Kim Kirkpatrick: Morning’s hour of music for me recently; a bit different of a wake up than my friend Bob.
Things Are Gonna Be Alright-ACETONE
Pablo Picasso-THE MODERN LOVERS
Whorehoppin’-EAGLES OF DEATH METAL
Johnny Hit and Run Paulene-X
Story in a Nutshell-BETTIE SERVEERT
Insanely Jealous-THE SOFT BOYS
Don’t Marry Her-THE BEAUTIFUL SOUTH
Teenage Lust-JESUS and MARY CHAIN
Sunset Drive-HUSKY RESCUE
What Friends-BETTIE SERVEERT
Wherever You Go-BUILT TO SPILL
A Day Late-ANBERLIN
Gold in the Graveyard-GREEN ON RED
In listening to Airs today, I'm drawn to the floating, fragile openness of this music--and it's charm. Most of his compositions are instrumentals; occasionally he's joined by his wife, vocalist Suzanne Langille. Connors writes that his Airs series is inspired by Irish airs of the past--namely 17th-18th century composer Turlough O'Carolan who wrote for harp. The music is gentle; it draws you into the quiet changes taking place in each particular composition. Connors' electric guitar tone stays relatively the same--fuzzy, warm and pleasingly eccentric.
When I'd made my way through Collected Airs I thought..."now what?"...thanks to the near perfect listening experience. I gave it a break for a few minutes and tried to move to more guitar music--Noel Akchote's trio effort (with Eugene Chadbourne and Marc Ribot) Lust Corner for example. I'm afraid I wasn't ready for their multi-layered virtuosity. I'm now back to Loren Connors---this time disc 2 of the Night Through compilation. My house is filled with fat, floating overtone/feedback joy.
What a nice time.
Bob Burnett: Today the DC area is under a "Nor'Easter" storm warning. Which inspired me to get up early and play some stuff:
Anton Webern: "Passacaglia"
Morton Feldman:"Piano and Orchestra"
Architecture in Helsinki: "Fingers Crossed"
Bettie Serveert: "Bare Stripped Naked"
Colleen:"Les Ondes Silencieuses"
Built To Spill............
I've also begun returning frequently to composer/pianist Stefano Battaglia's Re:Pasolini ECM release too. The music is an homage to artistic visionary/filmmaker, poet, political activist--and eventual murder victim Pier Paolo Pasolini. The set comes as a 2-cd collection--disc one (a sextet--w/ trumpet) reflecting what Battaglia calls the "sweet", filmic side of Pasolini while disc two (string-centric quintet) is "dissonant and tense" supposedly falling towards the influence of the poetry and political activism of Pasolini. I don't feel a need to bracket the work with rigid explanation--both discs contain absorbing, haunting music. This was a blind purchase for me---it was on ECM, it had an interesting cover photograph, it had been hanging around the used cd shop for awhile and I had a little "expendable" credit. I find it rich and genuine; a real stroke of genius that gets more and more rewarding upon each listen.
Cindy (1993); I Guess I Would (1995); If You Only Knew (1996);
Acetone (1997); York Blvd (2000)
Kim Kirkpatrick: Acetone fit in an essential comfort zone for me musically. One also inhabited by Low, American Analog Set, Yo La Tengo, Mazzy Star, and by now I bet you can fill in more bands that are appropriate. Personally, I think Acetone creates a classic sound, with big atmosphere, big guitars, and a sound that is as much about the spaces as it is the notes.
Acetone surfaced with a generally fast paced release (Cindy, 1993 on Virgin), with heavy, fuzzy guitar, played by Mark Lightcap, and a fine, loose sounding bass tone from Richie Lee who also was their main vocalist. The trio was completed with Steve Hadley on drums. With a quick revisit of the first four songs I hear Low, Neil Young (Freedom period), Ride, and The Byrds speedy psychedelic sound on “So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”. Oh yeah, Cindy has some heavy, '70s funk 'n roll elements too. When Cindy was released Acetone was compared frequently to The Velvet Underground, we are not surprised, are we? All of the above is meant as positive comparisons. The one consistent element Acetone brought ( from these bands) was their driving sound.
In 1995 Acetone released an EP, I Guess I Would on Vernon Yard Recordings, a subsidiary of Virgin and also the label for Low. This EP was made up entirely of country cover songs from the likes of John Prine, Jerry Cole, Smokey Stover, and Johnny Horton. On this excellent sounding recording Acetone reveals music that inspired them, and the band’s performances fit along side the vast, historical country tinged rock sounds of L.A. and The Strip. Acetone covers these songs honestly , and they compare well with the country styles of The Byrds, Neil Young, and Gram Parsons. Overall I Guess I Would lopes along, with some fine twang and fuzzed guitar. The last cut is “Border Lord” by Kris Kristofferson and what a step away from the slower, long strides of the other songs. This song is slightly over ten minutes of extended guitar soloing with stunning Ride-style wah pedal work, country fuzz, and "Lightcap" closing it out with a soft, staccato style, twisted solo.
Just one year later Acetone released If You Only Knew, a full length CD described aptly by Richie Lee as “real slow” and “the pinnacle of quietness”. Lee’s bass playing is up front, with a warm recording hinting at strings and frets being touched. His playing seems to carry the slowest songs, noted from the title track and first song on the CD. "If You Only Knew" has expressed emotions and feelings like a cross between VU's "Candy Says" and Low. His bass playing is marvelously fluid and slithers through coolly on these really, really slow beauties. On occasion the guitar work by Mark Lightcap fuzzes out wonderfully, and is down right nasty. On “99” his playing soars with a blending of The Byrds' “Eight Miles High”, Blue Oyster Cult's “Don’t Fear The Reaper”, and surf/spy tunes, whoa!
Initially I was going to just write about this next release, the self- titled Acetone from 1997. Just prior to this recording Vernon Yard dropped Acetone but with the help of a friend, Jason Pierce of Spiritualized, they were signed to Neil Young’s label, Vapor Records. Acetone to my ears is a defining recording for the band, the point where it all came together perfectly. Richie Lee in an All-Music Guide interview stated, “On this record there was more of an emphasis on recording live. Keeping things simple in the studio yielded stunningly complex and sublime results on Acetone”. Overall this recording is slow, dark, and brooding, down but beautiful.
York Blvd. was released in 2000, also on Vapor Records, and would be the last recording from Acetone. The songs are flowing, floating experiences, some even approach the beauty and blues feel of Jimi Hendrix’s slower songs. For this final Acetone recording Jason Yates joined the trio playing a Hammond B3 on several tracks, a perfect atmospheric addition. Greg Leisz also appears on several songs playing pedal and lap steel guitars.
Richie Lee and Mark Lightcap formed a band in 1987 while attending Cal Arts Institute in Valencia California. At the time Lightcap was studying music composition (and playing the tuba), Lee was a painter and photographer pursuing a Fine Art degree. Lee and Lightcap completed their trio by recruiting Steve Hadley (drums) from a nearby high school, thus completing a trio that would play together for 13 years. In spite of their long history of creativity and steady recording Acetone never received the recognition or support many of us thought they deserved. They were overlooked somehow, never in the right place (or style) at the right time. Instead they followed their own artistic interests and muse. Richie Lee committed suicide in July of 2001.
"Things Are Gonna Be Alright" (from York Blvd.)
You may try and try again
Not to be unsatisfied
Just squeezing by one more time
But how long do you go on
Believing things are gonna be alright?
Not to decry the simple life
But lately I've been getting tired
Just getting by
Biding my time
Now I've always been so sure Someday, someday
But how long do you go on
Believing things are gonna be alright?
From Stockhausen Verlag:
The composer Karlheinz Stockhausen passed away on December 5th 2007 at his home in Kuerten-Kettenberg and will be buried in the Waldfriedhof (forest cemetery) in Kuerten....
Bob Burnett: Wow...I just mentioned him earlier this week too in another post--and was reading about him in Alex Ross' The Rest Is Noise. So many memories, Ceylon/Bird of Paradise (on Chrysalis Records--and almost immediately a cut-out), Kontakte, Hymnen, Sternklang.... The last piece I recall hearing by him was Helikopter Streichquartett "The Helicopter String Quartet" a piece for The Arditti Quartet where each of the four members are aloft in a helicopter, connected with microphones and audio monitors. The sound of the helicopters drones in the background and the strings skritch and batter about for 30 minutes. I recall liking the piece theoretically more than sonically. On the other hand if you ever see a copy of Hymnen grab it--you'll find it as a 2 lp version on DG. Hymnen is an amazing national anthems of the world sound collage featuring radio frequencies, static, electronic sound and creative ingenuity. Kontakte, from 1960, is a composition either for four-channel tape or four-channel tape with piano and percussion. The composition was the turning point for Stockhausen into the approach he called "moment form" which had more in common with film editing than traditional linear development of beginning,middle and end-type scoring. Paul McCartney referred to this work and others by Stockhausen as major influences on The Beatles' re-thinking of the role of electro-acoustics in what they were doing. The James Tenney(piano)-William Winant(perc.) version of Kontakte was recorded in 1978 and re-released on cd in 1997. A quick check at Amazon tells me it's out of print but some "kind soul" is willing to part with theirs for $99.99. Luckily, the Christoph Caskel (perc.)/David Tudor (piano) Wergo label version is readily available at a normal price and what is called the finest recorded version on Koch by Mircea Ardeleneau and Bernard Wambach (which I've never heard but am now curious) can be had for about $30 .
If you have Stockhausen on cd or vinyl play some. If you don't, put something on that has any form of electronic sound atmospherics in it and say "here's to ya, Karlheinz....". If you don't have either, go fire up your helicopter for a quick reverent spin.
Mark Drop: Don't fear the Download.
So, my grip has begun to tear loose. I signed up for emusic.com – and have begun buying music by download instead of cruising the aisles of Amoeba Music or directing my mouse to half.com. I can see almost immediately that this means the death of the album. “Why buy all these other cuts? It’s that one cool chucka-chucka song I dig.”
I’m fighting off being depressed about it. And, thankfully, one of my first full-length purchases from emusic is helping the fight. Quite a lot, actually. The 12 individual files that make up Challengers (Matador), the latest from Vancouver “alt-super-group” The New Pornographers, demand to be listened to from start to finish, in sequence, just like an album of yesteryear. Over and over and over again. This record is a minor pop masterpiece. I have only had minor exposure to the earlier work of this band – quirky, riotous, cacophonous stuff -- but I am a huge fan of Bowie-obsessed band member Dan Bejar’s other outlet, Destroyer, so this record called out to me. This is by far the best thing any of these people have done, together or separately. It is so full of ideas that it reminds me of a novel. This music tries to get things across. It tries to touch. It yearns to communicate. And it does all this with every component available – lyrics, voices, music. Every detail is purposeful and brilliant. Backing vocals split into delicate, unique harmonies. You can hear fingers on guitar strings, the human breath crossing a flute. As the songs become more familiar, bits of lyric rise out of the lush, human sound and play games inside your head, bouncing around, causing connections. They’re funny words, or startling, or very sad. And they add up to big emotions. The touchstones here are Bowie, of course, and Brian Wilson, big time. But there’s so much more. It’s Beatles through bass lines and backing vocals. Roxy Music ripples through. I hear shades of The Smiths in the tremolo driven guitar of "Failsafe". I heard Sandy Denny and Linda Thompson in the heartbreaking beauty of "Go Places" – a straight ahead love song that could have appeared on one of those lush English folk/pop albums of the sixties. Three vocalists share the spotlight equally -- Bejar, A.C. Newman and Katherine Calder – and each is a unique artist with a fresh voice and a strong point of view. These people have obviously put an incredible amount of thought, work, sweat and blood into making Challengers, a complex, joyous ride that engages the brain as strongly as it moves the body and tugs at the heart. I guess I’m gonna be okay.
Mark Drop writes for television in
Bob Burnett: my iPOD's random shuffle surprised me last evening while I made the 25 minute walk home from my local Metro stop. Up popped "Swastika Girls", the 18:43 cut that makes up side two of Robert Fripp and Brian Eno's 1973 release No Pussyfooting. I probably hadn't listened to this entire piece in 25+ years--no need to really--I wore it out in the late '70s. At that time, I was intensely drawn to the execution, technique, improvisational concept and most especially the lp side duration of each piece.
No Pussyfooting came about because Brian Eno took the signal of Robert Fripp's Gibson Les Paul guitar and ran it through a series of tape loops that were treated to decay, repeat, dissolve or layer. Side one's "The Heavenly Music Corporation" only featured treatments of Fripp's guitar while side two's "Swastika Girls" also included Eno-created loops from a VCS3 synthesizer in conjunction with the guitar. In 1975, Eno expanded the tape loop technique on his Obscure label release Discreet Music. The work with tape loops he did in the mid '70s set-up what became known as his ambient series---solo work and collaborations with Jon Hassell, Laraaji, Harold Budd and others.
When my teenager ears first heard this music I considered it abstract and open. Having never heard anything nearly as expansive or "like this" it redirected my aural circuits. Now that I'm reflecting, I'm thinking back to the series of music that became part of my listening timeline circa 1977-78; Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians, John Cage's HPSCHD, the Obscure label (Eno, Gavin Bryars, Jan Steele/John Cage, David Toop) Henry Cow Concerts/ Fred Frith Guitar Solos, Miles Davis' In A Silent Way. I'd have to say Fripp and Eno were a big part of the inspiration to discover new things.
No Pussyfooting in 2007 terms has an Indian drone quality to it that I didn't recognize way back when. It's as if Eno's synthesizer and loop work represents the tambura-like harmonic base while Fripp's lead runs add the raga-like scales. It doesn't possess the "out there" qualities it once did for me--in fact it sounds very linear and melodic. If you've never heard this it's worth checking out. It may sound somewhat dated given the way technology has so greatly expanded the possibilities of sound manipulation and creation. For me, it'll always be a vital step into new directions in listening. I'm glad it popped-up and allowed me to reconsider it after all these years.
Bob Burnett: As reported on Alex Ross' site (fyi--bookmark it and read it! Great range of classical/contemporary information, sound files, etc. and a video that shows his enviable music and book collection) Deutsche Grammophon has opened up a download shop. For roughly $1.29 per movement (or $10-$12 for the whole piece) you can download high quality 320 kb/second files. I haven't looked too closely at the available selections, but given some of the Karlheinz Stockhausen DG prices I've seen for CDs (upwards of $40 at times for two disc sets) I'd say this site is a great way to explore the DG catalog at a reasonable price. Plus, they tout the digital re-release of 600 albums from their back catalog that were OOP. Hopefully Stockhausen's DG version of Hymnen will make an appearance as a download too. My maiden voyage found me downloading Gyorgy Kurtag's composition Stele---terrific sound quality and performance.
Speaking of Alex Ross, I spent the better part of the day travelling on airplanes reading his excellent (and just released) book The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century. The title speaks for itself. I found myself skipping all around it today too impatient to read it in a linear manner. I did read the first 50 pages or so about Richard Strauss and Gustave Mahler before jumping around to Cage, Stockhausen, Schoenberg, Webern, Reich, Copland, Berg, Stravinsky.....etc. Highly recommended.
Here's a nice surprise I stumbled across this evening by sound collagist Colleen (aka Cecile Schott). Colleen records on the Leaf Label which is based in Leeds, England. This selection is from the album Colleen Et Les Boîtes À Musique. The video was made by Jon Nordstrom.
Bob Burnett: I went on a bit of an acoustic guitar tear over this long weekend thanks in part to my friend's (thanks DROP!) suggestion that I check into the world of Sir Richard Bishop. Bishop is known as one of the members of Sun City Girls but also has a quite impressive solo career going. Over the weekend I've picked-up three of his albums: Salvador Kali, Improvika and While My Guitar Gently Bleeds. One of the reviews on emusic said Bishop's playing sounded "like a retarded child fumbling aimlessly on an acoustic guitar" which immediately made me thing "Wow! This must be great!". I like his hard, plucky improvisational sound, his Robbie Basho-inspired extended raga meets blues modal approach and his willingness to go "out" of key and push what he's doing--he even pushes the supposed boundaries of the Django Reinhart tradition! Thank goodness his playing is not safe at all and because of that makes for great textural and dynamic music.
Another acoustic player I've been really enjoying is Glenn Jones. I first became aware of Jones due to his playing in Cul de Sac. Their album ECIM is an essential get by the way. Jones has two John Fahey-tradition solo acoustic albums I know of: This Is the Wind That Blows Out and Against Which the Sea Continually Beats. Jones has a softer, more elegant sound than Bishop. I'd call it more refined if that was something that advanced the description. These are meditative finger-picked perfection albums. Granted, they are well-groomed but not glossy. I find them both to be easy to have on, beautifully played "sunrise music".
Finally in the out there and intriguing catagory is R. Keenan Lawler's Table of the Elements label release Music for the Bluegrass States. Lawler plays what is called a "resonator guitar" to create avant garde bluegrass abstractions. This music is spare, open, drifting and very interesting. He finds strands of "tradition" and breaks it apart. He skillfully takes what would be a two minute composition, opens it up and somehow makes it a completely interesting upwards of 25 minutes worth of abstraction--as heard in the winner of the c60 Sun Ra-like song title "The Air on Mars is Hard to Breathe, We'll Just Have to Stay in Louisville" . John Cage's Sonatas and Interludes, Eugene Chadbourne's acoustic textures for solo guitar also shine through for me. One reviewer said Tony Conrad meets John Fahey. Hmmmm. Okay. I'll accept that. He has a nice myspace page going that offers the chance to explore a bit.
Bob Burnett: I just noticed that c60 fave Downtown Music Gallery has gotten together with composer/percussionist Bobby Previte to put up for sale a large offering of Previte's work. Apparently this stack of discs are from Previte's personal holdings and contain several out-of-print selections from the '90s Gramavision and Enja label work he did. I highly suggest his Weather Clear Track Fast group; an intense and skilled septet (including Robin Eubanks, Marty Ehrlich, Don Byron) with abundant skills in improvisation, complex rhythm and happening melodies. It's downtown NYC meets Ellington. Go to DMG's site and delve into the list of offerings.
Bob Burnett: When we first started c60 Kim wrote about Danish composer/producer Anders Trentemoller's first album The Last Resort. It's an album I've grown to want to play practically all the time and find myself recommending it to people on a regular basis. Now, I have a second Trentemoller set to suggest---The Trentemoller Chronicles. Yes, there's some overlap with The Last Resort but only in the form of re-mixes such as "Moan" which takes on a whole new life with stunning vocals by Ane Trolle on Chronicles--check out this clip of a live gig for an idea how "Moan" has evolved over time since appearing on The Last Resort. Chronicles works more like a compilation or a pulse-taking at the wide range of work Trentmoller is involved in--recording, producing, remixing and performing.
Chronicles also includes a second disk that features Trentmoller specifically as a re-mixer. Moby is included among the featured remixes. I'm just starting to delve into that disk because I just haven't been able to get past the first disk--I'm in serious repeat listen mode. The music segues beautifully from cut to cut. There's a layer-upon-layer complexity to all the compositions but throughout remains incredibly clear and listenable. I keep thinking how perfect it would be if he were to do a Bourne movie soundtrack. There's also an interesting Trentmoller re-mix on emusic called Chapter One by Djosos Krost. The cut brings together Thomas Brinkmann-inspired beat collage with dub vocals. Trentemoller keeps the whole thing together with his thoughtful mix. By all means scoop up all the Trentemoller you can find--and look into his myspace page for more cuts and info.
Bob Burnett: c60 pal Marc Marshall is a fan of Dalek and writes about the duo's new release, Abandoned Language, on his blog. Drop on by and see what he has to say.
PS: I'm heading to Seattle tomorrow for a few days. I've tooled around a few neighborhood-type record shops in the Fremont neighborhood. I'm wondering what else is out there to explore. Thoughts anyone?
Bob Burnett: I know I've been slack in keeping up the posts. Everytime I think to write about some music I get caught-up by the process of actually writing about something, think about it for a bit, struggle with descriptive words and let it float away. I just now decided to sit here for a fews moments and throw some quick thoughts out about some recent listens.
Fennesz and Sakamoto Cendre: This is a gorgeous duet. It reflects any number of interesting sound projects--most notably Eno's Ambient Series. In thinking about crafting a full "review" I got stuck in the how fair is it to say it's "like Eno's Ambient Series"rut....well, as Eno-ish as it may be, they break new ground, they collaborate well, they offer a twist on the concept of electronic music. So, I suppose this is like Eno's work in the same way a wave in the ocean in the Pacific is like a wave in the Indian Ocean. Speaking of oceans, I also kept falling back to thoughts of Debussy's la Cathedral Engloutie while listening due to the way Sakamoto approached the piano chords.
John Lydon's 1977 Capital Radio Tommy Vance Show: A friend graciously provided me with a cd of this fabled radio interview/record spin by John Lydon--who was "Johnny Rotten" at the time. He turned the audience on its ear by speaking thoughtfully about how important music was to him---and his playlist of personal song choices was really great. By the way, a lot of the reggae he plays is available on emusic.com. Seeing the playlist made it finally sink in for me that Public Image Ltd. was a dub meets CAN meets Van der Graaf Generator kind of a group. No wonder I used to listen to PiL all the time.
Wayne Horvitz Sweeter Than the Day: Somehow this 2002 album snuck under the fence for me. I just discovered it--and it falls perfectly into place with two other Horvitz releases, American Bandstand (now called Forever) and the 4+1 Ensemble's From a Window from earlier in the decade. The music revolves in a spare, chamber-meets-roots quiet circle. Angular, gentle and engaging ensemble playing.
Herbert Henck performs John Cage-Early Piano Music: I've just received this one in the mail. This is a collection of Cage's post Schoenberg serial studies but pre-prepared piano work that embody control and simplicity--more in the line of the "beyond Satie" sound Cage was discovering as his own beginning in the 1930's. I probably have about 5 versions of many of these compositions. This one is a welcome addition to the group. I especially suggest this collection if you are trying to find an initial foothold into John Cage's work. Another one that fits that bill is Stephen Drury's In A Landscape. (I keep putting off compiling a list of Cage recordings I really like.....)
Bob Burnett: I've recently been wandering around www.emusic.com for some music I haven't discovered before. I'm happy to say I've fallen upon the Clean Feed label out of Portugal. The first discovery I made was a duet album from 1995 by Anthony Braxton and Joe Fonda and that led me to a wonderfully abstract find--Joëlle Léandre/Pascal Contet's Freeway a series of 12 open compositions for contrebass and accordion. Joëlle Léandre is an artist that I've had on my "must explore" list for awhile and I plan to do more digging. She has a John Cage-Morton Feldman-Derek Bailey pedigree and has been weaving within the avant/classic/jazz/improv world for several decades. Freeway is open and exploratory--a very challenging but worth it venture.
Another discovery I made on emusic was the Etcetera label--most notably a John Cage composition I had never heard, Two5: Music for Trombone and Piano interpreted by trombonist James Fulkerson. The composition is a subdued 39 minutes of long tones, subtle piano chords, open space and contemplative resonance. I'm reminded of Stuart Dempster's work with Pauline Oliveros in the Deep Listening Band--you may recall a review I wrote (way back) about their "atmospheric space music".
A further connection I made was with sound sculptor Bill Fontana. In the mid '80s a friend in the San Francisco bay area sent me a cassette tape of a radio broadcast he recorded of Fontana's Landscape Sculpture with Fog Horns--a work where 8 microphones were installed in a variety of geographic locations in the bay area to capture multiple acoustic delays of the fog horns on the Golden Gate Bridge. It is an astounding work. Fontana has travelled the world capturing engaging sound environments. His webpage is a great resource where many of his activites are documented with visuals and sound clips.
Kim Kirkpatrick: Erin McKeown surfaced in 1999 with her self released Monday Morning Cold. She toured, released two more CDs, a few EPs, and was generally defined as a folk singer/songwriter. Her fourth release, We Will Become Like Birds (2005) was produced by Tucker Martine* and this recording revealed an element of alternative rocker in her. Honestly no grunge is included, it rocks in a clean way, with excellent musicianship, and a beautiful recording quality**. All the tracks on KCRW Presents (2005) are from We Will Become Like Birds, performed live in the studio.
Erin McKeown tours incessantly, and because of this daily grind and her love of performing, it could be argued that live is the way to hear her. McKeown and band flex more musical muscle and interact with a wonderful push and pull on this KCRW live performance. The line up includes, Julie Wolf on various electronics/vocals, Neil Clearly plays drums/vocals, occasional vocals from Kris Delmhorst, and Erin McKeown on lead vocals and electric guitar. And she is a fine guitar player, inventive, rhythmically complex, and generally with a slightly overdriven, warm tube sound. Neil Clearly’s drumming is excellent, a fine choice for pushing McKeown’s driving rock songs, or for bringing a light jazz swing to the performance. It is a treat to focus on the interaction between the primary instruments, drums and guitar, not a common experience and one that expresses an up lifting, connected relationship between these two musicians. Julie Wolf’s electronic touches are tasteful and serve to color and fill out the mood of each song.
All of these songs deal with relationships and/or flight, both physical and spiritual. With all the flying and occasional bird referenced lyrics it is interesting to note that Erin studied ornithology at
*Tucker Martine has worked with an interesting variety of musicians including, Bill Frisell, The Decemberists, Wayne Horvitz, and Eyvind Kang. Got your attention now Bob, eh?
(Bob Burnett: Yeah--and with a little digging I found this info: "Producer Tucker Martine and McKeown came together to record We Will Become Like Birds. This album featured duets with Argentine artist Juana Molina and singer-songwriter Peter Mulvey."
** Somewhat relatable to Joan Armatrading’s earlier material, the music rocks but presents a variety of dynamics, and an underlying jazz touch. Similarities also feel right to compare Dave Mattack’s drumming for Joan Armatrading and Neil Clearly’s work with Erin McKeown, but I’ll leave that investigation up to you.
Bob Burnett: I just received a heads up (thanks Marc) that the next (and supposedly final installment) in the series of Legacy Miles Davis box sets is being released on September, 25.
1972's On the Corner was the release that made many "jazz" fans run the other way. It seems many listeners could tolerate Bitches Brew at arms length as some sort of momentary phase, but On the Corner was too much to handle. I personally love this album and this period of Miles Davis and I am very curious to hear the box set. This was the point when Miles brought together European soundscape concepts with American funk into a Sly and the Family Stockhausen approach. He let the ensemble's sound be the driving and inspired focus--choosing to bury his trumpet in the mix as a layered sound-treated object instead of a "jazz" solo instrument. This album is a hypnotic groove more so than a series of songs---I can't imagine what trip hop would have become without it. This collection is presented as a 6-CD 120 page book effort. It covers material that was eventually found over three Davis albums--On the Corner, Big Fun and Get Up With It.
There's an excellent obituary for Joe Zawinul in The Independent. It maps out the broad range of music he was involved with throughout his life. He may have been in Weather Report, played with Dinah Washington and wrote "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" for "Cannonball" Adderley however, nothing compares to his composition and playing on, "In a Silent Way" which was recorded in 1969 by Miles Davis. If you've never heard "Silent Way" you've been missing out on a stunningly beautiful composition/album. The album is made up of two album-side long compositions and is like no other music that Miles Davis made. In fact, the closest thing I can think of was Joe Zawinul's first solo album that came out a year later simply titles Zawinul.
I just checked Amazon and Zawinul is still available. It continues the concepts first put in place with Miles Davis and according to some sources, was what set the groundwork for the jazz "supergroup", Weather Report, which featured Zawinul and Wayne Shorter.
Bob Burnett: I finally picked this one up.
I don't know why it took me so long to buy it--seeing as though Neil Young & Crazy Horse happens to be some some of my favorite all time music. It seem as long as I've been listening to music I've had some kind of relationship with this band. To this day, I continue to be in never-cease-to-amaze-me awe at the guitar/vocal interplay the late Danny Whitten and Neil Young achieved--and while I've only spent a short span of time with this album compared to three decades with everything else they did, this one rings to me as a high-water mark in what they made happen during their time together.
The model they created featured Neil out front on lead guitar; his fuzzy, thick tone pushing and exploring sound textures and searching for new sonic space. Danny would be right there too on rhythm guitar; a constant and rich presence. He had a resonant tone that was as identifiable as Neil's bursting, swaying attack. Danny mesmerizes me when I isolate and focus on his guitar playing. He kept a controlled pace, found color and nuance at every chord change or inventive arpeggio in ways that offered Neil an open door to go deeper and deeper into a song.
This Fillmore 1970 recording is an incredibly significant historical release of a band at the top of their game. Mainstay "Horse" members Billy Talbot (bass) and Ralph Molina (drums)--who still make up the spine of the band--are solid and tight. Jack Nitzsche played keyboards and offers quiet, subdued yet steady support. As I listened to the thin, boyish voice of Neil Young from 37 years ago talking to the audience it became apparent that this band considered themselves a band and not just a "pop star" back-up band. Danny Whitten takes over on lead vocals on "C'mon Baby Let's Go Downtown" and draws me further into the possibility this band possessed. I really like this version of "Downtown" (which re-emerged a few years later on "Tonight's the Night", made after Danny's death) with Danny's shimmering chords and strong "push" happening on lead vocals.
There is so much more I could say about this band--what they achieved not only as a band but the personal listening experience they created for me. It almost seems best just to let it speak for itself. To me, this group made magic.
(Added content---I was exploring Neil Young's webpage last night and found an interesting streaming video about this release. I failed to mention Fillmore 1970 also comes in a high resolution(24bit/96k)--not DVD audio--version with a DVD of still photos from the concert and other archival material. Some are screaming "foul" because the DVD doesn't include motion video. The webpage also features a tease for an 8 CD- 2 DVD archival box set Neil Young Archives vol. 1: 1963-1972. This supposedly will be released this year as well as an album titled Chrome Dreams II. Chrome Dreams was the name of the legendary non-released album from the mid-seventies that was the original home for songs such as "Like A Hurricane", an alternate version of "Pochahontas" and others that eventually appeared on American Stars and Bars, Rust Never Sleeps and Comes a Time. )
Bob Burnett: A kind c60 reader has graciously made a copy of LaMonte Young's The Well Tuned Piano available to me for which I am ever thankful.
I realized while I was flipping through tons of stacks of CDs this past week in the Bay Area that even after 30 years the music store environment is still an exciting place for me to be in and how appreciative I am for all the retailers who keep making the "browse the bins" experience happen. I don't think I'll ever be completely satisfied with the download or online experience. Don't get me wrong--it sure is nice to have as an option---but nothing matches the buzz of walking in a well-stocked shop with a staff who know their stuff. I've been to a bunch of music places over the years and try to mention favorite haunts (such as NYC's Downtown Music Gallery and Other Music, Amoeba Music in the Bay Area and LA, Melody and Olsson's in DC) when it seems right.
So, as a c60 "public service" please mention your favorite shops or new discoveries as you go from place to place so we can all go to them too when we travel.
Bob Burnett: I've just spent the last few days in the bay area and made swings by Amoeba Music in San Francisco as well as Berkeley. I picked up a wide range of things--from Neil Young & Crazy Horse to a Criterion DVD of Grey Gardens. I'm sure your own personal bin scanning and buying excurions to great stores like Amoeba brings you offerings performed on guitar, piano, possibly saxophone and maybe even a theremin or two--but how're ya doing with accordion? Now you can say "well--quite well thank you! I just bought some Guy Klucevsek and the Bantam Orchestra!" I've been meaning to mention this album for some time. Yesterday, I flipped by it in a bin and reminded myself to write something up because it's something to keep an eye out for.
Guy Klucevsek is a master of the Titano Royal Converter Piano Accordion --he's comfortable playing "straight" but where he really shines in his ability to bring the avant garde to the accordion. He's been a "downtown music" guy for a long time-playing with innumerable players in NY's adventurous music scene. If you want to know more check out his webpage. One album in particular that I enjoy is Stolen Memories which is a quartet that goes by the name Bantam Orchestra. The Bantams include Achim Tang on bass and sisters Sara (violin) and Margaret (cello-voice) Parkins along with Klucevsek on accordion, piano and melodica. Stolen Memories is a chamber effort--it moves effortlessly from soft, floating klezmer music to minimal avant garde-tinged compositions. "Wave Hill" is a particularly striking Eno-style composition where chord patterns and melodies gently overlap in a peaceful manner. I also enjoy Tesknota (for John Cage) a long, fluid, drifting composition. In fact, since we're on accordion and John Cage, Teodoro Anzellotti created Three Compositions by John Cage, a beautiful solo take on Cage that I suggest looking into too if you enjoy Cage solo piano such as Sonatas and Interludes or The Seasons.
Time to catch a Jet Blue plane and watch the US Open.
Bob Burnett: (with apologies to those flooding in the midwest) It finally rained in the Washington, DC area. It has been dry and dusty all summer. Thank goodness for the rain.....I can now play "rainy day music" and Tati qualifies as such. Tati is a trio made up of trumpeter Enrico Rava, pianist Stefano Bollani and stalwart c60 living legend Paul Motian on drums. This, being an ECM album, means there are very telltale ECM qualities about it--stark but clear compositions, rich sound, room-filling (but thankfully subtle) echo. I happen to like "that ECM kind of stuff" so it works for me.
Enrico Rava has had a 40+ year career in jazz. He's most known for his steady Miles Davis meets Chet Baker-rooted playing with a variety of people such as Gato Barbieri, Mal Waldron, Steve Lacy and Roswell Rudd. I've always found his sound and Kenny Wheeler's to be similar in nature. ECM's Manfred Eicher first discovered Rava in the early '70s and was on several of that era's albums. Tati was released in 2005 and was the follow-up to 2004's Easy Living, his first ECM album in 30 years. The trumpet-piano-drums trio format on this album creates an interesting dynamic; it's a spacious, and spare effort. The players are able to restrain themselves quite well, add punch when it counts and never lose focus on keeping the "calm waters run deep" ECM-style of playing intact. The album mixes original compositions (by Rava as well as Motian and one by Bollini) with a couple of interesting covers. Tati opens with a beautiful take on George and Ira Gershwin's "The Man I Love" and they also perform a rendition of Puccini's "E Lucevan le Stella" from the opera Tosca.
This is the first time I've had extended exposure to pianist Stefano Bollani--and I really like what I hear. He seems rooted in the Bill Evans/Keith Jarrett lineage however he is able to find his own voice and has an admirable ability not to overplay--reminiscent to me of the ECM recording Storyteller Marilyn Crispell did with bassist Gary Peacock and Paul Motian. I discovered Bollini has an album of solo piano on ECM; I just ordered it to further explore his body of work.
Manfred Eicher produced Tati however, instead of it being recorded in Tonstudio Bauer like many ECM albums it was done in New York's Avatar Studio--(I stuck an image from their webpage on the right---nice!) and I really like the sound. There is something "live"about the environment of Avatar Studio that sometimes gets lost in the sonics of other ECM albums. One slight indiscretion from my perspective is that Paul Motian at times seems buried in the mix--granted, I like the "sound" of the drums. I'm a big fan of Motian's textured playing so I'm always looking to hear every color in his approach to a composition.
Ah well---in the big picture I'm not complaining; I really enjoy how this group gels . Plus, there are plenty other opportunities in my ever-growing stack of Motian cd's to make up for this one's low-key approach.
Mike Johnston: Apple (the computer company) obviously just reached an agreement with Yoko Ono, because John Lennon's entire solo catalog has just gone up on iTunes.
This seems like an event, but I'm not sure. I bought a handful of these albums when they were new and listened to some of them heavily (although some of them, such as Menlove Avenue, I had never heard once), but it was hero-worship more than anything else. I liked the anger, too, I think. Plastic Ono Band in particular is not nearly as good in retrospect as I thought it was at the time; Bob says it "worked when he made it because it was just the cathartic album he needed to make at the time," and he's right, but it seems like a period piece now. I'm not saying it doesn't hold up at all, but it's not as powerful now as it was then.
It's interesting how little of John Lennon's solo output I've forgotten, considering that most of it is forgettable. All of it is very spotty—as songwriting, as singing, stylistically, and in terms of production.
I recommend the new Acoustic compilation, however, which I bought. It's generally terrific. Some of it redefines the "lo" in "lo-fi," aspiring to but not reaching the standard of cheap demo-tapes, but the roughness and simplicity helps; it reminds us that we're listening to a ghost. Nice time capsule and some interesting takes on semi-familiar tunes. Most of it was probably recorded on the cassette deck Lennon allegedly carried around to "jot down ideas" on, although a few might have involved an actual microphone, and there are a couple of live things probably from bootlegs. Nothing fancy anywhere.
The song choice on Acoustic is good. It's painful to listen to John's Yoko-isms on "Cold Turkey," but then, that was all part of the gestalt of the whole post-Beatles scene back then. Of course it contains a version of "Imagine," which is Lennon's "Yesterday." (Though not as good.) "Imagine" is one of those horrible afflictions that you like when it is new, quickly get tired of, then arrive at the point where you definitely never want to hear it again...and then have to listen to it 400 more times, because it's everywhere and you can't fucking escape. On Acoustic it's the inevitable encore that the audience won't be talked out of—so just "imagine" all the happy pseudo-fans swaying along to the quasi-Utopian, faux-commie treacle and smile. Or program it out.
The only solid criticism of Acoustic I can think of is that Lennon wasn't a very good acoustic guitarist. Not as good as someone like, say, Willie Nelson, who is similarly known as a songwriter and singer and not as a guitarist. Most of Lennon's guitar work here falls into the category of "strumming along."
John Lennon's solo career is very similar in my book to Michael Jordan's career after the Bulls' sixth championship. Unnecessary, for the most part, and yet you follow it because, well, he was John Lennon. While not really a success, it's noteworthy in that it wasn't worse. And while it would have been good for the legend if he'd abruptly left music altogether at the pinnacle of his game, on the other hand you really don't begrudge him his subsequent labors—posturings, missteps, and failures and all. He earned it.
I just don't like to imagine Lennon in Las Vegas, like old Elvis, in a white suit. (There are worse things than death.) It could have happened, too—Lennon always had that goofy, spoofy undercurrent to him. And maybe he would have steadied his wavering musical compass if he'd lived. Frankly, it wasn't looking that way. What I like to "imagine" is something else Bob suggested—that he would have reinvented himself, and found something entirely new to do, outside of music altogether. It's a thought.