Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Moondog -"Moondog" [1969] @ 256 (Unique, cheerful and beautiful late XXth century classical compositions)

Louis Hardin aka Moondog was born in 1916 in Marysville, Kansas. At 5 he started playing a set of drums made by himself with a cardboard box. Later he got a buffalo skin drum at an indian fair, that he used as a Tom-Tom. His fascination with aboriginal American percussion never ceased. The repetitive beat became a distinctive sound that accompanied his compositions until the end of his life. At 16 he was injured in an unexplained dynamite accident and lost his sight, thus turning to an inner world of sounds and unique imaginary visions. After learning the principles of music in several schools for blind young men across central America he started teaching himself the skills of ear training and composition, becoming then a self taught man and artist.

He was never bitter about being blind. In late 50's he appeared in New York city as an eccentric figure, a man with a long beard, dressed as a Viking, claiming for the return to our ancestral roots, against the fake “values” of our modern world.

He transformed himself into something different from the rest of us. Into Moondog the poet, Moondog the pagan, Moondog the composer, Moondog the man in 6th Avenue who challenges society in a playful, rich way.

Although he had recorded a few works during the 50’s it was during the 60’s when he got to be known and admired by his peers and by a new generation that understood his anti-stablishment position much better.

By late 60’s he was a cult figure, probably not a world-famous one but known and celebrated by the likes of Janis Joplin (who covered one of his “rounds”) or James William Guercio (producer of the band Chicago, who “discovered him in 1969 and the guy who produced the album I am posting today)

About Moondog’s work allmusic.com says:

“His music, constructed of direct musical gestures and built mostly from pure modal themes expanded by sophisticated counterpuntal techniques, would now receive the avant-garde label of"minimal or pattern music but this sound has characterized his music since the late 1940's, and is thus a precursor of this postmodern compositional style. In New York, Moondog began to meet legendary jazz performer-composers, such as Charlie Parker and Benny Goodman, and to incorporate jazz inflections as well as humorous philosophical couplets and environmental sounds into his recorded compositions”

In 1974 Moondog left for Germany where he spent the last decades of the century producing a solid body of extraordinary compositions, edited in several marvellous albums, unfortunately not easy to be found today. (I’ll post some in the future if asked).

Among his many fans we can count people as diverse as Phillip Glass, Charles Mingus, Peter Hammill, Elvis Costello, Wim Mertens and the members of the great folk ensemble Pentangle.

In 1989 Moondog returned briefly to America for a tribute in which Glass himself asked him to conduct the Brooklyn Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, which he did in a rather unusual way: by sitting at one side with the musicians and beating a tympani.

He want back to Europe after that and recorded two albums in Peter Hammill’s studio in Bath, England: “Sax Pax for a Sax” and “Big Band” both extraordinary exercises in modernity.
It is said that his last years were very happy. He died, peacefully in Germany while listening to Camille Saint-Saens, in 1999.

His music is the soundtrack a nicer, better, happier world.

Ladies and gentleman, it is for a me a great honor to present to you all, Moondog

Keep Listening!!!




Anonymous said...

Some interesting music here: i only have this MD, the Story Of & More
and the Sax....if there's anything else you'd like to share,
I'll continue to look in....Thanks for taking a peek my way! Cheers!

glyphjockey said...

He used to stand on the streets of NYC (in full Viking regalia) and greet folks. I met him as a teenager and he gave me a little table that calculated the day of the week someone was born. It was cool. He was cool.

Anonymous said...

i also remember the man as he stood on street corners in nyc usually near central park i grew into his music which i consider as noteworthy as monk's and miles'... he loomed over us all back then thanks jwillaum

me said...

I bought this album, when it first released on the strenght of the sleeve..
now that i am his age, i can appreciate his music more...

thanks for posting this

hans ZUN

Anonymous said...

thanx, via Hans! Cheers

Miss F said...

this is a wonderful album! after listening to the 1st two tracks, i quickly downloaded the 2nd part~

this is my first download from your blogspot. I wish to discover many prog rock music. I used to lack interest in getting to know more of the music (except for the incredibly famous ones and the great classics, ofcourse, that I cherish) cuz I thought they're more on experimentation and progressive music but less on emotions and lyrics, which are very important for me.

i appreciate good musicianship and technical wizardry like everyone else, but some of them sound like academic or demented sounds from some drug-addled creatures. But thanks to your blog now I wanna throw my misconceptions out the door~~~

p.s i was informed of your blog by hans' post from his blogspot...

Slidewell said...

This one really lives up to all that I had heard about it. Rich, varied, beautiful and weird. What more could you want? This is truly unique music.

Anonymous said...

Great post, a few people remember the genius of Moondog. Who knows if someone will post "H'art songs"... I've heard most of it, an I can say it's a real masterpiece. Damn, I can't find it anywhere.

Anonymous said...

I've been searching all over for Moondog! Thank you so much! I'd be grateful for any more if you have it.

Anonymous said...

Great uploads! keep this way!

Raw & Real Retail said...

Hey, thanks alot for the Moondog. Just wanted to mention the bitrate of this album turns out to be VBR 188-227 instead of 256. :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for post Moondog. it´s rare to find this kind of album in prog blogs and sites. The first part is great: melodic, soft, pure beauty. But the second one... I have to be honest: pure and total repetition of the same theme. It was hard to listen to it to the end. Congralutations to radio and site!

Amstrong Dog said...

The link to download its dead. Im very interested in find music about this artist, but in my country its very difficult. if
im really apreciated if you can upload the file again.
thank you

Unknown said...

I lived in Candor, NY in 73 and 74 and he lived on some land nearby. He was a recluse, but we all knew about him. Then one day we heard he was giving a concert in a field on his property. We went. Not many people were there. Maybe 100? I don't recall how we heard about it, or if it was invite only and we knew someone, but it certainly was an amazing event on that summer afternoon hidden in the hills behind walls of trees in a farm field, listening to him play the clavichord. I hadn't thought of that day in years until today, so I came home and looked him up and found this site. Thought you all would appreciate hearing about this.

ferdw said...

I come too late. The links are dead. I'll try to find his stuff elsewhere, but I'm really interested in this album. Would it be possible to repost?

Anonymous said...

Yes yes, please post Sax Pax!
I love this man's work

Unknown said...

Goddamn, I was too late as well. Moondog material seems really difficult to come by.
Brilliant by the way, so much great stuff on offer.

Anonymous said...

great post :))


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