Monday, January 24, 2011

Resa - Lycklig Mardröm 1980

I apologize for posting so much here but I wanted to unload a few albums that I've really loved a lot over time. Soon I will be going on winter holiday and then working more so will not be able to do much in the coming time. I apologize if I offend anyone by posting (or reposting) albums here but music is bigger than any of us, as I've said before. Music has been the centre of my life for all my many years, though it's not my career, it's everything else in my life excluding family. If these rare albums were available to buy on cd at local record stores, trust me I would be bringing boxes home every day. But they aren't, for whatever ridiculous reason. Though my basement is already full of CDs, cassettes, and records, there's still (always) room for more.

This record is a typical euro-jazz from the seventies, very smooth and accessible. Not so much fusion as acoustic-based stuff, like canadians contrevent; sax and guitars play most of the melodies sans paroles. Check out the cover painting, it really melts my heart-- probably because it reminds me of the art that was current in the seventies so it takes me back to childhood again.

Compositions are relatively straightforward, not like the smooth (jazz) stuff that was all over radio in the early 80s, a little bit more clever and composed. This is the difference with European jazz and fusion, I which I'd known about it back when I loved jazz, it's more composed and more ingenious and dare I say it, less boring without the long and tedious sax and bass solos typical of the American style. To me the highlight is track 5, which uses some really nice Wayne Shorter type phrases on top of quite ingenious chords and repeated modulations. By the last track you may find yourself lullabyed to sleep, but the finish is quite gentle and relaxing with acoustic guitar on piano arpeggios, so try to wake up for it if you can.
These guys did another album in 1974 called Crazy Squares that in my opinion is not as good, I think it's easy to find.

5 - Restrött...
8 - Födselande...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dune - Le chien des dunes (1973)

Dune is said to be the best selling science fiction novel of all time.  It was written by Frank Herbert and published in 1965.  Those of my age group will remember from childhood many kids carrying the heavy book under their arms in grade school or high school and referencing Paul Atreides or Duncan Idaho knowingly to the annoyance of the rest of us.  It had an enormous influence on progressive music in particular, the most obvious being french zeuhl band Dun.  A younger cohort will recall the disastrous David Lynch movie version with Kyle MacLachlan released in 1984, often seen in lists of worst movies ever.  I never saw it so I can't speak for it.  The book (I didn't bother to read that either) is about human struggles set far in the future of the order year 20,000 or thereabouts over control of a desert planet and a spice melange which extends life.

I can't resist saying it again, how high our hopes were back then in the sixties and seventies.  It seemed so natural to go from landing on the moon to exploring our milky way galaxy.  In fact landing on the moon was made possible by the fact that peak oil was only a couple of years away for the United States, it had to do with the cheapness of energy.  No human being will ever land on the moon again.  We are stuck on this planet now which we are steadily destroying.  Many studies have suggested that extended periods of weightlessness adversely affect bones (5% loss of bone per year) and the circulatory system, leading to constant fainting on returning to gravitational conditions.  Now an elegant recent study showed that zebrafish embryos raised in microgravity developed cranial defects-- obviously normal embryonic development requires the presence of gravity.  Earlier studies had indicated in other species the possibility space travel affects reproduction.  How likely is it the same would happen to pregnant women on an interstellar space flight lasting decades?  Very likely unfortunately, any cursory study of embryology shows that the complicated timing of development relies on many external signals of which gravity has to be an important though little-understood factor.  So appropriately enough, if we sent out a colonizing group of people out for a long space trip to a habitable planet (and how would those be chosen in the first place?  through Oprah?) it is likely only deformed mutants would arrive safely at the end of their voyage.  And I'm sure that has been written about in a science fiction short story somewhere before.

The group's name is probably from the famous book given its popularity back then (not sure), however the songs have nothing to do with it, they are ordinary-lyricked acoustic pop songs in the very smooth french style, like Chemin Blanc.  The quality of the songwriting is very high.  The second song, "La fille…" (girl I never held hands with) e.g. starts with a gorgeous 12-string B minor arpeggio progression then moves to a G major stanza, then G minor sust., F major, and quite beautifully the singer sings us down back to B minor, this modulation is worth paying attention to since it's an unusual sequence, F to B minor.  The lyrics are about a childhood crush, very poppy puppy-love ultra-saccharine melancholy typical seventies but it really takes me back to my own innocent childhood and the deep deep yearnings of the time -- example lyrics : "she was hiding her face I wonder if she was hiding a smile or tears".  Note also the beautiful mellotron strings that accompany the B minor descending progression.

The other standout songs are track 4, "Le fugitif" -- beautiful acoustic guitar intro leads to a chorus smothered in gorgeous mellotron sounds, for 'la chevauchee'  (action of a horse running) -- here the effect of the sustained mellotron chords as well as high-pitched electric piano chords is to enhance the feeling of a horse racing, quite amazingly well done.  I once again repeat myself about how these songs deserve to be played on the radio for people driving to work instead of the usual Simon and Garfunkel you hear every morning.  And track 9, "Le Tableau" which actually has quite poetic lyrics as well, simply the singer with a guitar and a handful of brilliant chord changes.  This is as great as songwriting gets, in my opinion.  Is it coincidence that it occurred in the early 70s?  No way.

In style I would say this album is in the french tradition with acoustic instruments mostly-- like Tangerine, but with highly competent compositions, quite a bit of mellotron and unusual modulations everywhere to keep our interest.  Lyrics of course are typical pop stuff.  A good example of the surprising modulations is seen in the bridge of the song "Chien des dunes"  where it sounds as if they go through twelve different keys.  This kind of thing is not often heard on current radio where the average song for sure has of the order 3.6 chords in the whole thing all in same key.  I don't know who ripped this originally but I thank them and would like more than anything that as many people as possible now hear this little, impossibly rare french gem that up until now has been lost to time and space, undeservedly.

La Fille dont je n'ai jamais pris la main...
Le fugitif...

Kazimierz Lux C.S. 1972 (Net)

One of my greatest favourite seventies rock-prog albums, by famous brainbox singer Kaz Lux, who also did the amazing Eli album with Akkerman (their second collaboration Transparental was more disappointing)
Since my posts are quite repetitive in content and I assume almost no one reads them through I will simply summarize as 'bullet' point form in powerpoint style the usual commentary and then segue into the usual doom and gloom discourse unrelated to musical content in the classic teutonic style of writing (e.g. Nietzsche, Kant, Schopenhauer, etc.)
-this kind of 70s songwriting is a 'lost art' (cf. Memo Kurt album from earlier)
-skill comes from extensive musical education which is rare today (i.e. classical music education)
-this record is better than 90 % of what you can hear on so-called 'top 40' radio today
-I cannot fathom why albums like this are so unknown, so rare, they certainly don't deserve to be, therefore,
-the 'artistic test of time' whereby great works endure and lesser ones die, is complete and utter rubbish when it comes to music today
-the combination of rock, classical, jazz created a style in the seventies that has never been emulated, in terms of quality, imagination, inventiveness (not applicable to this album)
-covers of prog albums in this period were incredibly beautiful works: paintings, photos, drawings as in this case, deserving almost of being shown in museums of art, definitely this album applies, check out that outrageous Max Ernst-like Boschian graphite (?) surreal image, artist -- ?
-all my apologies for poor bitrate on this album, not my fault, I've stolen all these rips and have gotten plenty of flak for this, not that I lose sleep over it
-if this has been posted before, shoot me-- or to quote from the great Robert Plant, 'suck my lemon till the juice runs down my leg' [The Lemon Song]
-this blogging about prog is a thankless and time-consuming job so please no negative comments, this is truly a labour of love and I would just as soon not do it, instead go cook some spicy spaghetti sauce
-my children are crazy, and my wife and I are exhausted and close to death, and finally,
-humanity is probably doomed, due to peak oil, and accelerating climate change.

-when I first read about Brendan Carter's doomsday argument [1986] many years ago I felt like I was hit on the head by a hammer, I couldn't sleep for several nights. How was this possible? Coming from a science-math background it seemed to be relatively unassailable. I had been brought up in the 70s when it was pretty much taken for granted that humanity would travel to the most distant galaxies, we were invincible now... But it wasn't until years later when I learned more about these issues such as resource depletion and climate change that I realized it was telling us something profound, that there was a good chance we were fated for extinction too, like so many other animals we have doomed by our hands, appropriately enough.
In short the argument boils down to this-- why were we born in this time? Why now, why not in the 1800s say, or more cogently, why not in the 3000s or 4000s when humanity supposedly will colonize the stars and galaxies, and develop into a species of many trillions or more individuals? Wouldn't it be more likely to be born then?? Why are we here now in the pathetic 20th-21st centuries?
Could it be we are born in this time-- because it's the likeliest time for a given human to be born? In other words, we are in the middle of the bell curve-- the population will crash quite soon--? (bear in mind that since we evolved 70-100,000 years ago 'soon' means in the next few thousand years! not tomorrow) Well, calculations show that 6-10 percent or so of all homo sapiens who EVER LIVED are alive now. Well when you look at the problems we face this doesn't seem to be too unlikely after all. This is Brendan Carter's doomsday argument, which can be made statistically rigorous with Bayes' Theorem, which used to be controversial in statistics but is no longer so. Of course the theorem depends on the idea of expert interpretation and prior probability. Is the prob. of humanity going extinct very small or very high?? Anyone can give reasons for either one this is a matter of judgement. All the argument can do is amplify the risk-- if you think it's likely then you should be very worried, because it sure looks like we are in the middle of a bell curve of population. Statistically the argument is quite unassailable, be aware that a lot of physicists and mathematicians have taken a close look at it and there is no really good refutation other than to say, it is impossible for humanity to go extinct. But then, this is a bio-sociological opinion, no longer mathematical. And in biology, unfortunately, all species go extinct sooner or later!!
Why couldn't a group of lemmings, say, at the start of their population explosion, say the same thing, not knowing the explosion will last a long long time? Well this is where it matters that we can say to ourselves self-reflectively, why are we here now. Because the lemmings cannot do this. Nor could our 5000 year old ancestors, they didn't have the insight into math and population dynamics to ask themselves this question. They didn't know their population was rising, very slowly. They would never even have thought this, they assumed they lived in a steady-state equilibrium. Everything is different for us, now. This is the curse of self-awareness again.
They aren't here now -- but we are, and we are asking ourselves this, why are we born today in this time? The reason is : Because it's the likeliest time for a self-reflecting, intelligent (math-educated) human to be born. Not in the year 1000, nor in the year 4000, but now.

[From rateyourmusic vinyl review, thank you to the user who wrote this great note:]
What I have here is: the CD version of CS (with the whole 'Distance' as bonus or vice -versa.)
I play Kazimierz already over 35 years...I still love it.
Don't expect an amatourish [sic] album...oh no...this is a warm quiet melancholic album, with excellent jammin' rock, some 'country and folk rock' and brought with Kaz unique high soulish voice.
.....momento.. go upstairs to find the original vinyl cover ...coz' no info here.....and I need something to have in my hands...
...I'm back...didn't knew I have all his vinyl albums twice..
Just what I thought: Kaz is only singing on this and the cast is the old 'Brainbox' without Jan Akkerman.
Favourite tracks:
'Graveyard'..this one reminds me very much to the better Janis Joplin tracks (also the vocal part)...Summertime....
'Delayed Panic' a simple warm 'country rock' track.
'Brown Chrystal': A good progressive track...but as 'single' an unevitable flop....this is not commercial.
'The Change'the track I like the's simple and gives Kaz voice the chance to develop in it's own way:this has to be the single !
But also the tracks I didn't mention are above average.

This one is for real album lovers from 'Blind Faith' over 'Janis Joplin' to 'Neil Young, Byrds, Gram Parsons'
Spooner Oldham-Dann Penn compositions would sound great with this voice.
[end quote]

Personally this reminds me of the otger dice I posted a long time ago here, classic rock with melancholy tinges, basic rock with a lot of soul singing in the old seventies style, as you all know Kaz Lux had a fantastic voice, really beautiful deep stoned stones-ish baritone, with a lot of feeling. I really love also his singing on Eli, with Akkerman. I'm just repeating myself here, why in hell are this album's songs not on the radio, on satellite radio every morning I drive to work??????? Will I ever live to hear this happen? I doubt it.

Delayed Panic...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Moonlight - "The Edge" {Finland} [1978]

I couldn't found any info on net, line-up is from back cover, more info are welcome

A1 Nomore
A2 Free
A3 Almost
B1 I'm Not in the Mood
B2 Little Miss Pretty
B3 Dream About You
B4 O.M.C.
B5 Nomore Reprise

- Paul Kanerva (bass)
- Kim Trapp (keyboards)
- Bob Wasenius (drums, vocals)
- Andy Winter (guitar,vocals)

Dream About You...

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