Good Music We Can Know

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kosmische Through the Desert, Floating Upon a Twinkling Sea: Hans-Joachim Roedelius- Durch Die Wüste (1978)

Roedelius' solo debut is not just wonderfully challenging music but also somehow essentially summery. When the heat comes down and thoughts start to turn to maximum relaxation, there can be a tendency to shelve the weird stuff and take a break from bending the mind with sounds, but Durch Die Wüste is the best of both worlds: airy, light, pleasantly trippy, and restlessly experimental. I mean, it's not quite the summer-krautrock blue-ribbon holder that Can's Future Days or Soon Over Babaluma (or even Landed- I love Can on some smokin' hot days, brother, but then again they got those huge funky Liebezeit beats) might be, but it's still on the table, and it's its own weird thing anyway. With Conny Plank and Moebius pitching in, it certainly bears a resemblance to Cluster or Harmonia, but the warmth and organic-ness, the sometimes formless yet optimistic explorations, do give a sense of some new thing or sound happening. Of course it's ambient and electronic-- what else would you expect from Roedelius-- but there's some wonderful moments of tactility all throughout. "Johanneslust" sports an introspective acoustic guitar figure- the fact that it's probably made using a synthesizer doesn't ruin its sentimental humanity- and "Am Rockzipfel" is non-stop ripping on electric guitar over top of a sparkling rhythm section. "Mr. Livingstone, I Suppose" (likely the best track of all) sports an entirely human enveloping warmth, augmented by cymbal washes and vocal sighs. The title track is almost fourteen minutes of formless sonic dream-questing through synthy soundscapes, but even there you'll find less sequencer than untreated human voices, primitive percussion and actual recordings of ocean and rain, so the whole record feels tethered nicely to Earth in some way. It's really a great showcase for Roedelius, and likely his best as a solo. Enjoy it in 320, friends and fellows.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Kosmische Walkabout Music: Dieter Schütz- Voyage (1985)

Here we have a fantastic bit of Safari Synth Adventure Music: Dieter Schütz's Voyage. Somewhere between the krautrock space floats of Cluster and Roedelius' Durch Die Wüste, the synth-rock of Tangerine Dream or someone sort of kookier like Tony Carey, and a kind of New Age warmth, this record wants to be in your life. It can improve your life if you will just let it. It's super fun, exotica-kraut walkabout music; if you like Sven Libaek and Oxygene at the same time, this will be perfect for your next Serengeti stoned-walk. I'm not really doing it justice right now-- I'm on vacation, you guys-- but it's really perfect and great. You need it so bad.

I got it here, by the way, at Panorama Patchwork. Go there and get it yourselves- the link is in the text where it says Exotic Nights.

***And now Panorama Patchwork seems to have been "removed". What the hell happened? He played by the rules over there, if I recall. Dammit, I liked him!

So I'm putting up a link for Voyage, but I don't like that I have to do it. 320.


Also, you may have noticed I screwed around with the design of the place. What do you all think? Can you live with it? Let me know if it's too hard to read, or distracting, or whatever else. Also feel free to say it is fine.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Space Music in the Rainforest, Another World on Earth: Ariel Kalma- Osmose (1978)

In 1977, Richard Tinti ventured into the Borneo rainforest endowed with sound equipment and a mission and emerged with a fantastic wealth of field recordings- insects, bird calls, war drums, and the thick cosmic echoes of the jungle. So immersively dense are they, I suspect they could easily stand up on their own, but instead, Tinti bestowed his treasures upon Ariel Kalma, who used them as a foundation upon which to build a New Age cosmic masterpiece. Utilizing the sounds of the rainforest as structure for richly meditative, wonderfully trippy soundscape explorations, Kalma weaves a sonic universe that is oppressive yet welcoming, at once alien and organic, and massive. Monolithic.

Using treated saxophone, synths, harmonium, flute, and drum machines, Kalma keeps the sound warm, deep, and wide. At times similar to some of the more ambient Kraut bands (Edgar Froese's Epsilon in Malaysian Pale certainly springs to mind, as does Popol Vuh), this is "New Age" music in the main- and there ain't a thing wrong with that- but it's so powerful, so textured and intense, that it would sort of make an incredible companion piece to Ya Ho Wha's Penetration: An Aquarian Symphony, another sort of New Age-y conceit taken to awe-inspiring apocalyptic heights.

This thing has been floating around the blog-o-forest for a while now, so I wouldn't be surprised if y'all had already gotten on this, but I just wanted to throw my hat in the ring and make sure you heard it. If you got the bread and the inclination, please pay Kalma a visit and purchase the merchass straight from him. The dude has magic inside him.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Perfect Exotic Dream Of A Beautiful Pangaea: David Carroll- Percussion Orientale (1960)

This record is a pure Exotica delight. The cover may undersell it as something of a belly-dance cash-in, but let me tell you: it is something special. Ostensibly focusing on some concept of "Middle Eastern" music, Carroll lends it something of a mildly unique focus among its peers, not that it needs it. The conceit is immediately either betrayed, or revealed as abstract at best, by its opening number, "Caravan". "Caravan" is welcome almost anytime, anywhere-- and scarcely has there been a weak version, the composition itself is so strong. But the fact is, no matter how "exotic" it sounds, it is a prime, perfect and prototypical example of Latin Jazz. No matter-- it is played here in an "Eastern"-sounding manner, and so the "Oriental" theme remains, more or less, intact.

Exotica as a genre sometimes props up all the disparate "exotic" lands as being part of some loosely unified Pangaea or island chain-- building, in its creators' laziness or indifference to geographical responsibility, a sort of musical Esperanto for a homogenous pangaea of abstract exotic "foreign lands". There's almost a kind of progressiveness to be found in this loose concept of cultural and national boundaries-- all are part of the artificial whole, including the white world and its appropriation of Black American jazz, and the classical composers of Europe and elsewhere (many of whom were themselves borrowing from more "ethnic" traditions, such as Ravel, Stravinski, and Dvorak, not to mention someone like Lecuona, a Cuban working partially in European tradition). As I have said before, this is not World Music-- no one culture would recognize it as its own, so muddied are the waters-- this is Music for the World, a fantasy for all to share. Anyway, I digress.

This is one of those perfect Exotica records. Richly evocative. Rousing and gorgeous. In terms of traditions and styles appropriated, it's wildly all over the map, but the sound and concept are somehow kept consistent. As for the production and recording quality, bragged about such as it is by Mercury on the label, it's beyond excellent (and the rip is 320). This is good good stuff. A masterpiece.

Percussion Orientale

Friday, June 17, 2011

Valiant Congo & The Fair One Dancing: Stan Kenton- Cuban Fire! (1960)

Red-hot Cuban-inspired big band jazz from the great Stan Kenton, working with a 27-piece orchestra, playing compositions by Johnny Richards. I don't always swing on a "big band" sound in this kind of Latin/Exotic jazz territory, but this is rightly and widely known as a phenomenal record and I dig it entirely. There's a lush sense of exotic adventure as might be fantasized about by patrons of Caribbean resort hotels with outdoor music venues, swaying on the patio in the cool tropical breeze; but there's also an element of boundary pushing jazz, complete with wicked little solos, expert playing, superb composition, and a strong conceptual thread. It may not be on the level of Ellington's Far East Suite, but what is? This is gonna come in handy this summer, though. Get it while it's hot.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Gun Dub & The Fire of Blood: Techniques All-Stars- .357 Magnum Dub (197?), Inner Circle- Killer Dub (1978), The Twinkle Brothers- Dub Massacre (1983)

Today we're gonna do three dub jubs with gun-centric cover art. For the visual flavor of it all.

Starting with Techniques All-Stars' .357 Magnum Dub: this is straight-up-and-down street tuff roots instrumentals. Pretty simple formula, but highly successful. Despite the handle, there's not a ton of crazy "techniques" going on here- "Fashion Dub" does get sort of boopy and squiggly, "Techniques Special" has some cool harmonica, and "Weary Dub" pairs laser blasters with soul saxophone, but on the whole it's a straightforward affair with above-average, solid-and-cool execution. Check it out. VBR rip.


This one from Inner Circle (with the Fatman Riddim Section for the band) is another tuff mother. Of course it's tuff-- look at the fuckin' cover. Opening with a pissed-off sounding rip on guitar, the whole thing stomps around with heavy heavy rhythms, fat echo, and a really bad-ass piano/organ sound.

I guess I wouldn't describe this record as being on the same level of painkiller as a gunshot to the face, but it's certainly bad as hell and a more than worthy addition to your dub library. (Sorry I couldn't pop up another soundcloud sample, please just trust me as you usually might.) 192 rip.


You wanna talk tuff, plus "special techniques"? Time to get down to Twinkle Town. The Twinkle Brothers' (which by this point was just Norman Grant of the original Twinkle Bros, gone solo in the UK) Dub Massacre is a potent mix of punky gangsta, heavy hardness and non-stop, bonkers effects. It's definitely got an international assassin flavor, classy and sneaky, but there's also theremin, warm phases, and huge echo, making this one almost too trippy to cruise to. Almost: so get to cruisin' inna murder style, fellows. 192.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Exotic Hallucination of a Safari Jungle Maze: Chaino- Jungle Echoes (1959)

I've had this record for a while now, and somehow I'm afraid I've unjustly written it off as fairly standard-fare "African drum" Exotica. These types of outings can be pretty uninspired (Y'know: "just record these guys going to town on this jimbe and these bongos, white people will love it and they don't know the difference anyway"), or they can be blisteringly virtuosic, but I never really gave this one a fair shake to see what was what with it.

Well, it turns out its very good indeed, and recently it's been casting lurid campfire light on my evenings with its savage excellence. Where before it had seemed minimal to the point of boring (its mostly just hand drums and a lot of wordless vocalizations), I now find the empty spaces behind the percussion to be somehow fascinatingly pregnant, as though the sounds of the record sale off into a silence that is conspicuously not empty; the whispering echo of a listening jungle. It gives the sense of being fireside in a deep dark, when your entire reality is the limited sphere of the fire's light, and everything beyond it is just an inky void.

The drumming, by the way, is altogether grand (at least to my ears, I'm no drum major), and all the grunting, moaning, and screaming is savory Exotica gravy. This is a record to be played loud into the night. It will stave off the phantoms of the jungle, and fuel your midnight fearlessness and ritual intoxication.

Here's a transcription of the back cover literature. As you might expect, it's juicy stuff, and lays out the compelling myth of Chaino's African origins (in truth, he's just a gifted brother from Chicago).


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Savage Fever Dream of a Mambo King: Perez Prado- DILO (UGH!), 1958

I've been absent from the place for a while. I've been hangin' with my brother, climbing mountains on a daily basis and not having time to do internet. To celebrate my return, I modestly offer unto you this gargantuan mamborgasm landslide from the very king of the thing, Perez Prado. Don't expect anything like his rowdy long form exotica masterpiece Voodoo Suite (my favorite of his); instead, this record exemplifies better what you might call Prado's wheelhouse: huge, tight, ultra-fun mambo supernovas, littered with his trademark grunts. What sounds like "UGH!" is actually an incredibly enthusiastic ejaculation of the word "Dilo!" (meaning say it!), a verbal cue for his orchestra. It will pop up often.

I don't know how many 50's-era mambo records you've spun in your life. I've spun more than a few. I like the sound of the style at that time, but it's not my favorite thing in the world. Not always a lot to think about there. This record is just like all the other mambo records of its time-- except that it is perfect, and mighty, and awesome. That's sort of the Prado Promise: Power and Intensity. This is great stuff from a great man.

DILO (192)