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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