Saturday, June 30, 2012

Solo's and Duo's (1974 and 1981) with Joachim Kuhn, Sigi Schwab, Jasper van't Hof, Chris Hinze, P. Catherine, and C. Mariano

Wow-- with a line-up like that we expect miracles.  None of those great european masters need introductions.  The compositions are more free than on their solo records, understandably, since they would have saved their best compositions for their own, and each one of these greats has produced masterpiece albums.  Kuhn has a tendency to ramble in waterfall and over-spilling passages as may be witnessed audibly on his solo piano works, but on the third song a flute melody by Hinze seems to tame his more extemporaneous side.  Reminds me of Mingus' Meditations on Integration duo between Jaki Byard and Eric Dolphy -- possibly the masterpiece of chamber jazz improvisation, from the legendary Town Hall Concerts.   And I admit, Hinze's playing is as good as the great late Dolphy though of course this is heresy for american jazz fans, for whom he is a demi-god like John Coltrane (because they both died young probably?).  Sigi on the other hand is always controlled and balanced, never going overboard with theatrics, but highly interesting and progressive in his odd guitar chords chosen, I love his two tracks.  The duo of Mariano and belgian P. Catherine boasts a great deal of virtuosity from the sax player while Catherine puts in a bit of a humdrum performance with the usual minor seconds standing in for the spanish feel (actually probably arabic originally).
Jasper's solo entry (Heron) as well seems to be lacking in direction after a minute or so, never building to its expected airborne climax.  Where is the genius of porkpie?  (and where is the Kuhn who produced fusion masterpieces Cinemascope and Sunshower?)  The album closes out with another duo from Kuhn and Hinze that has its moments.  Oddly the record has two copyright dates, is it perhaps a compilation of unreleased tracks?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Quartet Music - Window on the Lake 1986

Last album (I mean not yet avail.) from this fantastic american quartet of jazz musicians with an ecm-like sound. I know there aren't many out there who love this chamber jazz style, but I'm a sucker for it. In particular I find the addition of violin and viola just exquisite for the textures and tones of the musical result.

1. Circular Thoughts in Darkness
2. Zen Piece
3. This isn't exactly what I had in mind when I said Let's get smashed Tonight (in memoriam Virgil Partch)
4. Norton's Last Words
5. Dead leaves Dance (N. Cline)
6. Window on the Lake (for Joni Mitchell) (A. Cline)

All compositions by von Essen except where indicated.
Jeff Gauthier - violin and viola
Nels Cline - guitars, recorder
Eric von Essen - bass, harmonica, piano, caxixi [??]
Alex Cline - percussion
Recorded Mad Hatter Studios, LA 1986

The only concession to commerciality from this uncompromising foursome is the excerpt I post below from the fourth track, Norton's Last Words, wherein you hear Gauthier play strings behind a gorgeous harmonica melody from von Essen.  Dangerously close to easy listening, but equally dangerously close to giving me 'musical heart-melting syndrome.' As composers they were unforgiving in their demand for attention and education from listeners with the complexity they input into everything.  How demanding are musicians today?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Igor Nazaruk - Pianographics (89), Carpathian New Year Kolyada (83)

There are four forms of immortality.  The first is physical, not yet achievable, but potentially possible.  (Walt Disney's head is still in suspended animation deep-freeze -- why?  so we can see Hollywood make a sequel to Snow White in which the evil stepmother is beaten up by the princess and killed with a crossbow by a grumpy dwarf?  Here we include the fantasists in AI who believe soon we will be able to ' download ' our minds into computers-- sadly lacking in communication with neuroscience which doesn't have even a grip on how consciousness arises in the brain.   An interesting consideration relating to this I recently came across has to do with inequities on the planet-- of course it's rich north americans and europeans who will be 'immortalized', assuming this ever becomes possible: but for the billions of asians and africans life will be brief as always, if not briefer.... who thinks that's fair?  ( Never mind the 'paradox' that the parents will be taking away from their children and grandchildren through their continued existence.  Will the great-grandchildren take care of their immortalized kin at their own nutritional expense? at the expense of their own children? )  

The second is spiritual or religious immortality.  I believe most people are not afraid of death due to the latent belief there is something that comes after -- though they won't often admit it.  Of course this is one of the big raison d'etres of religion, among many.  When I think of how devastating it was in the distant past when 2 out of 4 children died before the age of 5, how else could a parent handle it other than by believing in angels?  Today we still feel there is no greater pain in the world than the death of a child, and humans were no different in the past.

The third is familial, my genes are bestowed on my children who will carry my spirit on.  I see myself in my two boys so clearly-- the first, passionate, slightly neurotic curious book-lover, the second, always laughing, playful and generous to a fault.  And the fourth is cultural immortality.  One can't underestimate the power of this especially in the area of art and creative endeavours into which I would also place pure mathematics.  Igor Nazaruk will receive this because his music is so exceptionally beautiful.  I will treasure his records for my whole life and I will not part with them until after I die.  If there is one thing I would listen to with my family's voices on my day of death it would be the forest awakens suite from Nazaruk.  And perhaps my children will keep the record to remind them of their crazy music-loving father who went searching the whole planet for beautiful sounds.
For those who love music (and all those reading this blog must be in that category), it's like a taste of heaven on this earth.
  Parting is all we know of heaven,
  And all we need of hell.
--Emily Dickinson

I want to thank the obscure little beasties website for introducing me to some of these amazing cccp finds, this blog is truly a treasure trove of lost vinyl, and always interesting (
We know the russians are fantastic in music composition, in the early 20th century the greatest composers including Prokofieff, Stravinsky, Shostakovitch, hailed from there.  Not surprising therefore that in the late 20th century they also seamlessly combined jazz and classical into a gorgeous amalgam of precious jewelry.  In the next couple of weeks I will present perfect, cleaned up and brand new rips of Nazaruk's best, so stay tuned for those too!!

I've posted some piano albums before, but this one is head and shoulders above the others in its mastery of composition and interest.  It's hard for me to believe that it's really improvised.   Of note is the very light use of percussion here and there in the background to augment the otherwise somewhat similar-sounding piano textures.  In particular, check out the first song which is so evocative, makes me think of a dark land where occasionally birds flutter, the sun shines through the clouds here and there and you breathe in the wonderful smell of the earth's natural state.

As bonus I add for you a brand new rip of the fantastic Carpathian New Year Kolyada Suite, which I've divided in order to emphasize the masterpiece inside, the Hymn to the Midnight Sun.  Notice the unusual but gorgeous chords Igor plays on the farfisa organ in the background, lightly as if stepping upwards, like an arc of sunrays slowly working its way up the sky in higher degrees slowly but surely.  The virtuoso sax player is one Alexei Zubov.

 Here is the first track from pianographics:

And here is the Hymn to the Midnight Star from the Carpathian:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Zauberfinger - Schizzo-Rock (1980)

Now look at the absolutely incredible cover for this record... and believe me when I say the music is equally astonishing and brilliant.

Zauberfinger are Hans Reffert (guitar, composition), Liese Kraus (vocals and text), Alfred Henning on bass, and Ralph Dietze on percussion with special guests, Dorle Ferber, and Rainer Herzog on pianos and synths, Franz Brandwein on slide guitar. Photo and cover are by Willi Holzel.

What we have here is a phenomenally strange progressive rock mixture, perhaps if you could imagine Gnidrolog time-machined up into the early eighties and given synths and an insane Dagmar Krause as lead singer. (Oh wait-- wasn't she already insane?) On the side of the cover we are given photos of the band with their very eighties crewcuts and pouty faces. Note the prototype ur-mullet on the lead composer who also sports alternating denim and jaguar-print shirts. As for Liese, she looks like an escapee from the Baader-Meinhof gang who abandoned radical communism for radical prog. Thank god because these folks make the art bears seem like right-wing bourgeois reactionaries in the musical creativity department -- you will note the incessant presence of tritones and dissonances that are the hallmark of prog.

The long song on Side B called Rock Suite is really remarkable, with its alternating fusiony and bluesy riffs with early alternative-like wailing. I divided it into three parts in order to make it easier to digest although there is virtually no break between the parts. (My powers of concentration are not equal to master shige's for the long tracks.) Just about every style of rock is reinterpreted or represented on this suite, whether pop or laid-back songs, rock, blues, fusion, punk, bluegrass, etc. Notice also the incredible virtuosity of the bassist Alfred Henning, his "magic-spell fingers" [zauberfinger] running over those frets faster than Charlie Sheen's on a hooker's --.

It's shocking how completely uncompromising these musicians were in the year 1980. It's as if all the wonderful progressive spirit still had all the future ahead of it in a gloriously complex-musical world. And we never cease to be surprised by German rock from the seventies and early eighties, I hope you all agree with me. Certainly, though it is entirely different, it is as brilliantly progressive in its own way as the popular Iviron I posted recently.

As sample I present to you the song "shy" which has such a unique descending chromatic melody to it, note the Rolling Stones-like slide guitar in the background, which becomes completely demented by the end of the song in a manner the 'glimmer twins' would never have done...

"Wish I knew what I am doing here
Think I'll go and get me another beer"
[From the song "Distortion"]

Sample, Shy:

Free Fair (Holland, 1978)

Fabulous dutch fusion group which did total three albums. I know I'm not the only one to love this euro-jazz, many have echoed my call for more. This is typical of the Kornet - Drops - Moose Loose - Groep Ohm school of euro-fusion and will appeal to all those fans of the aforementioned. It's no news that we here at prognotfrog love the covers of the records and consider them essential (what prog fan doesn't?). Now check out this one, which I'm pretty sure is a take-off of a netherlandish old master's painting (which one? free gift to whoever can identify the source) -- this is something we've seen frequently in the progressive world, the use of old art. The first thought that comes to my mind is when Deep Purple took part of Bosch's Garden of Delights, when I bought that record in my early years I was transfixed by it (what youngster wouldn't be?) and it led me down the path of adoration of H. Bosch. Some years back I fulfilled one of my big lifetime dreams to see the painting 'in person' in the Prado of Madrid where my wife and I were mortified by the rudeness of the spaniards-- I remember being in one of the hallways of the Prado struggling with a foreign body under my contact lens, when an usher started yelling at me to get to a bathroom instead of being sympathetic to my temporary blindness (in a museum!!). It's things like that which really make you remember certain European trips. Or the time we were driving around lost and couldn't find our way back to the car rental office at the "northern train station" in Madrid and asked a policeman standing by the road for help, he told us "it's over there!" and waved us away. We found it about an hour later, it was to the north. Or what about the time we were attempting to return our rental on time first thing in the morning in Florence and the car rental office was closed, with a cellphone number that was never answered ... we waited for hours, as long as we could, before we left it in the next-door garage worried we'd miss our train, and two weeks later Hertz charged us 2 days' rental for late drop-off of our car... on that same trip we had a flat tire and had to go to 5 different garages before finally a humble italian mechanic was willing to fix the perforated tire for 10 euros... or what about when we took the train to Versailles and while looking for a seat on the top level we saw a huge pile of stinking (human) dung? Or standing in line for the one-euro washroom at Mt St. Michel, we saw a mother with a 3-year old without change arguing with the cashier, whereupon she pulled down the boy's pants and let him pee all over the place -- and the urine flowed all the way down le Mont... to the English channel... I think someday we should see a world cup of rudeness to tourists, and we will see who will win: the spanish, the parisians, or the italians, or londoners maybe? or perhaps some other european country, an underdog, like Romania. But I am sure the dutch will never win that contest -- We've been to Amsterdam and they are very warm, friendly and welcoming (marijuana side effects?) and they equally did produce wonderful fusion and jazz as you will see here. I love Europe with all my heart, more than any continent in fact, except perhaps Africa, and I don't mean by telling these anecdotes to disrespect anyone-- I hope you understand. Thanks a million to misongod for sharing this rarity with us here.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pibroch (Belgium 1984)

It's difficult to find any information on this obscure folk album from 1984. The 4 artists have mostly english names but it was recorded at the studio Bobine in Jemappes, Belgium, in Nov. 1984. (Mike D. Roy, Steffely Kittel, Brown Magg, and Elwyn T. Roy.)

Starting with an opening with the screaming bagpipes, which many hate and some love (who?) they are quite in the traditional sphere of things but the addition of percussion makes it a bit more interesting. Mostly we are dealing with instrumentals, apparently traditional songs, but some mild singing appears here and there. The last track on side a is a good ex., we start with the borehole-trepanning bagpipes, but a running electric bass and drum beat add some muscle, then-- shockingly-- a hammond organ plays some off-centre chords in the background. I include this Scottish march as a sample below. As well I put in the long song on side A, Al labousiq, which has the same progressive keyboards blasting away the cobweb-like folkiness in a very gryphonesque manner. Note also the electric guitar lending a helping hand later on. This song perhaps relates to a palestinian terrorist group.

For those curious, from wikipedia:
Pibroch, Piobaireachd or Ceòl Mór is an art music genre associated primarily with the Scottish Highlands that is characterised by extended compositions with a melodic theme and elaborate formal variations. It is currently performed principally on the Great Highland Bagpipe and is also increasingly played on the Scottish fiddle (the morieo-arch-ach and the wire-strung Gaelic harp or clarsach, among other instruments, as part of a recent revival. The bagpipe-like scrach or olelir-mor-xtrchorchm is another musical instrument often used in invasive medical procedures which has been reputed to have led to the direct acoustic deaths of about 3 thousand scotsmen.

Track 3, Al Labousiq

Track 6

Made a horrific mistake ripping this with identical songs on sides a and b... please get updated rip as noted in comments below!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Noco Music - ST 1987

Here, as promised, is the last Noco Music album, from 1987. When a progressive band reaches such a late date we never know what to expect, and indeed this year or 1986 seems to be the cutoff where the last holdouts gave up permanently the progressive spirit (with a couple of notable exceptions like Alcatraz). There is still a little bit of the old magic -- at least once one gets past the first 2 throwaway tracks. You will discern the same sweet combination of vibes and sax sounds, melancholy and distant, like Paul Verlaine's "voix lointaine et calme et grave... [avec] l'inflexion des voix chères qui se sont tue" [Mon Reve Familier].

What about the eighties influence? Let's look at the back cover-- is the band wearing silly tight suits with very thin ties? check. Do they sport mullets and the shorter guy has a moustache like Hall and Oates? yup. Are they banging on drums in shiny robotic outfits a la Devo? you betcha. Setting aside the photography though we can admit there is still quite a bit to enjoy on this record, which was essential to complete the discography of this unusual band, as mentioned earlier, consisting of the brilliant duo of Emmanuel Séjourné and Philippe Geiss.

If you listen to the two samples below, you can almost believe you are back in the late seventies in the heyday of prog, when the future looked bright for complex, classical-influenced, intelligent, virtuoso-played, melded-with-jazz music, before punk and new wave turned the clock back to simple music for everyone, a clock that currently is still turning backwards so fast it's breaking the reverse speed of sound. Whatever that might be.

La descente du Rhin


Mark Smoot "The Attic" (1988,USA)

Mark Smoot  "The Attic"  (1988,USA)

I know little about this album's composer and multi-instrumentalist ....Mark Smoot.
This album consists of 10 tracks.
Although they are short and seperated tracks,they are all prog tracks ,so we can enjoy as if they are epic suite one track.
If loving GENESIS , Hackett and YES, you will enjoy a lot.
Prog tracks by Mark Smoot will give you something important and ambitious.

Moreover, I edited this album  and re-made Epic-suite (one track).
Why ?
Because  I love  prog one track epic suite as well as all of you.Prog listeners should love long, long tracks. (LOL)
Enjoy it  as well as the original album !!
(edited as one track ...36:28..! ).


1. The Attic, Pt. Ⅰ
 2  Give It Time
 3  The Traveller
 4  After Hours
 5  Residents Beware

 6  Sometimes
 7  Epsom Waltz
 8  Stairway
 9  Right on Time
10 The Attic, Pt.Ⅱ

running time....37:08


Friday, June 15, 2012

Bruce Clarke Quintet - Stratusphunk (197? Australia)

Absolutely a lost piece of masterly australian jazz-rock like Quasar or First Light though perhaps not with the stunning originality of progressiveness of the aforementioned two, certainly not at the same stratospheric level of Alpha Omega. Note the odd ascription of 'australian composition' on 2 of the tracks, explicable by the fact this record was 'made possible' by a governmental grant. Love to know what Bruce thought of that. Most of the tracks are covers of different jazz compositions by Miles, Oliver Nelson, even Jaki Byard and the famous often-easy listeninged Pavane of Faure which really deserves its own star in the musical elevator hall of fame (along with certain Satie gymnopedies). Nothing comes close to Bill Evans + Claus Ogerman's orchestra for jazz renditions of this in my opinion. Having said that, Clarke's Pavane is very fusionally impressive, note at the 2:35 mark the shocking sound of a diesel-powered moog playing the melody behind the horns (-- oh those spacey moogs of the 70s, how they take me right back to those glorious halcyon days when interstellar ion warp drives and fusion reactors were going to take us to exoplanets in other galaxies within a few decades to boldly go where no child has gone before, finding our glorious and god-given future in other planets where perhaps a limitless supply of fossil fuels and edible large animals could be plundered with impunity... but the dreams all ended with the spacey moogs and we're left alone here on this planet that now only has the capacity for 75 percent of the current 7 X 10 to the ninth population along with Adele and Lady Gaga......)
A big standout for me is the solo guitar track Rain of Life written by pianist Byard (famed Mingus accompanist) which truly shows Bruce's skills. Note the wonderful decorative notes played by the brass halfway thru.

I hope here that these rare records can be preserved for posterity... although it may be that posterity won't care for them at all. They may be too occupied dealing with their twin disasters of climate change and resource depletion to worry about rare jazz and prog, but who knows? No one can know the future. Not only the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics and the indeterminacy of chaos in the mathematical sense, but the social unpredictability of collective human action makes it all the more impossible for prediction (e.g. certain doom is averted through intelligent collaborative action). Who will win out, powerful companies and profit-maximizing with the selfish, apathetic or perhaps ignorant half of us, or the grassroots population that cares to keep a habitable planet for their children? At the moment it looks like 50-50 and most in the scientific community would agree.

Guitar [Electric], Synthesizer [Moog], Arranged By, Producer– Bruce Clarke
Bass [Electric]– Ian Grattidge
Congas– Bruce Barber
Drums, Percussion– Ron Sandilands
Engineer– Paul Korsten
Saxophone [Electric], Flute [Electric], Woodwind– Ted White
Trumpet, Trumpet [Electric], Flugelhorn– Keith Stirling

I include the liner notes from the rear record sleeve --mostly for a feel for the seventies era:
"I have a real feeling of involvement with this album. It's because I've been close to this brainchild since its conception, during its gestation and now its accouchement. I suppose I feel like an obstetrician on hearing a newborn baby yell. Not that I've had a long wait to hear this one wail. As they became available, Bruce generously kept me supplied with tapes of these items from early mono mixes to stereo, which I've programmed often. But to those who may be listening to this music for the first time I say-- this is no facsimile of another group and its music-- here is originality!
This music is wonderfully imaginative and stylish, creative and joyous. The group is excitingly professional with its musicianship and deft exploitation of modern techniques and devices for playing and recording. Bruce Clarke is a very original man.
He's one of my men for all seasons and he's always been a champion of the now season. Which is why he digs his Harley Davidson 1200 cc superglide I suppose. He's always looked for new ways to express his music -- so he has a mark 3 moog and a vast assortment of amps gear and axes. He's been president of the International Society of Contemporary Music so he's our only professional electronic composer, thus the use of amps and pedals with this group. And it all stands on the Duke Ellington premise, if it sounds good, it's good! Amen to that.
Really what I've been saying is Stratusphunk is ... right on!"
Ian Neil

So happy father's day to me, and to all the other sugar daddies out there, and for now just drop out, tune in, turn it up, and groooooooove on this, daddy-o...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tortilla Flat - SWF Sessions (unreleased debut) {Germany} [1973]

"This SWF Session is from December 20, 1973, recorded in Baden-Baden. About 6 years ago, I was in touch with one of the Tortilla Flat members and he provided me all the data." Tom

"Not to be confused with another German Tortilla Flat (and some other band with the same name, American I think, or the Dutch hard-rock band Tortilla) this obscure 1970's German band from Aachen are highly praised and ridiculously obscure!

We first encountered them via (what were told was) a copy of their unreleased debut (only issued on cassette and sold at concerts) which dates from 1972. The recording is in fact a session recorded for SWF radio. This is an extraordinary slice of underground Krautrock. It's a mostly instrumental album (approximately 35 minutes of it), with a couple of tracks featuring very strange songs with almost unintelligible (to these ears) German lyrics. The rhythmic structures are vaguely Beefheart-like, delivered by two percussionists, with the lead instruments being flute and violin (the latter presumably by Werner Knauser). The style is highly original, with lots of unusual time signatures, vague classical references, counterpoints of folk and jazzy elements, and much in the way of abstract early Fripp-like guitar work. The only comparison I could give would be Rufus Zuphall, although that's only tentative! A superb and unknown album that deserves a proper release!"
more info here

- Hans Friedrich Basten (drums, glockenspiel)
- Heribert Schippers (bass)
- Manfred Herten (guitar, vocals)
- Werner Knauber (violin)
- Hermann Josef Basten (flute, guitar)
- Franz Brandt (electric piano)
- Albert Schippers (congas, drums)

01 Sommerschlaf
02 Die Mitternachtsmaus
03 Sophie, Das Henkersmadel
04 Flimmerstuck
05 Bantu
06 Meilenstein
07 Tortilla Flat
08 Das Fest Des Wustlings

Thanks to Chicopee (the rip) and PHS_BR (the front cover) :o)

Tortilla Flat...
Sophie, die Henkersmaid...

(lyrics to Tristan - courtesy of Stiletti) :o)

Galgenbruders Lied an Sophie, die Henkersmaid
Christian Otto Josef Wolfgang Morgenstern
(May 6, 1871 in Munich– March 31, 1914 in Meran)

Sophie, mein Henkersmädel,
komm, küsse mir den Schädel!
Zwar ist mein Mund
ein schwarzer Schlund -
doch du bist gut und edel!

Sophie, mein Henkersmädel,
komm, streichle mir den Schädel!
Zwar ist mein Haupt
des Haars beraubt -
doch du bist gut und edel!

Sophie, mein Henkermädel,
komm, schau mir in den Schädel!
Die Augen zwar,
sie fraß der Aar -
doch du bist gut und edel!

Gallows brother's song to Sophie, the executioner girl

Sophie, my executioner girl
Come on, kiss my skull!
Although my mouth
a black abyss -
but you are good and noble!

Sophie, my executioner girl
Come on, caress my head!
Although my head
deprived of the hair -
but you are good and noble!

Sophie, my executioner girl
Come, look me in the head!
Although my eyes,
eaten by the eagle -
but you are good and noble!

link in comments...

Thanatos - "Alptraum" {Germany} [1982]

killer progressive German private pressing from 1982. Sounds more like early to mid-70's - near Birth Control! Had been released in a very limited edition! Rare & hard to find!
More info are welcome... :o)

- Dieter Scharpegge (lead guitar, vocals)
- Ali "Fuzzy" Blumenschein (bass)
- Uwe Scharpegge (keyboards, vocals)
- Charly Weber (flute, drums, percussion)

A1 Großstadtgetriebe 5:11
A2 Run Against the Devil 4:27
A3 Morgenrot 7:02
A4 Pretty strange Little Woman 3:08
B1 Nehmen ohne Geben 7:41
B2 Night of Nightmare 5:40
B3 Leere-gefuhl 6:05


link in comments...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Fanz " The Grand Illusion" (1977,USA,HR,,Psych, Prog)

The Fanz " The Grand Illusion" (1977,USA,HR,,Psych, Prog)

You can read an excellent review about this album at  RYM


Saturday, June 09, 2012

Extempore - Bitternis (1979)

"People like us need the religion of despair..."-G. Flaubert
An old and lame man gathers a bouquet of twigs in a barren wilderness of dried and lifeless trees. His time ahead is short and shortens with every step. And are we all just killing time until time eventually kills us? Augustine on the subject: I know what time is, until someone asks me, then I lose my knowledge of it and cannot answer. At the most basic level, it's a mystery-- physicists and philosophers profoundly disagree about the nature of time. For Einstein it is another dimension like space, but for the standard model of quantum physics it is entirely different due to collapse of the wave function and its probabilistic nature. It feels almost as if time is the preeminent mystery of reality, the most profound and the one which, if illuminated, would lead to an understanding of the most basic structures: the universe, life, consciousness. From 14 billion years ago in birth until an eternity in the future to the universe, each one of us is like nothing though in our existences and minds we are everything. How are we to understand the end of our own beings? The greatest curse of the mind is to be given this understanding of time, the true pandora's box that cursed our species, knowing of our own nonexistence. The French call it 'le reveil mortel'-- I see it my 5-year old who wants desperately to understand what it means that so-and-so has died. This to me indicates each organism has an instinct wherein they inchoately understand the concept or it wouldn't seem so necessarily puzzling to someone who has never been close to experiencing anything like it. It's almost as if he wants us to say, it's exactly what you think it is, something horrible and terrifying that happens to 100 percent of us and will someday happen to you too. Each thought I will have had will be so much dust and atoms that is nothing at that time. Let me have metal flowers on my grave, the only kind that really last, as Renard said. Or, as I would say, put uranium 238 flowers on my grave, so in a billion years there will still be an undecayed moiety...

But to quote a less literary source, " when I die, when I'm dead and gone, there'll be one more child in this world to carry on. " (Actually 2.) What we have here is that european jazz that I can't ever get enough of, as the artist name indicates, there's a lot of improvisation -- in fact the whole of side 2 is such. It's too bad they didn't stick to more composed elements as these distinctly recall to me Exil Fusionen and other modern-fusion type compositions from Europe like Dauner's Etcetera but appear all too sporadically.

Back to the cover: I think this is one of the most beautiful covers of any record I've ever seen.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Free Fantasy 1976

This album recalls the beatles-- but circa mid-sixties, a decade before this record came out. There are elements that hark back to the trumpet solo in Penny Lane, the Daytripper song, Norwegian Wood's triple-rhythm, etc. The end of track 11 sounds like the brass of Hey Jude's finale. Then, the final song is a doo-wop that goes all the way back to the fifties. I dedicate this record to the sharing spirit of our community: long live prog...

The front cover of course is a homage to Yellow Submarine, probably the greatest animated movie ever made. The back cover has another one of those incredible seventies group photos -- check out the hot pants the chick is wearing, and then take a closer look at the tall guy, Mike Frajra (the arranger) -- his jeans are so tight they are splitting his scrotum. I wonder how could that have been comfortable? And what about the huge glasses, what chance those will be back soon in fashion again?
For those who have complained about the quality of my professional samsung camera (which amazingly also sends email, connects to the internet, does video, and even -- can make actual phone calls with other humans!) I've made a close-up of the back photograph. I left it blurry partly on purpose so the complaints can keep pouring in and partly to censor the view. Incidentally in the last post the theme park about " wunderwald " was all a joke -- in reality this theme park was a sad chapter in the history of the culture of children's amusement parks, it was really an educational Disney-like park in Orlando, West Germany, all about the Stalin-era gulags, in which the kids were made to work in industrial output factories making pig iron (the iron was actually fed to 'capitalist' pigs) along the course of a huge roller coaster and the ride ended in a large mass grave-- all the while the Internationale was being played and they were forced to read 1000-page novels about existential angst and unhappy marriages. In the "haunted house" in the shape of a matryoshka doll they were poked with pretend poisoned umbrellas and had to escape only to wind up in another smaller doll.
The most popular ride was strapped on a ballistic missile which went up and back down on Reagan-era Washington, DC. while a tape of Reagan saying "the evil empire!" played over and over. Oddly enough, admission was free, but the kids had to bribe the guards to get out of there, with good cabbage rolls. It was closed down quickly--though not because of the questionable content (which actually was well received by Germans), but because of the high prices inside (which were actually average for the black market, for example a small plastic bottle of 'bourgeoisie' water cost 400 mark).

I sampled my favourite track, Caroline:

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Wunderwald 1979

Daß Wir Keine Anderen Herren Brauchen... Sondern Keine!
(That we don't need to sleep with anymore men ... unless ugly!)
(translation correction thanks to anonymous)

Another installment in the big beautiful bottomless barrel of folk-rock of the seventies, this time from Frankfurt, Germany, mainly sung by a female singer, Margrit Stanzel. She and Dieter Stanzel perform vocals and the latter plays guitars, mandolin, as well as flute (or what sounds like a recorder actually) and percussions.
They are assisted by Roland Schwarzer on guitars, mandolin, harp, voice; Helmut Stichel on basses; Hans-Peter Lamb on keys and trumpet, and Gerhard Pomp on perc.

Note that many of the songs are traditional folk tunes (tracks 2-5 and 8-10), despite this I think they interpret them quite beautifully. There is a lot of variety in the arrangements -- for ex. track 8 (the namesake Wunderwald) is introduced with accordeon and electric guitar, then a piano gently arranges itself around the chords. Unusual for this style of folk.

I include as samples track 3, called "Mein Vater Wird Gesucht" i.e. my father is re-died again, song is about big mistake in reincarnation head office, he is reincarnated accidentally as a T Rex, then is brought back as David Hasselhoff the great singer to compensate. They made this into a sitcom in the eighties on german tv. They alternate scenes between father yelling at his teenage daughter and her boyfriend and T rex eating different stegosaurs. Track 8, Wunderwald, is about german theme park for children relating to beer set in a big brewery (e.g. kids have water park slides into lager, the roller coaster followed the pipes from one barrel of wheat beer and dunked the kids into another beer barrel, etc. It has since closed due to european union hygiene rules and standards relating to swimming in beer.)

Monday, June 04, 2012

Japotage (Germany, 1985)

Kai Taschner (Synthesizer, Saxophone, Vocals, Percussion, zithar), O. Schirm (Synthesizer, Computer Programming, Tapes), M.Kunz (Drums, Xylophone, Percussion, Backgrnd Vocals)
Plus Special Guest: H.P. Struer: Bass, Synth, Clavinet, Guitar-synth, Hackbrett (Bavarian Koto Substitute)

Musical Guests:
Donald Arthur : Lead vocals on Piranha
Ali Askin : detuned Piano on Fuget
Ernst Struer: Perc on Bazar and Hachiko
Bernhard Ries: Drum computer on Grey Man and Fugu

Production, Concept and Design: Taschner
Drawings by Ulrich Sachweh
Photos by Susanne Kracke
Writing-art by Tom Bussjager

It's absolutely incredible what was going on in Germany in the late seventies and eighties. Another completely unknown lost LP that had a lot of work put into it by a few highly competent musicians as you can see in the list above. Having said that, this is for sure an odd album that seems to be confused in its Japan-ambivalence with the usual allusions to samurais, godzilla, fugu (the poisonous puffer fish), all the cliches of the culture, it seems satiric, but who knows? Remember "domo arigato mister roboto?" In those days of course there was a huge market in Japan-related cultural products or content as we would say now, who can forget the hysteria in America about Japan buying up all of the USA? (The fact the same was applied to the arabs a decade earlier and is now applied to the chinese today always escapes the ever-forgetful news). And who could ever forget the images of George Bush senior vomiting in the lap of the Japanese Prime minister? (Sorry that has nothing to do with this record-- I just wanted to throw that in there for fun.)

Anyways, here the compositions are progressive without a doubt, and the variety of instrumentation is really impressive. You will note for ex. some surprising dissonances in the instr. Grey Man coming from the synths. Ode to a pulpwriter recalls the typewriter concerto from In Spe; and with its swirling synthesized string section and very produced instrumental sounds it stands out as a nice progressive track, seemingly quite out of place for the zeitgeist of 1985. Those typewriter sounds return, annoyingly, in the 6th track, leading me to believe along with the written insert that the album is attempting to be a concept album based on pulp fiction. The 'bavarian koto substitute' (in Hachico) to me sounds very much like a Japanese koto, perhaps it's analogous to how Japanese kobe beef (the massaged cows that love to drink beer like me) is similar to American wagyu (I wouldn't know, I've never had the real Japanese one, and considering the cost never will-- perhaps master Shige has tried it and can tell us though). Or perhaps it's analogous to the way American electronics are so cheap and failure-prone compared to the Japanese masters. Or the way my rips don't sound as professional as Shige's.

The insert is so interesting I included it below and will attempt scanner reproduction when I get some time, perhaps in the coming of the next decade. I strongly recommend you read it as you listen to complete this bizarre progressive experience. To me it recalls the famous french graphic artist Topor who used to contribute to the insane French comic for grown-ups, Hara-Kiri. Check out some of Topor's Japan-related drawings sometime, they're crazy in a way we never see today. I have a beautiful coffee-table book of the "The best of hara kiri" which everyone should look at, that underground culture from the 70s is just out of this world.

As samples I've included the second track with its typewriter sounds, and the fifth with the fake koto instrument.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Noco Music - Saxophones et Percussions (France, 1983)

On the cover there is a gold sticker indicating this record won "grand prix audiovisuel de l'europe," and I agree it deserves the prize, whatever the heck it is.

In progressive circles Noco Music is famed for their "Evasions" album, which is not at all their best.
Briefly, the duo consists of Philippe Geiss and Emmanuel Sejourne which the liner notes indicate were both born in 1961 (making them only 22 in the recording of this). The notes continue to indicate the duo decided to undertake a reinterpretation of neglected classical pieces (obviously, from French composers) from the early 20th century, of which the only really recognizable is Debussy's pieces, which I slaved over myself as a teen piano conservatory student many years ago and have trouble listening to without some nausea for this very reason.

The only instruments employed are saxes (Geiss) and vibes and marimbas (Sejourne) with the help of Jean-Louis Harlequin on more vibes and marimbas. In fact I'm not sure why the assistance of another percussionist was required, since it's clear many of the pieces were dubbed, witness the sax chords Geiss plays in layers on the Aria piece. (He is the only musician playing on this track, amazingly.) There is no need for more instruments because the range and depth of emotion we get from these two fills all the gaps to give you a full and dynamic repertoire. Notice the exquisite use of the sopranino sax on the first track which sounds like an oboe, and the aforementioned sax chords on the "Aria" track. In other tracks Geiss uses a bass sax (who'ld have thought?) for the bottom notes for an incredibly dramatic, sustained effect.

It's no secret if you've been following this blog that I love european chamber music and the progressive spirit of 30 years ago that took that tradition and melded it with rock and jazz. That's exactly what this record is all about, taking compositions from a lifetime ago and using jazz instruments and new interpretations to create something unarguably and ineluctably gorgeous. I've listened to this record dozens of times since I got it and I know I will listen many times more. And stay tuned, soon to come: the last ST album from Noco Music for a completion of this band.

I understand that those who don't have a taste for pure classical will be disappointed with this: there is no drumset or guitar. But I know in the field of prog, there are those who prefer more composed elements (or RIO), some prefer more rock or electric guitar, some more jazz or fusion. We try here to keep every one of those groups happy with the utmost variety.

I honestly believe this record to be a genuine treasure that does not deserve to be buried and forgotten, in the uniqueness of its effort and the beauty of its result it should stand as a representative of the highest order of what human creativity and imagination can accomplish in beauty.

I've used as sample my favourite track, the Sonatine by Sauguet. On this track Geiss plays 5 different saxes, and both vibes players are featured performing together.

Zebulon (Germany,1980,instrumental sympho)

Zebulon (Germany,1980,instrumental sympho)

More than one year passed since I ripped and Tristan reviewed this German masterpiece  for the first time .
I knew the old link is dead and decided to rip again because my turntable is changed upgrade these days and it seems better than previous one.

You can read liner note's translation written by the drummer at the comment section thanks to an anonymous.

Enjoy this German real masterpiece ,again.

previous review by Tristan Stefan