on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2013 20 Nov

Das geheime Leben alter Radiosendungen

von: Michael Engelbrecht Filed under: Blog | TB | 17 Comments

In einer grossen fernen Stadt fand ich in einer grossen vielstöckigen Altbauwohnung Hunderte meiner Klanghorizonte-Sendungen. Zum Teil akkurat archiviert, gingen die alten Chromkassetten bis ins Jahr 1998 zurück, starteten also acht Jahre nach meinem Arbeitsantritt als Nachtfalke. Die Listen der einzelnen Shows liessen im Takt eines rasanten Tak-Tak alter Diaprojektoren Bilder und Gefühle aufsteigen, wie Rauchwolken in der Ferne, aber klar konturiert, und mit Adleraugen noch schärfer gestellt. Zwischendurch huschte Nick Drake vorbei, ja, der Cello-Song, vor zehn Jahren hatte ich ihn zuletzt gespielt, jetzt taucht er am Samstag wieder auf. Die Archivarin kannte die Sendungen gut, und erzählte mir, wie sie an meiner Stimme meine jeweilige Gefühlslage ausfindig machte. Manchmal tauchen in den „playlists“ einzelne Sätze meiner Moderationen auf, in solch verdichteter Form bin ich meinem historischen Ego noch nie begegnet. Gelebtes Leben, in Klängen gehortet. Da war erst mal ein Spaziergang durch die Nacht angesagt. Und ich sagte, wie schön es sei, in ein paar Tagen eine weitere Zeitreise anzutreten, in der viele alte Jahre gestreift werden, und selbst der Tanzboden am Ende der Stunde voller doppelter Böden, und bodenlos sei. Let the power fall! 



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  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Playlist am 23.11.2012, Radionacht im Deutschlandfunk, Klanghorizonte, 4.05 Uhr: 1) Nick Drake: Cello Song 2) Zsofia Boras: Ecrovid, aus EN OTRA PARTE 3) Arthur Russell: Lucky Cloud, aus ANOTHER THOUGHT 4) Sun Ra /with John Gilmore & Marshall Allen: Tiny Pyramids, aus: ANGELS AND DEMONS AT PLAY 5) Simon Fisher Turner: Dhaulagiri aus THE EPIC OF THE EVEREST 6) Daniel Lanois: Ice, aus ACADIE 7) Robert Fripp: Exposure, aus EXPOSURE 8) Nico: Abschied, aus DESERTSHORE 9) Simon Fisher Turner: Ama Dablam , aus THE EPIC OF THE EVEREST 10) Keith Jarrett: VIII, aus NO END 11) Laraaji: All Pervading, aus CELESTIAL MUSIC (1978-2011) 12) The Trammps: Trammps Disco Theme / Zing Went The Strings, aus PHILADELPHIA INTERNATONAL CLASSICS: THE TOM MOULTON REMIXES

  2. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Having sampled Nick Drake’s genius on „Way to Blue – An introduction to Nick Drake“, I went out and bought all three of his main albums. They are all worthy of five stars, but while the stark „Pink Moon“ perhaps has a couple of weak links and „Bryter Later“ relies on some instrumental passages, I would say that „Five Leaves Left“ stands as the ultimate monument to Nick Drake’s brilliance.
    It contains arguably his greatest songs, the lilting, yearning „River Man“ and the harrowing, prophetic „Fruit Tree“. There is playfulness too in „The Thoughts of Mary Jane“ and „Man in a Shed“ but all tinged with his trademark „wistfulness“ Other classics are „Day is Done“, „Saturday Sun“ and the beautiful „Cello Song“, which shows off his almost inimitable guitar technique. The whole album boasts an incredible range of interesting rhythms and melodies. If you liked Van Morrison’s „Astral Weeks“ you’ll certainly like this

    Drake on this record was whimsical yet poignant, hopeful yet hurt. He sang in a whisper that spoke a whole encyclopaedia of volumes. He was one of this country’s greatest songwriters and a great musician too. A lot of stuff I used to like now sounds clumsy after listening to this.

    Phew! But that’s enough. Don’t take my word for it. Buy this – and the other two albums too.

  3. Michael Engelbrecht:

  4. Michael Engelbrecht:

    I love albums by performers who are in the midst of transitions. Think about the Beatles albums: Rubber Soul and Revolver. They were in the midst of the transiton that freed up their playing, yet they were still remained connected to their roots. That is what Angels and Demons at Play is like in the Sun Ra catalogue. It is suspended in the middle of a big change of direction from a tighter big band sound to free jazz. It is very complex in mood and is really groovy to boot. A great intro to Sun Ra.

  5. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Originally released in 1994 on Point Music, Another Thought went out of print like so many other albums before a renewed interest in the work of Arthur Russell made the prospect of a re-release more likely. Other than being remastered and some minor liner note changes, the album has been unchanged, and yet like so much of Russell’s work, it still manages to sound fresh twelve years later (and probably roughly fifteen years since it was actually created). Another Thought was actually the first posthumous release from Russell, and despite all the great work that has followed on the Audika label, it’s great to have it back in print.

    Sure, there are tracks on the release that have been featured in different forms on newer releases (most notably „Lucky Cloud“ from World Of Echo and „Keeping Up“ from Calling Out Of Context), but Russell himself notoriously reworked his own tracks over and over, seemingly rarely actually finishing a track in his own perfectionist way, while oftentimes leaving several and uniquely outstanding versions of the same track on tape.

    In many ways, Another Thought is the most pop-oriented release in the entire Russell catalogue so far. The first half of the release finds tracks structured in very normal ways, with some of his more mainstream sounding instrumentation. „A Little Lost“ finds him weaving his usual cello bowing with some nice acoustic guitar and line after line of catchy vocal melodies. The aforementioned „Lucky Cloud“ finds him plucking out more rhythmic cello work, but again his vocals dip and climb and veer all over, keeping one step ahead over the course of the two minute piece.

    Elsewhere, the six-minute „Keeping Up“ is not only one of my favorite songs by Russell, but possibly within my top 20 favorite songs ever. The song is fairly simple musically, with only plain rhythm programming and sparse cello work with vocals, but it’s what Russell does with the space that’s so magical. His cello moves from dancing, melodic notes to hyper-fuzzy passages that sound like overdriven electric guitar, while the male/female vocal parts (some of them clipped and edited uniquely) and repetitive lyrics push the song forward at a relentless pace. In other places, you can hear the worldly influences (polyrhythms, etc) that bled into his music and tracks like „In The Light Of The Miracle“ sound like alternate-universe versions of tracks from Remain In Light by the Talking Heads.

    If you’ve listened to any of his work to date, you know that he had a truly varied range (including everything from dense disco to avant garde cello and voice experiments and almost musique concrete). In that regard, Another Thought might very well be one of the best places in his entire catalogue to start if you haven’t yet heard him. It’s not as dancy as Calling Out of Context or the Springfield EP, yet it’s not quite as obtuse as World Of Echo or First Thought, Best Thought. Some have said that Russell sounds like Nick Drake if he had a cello and some effects instead of a guitar, and that description isn’t too far off. It’s amazing, heartbreaking, inspiring music.

  6. Michael Engelbrecht:

    In June 1924 George Mallory and Andrew Irvine walked to their deaths, disappearing from the view of their fellow explorers on the north-east ridge of Mount Everest. That there was a film-maker, with a customised camera and a telephoto lens, on hand to record any of their final steps is impressive, even when viewed from the age of citizen photojournalism. The documentary that Captain John Noel crafted from his hard-won footage is an astonishing movie, one that pays equal tribute to the ambition of Mallory’s team and the inhospitality of the mountain.

    For all its historical significance, The Epic of Everest feels more like an art film than a documentary, thanks to the restoration of the original tinted sequences and a new and richly textured, often sinister score by Simon Fisher Turner. Modern viewers may squirm at the contrast between Noel’s reverent approach to the mountain and his condescension toward the Tibetan locals. But it’s the chill grandeur of his images, and the mystical note in his rueful conclusion, that will linger in your mind.

  7. Michael Engelbrecht:

    This album is one of the best kept secrets of the last 20 years. It’s my favourite album of all time, and I know how loosely these accolades can be thrown around. Acadie has folk roots and a crystaline, unique honesty – it is by turns melodic, bluesy, perfectly produced and yet somehow human and imperfect. You’re always chasing it, tantalised by something you can’t quite put your finger on. At the same time it is experimental and addictive – two elements that rarely meet. The album has a selflessness that gives it a warm spiritual quality. Quite simply, it’s one of music’s finest minds letting us in with powerful, spirtual, haunted songs. Everyone will have their favourites on this CD – for me, I cannot look past The Maker or St Anne’s Gold. All of Lanois‘ work is worth a look but he is yet to top this. A masterpiece.

  8. Michael Engelbrecht:

    I consider this album a ground-breaking classic which helped open my ears. Already a Peter Gabriel fan when I first heard the album, I had not expected anything I had not heard before, but the version of „Here Comes the Flood“ goes beyond the version on Gabriel’s first album (popularly referred to as Car). Of coure, „Exposure“, the title track, also appears on Gabriel’s second album, known as „Scratch“. The musicians on Exposure clearly demonstrate Fripp’s ability and desire to work with others, which is much of why the album is so diverse. Fripp is astounding throughout the album, while not overshadowing his guests‘ talents. Tony Levin and Jerry Marotta of course, worked extensively with Gabriel through the years, while Levin became a long standing member of King Crimson. While many of Fripp’s other solo album often strike me as being too similar to each other, this album is really something different. It was around the time that I first heard this album that I first heard the Crimson classic Red, which left me somewhat boggled, and wishing I could understand it. After listening to Exposure a few times, and then Crimson’s Discipline, I was able to bridge the gap from more popish things like Peter Gabriel and enter a new arena of listening experience. I would say that you probably have to have a desire to disturb yourself a bit to grab onto this album, but for those who desire, it is a good place to start. It is also an excellent album to find some roots.

  9. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Nico is, as far as im concerned, the most underrated and underappriciated artist of all time. Her music was decades ahead of its time, and to this day there is STILL nothing like what she has done out there. She was writing songs in a style that was and is unparalleled, she used beautifully dark imagery to tell her stories rather than just come out and say them. She began as a top model in Paris during the 50s, took acting classes (with Marylin Monroe btw) and earned a part in Fellini’s „La Dolce Vita“, which led to Andy Warhol’s discovery of her. Andy introduced Nico to a new group he was working with called The Velvet Underground and, as they say, the rest is history. She then left the group to record a solo album, „Chelsea Girl“, with compositions from Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, and Jackson Browne. She then went on to create her first masterpiece, „The Marble Index“ which was solely composed by Nico herself (She credits Jim Morrison as the one who told her to write songs) and largely arranged by her ex-velvets member John Cale. „The Marble Index“ may have been her first masterpiece but it was not her career’s crowning achievement… her third solo album „Desertshore“ takes that title. This album is again solely composed by Nico and produced by John Cale. It is by far one of the most compelling pieces of music I have ever experienced. These songs sound like the music you would hear if you were to take a knife and slowly make a tiny cut in the earth’s flesh and peer into the depths of hell. Every single song on this album is incredibly hauntingly beautiful and dark, from the chilling harpsichord accompanying the voice of Nico’s son Ari (whom she would later get addicted to heroine) in „Le Petit Chevalier“ to the sheer majesty that is „Janitor of Lunicy“. Nico was a tragic and mysterious figure in the world of rock and that classic line from „Afriad“ pretty much sums up her entire life and legacy: „You are beautiful… and you are alone.“ This album is a MUST for anyone who likes gothic, dark, or poetic music. Oh and btw I first heard this album sitting alone at night in a dark dark room listening to every word, sound, and shriek of her harmonium, and I recommend that be how you first experience it

  10. Michael Engelbrecht:

    When Keith Jarrett released Spirits in 1986 on his longstanding/exclusive label, Germany’s ECM Records, this two-disc home recording—featuring the pianist on a multitude of instruments in addition to his main axe, including a bevy or recorders and flutes, guitar, saz and percussion—came out of the blue to his legion of fans while, at the same time, not representing a total surprise. After all, at this point in time, the musically voracious Jarrett was busy recording and touring with his then-nascent Standards Trio; delivering epic solo piano performances like Concerts: Bregenz/Munich—first released in 1981 but finally issued on CD in its entirety for the first time concurrent with this release; and was looking to other instruments for improvisational grist, as he did with church organ on 1979’s Hymns/Spheres (another recent reissue in complete form) and harpsichord on 1986’s Book of Ways.

    But even those accomplishments did not represent the sum total of Jarrett’s breadth since coming to ECM with the 1972 solo piano album that shook the world, Facing You. In addition, the pianist led two now-legendary bands in the ’70s, each with their own separate repertoires, largely penned by the pianist: his American Quartet with Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian; and the European „Belonging“ Quartet that, with Jan Garbarek, Palle Danielsson and Jon Christensen, was recently heard on 2012’s stellar archival unearthing, Sleeper—Tokyo, April 16, 1979. Jarrett was also composing classical music as early as 1974’s In the Light (1974) while performing classical music written by others, including then-ECM newcomer, Estonian composer Arvo Part’s Tabula Rasa (1984).

    A lot has changed since those halcyon days, however: Jarrett, since being taken down for a number of years in the mid-’90s with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, has largely reduced his regular work to just two contexts: the Standards Trio, last heard earlier this year on Somewhere; and solo performances like Rio (2011)—though he did return to classical performance earlier this year with the wonderful Bach: Six Sonatas for Violin and Piano (2013), featuring violinist Michelle Makarski.

    Even so, Jarrett’s overall musical purview has shrunken considerably over the years; while he asserts, quite correctly, that improvisation is a form of composition, he still has not put pen to paper and formally composed any new music for more than three decades; while his current activities can certainly be considered as more than enough, there remain those in his fan base who would love to see him turn back to writing the kind of music he did for his two 1970s quartets. If artists‘ activities can only be measured—by their fans, that is—by what they choose to release and perform in concert, then as brilliant as he remains as both an in-the-moment drawer of music from the ether with his solo shows and as a similarly unfettered interpreter of the Great American Songbook and jazz standards both well-known and obscure, then the Jarrett of the new millennium has become, if not in content, then certainly predictable in form.

    Which makes the release of another unearthed piece of archival music, No End, something of a surprise—or, perhaps, it should be not so much of one.

    Recorded just a year after Spirits, in 1986—and again at Jarrett’s home studio („Cavelight Studios“) in New Jersey—No End bears some comparison to its predecessor. Like Spirits, the pianist does play his primary axe, but it’s far from his main one; instead, No End’s dominating instruments are electric guitars, bass and drums, along with some percussion, recorder and voice. Electric?!?!? some of you might say? Drums? From Keith Jarrett?

    Well, while he has long been vocal about not liking electric keyboards, Jarrett has never come out against other instruments of the plugged-in variety, and it’s important to remember that, while the majority of his career has been in the acoustic world, he is still a child of the ’60s; he even performed Bob Dylan’s „My Back Pages“ on his 1968 live trio recording, Somewhere Before (Vortex), and Joni Mitchell’s „All I Want“ on the studio date with the same group, The Mourning of a Star (Atlantic, 1971). Just because his preferences lean to the acoustic side when it comes to piano, is it a reasonable assumption that the same applies across the board?

    Clearly not, based on No End. And for those who thought they knew Jarrett, a warning: when you read, on a Keith Jarrett record, „Producer’s Note: Play this music LOUD,“ well, you know this ain’t Kansas you’re in anymore.

    The very electric nature of No End makes it a very different beast than Spirits, although there’s a certain spirituality to both that does, at least, make them distant cousins. Most of No End’s twenty, Roman-numbered tracks are based around either vamps or, as in the case of the Phrygian „I,“ very simple chord progressions. Jarrett is clearly not as accomplished an instrumentalist here as he is on piano; though he turns out to be a surprisingly good drummer, on electric guitar he clearly commands some language, but is not always successful at actually articulating it. Still, there’s something intrinsically charming about being a fly on the wall of Jarrett’s home studio, where he plays music for nobody but himself, and explores avenues that are about as far away as can be imagined from the music that’s garnered him his reputation as one of the most significant jazz pianists of the past half century.

    It’s a true mixed bag, with plenty of layering done by bouncing tracks between two two-track cassette decks (meaning a lot of hiss). Based on Jarrett’s guitar and bass parts, and with his in-the-weeds singing, „V“ could be something sourced from the Caribbean, but his straightforward, four-to-the-bar drumming keeps it situated a little farther north. „VI,“ on the other hand, is more outré, Jarrett’s background guitar chords revealing that earlier-referenced broader language, even if his single-note work feels a little more rudimentary and his bends are those of someone for whom guitar is clearly not a primary instrument.

    And who would ever have expected Keith Jarrett of the mid-’80s to create music that actually rocks, is at times sloppily funky and elsewhere, with Jarrett’s tablas and hand percussion, approaches a kind of meditative world music?

    The music of No End is ultimately incidental to its real value: evidence that there was a time when Jarrett was far less sedentary in his ways; perhaps even more importantly, however, that after nearly 30 years, Jarrett has chosen to release these recordings also reveals something important about where he is now. Not that anyone has to worry about showing up to a Jarrett show to find him with the „beautiful deep red Gibson solid body“ of the recording strapped on, but there’s something revealing In his brief liner notes, when he says, …“ somehow something happened during these days in the ’80s that won’t ever be repeated. I had wanted to record on drums most of my life, and when I got the tape out recently, I thought I’d better run with it.“

    While it’s up for discussion as to whether or not it’s possible to attain some of the milestones we achieve when we’re younger—there are certainly artists who, in their sixties and seventies, are consistently putting out the best music of their career. No End may well not be Jarrett at his best—even nearly three decades ago in 1986—but it Is proof positive that assumptions—even those with solid empirical support—are rarely complete truths. Jarrett may have spent the better part of his long career honing the possibilities of a single instrument within a largely singular genre, but his interests clearly reach farther afield. Hard though it may be to believe, nestled within Jarrett the jazz interpreter and spontaneous composer is Jarrett the rock-edged instigator, polyrhythmic explorer and folkloric investigator.

    No End is a decidedly and surprisingly lo-fi recording from the normally pristine ECM. But for the window that these 92 minutes open into what were, at the time, some of Jarrett’s private inspirations, No End may not be a great record, but it is an important one.

  11. Michael Engelbrecht:

    ‚Celestial Music‘ is a long overdue career retrospective documenting the highlights from over 30 years of spiritual music by Edward Larry Gordon aka Laraaji. Like many others, we were first turned onto Laraaji by Universal Sound’s recent(ish) reissue of his ‚Celestial Vibration‘ (1978) debut, which originally predated his better known „discovery“ by Brian Eno, documented on ‚Ambient 3: Day Of Radiance‘ (1980). Inspired by Eastern Mysticism and played on an electronically modified zither, Laraaji’s music is a spiritually transcendent sound used for meditation and personal enlightenment. This double disc set collects some of his most effective compositions, including collaborations with Bill Laswell (‚Airbass‘ 1998), Blues Control (‚Astral Jam‘ 2011) and Jonathan Goldman (‚Quiet Space‘ 1986) and best heard in highlights such as the sublime ‚Space Choir‘ and rarities like the gritty, groove-driven ‚Staccato‘ or the remarkably Arthur Russell-esque ‚Vision Song Suite‘. Highly recommended!

  12. Michael Engelbrecht:

    All I can say is amazing! I can’t get enough. I hope there will be a second installation. Hearing parts to songs I know well that have never been available before makes the tracks feel brand new all over again. Love it. Where Disco comes from, the template to dance music as we know it.

  13. Michael Engelbrecht:

    11 different perspectives on 11 albums dating from 1973 to 2013 … From John Kelman, and other infamous and in parts unknown writers and lovers of strange music.

  14. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Na, ob Gregor wohl am Wahrheitsgehalt meiner Geschichte zweifeln wird? Dabei ist sie vollkommen wahr, und der Nachtspaziergang und der letzte Satz waren eine Erfindung, besser, eine Verdichtung von Gesprächen und Gedanken.

    Wer die Sendung hört im Deutschlandfunk, wird hier ein paar Hintergrundgedanken zu jeder Produktion finden.

    Let The Power Fall ist kein schicker esoterischer Spruch, der mir gerade mal so einfiel, es war der Soundtrack meines Besuches in der Wohnung, die das geheime Leben alter Radiosendungen enthält. Robert Fripps betörendstes Frippertronics-Soloalbum. Ich war gerade mal eine Stunde in der Wohnung, da brachte der Paketbote diese Schallplatte aus dem Jahr 1981 in die Wohnung der Archivarin. Unglaublich.

  15. Henning:

    Tief im Wald der Musikmystik. Ein Rauschen und Lauschen leben.

  16. Gregor:

    klar glaub ich die Geschichte, habe ja selbst zahllose Klanghorizonte-Sendungen archiviert. Meine erste aufgenommene Sendung stammt vom 29.12.1991!

  17. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Gregor, das wäre ein Schatz für die Archivarin:) War Eno dabei?

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