Wednesday 27 February 2019

Paikappu (Japan, composed 1984) [limited time only]

This one complements very nicely the previous Rose post.

An astonishingly beautiful and well-crafted progressive symphonic purely instrumental treatise full of dark emotion, from the rear notes:

"This music was composed in 1984 and released on cassette only. We really think that it deserves to be heard by a wider audience."

As certainly do I!  You can see this was discovered by mellow records, launched on CD, and will therefore not be linked to for long.  The musicians' names also appear.

In the Subconsciousness:

The amazingly titled Bulk Mischief From The Beginning Of Man really reminds me a lot of  very latecoming progmasters Ezra Winston:

Monday 25 February 2019

Hiroshi Kanai in Rose - Story of Murder (1984) and Bible Black

Now a fortnight of posts on rare Japanese prog.

The guitarist of Bible Black who made an official CD in 2012 obviously highly indebted to King Crimson and R. Fripp is named Hiroshi Kanai, aka Rose.  His first solo album, recorded in 1984, only released to cassette, presented two long instrumental compositions, Notebook on Murder and Story Without End.  It's unfortunate this didn't receive a wider release and audience, as it consists of classic progressive rock of the same level and caliber as the greatest King Crimson albums in its masterful 73-74 heyday, and everyone who is a fan of the style will appreciate it.  First track:

I guess those who felt really critical, perhaps on account of a bad day at the office, might complain that it's a little too much KC-based Frippery.  But I mean we're so desperate, after so many years of listening to those old classics, for some new music, aren't we?  I sure hope Tom Hayes is reading this blog for an idea of what he's missing out on.  I mean this is priority 1 level sh, bro. As you might expect there's tons of digital strings to create that symphonic aurora borealis and it seems, from the back info, that Kanai played all the instruments.

Story Without End's very Italian progressive finale:

Then if you were to compare this with the later more recent Bible Black album, which you should, you'd find the professionalism of his guitar playing has really improved with a very tight Les Paul taut precision but at the expense of the creative imagination, in my opinion.  A feature of all modern prog in comparison to its 70s heyday.

Friday 22 February 2019

The Individuals' Trauma (USA ?1980)-- minor masterpiece alert

Is it possible that one man alone composed this amazing record?  Certainly seems that way from the back scan, where presumably just the creator (keyboardist, guitarist, vocalist) Bryan Compton appears, minus his backing band.  A complete paucity of information for this one in all databases.

Admittedly, it begins relatively inauspiciously with a very derivative Police or Cars-like opening song with that pumping bottom note and I - VIm - IV - V chord progression so ancient it's virtually paleolithic, merely an indication our mastermind hankered for commercial success, and for that we can't really blame him.

A5's Please Compromise is just magic prog AOR bliss, you can hear influences of Styx, Kansas, even Yes in the guitar/keyboard interplay of the middle section, plus the luxurious backup vocals (all Bryans I believe).

This is what I mean when I say Tom Hayes needs to keep up that ol' cd reissue wishlist.

On track B5, Reason Why? listen to that fabulous Boston-like guitarwork:

As if that weren't enough, check out how competent Bryan is / they are with the fast 'n' basic hard rock on track Slavedriver, recalling very much my old favourite from way back, Kickin' Starbound Lady:

Even has that Aerosmithy harmonica in it.  I suppose the best template for this one though is the earliest Van Halen songs, back when Eddie really played some beautiful licks on his "frankenstrat" guitar next to David Lee Roth's tongue-in-cheek singing style.

As I said,
Ave Imperator, ROCKituri te salutant.

Thank you friends for these masterpieces. please keep 'em comin'.

Wednesday 20 February 2019

Steve Kimmel writes music for the Nancy Hauser Dance Company (1974)

First of all, from popsike:



1st work: Bob Rockwell, tenor and soprano saxophones, flute ; Maggie Rostan, flute ; Terry Tilley, bass, electronics, male voice ; Steve Kimmel, vibes, percussion, drum set ; Alice Block, Judy Ragir, Wendy Hambridge, Gina Wray, assorted voices ; Larry Loud, Bill Buchen, Mike Croy, Dave Olausen, Mike O'Brian, Hearn Gadboy, assorted percussionists ; Marilyn Scher, lead vocal

2nd work: Don Young, native tongue voice ; Kimmel, percussion ; Tilley, bass ; Carol Margolis, violin ; John Gessner, temple blocks ; Bruce Wintervold, congas, log drums ; Buchen, percussion

3rd work: Margolis, violin ; David Fergerson, violoncello ; Tilley, bass ; Kimmel, marimba.


Note the presence of Bob Rockwell here, and Terry Tilley bassist in the WERB.  This record complements the last post from WERB very nicely.

Some will hate it, personally I adore this kind of melding of modern classical music with more popular elements (jazz in this particular case-- not that you could call it popular anymore) which is so lacking today.  There are some experimental passages, some are downright silly, but certainly there's enough original, well-written music to keep us entertained for a solid hour or more.

The first side (Doll-a-Bye) is a long suite with many varied parts, in fact it's quite well-described by the liner notes on the back, should you choose to read those and I do recommend you do since they were written by Steve himself with indications of which sections were improvised and which composed, which is helpful. The silly and entirely skippable part is called Double Primal and refers to primal therapy, psychologist Arthur Janov's idiotic idea that by regressing to childhood, reliving trauma from then, and screaming a lot, people could be cured of just about anything in the world.  What amazes me the most is how naive these patients were to not recognize all of this as huge money-making enterprises for their founders, like Scientology.  But of course it's the naivete of the 60s-70s that I've mentioned before is so endearing.  Some might remember primal got a huge shot of fame through the promotion of John Lennon, whose first album (Plastic Ono Band, 1970) with songs like "Mother" and "My Mummy's Dead" references it throughout.  I hadn't realized until I reread the history in wikipedia that an offshoot called Feeling Therapy wound up being one of the most interesting chapters in the abysmally abhorrent lifespan of 20th century psychology, especially the sordid and sorry story of its American genera.  With all due respect to economics, the true dismal science of course is psychology, starting with the fraud of Freud).  The story goes that briefly, some renegade 'therapists' of primal therapy created an inpatient centre in which, after infantilizing their patients by forcing them to 'get in touch with their feelings' by punching them, literally (called 'sluggo' therapy), having sex with them if female, or forcing them to get naked, if large-breasted, created a hundreds-strong workforce for their personal gain and massive, ever-hypertrophying egos, i.e. they created a psychological cult (btw their private ranch was called the Doll Baby Ranch).  And I thought I had already read everything crazy about psychology. Always more to find.  Going back to the record though, the conversation in the second section of Doll-a-Bye does hold interest as I'm sure it's a bona fide recording, as opposed to a written, theatrical performance, of either primal therapy or possibly the feeling therapy sect.  It's amazing that adults were favorable to the idea, 45 years ago, of behaving or talking like 5-year-olds or insanely neurotic 5-year-olds perhaps.  The past truly is a different world.

But the best section of Doll-a-Bye is the intro, which is interesting because "each time the phrase is repeated it is one note shorter" in Steve's description:

In the middle passage of the the long song on side b (Mocking Song on the Spirit of Gravity) there is a section with a trinome, something I'd never heard of, in which three different prime number rhythms are polyrhythmed on top of each other ("3 against 5 against 7" in his terms).  Thus it's a metronome with three separate rhythms possible.  Incongruously, the string section then plays the irritating camp song "When you're smiling."  There comes thereafter the best part of the second long track, the Statement of Mass, with its appropriately grave and portentous atmosphere:

A really good composition I think most will agree.

The LP closes out with Rituals (a reflection on tribal rituals) which for me is just all over the place.  It sounds purely like an undergraduate music major exercise in political correctness. The most amazing aspect of it is that some guy named Don Young does a perfect imitation of a hindu guru reciting a chant, complete with that wad-in-cheeks vocal sound so made fun of on The Simpsons.  Let's remember that in those days, so long ago, it was really hard to find a real Indian guy.  I'm sure.

Inside the sleeve a wonderful typed note from Steve, whose scan I included, beginning:


(a piece of musical thoughts)

Imagine the melody to one of your favourite songs...
Now hold the first note of that song in your head.
Make that note louder and softer in your head.
Stop and start, hearing that same note.
Maintain a period of inner silence.
Return to your note if you can remember it, otherwise find a new note.
Turn whatever thoughts that come into your head into a dream song, staying close to 
     that note, hanging notes if you can.  Stay here for a while.  Enjoy your
     thoughts in a musical way.


Rare for sure, but worth rediscovering.  Thanks to Steve.

Monday 18 February 2019

Whole Earth Rainbow Band - What's a WERB? (USA 1975)

These guys hailing from Minnesota (red dot on the map) made quite a few albums, surprisingly many in fact (4) way back in the seventies, performing mostly improvised and tendentiously long, tangential and digressive instrumentals augmented by even longer boring soloing, but this one and presumably the last they made is the best by far because it does have composed passages throughout all the endlessly viscous meandering.

On a track called Northern Lights the use of synths buzzing up and down the whole tone chords on vibes and rhodes and atonal sax melody really is entrancing:

And moreover close to the 4 minute mark the synthesizer comes to the fore and takes it to an extreme, buzzing loudly all the way up a few octaves in front of the music.  It's surprising that it works.  Subsequently of course the track continues on with those overlong solos which are the embarrassing hallmark of American jazz.

Further on, a side b fully electronic keyboards song recalls the Ratledge-dominated compositions of the later Soft Machine, like for example The French Lesson off the 7th album:

Lovely stuff.
Steve Kimmel played vibes on these albums with players whose names I don't recognize, he later hooked up with Mike Elliott, Bob Rockwell, etc., for the Natural Life albums I ripped long ago and posted again recently.

A review on discogs overhypes them quite a bit but I'll quote it here:

A wonderful journey with many of Minnesota's best jazz players. Here they are putting down their free stylings and focusing on a more avant prog fusion situation. Think Soft Machine, Stark Reality, Tony Williams (Emergency, Turn it Over), Roy Ayers vibes. Rhodes. This is an overlooked gem in the age of inflation.

And indeed after the Age of Aquarius there came the Age of Inflation, while today, as my wife put it so well, and I realize every time I drive my car to work in the morning, we are in the Age of the Asshole.

Saturday 16 February 2019

Oscar Rocchi's Magic Keys, from 1977

I saved the best for last.

One more in the rare library records series I've entertained for the last one and a half weeks, the last one, and for me the greatest of them all so far unavailable-- until this day.  This is truly a magical masterpiece of 70s instrumental songwriting. I've posted stuff from Oscar Rocchi before as you can see if you use the label of his name there on the annoyingly large right margin (which I gave up on some time back for fear of being swallowed by it), but nothing comes anywhere close to this. 

I love this record to death, and indeed I would die with it.  Playing next to me, rowing me gently into the afterworld.  It's probably my favourite library record, one of my favourite albums of all time.  It has all the emotional resonance and evoked feelings that are like a brand new world, but a familiar one, a nostalgic one, a beautiful world created out of nothing but with everything in it: lakes of fish and sunshine and beautiful fields full again of the butterflies I used to chase in childhood.  Just listen to those dreamy spacey keyboards gently evoking some long gone beautiful picnic with all the happiness of a first love, a sweet childhood summertime crush:

Nor do I understand how he manages to get those electric keys to sound so incredibly dreamy, as if they were Rhodes being heard played from inside a dream:

And the whole album is of the same caliber.  In fact I was surprised that some of his other library records were inferior in most respects to this one, but you can only have one Mt. Everest.  His presumably incomplete discography is here.

Sit back, listen, and think of the heights of beauty the seventies could attain sometimes. 
Magic keys indeed, keys to the heart.

Thursday 14 February 2019

A. R. Luciani's Allarme Ecologico (1973), at last

I had been dying to hear this one for so many years, since I first discovered A.R. Luciani's trilogy series with Melchiori, and I was so excited when last month it finally became available-- until I listened to it.  Mostly it's in the classical modern music vein, but not as inspired and creative as so much else he created.  There's just not a lot to hang on to.  You can see on the right I've posted a lot from him already, notably my rip of his oceanic work.  His discography, probably incomplete, on discogs.

Really, it's an odd mix of dissonant atonal Hitchcock Psycho-like music, classical borrowings, the usual Stravinsky cameos, plus a couple of relatively generic soundtracky theme songs.

Ultima Migrazione:

The music on Difacimento della Natura is great-- minus the odd sewer bubbling sounds in the background, perhaps a fatberg of wetwipes:

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Ugo Fusco's Visioni Musicali from 1972

Currently selling for 650 euros from Italy (big surprise!); in terms of artistic merit it can hardly be worth a few dollars, which is why it's useful to be able to hear it.  Pretty much by the numbers library music with the occasional nonskinny dip into more experimental sounds, as on the Catene Montana track:

I would've been willing to pay a lot for the record (not that much though!) just on the strength of the previously posted masterpiece, put out under the aka of Echettio from 1976.

Sunday 10 February 2019

Back to Marchetti with Little America

I posted before his Solstitium masterpiece, and the brilliant AO number 15 (recently reuploaded), then the hugely rare Gimmick, but his other libraries proved disappointing, and so is this one released in 1978.  Unfortunately there is one LP still outstanding from this period called Iris, for sale in the hundreds of euros, as is this.  Database info here.  Most of the music is ridiculously simple, reaching a nadir with the track about Disneyland.  As dumb as Disney itself in fact.

The best composition imho is called Westport:

Altogether disappointing, thank god I saved the hundreds of euros, but I feel sorry for the guy who bought this.

Friday 8 February 2019

Library Composer Puccio Roelens

Recall Puccio Roelens' album Rock Satellite (1977) which was the same as the April Orchestra 13 posted here in the RCA series.  We surely loved that one and didn't blame them for releasing it twice, indeed, even more releases would not have been undesirable.

Quickly, the first 2 albums from Roelens included in this package from 1969 and 1971 are for me ordinary garbage, though occasionally an interesting melody rises up from the green bin's composting & recarbonizing contents.  But in 1976 with Research of Sound [sic] we get to the funky fusion we love so dearly.  The track called Relaxation absolutely kills me with its typical 70s lounge-hound sound:

Starting with that argeggiated harp intro augmented by gentle electric guitar phrases, the melody turns into a lovely flute legato under orchestral string clouds above, all in the key of F major, but at the end of the verse the suspended C7 chord resolves to the D major tonal, a classic, classic seventies songwriting move, evoking the warmth of summer somehow since the 'correct' chord would've been D minor (to stay with the F tone).  The minor becoming its major always feels warmer or smoother.  It's analogous to what happens at the end of "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," that Jimmy Webb classic, where F major resolves to D major.  In that song, it evokes the feeling that he has arrived to his destination whereas the C suspended chords imply the journeying.  Not to detract from the flute's melody in the above sample, which is gorgeous.

The 1980 Balance LP is somewhat more fuzacky, somewhat predictably given the later year.  A track called Barbecue:

Subsequently I found out he made one more interesting album under the aka Jay Richford.
I sure hope I have all his late 70s albums, if not, someone let me know. These are all well worth collecting.

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Sposito's 1986 Strumentali: Genere Pop Elettronico: the missing piece

One of the Christmas presents for myself I mentioned last month, I had to buy it when it finally after many years showed up for sale.  With this hopefully we complete his discography at least until 1990.  To recap, there was the initial outta-outer-space Cosmo Graffiti with its gorgeous asteroid impacts, then the more disappointing (to me) Denebolo soundtrack, quickly followed by my favourite the Reflections of Light which I've listened to over and over, and the trilogy of Strumentali, of which Eudosso was the best so far.  The post for Sirens was viewed thousands of times over btw, like Aaltonen-Donner's Strings record.  And to think this is all started with the casual suggestion of a commenter!  God bless those useful tips off the street-- and keep 'em coming too....

So this is the first entry in the trilogy from 1986, and surprisingly to me, the most disappointing of  them all.  I'm not at all sure why.  The music is the same, electronic keyboards with highly varied styles rendering it quite non-homogeneous overall but in the end, it lacks a bit of punch, not quite worth the immense excitement I felt when it came to the purchase, and the arrival on my snowy doormat.  A good example of the contents is the little wolf theme:

But this is the best composition, I feel.

Well, the hunt is part of the fun isn't it...

In the next week I'm going to post some more library rarities I recently found, some that are absolutely shockingly expensive, despite their usually generic or mediocre quality.  Not surprisingly they are also all from Italia.  Perhaps the Italians could use some of that extra money to clean up their streets of garbage.  Or rather get the mafia to do a better job of it.  But there'll be a gem here and there, guaranteed.

Monday 4 February 2019

Back to the Jan Wallgren: Club Jazz 9 1973, Love Chant 1977, and Ballade an Der Ruhr 1980

We encountered the Swedish jazz series in connection with jazz musician and composer Eje Thelin.  As well, the 1973 album from Wallgren called Steel Bend Rock I posted 'Sometime ago' as Chick would say.

The first side of Club Jazz 9 features the full band of the Wallgrens Orkester led of course by keyboardist Jan Wallgren, and the compositions all run into each other forming a nice 20-minute long suite.  For those like me who have become long on experience but short on attention this is a waste following the first 1 or 2 minutes, so I chopped it up where I could at the intermissions, of which there are two, called Mellanspels.  Then I went back and recorded an excerpt from the best composition called Love Chant:

Notice the strong Charlie Mingus influence here, with the minor chord progression, the bowed playing of the bass, even the title of the song, and by the time you get to the end you will hear many more resemblances provided you know your Mingus.  The ending too is stunning, going on for more than a minute with chord after crashing chord.  Sadly it then runs on into the next solo piano intermission, which mars the dramatic effect somewhat.  No long improvisations a la Nordjazz Quintet.  Altogether, a very strong first side.

Side b is completely forgettable dixieland jazz from the Ove Linds Sextett a style which child molester Woody Allen was fluent at, but which I've mentioned before I absolutely abhor and have to turn off within seconds.

Side A recorded at Radiohusets Studio 4, Stockholm, January 9, 1973.
Side B recorded at Radiohusets Studio 4, Stockholm, February 6, 1973.

Subsequently I was surprised to see Wallgren recycled all this material for a 1977 release appropriately enough called Love Chant but played by himself on acoustic piano accompanied by bass and drums.  This is not entirely successful in my view, especially on head to head comparison with the orchestra, but you can decide for yourself.

The 1980 album is almost purely improvised acoustic contemporary jazz and not too interesting for me, I just threw it in because I had it.

Wow!! look at the hirsute guy, bottom right!!!
That stuff is just priceless...

Sunday 3 February 2019

US Compass, 1970

By request, a normal rock album with some ur-pre-protoprog elements, typical of that awkward tween stage between psych and prog, with mostly generic songs: horn rock, country ballads, blues tracks, and a little bit of experimentation.

Saturday 2 February 2019

The Otto Donner Treatment 1970, 1980

It's so sad when beautiful music is lost completely to history, especially when it is so well written that it could stand a chance to be enjoyed by ordinary folks today, who could appreciate this kind of thoughtful songwriting.

From discogs:

Henrik Otto Donner, Finnish musician, composer and arranger. 
Born on November 16, 1939 in Tampere, Finland, died on June 27, 2013 in Pietarsaari, Finland. 
In 1966 he founded Love Records with Christian Schwindt and Atte Blom. 
He had also worked as a chairman of the Finnish composers' copyright society Teosto.

For us of course he is most memorable for the gorgeous Strings album which he wrote, arranged and produced, with Aaltonen on saxes and flutes.  Remember when I mentioned their contribution to the Jazz Liisa, the tracks were simply new renditions of Strings tracks.  I think most of those artists appear in his group deemed the "Otto Donner Treatment" which made 2 official records separated by a decade.  It reminds me a lot of Esa Helasvuo's Think-Tank-Funk minus some of the free jazz and minus the funk (& that still leaves behind a ton of good and progressive ideas).

First track of 1970 simply blew me away with its at once delicate and progressive female chorus and very educated orchestral arrangement:

When you look at the CD release page, note that there are 2 female vocalists plus Jim Pembroke (from Wigwam of course) and another, as the males.  The pianist here btw is Eero Ojanen, who again I mentioned in connection with the Quartet KOM.

A decade later, the Otto Donner Treatment's 2nd album turns out to be composed entirely by our wonderful and beloved Jukka Linkola, whom I hope all of you remember with fondness.  (I recently reupped his two albums Protofunk and Lady in Green.)   It starts with a homage to Lady Day:

Would be so nice to know what she's saying about her (lyrics by Arto Melleri).  The singer's voice is so full and beautiful, and her name is Eija Ahvo.

And this lovely vocal album closes out with a lullaby-like song called Suuri Meri, simple in its chords (only G, E minor, and C) and structure but, in my opinion, deadly effective at tugging on the heartstrings: