on life, music etc beyond mainstream




I wanted to make a xmas record that was representative of the way I, and many of the people I know feel about it so it has a more melancholy, reflective atmosphere though still retaining some kind of a, as you say, „magic quality“. Also, while there are beautiful melodies in some of these tunes (e.g.) In The Bleak Midwinter. Jingle Bells is a song that I’m not very keen on which has a rather weak and insipid melody so it was a challenge to adapt it in a way that made it palatable; therefore that one was as much of a musical matter. I do like working with well known tunes though, as in the case of the Nursery Rhymes album; since everyone knows the original so well it’s ideal material for highlighting an arranger’s approach to it.


(Bill Wells, aus einer Email von heute nachmittag – die dritte Stunde der Klanghorizonte am 29. 12. ist vor allem Bill Wells und seinem National Jazz Trio of Scotland gewidmet)



The first time I really listened to João Gilberto, as opposed to hearing him in an anodyne background setting, was as a DJ in the spring of 1987. I had wangled my way into a slot early on Sunday mornings by pretending to know something about that jazz. The truth was that I was ignorant but curious, and relied heavily on randomly selecting vinyl from the stacks, reading the capsule reviews and suggested tracks scrawled on stickers on the back of each album cover by my predecessors, and giving anything that looked promising a brief preview before spinning it on the air.

Bossa nova seemed like a good way to balance the squawks and growls of the Henry Threadgill and Eric Dolphy records we had in heavy rotation for jazz shows that semester, and I found myself programming lots of Antonio Carlos Jobim. (I did not realize until later that he was neither a brother nor cousin of Tom, but actually the same person.) 

Then João Gilberto’s Live in Montreux arrived in the studio. The album was recorded in 1985 but only released early in 1987. WPRB’s jazz director gave every track multiple check marks in his review—the ultimate endorsement. Side one, track one was “Sem Compromisso”, a samba composed by Geraldo Pereira. I only learned years later about the way Geraldo Pereira had transformed samba, and the subtle defiance and invention of his lyrics. In 1987, I did not understand a single word. But I was hooked immediately, drawn ineluctably by Gilberto’s solo voice and guitar rendition.

Live in Montreux became my go-to late-night crash album. And it was on heavy rotation in my car as I drove around the New Jersey suburbs that summer, hoping in vain that the music would deliver on its implicit promise of serving the purpose of seduction. I remember one sultry midnight in particular, as I pulled to the side of a darkened cul-de-sac scented with the fragrance of blooming native sweetshrub and prepared to make my bumbling pitch to the comely lass seated, as if by some divine providence, in the passenger seat. 

First, we smoked a joint. Then I put on Live in Montreux. And before I could even reach an arm across the great divide separating our bucket seats, she was laughing uproariously. She was reduced to giggling incoherence by the combination of the powerful herb and João Gilberto’s magic. All she could say was, “No way. That is not a real language!”

No single experience was more pivotal in setting me on the road to becoming a Brazilianist. After that, I had to know what he was singing. And I realized more gradually that I had to understand how what he was singing could be language and music simultaneously, a message drawing on the deep matrix of Brazilian culture that also distilled the sound of samba to its sibilant essence.

It is a path that brought me full circle as I wrote this book, as I listened repeatedly to João Gilberto while driving around a different set of suburbs, finding the music no longer strange but even more powerfully seductive. At this point, it is a well that I know I will draw upon many times as the decades pile upon one another. And the path for each visit was already marked, in some way, by the groove of that first LP. It is the music that turned my head towards more distant shores and that continues to get me through the night.


(Bryan McCann)


The album ends with a few words from Charles Dickens extolling us to dwell not upon the past: “Never heed such dismal reminiscences,” he advises us in his playful Scots brogue. “There are few men who have lived long enough in the world, who cannot call up such thoughts any day in the year. Then do not select the merriest of the three hundred and sixty-five for your doleful recollections, but draw your chair nearer the blazing fire – fill the glass and send round the song.” It’s the perfect conclusion for a record that understands that doleful recollections are the very stuff of Christmas, and that we need our midwinter’s feast precisely because of our doleful recollections. Whatever your Christmas finds you doing, putting a brave face on your despair in the bosom of your family, or savouring your glass of reeking punch with no one but sad memories, or even bathing in a rare wonderful happiness, Ghost Stories for Christmas makes an excellent companion. (Colin Bond)

– eine Woche vor Heiligabend im Handel


Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert –  „A Ghost Story for Christmas“ (Lyric Video)



Some might find moody shots of Forster walking across an empty field or staring at a bonfire cliched or even trite. But they are people who hold more value in technique than soul. And the Go-Betweens have always been about soul, not technique. As Lindy Morrison says, “We didn’t look the part, we didn’t sound the part, we were too intelligent.”

Stenders has made an emotional, rolling thunder of a film, one this extraordinary band deserves. Those for whom the Go-Betweens are part of the architecture of their lives will love it. For casual watchers, it might introduce them to something special.

(Padrâig Collins, The Guardian)



When I read the book, the biography famous,
And is this then (said I) what the author calls a man’s life?
And so will some one when I am dead and gone write my life?
(As if any man really knew aught my life,
Why even I myself I often think know little or nothing of my real life,
Only a few hints, a few diffused faint clews and indirections
I seek for my own use to trace out here.)


2018 4 Dez

„The Opener“

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2018 30 Nov

From Tweedyland

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Now this will always stick in memory. Once upon a time, in March 1982, the month of its release, ON LAND found its way to my little house in deep Bavaria, on a hillside, a quite desolate no-man’s land for a townie, but fitting well to the haunting atmospheres of the album. It has been a companion of awe and wonder ever since then, and I really installed this ambient speaker system in my living room. Though it was definitely a tiny, ugly and cheap third speaker, I loved that experience. Now we live in different times, and surround systems are no longer that expensive. Thus a quad or 5:1-mix would be easy going, and, for a record like ON LAND, a perfect option. But here we go, with the half-speed vinyl remaster that in fact sounds beautiful, opening up even more depths. At least that’s what I’m feeling, I’m surely not painstakingly comparing it with old pressings. And everybody who has the 2005 cd remaster can happily live forever with that one. Brian had worked on the album quite a while during his New York years, and I was living literally at the end of a world, in Bergeinöden (the name of the village, no pun intended), with great music (Jazz by Post had been my favourite dealer), hot love, drama, Neil Young in concert, weekend travels to Schwabing, my first Go-Betweens record, Cortazar books, my salad days of volleyball,  and no happy endings. But it was worth the trip, at least that‘s what I keep telling myself. Scary Monsters were all around, but somehow I  managed to remain in light. (m.e.)





I regard this music as environmental: to be experienced from the inside. Accordingly I considered releasing a quadrophonic version of it, an idea I abandoned upon realising that very few people (myself included) own quadrophonic systems.

However, I have for many years been using a three-way speaker system that is both simple to install and inexpensive, and which seems to work very well on any music with a broad stereo image. The effect is subtle but definite – it opens out the music and seems to enlarge the room acoustically.

In addition to a normal stereo hifi system all that is required is one extra loudspeaker and some speaker cable. The usage of this speaker in the three-way system is such that it will not be required to handle very low frequencies: therefore a small or „mini“ speaker will be adequate.

As shown in the diagram, the two terminals of the new speaker are connected to the two positive (red) speaker connectors on the amplifier. This speaker is located somewhere behind the listener – at the apex of a triangle whose base is formed by the original loudspeaker set-up. One of the unexpected benefits of this system is an increase in the usable listening area – almost any point in the room will yield good (although not necessarily „accurate“) stereo sound.

I arrived at this system by accident, and I don’t really know why it works. What seems to happen is that the third speaker reproduces any sound that is not common to both sides of the stereo – i.e., everything that is not located centrally in the stereo image – and I assume that this is because the common information is put out of phase with itself and cancels out.

More technically, the lower the impedance of the added speaker, the louder it will sound. If it is found to be too loud (although this rarely seems to happen), you can either insert a potentiometer (6-12 ohms, at least 10 watts) into the circuit, or move the speaker further away.



Discreet Music: 10/10

Music for Airports: 10/10

Music for Films: 10/10

On Land: 10/10



Discreet Music: 10/10

Music for Airports: 10/10

Music for Films: 10/10

On Land: 10/10



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