on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2013 2 Nov

Nach der Nacht mit Ella …

von: Michael Engelbrecht Filed under: Blog | TB | 5 Comments

… Fitzgerald und ihrem Cole Porter-Songbook fand ich noch ein paar Stunden Schlaf und bin dann zum besten Plattenladen von Köln aufgebrochen, und habe bei A-Musik zugeschlagen (einiges davon könnte es nächste Woche in den Klanghorizonten zu hören geben).

Mika Vainio: Kilo

Loderbauer: Transparenz

Heron: Twice As Nice

Basho: Visions of the Country

V.A. – Studio One Ska Fever

Neben meiner Zeitreise in die edle Glitzerwelt des alten Jazz mit all seinen verborgenen Dunkelheiten des alltäglichen Rassismus in den USA anno 1956 spielte in meinem Auto eine eigenwillig-raue, harsch-melodische berörende Musik, Tim Heckers Virgins. Vom guten alten Label Kranky Records. Höllisch gut!



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  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    *Heavyweight double vinyl edition in deluxe gatefold sleeve with full sleevenotes* „A blistering collection of ska tunes from Clement ‘Sir Coxsone’ Dodd’s legendary Studio One Records, Jamaica’s foundation label of reggae music. Featuring classic cuts from the originators of Ska – The Skatalites, The Wailers, Lee Perry – alongside a heavy dose of superb rarities from the mighty vaults of 13 Brentford Road. Soul Jazz Records’ new ‘Studio One Ska Fever’ goes back to the early 1960s, when Ska was the soundtrack to Jamaica’s independence, Sir Coxsone ruled the land, and The Skatalites and Studio One were creating history on a daily basis with an endless stream of blistering, scorching classic tunes. This album includes an incredible line up of only the finest artists in reggae music, including Roland Alphonso, The Gaylads, The Ethiopians, Don Drummond, Jackie Opel and many more. The accompanying booklet contains extensive sleevenotes from Studio One historian Rob Chapman (author of ‘Never Grow Old’ and ‘Downbeat Special’), with information on musicians, tracks, label scans and more.“

    – Boomkat

  2. Michael Engelbrecht:

    This second Heron album from 1972 was originally released as a double album at the price of one; hence the title.

    The album shows a greater variety of musical styles than the 1970 debut album. Still it’s the acoustic folk-style that’s predominant, mixed with some more rocking tunes. Most of the album was recorded out in the open outside a Devon country cottage, which gives the album an unique atmosphere.

    Their songwriting is even more convincing here than on their debut. Their have 2 excellent songwriters in Gerald T. Moore and Roy Apps ( who is still with the band ).

    Here on their early records it’s Moore who is shining the most. His songs „My Turn to Cry“, „Minstrel and the King“, „The Devil“ and „Big A“ are simply outstanding. Roy Apps‘ strongest contributions here are probably „Take Me back Home“ and „Your Love and Mine“. Another favourite out mine is their charming version of Woody Guthrie’s „The Great Dust Storm“.

    A shame that a lot of people are not aware that the band is still together and recording fine new material from time to time, released on their own Relaxx label.

    Roy Apps has once stated that the album probably ought to have been cut down to a single album; maybe . . but it would have been extremely hard to pick out the tracks that would have to go!

    Morten Vindberg

  3. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Robbie Basho died in a California hospital room more than 27 years ago. His vertebral artery ruptured during a visit to a chiropractor’s office. He had a stroke, slipped into a coma and, at the age of 45, passed away. In the decades that have followed, his already-wavering reputation as a pioneer of finger-picked acoustic guitar experimentation has passed largely like a shadow behind the music and myth of John Fahey, Basho’s old pal who released several of his earliest albums.
    It should be remembered that Fahey experienced a renaissance in the 90s. The music press famously championed his early work and helped goad him from semi-retirement. He followed the laurels both with a string of strange, daring records and a brilliant new record label, Revenant, which advocated alternate strains of the avant-garde and the hillbilly music that had helped inspire his own. Basho, being dead, enjoyed no such revival. In fact, a large chunk of his catalogue now languishes out of print, serving as grails for collectors rather than essential bits in a narrative much broader than Blind Joe Death. And that’s a shame: Nearly 30 years after his death, and after multiple waves of guitarists have risen to revive the mantle Fahey and Basho both helped shape, Basho’s manic, hyperkinetic approach to playing, singing, songwriting and living in general have very few peers. Basho’s tenth album, 1978’s Visions of the Country, was the fifth album Windham Hill Records ever released. After more than three decades out of print, it is finally back in circulation; on its 35th anniversary, it serves as an ecstatic testimonial for a guitarist in need of a popular resurrection.
    Basho’s relative anonymity isn’t only a byproduct of his untimely death, of course: Even when he was alive, his allegedly inscrutable personality and debated quirks kept him a bit at arms length. Those same strange traits are part and parcel to his music. He did not aim for Fahey’s steady, solemn gaze or Leo Kottke’s eccentric approachability. Rather, Basho’s music was a blunderbuss of feeling, tied to unstoppable technique. He whistles loudly over the Keith Jarrett-sized piano clouds of “Leaf in the Wind”, as though it were his aim to spoil the song’s billowing beauty. And he ends Visions of the Country by urging listeners to “follow the Milky Way– home!” in a voice that suggests Mr. Rogers.
    Indeed, Basho’s singing generally wasn’t what you’d call pretty or subtle. During “Night Way”, from the second side of Visions of the Country, he obscures the wonderful ribbons of his six-string guitar with singing generously described as zealous. He wails a ceremonial Navajo chant, his voice locking into and falling from falsetto, its vibrato smearing the track with warble. For the listener, the guitar is the star here, but you have to peer past the bleat to find it. During “Orphan’s Lament”, he slurs and nearly screams his tribute to the poor and peripatetic above sheets of stacked piano notes, delivering empathy like a bar-side Irisman. These aren’t songs you’d really put on during a party or in a mix for a love interest. Basho’s sound is dramatic and yearning and very personal, altogether unapologetic for the way he saw the world.
    What’s most remarkable about Basho is how busy and emphatic but absolutely effortless his songs could feel, especially when he touches the guitar. At once, Basho could appear to be laying it all on the line and simply breezing through the notes. During “Rocky Mountain Raga”, he practically howls as he sings “Oh, you grand Rockies,” pretending that he’s an opera star. But even so, his fingers are frantic and unfailing, delivering a perfect and convoluted stream of notes that never loses momentum just because he’s now got something to say. Early in his career, Basho was a rather plainspoken folk musician. A natural roamer, though, he developed an enthusiastic embrace of world religion and music– from India to Ireland, from Native American lore to Sufi teachings. On Visions of the Country, those polyglot tendencies allow him to slip Middle Eastern accents and chamber ensemble flair into “Variations on Easter”, a four-minute fantasy that’s as close to a “simple” acoustic instrumental theme as he ever really got. Conversely, he’s comfortable singing a pretty song over somewhat plain chords, too. On “Blue Crystal Fire”, he sustains that falsetto, his voice curling like that of Antony Hegarty in a song that’s coincidentally about natural wonder– “Smooth singing sunshine/ wrap your blanket around me.” Basho constructed his ecumenical complications above solid foundations. Visions of the Country uniquely shows every layer.
    Gnome Life’s reissue of Visions of the Country won’t be enough to resuscitate Basho’s reputation, to turn him, like Fahey, into shorthand for adventurous acoustic guitar. But that’s OK. Basho will never have the same broad appeal or the same cyclic story as Fahey. His music is, at first, rather off-putting, but ultimately, he imagined modes for the guitar and composition that we’re still reconciling. Marnie Stern sometimes maneuvers against her instrument in the same way, and James Blackshaw explores the same nebulous majesty. But Robbie Basho’s music mostly remains a pan-everything oddball, and Visions of the Country is, at last, once again living proof.


  4. Michael Engelbrecht:

    It’s kind of astounding that Max Loderbauer has never put out a solo record before. The Berlin-based producer and sound engineer has had a long and illustrious career: he was a member of the influential ’90s duo Sun Electric, made experimental techno with Tobias Freund as nsi., played in the Moritz Von Oswald Trio and remixed the hallowed ECM catalogue with Ricardo Villalobos. (He also played in a late ’80s EBM group called Fisherman’s Friend, but that’s neither here nor there.) All things considered, Loderbauer is one of the most distinguished electronic artists in Berlin, but until now we’ve never actually heard him on his own. This made it a bit of a surprise when Transparenz, his debut solo album, quietly appeared on Non Standard Productions this summer.

    Transparenz has many of the hallmarks of Loderbauer’s collaborative work. Sound design is the main attraction, but there’s plenty of room for warmth and emotion—not as much as a track title like „Giant Hug“ might suggest, but more than usual for a record this avant-garde (it’s a walk in the park compared to Rashad Becker’s album). There are undulating rhythms in „Ssseq“ and „Shelf,“ but not the kind you can tap your foot to. „Slowrag“ and „Eleg #2“ both have powerful chord changes, and „Jea“ is a kind of volcanic jumble of arpeggios, but the album always stops short of being melodic. All of the tracks have the same drab romance as the image on the sleeve—a photograph taken by Loderbauer himself.

    Taken as a whole, Transparenz is like a gallery of abstract images, each with a different mood and shape. Some evoke a sense of cosmic wonder, echoing the ambient side of krautrock (Tangerine Dream in particular comes to mind). Others are exercises in rhythm and sound design that end up feeling otherworldly—listening to „Shelf,“ it’s obvious why this guy gets on so well with Villalobos. Throughout the record, there’s a level of clarity and ultra-refined minimalism that calls to mind ECM, whose credo—“the most beautiful sound next to silence“—feels relevant here. Loderbauer may not have the same star power as some of his peers, but as Transparenz reminds us, he’s truly a master of his craft.

    – residenzadvisor

  5. Michael Engelbrecht:

    With the harsher end of techno in the middle of its biggest renaissance in over a decade, it is only fitting that one of the first masters of the form has found himself back in high demand. It’s not as if he ever went anywhere; Mika Vainio is easily one of techno and experimental electronic music’s most prolific artists, with a discography that stretches across genre divides, aliases, a few of the area’s most respected labels, and seemingly endless collaborations with long-term partners and in one-off groups.

    For someone who’s invested thirty-plus years in production and electro-acoustics, Vainio is surprisingly modest about both his means and his goals: a few simple machines, a few homemade noisemakers, patience, and his intuitive, improvisational approach to music are the basic components to achieve the moods he seeks. Developments are teased out deliberately, and end results are diverse.

    Possibly polarised by his intense, long running interaction with Ilpo Väisänen in their duo Pan Sonic, Vainio’s career has thrived on extremes. They were most obvious on the pair’s records, which often featured minimalist beat experiments rubbed directly against short outbursts of searing electronic noise. The interplay seemed to get more intense as time went on; their 2004 four-album set Kesto featured a disc each of the various styles they were known for – noisy industrial, minimalist rhythms, droning tonal experiments, and pure ambient pieces – and their 2007 and 2010 efforts for Blast First Petite contained some of their harshest but also most arrestingly beautiful work yet, with passages incorporating live acoustic instrumentation and even louder outbursts of industrialisms.

    Vainio himself was little more predictable in this time and afterwards; since Pan Sonic’s 2010 dissolution, he has made ambient records for Touch, recorded in improvised jazz-noise ensembles for PAN and Honest Jon’s, and released Life… It Eats You Up, his 2011 effort for eMego that was as notable for containing nearly-unrecognisable Stooges covers as it was for being one of his harshest, most feral outings ever, as well as one of his most concrete.

    Indeed, it seems that Vainio’s music has recently taken a general turn towards more concrete reference points: Kilo, the title of his newest album, is a very appropriate metaphor for the images of gravity, slowness and weight that the music presented here summons. The track titles themselves follow suit, citing themes of decaying industry interspersed with nautical references: ‚Rust‘, ‚Wreck‘, ‚Docks‘, ‚Cranes‘, ‚Cargo‘. In keeping with this imagery, the music possesses a slow, lumbering rhythmic base, much like the steady forward motion of a freighter against a storm of harsh elements, and calmer moments of dusky, decaying sonics alternate with more ferocious outbursts of noise and power electronics while the pulse pushes on.

    If the track divisions do not pass by unnoticed, they are consistently un-emphasised; the beats subside for moments of respite, only to reenter in a similar tempo but rearranged structurally. In another move of deliberate pacing, the ominous waves of the record gradually rage into a tempest in its third quarter during ‚Scale‘. The end of the album simply fades out slowly into silence.

    In unifying the more rhythmic side of his music with the textural side that he displays on his noise and ambient recordings, Vainio has created a statement that is fitting for an artist in the middle of a career renaissance. Kilo exchanges pure visceral impact for control and composition, but in doing so it focuses its own energy into a sharper edge. He ultimately may forever be defined by his work with Väisänen and his early catalogue on Sähkö, but by moving past the rage of Pan Sonic’s end statements to a sophisticated synthesis of power electronics, rhythm, noise, improvisation, and drone, Vainio has created one of his most cohesive recent statements.

    – Albert Freeman, The Quietus

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