely:
I won't even upload the best tracks, that is, the most progressive and ingenious compositions, for your surprise to discover-- then you will see how pleasantly delighted I was myself...
The album is not expensive at all, but clearly undiscovered.
Back to the artist name, what does it mean? Well thanks to The Great Google we don't need to wonder at all. I'll quote the explanation in full here:
Literally translated the word tetelestai means, “It is finished.” The word occurs in John 19:28 and 19:30 and these are the only two places in the New Testament where it occurs. In 19:28 it is translated, “After this, when Jesus knew that all things were now completed, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, he said, ‘I thirst.’” Two verses later, he utters the word himself: “Then when he received the sour wine Jesus said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” The word tetelestai was also written on business documents or receipts in New Testament times to show indicating that a bill had been paid in full. The Greek-English lexicon by Moulton and Milligan says this: “Receipts are often introduced by the phrase [sic] tetelestai, usually written in an abbreviated manner...” (p. 630). The connection between receipts and what Christ accomplished would have been quite clear to John’s Greek-speaking readership; it would be unmistakable that Jesus Christ had died to pay for their sins.
Friday, 18 December 2015
Retour a Haiti: Gérald Merceron + Le Groupe Haïti 2000 - Bokassa Grotraka (Bokassa Veut Manger Chisskar) [1981?]
What a fabulous cover photo, with Gerald on the "petit moto."
This is the fourth instalment in Gerald's Haitian musical expedition (it's clearly marked as such on the cover), the others being his "Modern Jazz Compositions" (still to come, presumably from the early 70s), "L' energie mysterieuse," & "Tet san Ko" (both appeared before in these pages, of course). With respect to the artists, with the familiar names of Lionel Benjamin, Herbie and Mushi and Joel Widmaier, this appears to be slacking slightly in inspiration compared especially to the 1978 'soundtrack' album which was so full of life soul and indeed energy. And to this day I feel the best record overall is Mushi's 1982 Lakansyel where everything came together so perfectly.
The notes from the back, in addition to explaining the curiously odd title of the record, are so almost lysergically entertaining as to be impossible to resist translating and roughly transcribing here following. They were wholly written by Gerald himself.
"I see you coming with your big shoes. You will not hesitate to claim that the person here aimed at is the famed Bokassa, ex-emperor of Central Africa. [Ed.- for sheer interest, read his jaw-dropping biography on wiki, which minimizes the cannibalistic aspects being referred to.] Furthermore, some clever minds will swear, after listening to my song, that we are dealing with Giscard, not Chisskar, as the record sleeve so courageously proclaims. Well, you are badly mistaken there! I would never dare to attack his majesty Bokassa, saint man that even the Vatican has seriously considered canonizing, and even less so, an ex-president of the French Republic for whom I have the utmost respect. The truth quite clear, here it is!
The word Bokassa -- it's easy to verify -- means, in Spanish, "big mouth". As for Grotraka, it's an honest Japanese patronym that doesn't mean anything at all and definitely not "in big shit" [Gros tracas in French, presumably the haitian creole meaning -Ed.] despite appearances and despite all that which those same clever minds will perfidiously claim. All of this is not obvious, but nonetheless, I beg you to believe it. On the beard of Ayatollah Khomeini, light of our times, I swear that our Bokassa Grotraka is a Japanese student, of Spanish origin, who, in 1981, in Paris, savagely assassinated and greedily devoured 12 young Swedish coeds, all affiliated with the Party of Christian Masochists of Santiago in Chili, except the final girl, who moreover suffered from a peculiar anatomical problem once called virginity, actually described by Swedish scientists as a very rare congenital malformation, the reason for which the poor girl was eaten last, for dessert. These acts of cannibalism, seemingly barbaric, were actually honestly motivated by political reasons. Bokassa Grotraka wanted to protest (some months late) the exasperating neutrality of the Swedes against the awful affair of the persistent occupation of Afghanistan by a group of Indians from Arizona. Left unpunished, via the intervention of his father, a diamond seller in Tokyo, the Japanese student then captured a respectable German businessman, Herr Chisskar, whose destiny seemed thence unavoidably and sadly sealed. However Herr Chisskar, with his amazing teutonic energy, reinforced by a complete ignorance of the gastronomical tendencies of his attacker, refused to let himself be eaten... despite the diamonds magnanimously offered by the Japanese... Now if you want to know the ending, please buy this record... but hurry: word on the street is, it will soon be banned...
Some information on this music: "Sharp shooter" is a satirical song by Antoine Radule that was aimed at Paul Eugene Magloire... "Raison de vivre" is a melody from Eumir Deodato, with French lyrics by Gerald, and an arrangement by Frantz Courtois who is also the guitar soloist. All the other compositions are from Gerald Merceron. He uses in the final part of the work a Haitian folk song called the "Atibonit-o" which was restructured harmonically. The words for "Ma Nounoune" are by Antonio Rival. "J'em Tonbe" and "Separation" are based on poems by Rudolph Muller. All other words are from Gerald Merceron, who thanks all his helpers.
Pretty amazing blurb, right? Awesome tongue in cheek writing. You can't help but wonder if there was some psychoactive ingredient there.
The song in question, "Bokassa Grotraka:"
(Sung by Lionel Benjamin)
Note the lyrics: "Bokassa eats people, but Bokassa can't eat Idi Amin"...
Wednesday, 16 December 2015
A quick break to introduce a few lovely records from the seventies of Hawai'i but as far from the notorious Don Ho as possible, of course. Here, as befits the tropical climate, we have sunny breezy soulful and fresh sounding songs that will endlessly bring you warmth as we explore these utterly unknown hits from the past...
First up a band that made quite a few records back in the day, and I believe, are still touring today. However they are really out of sight and unknown and we would like to correct that fundamental injustice.
Some information on discogs.
As one who has had the great good fortune of having been all through the small archipelago I enjoy the references throughout all these LPs of places that are well-known there, like track A5's Kona Daze.
This is a small city on the west coast (or leeward side as they call it there) of the Big Island (which is called Hawai'i itself), known for its coffee and the manta rays that congregate there at night to munch on small sea creatures.
A sweet track called Naturally:
Monday, 14 December 2015
Included here are the following: Contrasts (1979), Full Score (1980), and their best work, Heroes' Trilogy (1982).
Long long ago I posted the first two with rips (here and here) now long since dead I feel probable but omitted the last which ironically was their most well-rounded and enjoyable set of compositions.
Today it's nice to listen to all three as a trilogy and explore the evolution of the compositions, which as mentioned before spring mostly from the mind of trombonist / bandleader Peter Herborn.
The big band sound is quite agreeable thanks to the lack of standard American jazz cliches combined with the influence, as always in European jazz, of the core classical music education. And by this time of course the progressive tendencies in German jazz were very strong, insurmountably so presumably (unlike the case in the split-off Western half of the former Pangaea). The cover of Heroes is atrocious, needless to state, and a certain turn-off for anyone who wouldn't have known anything about the grooves' information content, nor the performers' database. But the side b, the trilogy, composed by Herborn, is certainly impressive despite its theme: 1) Hollywood, 2) Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Marx [sic] 3) Bop for Bogey. We shall not complain about the sources of inspiration for the composer, if the end result is such a magnificent, symphonia-like oeuvre, with echoes everywhere of the modern classical compositions he might have adulated as a young man, much like my own biographical turn...
The first part of the trilogy makes my case entirely clear:
Modern dissonance, film noir soundtrack, thoughtful passages in whole tone dreams, and the added touch of a Hammond Organ in the chordal substrate (a moog solo appears in the third part): I particularly love how he transcends Gershwin in his classical-jazz hybrid style-- well, it's too polite, he leaves George's Rhapsody in Blue behind in the dirty black dust with this symphony...
As always, the tragedy in blue is that Rhapsody is heard every day in a concert hall somewhere in the world, but never Mr. Herborn's work... can we not bring some justice to the art of music too?
Saturday, 12 December 2015
An artist that really, needs no introduction, having been mentioned before in these pages...
But consider the peers with which he is working on this live, mostly (?) improvised release:
Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar – Christy Doran
Bass – Rosko Gee
Congas – Dave Doran
Design – Beny Von Moos
Engineer – Jürg Peterhans
Percussion – Dom Um Romao
Photography By – Beat Bieri
Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – Urs Leimgruber
Tabla [Tablas], Percussion – Trilok Gurtu
Voice – Norma Winstone
A Lou Yuri 18:50
B Dead On 17:05
Recorded live in Roggwil, Switzerland, by Radio DRS3, May 1984
Thursday, 10 December 2015
I guess they heard my plea from that last post and omitted the cover tunes, but in the process, lost half the album length. (Good example of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, though a pretty deformed baby it might have been in their last outing.) So what we have here is a mini-album. In any case it's virtually given over to commercial fuzak and thus, understandably rare in the internetosphere. And in some cases, the rarity of these old records is something quite appropriate. The most listenable track can be presented here:
But the remainder, not.
Here are all their albums:
Tuesday, 8 December 2015
A beautiful and comprehensive blog post on soundological investigations discussed this Canadian artist at length in the past along with some tasty samples. I beg you to read what he wrote as it is so detailed and the research work is quite impressive. You will note also on a quick curiosity search their records are all available online, except the last two which an early Santa Claus will shortly present. (Santa will have more treats in store closer to his day!) Note also mention of the Doug Riley solo album called "Dreams" (1976) which is really gorgeous, for electric piano lovers in particular.
For us progressive fans their masterpiece without a doubt was the third album, "Bedtime Story" which came just before this record. Earlier, their music was basic horn rock along the lines of early Chicago, B, S &T, etc. Some astonishingly beautiful hits appear through the haze such as the "Sun Goes By" track, a staple for Canadian radio stations. But here, in the latter seventies, the late discozoic era as I called it before, the music is clearly fusion big band along the lines of Ted Moses with only a nod to commercial hornstyle pop. I will however express my disappointment that unlike Moses, Doug was not able to fill a long-player exclusively with original compositions & arrangements and had to resort to cover versions such as Stevie's Too High in the A4 position, and even a James Brown song that goes on way too long. As usual, the vocalist is mildly irritating with his full-cheeked sound much like a human hamster with a load of hibernatory acorns or too much Quebec Poutine behind his (long-sideburned) jowls-- though admittedly, he reached his nadir on the Bedtime Story album when he sounded as if he had just left the dentist's chair before the anaesthesia wore off. For example his Too High interpretation:
As a welcome relief from that, have a listen to one of Doug Riley's superb compositions:
Full credits here. it's always worth mentioning we do get our money's worth here, with side b being more than 27 minutes long! But overall, not as progressive as its predecessor, with much of the music sounding like Tim Eyermann's later work.
Finally, I was highly amused by the very dated Marshall McLuhan quote on the back:
"Dr. Music... Fourth World... Right hemisphere... The Fourth World is the electronic environment that surrounds this planet earth... it is Total..."
How could he have known acoustic music would stage such a huge comeback within less than a decade, at least in jazz? That fusion's days were almost over? That science would bust apart the silly simplification of right/left hemisphere (thanks in part to functional MRI imaging), like the stupid old myth about only ten percent of the brain being used? Or that the electronic environment that surrounds earth would turn out to be computers and internet, something he never could have forecast? And that this record with its breathless predictions would not play a part in that world at all-- at least not until this post today...
Saturday, 5 December 2015
The 70s solo albums of the great Benny Soebardja from Indonesia; Part Two, incl. the rare Setitik Harapan (1979)
We finish off with the other two albums from him, the 1975 Lizard which was reissued as limited LP with a different cover, and the ultrarare 1979 installment called Setitik Harapan. Here we get a nice mix of late seventies mellotron-inflected progressiveness with more commercially oriented ballads-- witness the 5th track, from the Giant Step playbook style:
followed by the 6th:
Note the stunning compositional craftsmanship clearly on display here.
Personally I didn't find the first 1975 record too impressive at all, feeling a little bit too immature with regards to composition. Though bear in mind it was shortly thereafter that the masterpiece "Giant on the Move!" was released...
And a prolific artist too, remember: Giant Step made seven albums, all of which are well worth hearing...
Wednesday, 2 December 2015
First here's a little bio for info.
Guitarist and songwriter Benny Soubardja’s first group where he was the guitarist was The Peels in 1967. Being tired of covering other bands (Cream, Beatles, Hendrix), he left to form Sharkmove. Occasionally he also joined God Bless and GPL (Group Pecinta Lagu) around 1972. When one band member of Sharkmove died, the group disbanded. Benny Soebardja then joined Giant Step, while his personal band was called Lizard. In the beginning the history of Giant Step and Lizard were a bit mixed. Some members were similar. During the Lizard years you hear how the English songs mattered more and more and the style went from a rockier side to a more ballad side, with use of acoustic guitars too. British poet Bob Dook guided the English lyrics, so that they got their own qualities. During the whole period Benny also distinguished himself as a good electric guitarist.
[Didn't prognotfrog post a God Bless album once?]
I mentioned his name in conjunction with the very similar Sonny Zandueta. At any rate here we are concerned with the solo albums of this most prolific musician, entitled "Benny Soebardja with Lizard " "Gimme a Piece of Gut Rock ," "Night Train ," "Setitik Harapan " and "Lestari "-- setting aside the wonderful stuff he did with Giant Step whose masterpiece was Giant on the Move  of course [they did 6 other records that are well worth hearing].
Gimme and Night Train were reissued in 2012 by Strawberry Rain in a limited run, now out of print:
Check out how much more beautiful though the original covers were, perhaps excepting the 1980 entry, in my humble opinion:
(I believe the rip from cassette is why we have the rectangular scans above.)
Here are a few of the best songs, the wonderfully titled and highly Giant-Step-like "Advantage of music for me" [from Gimme]:
There are many such beauties to be found on this record. Poetically weird lyrics conjoined with gorgeous chord changes following arpeggiated fuzzy guitars plus hammond in "18 Years old" [from Night]:
This track was completely reupholstered with a different arrangement from the first Lizard album.
Needless to say, more of a disappointment is the Indonesian album from 1980. [Damn those 80s.] Nonetheless listen to this sexy little gem, with its feet clearly planted in the late discozoic era, in which he duets with an erogenously larynxed Indonesian chick:
Commercial yes, but masterful songwriting. Obviously, the first few bars are quite a beautiful oddity. A skillful, neglected master here, at home with both ordinary songwriting, poplike tunes, mindfully emotional folk tunes, and the classical ELP-influenced style of prog arpeggios, dissonances, & that whole wonderful apparatus of minor seconds, tritones, etc...
Part two to come will include the hugely rare Setitik album / cassette.