Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Japotage REUP by request

I will post this as a wav, please use something like xrecode if you want to switch to mp3.
Go ahead and request reups, time permitting I will be able to do some or get help from:
Merry Xmas & Happy Holidays

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Apologies for being so quiet, but I would like to open the door to any requests in the meantime.

And thanks to http://progressreview.blogspot.com for helping fulfill some requests.  I urge everyone to bookmark that website and follow it daily as I've seen so many interesting things in there.  I believe it may still prove to be a worthy successor to this location and I might switch to contributing there.

Everyone please have a happy holiday period and merry christmas as the case may be, in particular to isabelbc, wherever you may be.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Nels Cline - Elegies (USA, 1981)

This was requested in the Quartet Music posts.  I asked the "new kid on the block" if he had it, and he apparently does.  So I'll send you to him, because for now, I am going on vacation for a few weeks.  Good luck everyone, and hopefully you will be entertained in the meantime there, it seems you will.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wisse Scheper - Topaz (Netherlands, 1972)

I guess people might have misunderstood a bit what I was doing in the last few weeks, I meant to post my own personal favourites-- maybe using terms like best or masterpiece was wrong-- that I heard in the last year or so.  I guess few read the introduction, which is OK, and I understand since it was pretty long-winded.  I wouldn't claim that it will turn out these are the favourites for everyone, it's obvious people have different tastes, so I apologize if you're disappointed, I honestly do.  Please, no more crazy fighting, my purpose is to share music with as many people as possible and I've said that multiple times.   I guess the odd thing is there are people who don't like it.  But you can't make everyone happy,  as you can see from the political situation in the United States.  In fact you can't even make a minority of people happy.

As usual I check nowadays to make sure a post hasn't been posted before -- I've had enough comments about that issue already (and again, sorry about the mistake with matrix, I was completely wrong with that one, though I still think it's great music!)  So I was shocked and fell off the chair to see this unknown new blog had already posted this album:
So I'll just send you there.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

BEST US fusion album PART TWO: Matrix (USA, 1975)

On the front:
"Stimulus for the auditory nerve"
On the back:
"Music is the healing force of the universe -- Albert Ayler"

It doesn't get any better than this, if you're looking for highly progressive fusion.  Amazingly it hails from the relatively early years of 1972-1973 (i.e., music recorded in those years, I guess the record was released 2 years later).  This band or album is completely different from the later US soul fusion band of the same name:

A representative piece is the "Morning Song," which has a fugue-like structure played between organ, flute, and electric guitar, with the drummer giving a wave-like sound with his cymbals in the background.  Simply astonishing.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Best shockingly creative Vanessa-like progressive fusion from Bulgaria: Septet Rousse (1976)

What a beautiful cover!  The paintings with musical instruments and nature scenery are a hallmark of the Eastern European covers, right?  We've seen them before.  But I love this one, so typical of the seventies, with its darkly surrealistic background similar to an Yves Tanguy.

To make up for  yesterday's pulled-down post of Matrix (which I urge everyone to buy to hear) I'll post this one, which probably hasn't been released to CD yet, though I might be wrong since I scarcely have time to check on all these things.  Derived from the famous hoard of Berlin I alluded to earlier, this one compared to Matrix is interesting in that it is squarely in the European fusion style or perhaps Russian fusion style, versus the Matrix which was US-style fusion.  On the other hand, it suffers slightly from featuring over-long improvisations in my opinion.

After today I'll say goodbye until after my holidays for a bit.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Individual Ricotti and de Albuquerque Albums [requested]

After their collaboration on "First Wind", they made these three interesting albums.  Frank Ricotti was a session musician and library music contributor as you can see here:
He did make this highly interesting album called "Vibes" in 1981 which features a couple of very well-written and progressive tracks, though the majority of it is library muzak.  Worth hearing for the great 2-3 tracks.

As for de Albuquerque, he moved into the pop-prog direction, away from the folk of "First Wind" with two phenomenally well-composed albums.
These are the kind of professionally-played and smooth pop prog records only the British could do well, think Argent, Greenslade, Mike Hugg, or perhaps Stackridge.  The imaginativeness of the arrangements, as was the case with The Beatles, is what I love the most here.  There are ordinary tracks, but then out of the blue you hear some really interesting progressive chords or passages.  Highly recommended!

Finally, note that Frank Ricotti collaborated on Albuquerque's records, but not vice-versa obviously.  The former also appeared on Tony Campo's phenomenal library masterpiece Garuda, recently featured on the cdrwl.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Best Euro-Spacey Fusion: Appendix Space Trip (Swed, 1973)


Simply the best fusion you can imagine on one album.  Notice the track called 'Thetan' --  a reference to scientology, most likely because one of the members was one?  It's a bit unlikely since in the early seventies this was still part of the most secret inner rituals of scientology.  Thanks to multiple exposes and the internet, everyone can now read the 'secrets of scientology' involving thetans that were supposed to cause people to die of shock when they read them-- more likely die of laughter... Here you can have a listen to Thetans:

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Best Chamber Progressive: LBC Trio - Baobab (FRA, 1984) [Plus REUPS Suburbano 2, Coalition Mindsweepers]

All the usual comments apply, the things I've said dozens of times before:
-the compositional quality is so high this rivals anything written by Stravinsky, Prokofieff, etc.
-why is this not played in symphony halls instead of the same tired old classical compositions we should all be so sick of hearing?
-the amount of work these composers put into this record is utterly incredible
-the cover art is so beautiful in these old masterpieces -- what is the chance some of our favourite album covers will be displayed in art galleries someday?
-there is no more advanced or perfect music than such a combination that uses everything humanity has created: pop, rock, classical, folk, and jazz, and combines all streams into a seamless whole
-what is it about music that makes it so beautiful?  of all arts, it seems to be the most abstract kind of intellectual exercise, although rooted in the auditory sense, it has a level of abstraction not achievable with any other sense and functional MRI shows, as I said before, multiple levels of brain from the bottom emotional areas to the topmost cortex are involved in its enjoyment

For comparison purposes, this album is similar to the amazing Kolibri - Winterserenade which isabelbc posted here some 2 years back or so.  (Btw, when I looked at that post recently I read some comments requesting their first album Tsamadou.  I listened to that one and was very disappointed, it's purely ordinary folk and even has cover versions of pop songs like some Jim Croce (if I remember correctly).  Not one to request.)

Some information on the artists for those interested:
Oddly enough they didn't produce a whole lot more music.  Perhaps this is their communal magnum opus?

On the back of the record this comment:
"Three composers, interpreters and improvisers reveal to us their universe:  an original new chamber music which molds and transforms many resonances of classic, jazz, and folklore..."

Regarding the title, I read with great sadness a recent article discussing the last stands of the baobab tree in Madagascar, as usual, the suggestion that they will be all gone in a few years if the environment continues to deteriorate.  For those like me who grew up on the baobab thanks to Le Petit Prince such information is especially depressing.  I've spoken often about how cooperation evolved in humans and made them the masters of the planet, but this altruistic impulse is forever at war with the more basic selfish impulses which have existed in life forever.  Simply, cooperation evolved at a time when humans were in small groups and competed with other small groups for scarce resources (like prog albums?).  Obviously a cooperative group did much better than a group of selfish cheaters.  However, we are now all one tribe, one huge tribe, and in our society it's the selfish cheaters who are favoured, for various reasons.  It's interesting that now nature has set us up for a huge challenge since we must all cooperate to preserve the earth as our living home, the question arises, will the new instincts of altruism win out and thus will we preserve ourselves as a species?  or the old selfish instincts win and we fall into fighting and murderous competition for a dwindling supply of food?  This huge moral combat will  play out in the lifetimes of my children who are now 4 and 6, which is why the subject is so intensely interesting to me.
Like the little prince, will we feel so sad about our lost home that we will go back to our friend the snake and let him bite us?


Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Quartet Music - ST (1981)

This is their first LP, I posted the other two last year.  As is so often the case in these situations this first installment is the best and features the most ingenious compositions.  In particular, the classical music influence comes through very strong and clear.  These guys are very similar to Oregon and Ralph Towner as I mentioned earlier.

Over the years I've listened to this album hundreds of times and last night, listening again, I still found endless beauty and forms most magnificent as Darwin could have said.


Sunday, October 06, 2013

Best US fusion album PART 1: Tony Palkovic - Every Moment (USA, 1982)

A magnificent, superbly masterful American guitarist by the name of Tony Palkovic produced two seminal masterpieces of US-style fusion called "Deep Water"  and "Every Moment" -- and thanks to osurec (the mighty osurec) again for introducing me to this brilliant and uncompromising artist.  This is in the style of for ex. Mike Warren and Survival Kit or Mike Santiago and Entity (I always have trouble telling those two apart) or the Tony Dupuis album I posted last year.  Tony P. is still active in music and just released an album called Esoteric:
I would really love to know if he has a day job, or if he is able to work only in music, because of his outstanding talents.  I'd like to ask him what he thinks of these masterpieces of the past, and if he agrees with my constant thesis that the music of this period is superior to anything before or after.  (Probably he would disagree, since he just made a CD.)

I just love this record, it's so full of energy, which is the prime reason I love fusion, but also it runs all over a huge variety of emotions and styles, and it's obvious he was classically trained because of the appearance here and there of classical chord progressions.  So the sheer variety and creativity in here simply astounds me.  I've mentioned this before as what I believe the single factor that explains to me why the progressive music was so good in this period, the fact that these musicians had such a great education to build on.


Bakmak - out of the blue (REUP in stereo below, the second link)
Bakmak  - forward flight  (REUP in stereo below, the second link)
(both are excellent)
Quartet Music - ST (posted next up)
Quartet Music - Ocean Park (REUPPED BELOW)
Quartet Music - Window on the lake (I posted it last year) (REUPPED BELOW)
From before:
Suburbanismo -- (Reupped two posts up)
Coalition - Mindsweepers  -- (Reupped two posts up)

As usual, I will upload probably Monday or Tuesday if no one else does.  Remember even though one person requests, about 50-150 people wind up downloading each link, so there's a huge need for these reups.  I didn't realize this until I started doing it myself.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Rarest German Symphonic Rarity PART TWO: Audite (1983)

This was featured on Tom's list here:

First let's see what Tom had to say:

" Today we start a new series of obscure early 80s German progressive and fusion albums. We have 5 to report on that have arrived via various sources recently. Today's post is courtesy of Midwest Mike and is probably the rarest and most sought after of the bunch.

Audite is a vocal heavy German language album, with a clear affinity for the classic 70s progressive rock sound. Sophisticated arrangements are apparent, and the electric guitar work in particular is exemplary. Synthesizers and even a little flute propel Audite to interesting status. No getting away from the canned early 80s production though. I was most reminded of Anabis' "Wer Will?" album though Anyone's Daughter "Piktors Verwandlungen" also sprang to mind. A good one for aficionados of the 80s German symphonic sound, though a bit of a slog for those looking for more dynamic instrumental input." 

It was a priority none, a devastating assessment, guaranteed to cause it to languish in obscurity-- until now.  I actually think it's excellent in the chosen style of 'seventies symphonic'. And as he said, it's rare as hell.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Matthias Frey / Wolfgang Tiepold / Michael Thierfelder - Ziyada (GER, 1979)

Interrupting the regularly scheduled program here to post this astonishing masterpiece of  'organic jazz' -- really, his masterwork with the exception of the Psi Horizonte album he did which was fusion.  Kind of sad to me that it came so early in his career.
I talked about Frey in the "onyx" post I did recently:
I think at this point I've uploaded all the first 6 albums, I'll reiterate the links below to gather them together.
All fusion fans should have a copy of his fusion masterpiece:

Matthias Frey - grand piano, synthesizer
Wolfgang Tiepold - cello
Michael Thierfelder - percussion
Recorded at The Cottage, Wiesbaden, June 1979

Please don't miss the post before--  I reupped the famous master shige rip, Profil - For You which was requested very often.  Took a while to find it.

If anyone can help reupload these, I would really appreciate it:
Pierre Moreau,
Igor Nazaruk,
Bruce Clarke Quintet,
Noco Music,
KOM and Agit Prop

Sample track, Below your breath:


Profil - For You (reup of old rip) (GER 1982)

This beautiful and brilliant German fusion was posted here originally, more than two years ago:
Many have rerequested it, so here it is in lossless (wav) (use free program xrecode 2 if you want to convert to mp3) for you lossless lovers to use isabelbc's wonderful romantic phrase.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Best French Fusion LP: Francis Moze - Naissance (FRA, 1982)

So here's a record from Tom's cd reissue wishlist.
On the back: "This record is dedicated to my mother, to my wife, to my son, special thanks to Herbie Hancock."
Thus [tracks titled] Jocelyn would be his mom, Sophia his wife presumably, "Naissance" refers to the son (whose picture is on the guitar?).  I love the fact it could almost be a concept album since both birth and death appear here.

First of all I'll let Tom speak

"Following on from the Major Surgery post (4 days later, but such is my life), we have another fine record submitted by The AC - this time in the fusion category. Francis Moze is one of many ex-Magma alumni to have pursued a short career in the fusion field. Perhaps the most overt of these attempts was the collaboration of Lockwood, Top, Vander & Widemann, and their 1981 album so subtlety entitled "Fusion". It's not overly surprising, given that Magma were at heart a jazz group right from the beginning. However by the time of "Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh", the band had become so creative, it spawned an entire music movement that still survives today: Zeuhl.

Moze was a veteran of the early Magma lineups, and later turned up on a couple of the more fusion oriented Gong ensembles. Thus his one sole album flew under the radar, unlike his bass playing brethren such as Paganotti and Top.

The AC says: "Obscure fusion album by this former Magma bassist. At first glance, this would seem to be quite typical of other such early 80s French efforts from the likes of Francis Lockwood, Raymond Winter, etc. That is, light and glossy jazz fusion with not too much in the way of depth. That's not too far from the truth, but as the album goes on it reveals itself to be above average for this style, with some fairly engaging instrumental compositions and a pleasant overall atmosphere. Worth a look for genre fans."

And that's exactly right, the album really gains momentum as it goes. Personally I'm a big fan of the McCoy Tyner styled staccato piano, and Moze's band utilizes this technique to great effect, propelling the music forward at an exciting rate. I'm rather certain our fusion readers will want to hear this one. Very nice record from perhaps a surprising source.  " 

And thereby he gave it a priority 3.   I personally really love this record.   I could listen to it all day, and there are days where I have done just that. The ingenious use of electric keyboards (Andy Emler) throughout is what really impressed me.  There is a bit of the repetitive patterns characteristic of zeuhl but the best thing about this is just the strength of the compositions and the sheer enjoyment value.  Consider the song Sophia.  Starting off with a happy funky fusion vibe, Patrick Gauthier-like on a G suspended basis, note how halfway through the song it completely changes direction and goes to G minor with that gorgeous descending pattern on the electric piano--  subsequently traveling through various nice diatonic modulations before returning to electric piano soloing and closing it out with a really soft finale-- wow!  The change in emotions is stunning.  The feeling you get that he really loved whomever it was he had written this for, is palpable.

I don't think it's a detraction to say this music is so well-written you could see them playing it in your local Starbucks- [yeah fat chance that will ever happen, the people who get music for them are complete ignoramuses].

One last remark about Tom and cdrwl-- those who have followed the last few posts there may have made note of the utter admiration with which Tom has expressed his thanks to us here for discovering such utterly unknown gems as Gold - No Class Whatsoever and Rantz.  So thanks to Tom for pointing that out (lol).


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Best US Rock Record: Fair, Yates, and Betschart - Spirits (USA, 1979)

This is without doubt one of the best all-round rock records I've heard in the last year, in particular, the two last songs I've played literally hundreds of times, over and over again sometimes, they are just so perfectly beautiful in their own style of progressive, intricate, harmonious vocals with that great rock basis.  Why, as I've said so many times before, was this album not on that Rolling Stones top 1000 list, soon to be 100,000 best albums list, when it's so damned good?  Why did those last two songs, Monica, and Turn to Gray, not go to the top of the charts way back in the late seventies??  Why did I have to wait 24 years to hear this great record???

Monica, about a free spirit with 'long brown hair' - one of those 'standard' subjects for rock songs ever since Ruby Tuesday:
"Your new dreams are worth a try,
but the ones you left behind don't die, they're mine"

And my favourite song, Turn to Gray:

Enjoy it!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Rarest German Symphonic Masterpiece PART ONE: Lacrima (GERM, 1981)

What a cover drawing!  On the left a clown is about to hang himself, on the right a huge ?chrysalis is hanging from the bare tree, but why are the two line-figures running towards it?  Others might see something else here, I would love to hear some interpretations.  I've said it before, the covers are always worth seeing on these old records, these artists cared so much about their presentation package, not just the music.

In style this is 'typical' German symphonic prog with some acoustic bases, I think everyone know what this means, I'm not going to insult you with examples or explanations.  And note there is a part 2 coming for those who love this style!  I made a mistake yesterday in calling it 'seventies symphonic' of course this is from the early eighties, though the style is definitely the seventies style I think you'll agree.

Of course this is from the Berlin stash or perhaps I should call it, my BC -- Berlin Connection -- in a nod to the cdrwl-- which you may have noticed is also updating at a frantic pace.  So the fall will prove a bonanza for the rare prog rock fan.

I've spent many hours listening to trash to try to bring you the best of what I've heard.  The next 2 albums will be stuff I've resurrected from Tom's cdrwl which I felt he unfairly maligned in his posts from last year, you can be the judges and juries for these (as well as the executioners for Tom).  They at first were hard to like but over the course of the year I found I listened to them more and more and enjoyed them more and more, this is why I will present them to you.  That kind of album: initially perhaps disappointing, but give it time, they turn out to be full of interesting intricacies.  So without a doubt I call them personal "priority 2's"!

With regards to reup requests, please make requests at the latest or second latest post since I don't read the old posts or comments at all.  (Comment moderation as explained a few times before is done by the blog owner, or by isabelbc when she was here, not by me, I'm not responsible for not publishing offensive insulting comments, although I agree they should probably be left off so as not to encourage misbehaviour or fighting.)

Sample track, A2 Regen:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Return to Planet Prog...

You will all recognize the title as the famous sci-fi novel by Arthur C. Heinlein in which a moon-sized ion-drive spacecraft filled with 5-year-old kids with IQs over 40,000 points each and mentally retarded computers return to their home planet, Equis, which has been devastated by nuclear war only to decide an intergalactic war might be the best way to 'cleanse the biosphere' of the remnant colonies of de-evolved humans, who now are slaves to advanced worms twenty feet long (advanced in the sense they can now do Euclidean geometry, but not non-Euclidean or Lobachevskian), whereupon the mind of god interferes with itself to decide entropy itself shall be reversed, leading to the collapse of the whole universe into a new rebirth on a hospital bed where Louis Gossett Junior arises as an infant reborn into the space and time of the seventies, the golden age of course of Charlie's Angels and Fantasy Island...  But wait-- in the epilogue, it is revealed that the entire preceding 8000-page trilogy of novels was merely the memory of an aging computer about to be dismantled for spare parts in the fabled junkyards of Traxa the iron planet-- was it just a fantasy or truly a memory?  bang bang, the computer breaks, we never know, we really don't care, we're just tired from reading such a long book, now we need to eat some chips

What I'm going to do (along with those pesky re-ups) in the next few weeks is feature some of the best progressive music I've heard in the last year that I've kept behind, from all over the world.  Almost every day, just like over at Tom's cd reissue wishlist, I will bring out some hidden treasures that will rival your old masterpieces in quality, those albums that everyone considers masterpieces such as classic Genesis or classic PFM.  At least in my opinion they rival our old standards-- please keep this proviso in mind, since musical taste is so individual many will disagree.  The one thing you can't disagree with me about is the sheer progressiveness of the records I'll be featuring, and I'll make a point of  stating the case.  All of which will build up to the climactic announcement around mid-October of an album so good it really should be on those stupid Rolling Stones top ten albums of all times lists, or rather nowadays top thousand albums of all time (amplifying the number to placate those self-obsessed baby boomers, which adds an order of magnitude each decade that passes, predictably, so that by 2040 it will be top million albums of all time).  And in the process I will tell you a story about a hidden trove of progressive gems found in the Kunstlerhaus of Berlin, Germany, that country I so love to make fun of, those people I so love to satirize (I 'm half German on my mother's side which is from where this tendency derives).  When I found out this art museum had a repository (similar to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault  in Spitzbergen, Norway containing seeds of every kind of plant on earth) of progressive albums, one copy each of every one ever made, I literally fainted and had to be woken up with smelling salts held by a little waif from an opera libretto.  Now, I said, now I understand what it means to be the man who had everything....  cf.:
Quickly, I took copies of every album I had not yet seen and ran back to my taxi, Snowden-style, to take it all back home and slowly and gradually I worked my way through this treasure trove to assess what is good and what is forgettable…

I will repeat in the process the mission statement of the blog which is to popularize this most incredibly unknown and maligned style of music that I believe is one of the great apogees of human creativity.  I will talk again about how brilliant minds operating from the young and exuberant rock arena of the sixties decided to broaden their horizons by incorporating into popular music and rock the ideas of classical and modern European music and jazz to craft an amalgam more beautiful than any before, more durable, shiny and shimmering than any music or even artform created heretofore, because of its intellectual appeal and emotional approachability and range... We will hear my favourite styles of course of fusion and RIO, the kind that combined the best of modern European music with rock (think ELP's borrowing of Bartok, or Art Zoyd), but also singer-songwriter styles, and the classic prog of Genesis as before said.  Then in a few weeks I will show you an utterly unknown record even among the progressive collectors that can rival anything on that aforementioned idiotic Rolling Stones best albums of all time list or anything on any prog fan's top ten list.  All this will end, as everything must eventually (including this blog and my life and the whole universe as a result of accelerating expansion), around 6 weeks from now when I have to go on holidays again-- too bad... Ready for it?

Tomorrow to kick things off I will be presenting to you one of the rarest and most sought-after German symphonic rock albums from the seventies, you will not be disappointed, although, it's so rare it might be you've never heard of it.  And so to quote now JFK when he stood upon the Berlin Wall long ago as sharpshooting GIs aimed their military assault rifles at the East German guards killing several hundreds that day to protect their president and Marilyn Monroe stood below holding the jelly donuts (stuffed with her vaginal secretions) up for him to eat for a taste of victory:  "Ich bin ein Berliner"!!  and by this he declared war upon all commies in Hollywood as well as all cubans and cubists and anti-mafia activists, as F-15s strafed the East Berlin streets with RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] ... get ready cowboys, 'cuz it's gonna be one helluva ride...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Natdamperen 1,2,3 (1975, 1976, 1979) [REUPS]

I figured I would put all 3 albums in one post. Here is where the first 2 records were posted:
I guess I was wrong in thinking the last album had been posted by isabelbc.  The first 2 I bought ripped and sold long ago, always of course selling them at a loss, so I could buy more... The cover of Boogieman is just so wonderfully freakish, isn't it? One of the best drawn covers I've ever seen. The style is free-form jazzy meandering with swirling hammonds and electric guitar doodling, a bit too improvised for my taste esp. in the second double-LP.  In the last album they caved in to the profound influence of fuzak the smooth and easy-styled fusion that was prevalent everywhere in the world at the time but not completely: there is definitely still some of the old German From-styled psych craziness, so it's my favourite of the 3.
Now tomorrow as you will see from the title of the next post, we will be saying goodbye to this past fortnight of fusion.  I can't wait, stay tuned for that.  And no, it's not that I'm getting married, unfortunately I'm already in that state.

Holde Free - Malaga Suite (GER, 1974) [by request, REUP]

Great cover, right?  Gotta love that German sense of humour.
It's latin-styled fusion, with some progressive moves here and there, by request reupped.  Not exactly the best exemplar of the style in my opinion.  A 'priority none' certainly.
Note that Cry Freedom was also put up, you can see it at the Teo Macero Betrayal post.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pit Budde - Der Puma zieht nach Norden (GERM, 1983) [and Scope II]

This man with the odd name was a guitarist for the German band Cochise, which made many albums of mediocre ethnic-folky music that were very difficult (for me) to wade through.  These passed with hardly a notice or song snippet worth remembering.   Therefore it was a huge shock when this album turned out to be exceptionally beautiful folk, one of the most perfectly crafted chamber-folk albums I've heard in the last year along with the Larynx I put up some time back.  Credit again to Sebastian at the growing bin for 'discovering' this album, or at least for me noticing it in that venue.  He did another album before this.  It sounds very similar to Emma Myldenberger or the astonishing chamber-folk outfit Radio Noisz Ensemble, known to all those who love prog, which was the same band essentially.

A masterpiece of perfectly and gorgeously played acoustic guitar, all instrumental -- playing at the highest level of accomplishment, mastery, and beauty, with additional colour provided by oboes, flutes, etc.  Use of the oboe in particular always imparts a plaintive sound to everything around.  One of the best in the style of as shige calls it 'healing guitar' music...

As bonus I have a wonderful re-rip of the Scope II album requested at the Scope I post last week, all credit to the magnificent multi-linguist Mr. Morgan for this.  Don't forget to thank him for the efforts of purchasing the record and ripping it for us all. 

[This album, being one of the best acoustic guitar albums I've heard in the last year, will serve as a great introduction to the announcement I will make soon.  The one that, you know, is supposed to be really shocking.  Except it won't be, because I built it up way too much.]

Monday, September 23, 2013

Teo Macero - Betrayal OST (USA, 1977) + REUP REQUESTS

First of all before we get to this record I have a couple of things to mention.  Tomorrow or perhaps the next day I'm going to make a big announcement that will knock you off your chairs.  Guaranteed.  And if it doesn't please try a less stable chair to sit on.  Like one of those with one leg people use to milk cows.  So stay tuned for that one. 

Secondly I have a bunch of requests from people for albums whose links have died that appeared on this site in the past.  I'm begging anyone who might have the album already on their computers to use netkups or sendspace and upload it from their copies here below, I will wait a couple of days, then upload whatever is left to do.  This is because it doesn't make sense to have more than one link available at a time, if that happens, the links will end much sooner than otherwise, with fewer downloads each time.  Here are the requests so far:

Difference -- REUP DONE BELOW [A very controversial album to say the least, please don't read the comments that followed]
Bowl -- I don't even know what this is!!
Moonlight Edge  REUP DONE BELOW
Natdamperen -- ST REUPPED BELOW, Boogieman now DONE BELOW
HOLDE FEE Malaga -- Posted here:
New Music in Quarter-Tones -- REUPPED BELOW

Now on to the music.  When I was scrounging around online making sure Teo's discography had achieved completion I saw this item that wasn't listed (so far as I could tell) in my usual databases of discogs and rym.  What would it be-- a major find, a hidden treasure, or one of those albums: 'there's a reason it's rare and unknown?' 
Well of course you guys will be the judge, but in my opinion we are leaning towards the latter assessment.  This is not like the 'Virus' OST at all, and it almost seems as though Teo was doing throwaway work here-- which is odd because he must have been at the height of his powers in the mid-seventies.  Even the pop songs by Janis Ian and Judy Roberts have a bit of a throwaway feel to them.  And especially annoying are the 'filler' tracks that just really detract from the whole, you'll understand what I mean when you hear them.  (E.g. "Party party let's have a party" -- I mean, the title just makes you cringe before you even hear one note! and just to torture you guys, I left in the scratch that causes the song to repeat!! lol)   Otherwise, there's some good modern music composition by Teo, including some atonal pieces, but this is not at all like even the Faces OST he did in the sixties.

I'm surprised I've never heard of the movie too because as I've mentioned here and there in the past I'm a huge fan of seventies and sixties cinema, I've said before that to me this period was the apogee of moviemaking as well, whether in the US, in Europe, etc.  Maybe someone who has seen the movie can discuss it below.

So stay tuned as I said I will make a big announcement later this week...
And please help me with those requests!!  It's a lot of work!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Blossom Dearie - Chez Wahlberg (US, 1985)

It's just a quiet Sunday afternoon and after that last Blossom post I was surprised to find the album I mentioned earlier still on my computer so hastily I packaged it and uploaded it for the few souls who might be curious enough to listen to it.  At last check there were some 90 people who had chosen to download the last album, rightly or wrongly, and to those brave people I dedicate this second offering.

As I said before to me this is a masterpiece of jazz and one of my favourite albums ever.  This is because of the wide range of human relationships she covers in these songs, not just ordinary love songs, but all kinds of eventualities that have happened to us all.  I'll give you an idea by describing some of the songs:

"Are You Still in Love with Emily"
Anyone who has been in a couple of relationships will understand the idea, humorously covered by Elaine in Seinfeld with regards to the guy who got misty-eyed whenever Desperado played on the radio, of looking at your partner and wondering if they are still in love with their ex and thinking of him or her.  The last line just kills me: "I wish Emily would let you go..."

"Good Morning Darling what's your name"
Self-explanatory I guess.

"A Small Love Song"
Another huge lifelong favourite, this is a childhood romance, he was 7 and I was 8, among apple trees and daisy chains in the "summer that will never come again..." Again, something everyone can empathize with.

"A Friend Like You"
The dreaded friend zone?

"Only Yesterday"
Falling in love means suddenly songs and everything are more beautiful than ever before, the whole world is more beautiful: "I can't remember the last time I thought about a tree... will you phone today? will you come and see me?"

"The One who loves the most"
The one who loves the most will walk away, while the one who loves the least will stay.
Who hasn't been through such an experience in life, and understands what she is saying?

So you can see the whole range of feelings the album covers, and I don't think I've ever even heard a single album discuss so many different relationship emotions in one package.
Features the famed Mark Murphy in two love song duets.

A shout out to Jaye Maynard for her reference to Blossom:
You're right, she was a musician's musician, like S. Sondheim.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Listen, featuring Mel Martin - ST (US 77) and Growing (US 78)

From the cd reissue wishlist: 
I'm going to open up the floor now to my friend and contributor, mystery man x from the land of z and beyond, who I'll simply refer to henceforth as xz.   Back when I was collecting different nicknames for contributors like Midwest Insurance Salesman, Toledo Joe, Shakespeare the amateur, Swami the Reincarnated Dinosaur, and "neanderthal man" (who I subsequently fossilized for the University of Oklahoma along with his encyclopaedic knowledge of German library music), I also indulged in extensive progressive music listening from my two homes, four executive positions, and six trophy wives while running a mail-order catalogue, sorry catalog, of vinyls for sale and naked Russian brides, one type of product on each facing page.  (So if you had strabismus or a squint you could only order one type of product not the other.)  To make it more interesting I would add some stereo equipment sales in there too, except you couldn't listen to music on it.  At that time xz mentioned to me this amazing masterpiece of fusion that I just had to hear, while reiterating his constant complaint of appearing in too many polynomial equations.  Of course I can't actually share the music since xz = e power y (sorry I couldn't resist, man).  So I'll turn it over to him now, "swirling mellotrons and rapid-fire hard guitarwork punctuate the equilibrium brought on by steady synths and some furious finger-plucking lyre work from St. Augustine, then the minimoog comes crashing through with its devastating rocket-propelled act of god as if god himself was piloting a bomb-laden drone over enemy territory... Towards the end the crescendo and tempo build to such a rapid voluminous pace I was left sweating, breathless, salivating, and in dire need of a blow job.  A masterpiece of progressive music, "Gandalf meets Sir Lancelot in the King of the Rings' Arthur's Court" is also criminally rare, having been pressed in a limited edition of 0.5 copies (only one side was done before the band ran out of money) but it's absolutely criminal not to have appeared yet on CD so yeah go ahead, arrest me, big boy, arrest me!  For owning half an album!!!!   "
Oops looks like he reviewed the wrong record there for me.  Damn that guy!

Priority: x

Luckily I can count on Tom as a friend so I know he won't mind a little humour at his expense-- entirely at his expense of course, not mine ;-)

In style this is very similar to the Natural Life and Mike Elliot LPs I posted not so long ago with the minor difference of a bit less fusion, a bit more latin.  (And if there's one thing I can't stand it's that flamenco chord progression of tonic - minor second - minor third (e.g. E-F-G) -- I just hate it to death.)  Oddly enough there's quite a bit of Caribbean steel drum in there too.

Sample tracks, the beautiful Jesse's Theme from the first record:

And the S.E.'s  Dream from the second:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Blossom Dearie - Simply Volume VI (USA, 1983)

Yes I know, the name of the artist is ridiculous.... but listen to the music before passing judgement.

Long long ago when I was a university student listening to American jazz and fusion I found this as a cassette in a nearby record store downtown a few minutes' walk from the apartment I shared with my brother.  Over the next few years I listened to it over and over again and learned to play most of the songs on the piano.  On a holiday to New York City some years later that I planned around a performance of Blossom either at the Village Vanguard or the Blue Note, I don't remember which, I ran up to her after the set and told her how much I loved this record and the ones before and after...  her only comment?  "then maybe buy some more of these CDs and cassettes here" to which I answered, "but I have them all already," whereupon she turned her back on me without another word.
How could I have foreseen that the person who sang like an angel on my favourite jazz records of my teen years turned out to be a mercenary only interested in making me buy a few dumb cassettes for a few dollars?  I was crushed, and probably had one too many 'singapore slings' that night at the jazz club.   Of course considering the stature of the musicians she worked with in her life (her earlier life that is, by the time I saw her she must have been about 60), the idolatry of a univ. student a third her age would have seemed bizarre I guess especially since my pens-in-shirt-pocket geekiness and accompanying girlfriend would have made me a most undesirable and inappropriate boytoy.

I was reminded of her when listening to Radka Toneff,  because she did a version, on Fairytales, of one of Blossom's best compositions: Long Daddy Green (about the American dollar, of course).  The other fantastically beautiful record she did, similar to Fairytales in sparseness, is "Chez Wahlberg" -- just a masterpiece of delicate emotions and poetry, covering almost a full range in human relationships and social interactions in one record, like a Russian novel.  To me this impossible to find record was her best album, and no one knows it-- how typical.

Listening to this again today I find the soft breeziness and sentimental loveliness, the heavenly, spacey Rhodes so typical of those beautiful happy and innocent days of the seventies and early eighties.  Of course it's all about nostalgia of childhood, those younger than me will feel the same way about eighties music, or nineties music.  Still, I would argue that objectively, there is something almost supernaturally beautiful about the music of the seventies (and to some extent sixties).

The best track by far is a duet she did with Bobby Dorough (remember him from Children of all Ages?) called "Bring all your love along" which I 've sung in courting many a female in my life.  (Thank god I'm past all that now.  Although my wife daily tells me the opposite, why is there no more courting anymore?  I love Woody Allen's answer to that: "because it's exhausting!")  I wonder why the amazing pop song "Answering Machine" never got off the ground as a radio hit.  As a sample I'll also include the astonishingly intricate composition, "I told you so," with its gorgeous Fender Rhodes.  Skip over track B4, a cover version of Billy Joel's atrocious medieval torture instrument, "Just the way you are," I could never figure out what bizarre lapse led to its being included on this record.

B2 "I Told You So" (Words and Music by Duncan Lamont)

A5 "Answering Machine" (Words and Music by Rupert Holmes)

Bob Dorough - Guest Performance A5 and B5
Edward Remusat - Recording Engineer
Mike Renzi - Mentor and Additional Keys
Grady Tate - Drums
Jay Berliner - Guitar
Jay Leonhard - Bass
(Blossom plays most of the keyboards otherwise.)

Her huge discography:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Scope I (Dutch Band, Made in Germany, Rights registered in Holland, 1974)

Absolutely a masterpiece of fusion-- it just don't get more masterly than this.  A poor mono rip has been circulating for some time that really didn't do it justice, so I had to purchase the record; please upgrade your copies to this new one.  They of course did another album called Scope II but it wasn't quite as good as this powerhouse.  I hope everyone reading knows this band already.  Briefly what we have here is the best ideas from seminal fusionauts Mahavishnu and Soft Machine in a very listenable but inventive and interesting package without silly frills like overlong solos, like the Heavy Joker with Max Leth jun I posted a long time ago but much better.  Of particular interest is the gorgeous Fender Rhodes, minimoog, and organ playing of Rik Elings, who composed most of the music.  However the guitarist, Rens Nieuwland, is not exactly a shabby player in this outfit-- not at all!

For those who haven't heard this yet, hang on to the handrails, because this is some of the most furious fusion those 'tired old Europeans' (to use Dick Cheney's phrase) have ever produced.  (Now the joke's on Dick of course since he can no longer travel to Europe for fear of being arrested for war crimes and put on trial at the Hague, but he can at least listen to this masterpiece from the privacy of his lead-lined basement bunker 50 feet underground....as he remembers 'Yesternight's Dream:' [track A4] the New American Empire, now a matter made merely of memory alone...)

Yes, I know, more US-bashing.  But bear in mind I've also indulged in Euro-bashing:
and singled out the obsessive-compulsive Germans for particular satire often enough...

Bass, Grand Piano, PercussionErik Raayman
Drums, PercussionHenk Zomer       
Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes], Organ [Hammond], Grand Piano, Flute, Synthesizer [Minimoog]Rik Elings
EngineerVolker Heintzen
GuitarRens Nieuwland
ProducerJochen Petersen, Scope (15)

And to think this record is almost 40 years old now!

Yesternight's Dream:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Radka Toneff (Norway, 1977-1982)

Straightaway I'm going to mention this is not a download post, because these records are easily available now as CD copies, or even as cheap LPs.

A friend recently introduced me to the music of this amazing Norwegian singer, whose style might be described as a mid-seventies jazzy singer-songwriter (think Joni Mitchell during the "Blue" period or Roberta Flack in the early seventies).  I have never heard such a beautiful and emotional triplet of albums since I and so many others 'rediscovered' Nick Drake way back in the 80s-90s, and Nina Simone before him.  Although his style was folk, and hers singer-songwriter, they are very similar emotionally and not surprisingly both committed suicide.

Back when I was in high school I fell in love with an American poet called Sylvia Plath, who I still adore.  How, at that time, could I possibly have known that in Norway a brilliant musician called Radka Toneff had set her poem "The Lorelei" based on a Germanic myth, to the most amazing progressive melodies?  This is one reason I thank god for the internet, without which me hearing Norwegian albums would have been impossible.  But I know that if I had heard her version of this as a kid I would have been blown away even back then not just by the musical compositional brilliance, but by the way she has put the whole soul of the poem to music with the strings, the piano, the harmony vocals at the end: "Stone, stone, ferry me down there."

"Words don't come easy to me, my feelings show in my face,  but when I sing to you, I sing to you, and no one else, no one else."
Every song is personalized in the most emotionally devastating way.  Her rendition of the old Jimmy Webb "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" (he stole the title from a sci-fi novel by Heinlein but turned it into a gorgeous lost-love song) is also out of this world.  How many times have I said the same, this is the only taste of what heaven is like on this world that I will ever experience.

Like Nick Drake the last album is stripped down and austere featuring only singing and amazing acoustic piano, almost a suicide note in fact, as the last song testifies:  "I read my sentence" (a poem this time by another favourite, Emily Dickinson.)

For more biographical infos check out wiki as usual:

(Listen to the song and read the poem, since her English at times is difficult to understand.  I'm pretty sure this poem is about the urge to kill oneself, symbolized by the siren-like Lorelei which calls sailors to their death on the rocks below her, which Sylvia Plath also succumbed to in the end.)

It is no night to drown in:
A full moon, river lapsing
Black beneath bland mirror-sheen,

The blue water-mists dropping
Scrim after scrim like fishnets
Though fishermen are sleeping,

The massive castle turrets
Doubling themselves in a glass
All stillness. Yet these shapes float

Up toward me, troubling the face
Of quiet. From the nadir
They rise, their limbs ponderous

With richness, hair heavier
Than sculptured marble. They sing
Of a world more full and clear

Than can be. Sisters, your song
Bears a burden too weighty
For the whorled ear's listening

Here, in a well-steered country,
Under a balanced ruler.
Deranging by harmony

Beyond the mundane order,
Your voices lay siege. You lodge
On the pitched reefs of nightmare,

Promising sure harborage;
By day, descant from borders
Of hebetude, from the ledge

Also of high windows. Worse
Even than your maddening
Song, your silence. At the source

Of your ice-hearted calling --
Drunkenness of the great depths.
O river, I see drifting

Deep in your flux of silver
Those great goddesses of peace.
Stone, stone, ferry me down there.

Radka Toneff committed suicide on October 21, 1982 at the age of 30.
I hope the beauty of this amazing artist remains a part of our culture for ever!

"Shy like a child, she is... her glance, her story that never was told...
Say something nice to her, don't turn your back on her..."

Now I'll open the floor up to requests, if anyone wants some reups from the recent past-- that is, the last 2-3 years since I've been here.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Walkie-Talkies - Surveillance (UK, 1980) [REUP]


I know this was requested a few times, so I'll repost it here and in the original from Feb. 2012.
I gotta say I really loved this record, done in that smooth british pop-prog style only they could do, there is enough progressiveness here to make me happy, enough approachability to make it listenable in decent company.  There is involvement from some famous Canterbury players as I mentioned particularly the awesome signer Amanda Parsons (who I could fall in love with for her voice alone).

"Rob Spensley, a rock solid bassist, and Dave Fuller, an acoustic guitarist who succeeds in sounding power-assisted, gather around them a number of distinguished hired hands to produce music that touches several bases. Along the way you get high-flyin' harmonies, spacey synth sounds, healthy dollops of jazz and even a smattering of Police style reggae, performed to a high standard. Even so it's unlikely to get within sniffing distance of the charts. Are all the groups from Guernsey as confusing as this ?"
One last comment, I'll sometimes post wav files as in this case, please use any free program such as xrecode or cdex if you want to convert back into mp3, for ex. those who use mostly ipods to listen to music like myself really can't for practical reasons listen to lossless files, only mp3s.  On the other hand it's of course better to store the lossless somewhere so you don't have to listen to any inferior quality musical rip job.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ricotti Albuquerque - First Wind (UK 1971) [REUPLOAD!!]

I sold the record so I figured I might as well rerip it and reupload it.
Note that Frank Ricotti made one interesting library album called "Vibes" that features at least a couple of progressive tracks, though the remainder is ordinary library in my opinion, while de Albuquerque made two classic pop-prog albums in the 70s, Stalking the Sleeper and We may be cattle, etc., both of which I really love, featuring that typical british beatlesian smooth produced arrangement with unusual melodies, etc.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Sorry (FRA, 1978)

Another Massiera project, though I'm confused why his records are so sought after, other than the Working Progress one posted earlier this year, I find his output very very uneven.  In this outing from 1978 Ives and Ruiz the two composers create mostly hard rock with a tiny bit of progressive.  I'm not sure why it's in so many collectors' collections.  Ratings as you'd expect are all over the place.  And the cover?  ouch

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Orchester Roland Schneider / Günter Lenz - Sound Motion (Germany, 197?, Library)

This will appeal to the library collectors out there.  Basically, it's half a good album, and I think everyone reading this will know right away which side is the recommended side.  I don't know much about the Orch. R. Schneider, which plays a typical easy listening styled library 'elevator music' on side one, the throwaway (perhaps the encylopedic discobasso, from whose store I bought this, could illuminate us further on the subject).   (Btw, the old 'muzak' that was the bane of shoppers everywhere, has now been replaced by the golden oldie hits of the beatles, the rolling stones, etc., and I hope I'm not the only one who absolutely detests this overuse of classic rock.)   In progressive circles we know Gunter Lenz (though we may not think we do) thanks to his many contributions to German progressive jazz, for ex., in Albert Mangelsdorff's Quintet, Dauner's Et Cetera, the Manfred Schoof Quintet, and the amazing post-Dzyan trio of Giger-Lenz-Marron whose first album long ago was posted here ("Beyond").  (The second one, "where the hammer hangs", was mostly free jazz with percussion, which is where Giger put his energy into afterwards.)

The music of Lenz on this record is quite progressive jazz and highly enjoyable.

Link up in a sec

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Checkpoint Charlie - Feuer und Flamme (GERM, 1982)


Most of us probably remember how mutantsounds posted some of their amazing early albums, including their masterpiece "Krawall im Schweinstall" here:
I then added "Durchsichtige" as a homage to them along with comments about communism and the bizarre romantic attitude Western Europe as a whole had towards it, at least until Pol Pot's experiment of radical communism in Cambodia came to light, which no one could really justify with a straight face though some at the time tried.
I have also in the past made fun of communism, a pastime which I find is strangely unpopular, although quite gratifying:
and here:

Recently the impressive French scholarship in "The Black Book of Communism" could ensure there is no doubt in history that communism was one of the greatest tragedies humanity has ever endured or self-created.  How millions of people could have perished, not from resource scarcity, conflict, to enrich leaders, or environmental disaster, but merely to be sacrificed at the altar of an ideology-- is virtually impossible to believe.
Those millions died only because of an idea, an abstract conception of a better society.

When we consider the reductionism of science which for ex. physicists attest-- that all complex phenomena can be reduced to subatomic interactions-- I wonder how you really can explain in chemical or quantum terms how so many millions of humans died due to the ideas of one Karl Marx who thought a better society was possible when the proletariat overthrow their bourgeois oppressors and that this process could be hastened in various artificial ways.  Where do you find those atomic interactions exactly that led to  those actual physical individuals dying?  You'd have to follow a sequence starting in one philosopher's mind, Marx (and how do you explain the origin of his thought processes?) then proceed on to the power of printing, of education, of certain tyrannically-minded people, but even that isn't enough, since you are required to have the correct social zeitgeist to allow such an idea to take hold within an entire fertile society, in short, there isn't even the slightest hope you could follow such a chain of causation outside of the broad-stroke 'explanations' usually given by historical analyses.  Reductionism is simply not appropriate for explanatory power in the universe as a whole, with the level of complexity brought about by an 'intelligent' mind.  The fact that abstraction can influence actual physical processes can be demonstrated from the planetary climate changes we are bringing about via technology and abstract knowledge (rather than some bio-physical process).

Consider the case of China, in which Mao at one point in the sixties decided culture was useless and that all education should involve learning to be a peasant. Therefore everyone no matter how professionally educated had to farm.  When you hear about these ideas, you ask yourself, this couldn't really have happened.  But it did.  In Romania, Ceausescu decided he would abolish birth control to force the population to increase, the result was that most women abandoned their infants in orphanages, where hundreds of thousands of children were deprived of sensory stimulation and wound up in a developmentally delayed state.  He wasn't too concerned with overall social welfare.  Those orphans today are unproductive adults who are a burden to the state now that they have grown up…

Of course as we know in N. America there was the opposite attitude of paranoiac fear of communism which in its own way was equally extreme and childish.  As a result, Vietnam was defoliated with thousands of tons of dioxin, a substance so poisonous even micrograms in farmer's fields are frantically detoxified when they are found within the United States, or in parts per billions in small rivers.  Too bad those poor Vietnamese can't detoxify the tons they were exposed to in the "American War" -- oh sorry you know it here in the West as the "Vietnam War" (although I recently read the US government was generous enough to offer a few million dollars to help the clean up-- prob. the price of a few hazmat suits, for the American workers over there.)

When you ask those who suffered under the eastern regimes in Europe they are pretty adamant about the evils of communism and the corruption and hypocrisy they were forced to endure for so many years-- there was nothing romantic about it for the oppressed hungarians, polish, bulgarians, etc.  For them even socialism is a dirty word to be spat out.
How angry they would have been back in the seventies, to know that rock bands like this one were trying to start communist revolutions in France, in Germany, etc.

Musically though, I was happy to find this record because I always loved the hard guitar style of Checkpoint Charlie and the ingeniously progressive compositions they put together.  And this entry won't disappoint any of you who have a hunger for prog rock, despite the late year, because you will hear all the odd chord changes and tritonal riffs you've come to expect of the genre.  The only compromise for the times is a couple of songs with a definite but not overdone punkish drive.  There is an almost total lack of new wave influence, on the other hand.

Another question I always return to is this, to what degree did these anarchist communist political bands actually change the world or their national governing structures?  Hardly--  the eighties brought a tsunami of conservatism, deregulation, and naked blatant greed to the western world, that I've discussed endlessly in the past as well.  And those who fought for earth days in the seventies and the environment could hardly have foreseen that the eighties would be merely the beginning of the most desperate accelerating destruction of the natural world we live in, for the sake of short-term riches and materialism.  As so many have pointed out, our world economy is like a driver stepping on the gas harder and harder as he approaches a cliff he can't see.

I find it so incredibly sad that humanity to this day has never been able to find that balance between materialist, self-indulgent comforts versus the true conservative ideals (which today are called liberal) of abstinence, moderation, respect for our surroundings and preparations for our future and our children.  Will we ever find it?

Notice the cover has a matchstick book stuck to it with actual matches you can use to start anarchist fires in your local downtown.  Cool, or stupid?
At least the music is magnificent.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Teo Macero and Bob Prince - What's New? (USA, 1956)

Teo Macero is one of my favourite jazz arrangers and composers.  In this early seminal album, he occupies side a to Bob Prince's side b, to create a fusion of modern classical music with jazz composition.  Unfortunately it was recorded in mono, though clearly stereo was available at the time, I suppose Columbia felt the music was so 'out-there' they didn't feel there was the need to make it a stereo recording.  Briefly I will run through Teo's spectacular career in jazz.

I first heard Teo in childhood from the 1980 compilation which was called just that, which absolutely threw me to the floor with the eerie combination of pop jazz, avant-garde music, classical influences, brilliant and unusual songwriting (as in 'Blues for Amy' one of those songs I might have listened to literally hundreds of times in my life) and then the peculiar tendency, which you will hear in this record, of combining sax (his own playing presumably) with accordeon for a kind of late-night film-noir french crime drama feel.  Selective discography:
I draw your attention to 1968's Faces OST, which is wonderful on its own merits as a production in the heyday of American film (in my opinion), it's a very freudian-neurotic 'who' s afraid of virigina woolf' style emotional train-wreck (I say that in a positive sense lol) with John Cassavetes acting and directing.  Notable also is the soundtrack to 'Virus' which is shockingly still available as download online thanks to our colleague pollux.  "Acoustical Suspension" provided a wonderful mix of classical and jazz at a high level of composition, as did the amazing homage to Mingus, "Impressions of Charles Mingus" .  Unlike what one might expect there are no covers of Mingus compositions but only Macero's impressions of Mingus' feel.

Teo was partially responsible for my single favourite jazz album, Mingus' 1971 opus "Let my children hear music" which is absolute and utter genius, in which one hears all the torment and emotion and thought of a true late, great, genius, the beautiful Charlie Mingus, scored to orchestra by Teo.  The one album I would carry with me to the ends of time.  In the wiki bio you can read about how he contributed to some absolute masterpieces of jazz such as Miles' Kind of Blue and Bitches Brew, said to be the most popular jazz album of all time.

Let's go back to the album in question here, which was at the time labelled 'third stream' (vs. jazz and classical).  Here we get a good idea of how incredibly talented Teo was as a composer.  The back of the record features notes about all the songs, some are out and out atonal, even using the dodecaphonic scale (that is, each of the 12 tones is used once in a passage that sounds completely unmelodic, and is then fiddled with e.g. by reversing the order of the notes to provide a completely abstract melody), some have the aforementioned romantic sound of tenor sax on top of accordeon, a couple are recognizably jazz, but all are quite experimental, at least on the first Macero side of things.  I recommend you listen to the record while reading the notes, which I scanned adequately for this purpose.

I'll go into a bit of detail with one track called "Sounds of May", because it's so utterly unusual.  The first part, as described on the liner notes by Teo, consists of notes on the piano which were depressed without striking the ivories, so the strings were allowed to vibrate--by a sax being played on top of the strings! Later the sax notes themselves were removed, leaving only the sound of the strings playing their overtones under the influence of the ghostly saxes.  Truly this will sound odd, like a synthesizer/string mellotron/theremin combination.  You'll see what I mean.  A later part of the song then consists of a sung melody which is played again on top delayed several times, making the resultant total sound like a group of monks chanting.  At the end, one melody is played at half speed, whereupon the same is played half way thru at normal speed, on top. You get an idea of how much fun he was having composing this music.

On side b, the Bob Prince side of things, you'll get much more of that American swing style which I got tired of long ago, preferring the Euro-non-swinging style of jazz.  The highlight to me is the Ground Base or Bass song, which is interesting in its use of trumpet chords or riffs played in seconds on a very low register, giving the whole a dull and very odd sound.

It's wonderful what these talented guys were able to achieve in the days before electric and synthesizer instruments swept us all away into the garden of fusion eden.  I wish the time and effort they put into composition weren't so utterly lost. I saw that many of his old recordings and eighties materials are on sale now on amazon.com as mp3 downloads or as CDs, but of course, not this old mono recording.

" Daragh McCarthy writes: I first met Teo Macero five years ago at his apartment in New York when I filmed the first of many interviews about his life and work. It was a tiny apartment filled with photographs of himself and his friend Edgard Varèse, and several of the effects machines specially designed for him by the engineering department at CBS records. I once asked him what the key to his studio technique was. He struggled to find an answer before finally saying: "It's like E=mc squared. It's very simple really ... and then I use my ears.
In his last years Teo wrote music prolifically. He said the pain from his illness disappeared when he wrote. In his apartment, he would play every day on his Fender Rhodes electric piano. At his house in the Hamptons on Long Island, he played on his full-sized grand. He approached writing with urgency, determined to get stuff out and laid down for posterity."

Teo Macero died at the age of 82 on February 19th, 2008.

Macero's Sounds of May:    

 Bob Prince's Ground Base (Bass):