Sunday, December 25, 2011

VA - A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector ( Philles, 1963)

For all my obsession with the most famous avant-garde record producers of pop history (Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Sam Phillips, George Martin, Tony Visconti, John Cale, Tom Dowd, etc., nothing matches Phil Spector. You may disagree, but as far as originality goes, nothing impresses me more than his "Wall of Sound" treatment.

This is the greatest Christmas album of all time yet it has been a relative failure. How is this possible? These recordings coincided with Spector at the peak of his creative genius. With The Ronettes and The Crystals on board it doesn't seem like anything could go wrong.

Well, there is a legitimate reason. Historically, Phil Spector has had a multitude of misfortune. Some of it his fault, some of it not, much of it due to serious psychological problems. Either way, Philles Records released this on Nov. 22, 1963. Does that date ring a bell? Yeah? That's because JFK was assassinated that day. Yep, Spector got screwed again, and although Apple re-issued it in 1972, Ronnie and Darlene's delicious voices weren't still wooing the world at that point.

As is often the case with great records like this, the original pressings sell for $400-500. I don't own it. If you do, I'm jealous. One day I'll crowd around the hi-fi and watch this turn on my platter. Until then, lets all crowd around the mp3's with our friends and family on Christmas day and celebrate the better hand fate has dealt us than Mr. Spector. Merry Christmas everybody.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dr. John, The Night Tripper - Gris-Gris (Atco, 1968)

"My group consists of Dr. Poo Pah Doo of Destine Tambourine and Dr. Ditmus of Conga, Dr. Boudreaux of Funky Knuckle Skins and Dr. Batiste of Scorpio and Bass Clef...(rambles on)...who were all dreged up from the rigolets by the zombie of the second. Under the eight visions of Professor Longhair reincannted the charts of now."

Dr. John Creaux (Mark Rebinnack) was quite the character. After making it big in the Crescent City's R & B scene, he got especially creative and offered us this psychedelic swamp gumbo of a genre. Melding the blues, R & B, Hatian voodoo a la New Orleans, and Afro-Carribean percussion, this genre spawned many cult hit songs.

As weird as it is brilliant, this would easily be in my top 100 albums ever recorded.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Top 25 Albums of 2011

25. Skull Defekts - Peer Amid (Thrill Jockey)
24. Cindytalk - Hold Everything Dear (Editions Mego)
23. Hype Williams - One Nation (Hippos in Tanks)
22. Elm - Nemcatacoa (Sweat Lodge Guru)
21. Zomby - Dedication (4AD)
20. True Widow - As High As the Highest Heavens and From the Center to...(Kemado)
19. Shabazz Palaces - Black Up (Sub Pop)
18. The Field - Looping State of Mind (Kompakt)
17. Liturgy - Aesthetica (Thrill Jockey)
16. Pete Swanson - Man With Potential (Type)
15. Dead Skeletons - Dead Magick (A Red)
14. M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming (Mute)
13. Villages - Grey East (Hooker Vision)
12. Pinch & Shackleton - S/T (Honest Jon's)
11. The Caretaker - An Empty Bliss Beyond This World (History Always Favours...)
10. Oneohtrix Point Never - Replica (Software)
09. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake (Vagrant)
08. Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972 (Kranky)
07. Tuneyards - Whokill (4AD)
06. Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring for my Halo (Matador)
05. Vatican Shadow - Kneel Before Religious Icons (Self-released)
04. Ezekiel Honig - Folding in on Itself (Type)
03. Implodes - Black Earth (Kranky)
02. Clams Casino - Instrumentals (Self-released / Type)
01. The War on Drugs - Slave Ambient (Secretly Canadian)

Surprised? Shocked? Pissed? Too bad... God Bless America, Bitches...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Implodes - Black Earth (Kranky, 2011)

The curtain opens and a lovely siren calls you to join a cult that has been around since before time began. The dreamy guitar welcomes you to a murky world of tribal yet simplistic percussion, washed out vocal incantations, over-driven infinite reverb, delay and distortion. These elements elegantly cloak this deceptively pretty soundscape.

The theme here is oppressively dismal but irresistible. With a legacy of influences like Swans, J&MC, Flying Saucer Attack and Jesu, this Chicago quartet coalesced around guitarists Matt Jencik (HURL, DON CABALLERO) & Ken Camden finds a narrow path with definitive intent. Never does this record feel like it strays. Its an extremely cohesive Drone experience. One of the best records of 2011, and by far the best album cover.

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Vestibule - Droned and Disowned (Mixtape, 2011)

My latest mixtape. Drone out mother fuckers...

Noveller - Glacial Wave
Deaf Center - Divided
Richard Skelton - Noon Hill Wood
Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto - Trioon I
Tim Hecker - Borderlands
The Caretaker - False Memory Syndrome
Calypso Borealis - Xelim (Ekuri Awai)
William Basinski - Untitled
Confused Kundalini - 1971
Locrian - Coprolite
Elm - Breath of Midnight Still
Thoughts on Air - Lazy Haze A1
Motion Sickness of Time Travel - Inner Circle

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dead Skeletons - Dead Magick (A Records, ltd., 2011)

If you're as tired of the word psychedelic as I am, you're probably going to hate when I tell you that this is the best psychedelic band I've heard in years. They actually sound like salvation for the genre as a whole.

Mysterious and occultic, the imagery in these songs is vibrant and virile, with a seeming overuse of verbal psychotropics and a healthy fear of God and Death. Danger lurks around every corner here, buried in mescaline-soaked minor cords and peyote-laced reverb. Everything here is some religiously erotic incantation worthy of a Jodorowsky film.

The sound is a driving yet loose ride through elements of Jesus and Mary Chain, Black Angels, the Brian Jonestown Massacre's Methadrone era, roadhouse blues and tuvan throat singing. Quite frankly, this is about as romantic as a nightmarish bad trip can get. Highly Recommended.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Elvin Jones - Midnight Walk (Atlantic, 1967)

After Trane's passing, and after the previous couple years of being a blistering powerhouse of polyrhythms, it seems as though Elvin Jones needed something fun to play. He got with his brother, trumpeter Thad Jones, and they recording some good time, funky, soulful r & B numbers. The title Midnight Walk basically explains the vibe of this record. Not much avant-garde here, just lots of simple yet lovely and catchy numbers.

With the great Hank Mobley on tenor sax, solid Donald Moore on bass and the legendary Dollar Brand on piano, this is a classic crew of heavy hitters. The chemistry between these players is outstanding. Of course, as bandleader and as the greatest drummer of all time (says I), Elvin can't help but still knock our socks off at several points on the record. You have to listen closely. The brilliance is in the subtlety of Elvin's playing. Check the busy undercurrents, the explosive drum fills, notice how Tintiyana begins, tension created by imposing a 4/4 line on his 3/4 drumming.

And if this line-up wasn't heavy enough, the record was engineered by Tom Dowd. Wow, this one gets me every time...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Cure - Paris (Elektra / Asylum, 1993)

If you want to bitch about The Cure being capitalistic by the early 90's, I'll give you that. If you want to say you were sick and tired of them putting out every damned live show they felt like, I'll give you that too. But, did you ever hear this one?

I remember digging through the cut-out bin at K-Mart when I was 18 and finding this failed gem of a cassette for $2.99. It was quite a nice surprise to see the track listing of older, darker, more cult classic songs like "The Figurehead" and One Hundred Years" (this was pre-internet, so I wasn't familiar with every available release by the band. Guess I had stopped following Rolling Stone at that point).

Recorded at Le ZĂ©nith de Paris, in October 1992 during their Wish tour, what makes this show so special is the voracious crowd. They can't get enough of these classic early goth tracks, songs that make up what the band (Smith) was originally about. Its pretty powerful to hear the whole place singing along to the keyboard line on "Play for Today".

A moving recording for those fans partial to the early work.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Vestibule - Body Without Orgone (Mixtape, 2011)

My latest mixtape. Enjoy.

Coil - Something (Live)
Ann Clark - Sleeper in Metropolis
Actress - Maze
Pinch and Shackleton - Torn and Submerged
Monolake - North
Eleven Tigers - Songs for You
Coil - Further Back and Faster
Arthur Russell - Me For Real
Nagamatzu - Roma Distruta
Ezekiel Honig - Between Bridges
Boards of Canada - Telephasic Workshop
Xambuca - Varra
Burial - Night Bus

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Friday, November 18, 2011

The Tear Garden - The Last Man to Fly (Nettwerk, 1992)

This is the best output of a very special collaboration. Edward Ka-Spel (The Legendary Pink Dots) enlisted cEVIN Key (Skinny Puppy) for this project after Key served as sound engineer for a Dots tour in Canada in 1985.

This is a shift in sound for both of them in that the sound is essentially psychedelic rock. Dirty electric guitar slithers through dirgey bass lines and a slow, bobbing, dub-influenced live drum kit sound. The vocals are trademark Ka-Spel but more pleading and the music is obviously Key but less abrasive, more sensitive, and ambient groove-based.

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Xambuca - Joulupukki (Erototox Decodings, 2011)

The Sami, Europe's northernmost inhabitants, are an indigenous arctic culture inhabiting Fennoscandia (the Scandinavian Peninsula, the Kola Peninsula, Karelia and Finland). There, underneath the Baltic Sea, lies the Baltic Shield, the exposed Precambrian northwest segment of the East European Craton. It is composed mostly of volcanic rock belts which have undergone numerous deformations through tectonic activity. This region contains the oldest rocks of the European continent. During the Pleistocene epoch, great continental ice sheets scoured and depressed the shield's surface, leaving a thin covering of glacial material and innumerable lakes and streams. The Baltic Shield is still rebounding today following the melting of the thick glaciers during the our current ice age, the Quaternary Period.

This first full-length from Xambuca states dedication to the Saami people and the nation of Sapmi. The music here seems to equate not only to the 3 billion year old geological history of this icy multi-cultural region, but to the ancient pre-christian shamans, cult images and animal ceremonies so important to its people. Unfortunately, and much like the rest of Scandinavia, Swedish priests eventually refuted and abolished anything they deemed heathenism, superstition or witchcraft.

Joulupukki is cerebral electronic music fueled by dark ambience and introspection. These are soundscapes that are at once glacial and volcanic, driven by minimal beats that feel post-industrial and post-techno. There is a consistently somber mood presented here. Certain pieces hint at martial percussion and there are even sounds that invoke concepts of science fiction and Marinetti's retro-futurism that are all shrouded in Orwellian discontent. Later there is a track of doom-laden electric guitar that ever so slowly cuts through the breakers of the Baltic Sea.

Under this monumental weight, the Atlas that is Joulupukki manages to attain catharsis. The latter pieces over-driven, the beats big, brutal and nasty, the record seems to therapeutically expunge itself of all emotion, culminating in a final cut that is a defiant ship lost in a storm, battered by rogue waves yet faithfully waiting for the calm. In this state of mind, devoid of all concern, there is nothing left but a meditative stasis.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

V/A - Pomegranates: Persian Pop, Funk, Folk and Psych of the 60s and 70s (B-Music, 2010)

Finders Keepers has impressively researched the exciting and turbulent political times of Iran's 1960's - 70's. The compiler, Massha Taghinia is an American born of Iranian parents and many of these tracks come directly from his mother's record collection. Because of this connection, we receive a rare glimpse of the superstars of that country's Pop, Folk, Funk, Proto-Disco and Psych. Not only is every track delightful but the overall experience is enhanced by the idea that all of this music happened under the Shah's reign. A curious experience ranking with Sublime Frequencies collections of rock n' roll tracks from Cambodia during the period under the Khmer Rouge. We are privileged this has have fallen on Western ears.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sybille Baier - The Colour Green (Orange Twin, 2006 / recorded 1970-73)

Fans of director Wim Wenders' first knew Sybille Baier's face from the 1973 film Alice in the Cities. Her music has been featured in Jochen Richter's Umarmungen und Andere Sachen(1975) and in Wim Wenders' Palermo Shooting(2008).

Much the same as Nick Drake, it was decades after the fact that her music gained general notoriety. With one of the most charming voices I've heard, she sang brave and honest pastoral folk songs that she composed in her dark, bleak manner. I'm reminded of Sylvia Plath every time I listen. Unlike the hippie psych folk popularized by Vashti Bunyan, Baier didn't need any gimmicks, bells or whistles. This fraulein kept it simple but somehow elegant with production akin to the atmosphere of early Leonard Cohen recordings. I only wish there was more.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Senor Coconut - El Baile Aleman (Emperor Norton, 2000)

What could possibly be as good as a Kraftwerk record? An electro-latino record covering Kraftwerk. German composer Uwe Schmidt knows how to masterfully fuse various genres of music so well that you can't tell if its tongue-in-cheek or not. Trans-Europe Express (Cumbia), Showroom Dummies (Ch-Cha), Autobahn (Merenge)? Seriously, what's not to love here?? This is the most brilliant nonsense I've ever heard.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Louvin Brothers - Satan is Real (Capitol, 1960)

Ira, Ira, Ira... what happened to you? You preached the gospel yet set such a poor example. I mean, if you want people to take the Lord Jesus seriously, you have to be a better role model. What you chose to do was to drink way too much corn liquor and beat the shit out of your wife until she shot you in the chest multiple times. Granted, you're a stubborn mother fucker, you lived, but come on man, what were you thinking?

And Charlie, besides pioneering Close Harmony (thanks for that), how the hell did you put up with your bro and all this misbehavior? At least you didn't get a bad rap by association. I'm sure you were no angel but at least you never got caught.

I don't believe in Hell, the rapture, the tribulation, the day of judgement or Jesus answering any sort of prayer but when I drink enough (like while I'm writing this) I begin to feel my church-raised childhood creeping in. Then some false sense of guilt arises that makes me feel bad about every decision I've ever made...and isn't that what Christianity is all about? Praise the lord and pass the whiskey. And by the way, Satan's Jewelled Crown is one of the prettiest songs you will ever hear.

Most importantly, you can thank Ira for this album cover, possibly the greatest one ever conceived.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Quincy Jones - In Cold Blood OST (Colgems, 1968)

In 1966, Truman Capote scared the hell out of America with a novel containing brutality that most hadn't heard of before, much less read about. A year later, Richard Brooks adapted the novel for film and threw it in the faces of the rest of them that didn't read much. The film is incredible and lost the Oscar for Best Picture only due to The Graduate having a more accessible commercial appeal.

What I always found most notable about the picture was Quincy Jones outstanding score. The same man who was well known for his happy, bouncy big band feeling soundtracks dug deep into his psyche and manifested a true evil, a fear at the heart of all men and the first truly menacing jazz score.

This was also a true breakthrough for black composers in Hollywood. Jones had just done the music for In the Heat of the Night and although this was more popular with the mass audience, critics were more focused on his work with In Cold Blood, in which he really pushed the envelope, creating a genuinely disturbing theme. This is a magnificent achievement.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ornette Coleman - Love Call (Blue Note, 1968)

After years of searching for an affordable copy, I scored this vinyl at my neighborhood record store. Freaked out a bit when I first picked it up.

This is Coleman toned down just a bit. By 1968, he had mellowed. Don't get me wrong, this is still top notch freedom, but there's something magical about these sessions (this album was actually recorded alongside New York is Now) because he acquired the classic John Coltrane Quartet rhythm section. And that essentially means you're hearing the greatest rhythm section of all time (I dare you to disagree). However, at no point does this rub off on him. The entirety of these sessions still just sounds like Ornette Coleman, and this I find incredibly impressive. Together with his Alto sax and trumpet is Dewey Redmond's tenor sax, a strong voice in its own right. This is simply some of the best jazz you'll ever hear.

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Sun Araw - Ancient Romans Drag City / Sun Ark, 2011)

So I'm having this dream. I eventually reach that desirable lucid state only to find myself wondering "Is this primordial ooze or bongwater or a cocktail of both?" I'm not sure what Cameron Stallones is going for with this project but he's light years further into the cosmos than any of his fellow travellers. The undulating organs, warbly keyboards and noodly guitars are only bested by the far out vocal tracks and dubby bass. Much of this record feels like the middle of a wormhole. I say middle because it feels like you're warping but you have no idea if its forward or back. Listening to Sun Araw feels like being deep underwater and losing track of which way is up only to discover that it doesn't frighten you.

Alice and John Coltrane didn't die, they just started working for SETI.

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Grauzone - S / T (Off Course, 1981)

Swiss band Grauzone was one of the most creative bands of the post-punk era. Most people will never know who they are because they only recorded one album and some singles. This is a shame. They had it all: rock, disco, synth-punk and pop, all with a genuine approach that really connects emotionally. The recording is meticulously approached. Too mature for a band that was together so briefly. You're gonna thank me for this one.

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Barn Owl - Lost in the Glare (Thrill Jockey, 2011)

Do you love Earth? Do you find yourself listening to those three dirgey western rock records over and over to the point of obsession? Do you get tired of it? Do you ever ask yourself "Is there more? Will I ever feel satisfied by something like this besides Dylan Carlson?" Well pardner, do I have good news for you. Today, right now, right here, you can download your very own copy of the brightest, biggest, hottest star this side of the Mojave. All for the one time low low price of absolutely free. It'd be the right thing to do if you go out and buy the vinyl real soon though. Fellers gotta make a livin'.

Evan Caminiti and Jon Porras' dueling guitars mixed with farfisa, blissful e-bow drones and electronics create what sounds to me like the most creative take on Cormac McCarthy's "Blood Meridian" I've ever heard. Lost in the dry heat, beat down by the sun only to freeze in the cold Sonoran night, Carlson, O'malley and Anderson could never have made a record this interesting. I kid you not. This is fucking incredible. Still waiting for my vinyl so I can do it right. I need that full analog signal. It's gonna be one I spend many hours listening to in the future.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Paul Giovanni and Magnet - The Wicker Man OST (1973, Trunk, 1998)

With Robin Hardy's 1973 film "The Wicker Man" a different method was employed for the score. Instead of the typical startling and abrasive strings striking fear into the hearts of watchers, Hardy chose Paul Giovanni to write pastoral Celtic-style folk songs conducive to the setting of the film, Summerisle. These songs are probably more effective at making the watcher feel uncomfortable as they don't initially seem creepy, however, the deeper one gets into the plot of the film, the more disconcerting these ancient pagan sounding odes become.I'm imagining Pentangle and Sandy Denny as psychotic pagans bent on bloodletting of innocents.

One of many favorite terrifying horror film scenes would not have been as disturbing without the music. This is really powerful stuff.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Riz Ortolani - Cannibal Holocaust (Lucertola Media, 1980)

This film is all shock and schlock. Often banned and berated internationally, Deodato's film is a disturbing gutmunching extravaganza.

What's bizarre about the soundtrack is that its misleading and doesn't really make any sense. The main theme is not indicative of the horrific bloodfeast to follow but a soft, warm and tinkly number designed to relax and not alarm. Following that are unusual pieces that range from jazz and funk to children's music and loungey electronics.

Extremely weird and awesome.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ennio Morricone - The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (Italy, 1969)

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage was the great Dario Argento's directorial debut as well as one of his best plotted films. This was the first of his "Animal Trilogy" along with Cat o' Nine Tails and Four Flies on Grey Velvet shortly thereafter. All of these films were score by the man himself, Ennio Morricone. To put soundtrack in perspective I feel its important to point out the impact he made on the whole of film. When horror was bogged down with cliche, Morricone broke the mold, much the same as he did with the western genre on his DOLLAR scores.

Instead of the the overuse of strings, Morricone's approach was drug-addled experimental jazz. In the violent scenes he trademarked his placement of lullabyes and heavy breathing that became a oft-imitated standard in horror. As simple as these ideas sound, they are incredible unsettling and very creepy in the context of the film.

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Popol Vuh - Nosferatu (Egg, 1978)

Florian Fricke was the mastermind behind Popol Vuh, one of the earliest ambient music projects and one of the lesser known "krautrock" acts.

Werner Herzog is...well... Werner Herzog. Obviously this is one of the strangest vampire films you'll ever see. Its not weird so much as that its very...well...Werner Herzog.

The pairing of visual and audio hear is simply stunning, one of the best ever. Popol Vuh's piano and acoustic guitar based pieces are absolutely gorgeous and as poignant as could possibly be. You don't even need the film aesthetic to enjoy it.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Les Baxter - The Dunwich Horror (1970)

1970 saw the release of a Roger Corman produced B movie adaptation of this H.P Lovecraft story starring Dean Stockwell, Sandra Dee (naked Gidget) and Ed Begley in his last film role.

The king of equally campy music himself, Les Baxter, is perfect as composer here. His score, anchored by an contagious recurring main theme, transports the listener to a vivid and ridiculously colorful psychedelic 60's landscape that is part Monkees, part Acid Test, part art house porn and part I Dream of Jeannie.

Classic Bernard Hermann themes mixed with funky drums and strange electronics give way to more sleazy than creepy motifs. More Planet of the Apes than "The Old Ones". Not too scary but a helluva lotta fun.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo - Forbidden Zone OST (Varese Sarabande, 1980)

Richard Elfman, wrote and directed and his brother Danny scored this dark, manic, paranoid, cabaret-ish, new wave, punk, theater on film epic.

This cult classic has something to do with minnie the moocher (the druggie made famous by Cab Calloway's call and response scat classic) infiltrating the perverted fears of the unknown, yet slightly expected but later nonchalantly forgotten, reasons of reality.

Many of the actors actually lip synch to old recordings of Cab Calloway and Josephine Baker while wearing black face and performing faux anti-Semitic themes. Apparently, people in 1982 couldn't appreciate the displeasure of bad art done well though the film eventually explains itself with the confusion that it mirrors.

The sixth dimension lies somewhere as close as the forbidden zone.

--Sean Dail

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Wojceich Kilar - The Ninth Gate OST (Silva America, 1999)

We probably all agree this wasn't the best outing Polanski ever had but maybe its one of the best for composer Wojceich Kilar.

Well known for scoring Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and Polanski's "The Pianist", he has achieved a well-deserved esteem for his trademark grinding basses and cellos, deeply romantic themes and minimalist chord progressions. As a part of the post-war Polish school of minor key mournfulness, its no surprise you'll hear similarities to Gorecki.

This score is very creepy but I feel its important to remind all that it cannot be listened to unless its in its entirety. Out of context, some of the pieces and their inherent repetitious qualities will go unnoticed and may even sound unappealing. Its best just to sit back, close your eyes and let the devil take hold.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Vampires of Dartmoore - Dracula's Music Cabinet (1969, Finders Keepers, 2009)

With this post I'd like to introduce a pre-Halloween horror score extravaganza. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, a whole month of spooky, scary and / or campy treats for you to prep your All Hallows shindig.

Vampires of Dartmoore were not an actual band, Dracula's Music Cabinet was not an actual film. And in stating this I'm proud to say that faux film scores are not the latest fad. They've been happening since 1969. So there, Ha!

Not just another Vampyros Lesbos-type score to add to the list of hip 60's catalog, this joint has a Psychsploitation theme(I stole that from somewhere). The opening track leaves us wondering if the moaning is from sexual pleasure or the pain of the blood-sucking nightbreed. Later we're offered anything from detective / mystery outings with Scooby Doo on the Mighty Wurlitzer to proto-hip hop beats by Casper the Friendly Ghost with an S&M habit and a sheet of acid.

Ultimately, this is a fine burlesque show funky jazz hip hop horror masterpiece just waiting to be sampled to death. Supposedly this recording was the creative outlet of a group of people that were employed to make sound effects records for a German library archive. Only a job that boring could spawn something this exciting.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Solomon Ilori and his Afro Drum Ensemble - African High Life (Blue Note, 1963)

Before ol' Fela Kuti was a household name there was Solomon Ilori. After Art Blakey embraced his heritage and began incorporating the afrocentric mentality into his own style of jazz he utilized the talents of Ilori. This is high life before the rest. The first recording to drop stateside, on Blue Note no less. Ilori's high life is a beautiful marriage of traditional African and Carribean styles. Really smooth, funky and amazing material here. Enjoy.

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Manilla Road - Crystal Logic (Black Dragon, 1983)

Witchita, Kansas, 1977: Mark 'The Shark' Shelton and high school buddies Benny Munkirs, Rick Fisher and brothers Robert and Scott Park started playing some progressive hard rock in the local bars. After cutting a couple records and cutting the fat, 1983 saw a new and thrashier drummer in Randy Foxe. With this came a new heavy metal sound that carved a niche for them with this good time / bad time / mystical burner.

This record has every cliche in the book and then some. I love that Manilla Road's lyrics range from nuclear war and holocaust to Norse and Arthurian legend, a bit of Cthulu and maybe something about saving the manatees? Not really sure about the last part, may have misheard it...I want that to be what I heard though.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Igor Wakhevich - Docteur Faust (Pathe Marconi EMI, 1971)

OK, what the hell is this? It's good, I think....I think.
Doctor Faustus is a play based on the Faust story. Common themes are sin and affirmation and Satan. So with that in mind, needless to say this album is dark and scary in tone. “Docteur Faust” is almost set up like a surreal score for the play itself. This album is really pure progressive rock in it's most cluttered and abstract form. The smooth jammy grooves of early Pink Floyd are holding hands with the martial sounds of King Crimson and Stravinsky and they're walking along, yet keep on falling into puddles of Goblin goo. As this album is purposely composed as it is, it is a bit much in the way of never gaining any sort theme other than confusion and torment. Which, if that is what Igor Wakhevich was attempting to do, he has exceeded his goal. Seriously though, this album sounds like Satan's own martial symphony is playing while marching straight into the cave where several species of small fury animals are grooving with a Pict. This album is definitely worth checking out.

--Sean Dail

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Ensemble Economique - Psychical (Not Not Fun, 2010)

I know this fantastic artwork is just making you think "Witch House" but don't be deceived, Brian Pyles from California project Starving Weirdos has succeeding in bypassing that cliche and making an incredibly original campy shlock horror score that will impress any skeptic with the most discriminating tastes.

This selection of percussive drones and psychedelic loops has a tongue in cheek aesthetic that actually delivers a worthwhile product that may just stand the test of time. It creeps me out without any campy routine. Tracks flow seamlessly creating a meditative state of horror, sex and drug use in a way that I've never experienced. Try lumping this work into the Goblin worship category and you've got another thing coming.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Horslips - Aliens (DJM, 1977)

My birthday happens to fall on St. Patrick's Day, and on that day a couple of years ago a friend of mine gave me a copy of the Horselips album “Aliens.” This was a great addition to my Irish music collection, which I wear out on my birthday. Plus, it's not so “skee-diddley-dee,” that is so stereotypical of Irish music. In fact, I enjoy listening to this band all year round now I've been introduced.
Horselips were a Celtic rock band that originally formed in Dublin during the early seventies. Some have considered Horselips as a progressive rock band. I believe that is primarily due to their renditions of traditional folk songs and use of a flute or fife. Do people call anything that is traditionally “white” sounding “prog?” Anyway, it is said that they started a band to get beer tabs in their local pub and realized that they had something worth while. As they are know for their rock versions of traditional Irish folk tunes, the album “Short Stories and Tall Tales” which came out later in their career in 79', is inherently Irish sounding, but very rock-pop driven, in the manner of some of the best Thin Lizzy songs and albums. When I first put it on the turn table, of course certain associations come to mind, and I thought “this sounds like Jethro Tull without all the dramatic frills.” Don't get me wrong, I really appreciate the works of Ian Anderson, but you know, sometimes you wanna listen to something sans theatrical development. Horselips is a solid, driving rock group that conjures up styles of many pub rock or punk rock bands of that era. This album is super catchy with simple combinations of guitar fuzz, keyboard blipping melodies, steady beats and hearty vocal arrangements. The lyrical content often reflects everything from love and love loss, to moral decision making and giving a description of the Irish working class. One of my favorite tracks is the song “Rescue Me.” It tells of a sea bound and stranded man falling away from his home as he dreams of life on land. A great metaphor for many aspects of life. Oh, and “Rescue Me” has a killer flute solo. Yeah!

--Sean Dail

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Hype Williams - One Nation (Hippos in Tamks, 2011)

This popular video director from the 90's has fully embraced the hypnagogic pop movement. Hype was a great director who now makes great music.

None of what I just said is true. No one knows who the fuck these weirdos are but Damn, is it some addictive shit! Lovely chilled out familiarity from somewhere in your future past. Smoke 'em if ya got 'em.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Coil presents: Black Light District - A Thousand Lights in a Darkened Room (Eskaton,1996)

Following a very quite few years in the early 90's Coil released many re-issues and the wonderful Elph project "Worship the Glitch" in '95. That record showed that the acid house era was complete for ol' Jhon and Sleazy, with somber ambient song structures. The follow up project, which they called Black Light District, saw them fully embracing the next phase in their musical history. This is grown up Coil. The presented us with magickal, alchemical sound-sculpture in the creepiest environments conceivable. Reminiscent of the post-rave movement in the UK, it seems like that acid house psyche is recognizing the impact of all the amphetamines and accepting the reality of deplenished neurotransmitters. Often, the depressive introspection brought on by this physiological state causes beautiful yet oppressively emotional and intimate music. Coil was not afraid to let us in. Coil was never afraid of anything.

Long live Coil.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Villages - Grey East (Hooker Vision, 2011)

"I love tranquil solitude" --Percy Bysshe Shelley

This quote kept coming to mind while listening to the latest release and first cassette from Asheville composer, Ross Gentry. These soundscapes epitomize the mature and lauded sounds of his contemporaries while succeeding in isolating his own sense of character and vision. Grey East is a recombination of all that has come before and all we've yet to see; a recording that exists on the plane of consistency.

Philosopher Gilles Deleuze posited that an idea dwelling on his plane of consistency, or plane of immanence, exists or remains within. This idea never transcends into a metaphysical beyond. This is a quality I hear and recognize as intrinsic with Villages' general repertoire. None of the pieces are overworked or forced. On the contrary, they emote a near static existence that seems almost aggressively opposed to transcendence. This is work that seems to consciously exist "in between". Perfect examples are his choice in closing sides, A4 "Opt Abysmal" and B3 "The Cryptids". These lengthy compositions buried in minimal nuance exist passionately between the lines, his isolation motif coming into fruition, all the while giving a glimpse into a future direction.

Most fascinating is his choice of track arrangement. Both sides begin with icy shimmering and cerebral etudes that seem to beckon the thaw but ultimately lead to a return of cold hibernation and an ultimate cryogenic state.

Side A with "Postpone Joy", "Mourninga" (brilliant and romantically schizophrenic treatments of vocalist Nathaniel Markham) and "Cemetary Lights" hints at drips from the stalactite before the north wind ices it over once again.

Side B attempts another exit strategy. "All the Bells Stopped" struggles to break free and the soft and slow yet driven guitar melody of "Front Street" looks to open the hatch. Unfortunately, transcendence is not seen. "The Cryptids" make [makes] sure of that. This number has a primal spirituality and sage-like tenacity only comparable to Lustmord. The mantra could have evolved ad infinitum as far as I'm concerned.

This is some of the most thought-provoking ambient music out there today. Beautiful and somber yet complex and well-defined, Villages is one to keep your ears on.

Get this tape Here (if its not sold out)

Excerpt of "Mourninga Here

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hans Wurman - Chopin a la Moog (RCA, 1970)

Machine electric composition via Moog of Chopin by way of Wurman. The horns have started turning. The fridge is getting louder. This 1970's release of Wurman's renditions of Romantic composer Frederic Chopin are performed on a classic Moog synthesizer and done fantastically well. The rest happens when you listen to it.

Ballad in G major Op 23

Etude in A-Flat Posth No 2

Etude in C Minor Op 10 No 12 (Revolutionary)

Etude in E Op 10 No 3

Etude in F-Minor Op 25 No 2

Etude in G-Sharp Minor Op 25 No 6

Mazurka in D Op 33 No 2

Polonaise in A Op 40 No1

Prelude in D-Flat Op 28 No 15

Waltz in A-Flat Op 34 No 1

Waltz in C-Sharp minor Op 64 No 2

Waltz in D-Flat Op 62 No1 (minute)

Waltz in E-Minor Op Prosth

Now noticed where you have haphazardly placed your doilies and remember how you spilled your favorite batch of eggnog and schnapps on the NES. Just remember, it was out of your control and bound to happen anyway. Enjoy

-- Sean Dail

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Guitars of the Golden Triangle: Folk and Pop from Myanmar and Beyond 2 - V/A (Sublime Frequencies, 2005)

This collection of music from one of the most foggy and mysterious places on the globe is a great example of western influence on eastern cultures. It is interesting that the title of this compilation is focused on the golden triangle aspect of the region rather than what the music itself is about. Although the Golden Triangle does lend itself to shape the culture that surrounds the Mayanmar region. This music comes from the Shan State in Burma, which is known infamously for it's heavy production of heroin. It was the leader in opium trade and production from the 1920's through the 1980's, due to it's elevation in the mountainous part of Burma and the nature of addiction, business, lack of human rights and laws. The elusive Shan State is barely known by it's surrounding communities of Mayanmar, so to be able to listen to this music, it is a wonder of an experience. This country has one of the longest running civil wars in history after gaining independence from British rule in 1948 and then remained under military rule from the 1960's to 2010. The military was dismantled after a general election in 2010 and then came the introduction of Burma's civilian government.

The reason I introduced this review with a perspective overview of this area's sociological history is because it is important to keep in mind the perpetual struggle this culture has endured. It is not only amazing that this music was created in such austere circumstances but also that fact that we even have access to it from the other side of the world. So be sure to give props to your fellow ethno-musicological detectives for digging deep.

Ok, now about the music. Much of these songs were recorded in the early seventies and due to the limited sources of access to this culture and the destruction of much of the music, the recordings themselves are a bit worn and faded. Cassette tapes onto cassette tapes have been the only source of documenting these sounds. But that doesn't take anything from the music and the quality of creativity. Much of the music is stylized in western pop, country and their native folk music. Lots of organ and dinky drum rhythms with twangy sharp guitar melodies fill this compilation. Four or so artist comprise the comp, and I say “or so” because there is one unknown artist featured. As the music is fairly standard pop, it definitely presents itself with the impression of a haphazardly drugged out culture. Since I don't understand the lyrics, I can only get an idea of what the songs are about through the English translation of some of the song titles. Such as Khun Paw Yann's “Hopes and Goals” and “You got what you got” as well as Lashio Thein Aung's “Mistake of a small bird” and “Don't say goodbye”. I like to think some of these songs are either about love or philosophical thoughts about gracefully dealing with reality. I am not sure but that's the feeling I get. This music is truly a rare glimpse into a mysterious and forgotten culture. By researching this album, I find myself wondering how western music was able to influence this isolated area. I have heard that truckers that would do deliveries in this region would be listening to music in their vehicles and would share music with the people and in return, the people were influenced and inspired. I am not sure of the reliability of this notion, but it doesn't seem impossible. I hope you can enjoy this as much as I have.

--Sean Dail

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Anne Clarke - Changing Places (Red Flame, 1983)

Ok. So, I'm definitely gonna take some shit for this one. British spoken word artist / poet / composer Anne Clark made one of my favorite breakbeat / electro songs in '83 with "Sleeper in Metropolis". Its definitely over the top and you probably won't listen to the entire effort but there's just something endearing about her voice with these beats and synths. It feels like a dance party that could have happened when the film version of Orwell's "1984" was finally complete. With this kind of melancholy existentialist funk, one can only imagine Annie Lennox doing the worm with John Hurt at a Gay Pride parade... and who can't get down on that??

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Group Acanthus - Le Frisson des Vampires (1971)

Le Frisson des Vampires (The Shiver of the Vampire) was a completely over the top hippy vampire film by director Jean Rollin. The film is dadaist-feeling exploitation which came about due to his experience in the May '68 revolution as well as his dealings with the surrealists and the Fantastique movement.

Group Acanthus was a teenage psych combo that churned out some really nice deep cuts for Rollin. Think Gong, some funky Soft Machine, a pinch of Floyd and a dash of Can. Way groovy, baby. Dig.

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Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet - Savvy Show Stoppers (Glass, 1990)

Alright, get your boards and nail them to the floor. Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet are a Canadian musical act from the 80's that plays surf music, yet are not a surf band. This is known because they have a song called “We're Not A Fucking Surf Band”. Besides that, they play bad ass surf detective rock & roll. The trio are most widely known for the song “Having An Average Weekend”, which was featured as the theme song for Canadian sketch comedy troupe Kids In The Hall.

The compilation Savvy Show Stoppers is a collection of pre-90's singles originally released in 1990. This bunch of songs range from dark, smokey lounge licks to Link Wray rumble riffs with every type of raw instrumental post-pop “surf” sounds that slide swaggering down the sci-fi fret board.

--Sean Dail

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Alejandro Jodorowsky - The Holy Mountain OST (1973

Film plot in summary: A Christlike figure wanders through bizarre, grotesque scenarios filled with religious and sacrilegious imagery. He meets a mystical guide who introduces him to seven wealthy and powerful individuals, each representing a planet in the solar system. These seven, along with the protagonist, the guide and the guide's assistant, divest themselves of their worldly goods and form a group of nine who will seek out the Holy Mountain, in order to displace the gods who live there and become immortal.

If you haven't seen this film then watch it NOW! Afterwards, scope this wacky Chilean score by Jodorowsky himself, along with the inimitable Don Cherry. The album is action-packed with snippets of Tibetan throat singing, other creepy chanting, jazz, classical, authentic acid rock and even some Indian vibes.

The film is a truly bizarre experience but the score stands on its own pretty well.
Man, hallucinogenics and catholicism make for some disturbing and hilarious adventures. "We manufacture hyper-sexed, brown native vampires..."

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cindytalk - Camouflage Heart ( Midnight Music,1984)

After the demise of Scottish punk / new wave band "The Freeze", David Clancy and Gordon Sharp formed Cindytalk in 1982. This project is something Sharp described as ambidustrial. I know that doesn't really roll off the tongue but it does summarize how he took elements of Editions EG's ambient releases and fused them with the then hip and new industrial sound.

In case you hear some familiar elements to the vocal stylings, guitar and production, that's because it sounds like This Mortal Coil, the 4AD ambient supergroup that Sharp was a part of. In fact, the single "Kangaroo" that Sharp sang on was the big UK indie hit off "It'll End in Tears" which is one of my favorite albums.

This record is raw, nasty, dirgey, mournful and experimental yet somehow retains a punk as fuck feel. Its bloody good, it is.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Ry Cooder - Paris, Texas OST (Warner Bros., 1984

This film changed my life. Of course, if you were to have extracted the brilliantly painful and moving score, I'm not sure it would have had quite the same impact. Those long takes alongside the minimal dialog would not be nearly as effective without Cooder's solitary and melancholic steel guitar. The A/V is completely synonymous. Its also a real treat to have a song on here sung by Sir Harry Dean Stanton (ok, I added the knighthood moniker but I'm sure you feel me). I've been listening to the cd for years and had forgotten about it for a while until I picked up the cassette at a thrift store a while back. Now I want the vinyl. This is the jewel in the crown of one of the greatest film music composers. Throw this on while sitting outside in the sunshine drinking a cerveza. You have my word you won't be disappointed.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mark Fry - Dreaming with Alice (Sunbeam, 1972)

I know what you're thinking, you saw the photo and thought it looked like some member of The Black Crowes and his kid. Well, its not. Its a guy named Mark Fry. He cut one pretty bad ass pastoral psych folk record and that's all you need to know about the man himself.

This is really good stuff. Elements of Donovan, Incredible String Band, Pentangle and the Wicker Man soundtrack give way to some Indian ragga feeling pagan folk vibes. There's even a hint of some weirder Maharishi lovin' Beatles in here. For fans of all that freak folk revival and some Ben Chasny. Again, this is really good stuff.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Nagamatzu - Sacred Islands of the Mad (Dark Entries, 2011)

I've recently fallen in love with the Dark Entries label. They are re-issuing a ludicrous amount of early 80's synth-based acts that fell through the cracks. Limiting the LP's to 500 hand-numbered copies, they are creating a bit of hysteria. Here is a cassette release that is blowing my mind. By the time of this, their second album, Nagamatzu had moved from Ipswich to London, Stephen Jarvis (SETI, Legion, Terror Against Terror) & Andrew Lagowski (Pure Motorised Instinct, Terraform) were on a distinctive coldwave / post-punk / synthwave tip manifested by hollow-feeling drum machines, cheap synths, minimal guitars and sparsely placed vocals. The name is taken from J.G. Ballard's novel "Atrocity Exhibition" (seems to have been the most influential book of the coldwave scene) and sounds as dystopian as you would imagine.

This is some cold dark music for fans of "Faith" and "Seventeen Seconds". Get the LP fast!

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Nurse With Wound - Soliloquy for Lilith (Idle Hole, 1988)

Stephen Stapleton is one of my music gods. He's one of those artists with an unbelievably prolific output over many years that never really disappoints. Often touted as an industrial artist, much of his dark ambient and drone work seems to fall by the wayside for most. This is his magnum opus. Its quite simply 106 minutes of meditative creepiness. I forget what an impact music like this can make on the psyche. I was just out for a late night stroll through the neighborhood with my dogs while listening to this one, and succeeded in spooking myself a bit. The frequencies in these drones really did a number on me. For those of you a little disillusioned by goth or black / death metal or horror scores, try a bit of the drone. It can cure your desensitized ears and give you the creeps you thought were a lost cause. A big hit if you're a fan of Coil's "Time Machines" record.

"The album was recorded by Steven Stapleton and his wife Diana Rogerson in May 1988. The only sound source was a number of effects units which he had set up to operate in a feedback loop - there was no original input signal being processed, simply the feedback hum generated by plugging the original chain of pedals back into itself. However, when Stapleton went near the pedals he found the sound changed in accordance with his proximity to the various pedals and units. Stapleton told author David Keenan (in the book England's Hidden Reverse) that he had created the album by gently moving his fingers above the various units to create the slow, subtle changes in the sound. As this shouldn't happen, Stapleton has put the album down to an electrical fault of some sort in the studio. This was acknowledged on a later reissue with the credit "our thanks to Electricity for making this recording possible". He remains proud of the album, describing it to Keenan as "fucking brilliant". The album title refers to Stapleton and Rogerson's daughter Lilith who was born that year." -- from Wikipedia

Get pt. 1 here
Get pt. 2 here
Get pt. 3 here

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Christopher Robin Waite - The Black Cassette (Mixtape, 2011)

In 1996, I started djing house parties. In 1997, I started djing nightclubs and "raves". By 1999, I was sick of djing for stupid kids that cared more about the speed and mdma than the music. Everything started to slow down...way down. I had done a few gigs in DJ Wally's opium den type lounge in NYC and decided to submerse myself in that whole "illbient" thing. I began mixing with as many mediums as possible. I used turntables, cassette walkmen and cd players, all the while forgetting about beatmatching and no longer worrying about trainwrecking. One night I got really stoned and randomly mixed Nina Simone with Einsturzende Neubauten, Angelo Badalamenti, Prince Jammy and Ligety. It was a magical and life changing experience. The result was mindbending and it struck me to continue this artistic accident into the public sphere. I still do it to this day. Its evolved over the course of a decade but the unique mind altering state that it puts my audience in still exists.

Chris Waite is on my wavelength, only, his mix is completely mature and stunningly thought out and executed. This is a real gem. sit down, relax and enjoy the lobotomy.

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