Monday 31 December 2018

Bobby Mladen Gutesha and Und et... Happpppyyyyyy New Year

I really love those old protest albums, cf. the Don Anderson work I raved over so much, The Eagle Flies (weak as he was from all that ddt we fed him back then-- even the bald eagle came close to extinction).  The earnestness was so endearing, but of course, with the Vietnam war it was really a life and death issue for young people, all the more for the millions of bombed to death Southeast Asians.  Will those times return one day?  Surely they won't be the same, thanks to the vocal and transient inanity of social media, esp. twitter.  Will Kardashians one day protest against a new war, with, perhaps, a new color and thickness of eyebrow?  Nor is it hard to imagine young people aka millenials today being so spoiled and distracted they would never even react to such an event, ironically, it would be the old generation who would be sounding the alarm in a complete reversal of what transpired in the sixties.  But I suppose there would be a kind of symmetry to it as the parents protest & the kids text / instagram their way off into an apocalypse they are not even aware of.  FOMO on the end of the world, I suppose, in their words.

The album was released in 1972, I was curious to hear it when I saw Mladen credited on the Some Kind of Changes LP from earlier.  You can see he produced some very nice fusion albums over the length of his career.  From discogs:

Born December 16, 1923 in Sarajevo / Bosnia - Died December 2, 2015 in Belgrade / Serbia.
He studied at the university for Music in Belgrade for five years. In 1947 he founded Jazz Orkestar Radio-Televizije Beograd, which he conducted till 1953. He moved to Germany where he played for US-soldiers what brought him into contact with Benny Goodman. He started to work for german broadcasting organisations like SDR, HR and NDR. He led some studio orchestras and came to work with Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett and Egberto Gismonti. He also taught at the Swiss Jazz School in Bern.

Interesting that he lived such a long life (to age 92!), unusual for a musician as we've seen time and time again in the bios of these posts.  He must have been quite influenced by his exposure to Americana because this LP, his only solo release, is permeated with the culture, and the second side is entirely dedicated to war-protest themes.  Obviously, the first track is a homage to Martin Luther King, Jr. incorporating his speech over a base of composed orchestral fusion with a classical chorus repeating some lines.  And the music is quite beautiful.  I assume this work is his magnum opus, though already he was 49 years old, and it functions as a kind of oratorio with reflections on the US (the "American War" as Vietnam always called it-- a much more appropriate name).  I'm probably not the only one to wonder what went so wrong in American society that more than 50 years after the "I have a Dream" speech and the idealism of the 60s kids, an unmitigated racist could be elected president and black people could be shot by police for opening the door to their own homes.

Masters of War, a Bob Dylan composition and one of those for which the doddering seniors at the Nobel Committee (after they were done sexually harassing their staff) decided he should earn a place along with some of the greatest writers of literature:

Come masters of war
you that build those big guns
you that build those death planes
you that build those big bombs
you that hide behind walls
you that hide behind desks
I just want you to know, 
I can see through your masks
You that never done nothin'
but build to destroy
you play with my world
just like it's your little toy
you put a gun in my hands
and you hide from my eyes
and you turn and run farther 
than the fastest bullets fly

Notice how brilliantly this author has emphasized the almost childish repetition, as if a child were writing in grade 2 or perhaps even kindergarten some poem to impress his teacher even using the analogy of toys, the overuse of 'big' clearly a turn of phrase or idiom only something a naive child would write in his diminutive state and craftless lack of literary prowess, and marvel at how perfectly this must have impressed those alzheimerly nonagenarians in Stockholm carrying on the promises of the invention of dynamite.

The last track is the song Angelitos Negros, which was done so beautifully by Roberta Flack (here on youtube, as usual).  Song's lyrics are a poem from the Venezuelan Andrés Eloy Blanco which is translated online thusly:

Painter, born in my land
with a foreign brush in your hand,
Following in the footsteps,
of all the artists who came before

Though the Virgin may be white,
paint me some little black angels,
for they go to heaven, too
as all good black people do.

Painter of art, if you paint with heart,
Why do you despise this color?
Knowing well that in heaven,
God loves them, too.

Painter of alcoves of saints
if you have a soul in your body,
why is it that when you paint
you always forget the black ones?

Whenever you paint churches,
you fill them with beautiful angels,
but you never remember
to paint a black angel.

And let's hope the new year takes us all in a positive direction, despite all them negatives blowin' in the wind.

Saturday 29 December 2018

Arturo Meza's Suite Koradi (Mexico 1985) and Nirgil Vallis with Y Murio la Tarde (1984)

Mentioned earlier on this blog in connection with the ReR Volume 2 Number 2 sample, I was reminded of this when listening to that edition again.  The album from whence the piece was derived came out in 1985, and was a significant departure for this artist who usually traffics in folk and acoustic pop (at least I think he did, I never delved any deeper).

The review from apps on rym presents a very clear picture:

Meza's next album started as a very ambitious idea, just bear in mind we're talking about 1985 here, and the man arranged ''Suite Koradi'' (1985, Gente de México) originally for an orchestra, proving how experimental his mind was.  Apparently lack of financial sources forced him to record the album with the help of analogue synthesizers. Who knows how this work would've sounded if a real orchestra was available, still ''Suite Koradi'' reveals a new direction for Meza, the one deeped into electronic and Classical sounds without forgetting his love for Folk Music. Very nice and dreamy Electronic Prog with symphonic undelines, performed mainly on synths and harsichord, containing elaborate and smooth melodic parts, but also heading to ethereal New Age/Folk at moments with acoustic guitar, flute and the likes. Fourth track ''Retorno de las almas atrapadas en la región de los Kliphos'' has to be one of the weirdest experiences of Meza, a complete pre-Industrial/Avant-Garde oddity with wordless vocals, effects and hypnotic drumming. Couldn't stand alone with dignity, but suits very nice to this whole effort. All in all, a work completely out of place and time and a certain upgrade for Meza, representative of his talent.

Another review, with a bit of background information:

Hell is the Womb of Heaven
After the pastoral folk of his debut album, Arturo Meza got significantly more ambitious for his sophomore release, a concept album that's halfway between prog rock and neoclassical darkwave.

Suite Koradi is based on Meza's theory that we currently live in a world dominated by the Aryan race, which is in decadence and will be replaced by the coming Koradi race, a name which he says means "clarity, something with no shadow, pristine, transparent, crystalline...the Koradis will be a race with no ego, which will be dissolved by mutual agreements between men or by the will of nature itself; pain will be liberating, eliminating everything rotten and unholy, leaving only good. A people that will purge all evil through pain, giving birth to a new life. This music narrates the eternal struggle of good against evil, light against darkness."

Following the concept isn't really necessary as the music is mostly instrumental - the only exception is the last track, a Coptic hymn - and Meza himself has said that it should stand on its own as a personal statement. And, in any case, it was good enough to attract the attention of Chris Cutler, who included an excerpt on a Recommended Records sampler.  Due to financial limitations, Meza was unable to record this composition with a full orchestra as he had originally intended and the album is mostly synth-based, which either makes it sound crappy and cheap or extremely cutting-edge, depending on how you look at it - remember that Spleen and Ideal came out just one year beforehand and that this was nearly a decade before In Slaughter Natives or Mortiis made their appearance.
There's definitely Meza albums I listen to far more, but this is the album that secured his reputation as one of Mexico's premier underground musicians and anyone with an interest in his music should be familiar with it.

And I think that says it all-- in fact, it says more than all since they are both overstating the case here-- I would emphasize the point that two of the tracks are really just noise, not music, and the excerpted piece, 12 minutes long, put in the ReR Quarterly was clearly the masterpiece composition.  So if like me you've already heard and assimilated that one, you don't necessarily need to even hear the rest of the album.

I'll throw in the 2 albums made roughly in the same year.

Note that the 1984-1995 (?) album with Nirgal Vallis, information here, is also well worth hearing with its symphonic instrumental compositions augmented sometimes by female vocals.  Sympho-prog fans will go nuts over this one.  A track called Memories of a Comet is particularly glorious and sure to please all those kids out there who might not have had the luxury to hear this relatively unknown work:

It's not entirely clear to me what Meza's contribution to this joint effort was, perhaps someone can enlighten us.  Note also the involvement of Ledesma Q here, credited as guitarist and as producer.
I see that Vallis made another album some years later, which we will have to search for now.
Annoyingly, the CD release omitted one track, the side b one, from the original LP by Nirgil (I will assume it was just a noise track or somesuch) and the LP is not cheap to buy.

Friday 28 December 2018

Back to the dreaded ReR Volume 3, No. 2, by request

Against my better judgement, assuming such a thing exists and it probably doesn't based on evidence provided today, I bought this record on the request of some recent commenter and others who over the years have suggested completing the whole series-- recall I stopped after Vol. 3, No. 1, leaving out 3.2, 3.3, and 4.2 (I posted 4.1).  You can see the overview here on rym.  (In other words after today there are only 2 left from the series of 13 total.)  Using the tag approach we can see the number of posts for this series (in reverse chronological order on blogger).  It's nice to revisit the Vol. 2, No. 2, which I still love so dearly, the one that had Robert Wyatt's Chairman Mao poem.

Like all the later instalments this franchise edition is overall quite disappointing.  Info can be found here on discogs.  The long track by Lutz Glandien is all over the place, and really could have used some condensation processing.  At one point I thought the vinyl was skipping so I quickly ran back to the record player which I had wandered away from in boredom-- but it wasn't, it was just the repetition of the music-- and that's not a good thing.

An interesting blues-based guitar track called Release by Charlie Southern kind of brings things together, at least succinctly, if not totally cohesively:

Following this there is the usual only-percussion track which seems guaranteed to generate migraines in those susceptible and then the usual Eastern bizarreness-- I know it's not politically correct but I really hate Eastern music.

Wednesday 26 December 2018

Japanese composer Seigen Ono from 1984 to 1990

I have to say flat out I don't like some of those album covers up there.  But I had to post them.  Anyways enough about that.

Seigen Ono's first album has been a favourite of mine for many years and finally I thought of looking through the discography to see if there was more from him worth hearing.  I eventually stopped after the year 1990, out of exasperation.  Unlike what I had believed, he isn't the composer of all the music, in fact only a small part of it.  Those who wrote the best pieces, such as the Manhattan one, are quite unfamiliar names.  Perhaps someone can enlighten us.  Thus, the masterpiece composition of Suimen-Jo Niwa:

Like I've said before so many times with regards to other pieces, all of human musical artistic knowledge and technology from the earliest days until today is on display here, all the brilliance and invention humans have ever brought to bear on acoustics and sound waves to create beauty, to create happiness and peace in the mind, all of it melded together is to be found in one small 4.5 minute work.  This one written by Toshihiro Nakanishi.

Regarding the second work, allmusic says:

Seigen Ono was offered the unusual opportunity to supply music for the Commes des Garcons fashion shows in the late 80's and gathered together the cream of New York's downtown avant-garde to create some of the more unusual runway music ever created. Issued in two volumes, the first contains work all co-written by Ono (the second has pieces by various composers) along with Arto Lindsay, Peter Scherer, John Zorn and others. The songs with Lindsay's involvement all have a Brazilian tinge to them and sound as though they could have come out of an Ambitious Lovers release from around the same time. "Hunting for Lions", written in conjunction with John Lurie and Loy Ehrlich, has a pleasant travelogue feel to it; listeners who have enjoyed much of the Made to Measure catalog including the early work of Hector Zazou will find themselves right at home here. Even at its blandest, there's a pleasant, lolling quality about the music that renders its lack of grit negligible. At its best, as on the lovely "Pessoa Quase Cerla" with enchanting harp playing from Carol Emanuel and delicately touching vocals (in Portuguese) from Lindsay, it offers genuinely beautiful music, far better than anyone would have reason to expect at a fashion show. Volume Two is more generally successful, but this release has its own charms.

Actually I was quite disappointed by the 'pleasant travelogue' insipidity of the music and I think you probably will be too, though on some tracks there is a kind of nice percussive late Can or Holger Czukay dialectic going on.  This is nowhere as good as Fukamachi's 1986 soundtrack to the fashion show "Nicole," posted not so long ago in those big packages of albums from him.  The second Comme des Garcons volume is actually more raucous, simplistic and all over the place, totally lacking in the 80s-digital cohesion of the first.  As for the Chinese album of 1988 I think it's a bit too bland and new agey as well, kind of what you'd expect.  So basically, an early progressive masterpiece, following by average clunkers-- how many times have we encountered that situation before?  As I said, mathematics and music are young people's games, at least, at the most creative level...

Monday 24 December 2018

Jasper Van't Hof's Pork Pie Live in Berlin 1974 with Chas. Mariano and P. Catherine (limited time only)

When I excitedly told my wife I had found this fresh release with the classic Porkpie lineup from 1974 and our beloved Jasper van't Hof with Charlie Mariano and Belgian super-guitarist Catherine she looked at me ranting, pulled out her phone and speaking into it said "google translate please translate into English"  No amount of excitement I guess can communicate how legendary this group was to a non-fan, how gorgeous their mid-seventies brand of progressive fusion was through those classic albums both as the Porkpie outfit and on solo works like Selfkicker, Helen 12 TreesSeptember Man, etc.  I mean, some of those albums have been my favourite fusions for years... Even when I play the music to get some kind of a reaction I usually get just a blank look and the comment "Kinda weirdLike your hobby."  I guess Christmas means different things to different people.  To some, it means a thousand dollar silk scarf, & who could ever understand that??

Info is here.  Everyone gets a chance to add some compositions, but there are no new ones-- I think.  All the tracks run into each other, in fact the whole album does, with sides 1 and 2 artificially split by the producer.  I also added my own artificial splits when I got bored at the points where there were pauses for a little injection of applause.  Overall though this must have been quite an impressive and energetic concert if the musicians carried on so intently from one song through to the next without breaks.  Wouldn't that have been wonderful to hear and see live?

Note that the master tapes are from the master himself (van't Hof), handed over to 678 Records to make a limited release.  So I won't post it for long.  You can tell how good the sound and recording are from my sample track, the last one:

This is called "Blooz" [i.e. blues?] and it's by Chas Mariano.  There is nothing bluesy about it of course. Or perhaps it's in the form of a twelve bar blues, but I can't focus on it long enough to determine.

More Notes:

Recorded Philharmonie Berlin, November 1, 1974
Master tape from the private archive of Jasper van ’t Hof
Master digitized at Studio JDM Amsterdam by Frank Jochemsen
Edited & mastered by Marc Broer at Live Concert Recording Monnickendam 
Release initiated by P-Dog & Zembie and produced by Frank Jochemsen (Gallio producties), Jasper van ’t Hof & Sander Huibers for 678 Records
Succesfully distributed by Sander Huibers for Painted Dog Records
Grafische verzorging: Piet Schreuders

Note about the cover:
Two versions of the cover were released: the 'normal version' with the group photo of Pork Pie, and a special 'poster cover' with the Pork Pie poster illustration by Niklaus Troxler, limited to 150 copies and only available directly from 678 records.

Sunday 23 December 2018

Mike Elliott in Atrio (1974) and Diffusion (1983) and Phileas Fogg in Coma Depasse (1986)

Mike Elliott was the guitarist of Natural Life, who I covered extensively in pnf days.  All those albums can be uploaded too if desired.  Here are his two 'solo' fusion instrumental LPs. The first work is slightly more towards the leftwards axis on the jazz to rock dial (more so than his band), where we love so much the middle ground.  On the other hand Diffusion, from 1983, is flat-out dead centre in the sweet spot of inventive and energetic fusionary power.  Example, the first part of the Eclectic Suite:

Equally in the sweet spot for me, this time between vocal pop-rock and progressive music with some nice fusion inflections here and there is the other request from 1986 called Coma Depasse by French band Phileas Fogg.  Sadly this is their only long-player.

It reminds me a bit of a more 80s-oriented version of the Working Progress album, sometimes like the Kebek Connivence 3 (but without any folk of course) I posted not so long ago, or Walkie-Talkie's Surveillance.  Description on the back of the LP: Hard tropical jazz.

And, to boot, pretty much the whole album is enjoyable from opener to closer, which is always exceptional, and desirable.

Saturday 22 December 2018

Kolibri - Tsamadou (Germany 1981) and Blue Light - Reflections of the Inner (USA 1978)

Those who come to Kolibri from the 1985 masterwork Winterserenade will be disappointed by the first album from them, which is relentlessly straight folk and instrumental acoustic material, with plenty of cover versions including the Steve Hackett masterpiece Hands of a Priestess which they actually manage to destroy for me.  I mean, Winterserenade is one of the greatest chamber-folk-jazz albums in the progressive canon without a doubt, with its perfectly cohesive mix of just about everything musically acoustic, like the German version of my old favourites Baobab or Capon 4 Elements.  Anyways, rather that guarantee you will be disappointed, I'll leave you to determine for yourselves following that cold-water warning.

As for our other album, it's all-vocal soft rock reminding me most of my old favourite Lyons and Howell with the lush arrangements and the sweetness of the female singing.  The songs are not very strong and after a while start to run into each other with sameness.

Friday 21 December 2018

Nozomi Aoki 1999 and Tadashi Goino Group by request

The first album from 1974, by Nozomi Aoki, features some spacey synths and experimental passages that fit well in the role of soundtrack music, particularly if its role is to not distract from the visual, which it is in no danger of doing.  There is a lack of cohesion though with some simple pop with vocals, some dissonance tracks, some musique concrete from the artist doodling his synth knobs about.  I notice the composer made a lot of this kind of music but I'm not in too much of a hurry to seek out more.

The second request the Tadashi Goino Group in 1979 made only this experimental album with a great deal of noise and not so much to hang on to for the average listener, which we really aren't, except perhaps for the purposes of this post.  Note the cost of the album currently.

Thursday 20 December 2018

Marc Winokur's Jesus Christ Super Stoned by request

And the year end award for best album title for sure, followed by the award for silliest artist photo on the back with the 18th century sailor outfit, goes to this requested album whose information can be found here in the database.  He made two records in the early 70s, this being the latter.  It's basically acoustic folk with some-- my apologies for saying it-- perhaps juvenile tendencies, not an uncommon aspect of these drug-powered and themed LPs.