Good Music We Can Know

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Have You Been to Baia, Donald?: Nelly Martins & Tito Madi- Encontro no Sabado (1959)

Nelly Martins' and Tito Madi's Encontro no Sabado contains, simply, some of the most pleasant and beautiful music you could hope to hear.Many of the songs seem to be a dialogue between a man and a woman, sung in Portuguese, and all are supported by immaculate arrangements of string-based fantasy swoons. It basically sounds exactly like it would feel to fall hopelessly in love in the reality of an old and extremely romantic movie musical.

Did you see Disney's Pecos Bill short, where Pecos sees Sweet Sue riding a giant catfish and falls in love so hard that he jumps into the blue of her eyes and swims around playing a harp? Imagine a Brazilian version of that, and you are imagining something like this throbbing, swooning, whirlwind romance of a record. Or just gaze into the gorgeous cover, which gives you a pretty good idea of how lush and precious this is. It's really beautiful. Total masterpiece of sweet romance.

I got this at Loronix, a wonderful blog of Brazilian music... a lot of the links are dying there, but you should check it out.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Genius of Free Jazz: Archie Shepp- The Magic of Ju-Ju (1967)

A while back I was remarking to someone that I could never really find anything as good as Archie Shepp's Coral Rock, and he got sort of maximum paternal and suggested I hear this album before I think I know Archie Shepp. Well, if you ask me, it doesn't exactly blow Coral Rock out of the water, but it is an amazing album, if not his masterpiece. Shepp is such a gifted player, possessing an exquisite alchemy of savagery, sophistication and soul that is totally unlike his peers. No one would mistake this-- or any Shepp recording-- for, say, Coltrane or Pharaoh Sanders, and despite a shared interest in African music/instrumentation and its intersection with passionate improvisation, neither of them would have arranged a track as barren, repetitive, and scorchingly single-minded as the title track from The Magic of Ju-Ju. Perhaps what sets Shepp furthest apart is his palpable anger. Where others of his generation pursued a spiritual elevation, Shepp often preferred to display an intellectual rage and achieve his catharsis in that way.

As for the album, Allmusic does a serviceable description here:

"Shepp's emotional and fiery tenor takes off immediately, gradually morphing with the five percussionists who perform on instruments including rhythm logs and talking drums. Shepp never loses the initial energy, moving forward like a man possessed as the drumming simultaneously builds into a fury. Upon the final three minutes, the trumpets of Martin Banks and Michael Zwerin make an abrupt brief appearance, apparently to ground the piece to a halt. This is one of Shepp's most chaotic yet rhythmically hypnotic pieces"

Another essential record from Shepp. Good VBR rip.


Coral Rock is here

Busy Suckin On A Ding Dong, Jim: The Velvet Underground- Sweet Sister Ray

Is "Sister Ray" the most incredible song of the sixties? Or-- to hell with it-- the most incredible song in the history of rock "n" roll?

To speak in hyperbole when discussing "Sister Ray" only makes sense. It is a fearsome God-Monster of a song, one that has taken many terrible and awesome forms. This bootleg is infamous for having three of those many mutant live versions of the song. But it also boasts the shadowy, mythical "Sweet Sister Ray," a 40-minute, rarely performed (and even more rarely recorded) spiritual lead-in to what was often a terrifically long opus itself.

When playing live, the band was able to take what felt like a punishing, ecstatic eternity at 17 minutes on vinyl, and stretch it out indefinitely-- opening up to long passages of interplay between Reed's flipouts and Sterling Morrison's visionary, understated improvisations, or just chugging along with a brutal motorik rhythm. Experimenting at the outer limits of feedback and volume, pushing the primitive simplicity of the drums to the point of ritual oblivion, reciting Last Exit To Brooklyn/Naked Lunch-reminiscent lyrics in a literary deadpan that implied Reed's underlying droll gallows humor-- and doing it for upwards of 40 amphetamine-fueled feverish minutes... hellfire and damn it where can I get every recorded version of this song?

Well, there are three here: one nicely recorded, with a tangled, angular performance from the guitars; one played with a marvelous maximum of feedback and distortion; and one with a somewhat low recording quality that is good but pretty typical. The best versions, for my money, can be found on the excellent 3-disc set, The Quine Tapes, a mess of recordings made by the teenage Robert Quine. There are three long renditions of "Sister Ray" on The Quine Tapes and they are easily among my favorites, so you should get that stuff if you haven't got it. Everyone, get The Quine Tapes!

As for "Sweet Sister Ray," it doesn't quite live up to the main feature, to be honest, but it's pretty insistently interesting. It might well bore you at first, but by the time it's over, you realize it's already gotten into your blood.


Monday, April 12, 2010

From the Library Library: Piero Umiliani- Continente Nero (1975)

Umiliani is one of those Library guys that has a million records, often under different names.  I think he's one of the more reliably good figures of that scene, and Continente Nero is my favorite of his works.  Full of urgent, tension-building strings, Umiliani-typical percussive aspects, and the rush of adventure and discovery; this is a documentary in your head, Jacques Cousteau-style, where nature is perceived as an unfathomably precious beauty and a mystical void of peril that will destroy man even as he works so obliviously destroys it.  Highly evocative, and a little less corny/funky/upbeat than a lot of similar docu-soundtrack library stuff.  Very thin and serious stuff.  If you like Sven Libaek (he'll show up here soon), this will scratch a different aspect of that itch.
*I just realized that "Continente Nero" translated from Italian is "Black Continent."  Awesome&Problematic, just like all the best old stuff.
36 15 Moog has tons more Umiliani on his blog, so check him out, but this one is the best.
embark on a rigorous journey, fraught with wonder and peril

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Everybody!: Admiral Dele Abiodun- It's Time For Juju Music

Here is a highlife party record that just refuses to stop being the best party in space... like the best of this kind of African jamming, what seems rote at its start begins to imperceptibly turn itself inward, becoming a trippy, vaguely cerebral, dance dance dance party that doesn't just creep up your booty and start your bones to shakin' but also funks up your mind, putting you so deep into it man...

This rip is comprised of two tracks which is not exactly the original intent of the album but each side of the record is so obviously one long interrupted track that this is really the only way to do it. Side A is the best for me, keeping the vocals to a minimum and exploring the outer limits of what instrumentation you might want to throw at this kind of funk, at times attaining almost a kind of minimalism and sporting all the keyboard-handclaps you could ask for... then the singers jump in, remind you that it's indeed time for juju music, to shake your body and hold your baby, then they're gone and it's back to outer space we go...

This record is a little cute and maybe a touch naive (and more than a little indebted to King Sunny Ade), but it keeps me absolutely riveted every time.

Get it y'all, and don't forget to hold your baby

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thank You, Growing Bin: Gert Thrue- Sound Painted Pictures of Cosmic Love

Oh Ding Dang Dammit: I got this from The Growing Bin which is a very nice blog indeed, and this record is the New Obsession. Just a baffling procession of modal organ improvisation and drums just completely all-a-drummin', it creates the most positive psychedelic atmosphere imaginable. God, it's just so tangibly good... go to this place and retrieve it from the link they have there, then prepare to be pleased. I predict you will be pleased. Oh my son, my son, you will, you will be pleased.

*Clearly I was very excited about this at the time, sadly to the point of cartoonish unintelligibility. Perhaps rightly so. Still one of my favorite straight-ahead psych records. It will bring you back from a bad trip, if you need it to-- this is righteous cosmic music, and it sets a space explorer straight.


Glorious Daughter of the South: Just Julia

A collection of recordings by Just Julia, a daughter of the New South and Cult Songstress. Just Julia records on her lo-fi lonesome, using primarily ukulele, keyboards and overdubbed vocals. This rare collection of songs has never until now been released as a single collection and exhibits her rare pop literacy with charming and powerful covers of songs by Harry Nilsson, various girl groups, Donovan, the Flamingoes, and the Everly Brothers. Dispersed among these clever homages are a smattering of originals which seem to truly sit head and shoulders: the original compositions "Old 86," "Crime Report," "Virginia," "French King Bridge," and "Sugar Hollow" smuggle and snuggle right the fuck in with the sonnets of the master bards and make themselves at home like crafty country raccoons.

Listen, if you like it when a girl sings a song, if you like the ukulele, if you like Harry Nilsson and might like to hear him respected musically, if you like to hear a song of a world that is decent and nice like a watermelon picnic: get this compilation. Don't be a Yankee, get the songs, the songs!