Saturday 30 November 2013

Jazz Impression - Le Vice et la Paresse, France 1978

After hearing the superb Jean-Jacques Ruhlmann's Imagination, Enigme Infini, I checked his discography to see if possibly there are more treasures to be unearthed.  Oddly enough this brilliant sax and flute player did not have a lot of credits in terms of composition.  The one piece by him on this 1978 outing, called "Si le Coeur eclate" is just stunning though, very much of the same temperament and style as the previous posting, with chamber arrangements to add immense interest.  In fact the whole record turned out to be mysteriously gorgeous and brilliantly composed, the majority from the pianist whose name is Francois Couturier.  He as well is not quite as prominent in a seventies discography as one would expect or hope.

The album title (vice and laziness) is taken from the side-long suite which takes up the whole of the second side, written again by the pianist.  This was recorded in Tours, a beautiful city in the Loire valley with a gorgeous cathedral and many medieval-era houses.  The Loire valley, in the Western part of France, is brimming with gorgeous fairy-tale castles in a forested and bucolic landscape and is to me (like clichéd Tuscany) one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Anyways, this is how we try to discover lost treasures, by following long-lost leads, cold cases now sitting in bins in record stores all over the world, one of which might turn out to be a classic utterly forgotten to mankind...

Anyone have any idea of a good free uploader for song samples?  Now I have exhausted my 2-hour free limit for soundcloud, which is a beautiful site, but I don't want to spend a dozen dollars a month on something that I am doing for nothing.

Friday 29 November 2013

Känguru's original ST album from 1981 [by request]

This album luckily has been released to CD by spalax music.  It's unfortunate that more of these don't get reissued.  Out of respect for the artists I will only post the upload for a week, please hurry.

This band with the umlaut is not to be confused with the Aussie band also spelled the same way (which I at one time thought was the same), the latter played in an ethnic fusion style that indeed would not have been out of place in Germany in the seventies, but in this case, yes they were out of place since they were in Australia, a wholly different continent.  At any rate, that one is recommended too for those who haven't heard it.

Thursday 28 November 2013

Golgotha - Beat-Oratorium, Germany 1974

Here's an album from the classic period of German Krautrock/prog that I've seen requested oftentimes, and it's still very rare and relatively expensive.  It doesn't actually appeal too much to my taste, but I know many out there just adore this style of music.  Basically, in keeping with the oratorium idea, we have some very classical-styled compositions mixed with krautrock.

the world between a child's fingers

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Kroton - Blaue Sonne from 1979 Deutschland

This is one of those utterly gorgeous acoustic guitar duetting albums that were common back in the day, but are an abandoned artform today, at least so far as I know.  The extremely advanced education the 2 instrumentalists received shines through fully in all the pieces here.  It really brings me a lot of joy to purchase a cheap record like this, still quite inexpensive, and find that the music inside is so beautiful and can be listened to again and again.  "Healing guitar music" as master shige calls it so appropriately.

The two artists are Stefan Löschner and Gernot Gingele both of whose discographies are relatively empty otherwise.

I will let the music speak for itself.

I apologize for not posting more lately due to being too busy with work,  And in fact with Christmas coming soon I will be even more busy in the next month and a half.

Monday 25 November 2013

Brandes - Ward MacLean - Strange Fruit [repost]

This was posted here, and this is what he said:

" An amazing lost record that builds atop a foundation of Joni Mitchell's late-70s jazz-rock style (cf. her record Don Juan's Restless Daughter or the German Sango posted earlier) a progressive architecture with unusual instrumentation, original chord changes and odd tunings (dropped D appears in a couple of songs), occasional string quartet accompaniment, dissonances with the requisite minor seconds and tritones, all those myriad gothic embellishments that make progressive rock or any fiercely imaginative non-mainstream music. Of course, there are a few throwaway songs, some simple syncopated acoustic tracks such as the "Festival Blues" song and the generic "A Song" on side a, "Lovely Vivian" on side b (tracks that to me appear commercially oriented and which I recommend you delete and ignore), but the closing 3 songs on the record feature some pretty astonishing originality. I detected some Nick Drake influence on "Liverpool Street" and in fact the song "Spider" which I sampled below, is actually dedicated to Nick (and presumably about him) ! --surprising considering at the time he was virtually lost and unknown as an artist.

Check out on track 4, "How can a soul survive" the way the guitarist (not clear who it is) proceeds to do an almost atonal walking bass-style solo on acoustic punctuated with odd bass notes in the middle of the tracks. It's hard to play these crazy notes on the guitar when so much training involves playing 'correct' chords on this particular instrument. Again it's a 'no-brainer' that these guys had classical musical educations in universities. Or check out the lugubrious string quartet on track 9 "The Spider" which adds an eerily melancholy dimension to the song (in the booklet the tuning is described thusly "both all strings one tone below concert" [i.e. both guitarists]). Note how the slackness of the strings adds a kind of slight echoey - dungeony atmosphere to the plangent piece. On the closer, "Lost and Found", the bottom string is tuned down to a low C for both players, and surprisingly, a bass sax sounding like a bassoon provides some highlights to the chords. Again the chord progression diverges in a very unique way after the intro. The tritones here are partly between the bent blues note of F sharp and the regular classical use of tritone for mystery effect -- as if a synthesis between classical and the blues -- brilliant!

Of course the title of the album seems to be a homage to Billie Holliday's famous song based on a poem about the lynching of african-americans in the South, but there is no real reference to this in any way. Could it be just a coincidence? I doubt it considering the deep jazz knowledge of the artists.One of the most charming aspects of this record is the 12-page booklet that appears as an insert, of which I've excerpted a couple of layouts below. It records the odd tunings of the guitar of which the musicians obviously were quite proud (a hallmark of Nick's style too).
When I think of the creative composition and masterly artistry on this record, it really seems sad to me it was lost so completely, when these artists evidently put so much work into their product. It reminds me again of the quote or paraphrase from my favourite animated movie about the man who planted trees: "When I think of all this man did in his lifetime, it fills me with wonder at all we can accomplish ..." "

Nothing to do add to that.

Sunday 24 November 2013

Stefan Zauner's Narziss from 1976, Germany [by request]

Some information about this record can be found here.   Unfortunately I don't have a verso image, for which I apologize, perhaps someone else can provide one?  I do find it annoying myself when there are such deficiencies so I can understand others feeling the same.  But the progressiveness in here, I hope, will provide a countering positivity that will be highly welcome to many ears.

Consider for example the third track, Pfeffer, which recalls Kansas' Spider or perhaps more appropriately some ELP keyboard dissonances based on chromatic riffs and tritones. 

Subsequently the tenor singing of Stefan comes in and now suddenly we think we are hearing Solar Plexus's Tommy Korberg singing the Spider from their second album.   Of the three arachnoid songs I think Zauner's is perhaps the weakest, but we should not be comparing, at this late stage in collecting, this album with Swedish Solar Plexus or American early Kansas --  there are always some who get upset with these comparisons and feel they have to proclaim the feebleness of this offering in comparison to the true masterpiece progressives.  Unfortunately like many of you out there, I am too tired of  ELP and the others to even enjoy them anymore, something that inevitably provokes a comment from my wife relating to me getting tired of her so that I can look at other females out there in the world which I have to strenuously deny in mathematical proportion to the level of her current mood of insecurity (but of course not mine).  Amazingly at low levels a simple laugh at her remark is sufficient, so perhaps I am lucky, as I can then put my headphones back on.  Such is marriage and prog collecting.

Friday 22 November 2013

Torsten Brandes and Ward MacLean are the Mystery Men

Prognotfrog posted their masterpiece, Strange Fruit, here.  In the comments, David Ward MacLean mentioned his thanks for the posting.  He later emailed to indicate he appreciated the positive comments.  In this first installment from these two men highly influenced by Nick Drake, there is less chamber prog and more basic folk and blues, but the songwriting is wonderful.

I believe the links for "Strange Fruit" are dead on that site, if anyone needs that album too let me know.

The highlight of this album is the last song, a 'One-man Reel' and a song so ethereally beautiful and melancholy, it simply takes my breath away.

Sunday 17 November 2013

Rob Thomsett - Yaraandoo (OZ 1975)

Here's how Roundtable describes this overlooked classic:

From deep within the Australian Outback comes Yaraandoo, the 40,000 year-old sound of antediluvian Aboriginal folklore channeled through Mellotron, hypnotic washes of Moog oscillations, Bamboo flutes and tape delay. Welcome to the unearthed, unheard of and indefinable genre of Australian Dreamtime Psych.

Re-presented for the first time, The Roundtable announces a much-anticipated reissue of this mythical Australian Lo-fi concept recording composed by Jazz guitarist Rob Thomsett. Working in a similar impressionistic mode as other Australian originals Sven Libaek and John Sangster, Thomsett sets to music the Aboriginal Dreamtime myth of Yaraandoo... the legend of the dawn of creation.

Self recorded on a two track in 1974 then privately pressed and distributed amongst friends, Yaraandoo is without a doubt the most desired and speculated Australian progressive recording in existence. With only 100 handmade LP copies originally pressed, copies of this phenomenal LP rarely surface.
Yaraandoo is a true lost timepiece from the Australian underground.

* Exact reissue of mythical Australian progressive concept LP.
* Lo-Fi psychedelic Jazz featuring Mellotron, Moog and Tape Delay.

For a full review, check out Julian Cope's Head Heritage.

Friday 15 November 2013

Kanguru - Tierisch (GER 1983)

By request.  Here's a group that includes former members of Kollectiv, Thirsty Moon and To Be, which will give you some idea of what to expect.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Edo Zanki / Don Anderson's other early record, Feelin' Alright from 1971

Again an astonishingly beautiful cover painting.

I mentioned in the last Don Anderson post that this earlier album was not as perfected as the next one, The Eagle Flies.  It's more bluesy and basic rock.  The fact that the album's title is a cover version of the old radio hit "Feelin' Alright" gives you a significant clue.  There are some well-composed rock songs in here but not much of the interesting mild progressive aspects of the next record.  I find the singer's voice really really enjoyable though, this is a man like Mick Jagger who was born to sing rock music.

My favourite track here is the A4 "Morning Dew," note the effort at sounding like Elton John:

Monday 11 November 2013

Fungus - Premonition (UK 1973)

Sorry, but this is the closest we could come to cover art for this one, as it was issued in a plain white sleeve in a very limited quantity.   Since It ripped off the cover art from the CD Reissue Wish List site, I may as well rip off the album description as well.

Fungus - Premonitions. 1973 private (demo only)

Fungus issued this one demo album, released in a plain white sleeve. It's about 38 minutes long and the music is a mix of progressive rock and electronic oriented music. Fungus is post Second Hand / Chillum and pre-Seventh Wave - and the music seems to be the transition from one style to the other. It's an orchestral oriented progressive rock, with long instrumental electronic journeys. A ridiculously rare artifact that is near impossible to find.

I've had this on tape for close to 20 years. I gave it to a friend a few years ago without realizing its historical importance, and I didn't make a copy for myself. When Gnosis friend and colleague Jim H. started pestering me for a copy, I knew I'd made a mistake. Unfortunately my friend had misplaced the tape - and it took 3 years to find! But after an exhaustive search through his home - he found it! So here we are. Not the greatest album I've ever heard, but a nice one for the UK progressive style as found on the Dawn or Transatlantic labels.

Saturday 9 November 2013

Roberto Laneri's Two Views of the Amazon composed in 1981 and 1984 [by request]


This is an experimental album which requires a bit of patience to listen through.  From the blurb on the back:

"My formal training in music has been in the classical European tradition, but I've had more than passing interests in quite a few different musical styles from various times and places in the world.  All these influences have somehow found their way into my memory banks and my music.
Professionally, I've worked for more than a dozen years in the field of traditional avant-garde, as a composer and wind player...

Side 1 includes two pieces from a cycle called 'Songs of Middle Space' a space in my mind where all kinds of music as well as times and places mix and interact with one another.  Sometimes strange encounters result.  In a sense this music is designed to trigger echoes and memories on many levels...

Side 2 is overtone music, a result of my involvement with extended vocal techniques since 1972.  For 7 years the overtone vision was embodied in Prima Materia, the group I founded in California and later moved to Rome...

Two Views of the Amazon is realized with purely vocal means both in the tape and the live part.  The tape part is composed of multi-track tape loops -- only one track is slowed down by almost an octave, to bring about the very high overtones which form the whale-like chant which opens the piece and keeps recurring..."

--Roberto Laneri

"An ancient magic ritual in the rainforest.  The distant echo of flowing voices, as mysterious as bird songs in the night, the moon's reflection among the palm trees, secret incomprehensible words learned on the banks of a totemic pond, wild animal rapturously listening in the night.

And then, elegant, exotic, cool and sentimental songs, softly whispered by wind-like voices, fleeting like the voices one sometimes hears in dreams...

These musics [sic] inhabit the border lines of the world -- the last city before the desert, skyscrapers reflecting the palms of the jungle-- they reach toward the shadows and bring back their fascination in nebulous, evanescent textures, where from the dizzy blossoming of timbres from time to time the purest and most haunting melodies arise, telling of ancient myths and faraway places.

Voices rising from abysmal depths, with the fascination of the depths..."

Daring to cross the ultimate limits of the universe of sound, they passionately reach the vast spaces of memory, realigning its polychromous chips into a unique, fascinating texture where through strange and mysterious ways the future coincides with the ancient, the tribal with the electronic, the modern with the primitive.

Here, in the infinite combination game [his emphasis] in which their secret life is pulsing, it is possible to decode the very core of our time."

--Gaetano Cappelli

Lee Colbert is the singer on track A2, "Circular Crossroads," a phenomenal track that starts with a piano obbligato pattern and builds up slowly with Roberto Laneri on sax and vocals moving in and out of the mixture, later a synthesizer echoes the piano pattern but seemingly out of tune.
Roberto is also credited with (barely recognizable) vocals on the second side.

Thursday 7 November 2013

Petri Pettersson's first album Nuoruus (The Youth) from 1977

Without a doubt some of the most beautiful music I have heard in the last year.  I don't feel it's right to hide this stuff away from those who might love it as much as I do.  Many thanks again to Mr. Morgan for sharing with us this material.  I wouldn't be far off in describing this as similar to classic Tombstone Valentine or Being-era Wigwam with its impressive mix of rock, pop, folky guitar, and progressive ingenuity.  There are the Beatlesian or McCartney-like thumping piano chords (e.g. With a little help or Your mother should know), there is the gorgeous hard sound of the organ hammering away at solos, the sheer interest of every single song-- with the ability to combine an interesting sung melody with original chords, the nice electric guitar, drums, and bass basis, it just can't get any better, in my opinion...

About Petri Pettersson:
Ilkka Olavi 'Petri' Pettersson (born December 1952) is a Finnish musician. He became known in the 1970s, established the Petri Pettersson Brass, a brass-pop-band's  leading figure (the Band was
founded by 4 Pettersson Brothers). The band's best known song is 1971's Maalaismaisema (originally Elton John's song Country Comfort from the Tumbleweed Connection LP).

In 1977, Pettersson recorded texts by different poets and the album Nuoruus was the result.  The Backing band included musicians from Finnforest. The title track was based on a poem by Mika Waltari, and Pettersson got to present it and a couple of other similar pieces for Waltari's 70th
anniversary celebrations in Helsinki's Finlandia Hall.

Pettersson has also worked as a radio journalist in Savo starting in 1984 for YLE Kuopio.  This ended 17.11.2005 after negotiations broke down and the Yle dismissed a number of music journalists.

Lyrics by Pablo Neruda, Bertold Brecht, Mika Waltari and Aaro Hellaakoski.
Music written by: Pekka Tegelman (Finnforest) and Ilkka (Petri) Pettersson.
Full band information can be found here:

Here's the title track, with its nice string quartet background, again, originally a Beatles or George Martin concept: 

And if that was not progressive enough try the closer:

Wednesday 6 November 2013

In 1979, Petri Pettersson and a posthumous Pablo Neruda collaborated on progressive rock -- with Finnforest members!!

Please observe the transformation of the book into sand... From 1979, the album title: "Ehkä meille vielä jää aikaa" signifies Maybe We still have Time Left...

Nobel prize-winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904 to 1973) was not just a formidable writer, among the greatest in the history of humanity, but also politically active.  I will refer you to the Wikipedia entry, but I beg you to read some of his poetry below.  He and Garcia Lorca were always my favourite writers in the Spanish language...

On this second album I will feature, the music was written by Pekka Tegelman (Finnforest) and Ilkka (Petri) Pettersson.

First of all observe the backing band that was collected here:
Pekka Tegelman is on guitar, Otto Donner and Juhani Aaltonen were two jazz luminaries in Finland who collaborated on the insanely gorgeous Strings album which Jorma Ylönen also arranged or conducted.

This is absolutely a stunning album of great beauty and surprisingly progressive composition.  I'm pretty sure most will agree with me, despite the usual occasional dissenters who will feel obliged to express their disappointment.   An incredible find, to think that it is so unknown -- even among the progressive cognoscenti -- utterly amazes me.  And it's clear by now this is my purpose here: to make people aware of some of these lost treasures of creativity so they have a fighting chance of surviving into the future.

Lyrics authors + Title translations into English:

 a1 Pentti Saaritsa / Maybe We still have time left
a2 Unknown / You got Your life to the Theatre play
a3 Vuokko Tikka / Night commanded day to come
a4 Mika Waltari / Secret
a5 Pablo Neruda / Faces in the Stone
b1 Bertold Brecht / To the memory of Marie A
b2 Aaro Hellaakoski / Stranger
b3 Nâzim Hikmet / Let give the Globe to Children
b4 Pablo Neruda / Tonight I can write My saddest verses
b5 Tommy Taberman / Kiss me Wings

"then once, on a night of storms,
with snow spreading
a smooth cloak on the mountains,
on horseback, there, far off,
I looked and there was my friend -
his face was formed in stone,
his profile defied the wild weather,
in his nose the wind was muffling
the moaning of the persecuted.
There the exile came to ground.
Changed into stone, he lives in his own country."

--Pablo Neruda, Portrait in the Rock

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.       

--Pablo Neruda, Tonight I can write the saddest lines

From my favourite old Garcia Lorca poem:

It's filled with light,
my heart of silk,
and with bells that are lost
with bees and lilies,
and I will go far,
behind those hills there,
close to the starlight,
to ask of the Christ my Lord,
to return to me
my soul of a child, ancient,
ripened with legends, 
with a cap of feathers
and a sword of wood.

Federico Garcia Lorca, Ballad of the Small Plaza (1919)

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Sango 1 (Song For/About My Friends) and 2 [by request]

These were posted by prognotfrog in the past, perhaps not the second one, only the first.  At any rate I didn't think it amiss to include the second with the beautiful cover drawing of the singer, who is Susanne Vogt, and as he says, she is a German Joni Mitchell:

From prognotfrog:
"Exploring more in the private-pressed German files we have here an interesting singer-songwriter-like album with a lady who sounds eerily like Joni Mitchell, Susanne Vogt. That is, Joni in her late seventies era of course along the lines of the Don Juan album. The beautiful Vogt (check out the back photo) is also credited with composition on a few songs and plays acoustic guitar on tracks 1 and 7. Cover and back are very charming drawings credited to Albert. (?)
Titles are arranged by Sango, lyrics by Wolfgang Natus except track 2 by Riemann and 9, lyrics by Wehnhardt and Vogt. Album produced by Rolf Dressler.

Other credits:
Rainer Worm - bass, vocals
Harald Wehnhardt - guitars
Rolf Dressler - piano
Werner Fromm - percussion
Werner Loose - rec. engineer

They produced another very hard to find record brilliantly called '2' in 1983 which is reputed to be more interesting and progressive (despite an oddly low review on rym)."
These albums are from that period in the late seventies, early eighties, when German music really reached an apogee.  In this regard I studied with great interest last week an article devoted to the study of the GPI -- a measure which is distinguished from the much overused GNP or GDP which ignores declines in standards of living caused by resource depletion, crime, and pollution, plus other negative effects on life (these are counted positively in GDP stats, which is completely counterintuitive).  GPI as you can see from Wikipedia counts those harmful effects negatively.  So what do we conclude after tracking it over the course of the last hundred years?  Unlike the ever-increasing GDPs, the GPIs peaked in the early seventies for most western countries and have since fallen slowly.  Finally here we have a metric that confirms what we all know and believe-- life has been getting worse for most of us starting 40 years ago!  What was interesting to read was that the GPI peak occurred later in Germany than in the UK, coincidentally with the progressive rock peak or rock music peak that I believe happened there and that was later than the UK.  Is it possible GPI and the efflorescence of prog rock are correlated?  Sure, and it's not hard to see why, when times are improving there is a lot of hope and excitement in society, esp. for the artists.  Think of how hard it would be for someone today to say they believe in their art and will make serious music successfully, compared to back then.   I look at all those crazy experimental albums they produced in the early seventies and that have shown up in the multitudes on mutant sounds and shake my head thinking, no way anyone today could make an album like that one... at any rate, it's something to think about.

Monday 4 November 2013

Canzoniere del Lazio Morra (1978) [by request]

from prognotfrog:
"For me the complexity of composition on this effort is what makes the record amazing. There is less droney folk of that 'I'm stoned and I'm strumming the same chords over and over' variety, with the usual commune chanting or hippie-screaming, though the first song is a good sample of that type of folk, and more of the high-energy fusion that brings so much clarity (like a strong cup of espresso) to one's thinking, and more of the really angular, composed, stravinskyesque style. As a complete record, holding the sleeve and as I said before, gazing lovingly at the artwork front and back, it's truly a work of art. I'm reminded of that old animated movie called "The man who planted trees" for those familiar with it, the story of an old man who spends years of his life planting trees one at a time where there is nothing. Many years later the hero-narrator returns to find a large forest there. As an epitaph to the man, he says (paraphrasing of course) "When I think of all he accomplished, it fills me with wonder at what a man can do." And I definitely think the same when I listen to parts of this album."

Jean-Charles Capon et Christian Escoudé de Confluence (Quatre Voyages, Arkham) présentent Les 4 Éléments en 1976


In the first two Confluence albums, Quatre Voyages (1976) and Arkham (1977) which should be well-known to the progressive fan, these two artists played cello and guitar, respectively.  They disappeared the next year by the time of the third album called Chroniques Terrestres.  So I was very excited when I saw this library-like album they made together outside of Confluence though contemporaneous.
Both men were relatively prolific:
(Notice that Capon was in the Baroque Jazz trio with George Rabol, who in 1970 made a wonderful French fusion album that is strongly recommended.)
The guitarist Christian Escoude has a kind of gypsy style which is not really in evidence on this particular record on the subject of the four elements.

The track I will sample is the most beautiful and most similar to Confluence circa Arkham, L'Air:

Sunday 3 November 2013

Scope 1 and Scope 2 [lossless, from prognotfrog -- many thanks for their work]

Absolutely a masterpiece of fusion-- it just don't get more masterly than this.  A poor mono rip has been circulating for some time that really didn't do it justice, so I had to purchase the record; please upgrade your copies to this new one.  They of course did another album called Scope II but it wasn't quite as good as this powerhouse.  I hope everyone reading knows this band already.  Briefly what we have here is the best ideas from seminal fusionauts Mahavishnu and Soft Machine in a very listenable but inventive and interesting package without silly frills like overlong solos, like the Heavy Joker with Max Leth jun I posted a long time ago but much better.  Of particular interest is the gorgeous Fender Rhodes, minimoog, and organ playing of Rik Elings, who composed most of the music.  However the guitarist, Rens Nieuwland, is not exactly a shabby player in this outfit-- not at all!

For those who haven't heard this yet, hang on to the handrails, because this is some of the most furious fusion those 'tired old Europeans' (to use Dick Cheney's phrase) have ever produced.  (Now the joke's on Dick of course since he can no longer travel to Europe for fear of being arrested for war crimes and put on trial at the Hague, but he can at least listen to this masterpiece from the privacy of his lead-lined basement bunker 50 feet he remembers 'Yesternight's Dream:' [track A4] the New American Empire, now a matter made merely of memory alone...)

Yes, I know, more US-bashing.  But bear in mind I've also indulged in Euro-bashing:
and singled out the obsessive-compulsive Germans for particular satire often enough...

As bonus I have a wonderful re-rip of the Scope II album requested at the Scope I post last week, all credit to the magnificent multi-linguist Mr. Morgan for this.  Don't forget to thank him for the efforts of purchasing the record and ripping it for us all. 

Amakudari from prognotfrog [requested] (Canada 1987)

From prognotfrog:
"Amakudari (descent from heaven) is the institutionalised practice where Japanese senior bureaucrats retire to high-profile positions in the private and public sectors. The practice is increasingly viewed as corrupt and a drag on unfastening the ties between private sector and state which prevent economic and political reforms."-- from Wikipedia. 

"It is also the name of a group which produced a completely unknown album in Toronto, Canada (by the CBC) in 1987 and disappeared without a trace, although they resurfaced 2 years ago with a follow up. They mixed an ethnic sound with well-crafted acoustic guitars, judiciously using some sitar, with very masterful compositions. The overall production sounds more like chamber music than new age because of the quality of the writing and use of piano and string instrument accompaniment in many places.

Listen to the E minor patterns in the second song, "Childhood yearned" which using the flat 7th and 6th (i.e. notes d and c sharp) perfectly convey the emotional state of nostalgia. As usual a cello playing sustained notes provides the deeper undercurrent of sadness. Suddenly the song will modulate into D minor, then A minor, then G minor, which is what separates it from the usual trancelike stuff which typically operates entirely within one key or even whole songs never stray from one chord. Although the titles definitely seem to suggest new age (shaman, incantation, caves, etc.) we wouldn't hesitate to classify this as progressive music.

"Ghosts of Christmas past" (terrible song title choice) in G minor weaves a melody with major third, minor third, minor sixth, second, virtually every chromatic note is used. In this case a xylophone I think has been brought in to accompany the sitar. The last song, "Whale song" has some nice soft synth waves under gorgeous guitar arpeggios. There is the customary and unfortunate middle section of whale song effects before the previous chords pick up again to finish out. Too bad no reference was made to the finnish, icelandic, and in particular japanese IWC attempts to lift the moratorium on commercial whaling-- thousands of whales are killed and served to schoolchildren in Japan -- although the IWC allows them to be killed for 'scientific purposes'.

Although they are well aware of the celebrated intelligence of the cetaceans, not many people out there are aware that the majority of species including the right, the sperm, and the magnificent blue are still very much in danger of extinction. This is not going to stop the aforementioned countries from stacking the deck with political bribes to finally lift the moratorium on whale-hunting, an event expected to happen at the next meeting in a couple of years. By then presumably the insatiable appetite for bluefin tuna (maguro) will exterminate this magnificent animal as well."

This is a great album to preserve, just like the aforementioned whales, full of mysterious beauty, a 'new age' album that straddled the world of progressive ethnic music and the later slightly insipid new age movement.  Musically, it's simply gorgeous.

Saturday 2 November 2013

The complete discography of the legendary American songwriter J. F. Murphy from 1970 to 1975

These albums were requested by the prognotfrog group and I have them from there and thanks to their work. 

I uploaded them for those who might still need them because in my opinion they are classics in American songwriting.

All of them are here so we can have a completion on this brilliant artist.

J.F. Murphy's 1970 ST album

J.F. Murphy and Free Flowing Salt - Almost Home from 1973

Murphy's Law - Urban Renewal

 Finally, the J. F. Murphy and Salt albums, ST from 1972 and Last Illusion from 1973, thanks to isabelbc from prognotfrog:

"And so the wheel of life will turn
and you will be all alone,
with just a memory of me.
And though I die a natural death
many years from now
let them write upon my stone
he was murdered by a friend
when his last illusion rolled around.

Some say that love
will burn you more than fire
'cause love burns deep inside your head.
But when a friend goes bad--
well that's the last illusion.
Friendship is the only beast
that's never been known to bite until it's dead"

Friday 1 November 2013

Don Anderson and Friends and the Eagle Flies in 1972

Occasionally one comes across an album that vaults into the position of a personal favourite, perhaps due to quirks of the songwriting that especially appeal to one's taste, and subsequently in one's own musical rotation it circulates regularly and repeatedly.  This is such an album for me. I confess it's not the most progressive album imaginable, but in its perfect use of early seventies grooves, its Santanaesque energy, and particularly the wonderful depth of the singer's art, it's a small masterpiece in its own style.  I feel it would only be right for me to share my enjoyment with others rather than keeping it to myself.  It would be too much to hope that one day these fabulous songs could be heard on the radio, even satellite radio, for which media they are absolutely perfectly suited in fact, but at least I can feel comforted somewhere out there someone else will be singing to themselves these same great lyrics.

First some quick facts.  Don Anderson was Edo Zanki.  The blurb from discogs states: "Croat musician, vocalist and producer, born 19 October 1952 in Zadar, Yugoslavia (presently Croatia).  He moved to Germany with his family at the age of 5."  Prior to this record he made "Feelin' Alright" which in my opinion is not to the same high quality.  Notice that after reverting to his birth name he made several pop or rock albums later in the seventies.  I have no idea what is their musical value but am curious if anyone might know, particularly I wonder if he hit his peak in the early or later seventies.

These records remind me of the Australian band "Pirana" well-known to progressive fans.  The interesting songwriting combined with the slightest Santana influence and the great funky energy were typical of the seventies.

"Now I see.  That's not what it's all about.  Life's a Fight and winning is up to me."

The wonderful title track, The Eagle Flies.
"I been talking to some friends, they been telling me words like 'communist infiltration' then I knew I had to start thinking--
The war keeps on rolling, the eagle flies, no one thinks of the reason why..."

"All that killing... never healing..."

Now the track Meet Me, with its gorgeous major third chord progression on guitar resembling a Keith Richards riff, complemented by electric piano, I could listen to all day over and over again.  And the George Benson-like guitar solo!  Is it possible for rock music to get more heavenly?  Not to me.

Listening to these words loudly in my car, I am transporting back to those wonderful days, the blissful hopes of the times mixed with the anxiety of the social revolutions going on everywhere.  And the creative excitement I believe was perfectly reflected in the energy of the rock music of the time, which is sadly absent today.

But how appropriate are those same words in the present, forty-one years later, with the United States still involved in conflicts all over the world now under the banner of the war against terrorism instead of the war against communism? 

Yes, the war keeps on rolling, the eagle flies, and no one thinks of the reason why....

Tony Hymas' 1978 composition: Wessex Tales and Elements, KPM 1216

"Wessex Tales and Elements -- Two distinctive suites scored for 11 violins, 4 violas, 3 celli and 2 bassi and recorded in a natural acoustic."
Side A called "Wessex Tales" is "Rural life and scenes, past and present."
Side B called "Elements" is "A study of forces of nature."

I guess this is the kind of library record that will drive some to distraction, while others with a European classical predisposition or upbringing like myself will be entranced by the capabilities of the composer, the well-reputed Tony Hymas.  I am happy and not at all surprised he is still very much active in composition.  I love the way these guys were so well educated they were capable of composing music which equaled the great masters of European twentieth century music: Ravel, Bartok, Prokofiev, Stravinsky.

The title track "Wessex Tales" sounds like a string piece from a Mahler symphony but is far more intricately nondiatonic:

While on Side B, "Cloud Sculptures" and its polytonality remind me of some parts of "The Rite of Spring" (unfortunately not the good ones).  Between the two suites, the weaker is the second one, in opposition to the "Beethoven principle" that depression or tragedy are a source of creative stimulation, Tony instead seems to be an optimist since the happy side had more of a brilliantly creative spark.  It's also quite possible he got tired after writing the first 15 minutes or so of music.  This is what I believe happened with Puccini's La Boheme, which markedly deteriorates after the first act.

I know there are also a lot of library music fans out there, and I beg them to spread the word about our new blog.  I will be posting interesting library albums here and there (from my collection) which I hope are not already available online, though a mistake in that regard is eventually inevitable.