May 31, 2010

live Stockholm July, 1971 - Taj-Mahal Travellers

The sound of Taj Mahal Travellers was unlike anything heard before then, except maybe a psychedelic and exuberant version of 60’s American minimalism. A lazy and complacent press dubbed them “La Monte Young on acid”. There is, effectively, an element of shamanistic trance in their music in common with Young’s work at the time. The first principle of the group is improvisation, a strategy inherited from Fluxus, the movement from which emerged Takehisa Kosugi, the central figure of Taj Mahal travelers.

The tools habitually used by any self-respecting psychedelic rock outfit have little place here. An eclectic assortment of instruments are brought into the action: electric violin, mandolin, trumpet, harmonica, all types of percussion instruments, synthesizers, home-made invented instruments, chants, cries, incantations, vocal drones, groans and grunts, all treated electronically in real time. Each instrument seems to follow its own path, but from this vibrating mass emerges a coherent world, a deep, dark, expansive, organic world, a monstrous living being which moves slowly, breathes, growls, throbs and seems to exist beyond the will and actions of the musicians.

Oddi wrth y brawd

The Byrds Play Dylan - The Byrds

Let’s face it. Apart from a career-defining Eight Miles High, The Byrds were at their best doing Dylan. Making this a pretty essential collection all in all.

Oddi wrth y brawd
lay down your weary tune

May 29, 2010

Gedon - Bob Delyn a'r Ebillion

Mae rhywbeth yno i bawb: Nashville Bob, Tupelo Van, Texarkana REM.... Traws Cymru folk rock with some echoes of the troubadour tradition filtered through celtic Breton. Sung in Welsh, sometimes in cynghanedd. Lots of wit and dash - search on delyn and you'll see what I mean.

Oddi wrth y brawd

May 28, 2010

Coeur De Verre / Herz Aus Glass [Heart of Glass] – Popol Vuh

Werner Herzog on Florian Fricke:

…he was a highly complex being, intricately spun and vulnerable, like a spider’s web. In reality he was a poet first and a musician second, a composer. His feel for the “inner” narrative of cinematic story was infallible, and his music had the ability to change our perspective as onlookers, even though a picture always remains the same projection of light in the cinema. He made visible what would have remained mysterious and forever hidden in the images. What is more, he had a talent for composing music that created whole new spaces, in concrete terms: landscapes that gain an unknown dimension which would not be accessible otherwise.
Florian Fricke on Popol Vuh:
I always find new styles, different forms of playing, that I am incorporating into the music of Popol Vuh. But the essence of my music remains the same. The forms are changing but the essence remains the same. I want to tell you one thing about this: the essence of Popol Vuh is a mass for the heart. It is music for love. That is all.

Oddi wrth y brawd
Singet den der gesang vertreibt die wolfe

Nosferatu - Werner Herzog & Popol Vuh

Making visible what would have remained mysterious and forever hidden in the images. If there's a more chilling opening sequence to a film, I'd like to hear from you.

May 23, 2010

Odessa – Bee Gees

Conceptual pop. Loaded with hooks and heavily orchestrated. A double album with not an ounce of fat, and nothing short of a revelation.

Oddi wrth y brawd

May 21, 2010

Shiny Crystal Planet – Christine23Onna

It’s new dawn on crystal planet. Christine’s in mondo nude mode. Fancy a drive through the cosmic jungle? Be foolish not to. Space garage trash. And no messing.

Oddi wrth y brawd
Groovy spacy 70

May 19, 2010

Maher On Water - Maher Shalal Hash Baz

Not a heavy proposition at the best of times, this short collection of frazzled melodies burbles along some pleasant metaphoric waterways, before drfiting out of sight and, pretty much, out of mind. Main man, Tori Kudo's "naive" modus operandi is to gather together a group of like-minded enthusiasts with little more than a passing acquaintance with their instruments and... see what happens. His ear for a good tune saves the whole enterprise from sinking. Think the "discipline" of the Portsmouth Sinfonia married to the pop sensibilities of Belle and Sebastian.

Oddi wrth y brawd
make haste to plunder

Fillmore East - June 1971 - Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

And so, with recent posts tending towards the tasteful and worthy, we turn trustingly to Frank Zappa. A highly irregular fellow, and not a great lover of cheese.

Reasons for not liking FZ are easy to muster. First up, the lyrics: misogyny, casual homophobia, wee, poo and a puerile fixation on titties and willies (esp. size thereof) plus a diverse range of colourful sexual practices best left to the specialist practitioner (home appliances, fish, enchiladas….). Add to this, great dollops of self-indulgent soloing and cacophonous everything playing at once wonkiness, and you have the justification for the received wisdom take: a great talent frittered away on childish obsessions and muso pretensions.

This kind of misses the point. As the gent himself – apparently – put it: “The creation and destruction of harmonic and 'statistical' tensions is essential to the maintenance of compositional drama. Any composition (or improvisation) which remains consistent and 'regular' throughout is, for me, equivalent to watching a movie with only 'good guys' in it, or eating cottage cheese."

There are plenty of reasons for liking the art of Frank Zappa. For better and worse, Fillmore East June 1971 is one of them.

Oddi wrth y brawd
green rosetta

May 18, 2010

The Eighteenth Day of May - The Eighteenth Day of May

Couldn’t resist. TEDOM played a free concert in the Barbican lobby as part of 2006 Folk Britannia event. An ale drinking gentleman of a certain age, stood near y brawd, turned gawping to his mate: “Teenagers playing Fairport!” It wasn’t entirely clear whether he meant that as a good thing.

No coincidence that they took their name from Murder of Maria Marten on Shirley Collins and the Albion Band’s magnificent No Roses. On the verge of making it, the crew were fatally scuppered by an inability to bring anything new to the folk rock nostalgia party. See Trembling Bells for exactly how this is done.

Oddi wrth y brawd

May 17, 2010

House Full - Live at the LA Troubadour - Fairport Convention

Quite what the 1970 scenesters at the LA Troubadour made of this is anybody’s guess. Staines Morris? Sir Patrick Spens? The more circumspect will have heard the canny re-importation of West Coast psych: Sloth a long lost brother of a Jerry Garcia and Co. workout; Matty Groves not a million miles from Jefferson’s Airplane / Starship’s riffing wig outs.

Last line up with Richard Thompson who left soon after.

Oddi wrth y brawd

May 16, 2010

Music of the Troubadours - Oni Wytars [Ensemble Unicorn]

This one goes up for the Welsh Connexion and anyone who may think authentically rendered early music is “dry as old bones scholarly fare” and “such hard work”. The Ensemble Unicorn are anything but. Music as alive now as it ever was. Listyne ynd a-merrie be – or something.

Oddi wrth y brawd


May 15, 2010

The Spring of Sixty-Five - Joseph Spence & The Pinder Family

Devotional, inspirational. Ramshackle. Authentic. Ghosts of the Carter Family lost down Nassau docks: not just in the basketful of religious standards – hokey in any other hands – but also in the yearning vocals of Geneva and Edith Pinder. Above it all the creaky, percussive guitar and growling counterpoint vocals of Joseph Spence. Like a grinning Lord of Misrule serenading and serenaded by the testifying singers. When he sings Living On the Hallelujah Side it’s willfully undercut by his picaresque playing and devil may care guitar antics.

This album is a mixture of backyard Bahamas recording and live concert from New York. A follow up of sorts to influential The Real Bahamas [Nonesuch Records].


Oddi wrth y brawd
I bid you goodnight

May 14, 2010

The Bones of All Men – Philip Pickett with Richard Thompson

A Joe Boyd conceived and produced rollick through early keyboard dances and pavanes. Based around late medieval - renaissance pieces on Ms Joshua’s carefree virginals, clavichord and dulce melos; Mr Pickett adds recorder, crumhorn and shawn; Mr Thompson provides trademark folk-rock lead, and the lot buoyed aloft by the thwack and strut of Messrs Pegg, Mattacks and Nicol   - aka the Fairport rhythm section. Ne'er a dull moment. Hugely enjoyable.

Oddi wrth y brawd

May 13, 2010

Broadcast and the Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age

In some quarters considered the best album of 2009, BATFG bring a bang up to date take on classic Piper at the Gates era psych. They retrofit contemporary electronics to revitalise the aural hallucinatory shenanigans explored by the class of ‘67/68. Winningly, organs, electric pianos and all manner of period keyboard flourishes are exempt from the make over treatment. With so many ideas and most of the 23 tracks coming in at around 2 minutes, there’s no time to get bored, though you might start hankering for a proper Interstellar Overdrive proportioned workout. Best approached as psychedelic ambient.

Oddi wrth y brawd

May 12, 2010

Innocence and Despair - The Langley Schools Music Project

These 1976-77 recordings, captured on a two-track tape deck in a western Canada school gym, weren’t staged to achieve money or fame, to sell albums or land a record contract. These kids played music because they loved it. Innocent, flawed and bittersweet, guided by the unsuspecting genius of itinerant music teacher/arranger, these recordings deserve to be heard and preserved. They brim with charm and youthful élan, sparked by flashes of lo-fi Spectorian majesty. Call it folk art, outsider, or campfire rock – the labels don’t matter. These are gorgeous, heavenly artifacts.  
Oddi wrth y brawd
yn ol i ysgol

May 11, 2010

Bow Low Bright Glow – The Family Elan

Delightful wyrd-psych. ISB are the touchstone – bazouki and oud bring to mind the Asia Minor feel of The Song Has No Ending – and also The John Renbourn Group whose A Maid in Bedlam uses flute and tablas to the same diverting effect. With some very strong song writing, a couple of hands in the air sing-song endings you want to go on and on but have the good sense not to, and a lady channeling the unearthly keening of Likky McKechnie, and you have the makings of a very fine album indeed.

Oddi wrth y brawd

May 10, 2010

Recital, Kokkyou Junreika [Border Pilgrim Songs] - J. A. シーザー / J.A. Caesar

At his height in the early 70s, Julius Arnest Caesar (also J.A. Seazer; J.A. Ceaser) conjured up some unique mixtures on behalf of Shuji Terayama’s Tenjo Sajiki Theatre Company. An experimental blend of kosmische rock, dappled with Noh stylings, with witchy women choruses for extra weirdness. In feel, a distant cousin of ISB’s “U” – a surreal parable in song and dance, as performed by Black Sabbath.

Oddi wrth y brawd
Yoko, Keiko and Seigo

Vol. 2 - Wooden Shjips

After the corporate sheen of Dos comes a welcome return to the outtakes, live tracks and singles approach essayed on Vol. 1. No surprises then but you don’t listen to Wooden Shjips for surprises, do you? If not -  as The Wire wrly has it -  the new Status Quo, you do wonder how long before the formula becomes a dead end. For now, enjoy.

Oddi wrth y brawd

May 09, 2010

Bury! PTS 2+4 - The Fall

Les Rallizes Denudés / 裸のラリーズ [Hadaka No Rariizu]

The Takeshi Mizutani formula:

1. Never play in a studio.
2. Play only with musicians for whom even the slightest deviation from the riff will most certainly be calamitous.
3. Never release records (never ever).
4. Persist for three decades until the outside world catches on.

The music of Les Rallizes Denudés demands total attention, and without that attention this band is nothing. Put their records on as background music and they fail utterly. But play…in the darkness of your lonely room, and you will experience yourself being sucked up into the ether with ne’er a stain left as evidence of your former presence here.


Has a one-way trip into the Heart of Darkness ever been made on a more handsome jalopy? …relentless to the point of becoming meditative, and cylindrical to the point of being useful…I wanna be that bass player and stand in that wind tunnel, anchoring that level of rage.

life on mars 1
life on mars 2

…stand downwind of that auto-panned guitar maelstrom that [Mizutani] so effortlessly unleashes.

Oddi wrth y brawd

Text lifted from the essential Japrocksampler.

May 08, 2010

Sphynx - Nik Turner

Hawkwind dros Caerdydd 2010.

This post prompted by a Hawkwind live report from weird brother's own Welsh connection:

“Had a night out with xxx recently - good to see him - we went to see what the St David’s Hall spring programme described as a performance by the 'well-known English space rock band' - I'm happy to report that, against all odds, Brock and crew are still able to launch a large scale sonic attack - given that he's approaching 70 it may well be that this period will be looked back upon as having been something of a last hurrah - whatever - they're certainly on a roll and a sustained one at that given that the Xmas show that we saw was also top drawer - the dreaded announcement of 'new songs' initially elicited a hankering for the bar - however this ex-Aquarian was surprised to find them amongst the best stuff played all night - who'd have thought eh?

The obligatory lone hall manager did his best to maintain the no-fun sterility upon which the St David’s Hall seems to pride itself - shining torches in the faces of idiot dancers as soon as they popped up and steering them arm around shoulders back to their seats (fire regulations don't you know) - this for a time seemed sufficient to dissuade all but the most extrovert from tripping the light (show) fantastic - however past experience indicated that it would become an increasingly vain exercise - sure enough, a frustrated space cadet eventually took to the stage itself and berated the audience for its inertia - jobsworth with torch was then engulfed by a tide of men of a certain age, finally all intent upon frugging wildly - nature always find a way.”

Irresistible. And so to a strong 1993 outing from Nik Turner - and fellow travellers in time and space - building cosmic grooves around the Egyptian Book of the Dead. A 20mins bonus track of Nik with flute in the heart of the Great Pyramid at Giza - at dead of night - is a welcome addition, if a very different vibe that properly belongs on another album.

Oddi wrth y brawd

May 06, 2010

Mothership Connection - Parliament

Do not attempt to adjust your radio…we are taking control as to bring you this special show…the mothership connection…home of the extraterrestrial brothers, dealers of funky music, P-funk, uncut funk, da bomb…so kick back, dig, while we do it to you in your ear-drums…

Make my funk the P-funk. I want my funk uncut.
Make my funk the P-funk. I wants to get funked up.

What are you waiting for citizens?

Oddi wrth y brawd

May 05, 2010

Works 1956 - 1995 - Steve Reich

Reich takes the infinite canons or rounds of the kindergarten - those never ending renditions of the likes of Three Blind Mice and Frère Jacques - and uses contrapuntal phasing to bring emotion to bear on the driving logic of the melody. The two early “shock” tape pieces here – It’s Gonna Rain and Come Out – offer nothing less than different ways of interpreting sound data. The boundaries between sounds shift and the listener is left to reorganise the psychoacoustic fragments. As one tape loop slips slightly behind another identical loop, spatial notions of forwards, backwards, up and down merge and reverse. On the other keyboard pieces, the form is still canonic and the fixed pulse more insistent.

Causes célèbres in their day, the works still have the power to disorientate and, in the right setting, surrender endless interpretations.

Oddi wrth y brawd
rain gonna come

May 02, 2010

Vision of a Psychedelic Africa - African Head Charge

Tautology aside, the label dub psychedelia is right on the money. Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah takes a melodiously eerie grab-bag of African and Asian field recordings and constructs around them monumental and mind-manifesting grooves. Resulting sounds are then dubbed into a frenzy by modern dubmeister Adrian Sherwood.

Transporting and transcendental, a unique worldview. Run come see.

Oddi wrth y brawd
y wlad mawr

Also buy Songs of Praise

May 01, 2010

The Devil's Music - Keith Richards' Personal Compilation of Blues, Soul, and R&B Classics

From a man of some wealth and not inconsiderable taste…a top drawer compilation. Keith Richards theme time hour?

Oddi wrth y brawd
yr hen diawl

The Power of the True Love Knot - Shirley Collins

A quietly adventurous 1967 recording by Collins sisters, Shirley and Dolly. Traditional love ballads given an early music patina by Dolly’s restrained arrangements and the flutey tones of her miniature wooden pipe-organ. A pristine Joe Boyd production and array of supporting off-kilter instruments by the ascendant Wlliamson and Heron (a favour Dolly repays on ISB track God Dog).

Shirley’s voice is natural, artless and wholly inhabits songs about “ladies fair and tender, the ballad-heroines with lily hands, riding through the night, sighing for love, wandering through meadows distracted, saving or losing their virtue, getting pregnant, eloping with gypsies, dying of remorse, twined in the True-Lovers Knot” [ sleeve notes – S.C.].

By the time of this recording, Shirley had already paired with Davy Graham to redefine the nature of folk accompaniment, and would go on to produce arguably the finest folk-rock album of the era with the Albion Country Band.

Her 2006 guest vocal on Current 93’s Black Ships Ate the Sky is breath-taking.

Buy these: Folk Roots, New Routes; Anthems in Eden; Love, Death & the Lady; No Roses

Oddi wrth y brawd