Monday 31 March 2014

Gilles Legault (from Connivence) and his "Chansons Secretes"

An utterly unknown album that doesn't deserve perdition, especially considering Gilles was one of the principal songwriters for the famed Quebec group Connivence that put out three superb progressive folk rock albums from 1977 to 1984.  (And despite the late date, that last album does have some quite beautiful songs and is worth seeking out.)

This album features not only some stunning songwriting from Gilles' hand but also some really wonderful poetry, some of which is from him and some from other writers.  It puzzled me for many years that his output is limited to perhaps two dozen songs spread out over the 7 Connivence years and this album which was released in 1981 to apparently little notice.  To this day it is quite difficult to find as an LP for purchase, as you could see with a google search.  One would have imagined such a great artist had been more productive, perhaps he has many unreleased songs that would be worth hearing now.

I will suggest to you the incredibly otherworldly "Le passé de la vie" (both lyrics and music from Legault) and provide a quick translation:

"The past, of life,
wishes to come out again from far,
that can no longer sleep in sadness
now you want to know your fate
yes, that is good
yes, that is good

my photo of the sun
will remind you of the end
of the future and of uncertainty,
you will disguise yourself as a magician
not for nothing
not for nothing..."

Really gorgeous, as a result of the things unsaid, what is intimated between the lines as ideas or a setting, you can interpret it in many different ways.  

This is a true gem for the folk fan, for me made all the more special for the immense beauty of the poetry.  And as with the Connivence songs, a kind of nostalgic melancholy pervades his songwriting.

The other notable poem is the song about the Snail, which was written by one Jany Lavoie.  The snail writes on the ground in one line without artifice, the woman writes in a diary with penmanship and a great deal of flourish, but she also writes on the sidewalk of the city, and you must follow her feet to know what she is saying.  Then in the last stanza, this mysterious ending:

"So, angry she cannot write
with the whole pen of her body
she blackens the white flesh
of the cut tree, the fallen tree
under her hand"

As usual, what is invisible to the eyes is what is most beautiful-- as le petit prince once said.

Sunday 30 March 2014

Trance's Here and Now from 1980

And now for the second, slightly less impressive album from this duo...
Very much a buddhist themed album here.

“why has bodhi-dharma left for the east?”

One might be yours for the side
and so much else besides
sinking as in mid-seas
and the dying, so far from overs, but
he in my perpetuum, he is my taker.
And they were worrying through all time
for senses moving forward so far,
trying going forward, always through and around.
But why has that taste put on me--?
New, and unknown-to-be?

Some, to anticipate their morning cigarette
or then, a denial of water, self-abnegation--
as to shirk evolution's opera…
He will go up farther than the perimeter mountains
of geometry resurfaced in the mantle
and the only continent of bridge.
Here I was, wanting absence of want,
when he went past the skin-markings,
nowhere to be found.
Dumb angel, put up for abandoned,
a prayer for us dying.
Have I not learned to junk desires;
who will ride me there?
I cannot turn back.
Stuck at the place you knew me.
Where is thy east, that I would imbibe?
Where will I feed, fed?

Cast for fishermen who will follow
our hollow answers--
And the death-- where does that go?

I have too many questions to ask...

[Copyright © 2014 me; about the seach for answers from Buddhism-- from my soon to be available book]

Saturday 29 March 2014

The ultra-amazing German band Trance's Dystopia from 1979

This is a beautiful album.  I strongly recommend it to everyone, whether or not they are electronic fans, because the variety of the music takes it far beyond any meditative-soporific Tangerine Dream-style one-chord marathon.  Particularly ethereally gorgeous is track B2, "Romeo and Juliet" (sampled below), which most recalls to me the French Didier Bonin albums ripped by the famed French ripper pollux and shared on prognotfrog long, long ago gone now... [actually, only three years ago!  but doubtful the links are still active.]

Here you will find the same softly warm and tender electric guitar twining around the soothing synthesizer work, never boring, always crafted into gorgeous little songs, the same deep and mournful 12-string acoustic guitars that you might remember from the marvelous Bonin, or from French band Fondation which is also quite similar (and whose albums I also strongly recommend, most appeared on mutantsounds I think).

After this they created another great album called "Here and Now" which I will also share shortly.  The lineup changed, however, as you will see if you take a look at the band info.  At first,Trance are Jurgen Petersen (aka Adrian Marcator) and Armin Wischnewski.  This second guy disappeared by the time of the next release with a corresponding diminution in quality, well, perhaps not corresponding, as the whole really stands up quite well despite his disappearance.  But by the time of the third album, perversely called "Entrance - The Pond, A Musical Excursion" the quality really plummeted and in fact in my view almost hit rock bottom, in new agey simplicity or perhaps commercial electronic chirpiness.  Well, I am being harsh, it's true that the album has its moments-- just as perhaps one could say a visit to Scranton, Pennsylvania would have its highlights.  Please no insult to those who might live there, if they are actually reading this, which would shock me somewhat as I had thought there was no internet in jails.  But please, no offence taken, I hope, and if so, please put away the guns, don't forget your three strikes and you're out law there.

Note that the two musicians collaborate on the compositions for the most part and they use a lot of other instruments, as listed on the back (or if I were to be truthful, on discogs):
Gitarren: LP Custom, Fender Stratocaster, Hoyer Telecaster, Ovation Balladeer, Yamaha 12 string, Hagström Bass.
Synthesizer: 2 x Roland System 100, Micro-Moog, Arp Solina, Arp Odyssey, Hohner Strings.
Fender Rhodes, Rhythmus-Gerät, Violine.
Bose, MM"
Although this is mostly electronic, I find it very interesting and highly entertaining unlike most albums in this genre which seem more suited to the hypnotherapy of senior citizens.  Again, perhaps I must apologize in advance to those who are fans of the genre (as well as fans of Scranton).  It's particularly wonderful to hear an electric guitar solo break through the somniferous synthesizer work-- perhaps like having a drink of whiskey after attending your young daughter's birthday party full of pink flowers and bows.  But we sure know what style we're dealing with, given titles like "hypnopaedia," "soma," and "park lane hospital" (a visit occasioned by an anaesthetic overdose without a doubt-- or heart medicine?)

And the dystopia of which the title spoke, some 35 years ago, are we in such a condition now?
Well, I think it really depends on whom you ask.  Because if I were able to talk things over with a citizen of North Korea, of which there are millions, they would without a doubt tell me that the worst nightmares of Orwell have come to pass.  As well, if I picked up the phone and called the area code for Somalia, there would be no doubt in the inhabitant's voice (of which there are millions as well of course) as he told me the worst forecasts of state collapse and Hobbesian "nasty, brutish and short" life had come about, with a daily struggle for survival, for food, and a life expectancy of less than 45, with very little hope for his country in the future, and since the UN and the US abandoned them in 1991-- 23 years ago.  And I think the people who live in Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other places we rarely hear about any more such as Egypt and Syria would speak in the same terms, of which there are approaching 50 million maybe in total.  And the majority of Africans who are actually able to take the time to think about our question, not having known anything better, would tell us things are as bad as they ever were, but perhaps no worse-- that is, depending on the country, and there, we are in the hundreds of millions.  According to reliable sources, in the Central African Republic there is already the beginnings of another genocide, perhaps surprisingly this time, Christians on Muslims.  And maybe the fundamentalist Christians in the United States should stop focusing on the little-heard-from Joseph Kony and instead think about what their fellow Christians are doing in terms of crusades over there, in the middle of Africa.
So yes, I think it depends a lot on who you ask, if the world is in a dystopia.  Certainly we North Americans and Europeans will vehemently deny it at this time.  But for sure things will be getting a whole lot worse the way things are continuing with regards to the laissez-faire attitude the world has towards our two biggest problems of climate change and fossil fuel depletion.  Let's hope things can change by the time the world comes together for the next round in Paris next year, but don't be too hopeful-- past experience has been a little disappointing.

Friday 28 March 2014

Mosaic from USA 1978 [updated with, you guessed it....]

There's really nothing better than to discover or unearth an utterly unknown lost classic, as happened so often on Tom's cd reissue wishlist.  This rare and expensive album is in the genre of 'spiritual jazz' or perhaps 'spiritual fusion' if such there be, but it's a real beauty on its own terms, full of inventive riffs, excitement, the energy of a large band, and wonderful fusion songwriting-- and so completely unknown!

Here are the full details on this release.  Surprisingly for something so rare, it was not a private pressing, but released by LMI records.    I'm at a loss as to what song to upload as sample so I just did the first track like I did with Dreamworld - Gates to Eternity (which I will post soon, promise).  It's called "I'm just a primitive bebop caveman--" it reminds me of that wonderful old Saturday Night Live skit about the lawyer who was once a frozen caveman but who was thawed back to life played by the late Phil Hartman, which always ended with his crazy lawyerly shenanigans and the ridiculous comment, "Hey, I'm just a dumb caveman, I don't understand any of your crazy civilization, your complicated laws, but I do know one thing: my client is innocent!! " after which the jury would always release the murder suspect to the judge's shock and consternation.  Hilarious.

Track A2 is a song by Dennis Kita which travels in the most delightful way between I think A minor and G sharp minor from one line to the next, a really surprising modulation for a song.  "Mahad" by Jim Fairs is just pure and blissful fusion energy and happy smashing around like a bus full of drunk pilgrims about to arrive in Compostella or maybe Justin Bieber in a hotel room with his 'posse' and a ton of pot stashed with them, or perhaps Toronto's wonderful mayor Rob Ford in a washroom alone for a few hours in a drunken stupor.  The wonderful phrases played by I think saxes and flutes just keep building and building as if a flock of birds were coming out of a clear marsh...

But the best track by far, and clearly the most progressive, is B2's "Rackshasi Hornpipe" which is not the expected ethnic rambling song a la Agitation Free, rather something that clearly could have appeared on a classic french fusion album by Transit Express or french Mosaic (Ultimatum), with its beautiful build from electric guitar arpeggios up to the unison sax-flute melody, and it just keeps building and building in both interest and energy to the end.  Stunning you will agree.

Now I'll admit the last track "Christmas in Caracas" is throwaway, for me, because it is exactly that rambling ethnic stuff that I find quite boring-- not only that but if memory serves me (which it rarely does anymore), it stays in only two keys through the whole length, something I find worthy of criminal prosecution for a record like this.

Notice the wonderful credit on the back:

Special thanks to
Dr. Benjamin Robinson 

I would like to thank him too, for making this just incredibly beautiful lost work of art.  Soon I will be able to post an mp3 of it too as well, please be patient as this will turn up eventually.  Meantime there are lots more rarities for me to share, don't worry about that either.  This first track is by no means the best one on the album, I do hate it when people post the best track and the remainder prove to be disappointing:

It gives me great pleasure to be able finally to introduce you to this masterpiece of funky fusion that is utterly unknown, at last I received permission from The Great Nebula-- that is, he who has shared with me so much wonderful stuff... please thank him for this gem...

Thursday 27 March 2014

Genre - Commercial Success from 1978, new rip by request

From prognotfrog by permission:

"From the mighty osurec, "Unknown and Underrated US Jazz prog rock, they came from Albuquerque, private press issued in 1978"...
Of course, the title of the album alone makes one want to feature this. Is there a chance of commercial success for these highly professional and inventive artists in the year 2011, 33 years later? Well, when I hear what music other people are listening to, I am slightly doubtful but I am by nature a pessimist. I would love to hear an optimist's opinion.

For we who love progressive music we often find, especially now so late in the game, we have to mine fusion to find some of the crazy songwriting and willingness to experiment that are its hallmark. And of course it's amazing how much creativity went on in jazz in the period from early 60s to late seventies, even early eighties, when fusion became a reviled term (which I take it, it stills is today, in the 'music biz' and the general public). Personally, I prefer the real classical progressive music such as Genesis, but I feel we've run out of this classical style almost.
Let's start with the opening of this record where a drum crash leads to some insane triplets played unison style with electric guitar and keys, hyperfast, smashing into a sequence of chords that sound lifted from the best RtF chord changes. Subsequently a similar triplet series leads up to higher chords, then abruptly, before the minute mark, we switch tempos to a slow sequence with digital strings and some sustained chords. After some soloing this passes into some slower triplets that sound quite classically composed and then reiterates the triplets with synthesizer only to move on to a standard funk tune. All this in the same track. Virtually the whole thing could be studied as an exemplar of fusion in the late seventies, all styles are featured. The first side continues on into some light fusion sounds, which I understand, may not appeal to all. (I take it this 'soft fusion' is the reason fusion became anathema later on.) Pay attention to the end though, oddly enough an acoustic guitar solo closes it out. I wouldn't say it's the best composition but definitely it makes for a very varied record.

Side two features some more really eye-opening music. Electric guitar is front and centre throughout the record but in the first track we get some crazy Jimi Hendrix solo riffage after a bunch of minor second chord changes recalling alternative or early metal, like black sabbath. Subsequently a chromatic scale descends into the standard funky fusion style again that even we fans are getting a little tired of at this point. At least the energy never falters on side two, and the musicianship is superb. More ingenious riffs pop up out of nowhere, collapsing into almost metal-hard guitar patterns or thick chunky chords. Obviously this guitarist was not just a prodigy but had some brilliant ideas in his acoustic cortex. Side 2 closes out with an aggressive F sharp note on the guitar into an outro with a descending pattern of chords (what could be more fitting), like a fusionist's fadeout-- was it a fadeout to the whole concept of progressive and creative rock music for all mankind?

This is an outstanding example of how much thought can be put into one instrumental record. How unfortunate that this record and the players are unknown and relegated to that great big deleted bin in the sky."

Recently I noticed osurec has been selling many of his beloved albums, have a look.  Many of them featured on prognotfrog, of course...

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Prao (1983) feat. Denis Barbier, Mino Cinelu, François Couturier, Patrice Cinelu, François Jeanneau, and Jean-Jacques Cinelu

Following swiftly on the heels of the marvelous LBC Trio opus, more Denis Barbier in an album that recalls the French band Confluence.  Notice the titles are very zeuhl-like, oddly enough though they describe various types of boats, as you can see if you quickly check wikipedia and other online dictionaries: Prao, Sampan, Ketch, and Yawl.  It's crazy what we can accomplish now without even getting out of our chairs to haul out the dictionary, which up until a decade ago was still necessary in these cases, isn't it?  Our coronary arteries must really be thanking us, that we never even have to stand up in the course of a day's writing or work...

Coming up later this week I will return to the progressive rock we love so deeply, with some outrageously outstanding electronic progressive material (and I don't even have a taste for that style!) but I assure you, this is well worth hearing.  As well, one of the rarest and most little-known albums related to a band we all know well and love, Connivence from Canada.  Very undeserving of its utter anonymity and relegation to oblivion.  I will also mention another fantastic find from a friend that is clearly a certified and proven progressive fusion masterpiece, and no yet one knows about it-- and I mean no one...
So stay tuned to our program!

Monday 24 March 2014

Jane Ira Bloom, Part Two, her first album from 1980 called "Second Wind"

A more straightforward acoustic jazz album, compared to the preceding entry.  For ex., the second track "Ten Years after the rainbow" really is just a re-interpretation of "Somewhere over the Rainbow," the tired old Judy Garland classic, so overdone in jazz history, time and time again.  Boy do I hate those standards now, like Gershwin's Summertime, or "My Funny Valentine" which even Radka Toneff felt compelled to include on an album.  It amazes me that the average individual doesn't mind hearing the same old songs over and over again with apparently no predilection for novelty whatsoever, an impulse that so drives us forward here.  
Overall, some nice moments, an album in the traditional American acoustic jazz style though.  Check the preceding post plus one for biographical information on the subject of this artist.

Alto Saxophone – Jane Ira Bloom (tracks: A3, B3)
Double Bass – Kent McLagan
Drums – Frank Bennett (tracks: A1 to A3)
Piano – Larry Karush (tracks: A1, A2, B3)
Soprano Saxophone – Jane Ira Bloom (tracks: A1, A2, B1, B2)
Vibraphone – David Friedman (tracks: B1, B2)

Recorded June 1980 at the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven, Connecticut.

Sunday 23 March 2014

LBC Trio's Baobab from 1984, a new lossless rip

Recall Denis Barbier, from an earlier post, he is the B in this trio, and plays flutes and harp on this recording. He made another record called "Prao" which is very similar to the Confluence albums from France, I will share it soon if anyone wishes.  His most beautiful compositions appear here however.  The other players are Denis Large on guitar, and Jean-Claude Camors on violins and vocals.

From prognotfrog: (by permission)

"All the usual comments apply, the things I've said dozens of times before:
 -the compositional quality is so high this rivals anything written by Stravinsky, Prokofieff, etc. 
 -why is this not played in symphony halls instead of the same tired old classical compositions we should all be so sick of hearing?
 -the amount of work these composers put into this record is utterly incredible
 -the cover art is so beautiful in these old masterpieces -- what is the chance some of our favourite album covers will be displayed in art galleries someday?
 -there is no more advanced or perfect music than such a combination that uses everything humanity has created: pop, rock, classical, folk, and jazz, and combines all streams into a seamless whole
 -what is it about music that makes it so beautiful?  of all arts, it seems to be the most abstract kind of intellectual exercise, although rooted in the auditory sense, it has a level of abstraction not achievable with any other sense and functional MRI shows, as I said before, multiple levels of brain from the bottom emotional areas to the topmost cortex are involved in its enjoyment

 For comparison purposes, this album is similar to the amazing Kolibri - Winterserenade which isabelbc posted here some 2 years back or so.  (Btw, when I looked at that post recently I read some comments requesting their first album Tsamadou.  I listened to that one and was very disappointed, it's purely ordinary folk and even has cover versions of pop songs like some Jim Croce (if I remember correctly).  Not one to request.)

 Some information on the artists for those interested:
 Oddly enough they didn't produce a whole lot more music.  Perhaps this is their communal magnum opus?

 On the back of the record this comment:
"Three composers, interpreters and improvisers reveal to us their universe:  an original new chamber music which molds and transforms many resonances of classic, jazz, and folklore..."

 Regarding the title, I read with great sadness a recent article discussing the last stands of the baobab tree in Madagascar, as usual, the suggestion that they will be all gone in a few years if the environment continues to deteriorate.  For those like me who grew up on the baobab thanks to Le Petit Prince such information is especially depressing.  I've spoken often about how cooperation evolved in humans and made them the masters of the planet, but this altruistic impulse is forever at war with the more basic selfish impulses which have existed in life forever.  Simply, cooperation evolved at a time when humans were in small groups and competed with other small groups for scarce resources (like prog albums?).  Obviously a cooperative group did much better than a group of selfish cheaters.  However, we are now all one tribe, one huge tribe, and in our society it's the selfish cheaters who are favoured, for various reasons.  It's interesting that now nature has set us up for a huge challenge since we must all cooperate to preserve the earth as our living home, the question arises, will the new instincts of altruism win out and thus will we preserve ourselves as a species?  or the old selfish instincts win and we fall into fighting and murderous competition for a dwindling supply of food?  This huge moral combat will  play out in the lifetimes of my children who are now 4 and 6, which is why the subject is so intensely interesting to me.
 Like the little prince, will we feel so sad about our lost home that we will go back to our friend the snake and let him bite us?"

This book by St. Exupery is a masterpiece because it can be read on many levels.  Children will be delighted by the imagination that starts the book and the dreamy story of the space traveler as well as the amusing satires of the different planets.  And when young, I recall myself being bored or disappointed by the stories in the second half of the book.  It wasn't until I reread it as an adult that I realized what he was really communicating, indeed, it's impossible for children to understand, no matter their maturity, due to the distraction of the superficial story.

There are two 'adult stories' in fact, there is the reality that he is an aviator lost in the desert who is dying of thirst and is in a state of delirium-- he has imagined the entire story-- this is the 'true story,' and purely out of good fortune finds at the end the water he's seeking-- and there is the 'imagined story,' the tale of the lost prince, a boy (how many here have not felt the same way) who is lost in a huge world he doesn't understand and makes friends with the snake in order to kill himself-- the idea of returning to his own planet is merely a euphemism for suicide.  When I then realized, amidst a waterfall of tears, how much meaning this writer had put into his book, only then did I understand why it is generally regarded and rightly so, as the greatest children's book every written.  I've read the rest of his oeuvre and though "Night Flight" comes close in poetry, I don't think he wrote anything quite as magnificent, but surely this one masterpiece was enough for any writer to leave with us.

This record is perhaps not the masterpiece that is Le petit prince, but it is almost as beautiful.  There is one flaw to this music, which some may have noted before: I don't know what in tarnation the singer (Camors) was thinking with his odd, high-pitched folksy lala'ing around, but it really detracts seriously from enjoying certain tracks, like "Le Zinzin" and "Chanson sans paroles." Far more preferable would it have been to hire a sweet-voiced female alto-- like Stella Vander maybe (lol).

Note that this rip is entirely different from the other, prognotfrog rip, and you will notice the record is in much better condition with no scratches at all. The last two tracks run into each other but I attempted to separate them nonetheless, perhaps not entirely successfully but I will let you be the judges.  One of the most beautiful compositions is the second last one called "Antigone" and it's by Didier Large.  At the start he plays some chords on the guitar that are so unusual, particularly on this instrument where complicated chords are an order of magnitude harder to play as on a keyboard, I almost can't believe them:

Saturday 22 March 2014

Jane Ira Bloom's Modern Drama from 1987

Obviously by the time the eighties came 'round, album covers were no longer a priority, as can be seen here.

This album is first of all completely unknown, but extremely well written, and features a track that has always been one of my favourite 'recent' jazz compositions, called "Strange and Completely".  I will post an mp3 for only a short time out of respect for the artist who is still very much active.  From wikipedia:

"Bloom was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 12th 1955 to Joel & Evelyn Bloom. She began as a pianist and drummer, later switching to the alto saxophone, and eventually settling on the soprano saxophone as her primary instrument. She first began playing the saxophone seriously while at Yale University, from which she received a liberal arts degree and a master's degree in music.

Following Yale, Bloom relocated to New York City. She has worked with Mark Dresser, Bobby Previte, Kenny Wheeler, Charlie Haden, Bob Brookmeyer, Julian Priester, Jay Clayton, Fred Hersch, Jin Hi Kim, and Min Xiao-Fen.

She is noted for her use of live electronics, using a foot pedal to trigger various electronic effects that alter the sound of her saxophone, at times creating the illusion of an orchestra of soprano saxophones.  She was the first musician to be commissioned by the NASA Art Program; in 1989 she created three original musical compositions: Most Distant Galaxy, for soprano saxophone and live electronics, prepared tape, bass, drums, and electroacoustic percussion; Fire & Imagination, for soprano saxophone, improvisors, and chamber orchestra; and Beyond the Sky, for wind ensemble.[1][2][3]  

The asteroid 6083 Janeirabloom was named after her.[1]  

In 2007, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in music composition.  Recent collaborations include live performances and recordings with the underground New York orchestra M'Lumbo.  Bloom is presently a core faculty member at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City's Greenwich Village.  She is married to actor/director, Joe Grifasi."

The incredible, almost other-wordly beauty of Strange and Completely:

Starting with an ascending series of fourth-note intervals on the soprano sax, we move into a very meditative F minor, the first phrase of which recalls the start of Mingus' famous composition "Goodbye Porkpie Hat" but then almost instantly devolves through modulations into other keys, other tonalities, only barely resurfacing for air at recollections of D flat chords or the original F minor chord in subsequent passages of the soprano. In this way she masterfully evokes the kind of free association style of thinking that comes to you just before you go to sleep for example, recalling the good and the bad in the track of your life, the sadnesses, the nostalgias that make you feel as if you never accomplished everything you set out to do, your childhood full of hope and anticipation...  the masterful piano chords which layer and flow like a river, by Fred Hersch, are interrupted as the soprano picks up the soloing again with more intensity, notice how much more insistent or emotional Jane gets as she restates the melody higher and higher, as if underlying the emotion, thinking deeper and deeper of what it means to exist, more intensely remembering some happy moment that passed long ago, or perhaps the piano and the sax are dialoguing, telling each other how strongly they feel, like lovers... this solo passage ends with the sax almost breathlessly descending a normal scale to the basic F minor tonic key.  Then the melody is restated in a basic way, and we're left with a long drawn out C bass note on the piano... what was she thinking of, I wonder, a love, a memory, a meditation? or a mystery?

Thursday 20 March 2014

Jukka Linkola Octet, Part 2: Lady in Green, from 1983

Four years after "Proto-funk" they came back with another record that charts more squarely in the big band style-- even more reminiscent of the German group Noctett, by this time, even in Finland, fusion was probably a dirty word...

But I would like to feature it because of the awesome track called "Hawai'i."  Surprisingly, it's not all about ukulele strumming, circles of fifths, and diatonic ditties with major chords a la Don Ho and Tiny Bubbles.  Like the "Seven Sacred Pools" of Joachim Kühn (footnote: the natives make a point of saying they are not sacred, this is an inappropriate misnomer like calling the White House a sacred temple) it's a serious composition that evokes the verdure, the clouds, the beautiful birds and the fresh rainshowers that appear so suddenly but depart so swiftly.  For those who have been there, this is a place that stays in the heart forever, as Joachim and Jukka probably realized.

The minute you step off the plane-- passing through the open-air Honolulu Airport with its mahogany walls and numerous palms, you will smell the unmistakable thick subtropical wind full of orchids, rainforest and warmth, a smell you will never forget for as long as you live.  In Hawai'i you will do the dutiful tourist activites-- seeing the volcano on the big island, the longest continuous erupting volcano in the world, drive through the lush rainforests and stare, slack-jawed, at the plummeting cliffs going down to the ocean on the 'road to Hana', trek through jungles to see brilliant huge waterfalls falling hundreds of feet down into cold fresh pools, watch the championship level surfers on the North Shore of Oahu and be awed by their skills-- which took years of daily practice to master, make no mistake about it (I've tried it, and it's really hard), taste the wonderful abundance of seafood and hopefully try the magnificent fish called Wahoo, the name supposedly derived from the island name of Oahu, which the natives there call Ono (meaning delicious), maybe you will see the mandatory-touristy luau and watch the dancers-- but this is just a superficial tasting...

It's only when you've spent a few weeks there, enjoying the friendliness of the locals and their universal 'hang loose' hand signal, finding completely empty white sand beaches with gorgeous waters, walking hours along rainforest trails, swimming in secret ponds at the foot of waterfalls, visiting enormous valleys in the central parts of certain islands, as majestic as the Grand Canyon, that you will understand, really understand... Hawai'i is a paradise on earth, as close as we will get to experiencing Eden.  Then when you return home to the boring daily job of 30-40 hours a week you use to waste time and buy food until you get old and retire, having to deal with angry coworkers, upset clients, insoluble problems you are required to fix, the horrid cold in our Northern Hemisphere, driving past the endless suburbs of home depots, Starbucks, and Burger Kings to drive home late at night with no forest anywhere nearby, you will miss Hawai'i-- I guarantee.  And the more you go there, the more deeply you will miss it...

How you'll yearn to go back, like Gaugain to Tahiti, or Rimbaud to Africa, to hear the sweet music, to smell those gorgeous orchids, walk through the forests with grand three-hundred foot wide monkey pod trees, grander than the cathedrals the Europeans spent hundreds of years building, sit on a rock at the bottom and pass hours just watching the forest in its element...

With regards to the sample song "Hawai'i" notice how the woodwinds-- as usual I should say-- evoke the clouds passing by, or a flock of birds flying away, with their turbulent, arpeggiated style.  As well, using the 'polytonality' of D on top of the key of C (the tritonal F sharp in fact) here makes one think of mists, showers, water, etc., due to the layering of one chord on top of the other, as if a reflection in a pool of water.  A very composed track for sure from the hand of this master:

One of the botanical gardens (the most beautiful one) on the Big Island, and the Aihualama Falls at the Lyon Arboretum north of Waikiki on Oahu:

Far past the road to Hana on Maui there is a beautiful but tiny white wooden church hidden in the jungle, without a sign to indicate its location.  There the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh has his grave, as he spent the last few years of his life in seclusion on this island.  Every time I have been there I've visited this site and thought of how much I would like also to be buried forever in this gorgeous place, surrounded by rainforest trees, a stone's throw from a steep cliff facing the Pacific Ocean and its interminable, incomparably powerful surf...
And goodbye to the land of wai (waters)...

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Jukka Linkola Octet's Proto-Funk from 1979

I must repeat how lucky I am to have such friends spread widely over the world, who can introduce me to artists and recordings I would be utterly unfamiliar with were it not for them.  It's hard enough trying to find new material with a tiny self-imposed budget of about 300 dollars a month plus whatever paypal and ebay (those collusive thieves) deign to give me from vinyl sales, as we know, one record alone can use up my entire monthly GNP.  And then of course there are the undeniable needs of both young children and wives (of which I have only had one, actually, so far), who complain about the abuse of a household budget for the purpose of humoring a hobby that might as well be collecting battlestar galactica figurines or cabbage patch kids from the eighties in her terms of comprehension, for whenever I play something new to her I receive either one of two stock answers depending on the last one employed:
"Isn't that the same record you played me last week?"
or my personal favourite:
"Aren't you just buying the same record over and over again without realizing it?"
The fact that she doesn't remember repeating these same two sentences to me so many times should, of course, worry both of us, but rarely does, perhaps because the female tendency to repeat phrases is never really called into question within the household.  Good luck to the man who does attempt this feat.  But if the case were instead that my hobby consisted in buying new shoes (womens or mens) every week, this story would be entirely different…  So much so that this blog could actually have made me a millionaire as I review, like so many other stupid fashion blogs, what I've bought this week beside ads for the latest John Varvatos shoes and Paul Smith suits… rather than hunting for a record that fewer than a hundred people in a world of seven billion care about…

Back to the friends.  It's impossible to keep on top of what we are trying to do: resuscitate the lost musical treasures from the past decades of rock history, from all over the world, no country excepted, to assess what's worthy of preservation.  So I am eternally grateful that there are others to help me who will send material they find that is extraordinary and worth hearing.  This is a labor of love from beginning to end.  Also a labor of time, which I have in short supply, unlike the love for music, which I have in endless supply.  And um, love for my wife which is even more limitless.  Oh yes it's wonderful to share a home and a computer with her.  That there is a proviso-- not to share this music publicly, only to one's closest friends, does make it occasionally bittersweet, but I know that eventually the best music will make it out to the fresh air it deserves to breathe.

This particular record-- is just incredible, and it belongs to the friend who has already shared with us Carita Holmstrom, the astonishing progressive songwriter Petri Pettersson-- for me one of the greatest discoveries of the last two years-- and other Jukka Linkola albums including the magnificent ballet Banana which was posted on the old prognotfrog site-- and which I believe still is his masterpiece.  Amazing he created it when he was only 21!  TS tells me the link is still active there for those who are curious.

Here you will find some amazing fusion, chamber composition, intensity and energy, coming from the genius composer's hand.  The whole album uses an ancient Greek theme, although it's entirely instrumental, with such references as dithyrambos (a style of poem) and athmos (I remember from Univ. it means breath or soul, because it's the cognate of Indian or sanskrit atman and French 'ame', in fact, the English word breath probably derives from the first part of atman.  I read in a recent review article that there is still fierce disagreement, even though molecular genetics and new statistical analyses were hoping to clear up the issue, about who those Indo-Europeans were, who spread their language over all of Europe and half of Asia about 5000-8000 years ago.)

Notice in the discography he made two other albums with this lineup, one called "Lady in Green" in 1982 (which I haven't heard yet) and another called "Scat Suite" from 1983 which I have heard, and I can relate to you that it is far more jazzy and far less satisfying, as you'd expect, for by this time fusion was on the way out all over the world.

When you have a look at the man's biography and discography (sans octet), you can see he was quite prolific. The album he made in 1980 with Otto Donner is highly recommended for the progressive fan, being similar almost to a weaker Samla Mammas Manna album.  It's called "Kuinka Myöhään Valvoo Blues?"

As a sample track I will present to you the first, Proto-Funk, which is a perfect representative of the remainder.  Sit back, turn it up loud, and think of how happy and beautiful the musical world was back then-- 35 years in the past, half a lifetime ago, and thank my friend, who knew enough to introduce us to this lost album.

From the back, I will reproduce most of the blurb:

This album is long overdue.  Jukka Linkola Octet, the little big band of comtemporary jazz, has paid its dues.  The group received particular attention at the Pori Jazz Festival 1978, where the Octet played engagingly both by itself and together with several internationally established musicians in the heated jam-sessions of the festival.

And now here is the first album of the JLO, filled with fire and sensitivity seldom heard even in live appearances.  Just listen to the intense but controlled power of the opening selection PROTOFUNK, the misty awakening optimistic rise of MORNING SONG, and the variable rhythms and moods of the DITHYRAMBOS suite.

As a composer, Linkola has been compared to Chick Corea.  Though there are similarities, this music is pure Linkola consisting of material whose originator knows his musicians and their abilities perfectly.  Do I dare compare him to Duke Ellington?  Anyway Linkola sure knows how to use the innumerable possibilities of sound combinations offered by his multitalened reed and brassmen...

by Jaakko Tahkolahti

To be honest, comparisons to Duke or Chick are inappropriate, he is completely unique as a European composer.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Jaak Jürisson's EP "Sings J. Jurisson" from Estonia 1982 [lossless]

Very little information is available on discogs for this artist.  It might be that this little opus has been posted before and I apologize if that's the case, but anyhow this would be an altogether different rip.

Please don't be put off by the avuncular man on the cover with his mustache, huge glasses, and highly attractive combed-back hair, this is from the early eighties, after all!  He will probably remind half the people out there of their algebra teacher in school...

What if In Spe had hired a pop-singer with a baritone voice to sing some songs they decided would allow progressive Estonian music to break into the FM market?  Well this highly unknown EP is the answer to that nonexistent problem.  You will hear all the usual suspects of prog: the strange chord changes, the odd melodies, the dissonances, the basis of hard guitar-synthesizer, but sung by an odd fellow indeed.  I've listened to this over and over in the car and this is exactly what I wish I could hear every morning I drive to work...

I want to draw your attention especially to track 2 which is basically in the key of A (although it starts off in B minor and passes through D too) but abruptly in the middle goes into G minor 7 with duelling solos between the synthesizer and the electric guitar -- notice how professional these guys are (they must have been studio musicians) and how they play off each other, always echoing the other person's solo, almost a lesson in how to play advanced improvised solos in a live or studio setting...  Incredible, it's hard not to be amazed at their skills.

Have a listen and judge for yourselves:

What an astonishing find, simply amazing.  A million thanks to the friend who discovered this opus...

Sunday 16 March 2014

Sideline's Sidesteps from 1979 (?) Germany

After all the wonderful fusion we've discovered from this era in Germany, you could be forgiven for thinking there's no more quality material left to find.  Well, hearing this just might prove that supposition wrong, if you are so inclined to believe.  Because I contend this stands comparison with such classic albums as Chameleon, PSI, Arakontis, that we are all here familiar with, in the ingenuity of the progressive compositions as well as the variety of sounds and in the sheer energy-- and of course, that high voltage is why we like fusion, as opposed to folk, right?

This is a fabulous outing from the late seventies, similar to some of the violin french fusion records, like the works of Michel Ripoche or Jean-Luc Ponty, but with that typical Germanic fusion sound-- you know what I mean.  The electric violin is a big part of the sound here, it's almost like Missus Beastly but with violin.  A good close comparison would be the German album (for those who know it) Transfusion, Cat Call from 1984 (which I strongly recommend too).  

And the Hollywoodesque silent film gorilla holding a fainting girl?  A humorously brilliant cover.  Perhaps the inspiration was the track about "Stomping Mr. Cagney."

I present to you the first track again ("Space Latin") which is quite representative of the whole:

And check out the almost breathless feeling the electric violin arpeggios give to the title track "Sidesteps:"

There is even a beautiful little acoustic guitar song, to demonstrate how versatile they are.  This I'll leave for you to discover when you listen.  Speaking of which, I was highly pleased to notice this weekend that in the post for Australian First Light, the composer of that album made positive comments about the posting... have a look!  Needless to say, we love it when artists notice our work of re-exposing their masterpieces... for which they get neither credit now, nor did they ever in the past either I presume...  (I would love to hear still from J.F. Murphy and Karlos P. Steinblast from prognotfrog postings.)

Saturday 15 March 2014

The great Tony Campo's Garuda from 1976

From the cd reissue wishlist:

He Who Must Not says this: "There's a great story behind my travels to Indonesia... Composer Tony Campo is from there, Bali in fact.  His bio is featured briefly on the back of the record.  I take it he became a session bassist in the UK and did quite a few library records, often in collaboration with others.  His style is jazz-funk, as befitting the music of Bali which is very dance-oriented.  It's obvious that this album, which is named after the semi-mythical eagle-winged deity that is Indonesia's national symbol, is his masterpiece, the second side is called Suite No. 2 and is his attempt at creating a kind of jazz-funk symphony, you'll see what I mean when you hear it.  Note that the famed Frank Ricotti plays vibes and percussion on this record." 

In fact, had their been no second side, then I would wonder why it was sent to me in the first place. I mean, I actually like disco instrumentals, but it's not exactly the purpose of the list. But Side 2, while never quite losing those fat beats, takes on a whole new dimension. There's truly a depth found here that is uncommon in both funk and even in pure jazz. If you want to begin your dig for this album, you better like tight horn charts. With long fuzz guitar solos. And echoed Fender and vibes. I just happen to embrace said concept, hence I rate this:

[Priority 3]

In compensation for all the big albums missing here, I'll present you with a nice vinyl ripped wav file for this one.  Those who don't like the size of those, use xrecode which is a free program for converting to an mp3.  I don't want to post both because the links inevitably fail sooner when there is more than one.

Thursday 13 March 2014

Pegauro Volume 1 (Mexico 1982) [no download available]

There's nothing like galactic nebulae as an album cover, I love it to death, reminding me of my childhood spent looking through telescopes and reading about space-- just like the track I quoted some time back by Peter Berkow about 'my first telescope, and my father said he'll be a physicist someday...'

I'll interrupt the regularly scheduled programming which was actually nothing at all to bring you this superb find from my collector friend.  We know that Mexico produced some surprisingly wonderful progressive music in the past (and even currently), as I've mentioned before, consider Jorge Beltran's Humus album from prognotfrog for example, or Mandragora, Flught, Chac Mool, Iconoclasta in the field of fusion, etc.  So a find like this, shockingly rare but excellent, should not be altogether too surprising.

Let's consider first the last track, called Opus 1, which to me is a definition of progressive rock in its all too short course.  We start with a functionally atonal riff on the guitar, which is punctuated by the power chord in C with added 9th on the guitar that moves up to a D colored by some wonderful synthetic keyboards.  Pay attention to how much physical exercise that drummer is getting, chopping his drumset to pieces. Again, the usual comments in my prog analysis: the minor seconds, the tritones, the sudden tempo changes, the gratuitous dissonances carefully placed.  When the vocals begin however, note that the song completely changes direction, as well as key-- though there can't really be a precise key since it's simply demented singing on top of furious guitar and bass riffs.  This is just pure creativity, gorgeous in its naked and pure energy.  Here there is no debt to the record companies, no respect for the establishment, we have pure subversive art in its finest form, playing without rules, expressing without concern, without consideration for any taught method and education, a beautiful curse yelled at the whole edifice of musical stereotypes, and the lazy habits and cliches that so plague every art-- not just music.
And follow what happens half way through the song when suddenly we think we're listening to something entirely different, there is a modulation into what sounds to me like F minor, with fuzzy bass underscoring some weaving guitar patterns evoking clouds passing by, a storm, perhaps the roiling ocean, with that percussionist by now sounding like he should have tendonitis in both elbows-- and both sides of them, medial and lateral.  Pure genius.  In one 8-minute track you have all the lessons of progressive rock and all the teachings of the masters...

I will disappoint you by stating the remainder of the record is not up to the same insane standard, though the instrumental that closes side one called "Jardin de Pegauro" is also a marvellous progressive outing.

For those who are seeking more information, here is the discogs entry.  Notice that the composer of the above track appears nowhere else, his name is Jose Luis Lara G.  Rateyourmusic provides us with a short review but not much else.  It is true (as he says) that it recalls the earlier psych music of for ex. Proyecto A with its rough sound and fuzzy guitars.

For those who would like to hear the entirety of this I will have to ask them to wait (as with Dreamworld Gates, and Mosaic) or purchase a copy of this hard-to-find record and perhaps it will be more widely available in the future-- though I think I can guarantee we will not be seeing Sony reissue this one on compact disc anytime soon...  But I wouldn't bet against it from now until the nebulae on the cover above are dismantled by the accelerating expansion of the universe that is the long-term fate of our cosmos.  For now, we can forget about such concerns and sit back and listen to the singer and marvel at how these kids created something so extraordinarily unique and perversely beautiful, making it probably the only song of its kind in said universe we exist in...

Oh of course, needless to say, I doubt there is a volume 2 out there...

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Jozef Skrzek and Tomasz Szukalski and their Ambitus Extended from Poland, 1981


Another outstanding find from my connection-- the one whose paypal account for vinyl-purchases is looking like it's IMF-funded and World Bank financed-- recalling at times the immortal Danish Secret Oyster: kings of gentle, melancholy fusion, but at other times, the notorious German rarity Synthesax recently reviewed by Tom on cdrwl.

I will simply quote some of the great tracks on this album, these 2 I've sampled are both straight out of the Krankenhaus of the Secret Oysters, but the remainder of this entry has some funky moods, some fusion, a lot of synth playfulness, some out and out jazz walking bass, etc. The last track is a throwaway blues number.

Track 6, Trumpet And Dwarfs In Kaeper's Shack

Track 7, Happy people from X:

Saturday 8 March 2014

Dharma Quintet - Mr. Robinson (FRA, 1970)

Now here's an album that I've seen requested quite a bit in years past that I finally got a chance to hear myself despite the rarity and expense of the actual vinyl.  We know this band from their famous "End Starting" which was posted way back in 2007 by the wonderful defunct blog mutant sounds that carried so many unknown albums from the progressive arena to the (non-plentiful) masses.

If you take a look at their discography you'll see they did another record, a third one, as accompaniment to Collete Magny in 1977 (Visage - Village) which is not recommended at all, being simply French chansonnier-type stuff.  What is less well known altogether is that in the same year as this installment, the pared-down group of Jacques Mahieux (perc), Michel Gladieux (bass), Patricio Villaroel (keys) made a record called "Snoopy's Time" with the basic keyboards-bass-drums outfit playing very ingenious and progressive noodling, in the manner of for example Coronarias Dans, Or Denny Zeitlin's Material, musically very much recommended for an intelligent and thought-provoking listen.   The threesome was then augmented like a C major chord with the musicians Gerard Coppere (saxes), Jean-Francois Sicard (saxes), Gerard Marais (guitars) (on different albums, hence not sextet) for the later group.

Now on to the music which is basic free jazz stuff with a lot of wankery and overlong improvisation.  It's perhaps most similar to fellow French band Machi Oul which put out a few hard bop-fusionoid-free jazz and very modernist atonal-style records, or like the Wiebelfetzer LP posted by prognotfrog.  There are only three songs, such as one might call them; for the purpose of sampling, I brought together the most interesting eight minutes from the whole record.  For those who are not jazz fans it might be that this eight minute reduction sauce is the sum totality of the album one needs to own, as is the case with me:

Nonetheless due to its rarity, it's quite an expensive purchase, like the US Mosaic and Dreamworld Gates to Eternity I mentioned in the past....

Thursday 6 March 2014

Claude Barthélémy ‎– Jaune et Encore (FRA, 1979, new wav rip available)

I mentioned this record some time back in another post (sadly I don't remember the context, such is my middle-aged cognitive decline) and I pulled it out again to remind myself of how well written it is.  You will hear some really ingenious electric guitar spilling over a crashing background of keyboards flattening out unusual chords, bluesing it out in harder rockier numbers, jazzy acoustic inflections on masterful piano and synthesizer patterns... a good sample is the track Café here:

Notice the wonderful ending, that eschews the tonic (D) for the 6th chord, B flat 7th, giving it that unfinished, suspenseful feeling, like a short story without an ending.  It really amazes me how many worlds of narrative a simple song like this can dictate if you let your imagination go, there is more information in one three-minute track than a novel sometimes if the music is as good as this.  When I compare the two artforms of literature and music, I'm always surprised to see from the sizes of files how much less dense writing is compared to music, an album recorded without loss will occupy about 300 mb, whereas a full novel is a mere 3-10 mb if saved in a pdf format as opposed to word (one can debate whether word has lost some information or not).  And yet reading is also time-dependent just as music is (and unlike visual arts), but the elaboration of its content in terms of ideas and the thought processes inside the mind is also not to be minimized, though something similar occurs when listening to music.  It's hard to really come to grips with this problem, personally, I do prefer music to literature (and the other arts) so I'm biased from the start.

This gentleman was very productive after this record, as you can see from his discog.  I have heard all these albums until 1991 at which time my interest always rapidly falls off a cliff, and I can certainly recommend Forest One and Moderne (which amazingly came out on CD!), after which the compositional quality beings to seriously decline.  But Jaune et Encore is without a doubt his best work, full of the creative crazy energy of youth (he was 23 years old at the time).  Also notice the luminaries that accompany him here, which include Henri Texier, Michel Ripoche (you can instantly detect his original style when you hear the electric violin-- we know him so well, on the track "Helio-police")...