Good Music We Can Know

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Tonight in the Explorers Room: In Search of New Languages – Women in Electronic Music (Extended Vocal Techniques & Dream Revelations)

The Explorers Room is back, comrades!

Tonight in the Explorers Room, we embark on the first in a series of episodes exploring the wide-ranging world of women pioneers in electronic & synthesizer music.  Tonight we'll hear unusual vocal techniques and collaborations; themes of magic, mysticism, dreams, and eroticism; and some massively psychedelic, ego-death inducing legends of the field. Special attention paid to Annette Peacock, with appearances by Delia Derbyshire, Anaïs Nin, Joan La Barbara, and many more.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Tonight in the Explorers Room: A Full Dose of Dub

It's sweltering, the humidity is like hot fog, the sun a radioactive strobe.  The only cure for a heatwave like this is to get your chalice ablaze and have a full dose of dub.  Tonight will be wall-to-wall dub stuff, some of my very favorites. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Tonight in the Explorers Room: Jazz Spirits and Arkestral Mind-Expansion

Tonight in the Explorers Room: an extremely heady selection of exotic, spiritual, and psychedelic jazz. From Phil Cohran and Eddie Gale to Tino Contreras and Gabor Szabo, tonight will be a vortex of consciousness-expansion, righteous fire, and inner peace.  Tune in, listen, jump in the comments, hang out with like-minded heads.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tonight in the Explorers Room: Fourth World Dream Theory (The Possible Musics of Jon Hassell)

Tonight in the Explorers Room we'll be excavating the invented ruins of the Fourth World, which is to say, it will be a program dedicated to exoticist, Eno collaborator, and originator of the musical term/concept of "Fourth World." Is Fourth World just a postmodern renaming of exotica? Or has Hassell opened the portal to another dimension of reconstructed otherness?  The only way to find out is to go there.

"The ability to bring the actual sound of musics of various epochs and geographical origins all together in the same compositional frame marks a unique point in history"

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Tonight in the Explorers Room: Auvidis Library Sounds

Tonight in the Explorers Room, we will again investigate a bunch of library music from a single label. This time that label will be Auvidis, drawing mainly from a discrete grouping of synthi and funky LPs released in series between 1978 and 1984. There will be multiple appearances from our beloved J.P. Decerf, including a pretty wild collaboration with the Mauritian singer-songwriter Clarel Betsy. We'll also hear an extended foray into Auvidis' bizarre series of 7" field recording/music releases.  Click the Auvidis logo below to visit the playlist page, listen to the show, and join in the comments.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Exotica Concrète: The Dead Mauriacs – Beauté Des Mirages

I meant to post about this the second it came out, because I was so excited, but as usual I'm slightly late to the unveiling.  Better late than never, I write now to announce that the new Dead Mauriacs LP is out on Discrepant, and it's spectacular. 

I'll get this out of the way now: I did the cover art, and I think it looks really great, and goes well with the music on the record, and I'm very proud of it.  It's a collage I did last year, called Desert Song: The Sheik Manifests in the Garden (As the Green Man of Lore), really with no intention of using it for anything design-wise, but when I heard this record, which is itself all about illusions and disruptive intrusions in the paradisal exotic fantasia, it obviously resonated.  But I want to talk about the music for a minute. Anyone familiar with my own collage work and ideas regarding the complex subtextual landscape of exotica (and its relationship to Surrealism) will understand my enthusiasm and admiration for this record, which is in many ways specifically in line with those ideas.

The Dead Mauriacs are a mysterious French entity specializing in exotica concrète (mixing samples of exotica records with musique concrète strategies); all their releases are absolutely essential listening, especially with regards to anything that might be called contemporary exotica.  This new release, entitled La Beauté Des Mirages, is a tremendous panorama, a wide-screen sound collage from pieces of original exotica.  It lulls you into dream-state phantasmagoria and then tears at the fabric of fantasy with disturbing juxtapositions, discontinuities, and abrupt shifts.  In these moments of rupture, it's as though you're being asked to wake from the dream, but you're being pulled deeper into it, into feverish places where the utopian surface cracks and falls apart, revealing subtextual demons and chimeras of contradiction – the otherwise unaddressed colonial nightmare and industrial alienation that serves as the unacknowledged foundation for tiki and exotica's escapist pleasures.  I like to think Georges Bataille would have liked this record, that it aligns with his notions of ethnographic surrealism.  And I think someone like Martin Denny – who once described exotica as "a modern sound that evokes some very primitive feelings" and "pure fantasy," and always understood the total absurdity of it all – would love it too.  Maybe I say that because I love them both, and I love this, but they're as good a pair of reference points as any in describing the Dead Mauriac's sound.

This is not the first Dead Mauriacs release to treat exotica to exhilarating reconstructions and radical interventions – the last release, also on Discrepant, is excellent, as are Nouvelles Fonctions Exotiques, and the wonderful The Golden Age Of Artificial Inflatable Islands Or Ecstatic Free Love In A Ballardian Dystopia (and everything else I've heard). 

So check it out, explorers: Beauté Des Mirages

While you're at it, let me plug once again the other two Discrepant LPs I've done art for: Visions Congo, Mulago Sound Studio & Mike Cooper, Reluctant Swimmer / Virtual Surfer, because they're both absolutely brilliant, revelatory records that I personally love putting on the turntable and letting myself get sucked into their scenic soundstage and dreamy otherworldliness.  I've been lucky to do art for music this good, this adventurous.  Future projects are in the works, stay tuned.  (And if you have good music, get in touch with me, I'll make art for you too.) 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Tonight in the Explorers Room: Creazioni Artistiche Musicali (Phantasms & Twists in the CAM Music Library)

Tonight in the Room we'll restrict our ears to hearing only library mindbenders and soundtrack jazz & twist produced for the prolific Italian CAM label. With a particular emphasis on two special synthi boys, Marcello Giombini and Jean-Pierre Decerf. Also making appearances: some usual suspects (Piero Umiliani, Stelvio Cipriani, Piero Piccioni) and some lesser-knowns as well (The Fine Machine, Giampiero Boneschi, and Lamartine).  Tune in, get your library card, and get ready for some weird stuff.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Tonight in the Explorers Room: Membranophones & Idiophones, Surfer's Nightmare, Nihilist Picnic

Tonight in the Explorers Room, we'll hear percussion taxonomies (both authentically ethnographic and, I guess, pseudo-ethnographic, which is to say it'll be library music), some killer surf instrumentals, and extremely bizarre jazz imported from an alternate dimension.  It's all great – tune in, catch wave nine, and drop out.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Tonight in the Explorers Room: Fringe, Romance, Contraband, Lend Me Your Era! (An Evening with Robert Wyatt)

Tonight in the Explorers Room, we celebrate the surprise success of Corbyn in the UK – and the broader, hopefully hopeful implications that result has for left politics going forward – by spending an evening with the music of Robert Wyatt.  I probably would have done this show regardless of the electoral outcome; it's a necessary tonic in victory or defeat.

In 1972, Wyatt asked, "how long can I pretend that music's more relevant than fighting for a socialist world?"  The music resulting from that conundrum gives us an invaluable vision of socialist-informed art: not only steadfastly political, unflinchingly critical, and committed to the cause of human emancipation, but also absurdist, experimental, endlessly playful, romantic, and deeply personal. Tonight we'll hear from a variety of Wyatt's solo and collaborative projects, both political and poetic (as if the two weren't one).  Tune in and hear He of the Great Voice.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Tonight in the Explorers Room: Hingus (Breath) / Syncro (Systems)

Tonight will find us alternating between ecstatic&esoteric breathing exercises and long-form psychedelic Nigerian juju/highlife.  Process the hyperventilating insanity of the day, and prepare your mind for the action of tomorrow, with deep lungfuls of air and ears full shimmering cosmic guitars.  Join me in a room where kings and admirals are friends of the common man, and the air is always clean and holy.