Bob Burnett: I just put together a mixcloud mix called "Wind Shower Particle" that touches on a range of compositions and creations. The title comes from a cut on sound sculptor Sawako's album Bittersweet, another 12k release that has great sonic depth. I continue to enjoy Vladislav Delay's The Four Quarters, an album of four long form compositions that touch on diverse tempos, improvisation, tonal variation and flow. I've included "The Third Quarter" here in its entirety--but must say this plays beautifully as an album; a solid hour-long composition. From there the mix goes into a direction of the sense of harmonics and tonal qualities that happen when the physical action of touch takes place. Opitope's Hau with its warm, melodic sheen, Paul Metzger's deep-diving banjo improvisations and the unmatched intensity of the Joseph Holbrooke Trio's Edinburgh. The Joseph Holbrooke Trio was the free improvisation collaboration of Derek Bailey, Tony Oxley and Gavin Bryars. This cut comes from their Moat Recordings release on Tzadik.
I went from Holbrooke into the visceral tones of Z'ev's Ghost Stories. I just acquired the full 65 minute composition after having a segment (courtesy of Napster) from years ago. I am greatly attracted to the physical qualities Z'ev conjurs in Ghost Stories; the deep echo, the sensations of metal on metal and clanking construction site energy taking place. The mix concludes with an AMM-derived duet from John Tilbury and Eddie Prevost from Discrete Moments.
Thanks for listening--I hope you enjoy it.
Bob Burnett: I haven't been "listening" to music recently. In fact, I recently went more than 2 weeks without playing anything on my stereo, computer or iPod. It seems music has tended to play a role of interrupting other events or moments--blasting from a nearby car with windows rolled down, playing in a public space as a shopping enhancer or as something happening in a restaurant and managing to soak into whatever I was doing or trying to do. In the past I was able to figure out a work-around to competing sources of music. One method was to recast the invading sound in a "suppose I listened to the sounds around me as if they were music,"John Cage-approach. That was all well and good until the sounds around became identifiable as Toto's "Rosanna".
All this is a roundabout way of saying I've fallen back into music thanks to the new listening experience Kyle Bobby Dunn and his A Young Person's Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn collection has brought me--a 2 cd set that makes for two hours of much needed re-introduction to what music is capable of meaning. Inasmuch as Toto becomes identifiable from down the street, Dunn's music thrives on being a mix of a variety of sounds that blend and float into a lovely whole without the need to identify how they were created. The album drifts elegantly and beautifully--a series of flowing musical moments (in the 6-17 minute range for the most part) that at times reflect the natural world--pastoral yet not feeling the need to re-create the sounds of nature in a thematic "flute-as-butterfly"" moment. The sound is from a variety of masked and treated instruments (ie guitar, brass,strings) moving slowly in a way that brings you along the same way a good movie allows you to forget the edits and the camera moves. And for me, the same way Lamonte Young made The Well-Tuned Piano and Eno made Discreet Music do exactly the same. Needless to say, there have been repeated listens. I find I mostly enjoy playing Dunn's work through speakers, filling a room, increasing the volume and letting it expand the space.
I made the mixcloud sequence (included below) around his composition "Promenade". He sparked my ears in a way that allowed me to build other music around his into a mix, which became Air Curtain.
I hope you enjoy Air Curtain but I also hope you explore Dunn's music.
Bob Burnett: Composer, multi-instrumentalist and musical game-changer Anthony Braxton turned 65 this week. The event was celebrated in New York City on the stage of Le Poisson Rouge by cohorts and admirers. NPR has graciously posted a write up as well as two sets from the concert. I'm posting the set that brought together a surprise visit by Anthony Braxton with Gerry Hemingway, Mark Dresser and Marilyn Crispell. This group made up what I consider one of the most formidable quartets in contemporary music. They played/recorded extensively in the '80s and were the subject of Graham Lock's book Forces in Motion (highly recommended...I attached a link)
I was fortunate to discover Braxton in about 1978 thanks to the Arista Freedom series of releases. My enthusiasm for his work only increases and grows deeper with time. Happy listening--this is a great moment.
Bob Burnett: I finally watched the film It Might Get Loud recently via Netflix on their "watch instantly" streaming media outlet. The film was directed by Davis Guggenheim, son of the late Charles Guggenheim who was probably the closest thing I ever have had to a professional role model. You may recall that It Might Get Loud brought together three "groundbreaking" guitar players: Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame, The Edge of the brand known as U2 and Jack White, the Detroit upholsterer who re-created the spirit of Son House via The White Stripes. There are wonderful moments in the individual segments; Jimmy Page playing a 45 of Link Wray's Rumble, Jack White talking about Son House, the Detroit neighborhood he grew up in and his desire to play cheap, beat-up impedence-laden guitars. I have nothing to add about The Edge/U2 beyond he seems like a "nice guy" and all but...U2 is just another media advertising campaign telling me how white my shirts can be as far as I'm concerned.
There's musical sharing between the three guitarists--but in a set-up environment where they are brought together summit-style, put under lights, sat in chairs and expected to be brilliant. I could have done without that contrivance, but I'm sure that was the vehicle for getting the whole enterprise funded. The film is shot nicely (Director of Photography is Washington, DC's Erich Roland) and kept simple, thoughtful and easily watchable. However, a week after the viewing and the inevitable post-screen pondering, I've come to the conclusion that the model of a musician portrayed (well.....I'll give Jack White a bit of a pass here...) doesn't really connect with what I find interesting in music and musicians today. These guys come across, like it or not, as rock stars; lots of pricey gear, schedules to keep, entourages, involved recording projects, on and on.
My takeaways after watching this film made me focus more keenly on how much I like artists who keep nimble in mobile, internet-savvy worlds either self-releasing via PayPal or using the web as an informational tool self-promoting their activities, gigs, releases, work.
A few examples to make my point: Christopher Willits and Rafael Toral. Both Willits and Toral have excellent web sites where you can download music for a very reasonable price (Toral has an interesting subscription service), keep abreast of their activities, collaborations and output. This flexibility allows them to take chances, be open to the creative process and not be at the whim and fancy of record labels, huge 18-wheeler laden tours or controlled publicity machines. I see the work of Toral and Willits taking the next step in what the improvisational trio AMM did by creating their own label (Matchless) to allow themselves as much control as possible.
So, I'd say watch the film...but....go to the other web sites I highlighted and see if they offer you a more contemporary connection to music.
Bob Burnett: Record Store Day came and went yesterday and although I didn't walk into an independent bricks and mortar shop, I did my due diligence by mail ordering a few things from one of my favorite places: Downtown Music Gallery in New York City. I was pleased to see James "Blood" Ulmer's albums from the early '80s--originally released on Columbia--being re-issued via the small European Movie Gold label. I bought both Black Rock and Freelancing. As a college kid record reviewer I stated Ulmer's Freelancing
The other purchase is The Nels Cline Singers new double cd release Initiate. Bruce Lee Gallanter of Downtown Music Gallery stated "Without a doubt it is the incredible guitar trio album of the year!". I've just started listening to the album (via Lala) and I'm finding it to be as important as Bruce claims it to be. Apparently the Cryptogramaphone label went to great lengths with the packaging so I'm springing for my own "hard copy". I tend to buy practically anything Nels Cline releases under his name--especially the Nels Cline Singers. (my favorite incarnation of his various efforts) First thoughts have me hearing a wide range of styles--from what was good about Weather Report to abstract improv. Apparently disc 2 is a very open live set. I'm certain this album will start working it's way into some cC60 Mixcloud mixes.
Mountains--the duo has a new release titled "Etchings" that is wonderful. It builds nicely on their body of work.
Mary Halvorson--I've been enjoying her trio playing as well as finding myself falling back into the Thirteenth Assembly release "(un)senimental".
Thank you Vladislav Delay for "The Four Quarters".
Wadada Leo Smith's "Spiritual Dimensions" heightens my belief in "out" music to new levels. There's so much here and I keep digging deeper.
"Totally Opaque" is a mix that doesn't even try to find "something for everyone". This is pure and simple where I am at the moment. Sound. Full, embodied sound in large waves, abstract fragments and shards, collages of nature, the elements. I hope you find something within the hour that touches you too.
Bob Burnett: If you have the chance to experience this group live then do it. I was able to do so a few evening's ago at the Barns of Wolftrap in Vienna, Virginia--a locale that was seemingly made with this group in mind. Bill Frisell is currently on a very expansive tour--he'll be playing in several different variations of groups from now until late May. I've had the pleasure of seeing him four times in the past in a variety of ways--John Zorn's Naked City (2 variations--one time at the Smithsonian was by far one of the best live performances I've ever witnessed) his quartet with Hank Roberts, Joey Baron and Kermit Driscoll and now in a trio with Eyvind Kang on viola and Rudy Royston on drums.
The beauty of the current line up rests in the ability for the group to expand on basic charts, improvise in ways that cross over into a variety of nuanced musical styles and effortlessly segue into new areas within the same composition--one minute it's strains of Aaron Copland's modernist sound visualizations, the next will interweave Bill Evans' intricate melodic runs, suddenly it's fragile, eccentric old time similar in scope to QQQ or Tin Hat Trio.
In addition to Frisell's regular Nonesuch releases he has a live download series on his website that I highly encourage you explore. I am hoping this trio makes an appearence with a release.
While Frisell is the namesake I have to give credit to the others in the trio. I know Eyvind Kang's work from his releases on Tzadik. A noted composer in his own right, his albums blaze a trail for me into a magical world of eccentricity all his own--avant-garde yet medieval-tinged court music is the only way to inadequately/briefly describe what I hear when listening to his work. In this line-up he converts the viola into a sound contact instrument. He explores a wide array of sonic textures--strings, surface, touch, unique bowing come together in a way that had me thinking of John Cage contact mic'ing surfaces such as mushrooms and using turntable cartridges as instruments. Granted, a lot of sonic variety is happening but it's in his control--not due to a digital effect computer plug-in . Rudy Royston is a perfect fit on drums. He reminds me of the great players--Paul Motian, Ed Blackwell and Jack DeJohnette come to mind; inventive, subtle and dedicated as is Kang to using the surface of the instrument to expand the sonic possibilities.
At the conclusion of the evening the crowd responded in a very positive manner that seemed to really surprise the players--most notably Frisell. He spoke of the great appreciation he had for the response and mentioned this was only the second night out for this line-up and they'd played some of what was heard for the first or possibly second time. Further--he linked the experience to a graduation speech that the late children's TV mainstay Mr. Fred Rogers made at Dartmouth in 2002. Frisell stumbled through remembering exactly why he thought of that but said as a way to close his thoughts he'd dig up the speech and mention it in a clearer way the next time he returned. I looked up the speech and believe what he was getting at was this quote:
Deep down, we know that what matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What really matters is helping others win too. Even if it means slowing down and changing our course now and then.
So there you have it---a virtuoso player at the top of his game telling the audience that we were the ones who inspired him. A very nice way to end the evening.
Kim Kirkpatrick: I have been interested in dub ever since purchasing the Mikey Dread LP recently reviewed below. A couple of excellent Creation Rebel albums soon followed, as well as Lee Scratch Perry productions. But I really became a fanatic in 1980 when Adrian Sherwood started his On-U Sound label. His amazing, jaw dropping production and the core group of heavy dub musicians he recorded became a significant part of my musical listening. The On-U Sound catalog proved to be some of the most treasured dub music I would ever own. I used several such recordings on the current dub mix, for example, Bim Sherman, New Age Steppers, Mark Stewart and Mafia, and African Head Charge.
Dub music's origins go back to the late sixties, with sound systems and DJ's performing at outdoor dance parties. Producers in the studios created instrumental versions of vocal reggae tracks, and these dub versions (the B sides) were used to lengthen the playing time of a song. A DJ could move back and forth from the vocal to dub versions, extending the mix and thus the dance floor mood indefinitely. Dub was quickly adopted as a backdrop for toasters, DJs who talked or rapped over the instrumental melodies and rhythms. Dub was also an opportunity for the producers to show off their own skills and musicianship (using very crude equipment), breaking down the source material, exploring and altering the music with their own, distinctive styles.
The echo effects, cavernous reverb, sound effects, sampling, heavy bass, and the mixing board itself defined the sounds of studios and their creative producers. The popularity and progress of dub was swift, and the musical form moved beyond merely dropping vocals out or just extending a song for the purpose of DJs and rappers.The best of these producers stretched dub into new territory, new sonic effects and beats, and longer, more expansive tracks with more complexity.The prime period of dub was from it's origins in the late sixties (Lee Scratch Perry, Herman Chin Loy for example) up until the mid to late eighties (Scientist, Mad Professor, Bill Laswell, Alpha & Omega are examples). At some point in the eighties synthesizers took over, the beats got more regimented, the bass more mechanical, and the natural feeling in the music was gone. A generalization for sure, excellent dub was produced through the eighties, but its peak and pure form was over by that decade. Conversely, by the eighties dub was having a big effect on other music around it, and to this day its influence and atmosphere can be heard in a variety of musical forms.
What is it about dub that attracts me, has led to my having a large selection of CDs spanning four decades? Dub is thick with atmosphere, texture, and a wide tonal range from deep bass to high rim shots. Secondly, it has origins in song structures but moved away from the progression of a song with clear beginnings, choruses or endings. Dub music is about using a stripped down song or selected tracks and expanding off of that platform, and the further out the producer takes it the more I enjoy it. Third, I am attracted to the authenticity of dub, the all consuming and lifelong commitment of it's musicians and producers. Finally, I have always been a big fan of bass, be it Jack Cassady, Danny Thompson, Jah Wobble, Sara Lee, or Charlie Haden, to name a few.
I still prefer dubs formative roots, and fortunately there is no need to get nostalgic or despair if you are so inclined. An abundance of labels exist for you to explore the early, prime period of dub. Some of my favorites are: Blood and Fire, Pressure Sounds, Tamoki Wambesi, Jet Star, Jamaican Recordings, Wackies, and Basic Replay (which reissued Keith Hudson's Flesh Of My Skin Blood of My Blood which was reviewed in January). Another good move would be to find a friend or two who can guide you through dub, or at least share in the good and bad purchases inevitable in pursuit of dub music. I am exceedingly fortunate to have a long time friend who has shared his infinite knowledge of reggae and dub, and given me many an essential and rare recording . I met BC through a particularly competitive eBay purchase. As I recall he felt bad about how much I was paying him for the CD and offered a short list of reggae he could send along as CDRs for my added enjoyment. Well, the first list I politely said "Thank you but no thank you, I already have all of them". I gave the same reply for a second list from BC. After that our conversations and sharing of music took off and we became very good friends. I have never met BC but we have continued to share music for many years as well as our fear and fascination with clowns. The biggest of props for BC, for sharing his knowledge of reggae and rap, and for being a generous friend. I am still working on his rock education, as much as he can bear. The last I heard Jimi Hendrix's first three albums had grabbed his attention and BC was nowhere near to moving on.
Bob Burnett: In addition to the NO KILL FI DUNZA write up, Kim has put together a mix of choice dub. All ya gotta do is click the black kitty and away you go!
Dennis and I had an quick email-versation about The Two of Us:
Bob Burnett: I listened to your cd several times before realizing it was a practically a total solo effort. Usually to me that means....uh.....how do I say this.....holes, weaknesses at certain instruments, lack of diversity in playing--but this is different. What led you to pursuing a solo effort?
Dennis Kane: I guess the simple answer is because I can! Or rather, I had to. At the time I recorded The Two of Us,I didn't have a band. Obviously, I prefer tracking with a band but I've never let the absence of other musicians interfere with me recording music. That being said, the next recording will be with a full band.
Bob Burnett: So--you're planning on a bit of touring soon? (PS: places and dates here)
Dennis Kane: For some reason we decided to go to the midwest in the middle of winter. So, we're hitting Chicago, Kalamazoo, Pittsburgh, etc. We'll be ending the tour at the Galaxy Hut in Arlington, VA. on the 28th of February. I'm taking the Hoarders with me--Melissa Quinley on bass and backing vocals (Soccer Team, Roofwalkers,Edie Sedqwick) Dave Syrjcek on drums (The Opposite Sex, Caligari) and Dave Barker on guitar. (Cobra Collective, Pree) A real group, you know? Good stuff....