Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lenny Mac Dowell - Airplay (1980, Germany)

Lenny, real name Friedemann M. Leinert is a brilliant flautist from Germany. Starting with Flute Power he made some beautiful jazz-rock albums in this period, of note for me is the masterpiece about politics and the environment called "Balance of Power, " which was in fact released to CD and is available for purchase.   He went on to produce more ambient or new agey stuff later in the 80s, similar to Chris Hinze.  As far as I know this nice light-fusion record from the later fusion era has never been re-released.  All the titles are composed by Lenny except where indicated on tracks.  His backing band includes the following musicians: Mike Herting, keys, Peter Oehler, guitars, Horst Stachelhaus, bass, Manfred von Bohr, drums.  Recorded by Carlos Albrecht August 1980.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Other Music - Prime Numbers (USA, 1980)

This album is more acoustic and indonesian-gamelan-influenced than the previous post of "Incidents Out Of Context" (which featured both synths and elec. guitar)  but the unusual tunings from self-made instruments come out a bit clearer in this earlier work.  The group, although still founded by Dale Soules, Rosenthal, and David Doty, is much bigger as you can see from the back image with the addition of a slew of musicans who jumped ship after this first release-- I don't think I could really blame them when you consider how utterly uncommercial their output was.
Now I'll transcribe some of the liner notes included inside this record for your edification as they really illuminate  the oddness of this music.

"  The Tuning:
Other Music's tuning system, affectionately known as OMJ 14 is a form of just intonation with 14 unequal intervals per octave. Designed in May 1977 by David Doty and Dale Soules, OMJ14 is derived primarily from the ancient greek modes recorded by the 2nd century Greek theorist Ptolemy in his Harmonics. Just tuning systems are characterized by the fact that all their intervals can be represented by ratios of whole numbers. For this reason just systems possess superior consonance when compared to the equally tempered intonation now in general use.
The Instruments:
As in indonesian gamelans, the foundation of OM's ensemble consists of metallophones. These instruments, comprised of aluminum bars suspended over individual tuneable resonators, span a total of 5 octaves divided among 4 voices, bass, tenor, alto, and soprano. The alto register is enriched by the tones of a 2 octave marimba with keys of cocabola, a S American rosewood. Additional coloration is provided by a set of tubular brass chimes, originally part of a pipe organ, retuned to OM's system.  A variety of drums are heard on this record,"
incl. both balinese and western instruments. The flute on "Gending" is made of a 3/4 inch acrylic tubing, it's a notch flute and plays a scale of 7 tones. The singer on the track "Blue" (which I've sampled below for interest) is the composer, Dale Soules.  He is reciting a poem which is about being a social animal, in a very odd and tuneless way that somehow reminds me of Viola Crayola's song "What is the meaning of love" or a Hatfield and the North flattened by antipsychotic drugs perhaps (and I mean that hundred percent in a complimentary way).
I don't have the time to completely transcribe the liner notes so hopefully anyone interested can glean some more info from the scan I attached.  There follows a discussion of the musicians, their trainings, and detailed descriptions (highly interesting) of their compositions.

Now for those who don't know the idea behind just tuning, I will briefly go over the basics, simply, the reason an octave or fourth or fifth is consonant or sounds good to our ears is because the frequencies are whole number ratios, e.g. an octave above is twice the frequency or half the length of string required, similarly for the other accepted basic tones.  When you try to create more than 5 notes with this system unfortunately it breaks down and  you lose the whole number ratios, as well, you can't really modulate to another key even as simply as going from C to G since then you have to use slightly different tunings for the other intervals-- get it?  For this purpose the europeans invented their well-tempered system of 12 tones, which to me works perfectly well, but from time to time people have rebelled against it.  Why these whole number ratios sound agreeable to our ears must be because the energy used in the brain in processing the simple overtones and frequencies makes it easier for neuronal transmissions, and this simplicity of interpretation is perceived as positive somehow.  I don't think there could be any other explanation for why this is so though it has never been proven true.  For those of us who love prog as I've said before, on the contrary it's the addition of dissonances and unusual sounds that is pleasing, and that has to do with our tendency to be bored quickly with the usual sounds and to require some kind of extra mental stimulation in our art.  Note that as open-minded as I am, I still detest the 12-tone atonality of Arnold Schoenberg because there is no diatonic or harmonic basis against which it is building dissonances in opposition.

So there you have it, more mathematically correct pop tunes with long memories...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Other Music - Incidents Out of Context (USA, 1983)

The blurb on the back cover says:  "It's not easy being a composer of music so novel, so offbeat that it has no name.  Folks at cocktail parties inevitably ask, Just what sort of music does your group play, anyways?  and there you are.  No quick answer.  One tends to try and explain the 8-year history of Other Music, and / or  the 8000 year history of world music.  One becomes entangled describing arcane tuning systems, instrument-building techniques, and intricate electronic circuitry.  Perhaps it would be best and wisest simply to say that we write polyrhythmic pop tunes with a long memory.  we have fun with them and hope you will too."  - Other Music

It's unusual for american composers to use 'world music' or at least it was, in those days, compared to the europeans who embraced the style and added it frequently to the progressive mix (cf. the recent Pan-Ra posting).  These guys hail from California and did another record in 1980 called Prime Numbers.  I think their originality, although it reminds us a lot of the 'minimal synth' stuff coming out of Germany, deserves to make their product better known, and to me, it is definitely utterly unique and enjoyable.  I also love the humour (or humor) that they inject into the mix.  On the front the band is feasting on some electronic components, on the back, chopsticks are holding an old circuit component.  I think they could be best described for the prog fan as an american version of A la ping pong with some Third Ear Band-like medieval folk elements thrown in.
Musicians are:  Andrew Fischer - hammered dulcimer, dumbec, english horn, metallophones, synths.
David Doty - cello, marimba, metallophones, synth.
Dale S. Soules - french horn, trombone.
Carola B. Anderson - drums, marimba, metallophones, sax, synth.
Henry S. Rosenthal - chimes, drums, elec. guitar, metallophones, synth.
All the selections are in just intonation -- I will explain in the next post what this is, for those who don't know.  I will also explain therein what their "metallophone" is, as well as launch into a long and boring disquisition about the mathematics of music and its connexion to neurobiology which no one will read fully, a subject that endlessly fascinates me to the same extreme degree it bores my wife to tears.  The "just intonation" is what gives the music the ethereal-ethnic sound that is not familiar to us (in the west that is) ever since the days of the well-tempered klavier.  The cover and the photography are by the percussionist, Carola B. Anderson.

Incidentally I knew nothing at all about this group until osurec introduced me to them more than a year ago, thanks again to his knowledge and expertise in unearthing these lost treasures for us all.  Why do I always feel like I playing catch-up to these master collectors?

So here we go, 'polyrhythmic pop tunes with a long memory' ...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

VA - Unknown Titles.... Known Titles {Germany} (1981)

Again credit to discobasso for his growingbinrecords store for the discovery of this VA album from Germany with utterly unknown artists, save the 'other' Alcatraz (not the famous vampire state bldg group), who did a record called "Music Made by Hands". When you listen to this record, ignore the first 2 reggae throwaway tracks, unless for some utterly unfathomable reason you have an excuse for liking reggae (here we can expect a comment below along the lines of, "hey! watch it! I like reggae!"), focus on track 3, a fusion band along the lines of germans psi, lindwurm, zebulon, etc., called "Cheapness Forever" which performs a beautiful grandiose instrumental starting with some wonderful dissonances on the horns and petering out to a very attractive e minor ending. Some popish and folkish numbers ensue, then after the pedestrian rock band "Railroad Track" punishes you at the start of side b, you will be shocked into quiescence by the band Melange and their Trettioariga-Kriget-like progressive hard rock. As I've said before, it's hard to do prog on a heavy metal basis, but these guys perform magnificently. Both tracks are superb compositions in the genre and it's utterly a tragedy this group did not make an album. Or did they? A quick search I did, complicated by the commonness of the band name, was fruitless, but I know there are folks out there who know far more than me about the subject (e.g. Sebastian probably).

Included as samples, the aforementioned Track 3, and the hard rock titles on side b.

Cheapness Forever - Eintopf

Melange - A kin to rock

Melange - Brontosaurus [sadly, there is no such dinosaur anymore, it was renamed --Editor.]

Oh yes, & please take a good admiring look at that cover art-- I just love it to death, a big reason I bought this record from the great discobasso at

Check it out!! An incredibly well-thought-out selection of rare and well-priced vinyls!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Chris Hinze - Parcival Live 1976

As I was making my way through the Chris Hinze discography for attempted completion (for which success is slated circa October 2079), I noticed this item and thought, please tell me it's not related to the Wagnerian opera with its embarassing fantasies (I here tactfully avoid use of the freudian word 'auto-erotic' often used in conjunction with this phrase and subject) of teutonic supremacy for which reason, along with the loathsome tautologies and indescribable boringness of his music, I now am utterly averse to this composer... but no, it's not related in any way to Parsifal the opera -- in fact it's one of those apollo moon landing attempts at combining jazz and classical with composed and improvised elements to craft a jazz-opera in double-LP format, back when the future was so beautifully bright for intelligent and adventurous and masterfully composed music--! and bell-bottoms, polyester suits, moon rocks, and Bill Crosby's Kool-aid (without the postmodern mass-death-irony of Jonestown's spiking) ruled the day... oh happy times....

How could this formidable accomplishment (in an operatic box no less, not foldout sleeve) be so forgotten, abandoned by the wayside like the detritus of a fast food picnic, even in the realms of jazz? Possibly because it's terrible and deserves to be forgotten? Not likely if it includes such luminaries as Jiggs Whigham, Gerry Brown on drums, Charlie Mariano on saxes, Michael Becker, and the whole apparatus composed and arranged entirely by Chris!

But you can judge for yourself if this is alike to the aforementioned hamburger wrapper or instead Hinze's magnum opus lost to history... I have recorded it for your enjoyment and in the end, you decide... is this cd-worthy or delete-bin-worthy? My own opinion is obvious, I spent several hours in an attempt at properly cutting the chapters into tracks that could be more easily enjoyed... but we need a master shige or should I say, remaster shige, to properly do justice to this work. One thing that I would mention is I would have wished that it had been recorded in a studio, no matter how professionally the sound is recorded live, it's always lacking something in clarity, although I understand others feel the opposite, that the live nature of it enhances enjoyment in some subtle way.

Now for those who are impatient I would ask you to proceed on to the music, I want to do this work a bit of justice by discussing the story behind it and Chris Hinze's original conception which was indeed to attempt to emulate Wagner by resuscitating the old forged (it is of course not an original element of goth mythology like siegfried) story of Parcival or Persifal, however you wish to spell the name. It's a beautiful story though and it's unfortunate it was essentially co-opted by Wagner, in the same way that, in modern times, the search for the holy grail from the crusade days cannot be told without reference to Monty Python's treatment of the subject, at least for those who are older than about 35 (40?) I would think. For I experimented at work and asked all those in the sub-35 set about the holy grail and the looks of befuddled puzzlement were totally at odds with the twinkling in the eyes of all those over 40, who immediately set into talking about the knights who say ni, etc. Anyways the story is about how the hero both must prove himself to King Arthur and the other knights of the round table (oh no not them again...) and also attempt to find the holy grail and the sacred spear to be brought back 'home' again to England. He must both prove himself a valiant knight and show himself to be pure (good luck on that one).

Biographically, Chris Hinze studied first at the royal conservatory in The Hague, then moved on as so many brilliant composers did to the Berklee School in Boston. For the 1972 Holland Festival he was commissioned to compose "Live Music Now" a suite for orchestra which won him the Beethoven prize in Bonn in 1974. The present work was also a commissioned piece for the Holland Festival, of 1976. What glorious times those must have been in the musical world...

I mentioned some of the luminaries on this recording, the orchestra is conducted by Dolf v.d. Linden, the actual CH combination includes James Batton on keyboards and voices (he's phenomenal), Doug Hammond on drums, John Turner on bass, Stephan Diez on guitar (who went on to do a fantastic fusion album called Mirrors), Mariano on saxes... Others are Kenny Wheeler on trumpet, John Lee on bass, Cheryl Alexander on lead vocals-- Hey wait a minute do we need this many bassists and drummers?

As you listen bear in mind that Chris is responsible for all the composition and arrangements, from which you can see his talent is immense. This is so much more than just a straightforward jazz concept album, there is an incredible variety to the music, especially notice the Ravel-like impressionist pieces at the start of the second side, evoking mystic travels, butterflies, various animals, and the dinosaurus (?!? what the--?), my favourite part of the piece for its compositional complexity and interest.

I will do scans later (there is a booklet inside, and the record cover has a hilarious walkman ad with hinze promotion) and attach as its own package. Note that the uploads are failing again most of the time due to large file sizes, please be patient for the post, it's as slow as the snail mail these days.

Big apology for the scratchiness of side c, hopefully you can get past it to hear the theme from parcival again, by the fourth side you get pretty sick of hearing that same melody -- shades of Wagner I guess. I would love it if folks could come back and comment on their opinion of this work later after listening... good or bad, of course.
And please check Chris' website to see what he's up to today-- living in Ibiza, playing the flute, and meditating apparently-- that's the way to live your life... There he lives and works in a quiet and secluded spot up in the mountains with a beautiful view over the Mediterranean Sea.

Here is the aforementioned walkman ad with chris' blessing and two naked german girls--- oops I meant, dutch girls (I don't dare look closely enough to be able to tell)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Themes - Contemporary Contrasts (Library, 1977)

You never know what you'll get with these library records... at least these composers have great track records: Hawkshaw, Parker, and Moran have all made some great music. But without some possibility of listening, which sometimes means purchasing blindly, it's quite impossible to assess the music inside for merit. And it's amazing how many of these libraries were made back in the day. So now I try to do a little bit of research before wasting my money on terrible records, of which my wife complains there are far too many in the basement taking up space that could be better used for, oh I don't know, a new shoe closet, or maybe a collection of handbags.The point is this is a pretty good one. There are shades of Heldon on the first side, some inventive chord changes reminiscent of french prog on "echoplex", some Terry Riley-like keys on the side B opener, Crystal Cascade: basically, this is a record very much influenced by what was going on in prog and fusion in the mid-seventies, although by the time this appeared in 1977 as we all know the fusion and prog trends had already become utterly passé in the UK... It's interesting to me looking at the back of the sleeve that simple emotional descriptions of the tracks-- for ex. echoplex is described as "languid movement utilizing repeat echo" are so apt for this type of exercise, indicating again how closely connected music is to emotions, and I daresay, these connections are universal in all humans. I've talked a lot in the past about the evolutionary mystery of music, i.e. what is its survival advantage in humans and ultimate function, and it still is indeed a mystery, especially this strong link between universal emotions and musical creations. Even the minor third (sad) versus major third (happy) takes a lot of explaining that requires straddling both mathematics and biology. But as I've said before, for those of us who passionately love music (and all those reading this must be of that disposition), music is the only taste of heaven we will ever have on this world of impermanence and mortality.

First up, a very progressive number with some interesting passages, Expanding Horizons:

Then the aforementioned Echoplex:

As well as the B1 track Crystal Cascade:

And, please note that filejumbo is momentarily up again and you can download from this service at this present time (19:37 EST for the next 4-5 minutes give or take 5 minutes)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Frederic Rabold Crew - Package of Voices 1976

A request from our friend ushaped, this one got me curious since I really love the Frederic Rabold Crew, which here has 9 members total incl. american jazz singer Lauren Newton (whose picture is above of course). I don't see her on the cover though, another female has taken her place, puzzlingly, or perhaps, unfortunately.
This strays somewhat more into the free-jazz territory than the other outings from the Crew. I will put up song samples shortly but uploading is not cooperating this afternoon.The mp3 for Kjol's second album was reuploaded but that's about all the upping the internet's behind can take from me today apparently.

CREDITS: Bass– Fritz Heieck
Bass Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone– Walter Hüber
Drums– Manfred Kniel
Electric Piano, Piano– Uli Bühl
Engineer– Carlos Albrecht
Guitar– Thomas Horstmann
Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Clarinet– Erich Stangl
Tenor Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Flute– Wilfried Eichhorn
Trumpet, Flugelhorn– Frédéric Rabold*
Vocals, Voice– Lauren Newton

Friday, September 07, 2012

Brigeen Doran's Kjol (with Fernando Saunders) Sunny Day {Germany} 1981

I don't know how people like osurec can be so knowledgeable about this rare music and can be so far ahead of me but there is certainly no doubt about that fact as just over 1 year ago I knew nothing at all about this record or these people ... Kjol is a band made up of the Doran siblings, Brigeen Doran the sax player, sister of Dave, both of whom are sibs to the guitarist Christy Doran of powerful danish fusion outfit Om (who amazingly I did know about from years back) ... recall my stupid remark in the Birdland post: 'this christy doran must be some amazing lady...' ouch. ... Well, at least I can come back today and say, 'this Brigeen Doran is some pretty amazing lady... ' "Sunny Day" is their second record from 1981, their first being easily available already from a number of sources. It is just as good as the first record, an equivalence not often the case in music wherein artists put out only 2 records. In contrast to Om this group presents a more funky fusion sound with some really hard-kicking grooves and nicely composed melodies, less in the free and atonal far-out wilderness territory that Om often strayed into in their unexplored improvisationary field trips... more down to earth and accessible, cf. the last track on the first side which is a simple, less than one minute duet between guitarist Affolter (playing a synthesizer-guitar) and Brigeen on sax. The group is rounded out by Heinz Affolter (who also is producer) on guitar, responsible for most of the composition, Dave on percussions, and Fernando Saunders guesting on bass and with lyrics on some songs. Hard to believe these 4 can engender so much energy and power in the music with only them, no one else on board in these sublime tracks, not a single throwaway for me. I know some of you out there feel this fusiony stuff can really get boring in tiresome wankery, but there is little of that here to force you to lose interest, and you can always sit back and focus on the incredibly fast limbs of Dave on those drums-- wow, what a workout he gets out of that drumkit-!

The short duet from side a, "Where are you:"

As well as the third track on side b, a particularly interesting and well-composed number ending in some pretty wild-ass arpeggios, "Midnight Frost:"

Artischock - Besorg's Dir! 1982

Remember the VA album I posted last week--? well here we go with the record from the band that did the lovely song "heile welt" called Artischock, with the beautiful Denise Grozelanny-Tullmann as singer. She appears on the back wearing fishnet stockings that are simply not for the minnows. The music is slightly-wavish pop hard rock with some nice energy and grooves, no silly synths or digital percussion, caveat that there is not much in the progressive arena of composition but altogether, for me, enjoyable songwriting. Are we getting tired of german rock and jazz yet? let's wait till after one more german post from me, coming soon, or perhaps a hundred more german posts...

A sample track: The bizarrely named "ei!"

And the one I fell in love with, Heile Welt:

Monday, September 03, 2012

Igor Bril Jazz Ensemble ‎– An Orchestra Came (1980) USSR,jazz rock ,fusion

Igor Bril Jazz Ensemble ‎– An Orchestra Came (1980) USSR,jazz rock ,fusion

Brilliant Russian jazz rock,fusion band (8 male players)....ripped from the  LP.

A1 Cuban Rhythms 4:26
A2 In High Spirits 4:37
A3 C Jam Blues 3:48
A4 Tabula Rasa 5:21

B1 An Orchestra Came 5:49
B2 A Green Tram 5:04
B3 Today And Tomorrow 6:58



Sunday, September 02, 2012

Chris Hinze, Sigi Schwab, Eberhard Weber, Lala Kovacev - Wide and Blue 1976 {Germany}

Is it possible to get tired of virtuoso flautist Chris Hinze? Not for me... here is an outing from 1976 featuring the amazing guitarist Sigi we have seen before, Eberhard Weber performing his customary ECM-style electric bass smooth melodiousness, and Lala Kovacev on percussion. Oddly enough most of the compositions are from Mladen Gunesha, with only the 5th track (sampled here below) by Hinze. The former is not a name familiar to me though I note he has a german wikipedia entry, he is clearly a european composer and arranger from former yugoslavia.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Torsten Brandes and David Ward Maclean - Strange Fruit {Germany} [1984]

An amazing lost record that builds atop a foundation of Joni Mitchell's late-70s jazz-rock style (cf. her record Don Juan's Restless Daughter or the German Sango posted earlier) a progressive architecture with unusual instrumentation, original chord changes and odd tunings (dropped D appears in a couple of songs), occasional string quartet accompaniment, dissonances with the requisite minor seconds and tritones, all those myriad gothic embellishments that make progressive rock or any fiercely imaginative non-mainstream music. Of course, there are a few throwaway songs, some simple syncopated acoustic tracks such as the "Festival Blues" song and the generic "A Song" on side a, "Lovely Vivian" on side b (tracks that to me appear commercially oriented and which I recommend you delete and ignore), but the closing 3 songs on the record feature some pretty astonishing originality. I detected some Nick Drake influence on "Liverpool Street" and in fact the song "Spider" which I sampled below, is actually dedicated to Nick (and presumably about him) ! --surprising considering at the time he was virtually lost and unknown as an artist.

Check out on track 4, "How can a soul survive" the way the guitarist (not clear who it is) proceeds to do an almost atonal walking bass-style solo on acoustic punctuated with odd bass notes in the middle of the tracks. It's hard to play these crazy notes on the guitar when so much training involves playing 'correct' chords on this particular instrument. Again it's a 'no-brainer' that these guys had classical musical educations in universities. Or check out the lugubrious string quartet on track 9 "The Spider" which adds an eerily melancholy dimension to the song (in the booklet the tuning is described thusly "both all strings one tone below concert" [i.e. both guitarists]). Note how the slackness of the strings adds a kind of slight echoey - dungeony atmosphere to the plangent piece. On the closer, "Lost and Found", the bottom string is tuned down to a low C for both players, and surprisingly, a bass sax sounding like a bassoon provides some highlights to the chords. Again the chord progression diverges in a very unique way after the intro. The tritones here are partly between the bent blues note of F sharp and the regular classical use of tritone for mystery effect -- as if a synthesis between classical and the blues -- brilliant!

Of course the title of the album seems to be a homage to Billie Holliday's famous song based on a poem about the lynching of african-americans in the South, but there is no real reference to this in any way. Could it be just a coincidence? I doubt it considering the deep jazz knowledge of the artists.One of the most charming aspects of this record is the 12-page booklet that appears as an insert, of which I've excerpted a couple of layouts below. It records the odd tunings of the guitar of which the musicians obviously were quite proud (a hallmark of Nick's style too).
When I think of the creative composition and masterly artistry on this record, it really seems sad to me it was lost so completely, when these artists evidently put so much work into their product. It reminds me again of the quote or paraphrase from my favourite animated movie about the man who planted trees: "When I think of all this man did in his lifetime, it fills me with wonder at all we can accomplish ..."

Song Samples:
Intro, Walking Zones (about shopping pedestrians in Germany)

Torsten's Rondo (instr. for 2 guitars)

Spider (the song dedicated to Nick Drake)