Saturday, May 29, 2010

ehm, all folks welcome!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Rena Rama 1973

I believe I am once again victim of a case of mistaken identity, this is now the third time this has happened with this new identity I have, for the record, I am Tristan Stefan, I live in east Westphalia and I have two boys, named Hans und Franz. I was an installation artist in Berlin Kunstcraftsgesammenwerkschaftung discussing through my work paradigms of being and becoming in a meaningless existential universe, one of my most famous pieces was pile of dog poop on head of a Botticelli nude. One artwork about holocaust, a skull of Hitler made out of reese's pieces, I sold for 3 million Euro to a rich collector. He was also a mental defective. In another famous work I did with my brother I covered the Reichstag in Berlin with a giant lederhosen in protest against capitalism and the high cost of knackwurst. Then I had a midlife crisis, decided to give up art and go into the corporate world, so I became quality assurance control officer in BMW, we looked for design flaws in middle managers. We also made sure all labcoats were correct shade of white. This led to job in Bayer pharmaceuticals, I worked on developing vaccines for the HIV virus, the H1N1 viral pandemic and for athlete's foot. Currently I work fulltime in ISO 9001 Europa office we are designing implementation manuals for guidelines in standard operating procedures universal protocols involving light machinery, mostly phillips screwdrivers. These will be implemented ahead of schedule in ALL of EU by 2025 (the manuals, not the screwdrivers). What about the music? Well, I inherited the record collection of a hugely wealthy benefactor who made a fortune devising the nozzles for pouring beer from barrels for Oktoberfest (now used throughout the world) he was known in westphalia as 'Baron Bier'. He willed the vinyls to me after his horrible accidental death when he drowned in a brewery beer vat. I remember the tragic day well, I said to the brewmaster, "I hope it was quick at least" and his answer to me, "bitte, nein, Herr Tristan, it was not so quick. He climbed out of the vat three times to go take a pee."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sundance 1976

Our planet coalesced from the gravitational attraction of rocky objects orbiting the sun around 4.5 billion years ago. Heavy impacts in the first millions of years vaporized oceans and the planetary surface multiple times. Possibly life evolved several times and was extinguished from these impacts. Early on a very large object (one third mass?) smashed into the earth and produced the moon, which is truly a piece of the earth. Almost as soon as cooling was sufficient and conditions stable, prokaryotic cellular life evolved, perhaps 3.5 billion years ago. For billions of years this was the only life on the planet. At that time there was no land, oceans covered everything 2 km deep, the continents formed later. All surface water is thought to be derived from comets. Several extinctions probably occurred without leaving any evidence. When the ability to photosynthesize was evolved and carbon dioxide was absorbed to produce oxygen, levels of the highly reactive gas began to rise in the atmosphere. It must have taken hundreds of millions of years for the first bacterial plants to raise levels of oxygen, particularly since all the dissolved iron first had to be oxidized. But eventually levels did start to rise where there had been no oxygen before, creating the first mass extinction caused by life, since many cells could not tolerate the conditions. This is thought to have occurred around 2-2.5 billion years ago. Oxygen is important because it seems to be a necessary condition for "animal" life. It is not known how or why multicellular life evolved, or why complex cells (eukaryotic) did, but it took a long long time, measured in the billions of years. The earth went through a horrific phase called snowball earth about 700 million years ago in which it essentially froze over. At that time the sun was cooler than it is now, allowing positive feedback glaciation effects to take place-- possibly due to the effects of early plants drawing down too much CO2 in the atmosphere. It is surprising that it didn't remain in that condition. The only way it could have warmed itself back up was through volcanism which slowly but surely brought the levels of greenhouse gases back up again. Without doubt this period was another mass extinction, lost to fossil history. Some time after rewarming came the cambrian explosion which resulted in a huge increase in diversity of body plans. Nonetheless another extinction, the biggest so far, occurred some 251 million years ago-- this one thought to be due to excess greenhouse gases creating an anoxic ocean and oxygen-depleted atmosphere. We learn there is no consistency in geological time-- gases go up and down, temperatures go up and down. Reptiles and proto-mammals subsequently evolved and competed head to head but in the early earth which was quite a lot hotter than today, average 15-20 degrees C hotter, the dinosaurs prevailed and ruled for 200 million years, until a freak accident: a 12 km wide rock hit the earth. This rock was like mount everest smashing into the Yucatan, when it struck the ocean its top was still sticking out the atmosphere. Every organism larger than about 10 kg died, for some reason all the dinosaurs preferentially excepting birds. The mammals took over, probably mostly by accident. Placental birth, caring for the young, warm-bloodedness, are likely preconditions for high intelligence mandating a mammalian evolution. The earth slowly cooled in the post-dinosaur period due to continental drift effects and drawing down of CO2 by plants. The last ice age of 2 millions years allowing cooler temperatures in Africa probably pushed intelligence a little higher (overheating the brain was always a problem for upright hominids on the savannah) to allow the evolution of homo sapiens. Currently a 6th large extinction is underway, having started about 70,000 years ago when the species left Africa for other continents. It will irreversibly lead to the extinction of most mammals, most birds, most reptiles, almost all amphibians, and probably most plants and insects. Temperatures in the next thousands of years are expected to rise at least 10 degrees, possibly more, leading us back to the hothouse earth of the dinosaur era. The next ice age will be easily averted due to human intervention and the melting of all ice on the poles. This will be the second big extinction known to have been caused by a form of life, this time by only one species though. Eventually after millions of years the earth will recover, and life will go on. What will happen next? We don't know, we will not be witnesses to this. Other forms of life will appear and thrive. Then, some 700 million years from now, the earth will be probably too hot (the sun heats as it ages), and that will be the end of the history of life here. So we can see from this that we are already in the old age of the biosphere, 80-90 percent of the history of life is in the past. It is hard to escape the metaphor of humanity being a metastatic cancer that is sickening an elderly patient (the planet).

Yea Yea...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Various Artists - "Fantasio Daze" {Netherlands} [1968-1971] (Psychedelic Singles)

In navolging van ontwikkelingen in Engeland en vooral Amerika ontstaat begin jaren zestig ook in Nederland een scene, waarin de beoefening van allerhande vormen van kunst gestimuleerd wordt door het gebruik van hallucinerende middelen. In de jazzwereld is druggebruik dan al geen onbekend verschijnse meer. In de jaren "67/68" als de beat als muzikale stroming duidelijk over zijn hoogtepunt heen is, laten de invloed van drugs en de kombinatie van muziek met lichteffecten zich in de pop-muziek gelden. De kloof met de liefhebbers van soulmuziek wordt nóg eens zo breed: op de middelbare school hoor je bij de 'soulkikkers' of ben je 'underground'. Een onderscheid dat zich niet beperkt toto de muzikale voorkeur, maar ook tot uiting komt in haardracht, kleding en zelfs taalgebruik. Het tijdschrift Hitweek, later Aloha, speelt goed op deze ontwikkelingen in eh fungeert jaren als informatiebron voor eenieder die op de hoogte wil blijven. In de psychedelische scene staat de muziek centraal. Bestaande beatgroepen zien er een nieuwe markt met nieuwe kansen in. Veel groepen schakelen dan ook over op psychedelica (bijvoorbeeld Fullhouse) of proberen met een psychedelich getinte grammofoonplaat een graantje mee te pikken (bijvoorbeeld the Motions en the Outsiders). ... (from cover back)

A1 Bag - Tripdream
A2 Crown's Clan - No Place for Our Minds
A3 Sense of Humor - Sunset Show
A4 Human Orchestra - The Silly One
A5 The Dream - Swedish Tears
A6 Sound of Imker - Train of Doomsday
B1 Cinderella - From Town to Town
B2 Phoenix - Ode to Jimi Hendrix
B3 The Tykes - Hey Girl
B4 Turquoise - The Daughter of Johnny Ray
B5 The Dream - The Doting King
C1 Bag - Nothing Will Remain
C2 Crying Wood - Blue Eyed Witch
C3 The Eddysons - Cousin Pretty
C4 O.P.M.C. - Firechild
C5 Adjéèf the Poet & Friends - Ieek, I'm a Freak
D1 Names and Faces - The Killer
D2 Opus - Master of My Fate
D3 Bobby Green Selection - I Never Saw the Love So Clear
D4 Group 1850 - Don't Let It Be
D5 Jeep - The Rain

Cinderella - From Town to Town...
Phoenix - Ode to Jimi Hendrix...
O.P.M.C. - Firechild...

link in comments...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Behind the balkan curtain...

Like so many others I suppose I listened to jazz and fusion in university to drown out the simplistic pop all around me. I had no idea there was any good jazz outside of the US or north america until the advent of napster. What a shock then to find out the europeans had mastered fusion in the seventies, and in some cases had taken it further than originators in the US, melding it with classical and rock to a much more cohesive extent. Of course they did the same with rock itself, both were american inventions that europeans really built on formidably. What was even more surprising was to see how many countries had taken up fusion. Back then in eastern Europe it must have been very popular because they made so much great music, new albums just keep popping up. This one, Lyubomir Denev Jazz Trio & Petko Tomanov, is from Bulgaria, from 1979. They have incorporated some folk or ethnic melodies into the fusion in a really marvellous way as in "Ritual Dance" some parts of "Scherzo" are almost reminiscent of Bartok. The classical education always shines through with european jazz e.g. "Pastoral." I think these lost albums deserve to be heard by more people than the few who for some reason or another own a copy of the record. I'm willing to bet though the vast majority of the records are sitting in used stores in Eastern Europe, which is really a shame and waste.
I remember during the nato war of the nineties in the balkans the comment was frequently made that the region had a long history of wars and conflicts, as if certain geographies had a 'natural' propensity for violence, or certain cultures were born more sadistic. Not until recently when curiosity over the issue of genocide led me to read the history of Yugoslavia (which hearing about during the clinton era news so much, had made me bored of the issue like so many other people) did I realize that the true antecedents of the balkan wars were the horrific genocide experienced by the people in the nazi and later tito eras. According to sources, one tenth of the population was exterminated in only the years 41-45, making an annual death rate of 2.64 percent by proportion one of the most lethal regimes ever in the twentieth century, on a par with Cambodia, Stalin. Bloody 20th century indeed-- everywhere one looks one can find a new example of violence. We know that a child that grows up with violence and unstable dread will inevitably become violent, how much more obvious when a population is surrounded by this, as in the vietnam war, the soviet war in afghanistan, etc. These are all examples of societies that were subjected to enormous stress and that as a result could not escape a fate of war until enough blood had been spilled on the ground to satiate the demons. And of course as with the other mentioned places, it had nothing to do with Yugoslavia's bloodthirstiness and everything to do with the fact the poor country was a 'pawn' for greater forces: nazi fascism, communism and the cold war. In the same way there is nothing innately sadistic about cambodians, everyone who has traveled there can see they are a very warm gentle (buddhist in fact) people. A case could be made that a great deal of Yugoslavian suffering in fact was based on Hitler's hatred for them (just as he hated jews, gypsies, and poles). People overlook the fact Hitler hated a lot of different people. Or that the US and USSR didn't much care what happened there, just like in Angola, where they armed every man many times over because they just didn't care how much civil war went on. I don't remember much being said on CNN about these causes of the balkan wars of the nineties. Instead I remember the cheering when Clinton decided to bomb key cities.
The reason I'm curious about genocide is because I think our relatively peaceful early 21st century times are a lull, when times get tough later this century we will be back into the world wars again and genocides, it's too much a part of human nature to make war. For example many people don't realize there has been almost no REAL progress on disarmament of nuclear weapons in the US and USSR (as opposed to treaties and political promises), each of which has thousands and thousands of bombs ready to exterminate.

Hobo biography:
'The band HOBO was formed by keyboardist Mato Dosen in Zagreb 1972. The line-up also included Sasa Cavric-bass, Josip Belamaric-el. violin, Boris Trubic-percussion, vocal and Mladen Garasic-drums. They appeared at Ljubljana BOOM Festival 1974 and played as a support group at DEEP PURPLE concert in Zagreb 1975. The same year they recorded their only one, eponymous album. Due to lack of commercial success, Dosen soon disbanded the group, and went on to become a successful pop producer and composer.' The band is basic rock with some progressive touches in the typical yugo style.

Regarding Lala Kovacev, there are actually two albums with the name Balkan Impressions these were collected together into volumes 1 and 2, this one is the second. A serbian drummer, his discography is pretty extensive, cf.:

1964 JAZZ ORKESTAR RTB-"Pozdrav Count Basieu" (RTB)
1972 BOBBY GUTESHA - "Rockin Bach Dimensions" (BASF/MPS)
1973 WOLFGANG DAUNER - "Et Cetera Live"" (BASF/MPS)
1975 MICHAL URBANIAK GROUP - "Inactin" (Intercord)
1975 MICHAL URBANIAK GROUP - "Parathypus B" (Intercord)
1976 BENNY BEILEY - "Islands" (Enja)
1976 NDR WORKSHOP 1976 (NDR)
1977 BOSKO PETROVIC - In Pain I Was B orn (Jugoton)
1977 ALAN SKIDMORE - "Morning Rise" (EGO)
1977 MILAN PILAR - "Catch Up II : The Birth Of The Second Life" (Calig)
1978 JAZZ ORKESTAR RADIO-TELEVIZIJE BEOGRAD (1948-1978) - "Jazz Orkestar RTB Sa Gostima" (RTB)
1979 JAZZ NA KONCERTNOM PODIJU vol.4 (Jugoton)
1979 GOJKOVIC-KOVACEV - "Trumpets & Rhythm Unit" (RTB)
1978 INTERNATIONAL JAZZ CONSENSUS - "Four For Slavia" (Electrola)
1982 CHARLIE MARIANO - "Some Kind Of Changes" (Calig)
1985 LALA KOVACEV - "Balkan Impressions" (RTB)
1985 LALA KOVACEV - "Balkan Impressions vol. 2" (RTB)

Trite Puti...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bon Voyage

I know many of you love folk and traditional music, especially with a bit of prog thrown in. Oddly enough this band is not in Progquebec's roster, though hailing from Montreal. First two albums are pretty widely available online now, the third from 1983 called "Voyage" inevitably is more pop oriented and smooth. However it still sounds like it should have been released in the seventies.
Check out the really imaginative cover. An engineer appears to be driving a mixing board on the dark road.

quote from
"This sextet from Montreal was formed in 1973 and found their brand of Acadian & Celtic reels and jigs popular around the Maritimes, Quebec and overseas in Europe. The group was known for its utilization of a twin Celtic fiddle sound courtesy of Crilly and Selick. They signed to Polygram then to Direction Records, then to Flying Fish, and finally to Porte Parole. Their eponymous debut, Barde, was released in 1977. By their the second album, Images, in 1978 Chris Crilly had introduced keyboards in the form of synths and pianos. By 1983's Voyage Selick had also left and the remaining members changed musical direction by incorporating keyboards bass and violin courtesy of studio musicians Jacques Joubert, Richard Paquette, and Jocelyn Therrien. Pierre Guerin led a revamped Barde at the 10th Annual Winnipeg Folk Festival. The band finally disbanded for good shortly thereafter with Guerin marrying and settling in the St. Boniface region of Winnipeg. He became a disc jockey before becoming Artistic Director of The Winnipeg Folk Festival.
with notes from Pierre Guerin, Chris MacRaghallaigh and Richard Chapman."

Richard Chapman (vocals, mandolin, banjo, dulcimer, guitar)
Toby Cinnsealac (aka Kinsella) (tin flute, tin whistle, recorders, clarinet, tambourine)
Pierre Guerin (vocals, acoustic guitar, accordion, concertina, flute, recorder)
Chris (aka Crilly) MacRaghallaigh (vocals, violin, keyboards, bodhran, tambourine)
Elliot Selick (violin, tin flute, tin whistle, banjo)
Ed Moore (bodhran, tambourine, concertina, tin flute, tin whistle, glockenspiel)

La boite a lunch...

Unobstructed Universe 1976

In the May 10th New Scientist 2759 we can read an excellent 'review article' dealing with the mathematical basis of music and hence its possible evolutionary significance.
was it an accidental byproduct of an intellectual (or auditory) process or is it an adaptation that serves us well? Of course for those like us who love it profoundly, it's inconceivable it could be accidental-- the feeling you get when you hear something beautiful is much too transcendent and deep, and too connected with emotion. Even though we listen in solitude to our stereos or ipods, it must have first been a purely social activity, much like language was a social adaptation but turned out to be highly useful for organizing thinking into coherent and rational constructs within one's own mind. The more profound mystery is why music is strongly connected with the emotions. But I think this reflects the use it was put to in societies, and for infant-parent bonding, in other words it fits the social adaptation theory. Every culture for example has a 'genre' of music specifically used to soothe infants.

A fascinating study using just-born infants from deaf parents (thus never exposed to music in the womb) to see if they prefer consonant intervals (5th for ex) over dissonant seemed to suggest they did, that the brain is hard-wired to appreciate the consonance. "Balkwill and Thompson found that complex melodies with large, irregular or unusual changes in pitch tend to be associated with negative emotions" (not only just in babies) -- and we would add, except for the progressive music fan, who loves those complex, large, irregular, unusual changes.
Why do we like these dissonant intervals so much? Is it really a kind of progress in intellectual understanding of the theory of harmony or is it just an obsession with newness, as my wife always tells me.
Everyone knows there are mathematical ratios to the consonant intervals, octave is 1-2, fifth is 2-3. So the major seventh is 10-19 (abhorred in classical music up to the romantics), the minor second is 25-28, and the dreaded tritone is 5-7. Being a relatively simple ratio of small whole numbers, and primes to boot, it's surprising it's considered a dissonance. But this may be a european cultural convention since it's used a lot in other cultures.
Of course the major seventh is used extensively in jazz, where chromatic notes create strong tensions that lead to resolutions, the minor second is loved in the dominant with seventh for its tension demanding resolution to the tonic. Jazz is like the late romantics, chromatic notes are used elaborately to add interest to otherwise straightforward chord progressions, circles of fifths, blues 1-4-5's. But progressive is altogether different, using discord front and centre to make enjoyable music. There must be recognizable elements or it would be atonal. It's analogous to the way you won't laugh at a joke you know very well already, we need to enjoy something we have never heard before in a new combination of chords, melodies, chromatic notes. What is the explanation for the progressive fan's brain? Who is going to volunteer for functional MRI and PET scans?

I've thought a lot about this issue, whether our love for progressive music is an aberration of desire for novelty (analogous to the old joke that is no longer funny) or some higher intellectual processing of the basic auditory circuits of enjoyment. Everyone gets bored with a melody they know well, but we seem to be bored with a whole form of music, the standard song. No question the average person hears prog as weird, strange stuff. And that's exactly what this album is: weird, strange stuff. The first long track starts with a blues riff and gets into a long drawn-out jam session. The second side entitled Dr Seuss Ballet is more adventurous, reminiscent of that long improvised part in king crimson's 1969 court album. It's hard to tell if the music is composed or improvised, and it's pretty challenging even for the average prog fan. Album ends with an Egg-like bach keyboard fugue with electric piano-- a bit more atonal than the compositions of Dave Stewart

"This obscure project's lone album is a truly unique piece of experimental jazz-rock. Things start off in a fairly "groovy" manner, but weirdness soon sets in, with psych guitar, ring-modulated electric piano and freaky "electronic sax" all over the place, sounding almost like Xhol Caravan's Tim Belbe jamming with Yuji Imamura & Air on a bad acid trip. It only gets crazier from there, going completely off the deep end by the conclusion of the first side-long track. Side two is a little more sedate, shifting between eerie atmospherics and jazzier sections.This group was the brainchild of Arnie Lawrence, who was once a member of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show orchestra (!?), but also had a long-running interest in experimental, psychedelic forms of jazz. As you listen, try to keep in mind that this madness was the creation of a man who once played alongside Doc Severinsen. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction!"

Arnie Lawrence - Saxes
Ron McClure - Bass
Ted Irwin - Guitar
Luther Rix - Perc
Dick Hyman - Keys
Mike Knotts - Keys
All music composed by the whole band

On the back of the album is a blurb-like quote from downbeat,
"The first time I listened to this music, I was awed. It's so unlike all the other synthesis music, the jazz-rock whatever. It's cosmic without being pretentious and down to earth without being trivial, at once freaky and funky, and altogether of the spirit, created in a free get-together of the spirit. All that happens happens because they're creating it as they will, out of and into all that they happen to be. And the more I listened, the more I was out of and into myuself, which is what this music is about."

No question the album and band name are from a book by Stewart Edward White (1940) which dealt with spirituality, and life after death. This is what the blurb is trying to suggest in typical seventies-speak I think. The unobstructed universe is thus open to spiritual movements throughout its range. What Dr Seuss is doing there, I have no idea.

Unobstructed Universe...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lutha - Earth 1973

I look on life with mixed feelings...
What is life all about anyways, why are we here, what are we doing here. What am I doing here, here in my head as it were. How did I come to be, how did anyone else.
I've more than I deserved...
I have two children who will carry on my flame. But they are not me, they will not be me, and it's only a genetic imperative to produce children. It's the nature I can't escape, it's not me. If I leave behind my thoughts it is equally ephemeral. I have a happy life but I will always be struck by the sadness of awareness.
I've no rhyme nor purpose, I'm an empty room...
How do I know that anyone else is conscious? How do I know there is not just me conscious in the universe? But of course it might just as well be only me for all it matters. In the end when I die it won't make a difference how many other conscious individuals there are either here on earth or in the whole universe.
I draw the curtains so no one can see how empty I am...
I don't believe in god or soul or spirit. Every day I have to face the fact that when death comes it will be forever. How can life be meaningful in a world in which the sum total of one's experiences, life, memories, senses and sensations, will be taken away so abruptly. If it happens tomorrow life will be horribly incomplete, but if it happens in 40 years, it will not be any less incomplete to me.
The truth hurts me....
I think every day about this problem, and there is no solution of course. To die quickly is to be wholly unprepared, to die predictably, is to be even more unready. How will I say goodbye to my children? What will I tell them, what will they say to me that will make a difference? My wife mistakes these thoughts for depression, but it's not, it's awareness. There is only one thing truly eternal, Plato's ideal forms, which today we recognize as the eternity created by mathematics and science, truths which transcend all humanity. Godel's incompleteness theorem and Fermat's last theorem will be true whether or not humans or any intelligent species are present, they exist in a timeless and spaceless place. When we access the truths of mathematics which are the concepts of relations extended to their furthest logical implications we are in contact with the only eternal thing in our universe. Or is it even eternal? Is there another universe where Fermat was wrong?
It will take a long long time to open the door, if indeed I ever do. Should I succeed in passing from this room, I should become timeless...
Eternal truths are of course no comfort to those who like me are in that empty room looking out. And there are so many of these empty rooms in the world. Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? Like Gaugain we must ask ourselves these questions every day. If it's true that intelligence is a short-lived phenomenon expected to last perhaps a few thousands of years in the middle of a universe that is 14 billion years old and will continue to expand for trillions and trillions more, there truly is no meaning at all to our existence nor will we ever find any. No matter how amazing it is that the human brain can understand everything from quarks to cosmology the end of humanity or of my life will return the universe to its essentially timeless chaotic, cold, mechanical state. A state governed by wave functions and who knows what else unknown physics we will never touch in the platonic cave and again-empty room.

On this album there are two standout tracks, the aforementioned and quoted "Empty Rooms" and "Waterfall," which was the B side to bluesy single "Here and Now". Music is straightforward rock and folk with some (really enjoyable) progressive touches. The instrumental Waterfall has some beautiful strumming evoking the water flowing on top of relatively standard A minor and E minor cliffs.

Band History:
"Lutha was formed in Dunedin [New Zealand] in 1970. They established themselves very quickly in Dunedin, as all five members had previously played in top local bands such as Throb and Pussyfoot. They were insistent on remaining a Dunedin based band even after attracting considerable national interest.
They signed to HMV in 1972 and produced two albums during that year. They were the self-titled "Lutha" and "Earth".
Their first North Island gigs didn't come until late 1972. Had they moved to one of the larger centres, Lutha could have proved to be even more popular, but when they did shift, it was only to Christchurch and by that stage, 1973, it was too late."

Link will be up within 90 minutes of this post.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Vesala Nan Madol 1974

I post this because of the similarity to the previous Aaltonen. The cover is equally beautiful, the music also a little bit more difficult than most of us would like, it's challenging-- actually it reminds me again of Moose Loose and Hiro Yanagida, but with less organ sound. I hope anonymous will agree.

Areous Vlor Ta...

Aaltonen - Etiquette

A much more difficult album than the strings one. The cover is typical seventies gorgeousness, a woman is staring out at a pond or fjord perhaps searching for the loch ness monster's mate up in northern europe. The colours of the photograph are very vivid but at the same time seem to be lost in time, specifically, 36 years ago. The music too seems to be lost in time, with the kind of experimental jazz we don't hear done very well anymore. The first song is a concession to jazz standards, but the rest is original craziness. Actually, come to think of it, this reminds me a lot of hiro yanagida, and moose loose, just like make lievonen did.


A1) But Not For Me
A2) Fountain
A3) Pieni Kaunis Tanssi Tyttö
B1) Summer
B2) Bhanki
B3) Etiquette
B4) Perhaps


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mariavah - "Les Heures Incolores" {Belgium} [1979]

Belgian progressive in French style, first album, private pressing - More info welcome


Link in comments...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Make Lievonen (Fin, 1977)

This is the last gem I'll be posting here, I promise to all. It's a miraculously superlative album of all-instrumental progressive jazz-rock, like a cross between Moose Loose and Bo Hansson maybe, just the right mix of originality and accessibility-- the former to satisfy the jaded long-standing music listener's need for newness, the latter to get the right emotional kick. In the overall sound it is most like the Hiro Yanagida albums. This stuff just feels like a power outlet plugged directly into my soul, that could be used to power up streetlights from here to downtown, it can't but make you happy and wholesome. The greatness of this album is the way the composer has fit the music to the vignettes so perfectly.

"Rain Dance" is pure F major happiness, a key often used for this kind of nature composition (e.g. Beethoven's pastoral symph) perhaps due to the rain-like sound of the b flat - ? Again synaesthetes will have to help here. "Sea Horse" tries to get that ocean feeling going again with the inevitable fender rhodes sound. A really weird melody then plays out in saxes and ?clarinet. Quite inappropriately the sea horse starts getting all funky with a banged out bass line and bluesy saxes. Hey! let's ride that sea horse straight outta town man! Funk makes a reappearance later in "Tickets please" (to a disco full of cougars?) "Monster Rally" does a fantastic chord change of D minor, heavy synth riff, to a surprising Bflat chord-- sounding quite monstrous indeed. "March of the Lonely Riders" does a plaintive, mysterious A minor to Aflat major-- great change, melody goes A C F E -- Eflat D C D -- then C Aflat A-- suddenly a tritonal E flat based chord clashes in on top of the A -- oh that great and magnificent tritone, said to be the most dissonant interval, so essential to good progressive and the health of the cerebral cortex! Later a bridge does a bass going up by semitones with a sax melody winding around on top-- reminds me of Mingus' Shoes of the Fisherman's Wife but it may be just coincidence, so often musical similarities are just that. "Peace Street" is again F major happiness, rolling down like a happy bus of schoolchildren into fields of gold, I can't imagine a human being who can't feel happy listening here, except maybe myself, for whom happiness is always clouded by the realization of the ultimate fate of extinction for humankind (latest IPCC predictions for business as usual temperature rise, 6 degrees by end century). There is one throwaway song ("Etyk" ) which keeps to the same chord (C7?) through the whole track, 8 minutes of it, it may move out of it but I didn't have the patience not to fast forward through most of the track. It should be a crime to dwell on the same chord like that, no matter how interesting the jazzy riffs on top are. Album ends with a cute 'farewell' song, this really reminds me of the Moose Loose style with a lot of flutes and soft chord landings. As I said, it's like a kind of pictures at an exhibition album, with very visual representations of moods.
Please enjoy this last treasure posted.

Peace Street Two...

An open letter...

When Shawn Fanning invented napster more than 10 years ago and the program broke out into the mainstream it was like being directly lifted up into heaven-- All of us who really love music must have realized instantly that this was going to totally change our worlds, the mp3s and the idea of sharing freely all the music of the past that had been hidden and kept secret in warehouses, record stores, people's collections, or even used record bins. I remember it like it was yesterday... I spent days and days finding album after album I had wanted to hear but couldn't, out of print stuff, rarities you could never find in stores, masses of regular albums I could never have bought. You might recall when napster was about to be shut down in 2001 and we frantically tried to download as much as possible before the end doing all-nighters just like in university. Some moved to winmx, I moved to audiogalaxy where there was no concept of leeches or hoarding, everyone was forced equally to share and take because of the set-up of that system. I never really thought about hoarding albums away until I learned about the record collectors who were so unwilling to part with their prized possessions, most of which turned out to be terrible! To pay 100 dollars for what is musically worthless-- no one can possibly argue that this is a good thing, unless you have invested so much you are past the point of no return. Music is bigger than any one of us, it's for sharing. We are in a minority, there are not a lot of progressive fans out there, why does it make sense to keep music away from the few people who can enjoy it? To be secretive with something so valuable -- as we must all agree, this stuff is valuable art-- it really seems pointless. I have never heard of a writer hiding his great novel away from people for fear of it getting well-read and well-known. I have never heard of people hiding a book of poetry they love to make sure no one else reads it. Even jd salinger only did this after he became rich from catcher in the rye.

If a really really good album is lost forever to the world because the only people who own it are a couple of collectors guarding it in a bank vault safety deposit box, isn't it kind of a tragedy for humankind? I think because of my children I worry about this kind of thing a lot, and this is my reason. A given album on the blog is downloaded by perhaps 1000 people total, but this is in the whole world. And that's pathetic, out of a population of 7 billion humans almost. Instead let's try to spread the word and share everything.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jaune et Encore 1979

Another shockingly good french album of jazz-rock, almost as masterful as the earlier Patrice Meyer. The originality of the composition is breathtaking, as well as the high dynamic. The only fault here is the unevenness, sometimes the artist gets caught up in unnecessary pyrotechnics or allows a song to drift for a bit. Otherwise the playing is extraordinary. How did these guys come up with so much originality, creativity, passion, fierceness of invention, back then in the seventies? My jaw drops as I hear this, there are more musical ideas here than in an average semester at any music conservatory. Where has all that gone now? And how many gems like this are there still out there? I wouldn't know, ask the man who has everything. He's not likely to share much with you if you know me, of course. He quite hates me now, you understand, you'll see his comments posted anon under anonymous. (It's not enough to have everything, no one else can have anything.) I'm OK with that, and plus, my wife would really like me to give up this "weird little obsession" with collecting progressive music, as she calls it.

Credit for the rip will appear anonymously, btw. Please enjoy this album anyways despite all the drama.


Kornet EP

All of Kornet's albums are freely available on the internet already, this one is less so. I sincerely hope I don't offend any big collectors or men who have almost everything by posting this. I have asked permission-- repeatedly-- from the original ripper (his name is Jack too) and I got the go-ahead at about noon EST today, give or take five minutes. All I can do otherwise is to apologize, to apologize from the deepest layers of my heart, offering up my forgiveness in return.

I think all progressive fans know this band, if not, they really should brush up on them, they are a really good example of what I meant when I said european fusion really seems to blow american fusion out of the water sometimes. There's only three songs, but they are worth hearing at least once before you die, which is going to be soon for me. There's enough energy in track "727" to power two concordes from Paris to Stockholm in less than the time of an EP, you have to hear it to believe it. I can only hope more people enjoy this than want me to get run over by a garbage truck tomorrow.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

First Mysterious Appearance (Net 86)

An ultra-rare almost neo-prog album that reminds of belgians kandahar, machiavel, from the Netherlands. It has a few really nice progressive moments but the songwriting is a little bit bland.

A1 Intro / Insects 7:47
A2 The Last Detail 4:30
A3 Lord of the Underworld 5:35
B1 I've Been Here Before 10:00
B2 Fire and Music 4:29
B3 First Mysterious Appearance 5:50

First Mysterious Appearance...

Cloud Nine (1980 Ger)

A pretty rough around the edges private pressing German release, hard to find information about. It sounds very much like the progressive hard style of the time, no fusiony elements, pretty good riffs and chord changes from here to there.


Amakudari 1987

"Amakudari (descent from heaven) is the institutionalised practice where Japanese senior bureaucrats retire to high-profile positions in the private and public sectors. The practice is increasingly viewed as corrupt and a drag on unfastening the ties between private sector and state which prevent economic and political reforms."-- from Wikipedia. It is also the name of a group which produced a completely unknown album in Toronto, Canada (by the CBC) in 1987 and disappeared without a trace, although they resurfaced 2 years ago with a follow up. They mixed an ethnic sound with well-crafted acoustic guitars, judiciously using some sitar, with very masterful compositions. The overall production sounds more like chamber music than new age because of the quality of the writing and use of piano and string instrument accompaniment in many places.
Listen to the E minor patterns in the second song, "Childhood yearned" which using the flat 7th and 6th (i.e. notes d and c sharp) perfectly convey the emotional state of nostalgia. As usual a cello playing sustained notes provides the deeper undercurrent of sadness. Suddenly the song will modulate into D minor, then A minor, then G minor, which is what separates it from the usual trancelike stuff which typically operates entirely within one key or even whole songs never stray from one chord. Although the titles definitely seem to suggest new age (shaman, incantation, caves, etc.) we wouldn't hesitate to classify this as progressive music.
"Ghosts of Christmas past" (terrible song title choice) in G minor weaves a melody with major third, minor third, minor sixth, second, virtually every chromatic note is used. In this case a xylophone I think has been brought in to accompany the sitar. The last song, "Whale song" has some nice soft synth waves under gorgeous guitar arpeggios. There is the customary and unfortunate middle section of whale song effects before the previous chords pick up again to finish out. Too bad no reference was made to the finnish, icelandic, and in particular japanese IWC attempts to lift the moratorium on commercial whaling-- thousands of whales are killed and served to schoolchildren in Japan -- although the IWC allows them to be killed for 'scientific purposes'. Although they are well aware of the celebrated intelligence of the cetaceans, not many people out there are aware that the majority of species including the right, the sperm, and the magnificent blue are still very much in danger of extinction. This is not going to stop the aforementioned countries from stacking the deck with political bribes to finally lift the moratorium on whale-hunting, an event expected to happen at the next meeting in a couple of years. By then presumably the insatiable appetite for bluefin tuna (maguro) will exterminate this magnificent animal as well.

Childhood Yearned...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dobro Jutro 1980

One of the last remaining gems of Yugo prog (not yet posted) along the lines of September, Leb i Sol, Predmestje, it shares with them that sunny, passionate feel that is so typical of their music, indicating how full of life and effusive soul these people are. This album is like Sept. with the fusiony saxes and high energy on top of a standard rock group with good songwriting and a fierce scratchy hammond organ. Several instrumentals appear, the first "Dobro Jutro" which does a great rotating riff (you'll see what I mean if you hear it) in A 7 that passes to C 7 then back, check out the subtle but highly effective piano accompaniment in the background. The last track starting with a piano intro then the age-old blues pattern ABDED vaults you into a happy sunny (for you synaesthetes out there) D major guitar solo, later a second guitar accompanies a triad above, Allman-style, it feels like you're on a yacht in the adriatic sea drifting along under the blue skies in crystal waters taking a sip from your 10-euro can of coca-cola ...

My wife, who understands a bit from the slavic languages, helped me with the translations here. Album title means "Good morning". Next song, "Slaba vest" is news from "Slaba" (a nickname). This song is about a friend of the singer called Slobodan, well, this guy got rich overseas in the import-export business. It's a cautionary tale, he got super-rich but he lost his entire fortune, when he dropped a lit cigarette, and his mattress went up in flames.
Next song called "Clasba Vzame" is all about a guy called Yadranko who gets stuff on the black market. The refrain says it all, "yeah my man, he get you your appliance." The lyrics go something like, "he touch my sister, he get drunk with my mother, but he get me my tv. I don't like the guy, he hit my baba, but he gonna get me my tv. He never worked a day in his life, and I can't get him out of my house, I wish he had a second pair of pants! But he gonna get me a transistor radio."
Next song, Cikorija is a really good instrumental. It means "Cirrhosis" (of the liver). Then we get a really interesting song that addresses the problem of free will. Basically there is a logical or philosophical paradox, and a neurological one. I summarize briefly, in one case, how can there be free decisions when the mind is fully deterministic-- it's an illusion to think we have control. The second is more subtle, studies show conscious awareness of an action is up to 0.5 seconds later than the neuronal signaling in the appropriate cortical area, indicating decisions are actually made purely unconsciously, awareness ensues later. So this song discusses the issue, it's called "Boogie woogie."
Next song called "Dvakrat" is about the singer's pet rabbit when he was a child. Basically his father gave him a pet rabbit, he loved it so. Refrain goes, "I love my pet rabbit so, I love him so." He feeds it beets, turnips, and the kidneys of pigs. He loves it more and more each day. One day, he finds the rabbit is gone. He asks father, where is pet rabbit. So refrain goes, "Where is pet rabbit now, where is pet rabbit now?"
Father serves them chicken for dinner, and the boy asks, "What is this chicken with the long ears?"
Father says, "is western chicken, I get on black market. Is not like real chicken." And the sister says, "This is not a chicken! this is not a chicken!" Father frustrated says, "Is chicken! Is kentucky fried chicken!"
The song ends happily when the singer grows up and joins the army he goes to Romania and sees a prostitute with a rabbit-skin coat, falls in love with her, and marries her. Refrain goes, "Oh I love my pet rabbit so!"

(ADDEND. I am told later the true meaning of the song is that pet rabbit means a part of the woman's body; it's all innuendo, it's not about a carnivorous tragedy.)

Po jezeru...

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Return of the Man who Had Everything

Many years back I had decided I would actually visit the man who had almost everything. I was going to find him in his home and check out his collection in its entirety. To that end I brought with me ten of my rarest private pressings, total cost, 2000 dollars plus, to trade with him and entice him to meet. I knew which city he lived in, and through extensive contact with European collectors I had a rough idea of his whereabouts. I emailed him with my offer and the agreement was to meet in a local coffee shop the next day. After the flight over I was so excited I staked out the place from early in the morning and waited, getting hyper with excess coffee. Part of my plan was to offer him a large amount of cash to digitally copy some of his extensive holdings. This way I would take a shortcut to enjoying all those progressive rarities out there that I would never otherwise know. Five minutes after our meeting time I began shaking, I knew that statistically the more time goes by the more unlikely an appearance would be. By half an hour I had ordered a beer to calm myself down, by an hour I was pretty sure there was to be no contact... I left only by evening time to the annoyance of the waiters but seeing my tragic face they knew to leave me alone.

I was passionate about obscure prog and for years had studied the subject, record collectors dream, scented gardens, and crack in the cosmic egg... Starting years and years back I had amassed quite an impressive collection myself, but I knew it was nothing, nothing like the man who had almost everything. He was legendary, I had heard that this man owned more records and obscurities than anyone else in the world, in fact he was set on the ambition of owning every gem. Time was running out, day by day his collection was getting larger. Far-flung longstanding collectors from Tasmania, from Germany, were starting to be interested on hearing about his extensive possessions. He was very discrete, almost hidden, few knew as well as I did what riches this man had. But my cargo which included the rarest, more expensive German private pressings would soon be worthless to him. In the hopes of prolonging my stay I took a job teaching English to the locals while continuing to offer trades to him.

Weeks went by, I tracked his purchases on ebay and online and narrowed down where I might find him. But he was elusive, self-effacing, and it was impossible to identify him in person. I worked harder and harder to finance my purchases but it always seemed he was a step ahead of me. In fact by then my "Charles and morgan homework 1973" was no more than a burden, so I sold it for Anahata - Aire 1979 which I knew he needed (it cost me a fortune). Suddenly, he was quite eager to trade and again a meeting was arranged. As I sped there in a taxi-- urging the driver on through the boulevard, horror of horrors-- he struck a small child and injured him! I was mortified-- in a dismal mixture of guilt over the accident and shame at the idea that this injured human would delay my encounter!! but I couldn't run away-- I stayed with the mother until the child was fully attended to by the ambulance... by that time, making my way to the cafe, it was 2 hours later.... there was no hope of knowing if the man had shown up-- the cafe staff were unhelpful. No, they hadn't seen a man listening to music. But had they really paid attention?

Months went by, and I followed his activities. Work was plentiful and I became absorbed in it. A beautiful student began to show interest in me but I spurned her for my obsession, tracking the man, trying to meet with him. She gave up on me with the idea that I was more interested in him than her. It was the saddest day of my life when she abandoned me.

As the years passed, and I grew older and frail, I watched as his collection grew and grew. I had trouble keeping up, I knew I was falling far behind him, my energy was less. I was missing work now and was in danger of being fired. But I was dying of desire to hear all the heavenly treasures that existed out there that I would never know. I invested in one last huge purchase and contacted him again. I brought it, as if a supplicant to the court of a king, for a last pleading of redemption-- as if I had been excommunicated by the pope and was coming barefoot for forgiveness. It was my last chance, by then, I was broke and friendless in an alien country. Then, one day, weeks later, he offered to meet with me. As I waited in anginal trepidation, an hour later there was a message to my laptop: the meeting was cancelled-- the man now had everything, every last album; there was no longer any point for him to show up. My mission was a failure, the years I had spent there wasted. I had given up everything for a dream, a dream that had vanished in the light of that day. It was impossible to escape the profound despair of knowing my whole life had been utterly useless. I cried and begged him but there was no answer from the man who had everything. Far away in his distant empire of records, he must have been laughing at me. When I finally got home, I collapsed into tears and prayed for death...

Heavy Rider...

Friday, May 07, 2010


1979. German political rock group "Checkpoint Charlie" continue with a half-live album called "Die Durchsichtige" (transparent)... Ayatollah Khomeini has returned to Iran after the fall of the american puppet Shah and incited his people into an anti-american stance. China invades communist Vietnam, worried about its ambitions. Carter begins to increase anti-soviet forces in Afghanistan, escalating what was a horrific total war that would destroy the country (1 in 10 dead, one third refugees) and humiliate the USSR after ten years of senseless deaths, eventually leading to the islamic extremism we see today. Uganda's infamous tyrant Idi Amin Dada, who boasted of enjoying human meat, is finally expelled after hundreds of thousands killed. In the Central African Republic tyrant Bokassa (who had himself crowned emperor in an identical ceremony to Napoleon financed by France) suppresses a schoolchildren's protest with 100 dead.
At Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania the US has its most serious nuclear disaster yet, leading to an anti-nuclear agenda that has not died down to this day. Soon the most serious political problem would begin-- the hostage crisis at the American embassy in Tehran. This would lead to the second big oil shock, with oil at its highest price ever (except briefly in 2007), to the end of the Carter presidency, and to the rise of Reaganocracy. The second oil shock was a massive economic disaster and soon led to out of control inflation. After Carter, who worried constantly about the future, who actually did plan for a future of environmental prudence and alternative energy, we would get Reagan's morning in America again (a morning now quickly turning to dusk... )
Meantime, within the borders of Cambodia, the most radical experiment in applied utopia is about to collapse. In a country destroyed by american bombing during and after the vietnam war or the "american war" as they call it (more bombs were dropped on Cambodia than Vietnam) a nameless and faceless, Sorbonne-educated communist guerrilla called Brother Number One operating by the principle: "to save you is no gain, to kill you is no loss" had decided he would quickly establish from year zero (1975 to us) the most advanced socialist utopia the world had ever seen. There was no time to waste to establish perfection. There was to be no money, no banks, no names, no calendars, no schools, no stores, no families, no eyeglasses even. The borders were closed to the outside world, no one knew what was going on... At Tuol Sleng in Phnom Phen hung a sign that indicated no laughing, no smiling.

Far away in Europe, the communist parties were still strong, students were still raging for anarchy. When the truth came out after Vietnam invaded Cambodia, there was mass disbelief. People refused to believe this has happened, just as they refused to believe the Rwandan genocide. Today, historians calculate that out of a population of roughly 8 million, 1 to 2 million died in that utopia...
In the great french scholarly work "The black book of communism" we can read some unpleasant truths about the communist countries. As a contrast to western democracies students and leftists everywhere embraced communism in those days, even the proverbial CCCP. Today we can read about environmental degradation, starvation, millions dying year by year in the name of an ideology. It is very painful to face one's mistakes, and this was a big one. But we do have to face the mistake.
In studying this book we think again and again, how is this possible? That all this was done in the name of an idea? Would Karl Marx have still thought and written what he did, knowing what was to come after him in the 20th century? Would he have agreed with Saloth Sar, Pol Pot to the world? Tragically, I think he wouldn't have changed a single word. Ideas are more important than people.

This band, as well as later Alcatraz, was able to write a really muscular electric guitar based progressive rock, not an easy thing to do, with a high dynamic. The guitarist is really amazing, fast and furious with the crazy riffs and chord changes. The songs are mostly sung, thank god there are not too many spoken slogans and silliness. Mutant sounds posted some of the other great Checkpoint Charlie stuff, this one is also very good.
I just wonder what the band think about the political stuff now -- chances are, they haven't changed their minds much.

Du Sollst Dein Leben Nicht Den Schweinen Geben...

Thursday, May 06, 2010


PROGrammers to the front!

It is no secret that PNF has several projects.
Since the projects are non-profit, it is important for us to reduce costs and minimize possible loads on servers,
Any friends who would like to give a hand to write seperate parts of the projects?

- Java programmer experienced on Google App Engine (Datastore, GQL) to build somekind of REST service focus on image processing (api).
- (QT) C++ programmer (a small Command-Line application running as a process at the background that focuses on processing XML data running on Linux; Unicode, XML, Threads, Regular Expressions, Database dependencies)
- We are also reviewing Amazon EC2 services & benefits/pitfalls of django on Google App Engine any experienced friends are welcome.

These are long-term projects, and we are not in hurry,
it is better that instead of a surfer, friends who know the frog for several years, respond to us.


Thanks <3


Memo - Captain Thunder 1977

I think we all have the softest spot in our hearts for the music of our childhood. Well this album takes me right back to those bell bottom long collared days of the seventies before environmental disaster, resource depletion, overshoot and collapse, when the future was so bright with hope, utopia was sure to come in our lifetimes, and permanently, and we were soon going to colonize the nearest stars and galaxies... Boy did we ever blow it! Look at us now! But like the great gatsby, the dream was never really possible at all, it was all just an illusion.

This album is one-man-band production by german Memo Kurt, about whom I can't find much information at all. If he ever reads this, I would tell him I love him, I'd bow before him and kiss his hand for this one. Overall sound and production remind me of Hudson Bros, for those who know them, who did 'So you are a star'. Actually, several tracks are reminiscent of Rhino's Have a nice day Comp, but the songs are as enjoyable as those number one hits, I dare anyone not to sing along after a couple of listens. The hooks are ingenious! 'Gone to another' (which once again reminds me of 10cc's I'm not in love, it seems a lot of songs do) starts with a 'got to get you into my life' octave-reaching melody, then moves into an interesting whole tone down chord progression (i.e. A - G - F). Check out the synthesized voices in the background... This takes me right back to the lost world of my childhood, when in my backyard I could collect a dozen toads in an afternoon, then go to the pond a block away and catch a bucketful of huge bullfrogs, fish for catfish, bring them all home, and forget about them overnight, thereby horrifying my mom in the morning when she found them all dead... At our school on weekends we would catch monarchs and cicadas, or collect their caterpillars and feed them milkweed all summer, some died, but most of them survived to go on to their continental migration... My children will never experience this, and it makes me sad. This music also fills me with the sadness of loss. For a lot of reasons. For one thing, the craftsmanship is something that is not going to be heard anytime soon on radio. Moreover appreciation for it is lost, few people can enjoy this kind of music. It's not like literature, where a consensus is established for what great writers have emerged and have stood the test of time. In music, the test of time is so easy, it's something a three-year-old can pass. Adults fail it. It's like a stalinist regime, where any sign of intelligence or creativity will doom a person to an early disappearance. What is doubly sad about the paradise lost is that, as Jane Jacobs once said (regarding cities), we have lost not just the old world, but the memory of what it was like. So that we don't realize we are actually living in a diminished, deteriorated world. In descriptions of the new world when it was 'discovered' by Europeans in the 15-16th centuries they describe rivers so full of sturgeons or salmon you could reach in and grab them, a caribbean so full of manatees and sea turtles it was difficult for ships to pass through sometimes, something like 50 million bison populated the great plains, which humans reduced down to 200. Passenger Pigeons were thought to be the most numerous animal on the planet at possibly 100 billion, they're all gone now. So the full, entrancing world I remembered from childhood was already a diminished world.

A couple of songs have that diatonic major seventh sound so typical of the era (think 'songbird' (streisand not fleetwood mac)), 'Blind man' starts in C major then moves up to D flat major through ingenious use of A flat suspended, then amazingly the song returns back down in the bridge. 'Happy song' is like that eskimo or whatever pop song played so much on AM radio. Captain Thunder the title track is just pure lush pop bliss.
I hear,
"I'm gonna be tokin', I'm gonna be laughin' like columbus when he found the world was round....
"I'm gonna be flyin' with the people who put magic in the air...
"I'm gonna be sittin with Gagarin as he orbits round the world...
I'm captain thunder, from the seventh sun, and I get around...
Ah!! oh! those seventies lyrics again! They should be included in the next time capsule, for when the future was so full of hope (and petroleum). Or as my wife always puts it, regarding my 70s utopia, "they were all high. That's all."
Even if you don't have a taste for this style, pay attention to the last song. It's well worth the price of admission, as they say, an incredibly orchestral synth block plays a dramatic riff like greek Axis' second album's first song. Then some nifty synth solos are executed over energetic funkishness. It closes with a sung passage with mello-flute.

The cover again is an amazing painting. (Artwork By - Ulf Krüger)

I include tracklist because it's missing on my rip:
A1 Cosmic Lady 4:13
A2 Rhonda 4:22
A3 Window Games 3:03
A4 Gone To Another 3:20
A5 Wake Up My Son 5:18
B1 Captain Thunder 5:18
B2 Tell Me You Love Me 4:54
B3 Happy Song 1:55
B4 Blind Man 4:03
B5 The Latest Star

Electric Bass [Fender], Bells, Bongos, Congas, Drums, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Mellotron, Keyboards [Clavinet], Organ, Piano, Synthesizer [Moog], Timbales, Vocals, Producer - Memo (4)
Engineer, Producer - Frank Reinke
Lyrics By - James Hopkins-Harrison (tracks: A1 to A3, A5, B1, B4, B5)
Lyrics By, Music By - Memo Kurt (tracks: A3 to A5, B2 to B5)

The Latest Star...

Back to the masterpieces again... the last two late great french... Patrice Meyer

Of these two, the first album Racines Croises (1982) is slightly less stellar and features more solo guitar songs. Quality and sound are very similar to Philip Catherine's best work. Even the augmented chords and patterns of open arpeggios remind a lot of the belgian. There are hard and fast quasi-atonal electric songs a la shylock, insanely chilling imaginative progressive tracks like "escalier" which has some smokin fuzzy sustained guitar effects, gorgeous acoustic self-duets (Mystere en diminue)-- no question two patrice meyers are better than one. I think for the apprentice guitarist this album could pretty much teach you everything about progressive guitar music. Listen, and weep! you pale imitators! The final track is reminiscent of the best vintage Alain Markusfeld, piano and guitar duet. But I can pretty much guarantee that, like the best prog out there, you have never heard melodies or chords like these, no 1-4-5 here, no circle of fifths.

The bona-fide masterpiece is Dromadaire Viennois (1986) which was private pressed-- I guess in the days of MTV even in France it was difficult to put out an album with incredible, conservatory-level composition with mixed zeuhl, jazz, rock, and classical elements. Far from a hodge-podge, it is as cohesive as for example Transit Express or Speed Limit from years earlier. Check out the musicians first of all: Hugh Hopper on bass, Pip Pyle on drums, Didier Malherbe, Henri Texier, Jean-Paul Céléa, etc. How can you go wrong? Well, sometimes even those guys went wrong in the eighties... I wish I had known then, when I was trying to shut out Poison and Twisted Sister, that there was something as beautiful as this out there in the world. But that's the great tragedy of life, appreciation comes long after opportunity. And the other tragedy is to be so completely out of tune with reality. Hey, how many of you fans tell everyone at work about your love for 60-70s prog? Oh, the sad shaking of the head... It's almost as bad as when I tell people I don't eat meat because of climate change. This album would really have to wait 20 years to get a truly adoring audience, like the poet Gerald Manley Hopkins. Although I'm jumping the gun here, since everyone might hate it. The cover seems to be the only condescension to eighties fashion, showing an odd banana-like cocktail, with the pink lettering and black background, you could've been tricked into thinking this was just another new wave album. Ah what a great trick that would've been!

Side A is called "the quartet". Amusante Clementine opens with some drumming intro and a repeated 4 note bass riff and moves into some really nice energetic jazzy rock instrumental. Dromadaire Viennios is very much Jacques Thollot, I think clearly Meyer too had a classical musical education. An operatic soprano sings an obbligato over almost baroque chords and flute. But be patient-- like Thollot's stuff, the song quickly slips into progressive chords and some badass electric jamming.

In Rasoir our genius combines a Holst Mars drumming and martial bass rhythm with an incredibly dramatic chord progression moving up in minor seconds and then back down again... the impression is of a huge army marching in the night, an army of robots maybe, or zombies with mullets armed with electric guitars that transform into assault rifles, and with armored shoulder pads, with which to blow away the "new kids on the block" fans... before stopping for some super big gulps at 7-11. Pay attention to the electric guitar solo, which is as far from a standard blues rock solo as you can get, pretty much atonal, give Arnie Schoenberg an axe and let him wail away! I would have loved to have been there in 1986 to play this for people. Although let's not forget even in those days there was a huge fan base of jazz and fusion who could have enjoyed this (less so now probably).
To close we have a side-long composition "Cinq Bucoliques":
a) Les Flocons D'Avoine
b) La Valse Lydienne
c) L'Ecole Buissonniere
d) La Retenue
e) La Recreation
A (very brief) acoustic and soprano intro leads to an acoustic guitar solo with some eerie cello sustained notes. As usual with french music a flute plays atop, feeling very left out but trying to push its way in with some very interesting melodies. We get a middle passage that is very Patrick Gauthier-post-zeuhl, french singing on top of a zeuhl pattern played, believe it or not, by strings! Presumably this is Lécole. Of course the track closes out on a faster note, oddly discordant is a 40s jazz doo-wop passage near the end.
So I present to you some more lost masterpieces, please keep these alive until a better day comes for us.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Voice (German 72)

Completely different direction now...
From record collectors d:

If you believe the liner notes gracing 1972's "To Have a Friend", drummer Joe Antony, multi-instrumentalist Larry Evers, bassist Mike Schwelgen, and lead singer/multi-instrumentalist Kay Wohlsen came together as The Voice in 1971. The four had spent the previous seven years in different bands touring throughout Denmark, Germany, and Scandinavia.

Perhaps someone from Germany can explain this one, but as far as I can figure out their big break was the product of a European talent search sponsored by Radio Luxemburg and the Bahlsen company (best known in the States for making cookies). I don't know if this was an going contest, but the 1972 winner was The Voice with Bahlsen subsequently financing a German tour and a studio album.

That relationship would also explain the back cover photo showing the four members 'playing' a variety of baked goods ...

Musically the album offered up a mixture of popular pop and rock covers and band originals; the latter largely penned by Evers and Wohlsen. While the performances were all pretty good, if you were looking for something totally original then this wasn't the place to start. Exemplified by tracks like 'Old Man' and 'My Lucky Break' these guys wore their influences clearly on their creative sleeves - The Beatles, CSN&Y, and a host of other early-1970s FM staples. To give the band credit, unlike much of their competition, these guys actually managed to generate a bit of energy and enthusiasm on these performances and several of their original compositions were well worth hearing - check out 'I Need Sunshine' and 'Ben O'Brian'.

- 'My Lucky Break' was a peppy slice of radio-friendly rock akin to something Badfinger might have recorded (there was actually a Badfinger cover on side two). Not half bad, if a little bit on the anonymous side. rating: *** stars
- Though it didn't stray far from the original arrangement their cover of Neil Young's 'Old Man' wasn't half bad, Not to sound snide, but what made if worth hearing were the heavily accented vocals ... every time I hear the banjo segment and them singing "Old man look at my life, I'm a lord like you were ..." it brings a smile to my face. rating: *** stars
- One of the standout performances, 'I Need Sunshine' was an attractive, highly melodic rocker with some great harmony vocals and tasty lead guitar from Evers. Imagine what the band Lake would have sounded like if they'd ever managed to get their act together. rating: **** stars
- 'Little Lonely Lady' found the band pursuing a softer, acoustic sound. Not bad, though again not particularly memorable rating: ** stars
- Their cover of Roy Orbison's 'All I Have To Do Is Dream' was pleasant ... Not much more I can say about it. rating: ** stars
- In spite of the awkward English title and the slightly rugged group vocals, 'I Wonna Go Home To Mary Ann' was a nice breezy rocker with a catchy chorus and another enjoyable lead guitar solo from Evers. rating: **** stars
- Side two started with one of the album's catchier numbers. An Evers-Wohlsen original, 'Don't Let Me Down' underscored the band's affection for American, West Coast rock. The result was a nice slice of harmony-rich AOR. rating: **** stars
- 'Piggy-Land' offered up the band's strange attempt at a country-rock number. I'm not sure what the title meant and the lyrics have always been a complete mystery to me. Help from someone out there ??? rating: ** stars
- I think I read somewhere that 'Yesterday' was the rock era's most covered song. This cover added nothing to the song's legacy. rating: ** stars
- So having done a Beatles cover, why not cover a band that built a career of essentially mimicking The Fab Four? Well, their 'Baby Blue' cover was nice enough since it was essentially a straight copy of the Badfinger original. rating: ** stars
- The title track was clearly written for radio exposure, which makes it curious it doesn't seem to have been released as a single. A big, mid-tempo ballad with one of those 'inspirational' lyrics, today it sounds terribly dated, but I'll admit the pop-rock chorus wasn't bad, giving the song a certain cheesy appeal. rating: *** stars
- 'Ben O'Brian' started out as a moody, acoustic guitar propelled ballad, before suddenly morphing into a Monkees-styled jangle rock chorus. Once again the English lyric was quite interesting, though mostly for the clunky translation, but overall the song was actually kind of cool. rating: *** stars

To be perfectly honest, there was absolutely nothing particularly original or life changing on the album, which kind of left you wondering how these guys won their recording contract. On the other hand, the performances were all fairly energetic and enthusiastic which wasn't a bad attribute. I wouldn't bust a gut looking for a copy, but some folks will enjoy this one. (Turns out this one was listed in one of the Hans Pokora books -

I Wanna go Home to Mary Ann...

2 more mega-masterpieces

I would like to repost these 2 that have been available before because they are of very high quality...

In the late seventies, after the demise of UK prog, there was an efflorescence of incredible, advanced german music, exemplified by bands like Nanu Urwerk, Gebarverterli, Tau, and the greatest of them all, Odyssee's White Swan. In this later 'generation' of progressive it seems the earlier harsh organ and guitar style krautprog had been supplanted by more refined musicians who were eager to construct a really elaborate music on a rock basis. Very much a part of this really professionally played music are these two bands, Firma 33, whose punk like cover really belies the contents, and Messengers Children of Tomorrow (there is an earlier album that is not as good), whose cover is equally ridiculous. Both of these from the great german private pressings list are complicated in composition and a shock when first heard.

Firma 33 is very much in pop or rock basis, with a lot of progressive elements, a bit of jazzy or funkish styles thrown in. Check out the quote of christmas song, silent night, in one song--who has ever heard such a thing, a christmas prog song. A lot of the tracks are almost singable, they are that well written.
Messengers is rooted in funk-fusion territory. The first and last songs, be aware, are throwaway songs, go past them. The first is an odd flamenco style 2-chord piece, the last a pure pop radio song. I often talk about how educated these musicians in prog are, well here we have a direct quotation from Rite of Spring, in "Sacrewinsky". A gorgeous minor chord progression leads to some really beautiful flights of fusion-prog fancy, going all over the map, the music changes every 1-2 minutes guaranteed. No long boring jazz solos here, not even a drum solo. Just constant inventiveness, incredible how many musical ideas and keys they put into one composition. Same is true for the masterpiece of the album "Colony suite" which has a hilarious story about conquistadors, crusaders, and the sad tendency for men to conquer other men. The lyrics are so much a part of the seventies, you don't know whether to cry or laugh. A couple of other tracks show the progressive mood of the composers, Funky chick really shows off some elaborate riffs and chords.

These albums definitely should be released to CD soon, in the meantime please enjoy them as much as I have over the years I've listened-- hearing them again yesterday I fell in love all over again.

Stille Nacht...
Colony - Suite...