Good Music We Can Know

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

King-Sized Spirit King: Hans Dulfer & Ritmo Natural- Candy Clouds (1971), and some others

In the 70's, especially in Europe, there was no shortage of groups striving to merge the worlds of jazz and rock. Often the fruit of these labors seem proggishly vulgar, pedantically over-intellectualized (looking right at you, Soft Machine), or were simply train wrecks-- the result of clueless musicians who understood neither jazz nor rock with any insight or subtlety, smashing them together like joyless stoners. So If I were to tell you that Dutchman Hans Dulfer's Candy Clouds is a Jazz-Rock masterpiece and beyond, I'd understand if you required some further persuasion.

Let's get something straight: Dulfer doesn't even belong in the Prog-jazz ghetto with acts like Alcatraz, Xhol Caravan, and all the others. Candy Clouds' mind-blowing brand of fusion has much more in common with the free/spiritual jazz scene in Europe, and can be easily to compared to the experimental fusion efforts of Archie Shepp or Gato Barbieri in the 70's. It isn't even entirely accurate to call this jazz-rock, as though the two modes of music share the spotlight equally; the music here is as Latin as it is heavy, and so this becomes a fascinating record of Spiritual Free Jazz Latin Psych. Stupendous.

I am unable to find much information on this record, or indeed much on Mr. Dulfer himself. I was inspired to do this post after Bacosco at Orgy in Rhythm dropped another sweet Dulfer joint, El Saxofon, an event which was followed by my noticing the inclusion of a 6-minute edited-down version of the title track to Candy Clouds on Jazzman's release of Spiritual Jazz Vol. 2.

That title track, split into two sections on the record and totaling nearly twenty minutes, is the heart of this fine album. Part 1 opens with a giant smash of heavy guitar that sounds like early Sabbath (forgive the obviousness of this comparison-- it just sounds like fucking Sabbath), trading lines with conniptions of free sax. They go back and forth a few times, until the whole things drops and it's a heavy psychedelic Latin jam with red hot sax burning through everything. In case I am failing to make the case, let me be blunt: it is awesome, as in awe-inspiring.

Part 2 takes its time getting started, beginning above the clouds with a long dreamy section, the sax heating up to flaming as the combo descends to earth... after six or seven minutes, your flight has landed, and that huge groove from Part 1 makes a return. Bigger, deeper, groovier even than before, Dulfer's improvisations reach a thrilling space between, say, Gato Barbieri's warm exotica shredding and Archie Shepp's emotional Fire Music-- all while electric guitars blaze in a cloud of reverb, a piano wanders off and gets lost, and a glorious cowbell abides with wisdom.

Just as good as "Candy Clouds 1&2" are the two tracks preceding it, a guitar-based groove with jungle shadows that's honestly just too cool to be believed, and a huge Latin jam with excellent flute acrobatics (the flautist is doing that Black Harold-y thing where he's sort of howling into the flute as he's playing it, whatever that's called). The Fire Music is in full force throughout.

The last two tracks sort of lose me, unfortunately. A seemingly pointless, very free jam with no groove and no flavor, entitled "Froggy", followed by a goofy Afro-Cuban/Kwela/highlife number (which does have some fleeting but awesome guitar blasts). These two tracks are short and inconsequential next to the utter majesty of what has preceded them, a lost masterpiece of many fusions, an album so crazy and cool and fun that I honestly can't believe it exists. This is the type of thing I hear in my dreams, then wake up depressed because it wasn't real and I can't even remember it anymore. So, so good.


I am very serious: get over to Orgy in Rhythm and grab Dulfer's follow-up to Candy Clouds, El Saxofon, ASAP. The track "Sad Love Story" is jaw-droppin'. Awesome record.

And now that Bacoso's link is dead, I've gone ahead and upped this one for y'all. You still oughtta take a minute to thank him though.


And you can grab The Morning After the Third, here (**not anymore, you can't-- so I upped it here). It seems to precede Candy Clouds, and while it's not as brilliantly conceived, it does have a very similar sound. Highly recommended-- so, so highly recommended.

The Morning After the Third

Monday, February 27, 2012

Stranger in Paradise: Ribamar- Dançando com Ribamar (1956)

Gorgeous Brazilian instrumental music from 1956, by accordionist and composer Ribamar. Like several other posts on this blog, this magic came from the Brazilian music blog Loronix, whose links were once excellent but now are all long dead. I only managed to snag a handful of records from the place before all was lost, but I intend to share them all, by-and-by. Not just rare but also wonderful, they all deserve to see more daylight.

Dançando com Ribamar is a delight and a pleasantness. Its charming, expert blend of both Brazilian and American popular music, jazz, and Bossa Nova align the album somewhat with the work of the fellows of Exotica; the influences are so similar, just approached from a different perspective. Reverse-Exotica in a sense. As such, the music would fit in on any Exotica playlist-- as well as one of Brazilian popular-music-circa-1950's, it should go without saying.

Sorry to be posting such Springtime tunes in what must still be a chilly winter for many of you, but the sun is here to stay in this corner of Mexico, so I feel I must post this. Perfect for enjoying a cool beverage in the shade on a sunny day, or just fantasizing about that sunny day to come.

Check out what remains of Loronix here, for some more info.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Jungle Birds, Jungle Drums: Tito Puente- Tambo (1960), Top Percussion (1957)

For anyone who's lovin' the recently-posted Sabu Safari, this will knock your socks off as well. Safari yourself on over to Orgy in Rhythm and pick up this Afro-Cuban/Exotica mindblower (in 320) and play it back-to-back with Sabu. I'm sure I don't have to tell you how great Tito Puente is, but allow me to insist upon the unassailable majesty of Tambo. Amazing stuff.

*Update: So of course Bacosco's link is dead, I was foolish to ever think otherwise. Apologies! What's worse, I don't even have a copy of his certain-to-be-superior 320 rip. All I'm holding is a not-terrible 160 rip, and I've upped a link to that. If anyone can improve on this, let me know. Grab this record here or elsewhere, and you can still pay Orgy in Rhythm a visit for more info on the record.


In order to sweeten this now sadly somewhat soured pot, I've tacked on another Tito Puente exotic blowout, Top Percussion. Not quite as awesome as Tambo, this is still excellent stuff, with more than enough chants and vocalizations to satisfy any desire for such sounds. Blistering percussion, as might be expected. Also, this is a decent rip, so have no fear.

Again, Bacosco has the skinny on this one, so check out more info here.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Ever-Throbbing Drums: Safari With Sabu- Sabu Martinez (1957)

This is not the hardest or rarest thing to find in the blogworld, so I'm gonna keep it brief. I just wanted to make sure everybody got a chance to know how good this is. Anyone who's heard Sorcery! (previously made mention of at this spot, here) knows how massive a Sabu Martinez session gets, and how gnarly and awe-inspiring his brand of Exotica/Afro-Latin jazz can be. This album is easily on the level of Sorcery! It is therefore, essential, so I recommend it in the highest fashion.

Check out the back cover notes over at Orgy in Rhythm, then thank him for rebirthing this monster into the world. His link is no longer hot, but it was the original, and for that I call him a hero.

I'm serious. This is enormous. God-sized jungle visions, scorching the earth in dark green fire. A headlong tumble into the witchdoctor dimension, eating a tiger's soul. Exotica Jazz Masterpiece.

SAFARI (320)

If you don't have Sorcery!, then get it you fool!

Friday, February 17, 2012

In Search of New Tabus: Milt Raskin- Kapu (Forbidden) 1959

Milt Raskin's Kapu is a positively sterling addition to Exotica canon. Well-played, thoroughly Exotic, and committed to the specific tropes of the genre, it's a perfect-- if still somewhat slightly unremarkable-- Exotica LP. But what sets it apart from other perfect-in-tone, yet somewhat vaguely underwhelming efforts-- such as Ted Auletta's Exotica, Warren Barker's William Holden Presents: A Musical Touch of Far Away Places, to name just a couple-- is that the record contains a set of (almost?) exclusively original Raskin pieces.

A swing jazz pianist from way back, and a widely-employed, if not widely-known, session player, Mr. Raskin here employs his gift and experience in the disreputable and glorious art of the Exotica facsimile. The results are, as has been previously noted, sterling. Dreamy, Polynesian in flavor, lightly percussive, lush with strings and harp, Jungle Book flutes, and laden with bird calls... a casual listener might easily feel he was listening to a set of Exotica standards, but they're all unique. That said, once examined, none of the songs seem as though they could have become standards or standouts; they aren't that distinctive or weird, and their melodies don't endure like, say, "Taboo" or "Quiet Village". Which is okay. Think of this as a lost soundtrack to an old safari movie, and enjoy Mr. Raskin's excellent piano work and pitch-perfect production details. Notice that there ain't a bad track.

Just to clear up any confusion, this record has some alternate titles and artwork, so Exotic Percussion and Exotic Tahiti are essentially the same record as Kapu (Forbidden). The tracklisting may vary, but the selections do not.

This is eminently listenable, lovely, and original 2nd-tier Exotica. Not an all-time classic, but a must-have for any medium/large collection.


Friday, February 10, 2012

The Apache Beat of the Motorik Neon Indian: Klaus Dinger- Neondian (1985)

Here's a shiny treasure of latter-day krautrock, perfect plastic optimism for charging upwards and outwards into that chilly winter on warm jets of sound.

Anyone familiar with Dinger's work, post-Neu!, particularly La Düsseldorf, probably has a keen idea of how this one will sound. Düsseldorf's efforts, as well as ex-Neu!-mate Rother's solo albums and any of the various Neu! reunions, seem to follow a similar trajectory of increasing positivity, world-iness, and huge sweeping synths, but to varying degrees of success. So, how does Néondian turn out? Rather well. That 80's sound is wholly in control, but with a punkiness and undercurrent of anger that nicely offsets the bubbly synth-pop plasticity. And of course, it's motorik as hell, in its own way. (A quick, obligatory note to krautrock beginners: don't start here- start with Neu!.)

This isn't a formless dick-around session like some of the Neu! reunions, either (as much as I think those are pretty worthwhile, actually- and as similar in tone as this is to Neu! 86), or Düsseldorf's own Viva! (which I also like). It may not be perfect, but this record has a sense of purpose that makes it feel like an album, in the classic sense. I could go deeper into this, and I was about to, but then I ran into this review (by Serotonin) on Julian Cope's site, which does a pretty good job of going into detail regarding the record. I find some of his assertions a bit spurious (I'm not sure the track "America" is nearly incendiary enough to result in Dinger being effectively blackballed in the States- more likely, there just wasn't any interest to begin with in this fringe, very German practitioner of an offshoot of rock that was never, ever popular in the U.S.), but his passion for the record is nonetheless winning and informative. Check it out, read it up.

This record was originally billed to "Klaus Dinger + Rheinita Bella Düsseldorf", despite being, more or less, the next La Düsseldorf album following Individuellos. Adding to the confusion, it was later released on the Captain Trip label under the Düsseldorf name, with different tracklisting (and extras), and the title Mon Amour. The material in this download may well have originated from that reissue, as those bonus tracks are included, but I have restored the original sequencing and artwork etc., and repositioned the extras at the end (they're good-to-great). Please enjoy.


Speaking of krautrock in the 80's, does anyone have a hot tip on Michael Karoli's Bit/s EP? I've only heard one track and I'm dying for more.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Beyond the Valley of Wop Pop: Paul Anka- Every Night (Without You) 1962

My friend sent me a link to this video. Oh man, it's... well, it's just the perfect thing. I don't really have any info on it, so there ain't much I can say. Just take in the majesty of it.

I think it's fantastic in so many ways, but after seeing it, I had to know more about the music. The song is by Paul Anka, a 50's teen idol/70's-onward lounge fixture that I ought to know more about than I do (in fact, I frequently confuse him for Frankie Avalon, which I think is probably fair). What do I know? I know he rarely transcended his wop pop/faux-rat-pack idiom in the wonderful ways Gene Pitney or Bobby Darin did, and rarely if ever at the same level. I also know he did this phenomenal track. (And yeah, I know he's Canadian-Lebanese, but he still does it Italian-style. Ask the Italians, they love him- he did as many Italian-language singles as Connie Francis.)

And now I know this: during an early-ish stab at British Invasion-provoked relevance (something all the kids dallied with at some point, as in the much later Frankie Valli and the Four Season's The Genuine Imitation Life Gazette, or a good deal of Bobby Darin's mid-60's output), he recorded this breathtaking single, "Every Night (Without You)". It may not be his best track, but it's easily one of his coolest. Get it in your life.


Here's another radical stomper, if you're still hungry: UH HUH

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Ghetto Organs and Cactus Riddims: Carlton Barrett and Family Man- (The Sound of) Macka Dub (197?)

This is one of my favorite dub records. The rhythms are badass and crunchy, and most every track showcases just the nastiest organ or piano work. The sound of the organ is so right & good. It's a panic of goodness.

This is a simple record of dub instrumentals with relatively light effects and outrageously solid playing. There's not all that much I can say about it (except, it seems that calypso legend Mighty Sparrow turns in some drum work here). The organ sound just slays, though, making this an absolute essential.