Saturday, 31 December 2016
More Gianni Fallabrino: Musical Images N°1 [year unknown, early 70s] + Music for Brass + Happy New Year to all!
More modern classical music along the lines of the Musicali from before, with piano accompanying various woodwind or brass instruments, but unfortunately, not everyone playing together. Here compositions are a little too baroquely classical to really have much bite unfortunately, being equivalent to time machine transport back into the 19th century perhaps, or maybe XC years before. The staccato style of old European music in particular really starts to grate (did their old folk dances involve a lot of spastic jumping or something?) as it did when my dad used to force me to listen to Haydn's execrable dung-beetle-beloved Surprise Symphony along with the comment that rock music would never stand the test of time. Considering that test of time for musical arts today is something on the order of a kindergarten-level education plus a preteen's use of creatively assembled swear words, I think my poor old dad was wrong-- on many levels...
First track, called Romantico Minuetto:
Wednesday, 28 December 2016
This album featuring two keyboardists was requested once a while back. It took me some time to get to on account of the backlog of other records to discuss-- god bless my contacts and helpers for keeping me so supplied with goodies, and I pray this problem continues into the next year...
To cover Mike Manieri first, his 1981 album is far superior to the seventies effort, I don't recall a similar instance where the eighties product is more enjoyable (better composed and progressive) than the seventies-- quite unusual. There is a Noco Music aspect to the track called L'Image from the album Wanderlust:
In musicianship, it's no contest-- his vibes work is fabulous, flawless. Why would a guy go from commercial sap in Love Plays (1977) to more advanced progressive fusion in 1981's Wanderlust?
And look at the atrocious cover photo! (last on the bottom).
Turning now to the other artist, you can see Warren Bernhardt made a number of solo piano albums, for which there is no interest to me, having heard too much of that one-dimensional genre in university. However, his album called Manhattan from 1979 featured some very tasty fusion without any letdown from start to finish:
In this case of course, his seventies records are far superior to the eighties ones-- which is totally expected and the way the world is supposed to work. I'll post a 1983 (acoustic) trio album from him that still proves enjoyable with its intricate and occasionally delicate compositions (see cover below).
Regarding this joint LP, the 1978 Live in Montreux, we are dealing with a pure duet so there is not too much textural quality to go around, but the compositions are at times quite ingenious and intricate. Listen to Mainieri's Garlicky piece here:
Then at the end you will notice how well the last track fits in to our progressive dreams as Warren pulls out that nostalgia-inducing (Moog?) synth for some nice wavy evocations of the Mediterranean Sea on top of Mainieri's vibey arpeggio waters. Most of the compositions by the latter, note.
Monday, 26 December 2016
From our old friend Tom:
Not to be confused with the contemporaneous Early Times String Band (a Japanese 70s folk-rock ensemble that has become slightly better known due to a couple of reissue/archival releases), this incredibly obscure album was the second effort of a local Sapporo based group. Their first is so rare that, while it must exist, has apparently never been glimpsed a single time by even the most hardcore Japanese collectors after all these years. All that aside, what we have here is a very interesting anachronism that sounds more like an underground Japanese take on early 70s British proto-progressive styles than anything else. Even the Monty Python-esque cover art seems to point in that direction. It kicks off with with an extremely cool horn rock-ish affair, featuring vintage organ, electric piano, funky percussion and psych guitar backed by a female chorus to great effect. This is followed by a lengthy proto-prog style guitar/organ led jam that slowly builds in intensity, with some great soloing. The rest of the first side then kind of puts on the breaks, with a couple of slow blues rock pieces that still have a very palpable early 70s UK feel to them. The second side starts with another gradually building instrumental jam, that eventually hits an awesome groove while the soloing breaks out overhead, before slowing down again into a more pensive mood. We then reach the real climax of the album, with the nearly 13 minute long final track. Building slowly once again (a hallmark of theirs, it seems), this starts out in a jazzy/bluesy horn rock mode, then builds in intensity as the soloing picks up and the vocals join in again, ending in a long crescendo of bluesy psych guitar soloing over the horn rock/proto-prog style jamming. Great stuff, and the whole album has a very loose, underground sound and vibe that is just flat out cool.
Personally I wasn't so impressed with this, though my taste is deficient when it comes to the more 'psych' sounds others seem to go crazy over. At any rate this demonstrates the principle that no matter how rare a record, eventually a digital version will turn up somewhere or another, in this case, here. That is, if you're paying attention, or still on the lookout for it.
For me the most listenable track is b1, Time Out:
Check out the inserts included in the package that show how the musicians wanted to show off their ability at writing music correctly (as did Noctett on Full Score).
Saturday, 24 December 2016
Don't you love that early seventies / sixties cover? It reminds me a lot of the French artist who animated la Planete Sauvage which also had such a great soundtrack (by Alain Goraguer).
Some of these Italian library records are astonishingly expensive. When we listen to them-- finally-- we are often left with a sense of shock. Like waking up on November 9th this year. This one usually sells in the hundreds of euros, but clearly, is not necessarily musically worth that much, and you can now decide this issue for myself. It appears that this was his first Library record, he made quite a few more of which the 1980 Europa album was posted earlier along with Momenti here.
The problem here is not to waste too much money on something disappointing, although these particular libraries thanks to those anonymous faceless collectors (the basement dwellers as my wife calls them) do get more valuable, usually, as the years pass, very slowly. Nor does making a digital copy available seem to affect the price on ebay or discogs in general, which is always a bit surprising.
Back to the music for sensations. I will say this is like standard-issue early 70s library music with a wide-ranging mixture of funk, easy listening, simple melodies, and occasional nods lasting on the order of a second or two in the direction of the more progressive music going on in the background of the decade, on occasional songs. The track For Cynthia is available on youtube here, and the other one uploaded there is Impression.
Thank you Gianni...
...and more to come.
Wednesday, 21 December 2016
The 3 Libraries of Volker Kriegel and The Groove-Combination: Untitled, with Leaf, and With Rainer Bruninghaus on side 2
All the albums of the great German guitarist Kriegel are worth seeking out (plus the ones he made with the Mild Maniac Orchestra), even the ones dipping into the 80s. He never gave up the original, relaxed, and warm & tender songwriting style he developed quite early on in such homages to females as Marie - Thérèse, though the wild fusion definitely petered out.
These three library records are still quite unknown despite their high quality-- not subpar in any way compared to the official releases. The last one with the presence of ECM keyboardist and Eiliff player the great Rainer (everyone know his work, I hope?) really excited my curiosity despite the bland titles being all I had to go with and so I jumped in and grabbed it.
The first two are so similar to his other work I wondered if maybe they are hand-selected excerpts from the discography but I didn't recognize any tracks I had heard before, except maybe the Palm Dreams composition. As an example from the second one-- you can't really expect much from a track called The Stripper but surprisingly it's tender and well-shaped unlike most strippers I've had the lack of pleasure to have ever seen in my Univ. days:
The final album (and the rarest!) is the big treat here, side one being Volker's and the second side Rainer's. The titles are quite generic but the music is not so. The Butterfly Landing is quite remarkable:
Monday, 19 December 2016
Saturday, 17 December 2016
This is squarely in the easy soundtrack, accessible style of the mid-seventies, very light to imperceptible on the advertised funk and fusion moves. It's hard to find in any kind of database, the images from an ebay seller which may well have disappeared into "the cloud" by the time you read this are probably the most you can expect outside of Japanese websites for music purchases.
For me the best track was 9, whatever the heck its name is:
This is the first of a few requests that I'll post in this holiday season, with the biggest posting of all coming up on Xmas Eve-- so stay tuned for that one which is sure to surprise most people, I think.
Wednesday, 14 December 2016
A beautiful cover painting indeed. Note the credit on the back scan.
This is complex, gorgeously composed music with chamber instruments, mostly featuring acoustic piano but occasionally with electric guitar and synths. Compositions are all by Mr. Kristensen, who, obviously, is the pianist. Sparse information here.
The first track as a sample:
The similarity to classic Frenchman Thollot is unusual for a Scandinavian record, to be sure.
Note that he really changes it up nicely when he pulls out the synthesizer for the second side. It's kind of one of those fabrications-- more acoustic on the first and synthetic on the second-- except that, to his credit, he doesn't follow that admittedly cliched script.
The complex almost atonal quality of it reminds me a bit of Michael Mantler's music, or any kind of later ECM, and in fact Kristensen played with the great Mantler later. An earlier project called Ocean Fables I'll see if I can explore on a later post.
Monday, 12 December 2016
The first track is by Ohno and it's called Midspace Action, a promising title indeed, too bad like most parents of young children around this time of year, it cannot keep those:
Not that there are no euphonious sounds to be found upon listening all the way through-- consider the Matsuda-played theremin-like organ on the last track, called Mirage:
And the downgoing scale at the end is kind of Christmasy too, isn't it?
Friday, 9 December 2016
On this 1973 library release there is some gorgeous classical chamber music with cello & guitar. A surprise to hear so much texture with only a duet. As usual, the melodic bowed cello conjures some of the most plaintive, melancholy, and expressive emotions fit for the standard human brain.
Consider for ex., the track called Third World:
And of course it's quite reminiscent of my old favourite Luciani, from whose work I posted 6 LPs in the past.
Cello – Nazareno Cicoria
Classical Guitar – Veraldo Paolini
Wednesday, 7 December 2016
Recall the album Strings? (Donner - Aaltonen). Esko was the keyboardist on that one and for that reason I sought this out. He also appeared in a half-joke half-serious instrumental library style album called On The Rocks in 1972 with another Finn which I wouldn't recommend.
This album is bipolar, veering between a bluesy basis of big band fusion and some tightly entertaining fusionoid sounds that take it into the right direction-- albeit briefly only. Consider the best track, Eclipse:
And maybe don't consider the rest? Up to you.
Monday, 5 December 2016
Progressive fusion of the highest caliber, this ranks with our old favourites, the famed Finnforest. How could it have escaped notice for so long, how was it possible?
An album which shockingly is not listed (yet) in the database. However, a note appears on the artist's website though sadly missing the music in question.
Track three, Lazy Waves (note that the song titles are rather generic):
Some of the material strays into the easy jazz vocal category, reminding me of 1980s Diane Schuur or I guess from these pages the famous Joi's First Impressions. About half of the record reminds me of them. The other half though-- is pure masterpiece, pure gold man, pure gold, big nuggets from the last gold rush...
Saturday, 3 December 2016
Pierre Courbois En Jasper Van 'T Hof – Perpetuum Mobile
Label: Varajazz – 201
Series: … And All That Jazz – Volume 1
Clearly missing from the available works of both Jasper and Pierre Courbois (in Association P.C.), this is a very experimental work with keyboards by Jasper falling all over the place. Side a is devoted to him and his compositions played on various types of keys with a frenzied and almost random accompaniment by P.C. whilst side b, dedicated to the latter, becomes an exercise in percussive tedium unmatched in my opinion by any experimental work from the progressive era.
The shorter portemanteau-word track Courthof (a3) gives you a clear idea:
A1 Ban De Bim 8:05
A2 Ecaps 5:41
A3 Courhof 4:22
A4 Latinuoso 4:20
B1 Er Zijn Nog Acht Wachtenden Voor U 22:30
Compiled By, Producer [For Radio] – Aad Bos
Design – Gert Udo
Drums, Cymbal, Gong, Electronics – Pierre Courbois
Engineer [A Side] – Bert Vervoorn
Engineer [B Side] – Jacob Cats
Piano, Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes], Organ [Prepared], Synthesizer [PPG], Computer [PPG Wave] – Jasper Van't Hof
Producer [For Varajazz] – Co de Kloet jr.
Written-By – Van 't Hof (tracks: A1 to A4), Courbois (b1)
Thursday, 1 December 2016
A fabulously quasi photographic cover drawing reminiscent of Durer to start.
From a completely unknown American Henry Cow or Art Bears-like RIO outfit, the B1 track Slope of her Nose will immediately give you an idea of the kind of modern composition on a rock basis we are dealing with here, augmented with demented vocals and random weirdnesses:
I suppose the biggest influence here would be Lindsay Cooper, who made some really magnificent albums in the same time period.
The artists of note here are singer Christina Baczewska (obviously looking very different on the verso for this LP) and guitarist Victor Sanders. Notice they collaborated for a CD in 1993. Would love to hear that one.
To boot, much of the lyrics appear to be poetry with the most interesting ("Eternally at Work") being the poem about the 16 geraniums:
"A friend of mine brought me 16 geraniums
I will send you a list of them
14 of which are perfectly new to me
remaining invariant they may be parents in the spring
with a tail that curls like a snake or a head like a horse.
I am very obliged for the heart cc...
So this adds an extra level of interest at least for me to the album.
Tuesday, 29 November 2016
Here's a song I heard just recently and it quickly became my favourite tune partly due to its folksy American feeling and the way it aligns with the current zeitgeist in the United States. In fact it could've been a theme song for the Trump campaign. For this reason I wrote up all the lyrics as well as I could below so you can read them.
You can hear it on youtube or alternatively just play it down here:
Wandered by the old mines early one night
as the last pile of salt was being dragged out
went by the boat to the opposite shore
cuz they don't like strangers lookin' about
and security might (?) show on the dust and the gravel--
as the last truck was pullin' away
I heard a man sob and sittin' out on the porch
where the men always come to be paid--
with a pint by his side and his head in his hands,
he looked up and he called me:
"why'd you come round here; you're wanted out here
you came to stare at my misery?
so you see how it is for thirty years in this place
a man just gives you the news:
he says here's your final check and a pretty gold watch
cuz we're through payin' all of your dues--
"and I will be haunted-- by the thundering blast--
that rocked the earth-- each day at noon--
If someone has the courage to tear the whole place down--
it won't be too soon"
"Know if I could I would leave this town but
I got a wife and kids to look after
and I don't go back to have a drink with the boys
couldn't stand the sympathy and the laughter
they would say when I was gone he gotta talk right (?) that's all
but he's too old to push the people around
in life there's work for the young and the strong
but I'll soon be layin' deep in the ground
"Don't know how the hell I got talkin' to you
but there's got to be someone who understands
worked all my life like a son of a bitch
usin' nuthin' but a pair of good hands
all society gives me the shame I can't handle
strugglin' anyway that I can:
changing as they want me from a strong old guy
to a snivellin' second class man
"and I will be haunted-- by the thundering blast--
that rocked the earth-- each day at noon--
If someone has the courage to tear the whole place down--
it won't be too soon..."
Pure American poetry. Worthy of a Nobel too, according to senile Swede seniors? Yeah, who isn't? At the same time, the hint of violence-- that classic American crime of going postal at a workplace-- is so chilling too.
Having become haunted by this song, what I'd like to know is, who wrote it? Is it a cover version of a previous folk song, or, unbelievably, did this utterly unknown German group from the late seventies actually pen it? Someone out there knows something, as they say on America's Most Wanted...
Monday, 28 November 2016
All their covers really were beautiful, I particularly love the Bacon / de Chirico-like last one. The first album, credited to keyboardist Peter Tassius and the band, is the most rare, while all the remainder I believe were released back to CD.
They all have their moments, even surprisingly the last one, but only Mental Touch approaches the aforeposted Boheme 2000 in its inventiveness and compositional skills.
Saturday, 26 November 2016
German complex symphonic rock band, mainly instrumental with rich keyboards, fluid guitar, elements of Camel, Streetmark, Anyone's Daughter, Novalis, even spacious Ashra.
They also remind me a great deal of Odyssee's White Swan, which is the masterpiece symphonic German album from that time, for me.
It appears they made four albums in total, quite widely spread out from early eighties to 1990, but this one called Boheme 2000 is by far the best progressive composition. The first, Peter Tassius's Ouverture, is mostly piano.
Easily the track Eltneg Tnaig (turn it backwards to understand) tells their prog credentials in full:
Friday, 25 November 2016
I talked about this album in connection with the last Schoof post here and based on the strength of Power Station eventually I couldn't resist hearing it, although we are getting uncomfortably close to what we humans call the present for lack of a better physical or metaphysical description of that point in the unusual dimension of time.
Sadly this did not turn out to be another Power Station, being the equivalent in that regard to a small Punjabi wood-burning oven. It's replete with those annoying drum machines and the dramatic echoey chords, usually A minor, that remind me so much of my first cheap casio keyboard I bought in the late eighties, when it was a hallmark of all pop music.
Wednesday, 23 November 2016
Compared to the previous, and predictably, this record will be a bit too jazzy for tastes including but not limited to mine. I thought that in the year 1982 fusion wasn't quite defunct and vulture-eaten yet but I was wrong. Likely I won't be back with more from them.
The best track is old Sam's story: Starý Sam - Old Sam (by Laco Deczi)