Monday, July 30, 2012

Bernard Benoit - Lutunn Noz {France}[1975, Arion]

Artist: Bernard Benoit
Album: Lutunn Noz
Year: 1975
Label: Arion
Style: Folk/Prog
Format: Flac + 3% Recovery
Size: 191MB
Lineage: VINYL Rip 16bit 44.1khz

Source: Album Collection

Studio Album Released in 1975

Track Listing

1. Aet Kuit An Ankou (4:37)
2. Lost An Diaoul (3:19)
3. Soizig (2:20)
4. Fidandoue Kernevad (3:05)
5. Lutunn Noz (4:25)
6. Jig Igelbriz (3:40)
7. L'Heritiere De Keroulaz (3:25)
8. Ton An Aven (2:50)
9. Riviere Du Huelgoat (2:43)
10. Theme De La Folle De Toujane (5:10)

Line Up/Musicians

Bernard Benoit - Guitare
Philippe Le Balp - Bombarde, Bagpipes
Tanguis Le Dore - Bass
Didier De Calan -
Jenika Gaelle - Voice

When one thinks of Celtic music, the sounds of harp, fiddle, and pipes come to mind. So, the guitar might seem an unusual and out-of-place instrument to be featured in a Celtic album. Unusual, yes, but Bernard Benoit's skill with his instrument, his arrangements, and his familiarity with Celtic music make the guitar anything but out of place. And, although the guitar is featured, the more traditional Celtic instruments usually accompany it. Benoit gives the album cohesiveness by infusing each track with an ethereal quality. But he also manages to provide variety. There are several simple and beautiful melodies. "Theme de la Folle Toujane," with its siren-like female vocalizations, is particularly haunting; and the humming that accompanies Benoit's guitar in the title track, "Lutunn Noz," evokes images of pre-Christian Celts at their campfires. But in other tunes, Benoit achieves a cheerier atmosphere, such as in the jaunty "Jig Izelbriz" and "Fidandoue Kernevad." This is an impressive album of imaginative and enchanting arrangements by a very talented musician. Lovers of Celtic music will find it one of their more unusual albums, and it is not likely they will ever tire of it. ~ Peter Ditzel, All Music Guide

Warleigh, Taylor, Mathewson, Gibson - Reverie (recorded 1977, UK)

This is, of course, a discovery from the mighty osurec, and I don't know how he finds these huge gems. I've loved this since I first set ears on it about a year ago and was confused about the artist name which is why it took so long to find the vinyl. Finally I see that technically it's a foursome group composition, described on the record as group improvisations, and was able to locate a copy for the pristine lossless that I know so many of you are hankering for. (Great word, huh.)

  • Here's the line-up:
  • Bass – Ron Mathewson
  • Co-producer – Steve Taylor
  • Drums – Frank Gibson
  • Engineer – John Gill
  • Executive-producer – Gerd Peeckel, Manfred Schiek
  • Mixed By [Remix] – Steve Taylor
  • Photography By [Cover Photo], Design – Nino Hieman
  • Piano – John Taylor
  • Producer, Soprano, Alto, Flute, Pan Pipes – Ray Warleigh

We start appropriately enough with the dreamy title track in a dark old-growth forest with the flute of Warleigh alternately bending up to the sun tossing spots and flatting down to the c minor leaf-laid floor. Towards the end, note the striking modulations from Taylor's piano as if anxiety sets in by crepuscule as we lose our pathway out.

The next track starts with Matheson's bass thumping us into shape with a more fusionoid excursion into various unusual patterns and chords changes, imagine of course the (slightly-gay) greek god pan skipping (as he tends to do) through the same forest, I pray not in the nude.

"Storm" is appropriately enough in F minor-- a typical key for this kind of meterological effect, dark thundering chords on the piano underlie some squealing saxwork when suddenly a walking bass line capped with cymbal touches beautifully evokes rain falling gently and steadily. Not sure if it's the pregnantly-thick-with-flats aspect of this key that makes it fitting for the heavy nimbus clouds or some other dark quality intrinsic to it, perhaps the synaesthetes among us can explain. Or perhaps not since I've made this call before.

For me the long track on side b is the masterpiece, "All on a summer's afternoon" with its ingeniously original and genuine-feeling chords, its slow modulations that lightly shift from one scene to another, the estival or pastoral feel of the brilliant Warleigh's flute, the evocations of field, forest, beach, birds, clearings, dejeuners sur l'herbe, etc. Of course you will require some patience for the lengthy bass and sax solos.

It's hard for me to believe this really is through and through improvised since it plays so magnificently from beginning to end, probably some aspects of it were pre-arranged or composed, though not the very last track which definitely, as an extempore sax and drum duet, is to me a throwaway. Title (Opus 80) must be ironic.

What a perfect dream of beauty and light to find on your doorstep on this late-July summer's afternoon of hot, soft and wonderful life ...

now time for me to jump into the pool

Thursday, July 26, 2012

New Music in Quarter-Tones

This may not be the most popular album posted; I know people are not too thrilled with the modern classical chamber music that I passionately love -- especially when it gets a bit too recondite. At least I don't think I'll have too many requests for flacs, this time.
For those not familiar with it quarter tone music uses the tones between the half tones that are the established standard in the european classical scale. That 12-toned scale is itself created with the ratios of whole numbers to divide from tonic into dominant, subdominant, and so on. It's obvious to those who have studied basic harmony how you can start with one tonic (C) and with 4 and 5 progress to 12 notes (or even just by using 5ths). Because of these ratios it's debatable whether there is anything natural about quarter tones at all and for the most part they sound like instruments out of tune. Of course much is made of the fact quarter tones appear frequently in indian or any eastern music as well as in the blues scale (between 4 and 5) or as bends on the guitar. However, these are used very judiciously and not as the basis of an all-new scale.

How can you perform quarter tone music on a piano with set keys? Well, the answer is you can't -- you need 2 pianos which is why each track here features 2 pianos, one tuned a quarter tone off from the official EU standard tuning enshrined recently in the Bruxelles law of 2010 which mandated an exact tuning for A above middle C at 440 Hz on pain of death. (You will recall that Silvio Berlusconi's representative there, an ex-porn star, at that time argued for a different tuning of about 444.4 (repeating) for esthetic reasons and the germans argued this would lead to havoc in their bavarian motor industry, & she was finally voted down after a long drawn-out orgy in the general assembly.)

It must be difficult for a composer to create music like this since even their imaginations might find itself a little wanting to fill in the blanks.
You can judge for yourselves what is your opinion of this, for me the standout tracks are Charles Ives' piano composition, and the first track on side B which features the amazing ondes martenot I talked about in the past on the website. See here:

Monday, July 23, 2012

VA - Noorte Laulud {Estonia} (1978)

A VA album from Estonia featuring as highlights well-known prog groups Psycho and Ruja. I learned about this from the sovietgrooves blog, which I recommend to all jazz, fusion, and progressive fans, it's quite a phenomenal site for learning about iron curtain music. On that site they wisely sampled only 2 tracks from this record leaving the rest unheard, but curiosity got the better of my usually sensible nature. This was when I spent a recent 2-day stint in the county jail for beating up a homeless guy with his starbucks cup when he refused to lend me a dollar.
Most of this record is easy listening or pop with orchestral backing, which I enjoy due to my late and graying age, but apologies in advance to those without dentures who have little taste or patience for this, or for straight-out disco. Or polkas. There is even a country or bluegrass song, track 4. 'Ouch' is my usual response to finding myself in this situation. But patience is rewarded, the last 3 tracks are superb progressive rock songs.

01. Jaak Joala & Estraadiorkester, dirigent Rostislav Merkulov - Elavate laul
02. Voldemar Kuslap & Estraadiorkester, dirigent Peeter Saul - Igavene tuli
03. Jaak Joala & Estraadiorkester, dirigent A. Zakis - Laul verelilledest
04. Silvi Wrait & Fix - Värviline maailm
05. Ivo Linna & Apelsin - Aeg ei peatu
06. Kukerpillid - Lipsu-Peedi polka
07. Peeter Tooma - Vaikus (Sounds of Silence, Simon & Garfunkel)
08. Tõnis Mägi & Psycho - Naera, naera
09. Ruja - Laul naidendist - Protsess
10. Psycho - Nomina sunt odiosa

Here is the 8th track, from Psycho, a fantastic progressive rock song:

And the smoking hot fusion side of Psycho appears on the last track:

Pan-Ra - Music from Atlantis {Germany} (1978)

Players are Chaba Koncz on flute, recorder, bagpipes, cornemuse, Fredi Alberti on cello, violoncello, ukulele, Michel Poiteau on guitars, jews harp, darbouka, etc. Special Guest: Catherine Hourcq singing on tracks 2 and 5.
On the back liner notes there is a sort of explanation of the titles: pan of course is the greek god responsible for shepherds who was always with a flute, ra is the sun god of ancient Egypt. The only three living descendants of the submerged land of Atlantis combine music from the middle ages, modern times, asia, classicism, and jazz, to create this new music of atlantis. There are no fixed pieces but always a bit is improvised.
As if the graeco-egyptian conflation of gods isn't odd enough, note the tracks called 'shiva' (a hindu god which features slightly out of tune bagpipes) and 'lorelei.'
Album was recorded in Germany, although there is a note that tracks 2 and 5 were recorded at the Abbey de Senanque in 1977.

Stylistically this is similar to so much droney ethnic progressive folk-jazz such as Clivage or the instrumental folky passages on Ribeiro-Alpes, those who know their other record, musique d'atlantide, will be familiar.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Bernard Benoit - Rigena {France}[1978, Polydor]

Artist: Bernard Benoit
Album: Rigena
Year: 1978
Label: Polydor
Style: Folk/Prog
Format: Flac + 3% Recovery
Size: 250MB
Lineage: VINYL Rip 16bit 44.1khz

Source: Album Collection

Folk song guitarist, Bernard BENOIT first recorded two albums of Celtic inspired folk music before combining current rock influences with those of his Celtic origins to produce two other albums on which the crystal clear notes of his acoustic guitar blend with the electric tones of a synthesizer and electric guitar. He thus creates a perfect synthesis between his Celtic origins and current rock sounds giving an extra dimension to his music which is evocative of Dan AR BRAS or Mike OLFIELD (though less commercial). Excellent progressive folk music worth discovering.
Studio Album Released in 1978

Track Listing

1. Anterdro (3:35)
2. Le Cheval Boiteux (3:26)
3. Morte-Eau (4:20)
4. Reelodon (3:07)
5. The Trip To Sligo (2:55)
6. Ki-Tan (2:33)
7. Rigena (20:21)

Line Up/Musicians

Bernard Benoit - Guitare
Padrig Sicard - Bombarde
Jenika Gaelle - Voice
A friend of mine after I suggested he listened to the 20min Rigena track described Benoit Bernard as a "Pastoral Mike Oldfield"...I strongly encourage you to listen to this beautifully unusual Celtic Folk and hopefully it will charm you as it once (and still) did me

Michel Zacha - Inutile {France}[1977, Pathe-EMI]

Artist: Michel Zacha
Album: Promesses D'Atlantide Vol.3: Inutile
Year: 1977
Label: Pathe-EMI
Style: Folk/Prog/Crossover
Format: Flac + 3% Recovery
Size: 261MB
Lineage: VINYL Rip 16bit 44.1khz
Source: Album Collection
Studio Album Released in 1977

Track Listing
A1 Viens Dans Mon esprit 4:20
A2 Goutte De Pluie 1:30
A3 Pourquoi Ne Pas Prendre Le Temps (3 Parties) 6:25
A4 Saisons (À Leslie) 2:20
A5 Inutilebingalo (Le Massacre Du Printemps) 3:10
B1 Grain De Sable 5:00
B2 Les Pêcheurs De Malange (Étude Pléonasmique Dédiée À Ma Maman) 3:45
B3 Comment Te Dire (She's Not A Girl) 4:55
B4 Loin De Tous Les Livres 5:20

Line Up/Musicians
Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals – Michel Zacha
Backing Vocals – Anne Vassiliu, Marcel Engel, Nicole Darde, Patrick Beauvarlet
Electric Piano, Organ, Synthesizer – Georges Rodi, Georges Rabol
Violin [Electric] – Michel Ripoche
Vocals – Danièle Chadelaud
Electric Guitar - Jean Pierre Alarcen, Claude Engel
Flute - Michel Delaporte
Drums - Francois Auger, Andre Ceccarelli
Percussions - Bernard Lubat

Third and final album from Michel Zacha, once again superb musicianship in support. This album was posted here a while back but here it is again in case anyone missed it or was looking for a lossless copy.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Robert Viger - Climats

This is a musique pour l'image library record. It never ceases to amaze me how much work some composers put into this genre that would destine them to anonymity.
A partial discography can be seen here on rateyourmusic:
and here:
Disappointingly there is no page for this gentleman.
The music is typical french library soundtrack music with alternations of orchestral, easy listening, string quartet pieces (incl. the magnificent 'transcendence' which I love, with its scintillating chord changes), etc.

Here is the best track, the first one suitably called Limpidite. I could easily see it being the theme music for a gorgeous french film shot in Aix-la-Chappelle with beautiful Isabelle Adjani as a brilliant university student rebelling against false democracy, depilatory agents, and her father's old mores by sleeping with several professors incl. Jean-Louis Trintignant as the most hilarious uptight philosophy prof who does tombstone-carving as a side job, meantime her much older boyfriend, Gerard Depardieu, rides a moto, has long hair and diatribes, smokes pot constantly and of course is always quoting Sartre while complaining about having to pay alimony to his ex-wife in Gainesville, Texas. I won't be spoiling anyone's experience by stating the obvious: at the end of the movie they join a commune in Tahiti and everyone sleeps with everyone else. Interestingly the costume budget for this film was said to be the lowest on record for any major motion picture studio production due to the fact everyone was naked through most of it.
Later a Hollywood remake was made of it, with some changes: Melanie Griffiths plays a mormon churchgoer rebelling against the disposable diaper industry, who finds her one and only love (a Bible salesman moonlighting as a spy) in Hawai'i.
Ironically, when the American version was dubbed in french for the market in France, both Adjani and Depardieu were re-hired to do the language dubs. Predictably, Depardieu was drunk thoughout the process due to a long plane-ride in which he downed 216 small vodka bottles and so he kept making linguistic mistakes like translating 'fun' into the french word 'partouze' and referring to orange juice as 'jus de chatte'. It then became a huge hit in France 5 years after the original all over again.

Michel Zacha - Le Vol D'Icare {France}[1974, Pathe-EMI]

Artist: Michel Zacha
Album: Promesses D'Atlantide Vol.2: Le Vol D'Icare
Year: 1974
Label: Pathe-EMI
Style: Folk/Prog/Crossover
Format: Flac + 3% Recovery
Size: 251MB
Lineage: VINYL Rip 16bit 44.1khz
Source: Album Collection

Track Listing
A1 Esquisse D’Icare
A2 Be Here And Now
A3 L’enfant Et La Mer
A4 Zit
A5 Vivez Vos Rêves
B1 Prière Labyrinthe
B2 Le Vol D’Icare
B3 La Terre

Line Up/Musicians
Backing Vocals – Maria Popkiewicz
Bass Guitar – Olivier Bloch-Laine*
Drums – Thomas Guthrie
Flute, Saxophone – Frédéric-Ronald Dodd*
Guitar [Electric] – Jean-Pierre Alarcen
Guitar, Piano – Michel Zacha
Percussion – Marc Chantereau
Piano – Georges Rabol
Piano, Mellotron, Synthesizer – Georges Rodi

Second album and in my opinion the most adventurous musically of the three. Once again a top album featuring a fantastic line up of musicians

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Michel Zacha - La Nuit Des Cigales {France}[1972, Pathe-EMI]

Artist: Michel Zacha
Album: Promesses D'Atlantide Vol.1: La Nuit Des Cigales
Year: 1972
Label: Pathe-EMI
Style: Folk/Prog/Crossover
Format: Flac + 3% Recovery
Size: 200MB
Lineage: VINYL Rip 16bit 44.1khz
Source: Album Collection

"MICHEL ZACHA once took part to HAIR and SUPERSTAR; he signed on PATHE MARCONI and released 3 LP's ("La Nuit des cigales", "Le Vol d'Icare" and "Inutile", three albums set as a trilogy) between 1973 and 1977. He recorded with the finest French musicians in the jazz/songwriting/progressive music area, such as BERNARD LUBAT and JEAN-PIERRE ALARCEN." (quote found here on an earlier post of his third album)

Unbelievable French record by Michel Zacha(his 3rd). With a crew consisting of JP Alarcen,A. Ceccarelli,B. Lubat and CL. Engel amongst others,his music is an excellent mix of French pop/ballad folkish music combined with complex,strange, compositions.What else did you expect with such line up! Studio album released in 1972

Track Listing
A1  Accident  3:30  
A2  Mary Anna  2:40  
A3  La Dame Nue  4:40  
A4  Shanghi Wo  3:30  
A5  Temps De Pluie  4:20  
B1  Promesses D'Atlantides  2:50  
B2  End Of Beginning  3:20  
B3  Les Cigales  2:50

Line Up/Musicians
Backing Vocals – Maria Popkiewicz
Bass Guitar – Alan Jones
Drums – Thomas Guthrie
Flute, Saxophone – Ric Dodd
Guitar [Electric] – Jean-Pierre Alarcen
Percussion – Marc Chantereau
Piano – Georges Rabol
Voice – Michel Zacha, Guitar, Piano

Monday, July 16, 2012

Solos, Duos, and Trios (1974 and 1982)

Again the unusual double year copyright to this companion record to the earlier posted Solos and Duos, with mostly the same players except Catherine is out and the iak pair of Dudziak - Urbaniak are in, but we have the great Sigi who was such a standout in the last outing, Jasper and Joachim on duelling pianos, and Hinze again reprising as producer.
You can tell it's the other twin to the earlier record because of the identical layout of the sleeve. This time it's Sigi who is featured in the cutout, and the others are easily recognizable by the instruments. Kuhn is by far the best looking of the bunch, although it's difficult to tell with the iak couple because of the abundance of hair. When I think of what an incredible master of his piano Kuhn is, this is the kind of guy I would have a crush on if I was female, rather than Justin Bieber...
What about the music?
Well, Larry does not shine on this, I was expecting more from him for sure, with his virtuoso technique and formidable compositions. Did he also leave his best work hidden away for his solo albums and bring out the remnants? Two of the 3 parts of the suite are interpretations you will note. Pay attention to the ridiculous classical ending, if you can bring yourself to have the patience to listen to the bitter end-- I was forced to because I was recording the track without kids around. Sometimes you almost wish those kids were there to distract you.
Of course in his solo piece (Pablo suite), Sigi doesn't disappoint, as with the earlier record-- and this time we get almost 11 minutes of him! He plays bass notes simultaneously with the improv solo in the manner of canadian master Lenny Breau at one point, what virtuosity! Think of how difficult that is in the coordination of the brain to play walking bass along with solo, each hand both bass and treble. About a third of the way in, he plays an odd plucked harmonic sound or perhaps he plays the strings above the first fret with another melody on the normal register-- how does he do this? Perhaps a guitarist can clarify.
The children suite is remarkably beautiful, a composition by Hinze-- what an underrated performer he is today. These passages through meditative time and space are well worth the price of the record, on their own. And how delicately Schwab and van 't Hof play behind the flautist!
Menuettes is indeed a voice-violin duo, which some may love and most I imagine will detest, I daresay there are some who will want to shoot the speakers when Dudziak gets into the monosyllabic animal sounds, or maybe they are dolphin whistles and screeches, well such is musical taste. Their other duo later is a little more listenable but the screeching from both violin and voice may be a problem if there are any human beings or raccoons around.
Again, Kuhn's solo is all over the place. I would love to hear someone explain to me what he's getting at with his crazy Jarrett-like sliding phrases and constant shifting chords that don't develop into anything dramatic or climactic, but I guess it must be an extended improvisation, I just can't get past the first couple of minutes to hear it through, it bores me horribly. I know when we love someone we will forgive them anything, so I guess my love is very shallow because my crush on him is like, so over.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Patanga 1985

For those who get past the pipes of pan, a beautiful acoustic folk or ethnic folk album from a little known group of musicians from Germany. The players are Heinz Goebel on sitar, pan-flutes, banjo, keys, Frank Usarski on guitars, Hans-Wulf v. Uslar on tablas and percussions, Gerd Janus on bass.
The last track is the most progressive and for that reason I sampled it below, it has the wonderful spelling of 'pazifik'. It sure is fun to explore this great muzik!

SUBURBANO "marismas" (Spain,ethnic prog, 1980,2nd album)

SUBURBANO "marismas" (Spain, ethnic prog, 1980)

We sometimes have strange experiences.
When looking at the cover of the records,we feel sure that  it is the Masterpiece at once .
I felt that kind of feeling when looking at this album's back cover's photo.

Why is such a masterpiece sleepnig without coming out to every prog fan for many years.......?

Awesome combination among instruments ....very well balanced (more impressive listening with your headphone )
Technical and tightly-plotted tracks and complex rhythm section.

Nothing to say anymore........Listen ,mates !!! It is the great Spanish prog masterpiece ,literally.

SUBURBANO's first album is more traditional ,folk prog and ethnic feel (of course ,excellent album) although the front cover of the album is more progressive........


track 9

Monday, July 09, 2012

Free Fair 2 (1979) and 3 (1981)

In the current issue of Scientific American (July 2012) there is a wonderful article relating to the evolution of altruism in humans. For some time this has been a conflagrantly controversial issue in evolutionary biology, with the old paradigm of kin selection being fought on many levels including basic common-sense. Simply, the old theory had it that altruism could only evolve between closely genetically related individuals, thus, human society started from large families, expanded, etc. (The old theory was stationed on the observation worker bees are 75% genetically related.) The novelty of the approach is that mathematical modelling is used to analyze how cooperation can evolve purely through the action of modelled genes in a population that aggregates together, rather than through biological or in-the-field evidentiary accrual.
It turns out there are in fact 4 distinct ways this can happen, the first being the old kin selection method. A neat thought expt. asks you to consider if behind a left door there are children at imminent risk of death (from a burning house for ex.), behind a right door, there is your only child at equally imminent risk-- Is there any number of kids behind the left door that would convince you to save them first? Any parent would say, no, even if every other child on earth were behind the left, I would first save my own child on the right. Obviously there is no rational reason for this, it is purely an instinct, an understandable one at that.
The second form of altruism in groups is the old 'you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours,' which is obvious in primate groups where one will share with others that have shared in the past. If one is uncertain about a troupe member, then one shares less. Someone who has demonstrated generosity in the past, of course, gets more shared. Always there are evolved ways to punish cheaters who take advantage of others.
The third form is reputational altruism, again seen widely in primates, in groups stratified in a distinct though possibly fluid pecking order, one gains in reputation by sharing with the higher-ups. Grooming behaviour in bonobos is the perfect example of this.

And the fourth is the kind of selfless self-sacrifice that we find so typical of humans, which is pretty much absent in other primates, where one is willing to die for the group. (Soldiers in a war, or the quite frequent story of someone saving a stranger from a lake and dying in the process. Though the perfect examples are the worker ants or bees who will die in multitudes to save their colony or queen.) How does this come about? It can do so when evolution is acting on a group as opposed to the individuals. For obvious reasons a group of strongly cooperating individuals does better than a group of selfish individuals. Situations where this is favoured, over the selfish motives, are ones early hominids found themselves in: guarding against much stronger predators (e.g. lions, away from forest protection where all other primates stay), protecting a dwelling or campsite that had helpless infants and children, and cooperating in a hunt that would be very difficult to undertake alone (though chimpanzees do hunt in a group quite well). What are the strongest stimulations for such a group to cooperate? Probably the first two factors. Think of how awkward a recently exclusively bipedal hominid would have been on the savannah, unable to run faster than a dog.
What is interesting in the mathematics of the modelling is that cooperation is an unstable equilibrium, with adverse environmental conditions leading often to the predominance of selfish cheaters (think for ex. if groups were forced to break up, the cooperators would do worse, as in the worst of the communist era when religious and family ties were torn asunder). However, once an environment stabilizes, a group of cooperators that can exclude cheaters will do better after some time and once again the cooperators will predominate.

Our species has obviously done well by virtue of its altruism and intense cooperation. Many biologists now believe intelligence involved mostly to keep track of, and negotiate personal social interactions. In this light we can see that tribalism and war are the necessary (primitive) by-products of the positive virtues of gathering into groups for the benefit of one particular ensemble, and this is the flipside of such group selection. Why did true eusociality (with altruism) evolve so rarely in animals, out of millions of species, only in one primate, several insects, certain shrimp, and a naked mole rat species? Presumably because the necessary conditions (defending a nest) or prior required behaviours (willingness to aggregate in groups as opposed to having solo existence) were not there to counterbalance the 'selfish gene' tendency so powerful in evolutionary forces. Perhaps whatever DNA changes lead to eusociality are so complicated, and require so many genetic changes, that it is a highly unlikely event purely statistically. Or we can conclude simply that individuals really do much better alone in certain niches and have little advantage to be together, such as the solitary cats, and fishes, in which altruism has never evolved.

Nonetheless, a survey of humanity from a completely unbiased biological viewpoint (from the telescope of an extraterrestrial computer, for ex.) would have to conclude there is only one reason we have been successful for ourselves, and that is because of those tendencies to cooperate and aggregate selflessly. There will be always cheaters or selfish individuals who act kind of as parasites in the group at the expense of those who share or work, and there are modes of behaviour we have to punish those individuals if they are called out for this, whether through social ostracism (gossip, or disrespect for the always unemployed or beggars) or legal remedies (check-forging leads to jail), interestingly in ant colonies a similar situation arises wherein some workers occasionally attempt to become queens but are punished by the other workers usually very severely (often killed). Analogously, ants and bees have been the most successful insect species (in absolute numbers) due to their altruistic societies.

But will we channel enough cohesion to understand the problems we are now facing collectively? Unfortunately this requires seeing beyond our minute horizons on to the breadth of the whole suffering planet and understanding how our place here is dependent on biology and equilibrium, not on money and the petty status we crave within our small lives and groups, and this requires a huge effort of intellect and distance from what our instincts are asking from us or rather are forcing us towards: better reputations, more money, more comfort and each year more satisfactions. Can one hope to reduce one's reputation, one's income, one's comfortable existence for the sake of future generations? It might be too much to ask of humanity, despite our having the necessary tools within us.

In the spirit of cooperation which I have held dear as an ideal my whole life, hear some more from the wonderful fusion band Free Fair, their second and third records, the first having been posted a couple of weeks ago. The style is quite reminiscent of the 2 X Noctetts I posted before, a bit more jazzy than the usual fusion we like to feature here. And isn't the cover of Free Fair 2 magnificent? Note the wonderful line drawing on the back cover which I reproduce here below.

Music is the pre-eminent social art, a powerful crazy glue like laughter and humour which binds individuals together. I've discussed this before at length. Anthropologists report that some primitive tribes don't know numbers, some have simple grammars, some have no representational art, some no culture of costuming, some no distinction even between colors, just shades of grey, and some even have no creation myths or even religion-- but every single human group on earth enjoys music intensely and fundamentally incorporates dance, song and music-generating instruments into social events. It is truly a human universal. Neurobiologically, the connections seen in functional MRIs upon listening to music are seen to be not just between higher cortex, auditory centres and emotional centres (amygdala or other parts of the limbic system) but throughout most or all areas of the brain. And you and I know this, whenever we listen to beautiful records such as these ones.

alternative cover of the 1st Free Fair

Friday, July 06, 2012

Vince Benedetti - The Dwellers on the High Plateau (Germany, 1977)

Modal or 'spiritual jazz' as they call it in record sales. This is a german album featuring compositions by Benedetti (pianist), produced by Joe Haider, with Andy Scherrer on saxes, Eric Peter on bass, and Billy Brooks on perc. His style is definitely highly influenced by McCoy Tyner in his later, seventies period.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Zauberfinger 2 1981

Liese has got such a kissyneck, keep staring at it, ....[because she] found a newer way, watch her come-- she found a new of you, it was about time. You come by her tonight, she likes your style. She wants your anxieties, which are not hers, no longer. What's so great about being right, if you don't mean what you say? Don't mind public opinion if it ain't what you're feeling, insist on your opinion and never give up... it's hard work to walk the tiderope of doing what you think is best between compromise and integrity...

Now the second album from this crazy magic fingered and brilliant German band. Compositions are credited to the whole band, which comprises the amazing Hans Reffert on guitar, Wolfy Ziegler on bass, Rolf Schaude on perc, Liese Kraus as before on vocals and also saxes, Franzi Brandwein as guest musician, and additional composition by Steve Tomlin on track 4 (Kissyneck).

I didn't realize that Hans was actually one of the duo on Flute and Voice, the folky acoustic german band. What a surprise to see him do this stuff then! Later he was in Guru Guru and performed with Mani Neumaier.
Here as in the first we get the same odd but very enjoyable mixture of rock moves (note the funky intro to the first song which passes into a completely unique chord change in the chorus) with very progressive songwriting. Couldn't have been very popular commercially, could it? The writing is even more uncompromising, featuring recurrent tritones and dissonances; there is less of the classic rock chord changes to springboard from-- tragic that there wasn't a Zauberfinger 3, because they were at the peak of their abilities on this record.

Not since J F Murphy have I been so happy to feel I've discovered an amazing unknown artist that doesn't deserve to be so little known. These records are fantastic, and highly listenable.

The cover seems to be a homage to or a rip-off of the Rolling Stones' Some Girls, doesn't it?

As sample I produce for you the "Capt Beefheart meets James Brown" track-- pretty much a hollywood executive summary of the band's style in title.

Also "Das Knispel," an awesomely deranged song, check out those tritonal chords in the second part of the song.

And why did they disband after this? I'll let Liese take this one, since she spoke the intro words:
"It's hard work to walk the tiderope of doing what you think is best between compromise and integrity ... and make money and of course you have to live on it ... I'm tired of being buried in confusion, I'm sick of it."

Igor Nazaruk - Forest is Awaken - Jazz Compositions... 1985

This is the aforementioned masterpiece I would like to hear on my last day on earth, in company with my family of course...
Listening to this, I am reminded why I spent a lifetime pursuing artistic beauty, the greatest works humans could create with creativity and intelligence.  I think it would make anyone a million times more sad to leave a world with beauty such as this, even though they are assured of a heaven.  As I say to my wife about music, heaven could not possibly contain more beauty than this.  In an old movie from the 70s that no one I'm sure remembers anymore, The Other Side of the Mountain, Jill's last words to the camera go something like this, "I feel so grateful to have met something or someone that saying goodbye to is so damned hard".
I love the fact the music moves among so many different styles, jazz, orchestral, chamber, fusion, constantly changing, every few minutes there is new interest with new textures, new inventions.  And of course, the build to the climax is worthy of stravinsky, and rare to hear in a jazz composition, but befitting the sylvan theme.  It amazes me to think how much time he would have spent on this composition-- a year, a few years off and on? Or was he so inspired, he churned it out in a few weeks with coffee and vodka, filled with the divine spirit of creativity?  But I know he put his blood, sweat, and tears into it, you can hear a whole lifetime pass before your eyes, like at the end of 2001 A Space Odyssey, it's like a flashback through an entire existence in one side of a record.  The one detraction is of course side 1, which comprises some rather boring piano solo compositions, though well-titled, the mind really drifts after the first minute.  Is the side 2 his magnum and only opus?   I don't know, I would love to know more.

I. Nazaruk - Keyboards
S. Gurbeloshvili - Saxes
M. Kochetkov - Guitar
A. Isplatovsky - Bass
A. Chernyshev - Drums

With the USSR Goskino Symphony Orchestra, Wind Group and Strings

Sunday, July 01, 2012


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