Friday 31 March 2023

Penguin Cafe Orchestra, first 3 albums

Really beautiful cover art here.

I'm a little bit shocked I never heard these guys before, given how completely 'up my alley' this music is with the chamber classical elements combined with electric guitar, Heldon/Richard Pinhas-like electronic music, etc.  

A track called Hugebaby like, really really sounds like mid-70s Heldon:

Unfortunately their brilliant first album was as far as I am concerned the only truly progressive work, since thereafter the music descends into the kind of jumpy minimal music that features one chord or one repeated figure played over and over again until patience is completely worn out, and every composition sounds the same like something Philip Glass did in his unconscious hours...

Wednesday 29 March 2023

New rip of Fondation's Le Vaisseau Blanc, 1983 [flac limited time only]

Many are familiar with this work thanks to the mutant sounds blog, like myself.  At that time I was as thrilled by this work, combining the recitation in beautiful French of Lovecraft's short story 'The White Ship' with electronic music, as I was put off by the poor quality of the cassette ripping job.  Luckily it was rereleased in 2017 and now can be heard the way it was meant to be (note cover with te surrealistic  images just above).

You can see mutant posted it in 2010, so long ago now, long before there was every any gen z or anything as stupid and tyrannical as twitter... and in those days, believe it or not, Elon kept quiet...  

As usual for the mutantsounds blog the review is completely tangential with barely any recognizable description of the music, which I will tell you right now is quite basic electronic, relatively simply composed in the French style, along the lines of so many others like Heldon or Richard Pinhas, and what I always hated about that blog was he was always making it sound far more exciting than it really is, like a constant record store promotional ad:

The final installment of my Fondation posts and the last musical release of both Ivan Coaquette (formerly of Spacecraft and Musica Elettronica Viva), who'd cease musical activities thereafter and return to his visual art pursuits and Annanka Raghel, whose trail after Fondation simply evaporates. Issued on Pascal Bussy's amazing Tago Mago imprint in a retooled giant matchbox, this is purely of a piece with their previous releases, Le Vaisseau Blanc in some respects representing a last hurrah for this aesthetic dimension of the French underground scene, with hallucinogenic webs of delayed electronics and wetly effected guitars weaving vapor trails around one another in a manner directly descended from the Heldon/Lard Free school of dystopian cosmic rock.

Having said that, the combination of the crystalline and ethereal recitation of the story in that perfect French enunciation with the dreamy and spacey musical passages, is for me at least, pure gold.  For once I think the words actually augment the music instead of just distracting from its enjoyment (eg, the recent Jean Vasca).  Just so atmospherically superb.  I thought it was a science fiction type of spaceworld so reading the actual story (which is highly generic, and ends with him waking from a dream) was a surprise.

From discogs, a description of the rerelease:

music_emporium Nov 22, 2017

First official vinyl reissue of original cassette ' Fondation - Le Vaisseau Blanc '.

Fantastic cosmic, space, ambient and experimental music from mysterious French duo Annanka Raghel and Ivan Coaquette (formerly of Spacecraft and Musica Elettronica Viva). Originally released in 1983 as a limited edition cassette of only 500 copies on Camouflage label; this ranks up there with anything by Ash Ra Tempel, Agitation Free, Heldon or Richard Pinhas. Incredibly evocative and highly recommended.

Historic moment - a lost piece of the puzzle of the wondrous french avant-garde. This official reissue comes in a double album gatefold sleeve with archives from Ivan Coaquette collages.

Limited to 500 copies.

Bonus : comes also with an insert with trippy photo by France Annanka Raghel herself and brief description of Fondation band.

saucer-people Jan 26, 2023

The entire album sounds like something the Ghost Box label would have created had it been born in the early 1980s. The truly stand out tracks are all on the b-side, namely the far too short Magic Box, Macumba and Temple. Clearly this was too future sounding at the time and finally it has a wider audience who can grok it.

Note that the original cassette was also limited edition, unbelievably, considering the highly professional and gorgeous quality of the music-- is this not the tragedy of beautiful art??

My favourite piece is called Derive: (there is no English word for this, a ship that is aimless, powerlessly floating on the waves of a sea)

Those who still have their old mp3 copies from mutantsounds days should upgrade to this one.

I'll put all 3 albums in mp3 and the flac for Le Vaisseau (which imho is their best)

Monday 27 March 2023

Botkyrka Big Band from Sweden 1978


This group appeared in the Fraykers Schoolhouse compilation, posted here earlier.
The track they took from this album is not Select Notes which is a vocal big band number, but instead part of What's That, written by Lennie Sjögren and it's a great composition indeed. As a result, I'll post the whole thing for your sampling pleasure just below.  I'm surprised there are no more credits for this gentleman.

The LP is divided between fusiony big band and more trad. vocal big band such as might have been written / played in the 1950s, oddly.  It starts, even more incongruously, with some Swedish folk music, such as maybe Berndt Egerbladh might have played on his records, remember him?  (Oddly enough one of the tracks is by him.) 

The singing is from Irene Sjogren. (Bio: Swedish physicist and jazz singer, born 10 May 1953 in Stockholm.)  Love it-- "physicist and jazz singer."

This is their only release.  Here's the masterpiece fusion track, which sounds almost like a funk symphony in 4 (short) movements:

Obviously the whole thing is well worth hearing, I love in the 3rd movement (the compiled part in Frayker) how there is that transition chord change passage with just wonderful piano riffing plus bass accompaniment.

There are a couple more tracks worth hearing, but too much of the silly jazz throwaway stuff. It's an odd mix to be sure.

Saturday 25 March 2023

Juraj Galan, Norbert Dömling, Billy Cobham – Cargo

Saw this one of course in connection with trying to complete the Billy Cobham discography, which is extensive.  One of those fusioneers who made so many amazing albums of high-energy stuff through the 70s it's almost embarassing.  I posted the Glass Menagerie stuff back here.
If anything, I just wish these guys, like Larry Coryell, Alphone Mouzon, Billy C., Al Di Meola, etc., had made even more albums back in the 70s for us to enjoy now, so many years later.  Why couldn't you have produced more music guys???
Anyways, this particular release is mostly written by Juraj Galan, Czech guitarist.  Not sure that other than this one his discography looks overly interesting.  The style of the music is typical guitar-based contemporary jazz/fusion, like we've heard before from Zoller, or Dudas. Not electrified or fuzzy enough, basically.

Title track:

Wednesday 22 March 2023

Remainder of John G. Perry's related: Gringo (1971) Spreadeagle (1972)

These two earlier albums featuring Perry were basically harder proto prog.
Soft Mod from Gringo has a nice interesting and original riff to start it up:

Sunday 19 March 2023

Jack Lancaster's Skinningrove Bay, 1981

I really enjoyed this album, and I came to it from hearing his wonderful Lancaster / Lumley works, which are Marscape and Peter and the Wolf.  It carries on nicely from this previous albums, and features Phil Collins singing on the truly amazing song called Deep Green:

Every time I hear that one it just thrills me with its emotion of depth and intellectualized expressiveness placed into such an intricately arranged vessel.
Even more remarkable is the fact in addition to John G. Perry and Phil, Rod Argent appears and Rick van der Linden (Ekseption, Trace) on keys

Friday 17 March 2023

John G. Perry's Aviator 1979, 1980

After Quantum Jump he jumped into this outfit who made two more fusion albums, more smooth than the predecessors. Again, a mix of vocals and instrumentals, very professionally played but also seemingly quite commercial-oriented.

Country Morning:

Wednesday 15 March 2023

John G. Perry in Quantum Jump 3 LPs

The band existed in the late seventies (1976 to 1979) and made 3 albums though the last one is just remixed tracks from the first 2. Discogged thus:

Rupert Hine was a producer and keyboard player in the early and mid-1970s before he formed this jazz rock fusion band. Working with some of his regular studio session musicians like bassist/vocalist John G. Perry, and Simon Jeffes with whom he had collaborated on string arrangements since Hine's first solo album in 1971, Pick Up A Bone. Jeffes formed Penguin Cafe Orchestra, but continued to collaborate on the Quantum Jump albums.

Some time after the 'Barracuda' line-up had disbanded, Denny McCaffrey (percussion) was rehearsing with a new line up of Quantum Jump, including: Big Jim Sullivan (guitarist with Tom Jones), Geoffrey Richardson (Caravan), Trevor Morais (The Peddlars) and Alan Spenner (Kokomo), when Kenny Everett’s TV show took-off, on which 'The Lone Ranger' was the theme. It was hastily re-released and entered the chart on 2nd June 1979, rising to no.5 and staying on the chart for a total of 10 weeks. The original Quantum Jump reformed, and the newly recruited musicians were no longer required.

In style we're talking light fusion with not much progressive composition, but still enjoyable, I guess.
I think the more formed or composed track Something at the Bottom of the Sea is surely the highlight of the first album, it starts like this:

Incidentally the mastermind behind this band Rupert made two ssw style albums earlier in the 1970s which I personally thought were terrible for the most part, with songs that are all over the place, some acoustic with strings or quartet like Nick Drake, some uptempo with bouncy piano backing like Moogy Klingman, but lacking in much of a spark, and at times very badly sung too in that effete British style that was so common back in the day I guess based on theatrical music hall borrowings.  The whole is similar to Mike Maran posted here or Murray Head.  It's a surprise because in general Quantum Jump is pretty enjoyable.

Monday 13 March 2023

John G. Perry's Sunset Wading, 1975


Change in direction back to the pure progressive material, this gentleman was a bassist from the US who played in multiple well known UK bands, of note he was in Caravan and Curved Air, but later in fusion outfits Quantum Jump and Aviator.  This is his best work, a nice meld of mostly instrumental thoughtful prog rock, very light fusion, and dreamy kind of vocals here and there. On top of that it seems to be a kind of concept album describing the English countryside at various times of day.  Note that Michael Giles (ie the KC guy) appears here on drums and Rupert Hine on piano.  I think it's unfortunate he didn't make more like this, though perhaps it's understandable given how the trends were moving away from this kind of relaxed, composed, intelligent prog.

On the Moor:

Friday 10 March 2023

The amazing UK Groundhogs [limited time only package]

Love the comic strip cover for "Who will save the world"...

I have to admit I never heard these guys before until quite recently.  I absolutely love this kind of hard-driven guitar-based rock with progressive touches, like Sandoz long ago did so well, or the great High Tide, insane asylum escapees Gnidrolog, or my favourite, hard rocker turned preacher, Steinblast. This is totally up my alley and I would give a kidney to find more like this every month to keep me fully entertained until the apocalypse.

Discography here.

They began relatively inauspiciously with blues rock in their first 2 albums, Scratching the Surface (1968), and Blues Obituary (1969), you couldn't have expected anything else really, but then by Thank Christ in 1970 at the magical and miraculous turn of that decade they blew the blues out of the water with some absolutely incomparable progressive riffs and passages, still very much blues-based but so much more creative than the average stuff.

Consider from Thank Christ, Eccentric Man, with its highly eccentric riff:

Even though this is an E-based song (as the majority of them are in rock history), after the initial riff note how the verse goes up to the tritonal B flat before going back down to the riff.

To say I almost had a heart attack when I heard the insanity of this is to play down the out of body experience.

And then it just never lets up through album after album of hard electric guitar and craziness.

Junkman, from the remarkable Split:

That riff is totally insane, technically speaking it uses whole tones in the first part and the blues scale in a different key for the 2nd, a jarring combination I don't think I've ever heard someone do before. In fact, musically, the whole tone scale is the diametric opposite of the blues scale which is based on chromatic or really bent notes.

Fulfilment, from Crosscut Saw:

Check out the really odd chords he gets out in this song. Sounds a lot like the most inventive late 90s alternative stuff, or like Nirvana did in their best (most progressive) moments eg Insecticide.

Even the late 1984 album Razors Edge has some interesting material. Setting aside those first two anomalies,  a solid seven wonderful albums with so many progressive riffs and weird ideas to enjoy.
One thing I detest is the misogyny that permeates so many of the lyrics, cf. "I love Miss Ogyny." I understand that in that song he is making fun of the first person singer, but it's nonetheless disturbing especially given the other songs with similar ideas. I mean, most people think Led Zep were the same, a common reason females say they hate the band (although there are so many reasons for girls to hate them), so you have to accept it's a part of this era / the blues.
As I've said before though, I grew up with Led Zep and alternative rock so this stuff is like discovering a foothold in heaven.

I would love to get your opinions on this material.  Has everyone already heard these records and loved them?
To me it was such a shock to find something so up my alley that I never heard before.

Wednesday 8 March 2023

An unexpected surprise mini-masterpiece appears from nowhere: 25 Views of Worthing [temp link only]



From discogs

Twenty-Five Views of Worthing were formed in 1970 by Watford school friends Roger Hillier and Mark Sugden out of the ashes of their psychedelic band Primrose Path.

They were signed to a management deal with Island Artists in 1972 and supported the likes of Genesis, Caravan and Mott the Hoople, although a recording contract with Island Records never transpired.

Thankfully the band recorded several tracks using downtime at Island's Basing Street Studio, which have never previously been released. Continuing with various line-ups throughout the ‘70s, the band also cut a rare independent EP in 1977.

Mixing the Canterbury sound with a dash of art-rock, their music is recommended for fans of Soft Machine, Caravan, Egg and Hatfield & the North.

The band left behind a rich legacy of recorded material which is finally presented on a LP for the first time and released in November 2020 .

With a name like Rat Brain Incision, there's no way you can go wrong, musically speaking:

Can you believe how insane that sax riff is that starts off the song? I mean, what chance of pop radio success would that have held, less than 0.0000001 percent, or perhaps let's just round it off to plain 0%? But oh how wonderful it is to hear for these tired old ears! As far as I'm concerned, that one track is worth everything Billy Joel ever wrote... apologies to any of his fans out there...

As an example of the more Canterbury influenced composition here's More Feathers More Dogs:

What an absolute delight. To think there might be more treasures hiding from us back there in the distant past, almost 50 years ago now.  The feeling is almost as wonderful as when the absolutely stunning hardcore true-progrock band Level F was brought to light. And also Bozon

Unbelievable finds...
Many thanks to the wonderful friends who draw my attention to these beautiful pearls, so unworthy of being forgotten and consigned to oblivion, by the common trashy tastes in music.

Monday 6 March 2023

Milan Svoboda with Kontraband and Keep It Up (1990)

Look at those guys having fun with the cover photography!

I can't really add much to what I just said about him back here. The Prague BB hereInterjazz and his amazing April Orchestra.  Information here.

The Windmill:

Saturday 4 March 2023

Henry Franklin in Tribal Dance and The Skipper


More and similar music to the predecessor posts here, again from the Frayker compilation.

Spring Song, from Tribal Dance:

Thursday 2 March 2023

Mat Marucci, the requested Lifeline (1981) and Who Do Voo Doo (1979)

Very little known artist (especially for me!), discogged here:

American jazz drummer, born 2 July 1945 in Rome, New York, USA.

I was surprised by Dedication on the first release from 1979, lovers of electric keys will jump up for joy (pianist's name is Tom Gastineau):

Honestly, that composition a homerun out of the ballpark every day, every year, on every planet in every galaxy...

The rest is mostly somewhat fusiony contemporary jazz and more generic, all instrumental.

Title track of his follow up, which leans more in the jazzy aimless direction and less electric/energetic, unfortunately for me:

In this package I also threw in the later album Mat Marucci & Doug Webb Trio Feat. Ken Filiano - 3 The Hard Way, which was disappointing to me. That music is so mild as to be almost unnoticeable.