Good Music We Can Know

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sphere Sauvage

A message to any of you out there who might be reading from the St. Louis area: In the unbelievable scenario that you haven't got anything better to do with your Friday evening, you might consider attending the opening of a show in which I have the above piece (a collaboration with my beloved colleague, Raleigh Gardiner) at Luminary Center for the Arts, at 2644 Cherokee St., from 7-10.  Further info

Come penetrate our exotic terrarium, sink in the stereo-wingback chair, and read my book.  Or check it out anytime through Feb. 1st.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bibliothèque Exotique: Roger Roger- Musique De Iles, Méditerranée (probably 1960-1962?)

"Bolero Chinoise"

A little over four years ago, a blog by the name of Painted on Silence blasted out a hot stream of rare library LPs-- an admirable collection brought into the light by what must have been considerable labor and expense.  Among the many bright jewels of this windfall were quite a few excellent selections from Roger Roger and/or Nino Nardini. 

Their links lived but a short time.  Fortunately, Mr. Durango of Val Verde Music (among other things) was courageous enough to resurrect many these treasures.  You can still find them, four years later, here.  These otherwise rare selections, as rescued by Mr. Durango, helped me immensely in compiling my Roger Roger & Nino Nardini project, Obsession Exotique.


While many of the LPs from which I culled the selections that ended up on Obsession Exotique were worthwhile in their entirety (more or less, anyway) these two LPs seemed to me to beg for a spotlight of their own.  The idea of Obsession Exotique was to find the exotica selections sprinkled throughout a massive and obscure ouvre, but these particular LPs are openly, classically, wall-to-wall exotica.    

Exotica of a sort, anyway: they're what we might call vacation/"foreign film" exotica, more in the manner of Morton Gould or John Scott Trotter's Escape to the Magic Mediterranean (or even, sad to say, 101 Strings), than Les Baxter or Jungle Obsession, but for a true exotica hunter they surely hold enough allure to be worth a good listen.

Musique Des Iles is the stronger of the two, mixing in with those silver strings and that Scheherazade sound an occasional samba rhythm, some snazzy percussion, a playful sensibility, and sometimes coming out sounding like a Fellini soundtrack.  "Bolero Chinoise" is a real highlight, as is the sexy build-up of "Sortileges", where flashes of Roger Roger's admiration for Mr. Baxter possibly shine through.  Méditerranée is pretty cool too, just a little more same-y throughout, and overall a bit lighter in tone.  I'm particularly fond of "Tears" and "Anouman."

Check these out.  But also follow the above links through and pick up the rest of the story-- thanking the gentlemen responsible along the way.  Their labors are our pleasures.  (And check out Obsession Exotique, if you haven't already.)



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Jungle Symphony: Ananda Shankar- Sa-Re-Ga Machan (1981)

If you've never heard this, you're surely in for a treat.  You may very well have heard it, however, since it's been drifting about upon the flotsam-strewn blogsea for quite some time.  I think I got it from EXP ETC a few years ago, when he did that Ananda Shankar mega-post.  But since those links are now gone-- and I'm currently enraptured anew of this record-- I thought I'd take a moment to toss it up.  Let's try and catch up to any unfortunate souls who may have thus far eluded this slinky Indian tigress.

Mr. Shankar is, of course, the nephew of Ravi Shankar, though I hasten to add that one did not educate the other in the art of sitar, and thus the detail is of mainly anecdotal significance, at least as far as I know.  Indeed, in my (egregiously uninformed) estimation, Ananda's sitar stylings have never been the strongest suit of his East-meets-West psych/jazzy fusions.  The shredding on his most famous track, "Jumpin Jack Flash", feels to me ultimately more Strawberry Alarm Clock than Stones-circa-Satanic Majesties (though undoubtedly it is technically superior to anything from either).  What I do find so enchanting about Mr. Shankar at his best is very simple.  His wonderful cross-pollination sets Indian tradition alongside Western funky popcraft, employing a half-and-half band of tabla, sitar and the like, and electric guitar, drums, moog, etc.  The result is deeply, classically exotic, and has the kind of muted, cinematic, sexy trippiness of the best production library LPs (Roger Roger and Nino Nardini spring to mind, but you knew I'd say that, I'm sure). 

Sa-Re-Ga Machan is my favorite Ananda Shankar outing.  Perhaps precisely because it has so little sitar, and so much flute and moog and the like.  Or maybe because it sounds almost exactly like Jungle Obsession, replete with those Stringsonics string sounds, or a more Indian version of "Soul Vibrations" from Dorothy Ashby's Afro-Harping.  Whatever.  You'd love it.  Nearly every track is a mysterious ecstasy of jungle shadows and lurking seductive danger. Music that sounds like this positively requires a tiger for its cover art.

Just a side note: if you grabbed my last Jungle Shadows mix, you've definitely heard my all-time favorite track from the record, and one of my all-time favorites period, and that is the sleek and exquisite "Night in the Forest."