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For the past three years MoMA has been showcasing the ways in which music and art connect and collide in New York City in a series called "Looking at Music." The first two installments focused on the Sixties and Seventies and the current installment (3.0) takes us to the present. The exhibition launches with Kraftwerk's 1977 “Trans- Europe Express” and then roars through the Eighties (Spike Lee’s video for Public Enemy's “Fight the Power”) and Nineties (The Residents CD ROM!) and comes to rest in the early oughts (audio visual awesomeness from Le Tigre).
Curator Barbara London told me she's received a good part of her education from going to clubs and taking with artists who have a foot in both the music and art worlds. One of the artists featured in 3.0 is Christian Marclay who has a number of pieces in the show including a few of his jeweler hacked LPs. Marclay's "The Clock" was all the rage this past winter and 3.0 offers a glimpse of Marclay's early remixing experiments. London says she is more interested in Remixing as a language than as a copyright problem and that the conversation might require another installment, Hello 4.0! Here is an excerpt from our conversation:
The show runs through June. On the MoMA website you can find a full schedule, there is a film series that runs with the exhibit. And if can't make it to the museum here is a video about Marclay's early work.
Lately, this seems to be the header on my cineast's dance card—films that engage, even entrance, through all-too-believable depictions of human frailty and psychoses. These are far from horror films, in the traditional genre sense at least, the horror in these stories being all too potentially real. As the self-appointed chronicler of "bad news" in radio form, My Castle of Quiet presents these recently viewed recommendations, none of the lot are particularly new, though I'll add without jest that one should watch these films at one's own discretion, and...try to keep a sunny outlook.
The Free Will (2006) - Visually unadorned, like the films of the Dogme 95 school, The Free Will is a bleak tale of love on the fringes, that between a serial rapist, a repeat offender in and out of prison, and a woman he meets through his work, the daughter of a print-shop owner who has quietly endured years of sexual abuse at the hand of her own father. The pair are drawn together, amounting to the most "normal" love the other has and likely ever will know, though inevitable tragedy hovers throughout even the most hopeful moments of this film like a patient buzzard. Despite the unflinching and thoroughly disquieting subject matter, the raw drama of The Free Will is almost guaranteed to engage and provoke.
The Living and the Dead (2006) - Through a series of coincidental mishaps, a very ill woman must spend several days in the care of her adult son, who is himself plagued by complex mental retardation, with hallucinations and severe OCD. Though he tries his best to look after "mummy," while the statesman father of the family is off on an emergency, desperately trying to save his crumbling career, James the son is simply too ill-equipped and medication-dependent to manage his own life, much less that of a severely ailing woman. A devastating story, nonetheless extremely well done.
Troubled Water (2008) - An understated, earnest and powerful performance by the lead actor, and a grand style of almost Kubrickian photography, make this perhaps the most readily palatable of this particular quartet of films. At the very least, there is something "full" or "complete" about Troubled Water, though one would be hard pressed to call it uplifting. A soft-spoken man of about 30 is released from Norwegian prison, and pursues his only possible career direction—one established before his incarceration—as a Church organist. Though he's quite talented, most in his little home town would just assume not have him back, considering the nature of his past crime, albeit committed when he was still an adolescent. It's a small story about big problems, in a way an interesting companion piece to The Free Will, as both films deal with the desperate attempts of individuals to reintegrate into straight society despite the aberrant psychotic behavior of their past.
Primo Amore (2004) - A rigid and solitary goldsmith initiates a romance with a lonely but charming woman he meets on a blind date. There's just one problem, she needs to be "about 10 kilos thinner" in his view, and through subtle manipulation that evolves insidiously over the months into torture and self-denial, the need for love and companionship locks both parties in an eventually explosive cycle of abuse. It's one of those films you'll feel bad saying you "liked," but it's nonetheless strikingly human and effective.
For horror buffs who may follow my posts (and ironically, lighter fare) throw on the pile Salvation's DVD of the little-known Bloody New Year (1987), a UK production, directed by Norman J. Warren, more well known himself for British B classics like Alien Prey, Terror, Satan's Slave and Horror Planet. Bloody New Year would appear at first to be an amalgamation of the American slasher films of that era, but quickly evolves into a wildly supernatural tale of old ghosts and the living dead in a seaside hotel. Bloody New Year borrows from both The Evil Dead and The Redeemer, but Salvation almost never serves us up crap, and this one has enough original ideas to keep horror diggers pleased and engaged, with some extremely oddball makeup and several thrilling kill scenes. That comparatively playful, though well-crafted, genre films like Norman Warren's can be considered "lighter fare" in comparison to the titles discussed above, speaks first to the stark neo-realism of those films, as well as the "warm-fuzzy" that can now be achieved by some of us, through watching these older, more straightforward and escapist horror tales.
A slightly different draft of the above originally posted over at the My Castle of Quiet blog.
Give the Drummer Some's
Favorite Downloads from the MP3 Blogosphere
Some captivating sounds await in this week's crop of platters: The voice of Derroll Adams, simultaneously soothing and haunting; Bo Diddley, channeling a Yiddish-warbling Paul Robeson (on "I Don't Like You," wow!); and Koes Plus, the so-called "Indonesian Beatles," sounding more '70s Laurel Canyon than '60s Liverpool. But the offering here I personally find most knee-knocking is the unvarnished funk from Mali's Moussa Doumbia.
A veritable boat-load of old African funk and soul records have been reanimated over the past decade, but to my ears none match the scorching intensity of Moussa Doumbia's mid-'70s masterpieces (lovingly compiled with extensive liner notes by Oriki Music in 2007) . Look no further than the title track, "Keleya," which is provided here in two dosages, regular (the shorter, 45rpm version that was first given wide distribution on Luaka Bop's Love's a Real Thing, back in 2005) and extra-strength (the nearly 11-minute-long album version with Doumbia's sax solo, and more, intact). Give a listen and see why, in the review for my Favorites of '07 list, I called this "maybe the greatest single-disc trove of African funk ever released."
Pick your potion...
Moussa Doumbia ~ "Keleya"
(Blog: Exp Etc )
Soul Brother #1A
More gushing verbiage from my Favorites of '07 write-up:
"Doumbia seemingly conjured, on a nightly basis, the very soul of Soul Brother No. 1 itself. His massive funk workouts featured all the withering, from-the-gut grunts and squeals, but they were layered over a dense thicket of his native Dioula rhythms—along with, of course, skronking horns and skanky guitars."
Derroll Adams ~ "Portland Town"
(Blog: Time Has Told Me)
Ramblin' Jack's Traveling Buddy
Posted back in 2008 at the treasuresome Time Has Told Me, the link for this collection of timeless ditties is blessedly still working. (The fellow who shared this, Markus, describes Derroll Adams as having "a wonderful voice, deep like an ocean, warm like a summerbreeze and soft like silk.")
[Please stop by for a visit and leave a kind thought for the blog's host, Lizardson, who is based in Japan. In a recent post he sent reassuring word that he's safe.]
Bo Diddley ~ "The Black Gladiator"
(Blog: Flabbergasted Vibes)
Bo Knows Guitar
"This album could serve as a sampler of Bo's wide talent, amply displayed on an equally wide range of top choice material. If your blues must come from the deepest reaches of Bo's own patented gut-bucket, then there's "Power House," "Shut Up, Woman," (a great "talking" blues tune) and a song which defies the gutbucket tag only, "Black Soul." If your taste leans towards a slightly more up-tempo offering, then "Hot Buttered Blues" and "I've Got a Feeling" will fit neatly into your bag. If, like me, you get a kick collecting Bo's "personal" tunes, then you'll flip behind "You, Bo Diddley." Then, if you laugh until your stomach hurts, you'd better ingest some aspirin before you pay too much attention to "I Don't Like You," in which Bo uses his best operatic voice to play the dozens with his irate woman. I predict that Bo's "Funky Fly" will not only be a smash in its own right, but will probably spawn a national dance craze as well." (From the liner notes, by Dave Potter, Chicago Daily Defender)
Koes Plus ~ "Hard Beat, Volume 1"
Tonny Koeswoyo, Yon Koeswoyo, Yok Koeswoyo, Jon Koeswoyo PLUS Kasmuri
"Koes Plus, Indonesia's most beloved pop music treasure, has an incredibly interesting history. Aside from the fact that this is a '70s Indonesian band unmistakably influenced by the British Invasion and that they were successful and popular enough to record over 40 albums during the '70s alone and spawn dozens of tribute bands over the years while remaining largely unknown throughout the rest of the world (piqued your interest yet?), the group's tale is somewhat legendary. Politics, rebellion, arrests, destroyed recordings, plane crashes…" (Crawford Philleo, Foxy Digitalis )
Mr. Holland's Opuses
Pimple-faced dumpster divers have quibbled over the boastful titles on these choice comps since their issuance. But what's the point? Can't we be funk lovers not fighters!
Listen to my radio show Give the Drummer Some—Tuesdays 6-7pm, on WFMU and Fridays 9 to noon—on WFMU's web stream Give the Drummer Radio.
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On Tuesday morning, Silk Flowers returned to WFMU for a live performance on Marty McSorley's show. Check out the archive to hear the NYC-area band that sound like Ian Curtis reunited with New Order, "just jamming on some synths in the back of the club, dancing with ghosts." For the record, Marty's show is on on Tuesday mornings from 6 to 9 AM (web-only).
Diane Kamikaze welcomes back doom masters Batillus -- on Tuesday afternoon, tune into Diane's Kamikaze Fun Machine for a great set of their harrowing metallic hymns. The band's first full-length release, Furnace, will be coming out soon on the Seventh Rule label; you can also go here for info about their special tour pressing from SXSW. Listen 3/29, from noon to 3 PM!
Rock-media personage Eddie Trunk will join Kurt Gottschalk on Miniature Minotaurs Wednesday. Trunk, host of VH1's That Metal Show and Q104's Friday Night Rocks, is also the author of the forthcoming book Eddie Trunk's Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. He'll talk with Kurt about the finer points of Great White vs. Whitesnake vs. White Zombie, plus other topics. Listen live on 3/30 from noon to 3 PM.
Later on Wednesday, get excited for the Jacuzzi Boys on the Evan "Funk" Davies Show! Miami's garage-y rock champions, fresh from the Bruise Cruise and anticipating a new LP soon on the Hardly Art label, will kill with a special performance on Evan's show of 3/30 from 9 PM to midnight. They have a live LP that came out recently from Jack White's Third Man Records.
Immediately after that, Noah will talk with author Brian Coleman, who'll also spin some records. If you're as yet unaware, tune in to find out about Coleman's Check The Technique, one of the most crucial books about hip hop from the past 20 years. Bonus: anyone who can guess the theme of the show as it's playing will win a copy of the book. Wednesday night/Thursday morning, 3/31, from midnight to 3 AM.
Finally, Put The Needle On The Record broadcasts live from Dublin as the peripatetic Billy Jam visits his homeland this week. Listen as Billy and the Irish punk-poet Jinx Lennon (r.) wander the streets of the city center or centre, visiting various landmarks and playing some DJ sets along the way. The live remote will happen on Friday 4/1, from 3 to 6 PM. Enjoy, friends.
Capillary Action is a group comprised of intense musical changes, soaring arrangements, and on their latest album, Capsized, they do this using only acoustic instruments. To hear these speedy, disjointed playing tunes being played with the most passionate concentration is a worthwhile, interesing experience, especially considering the fact there is neary a distorted electric guitar or bass present on the record.
Capillary Action is currently embarking on a 6 month tour, with a stop in NYC at Le Poisson Rouge on April 7th. Along the way, the band will be playing dates with Lightning Bolt, Wolf Eyes, Dengue Fever, Nisennenmondai, Group Doueh, Soft Circle, and Charles Hayward of This Heat.
Check out with my interview with Jonathan Pfeffer, frontman and composer of Capillary Action after the jump. We discuss the idea of composition versus improvisation, more comical side of touring with Primus, meeting Craig Wedren, and more...
Whoa! There's a British version of Kickstarter called Crowdfunder?
Sample-happy WFMU DJ Ergo Phizmiz is trying to raise funds to produce a play, full info is here!
We knew from the beginning that the marketing campaign was really going to make or break the whole project, so we had to choose our language very carefully. That meant “serf” and “indentured servant” were out immediately—too much historical baggage—and "licensee" and "lessee" were too legalistic, not enough implied fun. So we performed the Thunk Tank mind meld, and came up with the answer almost immediately: “Contestant!”
The word implied a sense of promise and great potential, but with no guarantees. Winners would succeed in a great meritocracy, while losers had no one to blame but themselves. “Citizen,” I mean, what a burden, what a dull stink of responsibility that has, but “contestant”… well, hot damn, a contestant gets a moment in the spotlight, the opportunity to vie for greatness. “Contestant” rhymes with “celebrity” and celebrities are sexy. “Congratulations! You’ve been selected to be a contestant on the town formerly known as Munising!” It was brilliant.
Rick Snyder has the name of a game show host and the face of a traveling vacuum cleaner salesman. He’s a businessman, a venture capitalist, and a self-described nerd. I actually don’t think he pushed through the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act as a salvo against Working Class America, or as a nefarious power grab for the oligarchy. I think he truly believes the gospel of corporate efficiency and—as nerds often do—confused a “rational” choice for a “good” choice, without really comprehending the inevitable consequences of his plan. Like many nerds, he’s also a sucker for flashy PowerPoint presentations, and like many corporate executives he’s a sucker for jargon-riddled, buzzword-referencing executive summaries, and this is where we saw our opening.
Michigan had budget problems, and thanks to the LGaSDFA Act, if the governor thought a town was almost broke, and local officials weren’t cooperating with the state to resolve the problems, good ol’ Rick could appoint a Financial Manager to step in and play Sim City with real people. Managers could default on bonds, ignore union demands, rearrange schools … hell, they could disincorporate and merge whole towns if they wanted! For obvious reasons, becoming Financial Managers seemed like a highly desirable position for us, and so we used some of Bronwyn’s connections to certain Olds to get an audience with the Rickster and explain how he was looking at a real crisitunity here.
It seems unlikely that a scrawny, disheveled kid wearing a sailor hat and oversized military coat could actually hold power over one hundred people, let alone convince them he was God. A 1966 Oscar-nominated film called Festival is the closest look at this man we have today. The stark, black and white, cinema-vérité style documentary follows the goings-on at The Newport Folk Festival. It opens with a shot of Mel Lyman, flashing a toothy grin, playing harmonica with The Jim Kweskin Jug Band. He appears happy and sweet, young and sheepish. He looks like he could be the malnourished spokesperson for a brand of fish n’ chips. Many conclude that Charles Manson modeled himself after him.
Three years later Dick Cavett spoke into a television camera. “Will you welcome please Daria Halprin and Mark Frechette!” With that the young couple walked across the stage of The Dick Cavett Show and shook hands with fellow panelists Mel Brooks and Rex Reed. The two young stars of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point didn’t smile. They didn’t wave to the audience. They sat down and stared off camera. It was one of the most awkward interviews Dick Cavett would ever conduct. Each question was greeted with long moments of hesitation. The interview subjects acted as if they were appearing against their will.
Not long after that awkward televised exchange, Frechette watched a close friend go down in a hail of bullets. Frechette himself would die under mysterious circumstances when he was asphyxiated by a barbell in a Massachusetts prison. It was obvious to Mel Brooks, Rex Reed and Cavett’s entire viewing audience that these kids weren’t normal - but nobody could pinpoint why. The world eventually learned that Daria Halprin and Mark Frechette were emotionally captivated players in an unnerving countryside family of young, hippie outsiders, or as Cavett refers to it today, "a cult that didn't kill anyone." In 1970, when Cavett said to his guests, “I understand you two live in a commune,” Frechette responded tersely. “It’s not a commune. It’s a community … and the purpose is to serve [our leader] Mel Lyman.”
“Nothing seems to be more suited to be devoured by the surrealist fire than those mysterious strips of 'hallucinatory celluloid' turned out so unconsciously in Hollywood, and in which we have already seen appear, stupified, so many images of authentic delirium, chance and dream.” -- Salvador Dali, 1937
Born in the Catalan town of Figueres near Barcelona in 1904, Salvador Dalí (1904—1989) was a gifted artist from an early age. As a teenager, he travelled to Madrid to attend the prestigious San Fernando Academy of Art (Picasso’s alma mater), and by the late 1920s he had already earned a reputation in Barcelona as an excellent draughtsman and scandalizing provocateur. Dalí’s first “big break” would come not through painting, however, but through film, when in 1929 he collaborated on a seventeen-minute short with his school friend, Luis Buñuel. The film, titled Un Chien Andalou ("The Andalusian Dog"), was intended as an “anti-art” film that would shock the establishment. It went so far as to even include scenes of putrescence – ants and rotting donkeys among them – to suggest the “cultural cadavers” that needed to swept aside to make way for the new art. Although Buñuel famously reported that at the first screening of Un Chien Andalou, he carried stones in his pockets to hurl in the event that the audience revolted, somewhat to his and Dalí’s disappointment the film was an immediate success when it premiered in Paris. Indeed, its disturbing opening, in which a razorblade slashes a young woman’s eyeball, remains one of the most celebrated sequences in all of cinema history.
Un Chien Andalou also caught the attention of a group of avant-garde writers and artists in Paris: the Surrealists. The Surrealists were interested in liberating thought and expression from the moral and aesthetic concerns imposed by society, and they saw in Dalí and Buñuel’s film a parallel to dream states and the Freudian psychoanalysis that drove their own explorations into the subconscious. Dalí quickly became a fixture of the Surrealist group, contributing important ideas and texts including what he termed “the paranoiac critical method”: a self-induced “psychosis” that led him to see double-images in the world around him that he would ultimately represent in his paintings.
Dalí’s fame during the 1930s was meteoric, not least thanks to his famous “soft watch” painting, The Persistence of Memory (1931), which toured the United States extensively in the early 1930s and was for most Americans their first exposure to Surrealism; by 1936, his photograph (taken by Man Ray) was on the cover of TIME magazine. Dalí’s popularity antagonized the other members of the Surrealist group, as did his political ambiguity when other Surrealists were taking resolute stands against the rise of fascism in Europe. Relations became strained after 1934, and by May 1939 Dalí had been officially expelled from all official Surrealist activity.
Dalí’s expulsion from Surrealism began a new chapter in his life. With his wife Gala, Dalí moved to the United States in 1940 and embarked upon his quest for wealth and celebrity status, channelling his creative imagination to everything from neckties to ashtrays. He turned to designing jewelry with the flamboyant Duc Fulco de Verdura, who had opened a showroom on New York’s Fifth Avenue. He also supplied regular artwork for Vogue and Town and Country magazines (he provided Vogue’s cover art in 1939, 1944, and 1946), designed for the ballet and the stage, and became a sought-after book illustrator. Between 1944 and 1947, he produced fifteen collages to advertise Bryan’s Hosiery, and other artworks were used to sell Johnson Paints and Waxes, Chen Yu lipstick, and Leich’s “Desert Flower” perfume. Dali insisted on the artistic legitimacy of these projects, saying, “I am a man of the Renaissance. . . . I would sign a pair of pants if someone commissioned me to. After all, Michelangelo . . . designed the uniforms for the [Pope’s] Swiss Guards. . . . I feel no separation between myself as an artist and the mass of the people. I stand ready to design anything the people want.”
With Dalí’s move to America also came a public rejection of his surrealist past and an embrace of what he now called “classicism”, though various elements of his earlier style – including the ever-present double-images – persisted. Among his most notable 1940s projects were his forays into Hollywood. The Hollywood “dream factory” embraced Dalí’s dreamlike aesthetic, and the artist himself was eager to disseminate his work to a wider American audience. Unfortunately, most of Dalí’s visions for film would go unrealized – his 1937 script for the Marx Brothers, titled Giraffes on Horseback Salad, for example, and arguably also the dream sequence he designed for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1945 film Spellbound, the final cut of which bears little resemblance to Dalí’s original designs.
A more successful collaboration would come in 1946 with an animated short made with Walt Disney Studios called Destino (1946). Dalí had met Walt Disney in 1945 at a party hosted by movie mogul Jack Warner – a meeting that seems to have gone prodigiously well, as shortly afterwards the artist travelled to Burbank, California to begin work on an animated film set to music in the style of Fantasia (1940). Destino would be based on a song of the same title by Armando Domínguez, and it seems the word destino (“destiny” in Spanish) “sent Dali into raptures”. Disney paired him with experienced animator John Hench and gave him more or less free reign to create as he liked, resulting in many fantastic scenes – optical illusions, double-images, and dreamlike transformations.
Unfortunately, after months of work, the cartoon was shelved, with Disney growing increasingly sceptical over whether the public would appreciate a wacky Dalí cartoon. The film remained untouched until 1999, ten years after Dalí’s death, when Disney’s nephew, Roy Disney, decided to resuscitate Destino. Produced by Baker Bloodworth and directed by French animator Dominique Monfrey, the finished Destino premiered on June 2, 2003 at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, where it was met with wide acclaim, including a 2003 Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Short Film.
As with many “surrealistic” films, the plot of the completed Destino is difficult to convey, though fans of Un Chien Andalou will recognize a swarm of ants emerging from a hole in a man’s hand – reflecting Dalí’s 1920s interest in putrefaction and recalling the same swarms of ants that attack the soft clocks in The Persistence of Memory.
Dalí would never abandon surrealism. Despite his distance from the group’s other members, he insisted that he was, in fact, “more surrealist than the Surrealists”. His comic moustache, deliberately exaggerated speech, and bizarre antics would make him a star, often overshadowing the importance of his art (which he identified as only a small fragment of his personality). Of the many films that were made about Dalí’s life and art, perhaps none captures his clownish personality paired with extraordinary artistry as effectively as Soft Self-Portrait of Salvador Dalí (1967). This “creative documentary” by director Jean-Christophe Averty and narrated in English by Orson Welles was shot on location at Dalí’s home in Port Lligat, Spain, and includes such arresting (and suitably “surrealistic”) scenes as Dalí ecstatically playing a piano filled with cats – a reconstruction of a ‘cat organ’ in which a line of cats is fixed in place with their tails stretched out underneath a keyboard so that the cats cry out in pain when a key is pressed. Dalí, it seems, also associated pianos with sexuality – a link formed in his childhood by a book of venereal diseases that his father left open on the family piano to teach his son the perils of promiscuity. Other episodes in the film are no less peculiar: The artist marching triumphantly across the Spanish landscape throwing fistfuls of feathers into the air with a plaster rhinoceros head in a wheelbarrow at two children dressed as cherubs in tow is a prime example, as is the moment in which he emerges from a giant egg, spraying milk, “symbolic blood”, and “symbolic fish” across the Mediterranean beach.
Welles describes Dalí as a “prince of paradox”, but amidst the humorous hijiniks, Soft Self-Portrait proves to be one of the most informative documentaries on the artist’s life, detailing his emergence as an artist in the 1920s, his important contributions to Surrealism in the 1930s, and even his antecedence to 1960s Pop Art (Andy Warhol would later admit that he loved Dalí “because he’s so big”). The film is certainly not as well known as it should be, and the final sequence – an elaborate “happening” in which Dalí encloses himself in a clear plastic dome to “paint the sky” – confirms that Dalí was an extraordinary artist well beyond his heyday in the 1930s.
Dr. Elliott H. King is a Lecturer in Modern Art at Colorado College and a leading specialist in the work of Salvador Dali. He received his PhD from the University of Essex, working with renowned Dali scholar Dawn Ades, and has lectured and published widely on Dali's work, spearheading the critical rehabilitation of the artist's 'late' (post-1940) production. He was recently guest curator of the exhibition Dali: The Late Work, at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia (catalogue published by Yale University Press, 2010). Other publications include contributions to the Dali Centenary catalogue (2004), the 2007 Tate Modern/MoMA exhibit and catalogue Dali & Film, and his 2007 book, Dali, Surrealism and Cinema. His current research interests include intersections between Dali and Andy Warhol.
I'm trying a new approach for this post. For multi-band events, my posts tend to be very very long, and the time it takes to do seems to make the effort moot, because they publish so far after the fact. So here are photos of some of the bands I took in at SXSW: bad vantage points are why some bands didn't make the cut. Here it is chronologically! Below: 1/2 of Italy's The Secret, Keith Morris of Off!, Easy Action
Tags: batillus, blower, Brannon, castevet, deafheaven, dianekamikaze, dragster, Easy Action, endtables, grayceon, hammerhead, honky, hull, kvelertak, Larson, Might Could, pentagram, rods, suplecs, sxsw, tombs, WFMU, whitehorse, YOB
Last week I spit in the ocean, finding WFMU archives of obscure recordings with famous session musicians. Here are a few last drops.
In late 1960's and early 1970's England, alto sax player Elton Dean worked in progressive rock with musicians like Marc Charig and Karl Jenkins. Dean is on "A New Awakening" from Julie Driscoll''s album 1969 (actually released in '71). Bob Brainen preceded this track with Dimitri Tiomkin. Bill Zurat played Dean on "Out-Bloody-Rageous from the epic Soft Machine Third. Elton John took "Elton" from Dean for his stage name. Both archives require a Real Player.
Ever hear Tony Burrows? He sang with one hit wonders like Edison Lighthouse and Paper Lace: early 1970's prefab studio bands who put singles on the charts. Tony was also in Brotherhood Of Man, whose "Where Are You Going To My Love" played on Night With Maria Levitsky next to, of all people, Reverend Ike. Forgotten 1970's AM radio meets forgotten 1980's access cable..
Guitarist David Spinozza and bassist Tony Levin got the ultimate hat tip when John Lennon and Yoko Ono used them on Double Fantasy in 1980. But from 1969-71, both worked with Mike Mainieri and over a dozen other New York studio people-Steve Gadd, Lew Soloff, Nick Holmes--in the jazz rock White Elephant, played by Jason Elbogen. Listen to "Battle Royale." Levin found music to match his amazing skill when he joined the 1980s incarnation of King Crimson.
How about music after many of us were out of Pampers! Doug Wimbish's chiming, metallic bass was the pulse for Sugarhill Gang and Tackhead with guitarist Skip McDonald and drummer Keith Lablanc. Listen to the glistening 80's production on 'Love Is A House" by Force MDs, played on Awesome New Place by Bennett4Senate. Wimbish also played with the Yohimbe Brothers-Vernon Reid and DJ Logic-whose "Prelude To A Diss" Charlie played on Busy Doing Nothing, in Real Audio. Wimbish worked with Mick Jagger as well, and later joined Reid in Living Colour.
I'm sure I missed many important session people. Someone should write a book on this if they have not already. Find any player I mentioned in these two posts on All Music Guide, You'll discover enough musicians and recordings to keep you infinitely busy.
While German hip-hop as a musical movement didn't fully kick in until the early '90s technically the history of German rap dates back to 1980 when GLS United (three popular TV announcers) recorded and released the novelty single "Rappers Deutsch" - their German language reinterpretation of the Sugarhill Gang's worldwide hit single "Rapper's Delight." As a real culture, however, it wasn't until a few years later, with the European release of such hip-hop films as Beat Street and Wild Style, that the four elements of hip-hop culture were formally introduced to Germans. And it was the influence of these films that began the European country's longtime close association with graffiti and b-boying - something that continues to this day.
As the eighties progressed, German artists began recording hip-hop but the first wave of German hip-hop artists tended to emulate the American hip-hop artists that they heard and consequently rapped in English. Die Fantastischen Vier (the Fantastic Four) modeled themselves after their American rap heroes. At first they rapped in English but by the early nineties, when they achieved mainstream German success, they had adapted their native tongue following the lead of Advanced Chemistry who pioneered the way by not rapping in English, but in German. Advanced Chemistry's politicized German language 1992 single "Fremd in eigenem Land" (Foreign in Your Own Country) was a turning point for German hip-hop.
In anticipation of his new album Paranoid Cat on Family Vineyard guitar player Chris Forsyth brought down a version of his band to play live on WFMU--Mike Pride (drums), Peter Kerlin (bass), Don Bruno (organ), Hans Chew (piano). I was smitten with Chris's previous LP Dreams on his own Evolving Ear label, and Paranoid Cat seems to pick up where that album left off. Dreams struck me as a deeply personal album referencing the guitar's abundance. That album's girders--repetition, cerebral riffs, psychedelic wobble and impressive guest contributions--are all evident on Paranoid Cat.
Chris's songs seem to pull from a range of sources--post rock, American primitive, avant blues and psychedelia--but what's clear is a simplicity of form and grasp of narrative. The guitar playing recalls Tetuzi Akiyama's repetitive blooze churn and classic Tom Verlaine/Richard Lloyd zigzag. The cohesive regular band is what elevates Paranoid Cat to some other plane. The band kills these jams. It's the kind of band that could turn into your favorite band. The soundtrack to your life.
Many thanks to engineer Ruaraidh Sanachan and assistant engineer Ernie Indradat.
New releases that aren't leaked suddenly maybe aren't as magical as Stephanie Davidson or Witchbeam's dispatches from New Orleans or Free Music or YouTube videos or marathon premiums. But they happen just the same.
Baroque Primitiva - Alvarius B (Poon Village)
The promise of the Sun City Girls was that anything could happen at any time for any reason at all, and combing through their infinite body of work digs up all kinds of things that do happen, but Alan Bishop's new LP under his Alvarius B moniker is a space that (to be honest, I only suspect) is mostly new. And if it's not, it's still one of the most creative bedroom pop albums to come along in a while. But, even after the accessible leanings of 2005's Blood Operatives of the Barium Sunset, who expected a Bishop to pull an R. Stevie Moore-style cover of "God Only Knows"? But, really, that's only a token cover. (Might as well mention a dry/wonderful take on John Barry's "You Only Live Twice" here, too.) Baroque Primitiva uses classical pop forms as a vehicle for Bishop's ethno-guitar meltdowns and fucked up humor. The loveliness makes an unexpectedly bitchin' frame for a guy who is only a guffaw away from transforming back into Uncle Jim.
Sonny Smith's 100 Records vol. 2: I Miss the Jams - "v/a" (Turn Up)
Probably not enough good things to say about Sonny Smith, who released the killer Tomorrow Is Alright last year, has been penning a column for Arthur, and spearheaded the bananas 100 Records project last year. Smith invented 100 fictional 7-inches by 100 fictional acts and commissioned cover art by 100 artists and then wrote enough A & B sides, to build a functional jukebox. Turn Up has two volumes of the tunes -- CD or five-45 box. With the exception of the East LA garage-punk of Cabezas Cortades ("Teenage Thugs"), few of the songs actually sound much like their names or illustrations, but it's a stupid argument: the songs are great, from the spazzed '90s lo-fi of Versatile Kyle's "Sick Girl" (whose cover does look like a fictional label from the go-go days of Olympia indie) to the girlgroup pop of Earth Girl Helen Brown's "I Wanna Do It" (whose cover suggests some sad sack protest numbers from, again, perhaps the Pacific Northwest). Or there's Prince Nedick's "Back In the Day (I Can't Stand It)," which looks like Japanese New Wave and sounds like The Monks. The music isn't as eclectic as the covers, which all tend to sound like the Sunsets, but that doesn't mean it's not totally awesome.
Social Music Record Club
Yeti/Chemical Imbalance/'buked & scorned el duderino Mike McGonigal returns with the subscription-only Social Music Club, which plays like a blown-up library of a typically eclectic Yeti mix. Got a couple volumes from heavies (members of The Clean and Sun City Girls), a disc of Jamaican gospel from the '60s and '70s, with a whole other batch to follow (last minstrel Abner Jay, and a heap of recent garage rock).
Cloudcraft (The Clean's Hamish Kilgour and itinerant beardo Theo Angell) make good on the jam: five long cuts with "Raga" in their names (the very traditional "High Tea Midmorning Raga") that are more than drift, less than daft, sometimes aren't instrumental, but rarely have words. Though there is occasional screaming. Ephemeral without being wispy. Once/future Sun City Girl Sir Richard Bishop takes off for the planet Venus, too, on Graviton Polarity Generator, a move beyond the heavy picking that's dominated his post-Girls work, and into some guitar/organ zones that match daintily with song titles like "Dingbatica Cathedral" and "Ectoplasm" and some serious mind-fractal Alex Gray-type cover art.
The songier corners of the Social Music Club's vast leather-filled library are occupied by a split single-sided 45 by Kilgour's Clean colleague, Bob Scott and The Bats, and Chicago's Califone. The Bats' contribution, "Holiday," is typically unassuming (it'll serve any ol' holiday, even just a weekend jaunt to the shore) and functionally catchy, though maybe not as good as their amazing Don't You Rise EP last year. Califone go for the simple/profound/stately holiday tune jugular with a mellotron/tambourine-vibing "Silver and Gold" that's actually quite effective. The deep cut winner of the set, following McGonigal's work on the Fire In My Bones compilation, is Noah Found Grace, collecting Jamaican gospel sides from the '60s and '70s. "Jamaican" and "gospel" are, perhaps expectedly, a boss combination, and there are heart-stoppingly evocative mutations of familiar melodies everywhere, especially Glen Francis's "All My Days Are Numbered."
Let's Do The Classics - The Mattoid (Thee Swan Recording Company)
Stupid/awesome covers from Nashville sung by a Finn. With added obscenity and a member of Lambchop. I never thought I'd ever have to hear another version of "Hallelujah" -- or, for that matter, "Here, There, and Everywhere," "I'm So Excited," or "America." And I bet, dear reader, neither did you. But we were both wrong. And so was I for, that matter, about assuming that this was The Mattoid's debut. Apparently, singer Ville Kiviniemi is en route back to Finland, which makes the 'toid's "America" well... not quite poignant, but not quite anything else, either.
Give the Drummer Some's
Favorite Downloads from the MP3 Blogosphere
Maybe it's the fresh spring air, or maybe it's just the light-headedness from non-stop downloading in a darkened cubicle. Whatever the cause, not so random acts of niceness are popping up across the online music-sharing community. Zer0_II, proprietor of Digital Meltd0wn, sweetly feted Holy Warbles as the Featured Blog at his aggregator site. Murky Recess paid multiple respects: to World Service, for posting two stunning Sali Sidibé recordings, and to Monrakplengthai, for sharing this jaw-dropping lam sing cassette. Even your own Miner—in this space last week—threw some love to Ana-B for all her tremendous offerings over at Singing Bones. (And, no surprise, the ever-gracious Ana threw it right back.) Maybe the warmest and fuzziest recent blog post of all, though, can be found at all-killer, no-filler Funk My Soul, where your host Nikos has given the horrendously overlooked soul slinger Ila Vann one mighty lovely tribute. (See below.)
Music is a lovesome thing...
Ila Vann ~ "The Ila Vann Collection"
(Blog: Funk My Soul)
Northern Soul Exposure
Exclusive to the essential Funk My Soul is this wonderful revelation: a collection of 45s released by the overlooked treasure Ila Vann. The best way to get to know Ms. Vann is to watch a series of charming YouTube videos (in three parts here, here and here). Now past 70, Vann continues to perform, mostly in Canada, where she's been living for quite some time. Tacked on the end of this custom collection (Vann never released a full-length LP) is a 2003 radio interview with British DJ Kevin Roberts. It's a delight to hear Vann's joy upon learning that her 1967 rendition of "Can't Help Lovin' that Man" had become a beloved Northern Soul Anthem.
"...this compilation is a remarkable historical document of the effect rock music had on the rest of the world, particularly the East. Up until 1961, the South-East Asian scene was almost entirely instrumental; music was situational: culturally significant, but otherwise insignificant per se. As the Western influence crept in via the increasingly popular Beatles and, says Grey Past, a late 1961 concert by Cliff Richard and the Shadows, South-East Asia eschewed the musical collective and embraced the concept of the "band"--steady members, writing songs for their own entertainment." (Nicholas B. Sylvester, at Pitchfork)
Various ~ "New Orleans Gospel Quartets"
(Blog: African Gospel Church)
<< That Doesn't Look Like a Quartet
"Although New Orleans was not the birthplace of gospel, sacred music is as active a part of the city's life as it is anywhere else in the South, as anyone who has spent time in the gospel tent at the Jazz and Heritage Festival can testify. Gospel Heritage, an English label distributed by Rounder, has a fascinating new disk called ''New Orleans Gospel Quartets, 1947-1956'' (HT 306). This compilation documents small vocal groups of both sexes during the heyday of such touring outfits. The highlights are two cuts by the Jackson Gospel Singers and two by the Southern Harps, who included Bessie Griffin, better known later on her own. ''Quartet'' music of this sort - for small vocal groups by no means confined to four singers -went through varying levels of politeness and unbuttoned enthusiasm; as might be expected from New Orleans-based groups, these tend toward the unbuttoned." (John Rockwell, in the New York Times ['87])
Ritmo de Estrellas ~ "Pituka la Bella"
(Blog: Si se rompe se Compone…)
"Ritmo De Estrellas, my absolute favorite South Florida Cuban charanga band. With much influence by Orq. Aragon, especially in their tight crisp vocal style. With acoustic bass... so much more natural sounding than electric bass. This LP is now obscure and hard to find a copy in good condition. Many later pressings of this LP have very poor sound, with much of the bass very low or almost missing. The early pressings are the best, with the bass very full and the thick album cover with a very high glossy cover photo." (Mark Sanders, at Fidel's Eyeglasses )
Various ~ "Andergraun Vibrations! Spanish Hard Psych and Beyond"
(Blog: En Busca Del Tiempo Perdido)
Gettin' High in Iberia
"Andergraun Vibrations! documents the unknown Spanish underground psychedelic and progressive scene from the early seventies. We've culled the private collections of some of the more rabid Spanish crazy collectors and we are proud to present 11 tracks taken from super rare 45s, some of them originally released as private / tiny pressings with only a couple of copies actually known. But don't panic, this is not boring R&B, scratched acetates or lame garage-beat cover versions. Here you'll find wild garage psychedelia and proto-prog sounds, full of crazy Spanish and English vocals, swirling Hammond organs, loud drums, fuzz & wah guitars, proggy flutes and more." (Widely circulated promo copy)
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Very soon (April 4), we'll mark the anniversary of the death of the legendary Red Sovine, the crusty country baritone warbler who absolutely perfected the art of delivering sob-inducing histrionic recitations. Sovine, who died in 1980 at the age of 61, is probably best remembered these days for the 1976 record Teddy Bear, the story of a crippled boy with a CB and the truck drivers who happily accede to his wish for a ride in the cab of an 18-wheeler. Sovine's triumphs go way beyond poignant recitations though, and include several handfuls of fine honky-tonkers, many with a truck-driving theme. While much of this material remains out of print, the folks at Ace Records in the UK have assembled an excellent collection of some of Sovine's most enjoyable work called Honky-Tonks, Truckers & Tears. If you're looking to dip your toe into Red's world, there is probably no finer introduction.
Look, I know I'm jumping the gun a little bit here calendar-wise, but let me be clear: we're talking about a matter of days, not weeks, until the anniversary and I wanted to do my part to get the word out in plenty of time for you to make plans.
Kliph Nesteroff did a fine job of memorializing many of the most interesting highlights of Red's long career here on Beware Of The Blog a while back, so instead of regurgitating his effort I'm going to share a few obituaries and photos that I don't think have seen the light of day on the internet.
The photo below shows Red's 1979 Ford Van in the aftermath of the crash that resulted from the heart attack he likely experienced at the intersection of Battery and Lealand Lanes in south Nashville. He barreled through the intersection and struck a car driven by 25-year-old Edgar Primm, who suffered facial cuts for which he was treated at St. Thomas Hospital. Strange but true: on the day of the accident, the Nashville Banner frontpaged a story headlined NASHVILLE TRAFFIC DEATHS CUT IN HALF; KEEP IT UP!
Below is a recent photo of the fatal intersection.
The accident took place a a few short miles from Red's house on Stillwood Drive, which can be seen below. The address was verified in a volume of the City Directory in the main branch of the Nashville Library. City directories, by the way, are pretty fascintating in that they frequently list the names of people who would probably have never appeared in the phone book. I'm not sure exactly how that happened, but fishing through old city directories will often reveal addresses and phone numbers of some pretty notable people. I've found that true in both Nashville (where directories reveal the old addresses of people like Faron Young, Webb Pierce, Grady Martin, Porter Wagoner, Hank Snow) and Atlanta where I've verified the former addresses of people like Hank Aaron, Freddie Blassie and Hank Ballard. For some reason, city directories seem to have disappeared in the last decade or two but if you're fishing for old residential information or what used to be where your favorite bar now is, city directories are highly recommened.
Below: Red Sovine's former house on Stillwood Drive in Nashville. Do the current residents know (or care) about who used to live there? Who knows.
Above: The Tennessean, April 5, 1980.
Above: The Nashville Banner, April 5, 1980.
Today (Monday), Irene Trudel welcomes the trio collaboration Matthews/Radding/Drury. Wade Matthews (l.), born in France and a resident of Madrid, creates sounds on a laptop synth and uses manipulated field recordings; New Yorkers Ruben Radding and Andrew Drury play bass and percussion, respectively. Hear them on Irene's program on 3/21 from noon to 3 PM.
Joe Belock is proud to welcome the Shrubs to Three Chord Monte on Thursday. This band, which originated in upstate New York in 1994, are masters of tuneful garage pop and the occasional VU-inspired 3-minute freakout. Their most recent release, "Forgotten How to Fall," came out in 2009. Their set will air on Joe's show of 3/24, from noon to 3 PM.
On My Castle of Quiet, Wm. M. Berger will present music from Long Distance Poison, a group that performs long-form electronic composition and has been captivating Brooklyn audiences for some time. Their live set on Wm.'s show will be a collaboration -- the score to a made-up film, a Nordic romance entitled Sisu that Wm. himself conceived at the band's request. Listen on Thursday night (Friday), 3/25 from 12 midnight to 3 AM.
Billy Jam travels to Dusseldorf for a broadcast from the studios of the hip hop/funk/soul group Community Education. Community Education's DJ Goersch, Dulce the Moss Man, and Dusky Diana will perform live. Other special guests will include German MC Micness, Turkish hip-hop duo Freman, the German-Spanish funk band Don Cabron, and others. Tune in for the Teutonic-style Put the Needle on the Record Friday, 3/25, from 3 to 6 PM.
And on Saturday, Transpacific Sound Paradise will be live from Barbes in Park Slope. Join Rob Weisberg and co-host Irene Trudel for three hours of music from three bands: Banda Sinaloense de los Muertos, who play the bombastic brass-band music of northern Mexico; Maeandros, representing Greece with traditional and popular Greek songs as well as original compositions; and Spanglish Fly (r.), who will deliver a 60s-style set of Latin soul and boogaloo. Tune in or drop by: 3/26, from 6 to 9 PM!
The playlist, and part 1 of the archive, of WFMU's South By Southwest broadcast are available now for your downloading. If you didn't get a chance to go down to Texas this year to see a million bands and have a debaucherous time, here is your chance to do so virtually! Go here and enjoy great live stuff from El G, the Endtables, Amen Dunes, Kurt Vile and the Violators, and more -- with DJ commentary and interludes. The complete show will be up soon.
Last year, I purchased a large stack of interesting looking reel to reel tapes - interesting in that the writing on the boxes indicated that they contained all manner of original source media recordings, mostly (if not all) recordings from television studios - possibly all connected to CBS - in the 1950's and 1960's. I've only begun to truly dig into this collection. When I first bought it, I posted a brief CBS sound effects reel here, nearly a year ago. For a variety of reasons, I've barely delved into this collection yet, as much as the writings on them fascinate me, and I suspect there will be several that will be appropriate to share here.
Today, in light of tax time, I thought I'd share one of the few tapes from this set that I've perused. This one features the raw tapes of an interview session between newsman Howard K. Smith and Senator Albert Gore, Sr. There is no date on the tape (it only states "7/27"), but if these are in fact CBS tapes, this would put the interview some time prior to Smith's exit from CBS in 1962.
The tapes indicate that the final broadcast interview was likely spliced together from multiple takes, since the same questions are asked multiple times during the first three takes. My guess is that the last take, in which Smith is fed questions which he then repeats, was necessary because the interview was done using only one camera, resulting in the need to get Smith on camera, reading the questions, a second time, perhaps even after Sen. Gore was gone. The entire recording runs just under fifteen minutes.
It's interesting to compare the issues raised in this tax interview with some of the issues people have about taxes today.