Saturday, December 30, 2017

Documentary of BRIAN ENO recording HERE COME THE WARM JETS (1973)

I don't know if it's still up on YouTube or what (it keeps getting taken down), so I won't bother linking, but if you come across it, you should watch it. A few salient notes:

1. "I have attempted to replace the element of skill considered necessary in music with the element of judgment."

2. I like his genre coinage "insane rock" to describe the Velvet Underground. 

3. Man, Paul Thompson was a great drummer in Roxy Music, as this excerpted live performance of "Re-Make/Re-Model" from 1973 (Olympia Theater, Paris) amply demonstrates. (Fascinating side anecdote from a late-70's Eno interview with Lester Bangs which, like this film, I didn't know existed until today: "To get a drummer we auditioned 130 drummers, and it came down to two people in the end. One was a guy named Charlie Hayward who played in Quiet Sun, which was Phil Manzanera's first band. He was a very technical sort of drummer with a lot of interesting ideas; he had a drumkit that was made apart from ordinary drums, it had all sorts of junk inside it, like a van Tieghem type of thing only on stands so he could play it. So it was a choice between him who was very light and Paul Thompson who's very very heavy, and we went for Paul, because we decided that with the instruments we already had quite enough etheria, we needed some kind of heavy anchorage. And I think that was quite the right choice as well. I think if it hadn't been for Paul, who is always quite the overlooked person in Roxy, it would have been just another arty band." I had no idea that Hayward was that close to being the original Roxy drummer!) 

4. Eno's briefly appearing costume designer Carol (McNicoll) seems rad with her dyed red hair. Turns out she's very rad indeed. Her main medium is ceramics ("mainly non domestic slipcast ware"), with which she exhibits and lectures internationally to this day. At the time of Warm Jets she was Eno's girlfriend and designed his trademark black cockerel feathered boa collar, as well as supervising the fabulous cover for the LP (in which one of her teapot designs can be spotted amongst the clutter).  

5. Apparently "The Heavenly Music Corporation" from Fripp/Eno's (No Pussyfooting) was recorded the first time they ever played music together. No pussyfooting indeed! 

6. I can't believe that dude's stage name was Busta Cherry Jones. You might know him from his brief tenure as co-bassist with the Talking Heads' Remain in Light band. No wonder Tina wanted him out, trying to take her job with a name like that. Sick fuzz bass part for "Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch." (And whoever played that sick electric sitar part, probably Manzanera, was it even used in the final mix?) Mr. Jones passed away of heart failure in 1995, only 44 years old. 

7. "I'm decadent in some ways. The real meaning of decadence is things in decay, okay? So, to be decadent isn't difficult at all, it just means that you're in a condition of being split between two cultures, of being half of one culture, that's just dying, and half of another that's just being born." These thoughtful musings voiced over priceless footage of the man emerging from his back alley studio door and into the vibrancy of the Portobello Road market, where Magic Michael busks and reggae booms from another stall. He also meets up with a "fabulous" (and also dyed-red) character named Cindy, who has a "beautiful voice" and "sings as though she's dead" and is the "closest thing to Lou Reed I've heard in a girl singer." Who is she? And, is she the one who told him, as it were, in the song "Cindy Tells Me"?

8. Rather amazing to watch Chris Spedding overdubbing his guitar part for "Needle in the Camel's Eye," which he calls "pure Duane Eddy." I just wish we could watch him playing his monumentally simple guitar solo from the song, but the big chords are great enough, even with the odd "time-goof." 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

THE COMET IS COMING Death to the Planet EP (LEAF)

This summer I saw a great saxophonist I'd never heard of before named Shabaka Hutchings, wailing and grooving onstage with Louis Moholo-Moholo's Five Blokes at the 2017 Chicago Jazz Festival (overall review coming soon, only a few months late). He's based in London, where he also plays in an "apocalyptic jazz" trio called The Comet Is Coming, with a synth/sax/drums lineup that puts them squarely into new hybrid territory. Dig deeper at


Monday, November 27, 2017


Sublime Frequencies is such a rich record label that I'm still wrapping my head around LPs that they released almost 10 years ago, such as the Algerian Rai LP just re-reviewed back in July, and this Eat the Dream: Gnawa Music from Essaouira LP which, from 2012, is no spring chicken itself. This is essentially (in true SubFreq fashion) a barely credited Maleem Mahmoud Guinia LP (though producer/engineer Tucker Martine does prominently include two of his own very cool extended field recording interludes), and as such may be the single best one I know of. Just Guinia hollering and jamming out on that guimbri with his percussion/chant crew, very well-recorded by Martine in 1994, when he travelled to Morocco and ended up in the house of Maleem Boubker Guinia, the father of Maleem Mahmoud, and another son Maleem Abdallah Guinia, who plays the guimbri solo that opens the record. To clarify, Maleem is an honorific meaning "master," in this case a master of the 300-year tradition of gnawa music, and I would say Mahmoud Guinia (b. 1951) is to gnawa music what Marley (b. 1945) is to reggae and Brown (b. 1933) is to funk, that is the leading 20th Century innovator/interpreter.

And good gawd, hit me, look at what's been just sitting there on the internet for over 3 years, Maleem Mahmoud Guinia a year before his death, sharing a big couch in a Moroccan palace with three percussionist/vocalists, jamming as hard as possible for an hour:

Saturday, November 25, 2017

DIANA ROSS "Love Hangover" (MOTOWN)

So I'm finally reading England's Dreaming for the first time ever (what a great book), and on page 186 it mentions that pre-fame Siouxsie Sioux and her friends used to jam out to "Love Hangover" by Diana Ross, a great proto-house disco song, and while jamming out to it myself right now, I got to reading Ms. Ross's wikipedia entry, and saw that she was a graduate from Detroit's Cass Technical High School, and I wondered what other luminaries, musical and otherwise, might have attended, and the list is just as impressive as I'd expected: from the jazz world alone, Alice Coltrane herself, Donald Byrd, Ron Carter, Paul Chambers, Major Holley, Kenny Burrell, Geri Allen, and quite a few more you may have heard or heard of... but also actors Ellen Burstyn, Lily Tomlin, and David Alan Grier... singer/actress Della Reese... session keyboardist Greg Phillinganes (he played on Thriller and Songs in the Key of Life to name a couple)... Kenya Moore (the second African-American woman to win Miss USA, now a Real Housewife of Atlanta)... Jack White himself... sound sculptor Harry Bertoia himself (!!!)... founding father of mail art Ray Johnson himself (!!!!)... John DeLorean (inventor of the DeLorean) himself... Cora Brown (the first African-American woman elected to the United States state senate, in 1952)... and more!

POSTSCRIPT 9/9/2018: Speaking of Alice Coltrane, I just learned (from a back issue of Wax Poetics, #63 to be exact, Gary Clark Jr. on the cover) that "Love Hangover" was written by Alice's sister Marilyn McLeod (who is also the grandmother of Flying Lotus)!!! She probably went to Cass Technical too.

Friday, November 17, 2017


I know there's approximately 8 million amazing podcasts out there that I really need to start listening to, but one of the few I actually have is Kreative Kontrol with host Vish Khanna. The pod persona that he casts is that of a friendly and thoughtful music-loving resident of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, with guests from all across what could be generally classified as the indie/underground rock spectrum, including, in this case, long-time underground-rock-friendly jazz pianist Matthew Shipp. Interviews with Shipp are always good, so I jumped right on it, and not only has it introduced me to his terrific new piano trio album Piano Song, it's got my head brewing on several lines of thought that his words and music have set it on, such as the reality of inner space vs. the outer world, the realms and possibilities and usefulness of the imagination, forms of language that do not use words, and more, all as interpreted through one of my personal favorite musical archetypes, the jazz piano trio. I got so worked up by the interview that I dutifully transcribed a few key exchanges between Khanna and Shipp, but there's a lot more to dig into, so by all means go listen to the real thing, where you can also hear excerpts of this great new album.

SHIPP: [talking about the song "Cosmopolitan"] I view the album as a city. To me, all my albums are metropolitan landscapes of the mind . . . a lot of my albums are involved with trying to see what a futuristic city would be, like the landscape of a city on another planet.
KHANNA: You know, it's interesting to hear you talk about cosmopolitan and the future, because so many musicians when they are trying to conjure such a landscape will revert to synthetic music of some kind, and it's fascinating to hear you talk about this by using rather traditional instruments, if you will . . . it's fascinating to me that the future for you, in your mind, is really connected to the past, I suppose. This future landscape is really anchored in these older instruments, I suppose, in your case.
SHIPP: Well, I think the traditional jazz trio can present a vision of the future just as easy as a synthesizer does. I mean, the future is not all technology. The future is also inner landscapes. I mean, being able to travel inside your mind, or if you want to holographically go inside your mind, you can go to the whole universe . . . with Sun Ra, despite the fact that he has used electronic instruments, and was one of the first to use a Moog synthesizer, and that's a part of his vision, that he actually also understands that acoustic instruments can give a tip to futuristic ideas and landscapes just as much as a synthesizer can. I mean, first of all, a scientist does equations with mathematics, so you know, you can calculate stuff on Pluto in an equation, and scientists were doing that before computers. Obviously computers help mathematics in doing equations that are so cumbersome, you know, but scientists were doing that way before they were doing things on computers.Yeah, I don't sit around thinking about that, but that has been part of the calculation, that I can generate something with a scale or a cluster of notes on the piano that has everything, as much, to do with walking down the street on Planet X than what technology would generate.

SHIPP: [on the song "Microwave"] I actually named that more, I was reading just some physics books I was looking at around that time... it has nothing to do with an actual microwave that you cook in.
KHANNA: You're a physics buff, are you?
SHIPP: I find modern physics to be really good for the imagination . . . It's not a matter of really having an understanding of it. In fact, it's more of a matter of not understanding it, and letting your imagination go somewhere.

KHANNA: I feel like because we live in such dire times in terms of climate change and various administrations around the world, I feel like there's a deeper and more prolonged fascination with this notion of living in space.
SHIPP: Right.
KHANNA: Leaving earth! [Both laugh] Are you someone who is contemplating such things?
SHIPP: Well, we're kinda stuck here! Until we really get out, so... let's just say I always contemplate travelling to higher planes. That doesn't necessarily mean physically moving. It means just trying to get in touch with yourself, and find that bedrock of a place that might energetically, as far as frequency-wise, not be Planet Earth, even though your body's on the Planet Earth at the time.
KHANNA: I don't mean to conjure any kind of cliche, but does music take you to a different place?
SHIPP: (Emphatically) Yes.

Thursday, November 09, 2017


Stopped by Reckless Records for 5 minutes today (October 28th, 2017); it's always hard not to at least browse the New Arrivals bins, but I was illegally parked, my daughter was waiting in the car, and I had one job and one job only: to get my hands on two eagerly awaited psychedelic rock LPs that were just released this week.

Circuit Des Yeux, aka Haley Fohr, has given us a new LP called Reaching for Indigo that may be even better than her last one In Plain Speech, featuring what's gotta be her best song yet, "Black Fly." I've listened to the whole record a few times already, but this song in particular at least ten times, and a hundred more times in my head. All the elements that can make a song great -- lyrics, melody, arrangement, performance, feeling, a killer bridge -- are extremely well-represented. Lyrically, it goes in the Dylan-worthy withering putdown category, the protagonist imagining her ex(?)-lover(?) as the titular insect, with an explosive challenge in the chorus: "Is it a high dive you're looking for/Or a 24-hour convenience store?," the ethereal melody hooking hard on the high dive image. And that's not even getting to the exquisite band performance by the rhythm section of Josh Abrams on bass and Tyler Damon on drums, perfectly paced by Cooper Crain's mandolin and haunting synth whistles, and Whitney Johnson's keening viola. Crain and Johnson have contributed to Circuit Des Yeux for awhile, and are both key presences throughout the LP, Johnson playing viola on four of the eight songs, and Crain co-producing and playing various instruments on six, with his synth and bass on the progressively bluesy/folky side two opener "Paper Bag" another high point. Instrumentally, the band continues to be informed by Chicago's always-burgeoning post-jazz creative music community, and the album includes a blasting triumphant free-form jam called "A Story of this World Part II" that also has Ryley Walker playing electric guitar, massing with Fohr's own guitar playing and thrilling vocal improvisation (her remarkable singing and songwriting might overshadow just how interesting of an instrumentalist she also is).

And speaking of interesting instrumentalists, Headroom is the work of one Kryssi Battalene of New Haven, Connecticut, who also provides scorching lead guitar in the mighty rock band Mountain Movers. Headroom is her band all the way, taking that spacious scorch and sprawling it out into longer and more vocal-free tracks, sick noise psych jams straight-up, for those who like a whole lotta that burnt PSF space in their Twisted Village. It's not entirely accurate to call Headroom a solo project either, as she has a consistent rhythm section throughout the album of Rick Omonte on bass and Ross Menze on drums, and second and third guitarists appear as well, including another rising New Haven underground star in Stefan Christensen. The record begins in medias res with the endless loping/lumbering jam "How to Grow Evil Flowers," the band laying down an implacable trees, grass & stone groove that Battalene layers with sick filtered/processed guitar soloing that I could listen to for much longer than the track's 10-minute running time. "Millers Pond" is one of two tracks with vocals, and could be called a ballad, albeit a solarized and blasted one, with a destabilizing shimmer that unmoors the rhythm section, Battalene's vocal shining through the fissures like a small sun propeller. "The Second Blazing Star" is a side-closing paranoid loop/solo chase-style jam that reminds me of the mighty Heldon themselves. Side two opens with the title track, "Head in the Clouds," which ditches the rhythm section for a wormholing trio of Battalene's effected guitar, farfisa organ drone, and deep-dive synthesizer exploration. And, the album closer "Flower of Light" is the most explicitly PSF-informed thing on here, another scorched-earth desolation ballad that sounds more than a little like the all-time stunning band Shizuka, which is just fine with this listener.

So, it was a very efficient day of LP buying, and I've been luxuriating in these two deep and rich sonic/philosophic spaces all night long, still marveling at how well each one documents a particular scene of music in two different cities, both organized by and filtered through a brilliant female composer/performer/singer.

THIS JUST IN: Here's a brand new video for the opening track on the Circuit Des Yeux LP, "Brainshift," a song that accurately describes as an "invocation." In the video, eerie minimalist vintage-computer-style graphics illustrate the song title and subject matter in a very direct but effective way, and also make me nostalgic for various classic low-budget creepy A.I. imaginings from the sci-fi of the day.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Wednesday, August 09, 2017


I saw Susie Ibarra play live 21 years ago - I didn't know who she was before the show, and not sure if I figured out her name during it, or immediately afterwards, but she made a huge impression on me as the drummer in the David S. Ware Quartet, with Matthew Shipp on piano, William Parker on bass, and the late Mr. Ware on saxophone. A a great, great band filled with absolute heavyweights on every instrument. I'm lucky I got to see them.

Flash forward to the present, when, just a couple weeks ago, I learned that for a few years early in the 2000s, Ibarra played in an all-female improvising band called Mephista, releasing two CDs in 2002 and 2004 on John Zorn's Tzadik label, Black Narcissus and Entomological Reflections. It was Ibarra on percussion, Sylvie Courvoisier on piano, and Ikue Mori on electronics, and they created a very distinctive, idiosyncratic minimalist/maximalist trio sound together. Out of all the records released on Tzadik, I've probably heard less than 10% of them, and I probably would've never even known these two from Mephista existed either, if it wasn't for listening to Ibarra being interviewed by Jeremiah Cymerman on his 5049 Records podcast. That led me to these YouTubes, and a few more out there, and now I'm eyeing online secondhand sale copies of those aforementioned CDs (as far as I can tell there's nothing else in their discography, though they are still somewhat active, having played as recently as November 2016).

POSTSCRIPT: Susie Ibarra was also just interviewed at The Trap Set! 

Thursday, August 03, 2017


Strange how, even after Led Zeppelin III gets you into Roy Harper, and you get beyond Astral Weeks into Pentangle, Davey Graham, John Martyn, and the Incredible String Band, eventually finding an even more inner tier where Clive Palmer, Michael Chapman, Wizz Jones, and Bridget St. John all dwell, and you now know just how brilliant a movement of wide-open progressive folk/jazz/blues singer/songwriter/players there really was in 1970s Britain (read Electric Eden by Rob Young and prepare to go deeper still), you can still have no idea who Mike Cooper is until the estimable Paradise of Bachelors label begins to reissue his 1970s LPs sometime in the mid-2010s. That's exactly how it happened to me, anyway, and after listening to them online and being rather blown away, the one I've gotten deep into via my very own vinyl copy is Trout Steel and man, I hope to go deeper still; the mix of folk, blues, free jazz, and slipstream poetics (the title comes from Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America) is absolutely luminous, and still with a rough loose gutbucket approach that is like a cold fresh wind blowing down a hill, the tracks feeling live in a room, Cooper's keening and wry voice, a couple acoustic guitars, a stand-up bass, and some wild saxophone blowing the doors off, all in the service of wistful love/life songs like my stone cold favorite, "Don't Talk Too Fast" (listen above if you haven't already). And then there's stuff on here like "Pharaoh's March," named in honor of Mr. Sanders himself, a 12-minute-long free jazz/folk instrumental that comes late in side two and blows the doors off the whole album.


Your friendly music blogger, pictured here in completely unstaged fashion, not just enjoying Trout Steel while reading the accompanying booklet, but veritably becoming ONE with it and its creator........... (photo by Angelina Dolman)

Don't miss Byron Coley's very extensive (yet still incomplete!) discographic rundown of Mike Cooper's career, recently posted at

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Two synths and two drummers? Plus Joshua Abrams (of the Natural Information Society) on bass? Playing lumbering post-Miles heavy grooved-out electro-jazz?! I'm sold, especially when it's sitting new & shrinkwrapped, buried in a cutout bin for like $3.99, even though I've had a promo CD copy of it since it was released almost ten years ago. Hell, there's probably even a rough draft of a review somewhere on my desktop. It's not just Abrams... all the other musicians are household names as well, at least in weird households like mine: bandleader Ben Vida and the great Jim Baker both play synth, and John Herndon and Dan Bitney, both of Tortoise et al, play drums. With Abrams on bass you've got a quintet, a sort of double trio minus one. Amish is a New York label, but all musicians were Chicago-based at the time of this 2008 recording, though some have moved away since then. Chicago has always had a bad-ass jazz scene and surely always will. (And BTW, that video embedded up there is great. especially if you like 60s and 70s underground experimental film, kaleidoscopes, and surprisingly good refrigerator magnet poetry. It's a 2000s film made by Theo Angell, who also makes music, like the great record Auraplinth, from back in 2007, around the same time this Bird Show Band LP came out.)

Monday, July 10, 2017


This compilation LP came out almost 10 years ago, but a couple songs from side one have haunted me since first listen, and I just got it back out again. The songs in question are the 2nd and 3rd tracks on the record, both by Groupe El Azhar, both having a killer circular drum beat that sure sounds like trance rock to me. The first song is kind of in a bad-ass blues minor, fittingly titled "Mazal Nesker Mazal (I'm Getting Drunk)," with the lead vocalist laying down big barroom "yeeaaaaaaah"s, while the second song "Touedar Aakli (My Reason Is Lost)" has sweet major-key love-lorn overtones that make it my favorite of the two.

The LP is a compilation of Algerian Rai music. The word rai roughly translates as "opinion" or "point of view," which is interesting because the self-expression is indeed very unmediated and face-to-face, and in fact gets pretty rough and tumble, and I wonder if England and America in fact translated the concept of rai as punk. Just look at the titles: "I'm Still Getting Drunk... Still," "My God! My God! My Friends!," "I'll Marry Her Whether They Like It Or Not," and the curious "I Cuddle Myself," all over that driving trance beat. According to the liner notes Rai started evolving in the early 20th Century, in the Algerian port town of Wahran (aka Oran). A driving rhythm would be established while a Gasba flute played hypnotic dirge-like melodies that implied rich melancholy chord changes that a vocalist would express themselves over. For much of the 20th Century, Rai was associated with "shiekhs," apparently a somewhat dismissive term for underground ne'er-do-well musicians and entertainers. In 1970, probably due to the global rock'n'roll chic (no pun intended) of the Stones et al and the resulting cultural permissiveness, Rai no longer needed to stay underground, and a few Groupes emerged, like our subjects El Azhar. The instrumentation evolved and modernized, the bands, as LP producer Hisham Mayet writes in the liner notes, "reinterpreting the Gasba melodies on trumpet accompanied by a full orchestra of violins, drums, derboukas, accordions, and sometimes synthesizers..." There was a market for 45s, which is where all the cuts on this compilation come from. Sublime Frequencies, man... so many releases to sift through to find these gems among gems, those one or two tracks that still cut just as deep 10 years after you first hear them...

Friday, July 07, 2017


Looks like Chicago's got a CHItaper of their own to go along with NYC's NYCtaper, someone recording and posting good old fashioned Mediafire uploads of CHI-area shows on a Tumblr called Sweet Blahg, with some brief, casual, often insightful descriptions of the music. Right now I'm listening to one of the very few shows on there that I was at, Wolf Eyes closing out the first ever Trip Metal Fest Chicago. The band was even weirder than usual this night, and very, very good, so it's a pleasure to hear their set again, perhaps best of all to rehear Nate Young's classic stage banter, such as the spiel at the 30-minute mark when, after about 12 straight minutes of inzane quiet prezzure, Mr. Young pipes up as the music still pulses: "Hey man. We're checkin' in again. How you guys doin'? You okay? I know it's gettin' fuckin' weird, man. It's been weird all night. It's weird every fucking night. Wow, but man, just let us do our thing, man. That's all I want, everyone to do their fucking thing, man. Thank you all. You're bad-fucking-ass, man. You know this. All you. You're good." As for the music, I am loving their current post-Stare Case/Crasy Jim era, and sometimes imagine (in a good way) that they're just trying to take "Desert of Glue" deeper, over and over again (why wouldn't you?), and every time it comes out different and great, so they just keep doing it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


I finally listened to a recent episode of the Tabs Out podcast (they're on #103 and I've heard maybe two of them, need to do a little catching up), where they play stuff off all kindsa recent cassette releases, and buried deep somewhere in the shenanigans of the second hour (the podcast hosts not only find great music, but they're also hilarious... maybe too hilarious, as they spend what seems like 25% or more of the runtime talking and laughing) was this beauty of a low-simmer dark-lit zone-out that oddly reminded me of some deep ECM my homie S-Mac had laid on me just the previous weekend. It's a fairly tangential/personal thing, and the instrumentation is different, but one thing both records definitely have in common is heavy atmosphere. What Tabs Out played is a cassette release by Long Distance Poison called Rheomodes. They are the contemporary NYC-based analog electronics duo of Nathan Cearley and Erica Bradbury, and on Rheomodes they play three long improvisations; "Artichoke" takes up all of Side 1 and "Holochatter" and "Remote Bluebird" make up Side 2. I think it's crazy good, with several extended passages, especially on side 2, where I forget I'm listening to synths/electronics and just surfing on their double-strange grooves. Tabs Out excerpted a really killer section that comes at least 10 minutes into "Artichoke," so kudos to their selection skills once again, and you can hear album closer "Remote Bluebird" above.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

THIS WEEK IN CLASSIC ROCK #397 by Larry "Fuzz-O" Dolman


Please don't watch this whole tawdry cheap-TV production (a 1986 episode of A Current Affair* that interviews semi-estranged members of music superstar Prince's family), but jumping to the section in which Prince's father John Nelson talks to a reporter while sitting and playing piano is a fairly fascinating musicological exercise. (It starts at the 6:02 mark, and I beg you, please click here to correctly skip all the other stuff, or immediately jump to the 6:02 mark in the embed above.) Mr. Nelson really does seem like a true artist, like his son, albeit a non-commercial one (advanced soul and jazz harmonies, yes, but he sure as hell never settles on a hook). The program tawdrily implies that he wrote "Purple Rain," just because he can tinkle the ivories while singing a bluesy version of the chorus. He probably did once sing a couplet like "never meant to cause you any sorrow/never meant to cause you any pain" to a young listening Prince, and not gone anywhere with it. Nonetheless, I would give significant credit to his playing and singing, however rambling, for directly influencing his son's legendary style, which was a hybrid of two things: Papa John's soul/jazz/jive/entertainer sensibility and the killer 1970s AM and FM radio of Minneapolis/St. Paul pumping out hook-laden hard-rock, R&B, funk, and pop. When this little Prince filtered the former through the latter it shocked the world. And, if the stuff about the Kid sneaking out and watching his Dad play backup music at a strip joint down the street is true -- and I kinda think it is -- well, that explains a whole lot too.

* I'm not joking about this Current Affair shit. DO NOT watch that poison. You see, A Current Affair was produced from 1986 to 1995 by the film company 20th Century Fox. In October 1996 a subsidiary of this same company called the Fox Entertainment Group launched a 24-hour TV channel that soon became well known as Fox News, and is still going all too strong. Current Affair was essentially a trial run,


Video Soul interview with Prince's onstage dancer/hypewoman Cat Glover and dancer/hypeman/bodyguard Gregory Brooks, both of whom performed with Prince and his band from 1986 to 1989, very notably in the Sign of the Times concert film and on the Lovesexy Tour (which I was lucky enough to view in person on their Ames, Iowa stop of November 21, 1988). Cat is so bad-ass and sweet in this video, not surprised she's from Chicago. Esmond Elementary and Morgan Park High represent! (The interviewer Donnie Simpson is kinda terrible tho, even if he is from Detroit, like Brooks, who seems like a cool dude.)

Vice's celebrated and maligned disruptive journalism style keeps getting more cloying every time I try to read one of their pieces, but they did publish what might be the definitive article on the Grateful Dead's Wall of Sound (via their music/electronics/culture/lifestyle subsidiary Motherboard).


As a Joni completist (still haven't gotten to the 80s) of course I'm digging her muezzin chorale reinvention of The Youngbloods' "Get Together" (perhaps more in the spirit of its writer Chet Powers aka Dino Valenti than its most well-known interpreter Jesse Colin Young) as backed up by that obscure group Crosby, Stills, Nash & Sebastian, live at the 1969 festival that was documented by the concert film Celebration at Big Sur, and at which Stills notoriously got into a scuffle over the ostentatious fur coat he was wearing with a less sartorially concerned audience member. "Get Together" presumably happened later in the day, as Stills is sans coat, and also sans a front tooth, which I hope he didn't lose in the fur coat scuffle. Must be a feisty guy, and he's certainly feisty on guitar here right out of the gate, and Joni has to gently make eye contact with him and smile so that he gets just self-conscious enough to stop showboating, because, like... she's trying to sing the first verse of the song. Pretty sure she cuts his first solo off too, but after that he knows his place. His guitar playing is killer throughout, don't get me wrong, and Joni knew just how to arrange it.


Digging on M. Davis's "All Blues" lately, reading how it directly inspired songs like "Dreams" by the Allmans (subtle) to "Strange Feeling" by Tim Buckley (obvious), and just heard this 2009 reinterpretation (embedded above) by the duo of Gary Peacock (bass) and Marc Copland (piano) on the WNUR jazz show.


Time spent on earth by me knowing the song "Joy and Pain" by Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock before actually hearing the original existential slow-jam sweet-simmer summertime masterpiece by Frankie Beverly & Maze that it got its hook from: 28 years.


Speaking of smooth ass raw soul how about those demos that came with the 2000 Rhino Records CD reissue of the 1970 LP Curtis? "Little Child Running Wild" has that killer main riff, and on the demo version here, called "Ghetto Child," the verses and choruses aren't tightened up yet, which allows the band to experience the riff and zone out on some ragged and raw grooving. I assume that's the one and only Craig McMullen with the exquisite/ruffneck wah-wah guitar soloing, but his name doesn't appear in the musician credits, which this CD reissue presents in one big list at the end, with no reference to track titles or instruments.


And why didn't I know that Lauryn Hill was on some Terry Callier shit, here as recently as 2013??


The Blue Nile are classic rock! Because even though at one time their 1980s music was nouveau and current, that time is now 30 years ago and can be viewed through a historical, and even classical lens. Sometimes I think of all those New Romantics like ABC, Spandau Ballet, even Duran Duran themselves, as a subset of classic rock. But man, The Blue Nile were good, because they were also smooth ass raw soul, even though a bunch of white Scottish dudes. And, lead singer Paul Buchanan might just be the source of Richard Youngs' croon when he gets electro-pop (see Behind the Valley of the Ultrahits for best example), nice nick there, Rich...


Been listening to almost every different version of "These Days" that's on the 'Tube, gotta be at least 20 already, mostly different performances by an inner circle of interpreters over the years (although I did bravely listen to a version by Drake, and I don't mean Nick, and I even kinda like Drake sometimes, but this version was so bad I'm not even gonna link it). Jackson Browne wrote the song when he was 16, but it didn't get released until Nico did a version a couple years later, on which Browne played guitar. Various others did a version at the time, like a rather overproduced Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, but in 1973 Gregg Allman, in my opinion, recorded the best (cosmic country) version there will ever be. It was on his first solo LP Laid Back, and it remained a soulfully heartbreaking song in his repertoire throughout the years, even as recently as 2012 in front of a buncha talkative twits in NYC. Back in '73, Browne apparently heard Allman's arrangement and recorded his first official version in Gregg's style, and it's nearly as goddamn good. (The liner notes say "The Arrangement was inspired by Gregg Allman," even though Gregg's album came out a month after Jackson's. Studio brats!)  As for other arrangements, I might just give 2nd best to this much more recent one by St. Vincent aka Annie Clark performing solo on electric guitar and singing those lyrics like goddamn Vashti Bunyan herself. REALLY good. But Jackson Browne himself playing the song solo back in 2008 at a festival in Claremont, CA is right up there. Hearing him perform a (then-new?) hypnotic fingerpicking arrangement, with careful but still plenty soulful vocal delivery, is like the unveiling of a statue that the sculptor has carefully chipped away at for 40 years (44 in this particular case). And speaking of careful, the always strong final line ("Don't confront me with my failures/I had not forgotten them") certainly takes on new light after his denial of the allegations that he beat up Daryl Hannah in 1992. Many people say it's a great line, but I really don't like the way it leads with "don't confront me"; it could read as "Don't point out how awful I can be, when I'd rather you stayed quiet about it." Also, by ending the whole song, rather than an earlier verse, with this line, it hangs in the air like a command, rather than an immediate emotional reaction that can be elucidated and perhaps resolved by further discussion. At least Allman led with "Please don't" instead (he did often refer to himself as a polite Southern boy), and then, regarding his "failures," changed Browne's "I had not forgotten them" to "I'm aware of them," which isn't necessarily more polite, but is at least a little more self-effacing.


Count Ossie is classic rock! My friend thinks they're quoting an American song with "Four Hundred Years (Instrumental)" from the Grounation 3LP, and it sounds very familiar to me as well, but neither of us can place it. Anyone know if it's a direct quote? And if so, what song are they quoting? Leave a comment if you know. 

Thursday, June 08, 2017


The trio known as Good Willsmith has been tearing it up in Chicago for awhile now, to popular acclaim; I've missed out on them entirely other than listening to a couple different 20-minute tracks on Bandcamp which kinda overwhelmed me as dense stews of free-formless electronic future noise. But since then I've heard two members of the trio perform solo, and both times they seem to find beauty and tranquility as if in the eye of the Good Willsmith hurricane. First I saw member Muxqs aka Max Allison play a haunting, lush, eerie solo set a few months ago (word is that his LP that just came out on Midwich is the same material he was playing live, which means #mustgrip, and not just because of the cover art*), and now I'm repeatedly spinning this debut LP by TALsounds, the solo act of member Natalie Chami. She works alone and in real time, looping synths and singing vocals, creating instant compositions that really hit a sweet spot where dreampop, shoegaze, slow jam R&B**, classical string quartets, vaporwave (yes, vaporwave), and vintage synth mantra all hang out. Oh yeah, noise too -- the leadoff single from the LP "Disgrace" has a particularly grinding/strobing synth through-line, and a drumbeat that kinda lurches like a Wolf Eyes groove.

* #Gripped the Mukqs today, and man, this record is crazy... it does seem to be the same material that was played live, but the recording presents it as brighter and clearer, where in a live setting (or maybe just my memory) it was a little hazier and fuzzier. Everything coming through so clearly has a real relentless brain-scrambling effect, in which complexities emerge and then pile on top of each other in wild permutations, flocking in and out of phase like clusters of cybernetic birds. The first note I took during side one was "an all-robot Steve Reich ensemble going in and out of phase patterns while making an Arthur Russell disco record" but I think it's beyond that already....

** Not too far from say Atlantic recording artist Ravyn Lenae, minus the hip-hop drum programming... and Lenae is a former student of Chami's, as reported in this brand new Chicago Reader feature on TALSounds by Peter Margasak that got me listening to Love Sick in the first place. Hat tips all around!

More TALSounds highlights include this video of her performing a song "Hair" at home, a nice look at her process (and bookshelves), and a great cassette release from 2013 called Sky Face, similar to Love Sick but a bit more raw and even dreamier. Dig in!

Thursday, June 01, 2017


There is a back story here, but this review is a more immediate reaction. I already listen to any new Ma Turner (aka Mazozma) record with a certain heightened sense of anticipation, because he really does almost always make strange, challenging, unexpected music, but this new record Heavy Death Head on Feeding Tube has really got my head spinning along with the turntable as I nervously try to crack the code, finally getting somewhere on listens five through seven. For starters, I figured out how to read the insert, which is in fact a track listing, with tiny hand-written credits, and a little pictographic drawing for each song, and now I'm actually paying attention to when each track ends and begins (it's easy to lose track, pun intended), what they're titled and what their lyrics might be, and how tenuous, even with lyrics, their relationship to what we usually think of as songs sometimes gets. Although of course the very first track "Circle (Laa)" is a song, it's a full-on spiritual chant, and it does have words, even besides the chanted (sub)title refrain "laa." Indeed, the tracks that do have lyrics are more or less all chant songs, or vocal trance songs, which is like a very weird spin on Alice Coltrane's 1980s ashram tapes that Luaka Bop just released a 2LP sampler of. but of course coming from different dark levels, yes in the tradition that might start with Madcap Laughs and Oar and runs through Ready For The House and beyond. The second track is called "The Dawn of Time," but it's also the closest thing to a title track, because after a melancholy/pretty passage of sweet organ chords and forlorn drumming, Mazozma chants "oh I must admit/oh I must confess/I've been riding high/on the heavy death." Two equally unsettling instrumentals follow, tortured and obtuse textures and tones, with more of the same on side two opener "Hor-Flora," the entire song's verbal content a single question asked once ("What are the odds of anything evening out?"), and that paranoid/analytic line giving way to maelstroms of guitar, saxophone, and non-verbal voice. It is in fact a comfort that Mazozma is a quartet on this track, as three other pseudonymous people are vocalizing and jamming away with him; at least he's not going through this darkness alone. He's not alone on "Show Yourself" either, which is the most melodic song on here, but still heavy death-(head)-folk, Mazozma singing the forlorn words ("deeper into glass/it's all just sand/pieces alone") along with the mono-named Stella, who also sings very powerfully with Mazozma on the aforementioned opening track. The closing number, "All In Three (Laa)," has the same subtitle as the opener, but no lyrics, subtitular or otherwise, and no singing. Instead it's another Mazozma solo instrumental work, this time conjuring up a mass of tripped-out high-pulsation free-form electric guitar string music to ride the heavy death headtrip over and out.

Here's a video Mazozma made for "Backwards Salutation Into Waking" from the Heavy Death Head LP, one of the creeping obtuse instrumentals on side one that help bridge the first half of the album from nothing to nowhere, here set to a strange silent film with a humorous on-location contempo-psychotronic feeling. The way sound develops along with image reminds me of, no shit, Teiji Ito's score for Maya Deren's Meshes of the Afternoon (though the deadpan visual content itself is a little more along the lines of something like Ron Rice's Flower Thief).

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

ONE OF YOU Life Is So Hard b/w Faded Flowers (SCARAB RECORDS)

I think a onetime Chicago friend I haven't seen in at least a decade but follow on Twitter (Ms. Chambers of Ides, is that you?) posted this weird loner folk (?) whatsis, a 7" single self-released in Canada back in 1981. All I can say is wow. UPDATE (45 SECONDS LATER): Just learned the story... the singer for One of You is a Czech woman who left Prague after the 1968 revolution and relocated to Toronto. Sinking into alienation in the cold new North American city, she wrote these rather despairing bedroom dirges about her feelings. "Life Is So Hard" really lives up to the title, getting just a little scary when that "Cry little devil cry / Cry little devil cry" part goes into the chorus. The B side "Faded Flowers" is more of a church/medieval epic, or something, including spoken word, and an eerie chorale part that Ms. One of You builds through what must be overdubs. Maybe not as autobiographical, but still quite an ear-turner. Heavy music in all styles and volumes, or should I say #heavymusicinallstylesandvolumes .....

Thursday, May 11, 2017

ROBERT GLASPER Covered (The Robert Glasper Trio Recorded Live at Capitol Studios) 2LP (BLUE NOTE)

Can't believe I'm sinking deep into an exquisite, moody, delicate/heavy piano trio record on Blue Note, and not only was it recorded AFTER (not before) 1960, it was in fact recorded in December 2014. That's right, I'm actually listening to brand new relatively non-avant jazz music. I've known about Mr. Glasper for awhile, that he was a young jazz pianist who was revitalizing the genre by bringing in straight-up hip-hop and R&B (his music heavily influenced by Miles Davis and Keith Jarrett but also Q-Tip and J. Dilla). However, I didn't start listening to his records until just this week when I happened across this charming appearance on Amoeba's What's In My Bag? series, in which he boldly (and literally) sings the praises of Kenny G. From there I started going through the related videos and sampling a bunch of his albums, such as the Grammy-winning and totally-deserving-of-it 2012 release Black Radio, which is some kind of jazzy hip-hop neo-soul modern masterpiece, each song with a different guest vocalist, really some beautiful stuff. (The 2013 sequel Black Radio 2 seems just as good, really loving the song "Calls" featuring Jill Scott.) But, the record I've got on the turntable right now, and the subject of this record review as referenced in its opening sentence, is the Covered double LP, recorded live at Capitol Studios, and filmed as well, so you can listen to it, you can watch it on your TV with popcorn, you can put it on some sort of streaming service and take a bath by candle light, or you can get the vinyl and flip it all the time like I do. Either way, this is beautiful music, played by top-notch jazz musicians on piano (Glasper), bass (Vicente Archer), and drums (Diamond Reid). Reid is particularly impressive, for example the next-level beat on "I Don't Even Care," some kind of high-speed drum&bass Amen-break vibe. It isn't even immediately apparent that this is a covers album (though the album title does give pause); "Barandgrill" was the first track that seemed to ring some far-off bell, and even after learning from the YouTube comments that it was a Joni Mitchell song, I still didn't realize the rest were covers too until really digging "So Beautiful," which I assumed to be a Glasper original, or maybe even a group improvisation, but upon research turned out be a cover of a sweet 2009 R&B song by someone called Musiq Soulchild. At this point I started to catch on, and have since learned that other sources are Kendrick Lamar, John Legend, Bilal, Macy Grey, Radiohead, and someone called Jhene Aiko, but above all it sounds like a really nice haunting lush and atmospheric Blue Note piano trio jazz album.

POSTSCRIPT: A few more acoustic piano trio favorites: Duke Ellington/Charles Mingus/Max Roach Money JungleBill Evans Trio Sunday at the Village Vanguard (with the great Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian); this all-time great beauty of a track by Alice Coltrane, Ron Carter, and Ben Riley called "Turiya and Ramakrishna"Lowell Davidson Trio self-titled (with Gary Peacock and Milford Graves!); Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette Changeless (ECM); Ahmad Jamal Trio At the Pershing (with Israel Crosby and Vernell Fournier), and, THIS JUST IN, on my morning drive to take my kids to school the tradition is to listen to the morning jazz shows on WNUR, and this week they played a track called "Redwoods" by the Eri Yamamoto Trio, which was released in 2008 on the long-heavy Aum Fidelity label.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017


(Almost entirely written December 2015-January 2016, and then left in a drawer until now....)

MEG BAIRD Don't Weigh Down The Light (DRAG CITY) This is the Blastitude Record of the Year, 2015. I wonder if a folk record should be the record of such an electronically advanced year as 2015, but it's beautifully sung and played, and sinks deeper and deeper with every listen, and folk music is always back because it never goes away, and I'm certain we need it more than ever as an option for universal/societal calming, quietude, and deep-breathing. It's the AntiTrumpstitude, and believe me, on Don't Weigh Down The Light the breathing gets very deep via brilliant two-person playing, Meg laying down heavy song after heavy song on guitar and voice, Charlie Saufley's instant electric guitar arrangements equally heavy and beautiful throughout, both of them adding subtle overdubs on piano, organ, etcetera... the atmosphere is incredible.

WOLF EYES I Am A Problem: Mind In Pieces (THIRD MAN) A radical new Wolf Eyes record in many ways. The first thing you hear is a Fender Rhodes piano, and instead of being obliterated by industrial noise terror, it's patiently joined by softly sketching saxophone (which will be familiar to most Wolf Eyes fans already, and especially to fans of side band Stare Case), all building into an incredibly somber track called "Catching The Rich Train" that I can honestly say is a 'genre' of music I've never heard before. And the whole album stays in that genre (#mustbetripmetal), with several more great tracks... the twisting slow (trip) metal riff at the heart of "T.O.D.D.," the devastating (actual) metal chorus hook of "Enemy Ladder," the living Stooges sample that is "Twister Nightfall"... and two more, one of which ("Cynthia Vortex AKA Trip Memory Illness") has me recalling Byron Coley's stark words regarding Skip Spence's Oar ("There's a quality of loss and disorientation on this record that has the palpable taste of LSD"). First Wolf rec (I know of) that comes with a lyric sheet, but it's barely possible to follow along with Nate Young's vocals with the ruptures and disjunctures brought about by the band's always-evolving cutting/mirroring vocal delay tactics. But then, just when I'm sure I won't get a handle on it, I happen to be looking at the lyric sheet during the aforementioned "T.O.D.D." not knowing the name of the song yet, and my eyes fall right on the words he's speaking/singing, just in time for a fully intelligible line that stops me in my tracks: "I burn my dreams just to stay warm." I haven't gone back to the lyric sheet since, as that one line has become the theme of the entire record, encapsulating the back story revealed by the band in interviews, the seemingly incongruous cover imagery now a warm fleeting vision of beauty from another burnt dream...

CIRCUIT DES YEUX In Plain Speech (THRILL JOCKEY) I can't really think of another artist who has taken the leap that Haley Fohr aka Circuit Des Yeux has in the last few years. She first came on our radar as some sort of teenage no-wave siren from the wilds of Indiana, playing what I thought (I'll admit I didn't investigate deeply at the time) were deconstructed punk howls. That was something in itself, but fast-forward a few years and she's moved to Chicago and developed her voice into a stunning operatic baritone that brings to mind Scott Walker himself, her songwriting leaping right along with it, crafting extremely honest and emotional works that leave out none of her many avant-garde inspirations but also clearly aspire to the occult grandeur of her beloved Led Zeppelin. So, like Scott Walker singing a more drummerless "Kashmir" but in the Chicago art damage milieu of a woman in her 20s in the way-too-singular 2010s. The album where this breathtaking style really came clear was 2013's self-released Overdue, but 2015's In Plain Speech, for the higher profile Thrill Jockey label, takes it even further.

ETERNAL TAPESTRY Wild Strawberries 2LP (THRILL JOCKEYExtendo jam psych that actually hits some of those Gottsching/Harmonia nodes we usually only encounter by playing records that were recorded 40 years ago. Besides, what else can you say about a band that lives in Portland but travels to a cabin deep in the woods to record extremely heady psychedelic rock improvisations, each of which they craft into nigh-side-long pieces which they name after a plant indigenous to that region, other than that they are Living the Dream? 

ANTHONY PASQUAROSA Morning Meditations (VDSQ) This is technically a reissue of a privately/barely released cassette from 2014, but that issue was so ephemeral, and only a year older, that I'm going to put this on Best of 2015 anyway. Pasquarosa has several projects and all are interesting... to name just a couple of many, he plays teenage downer punk with Gluebag, cosmic psych folk with Crystalline Roses, and brilliant solo acoustic guitar instrumentals as himself. He can be heard to great effect in this setting on the same label's VDSQ Solo Acoustic Volume Seven, but Morning Meditations is a different strain of music, its structures more intensely minimalist, extremely patient and slow-developing (although 'developing' into 'something' isn't even the goal here, because it already 'is', so never mind).

SHAWN DAVID MCMILLEN On The Clock W/ JJ & Mitch (12XU)  "The title of this brand new 2015 album refers to his band; McMillen plays guitar and sings, while JJ Ruiz plays drums and Mitch Frazier plays bass. JJ and Mitch both sing background vocals as well, so it certainly works from that spaced-out roots-rock Crazy Horse trio template, but this is no carbon copy. JJ and Mitch are light, open, and swinging, and McMillen brings his own loosey goosey voice to it, really coming into his own as a songwriter. I think I saw someone (on Instagram?) compare this album to the Meat Puppets, and they might've even dropped a II into the comment. A big claim, but I really think it's an accurate description of the style." That's what I said back in November.
MAGAS Heads Plus
VIANDS Temporal Relic
MICK TRAVIS Face Disappears After Interrogation (MIDWICH
Wrote about these great records and label last year too, read it here!

75 DOLLAR BILL Wooden Bag (OTHER MUSIC) Best LP released this year of microtonal Mauritanian/North Mississippian guitar played by a Korean from New Haven and accompanied by a percussionist whose main instrument is an amplified wooden crate that he both plays and sits on, bar none!

HELEN The Original Faces (KRANKY) Liz Harris AKA Grouper, one of my favorite musical artists of the 2000s, here doing something different in the 2010s as the frontperson of a dreamy raging shoegaze band.

DAN MELCHIOR'S BROKE REVUE Lords of the Manor (IN THE REDI was already loving this material, just from seeing very heavy YouTubes of Dan and the Revue playing it live in 2014. You may remember me openly wondering if there was a studio record that had these songs on it in last year's almost-a-year-late "Best of 2014" year-end post. Well, Lords of the Manor is that studio record, and it is indeed really goddamn heavy.

KURT VILE B'lieve I'm Goin' Down (MATADORAfter loving Kurt's first few albums back in the late 00's (you can read about it in several previous posts), I kinda got off the bus with Wakin' on a Pretty Daze. It seemed like his songwriting was getting lost in his atmosphere, which allowed for pleasant-enough listening while it was on, but not a whole lot to take away. Well folks, the takeaway is boldly back with this one. The reverby wash is dialed down and the instruments and lyrics stand unadorned, leading to what may paradoxically be his heaviest album ever. Central track "That's Life, Tho (Almost Hate To Say)" makes me cry, and it's followed by the almost-as-devastating "Wheelhouse." Like Wolf Eyes earlier on this page, Kurt is also adding electric piano to his sound, and it's great, as on the superb track eight, "Lost My Head There," still melancholy, but more a smiler than a weeper, or the instrumental "Bad Omens," which almost sounds like it could've been one of the piano-driven instrumentals on Garcia (1972)! I'll admit I thought the lead-off single and album opener "Pretty Pimpin'" was kinda annoyingly quirky the first couple times I heard it, didn't like the title, etc., but it's actually a damn good song as well.

RYLEY WALKER Primrose Green (DEAD OCEANS) I've long been impressed by Walker's ability to execute aspects of Buckley/Drake/Jansch/Renbourn traditions at a high level, but not always sure how much from the present day was in it. Primrose Green still seems like it's of another time, right down to the Astral Weeks vibe of the cover art, but this record marks Walker and his band really starting to make this music their own. His songwriting has gotten there, and the musical interplay of a consistent full band (the core seems to be Ben Bowe on keyboards, Frank Rosaly on drums, Brian Sulpizio on guitar, and Anton Hatwitch on the double bass) has gotten all the way there and then some...

BILL MACKAY & RYLEY WALKER Land of Plenty (WHISTLER RECORDS) And with this record Walker does something different, combining his six-string skills with those of fellow Chicago guitarist Bill Mackay, both considerable, songs and traditions and freedom boiled down to pure all-instrumental guitar duo interplay, a really dreamy and haunting thing.

MAMMAL Lake & Sand (ORMOLYCKA) I know there's a small but dedicated group out there who really loved Mammal's Lonesome Drifter double-LP, released in 2007, and have waited very, very patiently ever since for the followup. Gary Beauvais, who is Mammal, told me about 7 years ago via email that the followup was almost done! I was excited, because he said it was "even more 'deserty' than Lonesome Drifter," but the record was not forthcoming... until now. Believe me, I can relate to an artist who is excited about a project but for one reason or another, or many, is simply unable to complete it or release it. (Sort of like how I'm publishing this "Best of 2015" blog post in mid-2017.) Either way, I'm glad Lake & Sand got done because it's a very good record. It is indeed more desert-y than Lonesome Drifter, certainly more subdued, less distorted; the pure-noise genre music that Lonesome Drifter still included intermittently is now almost completely gone. What remains is haunted, fragile, extremely direct and distilled. There is what I would call outright balladry on here, but composed and delivered in Beauvais's cold downer tone. Sometimes the lyrics are possibly too direct, but I like the music enough that I'll forgive certain phrases for erring on the side of precision and candor.

RAMLEH Circular Time (CRUCIAL BLAST) Absolutely monumental most recent album by this long-running British underground ensemble. I've never quite had a handle on this band/project (is it a band or a project?), and have barely skimmed the surface of the vast Broken Flag label that they emerged from. I'm finally making my way through the excellent Gary Mundy/Broken Flag career overview/interview in the first issue of As Loud As Possible, but you really need to be hearing it as you go with an article like that. If only that ALAP paperstock came with some sort of embedded sound samples... c'mon guys, where's the future tech? (Oh yeah, we do it ourselves, and it's called YouTube.) One thing I do know is that much of the Broken Flag catalog, and indeed previous work of Ramleh itself, does not sound like this. Most Ramleh is solo or small-group noise/electronics music, but this incarnation is a full-on pulverizing psychedelic rock'n'roll band. Drums, bass, and two very loud guitars, sprawling way the hell out over two CDs, and all I can say is thank you.

LIGHTNING BOLT Fantasy Empire 2LP (THRILL JOCKEY) Not too far off from what Ramleh are doing! But of course Lightning Bolt can hyperdrive it like no other band, and on this, their 7th full length album, they seem to have more riffs than ever. Sonics are terrific too, recording & pressing wise.


Ornette Coleman, Chris Squire, Edgar Froese, Daevid Allen, Andy Fraser, Chris Burden, Chantal Akerman, Anita Ekberg, Leonard Nimoy, Sam Simon, Manoel de Oliveira, Percy Sledge, Ben E. King, B.B. King, Christopher Lee, Roddy Piper, Bob Johnston, Yvonne Craig, Wes Craven, Tadeusz Konwicki, Oliver Sacks, Rico Rodriguez, Setsuko Hara, Candida Royalle, Moses Malone, Yogi Berra, Allen Touissant, Philthy Animal Taylor, Ellsworth Kelly, Haskell Wexler, Lemmy... I'm not even touching 2016 passages until next year...

So, I'm already working on my Best of 2016, and if all goes well it should be done around.... September 20........18? Confused yet? Believe me, I am too, which is why I listen to old records at least 92% of the time. (NP: Marion Brown Vista (ABC Impulse, 1975).)

Sunday, April 02, 2017



Love Story (Full Version) from Start Productions on Vimeo.


"The Tribal Eye is a seven-part BBC documentary series on the subject of tribal art, written and presented by David Attenborough. It was first transmitted in 1975. Episode 1 centers on the life and customs of the Dogon people in Mali, concentrating primarily on their masks and mask rituals." After to watch, have a nightcap while listening to "Space Prophet Dogon" by Sun City Girls (recorded in Tempe, Arizona in 1988), and by The Brothers Unconnected, aka 2/3rds of the Sun City Girls (live in Iowa City, 2008). 

Just going down memory lane watching a buncha Sonic Youth videos. So many great songs... "Bull in the Heather," "100%," "Sugar Kane," "Dude Ranch Nurse," "Little Trouble Girl," "Cinderella's Big Score," "Jams Run Free" of course "Theresa's Soundworld".... this particular YouTube rabbit hole started with the absurdity of them playing "I Wanna Be Your Dog" on the Night Music television program in 1989, jamming on Iggy and the Stooges with David Sanborn, Hiram Bullock, the Indigo Girls, and a guy with a keytar, show stolen by Don Fleming on flute: 

Speaking of the 90s, I'm now reading through this "Royal Trux Appreciation Thread" on the Terminal Boredom message board, part of an RT deep-dive kicked off by another vintage video of 'em playing "A Night to Remember" on that very-90s British TV show The Word. The year is in fact 1995, right there in the middle, they're on the world tour for their major label debut Thank You, and for these 3 minutes they are incontrovertibly the best rock'n'roll band on the planet:

Modern YouTube channel legend Jimmy is leaving?! How else am I gonna be able to stay at home in my sweatpants and still have all contemporary punk knowledge handed to me on a silver platter?? (Oh, duh.) Regardless, I wish Jimmy the best and would like to thank him for his archival work.

Still don't quite know what to think of Milk Music's new one Mystic 100s (at least it's better than Cruise Your Illusion and "Crying Wand" is pretty fantastic), so I'm revisiting what may still be the peak of their career thus far, a live performance on WFMU from the summer of 2011, as presented at WFMU's Free Music Archive:

Always enjoy reading about Dan Healy, longtime soundman and technological innovator for the Grateful Dead. Here's a 2007 profile on him from the Marin Independent Journal, which is also a profile of the good ole American can-do and stoned autodidacticism that exemplified the entire Grateful Dead organization. (Also recommended is his interview, and many other mentions, in the book Conversations With The Dead by David Gans.) Healy is now 72 years old; let's wish him well and thank him for all he's done for the world of sound.

I've had another tab open forever to the Spotify Web Player, which I've been using to listen to Robert Glasper's Black Radio and Black Radio 2 over and over.

Monday, March 27, 2017

ANNA CLYNE "Within Her Arms" (performed by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra) #HEAVYMUSICINALLSTYLESANDVOLUMES

Last Saturday afternoon, on March 25th, for the weekly Classical & Beyond program on WNUR (89.3 FM Evanston/Chicago), the DJs only played music by women composers, and almost completely focused on works from this still young 21st Century. It was a mind-blowing show, and I had to drive all the way downtown and back on an errand, so I got to hear long pieces by at least three different composers. The only name I remember is Anna Clyne, although I only heard the last minute or so of her piece, a rather harsh electronic and possibly improvisational work that was released on John Zorn's Tzadik label in 2012, on a CD called Blue Moth (in fact it's the opening track, called "Fits & Starts"). Now I'm at home looking for more of her music on YouTube, and ending up on a 2011 performance (embedded above) by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra of her composition "Within Her Arms," and it is absolutely beautiful classical/timeless orchestral music. Wow. She's only 37 years old now, and was only 29 when this piece premiered; it was dedicated to her mother, who passed away that same year, an event that clearly drew intensely heartfelt music out of Ms. Clyne that you will draw into yourself when you listen to it. She was born and raised in England, moved to New York City to work with the NY Youth Symphony in 2008, and as it turns out was a composer in residence here in Chicago, for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, from 2010 to 2014. And here I don't even find out about her until a piece by her is played on a college radio station in 2017... what can I say, there are 8 million stories in the naked city....

Monday, March 20, 2017


Possibly my favorite LP of all time. As a lover of all musics progressive (of which the well-known prog rock genre is a mere subset), I'm always a pushover for a heavy double LP, the most progressive of all formats (releases with three LPs or more -- box sets and whatnot -- are of course still progressive, but not as progressive as the double LP, because the sheer added volume of the extra material inherently begins to weigh down progress, whereas the double LP is just light enough that progress can continue unabated). This one in particular really hits the spot, on the exotic label Shandar, with an epic rich-colored gatefold sleeve, and on the lovely gold-tinted inside, liner notes handwritten in French and an eerie picture of haunted bald bearded psychedelic music monk Terry lurking at the bottom right, sitting on the floor playing his electric organ through his tape delay machine in full all night flight. As for the music in the grooves themselves, I will say this, Dervishes is the album that basically ruined all other Terry Riley LPs for me. Every time I listen to a different one, no matter how good it is, I'm always thinking, "But I could be listening to Dervishes." It seems to have everything that the other LPs have, all the classic Riley moves, but here so raw, so perfectly distilled. It is the true uncut funk. (It's also a double live LP, and as such stands strong next to all the heavy titans... Alive, Alive II, Live Bootleg, Double Live Gonzo, On Your Feet Or On Your Knees, even Live/DeadMade in Japan, and Live at the Fillmore East....)

P.S. Oops, forgot the actual reason I made this post, which is to finally make note of a totally killer part that I've always loved but had no idea how to quickly locate because every time I listen to this thing I'm so zoned out that taking notes seems laughable. Well, this time I actually stood up and left the zone to get pencil and paper, so now (you and) I know that it starts right around the 3:25 mark of "Persian Surgery Dervishes Performance One Los Angeles, 18 Avril 1971, Face 2," which is to say the 3:25 mark of side two (and the 24:15 mark of the YouTube above). There are several of these sudden cyclical spiral double helix zone-outs laying in wait throughout this track... something about this particular bassline mantra seems to inspire Mr. Riley into feverishly active tunnels of vision. 

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