Broadway Project:Compassion

Kim Kirkpatrick: Dan Berridge aka Broadway Project somehow escaped my attention this past decade, seemed ridiculous once I finally listened to Compassion released in 2001(A sealed CD in my cabinet for how many years?). Berridge assembles his music from a nice variety of sources with an emphasis on:

Jazz Fusion
(Rhodes piano, electric guitar, John McLaughlin, Alice Coltrane, L.L. Smith region)

Intelligent Drum n Bass, Downtempo, and Jazzstep beats
(Including numerous female soulful vocals so popular on drum n bass/dance tracks)

Lush string arrangements abound on this release, in minor keys a la Tindersticks or Indian film tracks.

And to mention just a few instruments lifted: sleigh bells, muted trumpet, french horn, xylophone, a rare note or two from a sitar, lots of record clicking, and piano that really sounds like The Necks. Bob has got to hear this.

I found myself once again in the area Bob and I have discussed regarding sampled, constructed music -- name checking as you listen vs. taking it all in whole. Compassion has plenty to identify* but repeated listening and Berridge's creativity managed to turn off my track recognition affliction. The tracks are heavily layered, stacked up from numerous sources but add up to being very musical. Even with the emphasis on Trip Hop, Drum n Bass beats, the music is fluid, tracks function as a whole more successfully than most in this genre.

I became interested in the subtleties from track to track, some processed, spliced together, to a level of an ensemble performing songs. Other tracks are more open, revealing their skeletal structure, encouraging you to focus on individual elements, such as the drumming, a muted trumpet. Even the repeated clicking and crackling of vinyl becomes an instrument for Berridge.

Dan Berridge is a very active artist, a few Broadway Project releases, but lots of other projects such as film and video music. I encourage you to check out his site and all the links available there. Broadway Project releases are available on iTunes.

Oh just a couple, Beautiful People guitar sampled along side Moerlin's Gong, Tangerine Dream's electronic dog yelp and loose bass line.


Cortez The Killer

Bob Burnett: A quick post from the quiet waterways of Sarasota, Florida. A day just after Christmas that started with bright sunshine and more warmth than I've felt in a few days--as well as the discovery of a new cover version of Neil Young's Cortez The Killer. Kim wrote about Built to Spill's version a few days ago so the song is fresh on my mind. This time Cortez was by an artist I'm not familiar with--The Dave Rawlings Machine. (editors note: further digging led me to link him with Gillian Welch) I was walking about with my iPhone on the WFMU stream app (a godsend--if you have an iPhone download the free app immediately) and suddenly was drawn to an interesting acoustic guitar piece with faint connections to the original Cortez but not enough for me to pull it down completely. Then came the lyrics and I knew I was there. This is one of those things I've only heard once but was captured. I look forward to hearing the whole album on the strength of the one song I heard. The song has long been one that is an immersion for me to listen to. It originally was released on Neil Young & Crazy Horse's Zuma album. There's something about the song in totality that brings about a higher sense of creative energy; don't ask me to explain that in rational terms, it just does. Put it in the same catagory with: Cinnamon Girl, A Love Supreme, Pale Blue Eyes, 1983 (A Merman I Should Turn To Be), Poeme Electronique, New Dawn Fades...etc. Anyway....I'm being run out of the coffee shop where I'm typing this. I'll report back later on the Dave Rawlings Machine when I have a better grasp.

Reporting back on Dave Rawlings Machine. My old radio pal Greg Moebius sent a facebook message out saying A Friend of a Friend is his favorite album of the year. That's a pretty heavy commitment from one of central Ohio's radio exec/old time music/mountain bike riding legends. I found a nice review from Paste online that lays out the details much better than I could do. Dave Rawlings has been Gillian Welch's back-up for years. I have several of her albums and obviously haven't paid attention enough because Dave slipped right past me. Oh, I heard his playing but...oh well...you know how that works. Can't catch 'em all. Glad I found it when I did.


John Surman QT.: Brewster's Rooster

Bob Burnett: I have Jeff Goold to thank for the heads-up about the release of this album earlier in the summer. Jeff was my "RA" in the dorm for freshman year of college at Ohio University. I recall that moment of moving into my room, several bins of albums in tow. Well......more than several. More like an amount that required me to rent a U-Haul to get to school. Anyway, Jeff came into the picture because we immediately realized we had an ECM label bond. Whew.....what a relief that was to know there were others "out there" who connected with Nana Vasconcelos! Old and New Dreams! John Abercrombie! Anyway, we're 30 years down the road now and Jeff is still playing percussion in the Nashville area and diggin' the ECM scene. The message he sent me was to check out Brewster's Rooster because it revisited the feel of the classic ECM trio, Gateway (John Abercrombie, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland) as well as the New Directions quartet. (John Abercrombie, Jack DeJohnette, Eddie Gomez, Lester Bowie).

While I appreciate and identify with the comparison to past ECM outings, Brewster's Rooster is a great example in its own right of players who have been around, know each other and make something happen in contemporary times. It has terrific "swing", stays tight while always expanding ideas through interplay and improvisation. I was fortunate to have seen this quartet live earlier in the year. My pal Marc and I (another 30 year ECM vet friend) had terrific seats at Blues Alley in Washington, DC. John Surman played mostly soprano sax--unfortunately his baritone broke in the middle of the set but he soldiered on. Jack DeJohnette was breathtaking. Simply put he continues to be the most refreshing, inventive drummer I know of. John Abercrombie re-invents the guitar--his phrasing, touch and comping are gifts to behold. Drew Gress held it all together on bass. The gig was one of the most exciting live experiences I've had in years. Listening to the album brings back fond memories of the creative energy this group of musicians posses. This album is easily available many different ways via download, amazon, retail and I suggest you find one of them and get it--even if you don't consider yourself an "jazz" person. You owe your senses a nice burst of these treasured musicians.

Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions: Through the Devil Softly

Bob Burnett: I could sit here and twist and turn phrases about how much I like this album but found Boomkat's review says it all for me--albeit in a slightly goofy way--but we'll go with it:
"Having already listened to it a good two-dozen times we're pleased to report that "Through The Devil Softly" has ticked all boxes and has made us weak at the knees with its ethereal, swoonsome loveliness, keeping the formula largely (and thankfully) unchanged and delivering what we had very much hoped for: a continuation from pretty much where things were left off in 2001's "Bavarian Fruit Bread". Production and much of the instrumentation is once again handled by My Bloody Valentine's Colm Ó Cíosóig, adding a crucial layer of washed-out introspection to offset Sandoval's almost impossibly evocative voice. His handling of the arrangements and intense attention to detail allow these songs to work on several levels, once the initial sugar-rush of those melodies and that voice sink in, in comes another wave of emotional resonance, etching these songs to that place in your heart cordoned off for those special records you feel were written especially for you. Here's hoping we don't have to wait another eight years for the next fix. Magic."

I discovered this album quite by accident---and it's stuck with me ever since. The quiet intensity reminds me of everything I like about American Analog Set and a few other post-Velvets band who take the torch of their inspiration and run with it. The choice of instrumentation works well for me too, chiming acoustic guitars, brushed drums, harmonia and glockenspiel dips and dabs; lush but spacious sonics all around. I admire Hope Sandoval's ability to maintain control with her "career". She was on the verge of pop-superness with Mazzy Star in the early '90s. Instead she's gone in a direction that sees albums released on her own time, tours that take place in small, intimate venues and musicians around her who collaborate and create lasting and vital work. Here's a link from the album to give example to what I'm talking about.



Kim Kirkpatrick: Telekinesis is essentially a one man band, Michael Lerner, who does all the writing, singing, and (for the most part) plays all the instruments on this release. Telekinesis is pop rock music, very catchy melodies that grab you immediately, and within seconds you are on board, eager to take the 30 minute voyage. The songs are fresh and sound immediate, as if they were being created on the spot. After listening to half the tracks a few things became consistently apparent about Lerner's songs. The songs build as they progress, getting thicker with sound and instrumentation. And if a song doesn't introduce itself at a fast pace it will get there soon. As you make your way through the tracks you recognize how every song is deliberately advancing, both the music and the story lines. Lerner's insistent, ever forward style raises the listener's anticipation, you pay closer attention to shifts in the instrumentation and the progress of his little love stories. The songs come, do their thing, and leave, with no annoying repetition as is common with a lot of the genre.

Michael Lerner is a fine drummer (this stands out on the recording), but he also plays a lot of beautiful acoustic guitar (excellently recorded). Often his songs will explode into rhythmic electric guitar (early Wire came to mind), drumming you can't sit still to, and layered vocals. With Lerner doing almost all of this himself, it is particularly impressive to me how spontaneous the results sound. Chris Walla (of Death Cab For Cutie) added some nice instrumentation (bass, piano, organ, lead guitar) here and there. I particularly liked his backward forward piano on "Great Lakes".

Chris Walla is also credited as the producer, engineer, and mixer for Telekinesis. It is a beautiful, natural sounding recording, with a multitude of nice sonic touches, often surfacing as little intros or outros of the songs. "Rust" (the opening song) sounds like it has a projector running in the recording studio. Walla's touch really adds to the enjoyment of this recording, and you feel a connection between Lerner and himself. It comes through in the big hearted sound and performance of the music. I won't be playing this recording to death as I think it would wear it out for me. But I welcome it into my musical collection and look forward to revisiting it on occasion.

Telekinesis was released by Merge Records.

Bob Burnett: I just queued this one up to get when my emusic account refreshes. Merge Records has a pretty strong showing on emusic and I've sampled around a bit in the past: Neutral Milk Hotel, The Clientele, Camera Obscura, Arcade Fire to name a few. It's also home to c60 perennial favorite, the Clean.


Neil Young:1989

Kim Kirkpatrick: In my recent posts for Built To Spill I mentioned Neil Young, how intense and transcendent he could be live. Thinking about "Cortez The Killer" live brought to mind his performance of "Rockin' In The Free World" on Saturday Night Live back in 1989. It was an incredible moment on TV, a brief assault by Neil Young at his very best. All the more amazing when you learn of how it came about. The events leading up to the performance are described well in Shakey: Neil Young's Biography by Jimmy McDonough. Neil was performing not with Crazy Horse, and not with the musicians he had intended to use for a few days of recording and the SNL appearance. Instead Neil appeared with drummer (Steve Jordan) and bass player (Charley Drayton), both of whom Neil had not selected. Poncho Sampedro was the lone member of Crazy Horse performing that night.

The performance is still stunning 20 years later, so full of energy, anger, relevance, and Neil Young having an absolute blast performing. Notice how the song and Neil are being pushed by the "stand in" drummer and bass player. Also check out the incendiary connection and interaction between all of them, simply amazing. The electric version of "Rockin' In The Free World" on Freedom seems to drag by comparison.

Link: Neil Young - Rockin' In The Free World (Live SNL 1989)

Bob Burnett: thanks for posting this performance, Kim. It's nice to know such a clean file of this exists. I read Neil Young was like a caged animal before going onstage--plundering out like a Viking instead of calmly waiting to be announced witha "how ya'll doin' ta-night?". It's quite impressive how he was able to get "the beast" tones on live TV--where feedback squalls become part of the air; the sonic existence of energy. This is a treasured performance. A time when he was affecting and being affected by music around him. I hear Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine within what's happening here.


Built To Spill:There Is No Enemy

Kim Kirkpatrick: If you read my recent post regarding Built To Spill and my slow process of coming around to an appreciation of them, you know their Live release in 2000 was my turning point. Following Live Built To Spill released Ancient Melodies Of The Future (2001) and You In Reverse (2006); both were inconsistent with up and down moments, and unfortunately aimless guitar breaks. There Is No Enemy was released in October of this year and this one is a major improvement, the vast majority of songs are sharply honed, rich in content, and the band's performance is exceptional. Doug Martsch's playing, melodies, and lyrics have reached his highest and most consistent level to date. I continue to revel in the skilled fluidity and communication of the core band, Doug Martsch (guitars and vocals), Brett Netson and Jim Roth (guitars), Brett Nelson (bass), and Scott Plouf (drums). There Is No Enemy initially presents itself as big guitars, catchy pop music, but further listening reveals the lasting qualities of beautiful melodic songs, and Martsh's insightful observations and examination of life.

Neil Young still comes to mind as an influence, and an obvious comparison. Like Young, Martsch is on a high level with his enthralling guitar playing and the emotional depth of his lyrics on some of his best songs from the past and nearly all of There Is No Enemy. Both men are driven to search for universal truths, raise big questions about existence, and they lay out intimate, shared human contact and emotions. On There Is No Enemy Martsch has reached a new maturity lyrically. Consistently having something to say, he has clearly opened up personally in these songs. The melodies are bountiful and truly stunning, the songs are constructed with perfection, precise, but still seeming to be freely performed. I often wonder how many listeners really appreciate the difficulty and art of such accomplishments*. The majority of this Built To Spill release is like listening to Luna if they'd spent a year bulking up in the gym. This comparison (admittedly amusing) is meant as high praise, the song writing and Built To Spill's playing have a comparable refinement to Luna's concise, pop perfection, but in a pumped up form. "Life's A Dream" is an excellent example:

Miles till dawn
But it feels so dark till then
Drowns you out
But you can't be too certain

Common wants
Only fill me up with need
In this world is just like me

So I
Row on

Sounds like fear
Thinking there might be a cure
Waste your life
But you don't know what it's worth

Comb your mind
For all the treasures of this earth
Too close to find
Anything inside yourself

So why
Row on

Life ain't nothing
But a dream
As it seems

@ 2:05 a guitar solo break enters with "simple" lines, beautiful sliding notes, pull offs and hammer ons, building dynamically, bending, staccato, singing notes, and then smoothly the band backs off to:

Destiny's vulgar
So I might as well resist
Out of the darkness
And all the secrets still exist

Finally decided
And by decide I mean accept
I don't need all those
Other chances I won't get

So why
Row on

Life ain't nothing
But a dream
As it seems

On There Is No Enemy electric guitars are still paramount, with a general tone of tube driven distortion, chiming guitar accompaniment, and effects galore; octave, chorus, spatial reverb, lots of impressive wah wah pedal work, and plenty of tasteful tremolo on this CD. These effects are yet another instrument in the hands of Martsch, Netson, and Roth, three equally creative, dynamic guitarists. I imagine each of them have substantial pedal boards laid out before their feet and they are used consistently throughout this release. What separates the effects laden songs, and Built To Spill's There Is No Enemy specifically, from the many indie, guitar jamming bands they are compared to? All the effects, the decades of developed guitar playing skills are pinpointed to serve the song's colors and moods. No one is playing guitar hero here, or stepping into the spotlight, solo breaks are concise and showcase the interplay as much as any specific player. Scott Plouf's drumming is thoughtful, thuddingly holding it all together. I particularly enjoy his relaxed, hanging back style on many of the songs, and how the negative space/time between the beats he creates are every bit as important as the beats. The bass player, Brett Nelson presents plenty of variety, some times pushing the band, and other times picking his accents. I particularly like the songs where his notes are drawn out, allowed to hang, and spatially offer up the heaviness of dub.

Built To Spill's There Is No Enemy consistently got to me, the performance and the content. This release is an example of why I am still drawn to rock, still finds sustenance within it, and a connection with the genre. The striving for perfection, honesty, performed seemingly with ease and familiarity is a rarity in any genre or medium of Art. We've got an example right here, give it some of your extended time... loud!

The following link will take you to "about to spill", a nice short piece with related thoughts by Martsch's wife that are interesting and insightful.


Songs, Distance, Rememberances

Bob Burnett: It's pitch black at 7:20AM in Copenhagen Airport. Winter in Denmark offers darkness until well into the morning. I'm waiting for a flight while listening to Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline.

My thoughts go back to 1976. I was a high school kid with little knowledge of anything in particular. I was working in a Long John Silver's; wearing a fake pirate bandanna do-rag while routinely burning my arms making fish and fries. I was a few years into record buying at that point; Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck, Beatles, Walter Carlos Switched on Bach, Chicago Live at Carnegie Hall box set, George Gershwin are recollections of the floating, spinning vinyl that was happening for me.

But not Bob Dylan. I still needed fermenting on that one.

A year earlier in a class in school a "new girl" who just transferred was sitting behind me. She was probably two years older than my freshman self but seemed an eternity ahead in life experience. The initial awkward small talk led to her asking me "are you into Bob Dylan?" and being a 15 year old I said "uh....no". I really didn't know what she was talking about....Bob Dylan, Bobby Darin...it all seemed confusingly the same. Later I heard her say to another older kid in the class "man you gotta save me in here...I mean he's not even into Dylan..."

Well.....it's not like I wanted to impress her or anything but I gotta say it stung to be considered a drag. You'd think the next line in this story would be I went out, bought Blonde on Blonde and became an angel-headed hipster looking for an angry fix of mystical magic within every line. Nah. A year passed returning us to the Long John Silver's portion of this story. I found myself listening to the radio in the back room while making vats of cole slaw. The assistant manager knew I liked listening to the radio so one day struck up a conversation about how much he liked Bob Dylan. There was that name again. But this time from a guy; a real straight shooter of a guy. An honest, friendly, calm, kind of guy who if he wasn't working at Long John Silver's at that moment would probably be pulling over to give some hitchhiker a ride. He spoke to me about what Dylan meant to him and I could tell it was a very good thing.

As chance would have it, a few days later "Lay Lady Lay" came on the radio during a slow moment and I called for the assistant manager to come back and listen. There he stood; rapt in silence, head slightly cocked and arms crossed, taking the whole thing in. That moment offered me a gift--the chance to absorb his appreciation of the music while being allowed to experience a new dimension in what music could be. It was a moment that propelled me forward and expanded my ability to grasp a much wider array of what music could mean in life.

So here I sit in Copenhagen listening to that same song. A distant reflection, a current moment in time. It all seems as one.

Kim Kirkpatrick: Early in my teen years I was trying to learn how to play acoustic guitar, finger pickin', folk style. I recall a girl friend, (who I would have liked to be my girlfriend) named Corrina who was also learning to play and loved folk music. A few records from that time I can recall were by Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs, Woody Guthrie,, Elizabeth 'Libba' Cotton, Tim Hardin, Donovan's Catch The Wind. OK, I gotta admit I had at least one Peter, Paul and Mary record. I first heard Bob Dylan in 1964, a friend's mom had The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan LP (1963), and he wanted me to hear it. First off, it felt like the equivalent of sneaking into the liquor cabinet, not sure why, maybe he was not suppose to touch his parent's records. Anyway Dylan had me immediately, just consider some of the songs on side one, "Blowin' In The Wind", "Masters of War", "A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall". Side two with, "Don't Think Twice It's All Right", "Oxford Town", "Talkin' World War III Blues"*. Direct, radical folk music, that powerfully surpassed any of the above musicians I was listening to. I was an eager follower of Bob Dylan, he could do no wrong fan, from that moment up to around Nashville Skyline and Self Portrait. I hung in there with him through New Morning, but by then my musical interests were vast and his releases were not all that interesting to me.

And "Corrina Corrina"


Richard Buckner at IOTA

Michael Ferguson: I wasn’t sure what to expect when Richard Buckner, flanked by three guitars, sat down in front of the microphone at Iota Café on December 4; I had never seen him perform live, and I knew his music mostly from a couple of his recent releases on Merge Records. Buckner began his set without introduction and continued playing, without pausing between songs or even allowing space for applause, for well over an hour. He was unaccompanied, but effects pedals enabled him to create a big, layered sound when the music called for it. I was surprised by the variety of his songs, which ranged from sweeping harmonic drone sequences buttressed by delay-box rhythms to unadorned acoustic pieces that highlighted his abilities as a singer-songwriter. In several songs, he used an EBow, and the results were almost psychedelic—--far from the alt-country style often associated with Buckner. What made the set cohere was Buckner’s low, undulating voice, which, for me, began to have a hypnotic effect after a few songs. In fact, I was so absorbed in the music that I didn’t realize until I turned around to go to the bar midway through the set that half of the audience had left. By the end of the night, only thirty or forty people remained in the room--which was a shame, because Buckner’s performance was worth sticking around for.


"Don't Say No Just Say You Don't Know"

Kim Kirkpatrick: For most of my life I have been able to quickly "get it" with music. I could trust my judgement, and my initial reactions would hold true for me, even years later. I am referring to both an intuitive understanding of the music, and a spot on, immediate decision as to it's importance for me. Well, such things have changed as I have gotten older -- listening to music has become complicated.

My aging has increased the likelihood of rejecting new music; I mean honestly, I have heard a lot of it before. I am aware of my hair trigger rejection tendency and do my best to control it, but I can still swiftly and confidently confirm that I flat out hate something. I also still have immediate, blissful connections with some new music. What has changed with age is the increasing number of CDs and bands that I am not definite about, I can't commit too them or dismiss them easily. Music for me these days requires more of my time and effort to decipher on a personal level. If the music raises questions in me, has possible uniqueness within it, or shows a refinement (within a genre), then it deserves more of my time. At such a point I commit to the musical mystery, the undefinable pull of the music. I focus on the possibilities of the music, determined that further exploration will take precedence over that aging, close minded, "heard it before" guy creeping up within me.

I have experienced all of the above big time with Built To Spill -- it has been an extended battle that dragged out over 6-7 years. I started out viewing them as yet another quirky, clever band, with jerking melodies and a thin, brittle sound. My opinion to pass on them was also based on their cover art, the spotty material, and the irritating, up front vocals of Doug Martsch.The circle of friends around me who liked the band, who wanted me to hear and like them were all in their early twenties. Granted, they were open minded musically, we had made musical connections across decades, but the fan base's age bracket didn't help Built To Spill's case with me. I didn't fully dismiss the band, I hung onto a mixed CDR a friend gave me, his favorites across a few years of Built To Spill's discography.

Then in 2000 Built To Spill released LIVE, which had a twenty minute version of Neil Young's "Cortez The Killer". Now I have always been deeply into Neil Young, at the time I was busily scarfing up live material by him from around the world. Plus, "Cortez The Killer" was particularly close to my heart, almost a religious experience for me, especially a few times (not all) I saw Neil Young perform it. I had heard Built To Spill were "great" live and now they'd performed a 20 minute version of "Cortez The Killer". So, in spite of my general dislike of live recordings and my overall struggles with the band I bought the CD to find out what Built To Spill was up to (I kind of liked the cover too).

"Cortez The Killer" on LIVE absolutely stunned me, a performance I would never have believed possible by anyone other than Neil Young. Built To Spill's version carries all the power and beauty of any live Neil Young and Crazy Horse performance I have heard. Martsch's playing searches and explores the song's ethereal, timeless zone, using all of his considerable guitar skills and effects to reach the essence of the song's powerful beauty and emotion. Martsch creates the transcendent experience of "Cortez The Killer"; I had tears welling up in my eyes because of his playing, because of his feeling for the song's sad and lonely tale.

The insert for LIVE informs you Doug Martsch is on vocals and right guitar, Jim Roth on left guitar, with various other guitar work by Brett Netson. The left and right guitar separation is great for focusing on one or the other guitarist, plus it helps the listener experience the musician's interactions, and musical conversation. This recording is guitar heaven, thick with electricity, technique, effects, dynamics, and all of it serving the songs. The guitar playing is never in excess, and no one guitarist is mixed louder then another, even when soloing. LIVE is dense but has clarity, and all the musicians can be equally heard or isolated while listening to these recordings (the bass player and drummer are also worthy of your focused attention). LIVE is a combination of different performances but you'd never know it from listening. The selection and sequencing of the songs is flawless in pace and content, making Built To Spill's LIVE a complete and satisfying concert experience.


Sir Skid-a-Lot

Kim Kirkpatrick: I do a fair amount of driving to different jobs, one of them has me driving home late at night on the GW Parkway and the beltway. I enjoy listening to music while driving alone, playing it loud, in fact 95% of my music time is spent in the car (which is sad in a way but let's not go there). I have come to enjoy music that takes my drive to a different reality, changing the windshield into a movie screen is the best way I can describe this experience.

With the right music, volume, and especially at night, the scene clicks before me from a driving experience into a motion picture, with everything flowing smoothly, all things moving through an environment that is slipperier and thicker than oxygen. I feel a calmness and tend to flow through the traffic with fluidity and grace. "DANGER DANGER" you might think, this guy is on the road in a trance, drugged by sound waves, he could crash or cause an accident at any moment. Actually, I think I am very much in touch with my surroundings. The music and the road are connected for me, seemingly deciphered by the music, and my mind is focused on the driving.

I had a particular great listening/driving experience one night recently. I was driving in blowing snow that was swirling around and changing directions. I recall rolling on a newly paved road with it's accompanying perfect bright white dashes, observed a polished tractor trailer reflecting and morphing all the lights around it, and a snow plow with an impressive number of flashing lights dancing about with a weird dimensionality to them. Another enjoyable drive occurred just this past week. It was a super clear (winter dry) night, with a full moon glowing on the river and through the trees. One of the above nights I listened to a Mind The Gap sampler with Marc Em, Waiwan, Fetisch Park, Tarwater, and Architect on it. The other night it was Simm's Welcome and a Thomas Brinkmann disc. Brinkmann really fits these experiences, with his numerous subtle changes amongst the steady percussion, it all sneaks up on you nicely.

It is logical that a "Fun fun fun on the Autobahn" trip would be triggered best by pulsing electronic music - a little spaciness (in the music) couldn't hurt as well, right? It is not my intention, however, to confine these experiences to just this genre of music or just at night. I have had astonishing musical experiences while driving in the daytime. One that comes to mind was being stuck in hopeless rush hour traffic, with the hot summer sun in my eyes, and listening to the only music I had with me, a dense, demanding Anthony Braxton group performance that Bob had given me. Bob deserves credit for opening up the possibilities of listening to musical genres (for me) in different environments, music played in situations where I would only have expected them to be irritating*. I think I actually called Bob while on the road to describe the experience. Another rush hour recollection was listening to Fats Waller playing organ. In both daytime examples, the music just pulled the irritation and ugliness of the scene right out of me, creating a positive experience.

I suspect you can relate to all of this and could make up a list of your own but to sum this up, below is a short list of other musicians I recall having such experiences with:

Broadway Project
Built To Spill (Live CD)
Zakir Hussain
Alvin Lucier
Northern Picture Library
Yo La Tengo (in particular the EP with "From A Motel Six" and "Ashes On The Ground")

His experiences were based upon iPod listening on the subway and while walking.

Bob Burnett: That's correct. Many of my listening experiences come when walking or taking the Metro in the Washington, DC area. As I've mentioned to Kim there are times when something so engrossing occurs on Metro I discover I've been staring at someone's shoe for who knows how long. I like the shuffle mode of an iPOD and the mystery and happenstance it allows. Just last week I was listening to Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde and began to doze off. The imagery within the lyrics began to create interpretive forms and connect as stories in my mind. With all that freebie visualization going on at one level, another level was playing lifeguard up on the chair saying "yes, you are in an early form of sleep, yes, this is happening, yes this is great....oh two stops to go before you need to get off the train."

I don't listen to music when driving locally--mainly because I don't drive much. When I do drive I'm happy with not having a radio on or evenings having it on a Capitals, Wizards or Nationals game. (depending on season) I do take advantage of long distance solo driving excursions as chances to delve into long-form compositions. For instance I have a fond lasting memory of driving to Providence, Rhode Island and playing Morton Feldman's String Quartet II in it's 4 cd entirety. (the version performed by the Ives Ensemble) I've recently re-acquired Philip Glass' Einstein on the Beach which seems to cry out for a complete listen. I've only listened in fragments and it's been annoying at best that way. I'm thinking I need it as a work en masse and then decide if I've moved on or if new pathways have made themselves present to me. I'll also always cherish a drive down the Oregon Coast while playing The Necks Aether.


Tetuzi Akiyama + Toshimaru Nakamura:"Semi Impressionism"

Bob Burnett: I've been spending a fair amount of time with the electro-acoustic improvisation "Semi Impressionism" and find it to be a remarkable work of open, visceral and spontaneous sound creation. The structure for the collaboration features Tetuzi Akiyama playing acoustic guitar and Toshimaru Nakamura adding what's called "no input"mixing board sonics. The "no input" technique makes for a series of what I can only describe as sharp amp cord-pulling pops, electric line impedence and hums, feedback---sparking, angular and effective sound collage. Akiyama's guitar remains fairly simple and warm throughout the album. His technique allows for deep resonance within the body of the guitar. I greatly appreciate his simple notes and open space approach. As with the "no input" partnership at hand, the tactile quality of his technique makes the instrument work exceptionally well for me. I've always been attracted to improvisation that opens the scope of the listening experience to the hands-on quality of sound. "Semi Impression" works for me because of its limitless and open approach to the very human quality of allowing the craft of creation to be part of the overall presentation. As mentioned, the guitar sounds and feels like it is being touched, manipulated, approached as an object. The "no input" sonics simply captivate me; they sound alive--they bring aural definition to the structure of electricity and the many colors it offers as a sound canvas. "Semi Impression" spans over three long improvisations ranging from between 15 and 24 minutes. While the overall album is similar in approach, each improvisation stands on its own as a unique offering. By the time you get to the third piece's strong, squall-like moments you'll realize you've worked up to earning the right to experience such an exceptional effort. Highly recommended.


Daedelus:"of snowdonia"

Kim Kirkpatrick: Daedelus' "of snowdonia" was released in 2004 on Plug Research. I pulled it from my cd cabinet before dashing out the door for a drive in the rain. I chose it because it seemed related to some recently posted comments. Bob mentioning DJ Food's Raiding the 20th Century, how he didn't find himself scrambling to identify samples, that it was more about the overall listening experience for him, a technique serving a bigger purpose perhaps. As compared to, for instance, my fun identifying the music DJP was scratching and mixing, songs I'd otherwise hate but for his hysterical combinations and near unbelievable segueing skills.

"of snowdonia" lists Daedelus as playing all instruments with just two exceptions, and to my ears his dominant "instrument" is a plethora* of vinyl samples. These are musically joined together with an assortment of instruments. Melodica, marimba, vibes, nylon stringed guitar, accordion, gypsy like violin, classic-cool blue-Tyneresque-drum n bass-tribal-detective noir-cheesy martini Jazz, for example. Synth keyboards galore, glitches, blips, dub effects, and pleasantly odd vocals surface on various tracks, be they sampled or live. I have not come close to cataloging all the source material, styles, and instruments heard on "of snowdonia" , just what comes to mind from a recent listen. Daedelus gives us 13 musical pieces ranging from soothing ones to demanding your utmost attention tracks. There is never a drop off point of creativity or quality, not a dull moment for the entire 45 minutes.

What is important here, why snag Daedelus:
For his skill of combining a huge, HUGE, diversity of materials, samples, sounds, beats, and instruments into dense, really dense layers of music. The combinations, the outlandish variety of sounds in any one track will cease to be a primary concern, the methods used will fade from your thoughts because he has made it all so musical. Daedelus is special, and based on what musical output I have by him I'd say "of snowdonia" is a perfect introduction, a fine take off point for you... and I don't even know you!

From the intro to "Dumbfound":
"Daedelus had a most unusual rumble in his head
It went rumble rumble rumble
And then it went bumble bumble bumble"

as in an excess or overabundance, but in a good way here


Opitope: Hau

Bob Burnett: A label I've recently discovered that offers a bounty of interesting releases is Spekk. A current favorite and excellent starting point is the 2007 release Hau by Opitope.

Opitope is a Japan-based duet made up of Date Tomoyoshi and Chihei Hatakeyama. They play a variety of instruments: electric guitars, acoustic guitar, piano, bass, vibraphone, electronics, voices and effects. On early listens the sound reflects in spirit the sonic tapestry of Harold Budd /4AD label albums. There's a lot to like about this album; beautiful textures, thoughtful compositions, interplay that is unique and challenging to offer a few quick descriptions.

To move away from my own offerings and get to the source, I found Opitope's own description of the work on Discogs:

"This an imaginary album traveling from the north to south, overlapping the images of transition of the four seasons. In reality, indeed one things always leads to an end and I feel sad every time I think about that. In this album, we tried to express this sorrow feeling changing gradually into hope as we travel south. Seasons have no end. It always moves from spring, summer, autumn, winter back to spring.. And just like the changing seasons, the tracks in this album constantly shifts another and the last piece connects to the very beginning which forms the never ending circle. We have expressed the images of these "endings" with "never endings" by music. These thoughts were brought up naturally during the making of this album and it's not that we had this idea from the start. Another concept of this album is "symmetry". There are 9 pieces in this album and is constructed by track 5 being the axis of the symmetry - like in terms of composition, 1st track is a piano piece and also the 9th track. The same thing goes to the arrangements like you will notice sounds that forms contrasts between the left & right speaker."

Hau is available via emusic as well as Boomkat .(both mp3 and FLAC)

"Keep It Goin' Louder" Video by Major Lazer

Bob Burnett: I saw this video and drew a parallel to R. Crumb and Bow Wow Wow. Gee--I wonder why?

See for yourself:
Keep It Goin' Louder Video by Major Lazer - MySpace Video


Supersister: Pudding En Gisteren

Kim Kirkpatrick: A few years ago I was listening to a great DJP multi-turntable performance, scratching, segueing, mashing with unbelievable perfection and hilarity. One brief segue included a rising keyboard synthesiser that I recognized but could not identify. Eventually I had one of those "of course it is..." moments. DJP predominantly works with classic/alternative and 80's rock songs but this sample was an obscurity, Supersister's "Judy Goes on Holiday" from their 1972 release Pudding En Gisteren*.

Supersister was a progressive rock band along the lines of the Canterbury Scene and interestingly the Dutch Supersister were originally signed to John Peel's Dandelion label in England. Pudding En Gisteren was their third album released in 1972. It starts with "Radio", a Latin rhythm, flute, synth plucked strings song, with vocals leading to the line: "Turn it on and go"! At this point the band explodes into progressive glory, kicking in with speedy high hat work, deep bombastic background vocals, synthesiser keyboards galore (including accordion), intricate bass lines, and then "Radio" is gone... on to a tune titled "Supersisterretsisrepus", a 15 second classical synth harpsichord ditty played forward then reversed... then zipping into "It is not strange to be a "Psychopath", with it's beautiful tumbling piano lines, strings, and vocals worthy of The New Vaudeville Band's "Winchester Cathedral" (I sincerely hope you do not know this reference or have heard the song). By now a Monty Python/Bonzo Dog Band meets Caravan amalgamation enters your mind and (KAPOW!) Supersister is off with the musical adventure titled "Judy Goes on Holiday". A bouncy bounce bounce of a tune with it's wind up synth, Gong like percussion, flute, organ, Jazz/Fusion, Progressive Rock, and stop n start timing adventures, whew! And in true Prog Rock form suddenly it all comes to a halt... shifting into a peaceful Camel like segment with, dare I say this, some Quicksilver Messenger Service flavored acoustic guitar moments. Back with a brief reprise of the theme, then the outro singing of "Love you in the morning, love you in the night" sounding just like an outtake from Zappa's "Cruisin' with Ruben and the Jets", hell of a musical journey in under 13 minutes. But there is more, the 21 minute title track Pudding En Gisteren (Music For Ballet). I am not going to walk you through this particular musical journey, but in retrospect it is a blend of Gentle Giant, cool 60's jazz movie soundtracks, euro circus tunes, and Brand X, with an overall tripping forward psychedelic atmosphere.

So here I am 37 years later listening to Supersister's Pudding En Gisteren because DJP pulled a 5-10 second sample from the record. How great is that? It still seems a worthy listen, which surprises me as much as anyone, admission of a Prog Rock past is not always easy. Listening in this century the music might be more funny then intended, more laughing moments then heard when released, but Supersister consistently were not as bombastic and over the top as many of their Prog-compatriots. They were deliberately amusing, and clearly were having fun in their compositions and lyrics. I'd go so far as to say they were enjoying life based on the 4 releases I am familiar with. A couple of their releases stand the test of time, like a few other better known bands of the Canterbury Scene (tantalizing opening for a Bob post). Esoteric Recordings have reissued Supersister's catalog, all remastered and with appropriate additional singles and live performances. Forced Exposure would be a good source in the U.S.A. for these UK releases. And if my opinion carries any weight I would suggest you also pick up their first album as well, Present From Nancy released in 1970. Perhaps it is more of a straight ahead progressive rock/jazz trip, but it still has their humor and really holds together well, encouraging a complete listen from start to finish.

As an aside, I played both of these albums during dinner one evening and each tune, each change in direction by Supersister was enjoyed by and commented upon by my 12 and 15 year old daughters. This kind of musical interaction seldom happens since they became tween and teen. Yet more value in Supersister's music all these decades later.

DJ Shadow also used this sample through out his track "Organ Donor" from his classic release, Endtroducing on Mo'Wax.

Bob Burnett: Kim says Canterbury so off I go. There's still a lot of "progressive" music I like from 37+ years ago; most of it in the Henry Cow family or rooted in that form of what's known as progressive. That very short list would be Soft Machine, Henry Cow, National Health, Robert Wyatt solo efforts, Kevin Ayers, Steve Hillage's Rainbow Dome Musick. I think "downtown" music has certain touches and nods towards Canterbury. I also feel '70s era progressive influenced a strand of music I like today: The Sea and Cake, Tortoise, Yo La Tengo, Nels Cline's solo career to name a few. (as well as what I'm listening to right now--Opitope Hau on the Spekk label) To further explore Kim's nod to the sample, there's something about the art of sampling that makes even the most annoying music on it's own a post modern masterpiece when part of a larger reconstructed composition. The classic for me being DJ Food's Raiding the 20th Century. I'd be hard-pressed to "hear" JayZ, Beyonce, Will Smith, Justin Timberlake on their own merits because while they use samples at times the overall production technique is so crafted, perfected, polished and pounded into compression happy tracks that it becomes a digital marketing tool and not a composition--and I can't see past that.In contrast , these same works of sonic corporate lobby art in the context of Raiding the 20th Century appear in a different framing.
Raiding the 20th Century makes it so I don't need to know or comprehend what I'm hearing at any given time. I know the muddled millieu is part of a larger work and know it's being used for it's impact in an overlapping, multi-dimensional way. I have a great aversion for TV's, radios, music, etc. playing from cars, in public places and being forced on me in general. Maybe the secret is to approach interloping media from the same post modern position a mash-up offers; to make the unwanted impacts into momentary frames of John Cage-like Imaginary Landscape (for 4-12 radios) where conventional instruments and electronic devices create the sonic happenings.


Postcard Records Of Scotland:

Kim Kirkpatrick: Why post the above image you might ask?

Reason #1: Bob's most recent post about So Percussion brought the above label to mind. I ever so briefly weighed posting this pic as an affront to Bob (and So Percussion for that matter) vs. just how cute (and relevant) this surprised looking, upright percussionist kitty looked.

Reason #2: The Go-Between's first single "I Need Two Heads" has been on frequent replay in my brain for weeks (we shall completely skip any personal analysis of this). Now mind you I have not actually listen to this song for years! The song surprisingly entered my life via Postcard Records as a 7" single mailed to me for radio play. Receiving packages of The Go-Betweens, Josef K, and Orange Juice singles (all released in 1980) was such a pleasurable, tactile surprise for me, and as a bonus they were from a label in Scotland, my family's origin! Most importantly it was an awakening to a new direction in music and I was fortunate enough to first air them in America just as quickly as any English radio station could. What fun and what importance that sharing carried for me personally.

Excellent appreciation and history of Postcard Records here: http://www.twee.net/labels/postcard.html

Bob Burnett:
Ah, a hearkening to a time when we'd both wait for that moment of surprise and anticipation; when our mailboxes would be stuffed with a new shipment from someplace other than where we were at that moment. Rough Trade from London, Ralph from San Francisco, a package from Green World in California or New Music Distribution Service in lower Manhattan. Tactile, vital and new. Sometimes the stamps on the shipment would be more interesting than the music inside. Now, it's a file or a webpage but the moment still exists when a thing or two from Downtown Music Gallery arrives. It all still seems real and fulfilling; the discovery, the search and the insatiable wandering.

So Percussion: Amid the Noise

Bob Burnett: Great praise be to So Percussion for Amid the Noise and the joyous, syncopated yet subtle spin-ages it has brought to me.

Since beginning their journey together at the Yale School of Music in 1999, So Percussion has "been creating music that is both raucous and touching, barbarous and refined" (so says So's webpage). They seem to believe in percussion as an all-absorbing source for creating music. I happen to agree fully--being a long time follower of some of the great's efforts---Reich, Cage, Z'ev for example. (I even remember those '70s era Pierre Moerlin's Gong albums Expresso Vols. 1 and 2)

Amid the Noise was their third album and first effort at original music, written by member Jason Treuting. They experimented with glockenspiel, toy piano, vibraphones, bowed marimba, melodica, tuned and prepared pipes, metals, duct tape, a wayward ethernet port, and all kinds of sound programming. The result makes for creative, colorful and engaged listening. It flows, vibrates, echoes and pulses beautifully. Amid the Noise is a complete album--meaning it makes for an overall listening experience and not just a song/composition here or there.

There's also an interesting So Percussion ep out that features Evan Ziporyn's Melody Competition as well as David Lang's The So-Called Laws of Nature (parts 1-3). The ep features long-formed, rhythmic compositions--an interesting contrast to the gentle and melodic Amid the Noise.


Teodoro Anzellotti: Erik Satie Compositeur de Musique

Bob Burnett: When composer/pianist Erik Satie died in 1925, a group of friends and admirers realized no one had been to his one room apartment in the Parisian suburb of Arcueil since he had moved there twenty-seven years earlier. A group got together and decided to go in and explore--after all someone had to take on the task of dispersing his belongings. What was found has been called the King Tut tomb equivalent of the eccentric musician's stamp on life; scores of umbrellas--many never used, a total of four pianos: two dust and spider web encrusted ones were back to back, the others sat upside-down on top of the other two. Scattered about were letters from all periods of his life, drawings, collections of writings and other memorabilia including seven velvet suits from his Velvet Gentleman period; an era where he wore the identical suits one after another.

Found among the ephemera of nearly three decades of living and working in one room was sheet music for compositions. The scores were discovered behind the piano, in the pockets of the velvet suits, and in other odd places. According to a very well put-together wikipedia submission, these included marathon composition Vexations and other unpublished or unfinished works, The Dreamy Fish, many exercises, a previously unseen set of "canine" piano pieces, several other piano works often without titles. Some of these works would be published later as Gnossienes , (the series being some of his more known compositions) Pièces Froides, Enfantines, and Furniture Music.

I have known Satie's work from a variety of solo piano releases--my first exposure being the '70s EMI release by Aldo Ciccolini. There have been many others. A 2002 release, Hidden Corners by Eve Egoyan being my most recent version purchased. Now I've found another version--but not for piano. This time it's Satie performed on accordion, Erik Satie Compositeur de Musique by Teodoro Anzellotti on the Winter & Winter label, first released in 1998.

As his website states, Anzellotti has successfully contributed to integrating the accordion into classical music. This has occurred principally through his service to New Music: through his development of performing techniques he has enlarged the tone-color capabilities and sonic profile of his instrument. I first became aware of him on another Winter & Winter release 3 Compositions by John Cage which is a wonderfully subdued and beautifully executed offering.

I'm finding Erik Satie Compositeur de Musique to be an addicting listen. The melodies are familiar (Sports et Divertissements, Gnossienne's and Gymnopedie for piano No. 1) but the tone of the accordion and Anzellotti's ability to overlap and differentiate the simple but elegant notation is captivating. He creates an open, minimal quality that usually isn't associated with the accordion. In terms of easy digital purchasing, Erik Satie Compositeur de Musique is available via emusic or Amazon. I suggest looking into it.


The Mysteries of Sustain and Electricity:Kim Kirkpatrick: Through the years I routinely ponder band dynamics. The quality of their music over the long haul and how they manage to stay together for years. My own brief struggles in a band produced an appreciation for bands that remain creative for years. I honestly cannot fathom how bands manage to hold it together, maintain a positive group dynamic, and create excellent music with such longevity. Now many an important band in my life has carried on too long, gotten so bad and such a parody of themselves that their previous output becomes ruined for me (yeah I know this is a personal problem). But being in a band is a marriage (with extra spouses) and how can anyone be expected to recognize their failure while in the decay itself, much less halt the tumbling disaster?

This submission started true to C60 form, positive thoughts about bands to be shared. I am often pleased to consider the scope and size of discographies by such bands as The Bats or The Clean. Such bands of commitment and growth remain musically relevant in my life and are very important to me. All their years together can be heard in the familiarity and comfort level of playing together, as well as the band's overall refinement and progress. These are experienced musicians with time well spent together, traveling companions in a multitude of ways, and they share it all with us.
A few examples:
The American Analog Set
The Go-Betweens
Yo La Tengo


The Bats: The Guilty Office

Kim Kirkpatrick: A frustrating life experience we all share is waiting, and more often then not satisfaction is not the end result, right? How about a happy ending this time? I wait and wait for new music from The Bats. I wait for more of their melodies, their comfortable interplay, and I look forward to experiencing new musical swirling and floating pleasure in my head and heart. The Bats may not surface as often as I'd like but astoundingly the original line up has remained in tact for 25 years, half a dozen albums and several world tours. I was fortunate early on to catch a small club appearance by The Bats thanks to an insistent friend (Mike of Slumberland) and it was an invigorating, pop rockin' experience I'll always remember. I can still picture Mike smiling, eyes shut, his head swinging trance like to the jangle and pulse of The Bats. The band's songs (especially early on) were most often fast and driven hard by clean electric rhythm guitar. As a fan(atic) you'd rise up on these sonic waves, ride them gleefully, enjoy the blissful balance of it all, and really hope the wave never broke. It did of course but another wave of pleasure was right behind.

Leading The Bats is Robert Scott (also of The Clean), the main vocalist, songwriter, and rhythm guitarist. The bassist, Paul Kean slips along and punches through the melodies with a unique style and tone. Kaye Woodward always has a concise solo, color, or melody to enhance the structure and direction of their songs. Malcolm Grant's drumming holds it all together and moving forward with a particularly bouncy, light touch that really adds to the pleasure that is The Bats.

Another pleasure for me personally is their combination of a Vox AC30 and Fender Twin Reverb amps, both classic equipment for decades of rock music. A simple comparison could describe the Vox as one of clarity and sparkle as compared to the Fender Twin's loud, muscular tone. I love so much music that utilizes either of these amps (do some research if you are so inclined) but I particularly like the Fender Twin's breathing, smooth lower register tone. I love to hear the driven amp tones, the subtle use of analog effects, and tasteful sonic touches.

All of this is masterfully present on The Guilty Office, along with the addition of strings, a harp, and an accordion. This newest release lingers more at a mid to slower pace, but as always the songs are compelling and grow with repeated listening. Lyrics about relationships, observations, even seemingly timeless tales continue to flow with refinement from Mr. Scott. The Bats create beautiful, catchy, intelligent music whenever they gather together. If you are new to The Bats The Guilty Office is a fine starting point and not as pricey as some material appears to have gotten. Other additions would be the band compiled best of (import), Thousands of Tiny Luminous Spheres, another import, Compiletely Bats pulls together early material, and Fear of God or Daddy's Highway are also solid releases.

Lots of info about The Bats at this site.