Good Music We Can Know

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"Like Tears in Rain": Tomita- Snowflakes Are Dancing (1974)

Here it is, the most beautiful shit ever.  A set of exquisite "virtuoso electronic performances of Debussy's beautiful tone paintings." Tomita's first, and almost certainly best, LP.

If you're unsure whether this is for you-- if you've heard other Tomita, or any of a number of "switched-on" classical records, and been left cold-- all I can say is this: listen to the one-two punch of "Clair de Lune" (towering glacial beauty, utter revelation) and "Arabesque No. 1" (where Tomita's innovative cartoon-robot whistles and coos can be heard in their finest incarnation) and you will certainly be a believer.  Of course the whole record is superb (other standouts include "The Engulfed Cathedral," a Blade Runner-esque doom-dream of stark and moving beauty, and the impossibly elegant "Girl With the Flaxen Hair"), so of course you could just slide in at the beginning and let it take you on that chilly odyssey.  Weep to the electronic sublime, kiss the sweet frozen dew of the flowers of Venus.

You can read up a bit on the technical aspects here.

TOMITA (320)

Thanks to Sid, for playing this to me, lo those many years ago.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"The Body Memory of Longing Never Quenched": Gato Barbieri- Bolivia (1973)

"The life-affirming, surging spirit of these performances - with their supple range of colors, rhythms, soaring melodies - is the essence of that basic, visceral beauty that gives hope to lovers and revolutionaries and to all those who believe in real life before death. His music is an embodiment of perennial possibility that is made of blood and flesh rather than vaporous dreams. Gato, in sum, is among the the least abstract of musicians because he is so explosively, specifically alive."- Nat Hentoff, liner notes for Bolivia

If you enjoyed Chapter One: Latin America, you'll certainly love this record.  I think I love it even more-- indeed, it may be my favorite of Gato's albums, and the title track is among his very finest efforts.  If you love Lonnie Liston Smith's first gorgeous Cosmic Echoes record (Astral Traveling), you'll want to hear this immediately (assuming you haven't already, the very idea of which may be a foolish notion on my part). 

Flabbergasted Vibes of course has the post-to-read on this incredible LP, and the download-of-choice, recently re-upped.  Go there today, and pump this passion into your spiritual ears like the liquid tropical sex-gold that it is.  Follow the link below (and thank the fellow).

If the Flabbergast link isn't happening for you, a kind commenter has left an alternate mediafire link in the comments.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Music for the World: Gato Barbieri- Latin America (Chapter One) 1973

Oh, Gato.  What a treasure.

For readers only familiar with Mr. Barbieri through his molten work of romantic genius on the original soundtrack for Last Tango in Paris, the wonderful news is that this sly Argentinian cat has a phenomenal body of work at least comparable to, if not greater than in some cases, the 70's output of such other spiritual/fusion giants as Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane, Joe Henderson, or Don Cherry, to name a few.

If you are only familiar with his relatively successful commercial stabs at sexy Latin-disco-jazz, such as Caliente! or Tropico, then please be reassured that his prolific early/mid-70's output is another universe entirely.  Not that those later records don't have a trashy appeal and some great sax sex solos.

But perhaps no LP from that golden period is as indispensable as Chapter One: Latin America (though Bolivia, with Lonnie Liston Smith, is perhaps my favorite-- but we'll get to that one some other day).  The first and best of four Latin America albums, for these sessions Gato headed down to Brazil to record with a bevy of locals (or, as the album copy puts it: "an astonishing aggregation of Third World musicians") on varied instruments such as: quena, Indian harp, charango, anapa, erke, siku, erkencho, bombo Indio, cavaquinho, a large field of samba drums, pandeiro, quica, and agogo, once again to name a few.

The sound is overall quite in line with Gato's other work from this period as a bandleader or composer, with a "spiritual" openness and attention to atmospheric textures-- and a lot of the native instruments are employed more along those lines, indicating an exotic Latin cosmos bursting with incidental musical details all along the edges of Gato's forceful but always-sensual blowing (though I have to say, the flutes do a lot of heavy lifting, especially on "India").  The whole LP is surprisingly both tight and expansive, with uncommonly exquisite compositions (the opener, "Encuentros", and side two's "La China Leoncia Arreo la Correntinada Trajo Entre la Muchachada la Flor de la Juventud" especially) and arrangements (the absolute all-time great and album highlight, "India").  Of course, the saxophone work at center stage is beyond superb.

This is a giant masterpiece of 70's jazz.  Indispensable.