Friday, April 26, 2013

Frederic Rabold Crew - Berlin (GERM 1980)

This is obviously the last from this group we needed to hear and I dedicate it to all  'children of the seventies'. 

I remember well when I purchased it some years back in West Berlin at the Musiksammlerschallplattenrekordsboutique because when I attempted to send it to my friend Franz in East Berlin at the notorious Brandenburg gate I was held up an unusually long time at german customs by a very rule-bound military/customs officer:
"You say this is not jazz, not fusion, not rock?  it is somewhere in between?  then please sir how do you expect me to fill out this customs form? Do you not see this form, with--" (here he counted the number of spaces available to him) "-- ten possible letter entries, in accordance with the number of human fingers anatomically correct?  you must provide me with a specific style, in order to list it as such.  Please, you do understand these formalities, sir, is it -- Herr Stefan?"
I laughed perhaps awkwardly with my hands deep in my pockets mining for debris for the mutual satisfaction of my thumbs but persisted,
"I do indeed maintain, good sir customs officer, that the style is somewhere in between those which you have mentioned, just as your rifle is somewhere between your right and left testicles."
"I shall ask you to inform me of your language of preference as this seems to be a not inconsiderable part of the problem.  Would you prefer we converse in English or German as I am fluent in both of these kingly languages having had an american vater (whose name I regret to inform you was Joe) und eine deutsches mutterlein, Heidi."
"Please customs sir, I prefer German-- the language of Hermann Hesse und David HasselhofBitte sehr."
"Then you shall explain to me the manner of this record, for I do not understand it-- is this perhaps a pornographic item you are attempting to export? " And he set aside his severe circular glasses on the shiny table and put his hands into a triangular shape that to me was quite isosceles both in shape and in emotional content.
"Pornography? bitte, can you please examine the front photograph.  These individuals are quite ugly all.  In fact they are jazz musicians.  Is this even a possible actuality in your opinion good sir? I mean, yes there is one attractive female upon the cover who probably recorded the album naked in the studio, and thereafter, of course, all the males had intercourse with her one at a time, probably some simultaneously in various positions enabling multiple openings entered, but surely you agree with me, this was normal for recording artists at this time this being neither pornographic nor unusual?"
For many long minutes he studied the photo on the cover during which period, ticked away slowly by the cuckoo clock with fake nestlings and tiny chastity belt for birds hung on the wall, I subtly mopped the sweat from my brow with the Hustler magazine I had carried in my back pocket.   Finally I spoke up, attempting to resolve the issue once and for all:
"SIR!! this is progressive jazz-rock fusion!  it is a style all of its own, one of its kind, like the alsatian sauerkraut with knackwurst you know so well made from your own mother's eczematous hands and the sweat of her armpits!  You shall let me depart at once and cease this insidious and unnecessary interrogation!!!!"  --however I believe I spoke too loudly for not only did this annoying individual stand up, but many of the neighbouring officers stood suddenly and reached for their rifles.
"You shall lower your voice before your hominid superiors!"
At this point my friend Franz, who in point of fact lived but two blocks away in E. Berlin (but across the wall) overheard us yelling as he was strolling the Spitzbergenstrasse, and exclaimed,
"Ah but dear Herr Stefan!!  I urge you, to simply throw in the manner of a projectile, the vinyl record, as I shall catch it with utter facility right here where I stand! !"
"Dearest Franz, it is you!  but do you not think the guards shall destroy it in chronic machine gun fire, which shall not add a pleasant dimension to the music of Herr Frederic Rabold? (albeit there will be some who will enjoy it highly thus disfigured or perhaps not even notice a difference)"
"we merely have to indicate to the guards it is a US government-made UFO, and they shall leave it in peace to cross the wall!"
"Excellent idea!  or I shall simply state it is part of Yuri Gargarin's superego-protection device falling back to earth!"
At this my dear customs officer became impatient and stamped his boot upon the ground, striking a small bug in the process, CIA-planted of course:
"Enough of your womanly chatter!  it will take two weeks to transmit this record over to the other side--  it is worth how much you said, 40 marks?"
"Yes, 40 marks."
"Then you must pay german duties of 518 marks for the export."
"Ha ha! dear sir, you may easily observe my friend is but 20 yards away from us, please, turn around and see!"
"I shall not turn and play your childish games! At this time I do not desire anal penetration sir, for it is too soon!! "

... needless to say I am still standing there at the Brandenburg Gate to this day holding my record and arguing with the german customs officer, even though now the gate is gone, the wall is dismantled, and my record has melted in the acid rain ... .... ach, deutsches burokratie!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Red Summer - Release (UK, 1982)

A remarkable album coming from the totally unprogressive UK of 1982, hardly a year to expect huge imaginative sounds!  (Although note the last song "I wanna be a punk"-- clearly ironic coming from these progsters way behind the times ... but what about us, are we way behind or way ahead?)  I won't get into nostalgic reminiscences of M. Thatcher, the iron lady-- may she rust in peace, as the newspaper said. 

The music here is perhaps closest to Mike Oldfield's classic material but in this record tracks have been cut into shorter snippets for easier digestion.  Unlike Oldfield there is some pretty progressive playing with unusual chord changes, instrumentation, etc., where Mike perhaps never went past the baroque level of chordal understanding, this album progresses past the nineteenth century in advancement, comparable to Maxwell's equations perhaps to oldfieldian newtonian dynamics, whereas a true progster like Gentle Giant has absorbed 20th century complexity like the schrodinger equation.

Anyways, moving on, all the tracks (all instrumental) are like the soundtrack to a nice little promenade through the famed british countryside of heathrows and moors and heathered downs and heathen townships albeit one not yet marred by acid rain (though this was about to become a big issue there) with ultraviolet light raining down from ozone depletion, etc., etc., etc.

A surprisingly rare record that hopefully we can keep secret amongst ourselves.  I must as usual mention the striking beauty of the surreal cover.

The first track is quite exemplary, as perhaps is (infinite-dimensional) hilbert space for quantum field theory:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Coalition - Birth (USA, 1978)

Almost three years ago I presented to you osurec's wonderful find, Coalition - Mindsweepers from 1976.  Their second and last album was very hard to find until someone unearthed it in a flea market for a couple of dollars of all places… (such is the survival of these masterpieces, analogous to Petronius' Satyricon surviving as a toilet paper roll's worth of pages through the middle ages…)  It did cost me an arm and a leg to get my hands on the vinyl though, and now I'll present it to you publicly from my wheelchair after having finally resold the record at a huge loss. 

Evidently the band went in a more commercial direction like so many others at this time, abandoning the classical music influences that made the former record such a progressive wonder.  Now we have only straight ahead soul jazz with one attempt (to my mind quite successful) at forging a radio friendly hit (Thinking of You, sampled below). 

Those who prefer fusion, progressive, or hard rock, should stay away, really this is just another astral jazz album.  But on those terms alone, it's quite good.  Note that, oddly enough, the back is the same as the front.  Here more infos:

And stay tuned to our show, because coming in the next few weeks we'll hear more free jazz with vocal stylings (for ushaped and myself) as well as return to progressive treasures lost from the past and some more of that kraut hard rock I love so much, sprinkling in some records from the least favourite subgenre of prog, RIO… Also I want to revisit Alan Hawkshaw, the brilliant composer of library music, his "Contemporary Contrasts" was quite a popular post in this space…

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Children of all Ages (USA 1975)

Oh to be a child again…

The older I get the less I dream, but nowadays I often have this recurring dream (in fact almost every week) which I remember I used to have as a child too.
In this dream I come upon a beautiful deep lake or flowing river with crystal-clear fresh waters in the middle of a forest, I look down, and I see it's full of big fat shiny fish, excitedly I run back to grab my fishing rod and hook up a worm, and within minutes I get a bite and start reeling in, overjoyed... Often in the dream my father is with me at my side with his fishing rod in his hand looking down and smiling at me...

Of course before I can hold the fish I wake up.  Then I invariably think to myself in the sad blackness that I must take my children to a wild river or lake so they can experience this same thrill that I once felt, to step out into a world still rich with life.

But when I get up in the morning I look at them and realize they would never feel things the same way I did, because already they haven't grown up in the same world; where we collected toads in our backyard, butterflies at our school, caught catfish and bucketfulls of water beetles at the local pond...  That world sadly is already gone, except in my dreams.  Many years ago I went back to revisit that pond full of frogs near my childhood home that I've mentioned so often and to my eternal sadness saw it had been covered over with new suburban houses.  Only one small part of it was still there, enclosed in a heavy duty high fence, it was padlocked with the red sign: "Biosphere preserve-- KEEP OUT!"