Friday 31 May 2019

Zoltan Boros to the Infinite, 1988

Without a doubt the first side is a mini-masterpiece of songwriting, recalling some of the best hammond-based prog we have ever heard from behind the Iron Curtain, e.g. the magnificent Romanians Experimental Q  (recommend everyone hear everything from those guys).   I'm not saying it's the best, just that it reminds me of the best of the keyboard-trio progsters.   For example, the second part of the Steps to Infinity Suite:

Unfortunately, side b proved somewhat more disappointing altogether.
I'm puzzled he didn't make more, perhaps there are missing items from the database left to be discovered?

From discogs:

Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor born in Romania, July 29, 1939, Căpâlna, Bihor County.
1965-67 with Janos Tripa conducting a jazz band: University House Jazz Quartet Cluj
1969-1971 - conductor of Oradea Theatre Orchestra
1971-1985 - editor at the Hungarian Language program (TVR)
1985-1989 - worked at Societatea Română de Radiodifuziune as TV musical director.
1990 - 2002 - worked at Societatea Română de Radiodifuziune as editor in chief.
He wrote songs for many famous singers, such Anca Parghel, Mihaela Runceanu, Aura Urziceanu.

Probably many out there know much more than me.

Wednesday 29 May 2019

More from Fritz Pauer; 1969 to 1978

His 1970 album was posted here earlier.  It was basically solo piano and of not much interest to me, and the same goes for the 1974 album listed here.  On the other hand in 1971 he created what should have been a phenomenal post-bop/fusion band called "Mythologie" that put out one work.  Unfortunately, it rather stubbornly disappointed me with every turn of phrase wherein I was expecting a little more, from an era when transformational creativity was so prized.  The song called Awakening:

Obviously the flute performance and artistry (Ferdinand Povel), breathtaking.

As a special bonus I have the 1969 NDR Jazz Workshop with him, featuring John Surman.  I know those all-out, all-in jazz fanatics will love that one, as it incorporates a lot of the free jazz and soloing that I find a bit tediously tendentious.  Like the great Finnish jazz musicians, they probably never played on drugs, or with them either.  So much for Lucy in the Sky.

Monday 27 May 2019

Albert Alan Owen appears on VA - Izlase 1977

Rooting around for more from Albert Alan Owen I found this one song on a 2-LP set of classical songs stemming from a London concert of almost-all-Latvian (!) music.  His contribution is painfully, breathtakingly beautiful, lasting a full 7 minutes:

It stands out from the rest thanks to the finesse of the chamber arrangement and the searing melancholy it communicates.  Making me earnestly wish we had more from him from his earliest days when his young tender feet were still in the seventies, and his heart was seemingly bursting with emotion.

There is a great deal more tender and beautiful music in here, but it does get repetitive after the first few songs, being classical operatic singing on top of acoustic piano, for the most part.  A good example is this song:

The song is called Lapas Lido (A quick jog around the pool deck).

Illustration detail from "Vecs un jauns" by Nikolajs Soikans
Recorded at the Latvian Song Festival 1977 in London.

Friday 24 May 2019

French Zeuhl band Xalph (1974-1981)

PNF, April 2010:

Touchdown. We've landed on planet zeuhl.
Volcanic bass erupts in repetitive lava flows and atmospheric drones swirl in the dark and methaned scratchy air.
A dim dark sun, pregnant with red hydrogen, casts for radioactive nuclei in the brass rocks that pump up a strange and discordant, disharmonious wind, full of unfamiliar dreams and memories... Snatches of keys and chords break through the magmatic surface of this cratered planet, continental drift passes in fast-forward, thundering through hurricanes to a smashing closing... Far, far in the future, where we travel the galaxy clusters and walls and voids of deep space to eerie planets of ghostly life, gloriously insane, S. J. Gould Wonderful Life, our starship powered by the amplification of bass, drums and guitars, we discover a sonic boom that makes our long, long hair trail in the solar wind and cosmic rays...
An unknown masterpiece of this french style, released only on cassette, I think this should be ranked and evaluated next to the other musical masterpieces of the 20th century like The Rite of Spring or Prokofieff's ballets, studied in music schools and conservatories, the compositional quality is not inferior in any way. I hope I'm not the only one who will hold this opinion...
Actually the music is not as dissonantly difficult as Yog or Yochk'o or Shub, more similar to early Abus [Dangereux]or Eider [Stellaire].

From the (unofficial) CD information:

"In 1976 Christian Vander was very impressed by Xalph, enough to have them as support act for part of the winter Magma tour (Festival Utopia). The group came from Bordeaux and intended to produce their first LP on the Utopia label - they had a lot of original ideas and produced some fine music with a strong identity, but for some unaccountable reason their hopes were dashed. They had been expected to rise to the same level of esteem in European Music as Magma... Of course they were strongly influenced by the best of Vander's work and also by Mid-70's WEATHER REPORT, and were quite a success in the Bordeaux region but being so far away from Paris eventually led to their disbanding. No recordings were officially released until Musea put one track from a 1980 session on their 'Enneade' sampler album. Their original leader and sole composer was Jean-Pierre d'Aran who played electric guitar, sax, soprano sax and bass clarinet (phew!). The group's sound however was a collective affair, all the musicians playing an important part in the process. There was a slight predominance towards the keyboards of Serge Korjanevski who later took over control of the group before leaving to join UPPSALA. Another strong element in their music was the dual guitars of Francis Ferrere and Patrick Briand. A demo tape from the late seventies line-up exists (with Jean-Pierre Alcauve on bass and Xavier Jouvelet, drums) but not much else. Claire Laborde, the vocalist, later joined Magma briefly in 1980."

The idea that this music is from demo is astonishing to say the least.  I would go so far as to say that it's superior to Magma in the inventive, creative ingeniousness of the all-instrumental compositions, pretty much on the same plane as modern classical music as crafted / conceived in university post-graduate music studies, as enjoyable as the great Stravinsky at his best, if not more, bearing as it does all the technology of electric music.

So in the beginning there was a demo cassette, which was all we had.

Track 5 from that cassette always threw me into fits of unchemical ecstasy by the end due to the incredibly dramatic, almost novelistic way in which the musicians build up the intensity of the work using those 'throbbing' bass lines (the mandatory music-review cliche) and torrential electric guitar patterns smashing down like flaming sulphurous hail-balls on a distant planet, creating a storm that just sweeps me off my feet transporting me like insane-asylum-Dorothy into what can only be described as the Oz of musical heaven.  If you fast forward, which I don't recommend, at about the 5 minute mark after everyone has played out their solo, a sudden modulation leads to a different ostinato with a slower melody on top that finishes by crashing into some monumental octave bass notes that rise up like a mountain range at volcanic speeds like continental drift accelerated up to mach one, the speed of sound.  Incredible...

When I listen to music like that, I wonder almost to tears how the human mind can craft something so totally original and totally beautiful.

Then there appeared later a 2-CD set of demos. 

Track 3 from that mysterious set is highly reminiscent of Eskaton's most magnificent masterpiece, Les Quatre Visions:

Xalph of course also appeared in the Musea compilation Enneade along with some other unknowns that proved well worthy of unearthing.

I had no idea what was the provenance of that 2-CD set of demo performances, in fact I assumed it was an unofficial compilation of all their work known thus far, and super rare to boot.  But then, to my utter amazement, last year popped up another release by Xalph with extra tracks that had never before been heard from the earlier demo or CD demo compilation, databased here.  It's true that some of the recent LP tracks can be found mixed up on the old 2-CDs (the b side of it, I think).  Which makes me wonder if there are still more unreleased, unheard tracks from these formidable composers left to be discovered.

The one track that, again, blew me away like a handkerchief was the second called Les Soldats (i.e. soldiers):

When I played it for my wife, she asked, predictably, 'uh-- is that music?'
My answer: 'it's sheer brilliance that you can take an electric guitar and create sounds that are basically noise and that it functions, as music.'  In answer to which, as expected, she gave me that look of 'you're crazy.'

The whole track is unbelievable.  The chunky chord passage after the noisy intro gets even more confused (like an army in battle) and then suddenly retreats into a softer quieter passage that takes the song out, very anticlimactically, with the most incredible, unheard-of single-chord harmonies plus bizarre melodies.  Make no mistake.  This single piece is a musical masterpiece.
Compare it, straight up, with the first track of the recent Moodgraft, this one is head and (mutated) shoulders superior.

It's like music from another planet without a doubt.
But I welcome this invader like family into my home, into my ears.
Thank you Xalph.

Btw, I wanted to also quickly mention another rediscovered zeuhl band, completely unknown to everyone as far as I know, except me ;) which has resurfaced and is reviewed by Tom Hayes on rateyourmusic here.  They are called Evohe.  He's right on the money with what he wrote there and I strongly recommend everyone listen to these guys, they are not as tight as Xalph, more Magmaesque in their meanderings, but still really lovely for the zeuhl fan tired of all the oldsters like Dun and Zao.

Wednesday 22 May 2019

Martin Ederer's Crea, 1980 (almost by request, with lossless)

The more experimental album Expressions from 1975 was requested but here I am today with this lovely little solo / self-duet guitar performance by him alone from 1980 called Crea.  Drop the diamond on the vinyl and behold the sheer melodiousness of the title track:

Obviously, not a little beholden to those library albums / seventies OSTs we know so well by now.  Despite the ridiculous labeling of this work on discogs as Easy Listening, there is a great deal of quite progressively inventive guitarwork which recalls to me the great Christy Doran solo albums, such as Harsh Romantics, particularly with the combination of two electric guitars both performing quite dissonant harmonies or perhaps disharmonies in conjunction, or disjunction.
For example, Dance of the Green Cactus:

Then I was surprised by the whole tone arpeggios, King Crimson via Bi Kyo Ran road, celebrated on Beyond the Ocean:

That the surf would be so enamored of tritones as I am was a pleasant surprise indeed.  As was this whole album in fact.

Monday 20 May 2019

Zbigniew Namyslowski Quartet in Jasmin Lady, 1979

Surprisingly, given the high interest currently in all Eastern European jazz and fusion, most of Namyslowski's material is not readily available for digital consumption.  About half appear as solo works on that link, and half as quartet works.  Of the ones I've heard, which are not all by any means, the 1977 ST with strings album stands head and shoulders above the rest without a doubt.  It's easy to find and cheap too (recently reissued, I think).

This album came in the late 70s when the style (jazz, fusion) was juggling the forces of commercial appeal with more honest experimental musical efforts.  Sometimes the ball fell on the former side, sometimes the latter, in the case of the LP today, more the former.  First track curiously called Kaloryfer:

Saturday 18 May 2019

Takasuke Kida's Dog's Map and Cat's Map from Japan 1980

So I'm going to embarass those wonderful AI computers toiling for The Great Google, those that we are always hearing will as robots take over all our jobs in 10-20 years, by using google translate on the Japanese wikipedia page for this artist, called Taksuke Kida.  We've done this before, but this time, it's just priceless.  Discogs info here.

Takasuke Kida (Kosuke Kida, 1949 January 8 - 1980 May 18 ), the keyboard musical instrument , stringed instruments , wind instruments , percussion instruments , such as dealing with a wide variety of musical instrument musician is, orchestrator . His real name is Katsura Shigetaka (a wig shigure). [What??? -Ed.]
Born in Niigata Prefecture . Her mother is Keiko Kida , a former member of the Japan Psychoanalytical Society and a former adviser to the Sanno Education Institute .

After graduating from Niigata Prefectural Niigata High School , he entered the percussion department at Tokyo University of the Arts . While in school, I joined Jacks . After the Jacks broke up, he became an arranger, " Song of Departing " ( Kazuhiko Kamijima ), " Kandagawa " ( Kaguya Himeji ), "I am crying" ( Lily ), " Is it true to marry " ( He works on a number of hits including Da Capo .
[how do you explain google translate forgetting to close the brackets here--? Ed.]
I participated in The Naturshire Seven between 1975 and 1980 . After that, when I started solo work, I died in a traffic accident.

And that last line absolutely killed me (too).  "After I started solo work I died in a traffic accident."  So the post was written by the ghost of Takasuke Kida.  (And why do Japanese names always get translated into different names?)  It never ceases to amaze me how much progress computer scientists have achieved from making pacman-style arcade games to toy robots for children that litter my basement currently, including a robot dog that I saw them kick the other day.  Twenty years ago Deep Blue beat Kasparov at Chess, last year, google's computer won against the best Go player in the world-- & hopefully in my lifetime I will see them beat my kids at Monopoly without giving up out of boredom or having to mediate between 2 temper tantrums, as I always do.  I'm not expecting I will ever see that happen though.

Anyways back to this record.  An absolutely delightful title to this one: the dogs' map bearing signposts of fire hydrants or popular spots for others' urine, the cats' one with bushes for the perfect hiding places from birds.

As wikipedia said, this creative musician died at a truly tragic young age in a car accident, just after embarking on a solo career.  Previously he was involved in the pop music scene of Japan.  This is his only fusion-style album.  The first track, Here's Another Morning, recalls to me the wonderful UFOlogists convention by Hiro Yanagida (an album I still love dearly):

Of course, I am going to be critical here, and safely state the obvious fact that it's a bit more simplistic and less energetic than Yanagida, though equal in the warmth of its glowing sound.  And you could never really improve on the poetry of the Crystal Ship song.  To some extent the remainder of the album stays in the stereotypical fusion categorization, not the progressive we here adulate.

Some interesting chromatic melodies appear on the last song called Teleportation to the Bright Noon:

I wonder if everyone is as surprised as I am that there's still such high-level unknown material emanating from certain countries??
Many thanks are due to those who introduce me (and you) to these things too...

Wednesday 15 May 2019

Back with Paul Castanier in the delightfully named L'homme seul est toujours en mauvaise compagnie

(I.e., the man who is alone is always in poor company, a quote from French author Jean Giorno.)

Back today with more from this ultra-talented pianist who mixed classical with folk in Claviers Celtiques, this time we have a little bit of pop-jazz harmonies associated with the waterfall-like Lisztic virtuoso slammin' the keyboard up and down.  I'm not sure how many folks are into this kind of improvised solo acoustic 'on a Steinway' as the blurb indicated but probably precious few.  Due to the monotony of the sound it's some pretty heavy slogging. I can't help but feel that in the context of a band with rhythm section, or even additional electric keys dubbed on top as he did in the other post, the result would have been so much richer to enjoy, particularly since there are so many surprising harmonies and many of the pieces that are of the order of 4-5 minutes in length evolve in such unusual directions, if you don't give up out of boredom after the first minute.  (For those out there who were born after 1990, after the first five seconds.)  Actually here and there he did overdub some additional piano sections, but always on the same Steinway.

Database information here.  Probably most would agree the best track is one called Grenier sur l'eau (attic on the water):

Orchestrated for zeuhl band, in the hands of Faton Cahen, in the manner of Zao, this would have been outrageously beautiful.

Monday 13 May 2019

Paul Castanier in Claviers Celtiques, 1979, by request

This was requested by a reader and I knew nothing at all about it, but decided to give it a chance sight unseen, ear unheard, when I had a little extra in the paypal balance.

First of all, I translated the back blurb since it's quite beautifully written, by one Maurice Frot:

Antique furniture is bought new by contemporaries who wish to furnish in a modern manner. New, the music of today's folk rings under his fingers and in the breath of artists crazy for the modern.  At the beginning of the tradition, innovations were made by fanatics young enough to dare knock over a tradition more ancient. Enriched through time by a chain of popular artists, their inspiration has changed little by little into a fortress that, defended with weapons in hand by the users of habit, has become exclusively the property of the invalids of imagination.  The conservatory of tradition would want to put it under the dust of a museum.  However the past is not any more immobile that the ocean, mother of all our pasts. As she changes, unfurls, or yells, by the eye that looks at her.  If that eye is that of a modern man, the past exists in the hour of tomorrow.  In the ear of Paul Castanier, who is its eye, still sing the flutes of Kabyle shepherds to whom he listened, as a boy, with a joyous heart.  Because this universal man, this visualizer of all possible worlds, is an individual uprooted, with the only roots the body of a flute and the impalpable brightness of a sky immense that he can never forget.  The heat that he misses, it would take him 20 years of wandering to find in a companion.  Such a girl of Brittany, she would take his hand and offer, in plenitude, the blinding clarity of sky and water of the ends of the lands that fascinated him and first of all, or mostly, offer its music: the music of a people with healthy roots, with multiple roots, in fact.  Past the laughter and dancing, he hears there as if in a rosary the tragedies that make up the Breton soul, the taboos of yesterday, and the oppression of today, the dignity lost and perhaps now found.

This record is a double gift of love.  The musician, oh, how she sounds!  smiling and serious giving him her music, and he, returned back to the pure emotion of childhood, concertist of the immediate, he dialogues with these ancestral themes -- and also with fantasies!  Upended, enthusiastic, taken by passions (for music? for Danielle?) he cannot resist at the joy of impulsively creating his own themes!  Thus Giono invented Provence, Stravinsky and Bartok gratifying the slavic folk song with new blood, throwing himself he deploys the banners, in the riot throws his flames and his heart and the flute and the sky and his symbolic universe and his vision of wild thoughts, all there in the bewitched legions, and they sing, they dance, they groan and cry of joy, burning harmonies, dynamite of emotion.

In the rigor, under the vigilant leadership of the musician of fest noz who dams the torrent at the limits of the undanceable, Paul Castanier, here Breton in heart and bowels, sets down his personal inspiration in the communal basket of tradition.  And to all those happy and sad fools that have created him he responds through the ages by stretching out his hand in brotherhood.

The French language really lends itself easily to such poetic transports.  Sadly, there is actually no flute in here, just keyboards, usually acoustic piano, augmented by a bit of electric keyboards, very lightly undertaken, and a tiny bit of accordion here and there.  Many of the songs use fugue-like passages and repeat melodies to add immense interest.  There is a lot of overdubbing at play here, with extra piano passages adding some texture or melodic contrast.  A clear classical education shines through too.

Consider the track called Pera geta Elena:

Much preferable to any Chopin recital I've ever heard in public.
Going outside the bounds of just the piano, here is the previous track, called An amzer dremenet:

Pretty sure there are dubs in that one, since some identical notes are played on two pianos in the middle passage.

Friday 10 May 2019

Frederic Rabold and his crew and Inspiration Orchestra, plus a new rip of his 1985 Relaxing Walk

When I mentioned Li Garattoni's album earlier (cf. VA Stuttgart) I decided to see if there was more music by keyboardist Uli Buhl to be found, recall he was in the one-off band A Matter of Taste in 1979 and the Frederic Rabold Crew throughout the seventies and eighties, to whom he contributed quite a bit. As bandleader, Fred Rabold had a tendency to mix free jazz and other such nonsense with his straight up jazz and fusion, even moving closer to the end of the seventies he never relented by compromising the experimental.  That could be good or bad news to you.  Anyways you can decide for yourself, since I assembled together all his work from 1972's Flair, as you can see from the cover images, to 1980's Berlin album, which remains to me unlistenable for the most part, plus today's new rip. 

Actually, quite a few of those old albums are my rips from years ago as I can tell from the scans with the characteristic glare from my samsung phone, before I bought that large flatbed scanner which I used here for 2 years, until it of course broke, quite on time I'd say after the obligatory period of 24 months.  Let's take the time to thank our Silicon Valley Overlords, our new masters and kings for the coming 21st century, who so cleverly cause our purchases to break down after 1 to 2 years thereby forcing us to buy new products over and over again while at the same time never paying any corporate taxes, unlike the rest of us earthlings.  Big shout out to them.  Have mercy on our souls, oh godlike ones.  Special thanks to you, oh great god-man Steve for inventing the ipod classic, and then ceasing to make it after 4 years forcing me to go to ebay to purchase new ones.  So also thanks to great god ebay creator whoever he was for making ipod classic available to me again.  Great god paypal creator man, thanks be to you too, for allowing me to pay for ipod classic with 8 percent extra to yourself's billion dollar riches, oh god-man.  Great times we live in.  As October Country said, with 5G upon us soon, we will also have innumerable Chinese great gods watching everything we do and say, too.   So thanks be to the 5G creators too, all hail.

From the earlier albums the Uli Buhl composition called Berlin, which also appeared in a gorgeous interpretation on Matter of Taste, is exemplary:

Today's album came out in the mid-80s and it does recycle the track Relaxing Walk from earlier, in fact it elevates it to a title, much as Berlin later became the title of a whole LP.  Definitely a pattern here, or a lack of imagination perhaps.  On the whole, it panders just a bit more than the others to commercial appeal, with nothing overall new for the FRC fan, assuming there is such a thing.  The best track is Buhl's From Beginning to End with its Mahavishnuesque arpeggios:

Wednesday 8 May 2019

Library composer Alex Serra in Atmosfere and Continenente [sic] Mediterraneo

Not much in the database in regards to this artist, with two logged LPs.  His music is very similar to so much Italian library from these pages, cf., Luciani, Fallabrino, etc.
A curious misspelling on the album cover at top, not indicative of the wonderful and professional library musical contents, cf. the title track:

The Atmosfere album is not as good, being too atmospheric.

Monday 6 May 2019

The Philadelphia Jazz Ensemble ‎– Live! in 1978

A commenter mentioned this band in relation to the earlier Innersections masterpiece, which came out in 1980.  Earlier, bassist Bruce Kaminsky played here, along with guitarist DiBussolo and keyboardist Jim Brent, all of whom along with sax player Norm Manno contribute one composition for this quadrilogy.  Based purely on this database it appears the only intersection for the innersection venn diagram is Bruce.

With about 99 percent improvisations and 1% composition, this is the kind of album that is anathema to me and I would think tends to give jazz a bad name-- a name like Wank Jones, for example.

Kaminsky contributed the somewhat meditative track called Til Chicago:

Blurb of the back:

Jazz in Phil. is alive and well and from the sounds presented in this album, soaring to new inspirational plateaus.  With fast paced tempos and a ballad here and there, the Phil. Jazz Ensemble (PJE) presents many hours of listening for the jazz lover.  The original compositions, by members of the group, will keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time.  After one or two listenings, the compositions might well become jazz standards.  This sensational new group stays within the established boundaries of a true jazz format and comes up with exciting new innovations and ideas.  Recorded live at the Phil. Ethical Society ( wonder if that still exists? -Ed.), on Nov 21, 1977, the PJE gives a small taste of the capabilities of these 6 musicians, playing with enthusiasm and dedication like there's no tomorrow.  Looking forward for new and exciting things to happen in the field of music, I'm sure the PJE will be one of the mainstays that will keep it going.

-Bill Loos

Oh well, the hunt for gems continues.
And look at that handsome group of talented musicians.