Good Music We Can Know

Monday, November 28, 2011

Flash Strap Presents: Black Art + Machine Gun Funk Volume Two

Here is part two of my series, Black Art + Machine Gun Funk (Check out part one here). While some repeat offenders can be found here, I've taken pains to insure that this is more than a just retread of the first one- this is a mean batch, friends.

Thanks to Nicholab of Ghostcapital for the hot tip on Kool & Together. The cover photo for this one is by Danny Lyon, from this Documerica series.

Part One
1. The Meek Ain't Gonna- The Watts Prophets
2. Mean Machine (Chant)- The Last Poets
3. (For God's Sake) Give More Power To The People- The Chi-Lites
4. Who's For The Young- Brothers Unlimited
5. Raising Hell- Norma Jean & Ray J
6. Hard Times- Baby Huey
7. I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun- Rotary Connection
8. Mary Don't Take Me On No Bad Trip- Fugi
9. My People... Hold On- Eddie Kendricks
10. Ball Of Confusion- The Undisputed Truth
11. Peace And Love (Movement V)- Mandrill
12. East- Billy Paul

Part Two
1. Black Noise- Rotary Connection
2. Good Ole Music- The Parliaments
3. Sittin' On A Red Hot Stove- Kool & Together
4. Lying- Black Merda
5. I Can't Stand The Rain- Ann Peebles
6. Feels Like The World- Isley Brothers
7. F.U.N.K.- Betty Davis
8. I Walk On Gilded Splinters- Johnny Jenkins
9. Dance With Your Parno- Bohannon
10. What It Is?- The Undisputed Truth
11. Pretty Soon- The Black Haze Express
12. Wino Man- Kool & Together
13. Life, Dreams, Death- Brothers Unlimited


Monday, November 21, 2011

More Libaek for the Walkabout Masters: Sven Libaek- Nickel Queen (1971); The Set (1970?)

This record can be found elsewhere amongst the blogs, if you look, but here at Flash Strap we (and I do mean I) have a compulsive desire to display all the Sven Libaek, and in turn make it available to you. Today's post will feature some stragglers of the Libaek catalog.

Nickel Queen is a logical straggler. It's a hard-to-find soundtrack to an obscure Australian film about a wacky-ish mineral-boom rush, and it features more than just a few vocal tracks. It's the vocals, more than anything, that drives down the stock of this Libaek effort- polished, cheesy choruses, folk-pop lite sentiments and melodies... not his best stuff, by a long shot, and not at all what anyone is hoping to hear from a composer with such a masterful ability to weave gorgeously evocative instrumentals. Yet these, the worst selections, aren't really that bad. They've grown on me, anyway. "Look (Every Day)" actually manages to pull off a pretty good take on sunshine pop a la Free Design, and honestly, it's sort of great. Especially when it pops up in the midst of some of Sven's most sunnily optimistic instrumentals, ever.

Lest all this talk of vocal tracks gets you feeling doubtful, though, it's mostly instrumental. Know that.

There's one track in particular that makes me know I absolutely needed this record, after all. "News From The Exchange" stands out from the rest of the album. An achingly gorgeous, perfect diamond teardrop of a composition, this effortlessly belongs with the very best of Mr. Libaek's work. Essential.

A quick note: I can't remember where I grabbed this rip-I know it wasn't Digital Meltd0wn- but it is Digital Meltd0wn's upload (though it may have come to him via Owl of the Warbles, it seems), so be sure to thank him if you have a mind to. Also, I remember there was a bit of a stir (I feel Mr. Zer0 II from Meltd0wn addresses this as well as I could, so I'll be brief) a while back on Pecks Pet Rips over the original ripper feeling the credit due him had not been paid, causing the links there to disappear- so I'd like to thank all the hands this has passed through to keep it alive and moving through the sharing loop. As anyone who has seen Zardoz knows, zealous guardianship of art and beauty can only lead to the invasion of Vortexes by Brutals, the felling of flying stone heads and their wizard pilots, and a realization by the erectionless cultural elites that their main desire is death, anyway.


Here's another soundtrack from Mr. Libaek, this one for a film about, I believe, homosexuality and the sexual revolution/youth culture in Australia. It's been made slightly less obscure due to having a few tracks from it included on the Inner Space: The Lost Film Music of Sven Libaek compilation. As far as soundtrack music goes, this is the superior record. A surprisingly wide range of emotions and evocations of scene and mood can be found within these 19 selections, all delivered in a warm, jazzy, smoky sound. Velvety, even. It is, at times, marvellously sophisticated stuff, even for Libaek. It also has less vocal pieces. There is one, which is mainly fine. The rest is fuckin' fabulous.

This rip was given to me on the down low by a friend (if I may) who feels differently than I (or Zer0 II) about rip credits and control. Since it wasn't his rip, he said, I could post it if I wanted, although he mightn't agree with the decision. Fair enough- after all, this album is no longer much of a task to find out there (though there may be a higher quality rip out there that I don't know about). Thank you, friend, for sharing. Everybody please thank this friend.

THE SET (192)

A major piece of the puzzle, which I would love to fill in, is this mysterious and awesome-looking record. I have no information, except that it exists, and I want to hear it so very badly. If you have a line on this, please share.

If you haven't yet acquired the essentials of the Libaek catalog, I encourage you to do so. I can help, here.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Once More Into the Sleepy Lagoon: Miriam Burton- African Lament (1961)

This record is a minor legend in the Exotica pantheon, one that's managed to stay extremely rare even within the seemingly limitless bounty of the blogosphere and all the other assorted outlands of the internet. I've searched for it a long time, having heard at one point a few engaging selections. Alas, my inquiries and hunting trips failed without exception- so it recently occurred to me to inquire at The Sleepy Lagoon. Witch doctor that he is, it wasn't long before he miraculously produced a copy. It's up on his blog now.

Miriam Burton (former cast member of Porgy and Bess, friend to Harry Belafonte, and a veteran of the jazz world), here plies her impressive soprano in the service of vocal exotica along the lines of Yma Sumac, Bas Sheva, Leda Annest, and other wordless sorceresses. The ostensible concept of the record (and likely the weakest element) is to describe in emotional sound-paintings the African experience. Indeed, there is a track called "Apartheid," so you can tell they're serious. I'm not sure this goal is achieved any more than Bas Sheva's The Passions manages to describe any emotional state other than "moaning in a room"- though I must point out that this is a far better album than The Passions, and Miss Burton a far better and infinitely more bearable singer than Miss Sheva.

So perhaps the conceptual hook is a bit weak, but it wouldn't be the first time an Exotica record endeavored to describe something quite real in an artificial language. This disconnect, after all, is one of the more intriguing aspects of the Cult of Exotica.

But the music! The music is solid. Excellent "Afro-exotic" production, heavy on marimba and percussion (and light on authenticity), deeply evocative and cinematic, with (mostly) awesome, moving, soulful vocal performances from Miriam Burton. The opening track, the almost eight-minute "Rites of Passage" in three parts, is easily the high point for me. A sprawling, unforced suite (highly reminiscent of Perez Prado's Voodoo Suite, especially in terms of percussion), it luxuriates in its aesthetic long enough that the listener can sink wholly into it, and it's abstract enough to function very well as a sound-painting or mood piece. The next track is pretty grating, but enjoyable if you bring some humor to the experience. It's the kind of hyper-upbeat "la la la" nonsense that's always a low point on Yma's records, and very reminiscent of The Passions at its worst. The rest of the album flows by with the same panoramic easiness of "Rites of Passage", with another standout being the excellent "Kalahari Bushman" and the mournful "Apartheid".

With Vocal Exotica records, there's often a fatigue that sets in if you spin the whole record at one go. In some ways, it's best to drop this stuff into a playlist that you intend to shuffle. I love this kind of singing, but I love it most in quick glimpses and stolen snatches. Either way you go with this one though, you'll be glad, because it's excellent and extremely unique. Enjoy, and thank the Lagoonmaster.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Three Exotic KPM Trips: Rogerio Duprat-Brazilian Suite; Les Baxter- Bugaloo in Brazil; Alan Parker & John Cameron- Afro Rock

In response to an anonymous request for Rogerio Duprat's 1970 KPM library LP Brazilian Suite, I present: Rogerio Duprat's 1970 KPM library LP Brazilian Suite. For me, this is one of those things you download, listen to distractedly once, and never again. I think I've been filing it in the part of my brain that's labelled "too much horns? or not- i don't know man worry about it later", so this was a nice opportunity to give it a second chance and a good listen. I like it. I think a lot of other people will probably like it more than I do. There's a delicate, exotic quality to a lot of the arrangements, making it a somewhat classic intersection of Tropicalia and Production music (of the more soundtrack-esque variety). I do think some of the horns are only so-so, but whatever. It's a good record, especially for fans of 70's Brazilian music.

This rip came from Loronix, a wonderful Brazilian music blog that has since sunk into the tar pits of inactivity, its download links lapsing into dust. So I offer here Loronix's 320 rip for resurrection, although I think I remember EXP ETC has a rip of this one too. I don't know if it's the same, or worse, or better. Or anything.


Now that we're on this thread, though, let's move on to another 1970 KPM release, from none other than one of my personal favorite artists, the legendary Les Baxter. I don't have a lot of info to share about this release. In fact, it's a total mystery to me. I will say this: of Mr. Baxter's later work, this is a towering success; within the context of his entire career, this can still be considered numbered among the essentials. It's similar in tone to his soundtrack to the film Bora Bora (but more complex and interesting), with Baxter's classic Exotica tropes and production style (minus the huge orchestra, of course) meeting somewhat heavier beats and a "hipper" sound. While this successful blend of eras makes the record fairly unique, I have to say, if I wasn't listening carefully, I might easily mistake this for Golden-Age Baxter. It's kind of a masterpiece, guys, but I do have a habit of calling Les Baxter records masterpieces. After all, he is a fucking master.


And just for good measure, you can zip on over to EXP ETC and grab his rip of a 1973 KPM LP from Alan Parker & John Cameron, Afro Rock. It's pretty damn good, too, and a lot of fun to hear. Some of it is sort of run-of-the-mill library/soundtrack funk, which I can take or leave since I don't sample beats, but it has its true moments of transcendence that aren't to be missed. Especially the track, "Heat Haze." I mean, it might not be Jungle Obsession, but what is?