Good Music We Can Know

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sound Box of Dreams: Janko Nilovic - Percussions Dans L'Espace (197?)



Hello.  Sorry I've been away so long.  Oh, how I've been busy.  Indeed, I've just returned not long ago from expedition to Bali.  I've also been preparing to start up a radio show on WFMU's own phenomenal Give the Drummer Radio (set to commence in mid-January, more details to come).  So, once again, let me explain my absence as one due to activity rather than inertia, and please accept my pledge that there is much more activity to come from the shadowy offices of Flash Strap.

Let's just get back into the swing of things with something so good, I don't really have to say much about it.  Janko Nilovic, Montenegrin master,  is another of those prolific Library wizards beloved by collectors of the stuff, one of the biggest names out there.  I've never been the biggest fan, actually; the first few albums of his that I had heard weren't my cup of tea (as is the case with nearly all his cohort, Nilovic is necessarily stylistically all over the place, and can be hit-and-miss as a result).  This rather unfortunate introduction temporarily obscured for me the wonders of a truly magical artist, and one of the major turning points in my opinion was this marvelous Montparnasse 2000 LP, likely dating to the '73-75 period, Percussions Dans L'Espace.

It is rarely the case, and thus always worth mentioning, when a Library album is "all killer no filler," so to speak.  This is one such album.  Throughout, there is a strong interplay between outrageously satisfying, fat-sounding, bold drums and the more delicate, haunting percussions of vibes, xylophone, and piano, highlighted with chimes, gongs, and nature sounds.  It's an aesthetic that Nilovic excels in, and the whole album comes off as well-realized, cohesive, atmospherically engrossing, and eminently re-listenable.

It's also pretty exotic.  This is clear in tracks like "African Dream" and "L'Ocean" (both just monstrously good selections) but manifests more subtly throughout.  Just the use of percussive contrast in the instrumentation is reminiscent of the formal elements of the Exotica approach; throw in the sea and jungle sounds, exotic percussive accents, shadowy echo effects, Ballet Russes-esque Eastern European elements, vibraphone-jazz, and general nature-documentary vibe, and the album almost functions as a stealth Library-Exotica piece.  Perfect examples of this vague but indelible effect can be heard on  two of the LP's major highlights, the dreamy, enigmatic "Sound Box" and the enveloping safari of "Flock."

The only dud on here is "Free Combination", but that's more due to the imperfection of the rip than the music itself (though, either way I suspect it would have been the lower point of the record).  It is more than pulled out of the mire by the following track, however, the arresting "Ballet Dans Le Cosmos."  If you do have a superior rip, please consider sharing.  This one came to us through the overwhelming, wonderful, Maio Library.

Ok.  Enjoy.  More to come, I assure you.

Percussions Dans L'Espace (256)