John Hackett & Steve Hackett — Gnossienne No. 3
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Being in the baby bubble means blurring the line between sleep and wakefulness, deliberate movements and falling back on muscle memory. Makes me appreciate the soft, surprisingly near-hallucinatory brushstrokes of Satie. Here's a classic one, nicely rendered by old progster Steve Hackett, and his brother John, fully in charge on flute.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Spent a good bit of last week on long daily journeys between home and the birth hospital. It made for an disorienting juxtaposition of environments, with the subway portions acting as a nice interstitial, offering generous portions of solitary book and headphone pleasures. Music-wise, I ended up curling into a couple unexpected synthy earworms, courtesy of a duo who have made their way into this space before. While having nothing to do with babies, births, or journeys full of anticipation, I suppose this will soon take its place in the audio portion of early baby memories, which is a bit of randomness I can't complain about.
Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin — When The Guards Are Asleep
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
I'm a week into fatherhood, and I only feel slightly less disembodied than I did the moment it became real (last Monday, for those keeping score at home). It's a dizzying transition, and I'm amazed at how naturally this whole new set of reflexes kicks in. Sometimes, it's so easy to just be guided by what we're evolved to do. Like dig for baby theme songs based simply on the kid's name! In my case, there's a rich heritage of tracks, some of which I've already covered, not knowing there'd be new meaning attached someday. Here's one that feels like it hits all the right notes. And it doesn't hurt that it feels like a kind of lullaby. I'm not sure why so many Emily songs are about sad, lonely, or lost girls, but those melancholy notes seem a lot more effervescent when accompanied by the sea breezes that Cale has going here.
John Cale — Emily
Monday, November 25, 2013
Anxiously waiting for the baby's arrival leads to fidgety Spotify trolling, which leads to a Byrds rabbithole, which leads to some surprising enjoyment of their transition to country styles, which leads to more surprising enjoyment of this groovy, serpentine deep cut, which leads to cherry-on-top surprise at their ability to navigate a 5/4 meter. Now back to that anxious waiting...
The Byrds — Tribal Gathering
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Another one from college/post-college days. I haven't kept up with the continuing adventures of Tara Jane O'Neil, but I'm right pleased to have fresh ears for her haunted, strummed ditties of yore. I keep putting this album on and commence to tasks that don't compel me to restlessly change up the music. Which means I'm enjoying it in an attention span-preserving way. Which is therapeutic.
Tara Jane O'Neil — Sunday Song
Tara Jane O'Neil — Another Sunday
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Alright, Polvo! I'm been in total rock-out for days listening to their second reunion album. I'm equal parts glad that they've still got it and that they're getting their snaky, mathy ya-yas out with the hooks proudly out front. This one may meander a bit, but the energy doesn't let up, and neither does my steady, dumb head bobbin'.
Polvo — The Water Wheel
Friday, November 15, 2013
I wonder if there's some astronomical, Halley's Comet-esque formula that decides when I get into a Kate Bush obsession. When it comes around, there's really no substitute. Oftentimes the deep album cuts are the most pleasing. Like this little interlude on Never For Ever that seems to reference English composer Frederick Delius (whom I know almost nothing about) and floats past a couple eerie moments at 0:50 and 1:50 to maintain an uncharacteristically placid atmosphere. Good on her for knowing that wild Kate bits are all the more powerful when she holds them in reserve.
Kate Bush — Delius
Thursday, November 14, 2013
How cool was Tony Williams? When he was 17, he was a prodigy behind the drums, propelling Miles Davis's legendary mid-'60s quintet, which was probably the best aggregation of talent Davis ever had. He was also a budding jazz composer in his own right, creating sophisticated pieces like this one here. (And he had the tastefulness to not even pick up his sticks for it!) His Life Time album is just as essential as any other '60s Blue Note classic. Which makes it unfortunate that Williams spent his adult career being a whole lot less cool with a bunch of dubious Fusion albums, and staining the luster of that record by using it as the band name for those dubious albums. Like the proverbial high school football star, Williams never bested his teenage self. So it goes. At least we can enjoy the high water mark now.
Tony Williams — Barb's Song To The Wizard
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
While we're dealing in French decadence, here's one from another end of the spectrum. I recently gave the cult sci-fi classic Fantastic Planet a whirl on the DVD player. Having long regarded it as one of those movies meant to be watched under the influence of whatever psych drugs you fancy, I realized it's pretty damn freaky/psychedelic/disturbing all on its own. Maybe my mind is just apt to get deep inside a story of cosmic genocide in a crazy weird organic alien landscape, but I found it affecting in more ways than I probably should. And in no small part due to the very baked and desolately minimal soundtrack.
Alain Goraguer — Dehominisation (I)
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Well, sorry but it's true. If you're beautiful, stylish, and charismatic, you can have a crap voice and still be a pop star. What's more, you might even convince good songwriters to create vehicles upon which to build your mystique. And years later, many might look back fondly at the era you accidentally helped define. C'est la vie.
Brigitte Bardot — Une Histoire de Plage
Brigitte Bardot — A La Fin de L'été
Monday, November 11, 2013
Ladies and gentleman...welcome to High Rollers skating rink, where it's always Saturday night and always a cosmic roller disco adventure! I'll be your host for the evening, or at least until I pass out from taking hits from my nitrous tank. Meanwhile, lace up those skates, get out on the floors, and lose yourself in our magic lights. Also, don't forget to visit the snack bar. And now, take it away, Mr. Leon Lowman...
Leon Lowman — Listen
Friday, November 8, 2013
Though their heyday predates my birth by a couple decades, I feel a weird kinship with the charmingly rosy-lensed dudes who tried to intermingle jazz and classical threads in the late '50s. Imagine the vibe at those sessions led by the likes of George Russell and Gunther Schuller in their tweedy best. I picture big smiles and arms wildly gesticulating as the whole big gang tries to will a colorful utopia into being. It petered like all those movements end up doing, but not without leaving behind some choice cuts like this one.
George Russell — All About Rosie
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Is this a monstrosity? Cheer-Accident's longstanding commitment to signature mathy/proggy styles crashes headlong into a tender-hearted love of '70s AOR piano progressions. It's a strange, twitchy beast that results, and you wonder if this new species should have an island all its own to play out its possible destiny. Maybe one day...
Cheer-Accident — Learning How To Fly
Monday, November 4, 2013
Just as actually getting a Halloween costume together got away from me, so did posting a song specific to the holiday. I'll try to catch up. While a Nick Cave-type creeper might've been more obvious, I find the pretty/slinky/spooky vibe of this one more in line with that queasy feeling as evening light gives away to more sinister possibilities in the night. Courtesy of Wayne Horvitz and his erstwhile gang of sonic sorcerers.
Wayne Horvitz/The President — The Front
Monday, October 28, 2013
I guess it was musical destiny for '60s free jazz heavyweights to get lost in the '70s, figuring out how to be funky and create a future that might be more plausible than the crushed hopes of the previous decade. And how many of those albums were only released in Japan? Which must have made for a different perspective on the state of jazz to come over there. So it was with Marion Brown. Here are a couple rare treats — one a pleasant Latin-tinged workout, the other a double saxophone duet that I find rather lyrical and with a well-considered sense for when things should get all skronky-like.
Marion Brown — Mangoes
Marion Brown — And Then They Danced
Thursday, October 24, 2013
And as sure as eggs is eggs, the first frosty breaths of air have got me nursing a sore throat and swollen glands and cheerleading on the sidelines as my white blood cells rush onto the playing field. Meanwhile, my mind takes refuge in some abstract sound explorations. This one just mesmerizes me. Like having sudden visions of vast nebulae from several angles at once, as inner and outer space imitate one another. And I haven't even gotten into the cold medicine yet.
Robert Schroeder — The Inside Of Feeling
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Now that autumn is making its dour way onto the scene, it seems a good time to take a musical visit to the No Fun Dept. I admit that for all my instrumental admiration and general political sympathy, I have a hard time not making funny faces in the general direction of This Heat. Someone needs to bring a little levity to the air. Otherwise, it's like listening to a very earnest, utterly humorless grad student holding forth at the bar about the systemic injustice of our economic reality and the Marxist inevitabilities that are all that can save us. That dubious discussion aside, I do wholeheartedly enjoy the severe musical bombast of Charles Hayward's guises. Especially in the increasing chill of the air.
Camberwell Now — Daddy Needs A Throne
Thursday, October 17, 2013
is that some surprisingly delectable multicultural pop originated from there. And most people only think about Libya when dictators fall or when Republicans spew conspiracy theories. Ahmed Fakroun went on to achieve global stardom with some slick crossover tunes. I'm sure this early-'80s number would sound equally slick if subjected to proper digital cleanup, but I like the scratchiness of this version. Sounds desert-dusty and jerry-rigged from a scan of radio fragments of its day.
Ahmed Fakroun — Fil Moden El Kibira
Monday, October 14, 2013
If I had a dime for all the rock narratives with well-meaning male singers who messed things up with their ladyfriend, and now she's out on the street among all kinds of danger, and he only wishes he'd done something different and would do epic task TBD to get her back in his safe arms. It's a funny strand of patriarchal condescension — the sleazy and the daddy rolled into one. Kinda awful and yet classic enough to maybe be a useful reflection on the culture that produces it. And certainly worthy of a representative moment here.
The Only Ones — Out There In The Night
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Maybe a new 'blague appearance from Goblin would've been more appropriate for Halloween. But having just seen a performance from their much-belated first tour ever tour of America (?!), I couldn't wait. Horror soundtracks have a way of standing on their own, and Goblin's proggy stylings would be just as evocative even if they didn't soundtrack a whole gamut of grotesquerie. And it sounds just delightful booming out form the rockstar stage.
Goblin — Quiet Drops
Goblin — Pillage
Monday, October 7, 2013
Still reeling from last night's viewing of Gravity in all its 3D, vertiginous, space is awe-inspiring/freezing/vastly and utterly inhuman splendor. My mind casts out to a space object that is a much easier fit for romantic paeans. This one is worthy reading of Big Star's classic; a beautiful light pours out of it.
His Name Is Alive — Blue Moon
Friday, October 4, 2013
A band built around a hyperactive drummer and a relatively mellow vibesman yields some fun contrasts, like gears moving at different speeds. The backwards tape opening is an easy signifier for waking up bleary-eyed from an accidental nap, but the rest of the tune suggests that it's just the beginning of another sound dream. Jazzy chord sequences over hypnotic rhythms are surely the stuff of comfy dreams, and this one might just spill over into the part of Saturday morning where you look at the sky and wonder what degree of consciousness qualifies as actually waking up.
The Dylan Group — Division Long
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Here is one of the aforementioned sounds that has kept in steady orbiting my head the last few months. Sylvian unveiled his solo career with a little help and a lot of inspiration from Ryuichi Sakamoto. His post-Japan work may have gotten lost in a sea of caramel over-trilling, but his first few years were right stylish and still quite easy on the ears. Another triumph of familiar placelessness.
David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto — Bamboo Houses (remix)
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Well, pardon me please. I dip my head under water, and a month and a half of blague-lessness goes by. I would've thought that rapid change in multiple areas of my life would've inspired songworthy postings. The music in my head never stopped, but somehow I haven't felt compelled to push any of it out into the common air. Until...now (cue ominous rumblings, panning left to right ). Maybe moments of transition just speak for themselves, and things have to settle into place a bit before a day's song makes its wishes known. At any rate, here's a lilting little ditty that goes swimmingly with wandering around a new home and getting to know its character.
The Ladybug Transistor — Brighton Bound
Monday, August 12, 2013
A belated hats-off to the recently-deceased George Duke. Apparently, he was not only the cuddly, well-Afroed keyboardist in Frank Zappa's most musically acrobatic band, but also made a string of mid-'80s albums that I have just recently discovered and am now totally addicted too. Here's a delicious summertime groove. And if you think old Fusion dogs can't learn new tricks, dig the keytar solo at 3:15.
George Duke — Got To Get Back To Love