November 30, 2010

慈 / Affection - 灰野敬二 / Keiji Haino [1992]

Dark, lyrical, oftimes noisy but mostly gentle. Another side of Keiji Haino: improvising his way into, through and out of a series traditional song structures. Unlike jazzers taking a similar dismantling to source material grounded in MOR standards, Keiji centres his inspired syncopated strumming around Les Rallizes Denudes type grooves and melodies albeit sans wind tunnel squall and lo-fi aesthetic. Touching, romantic, and approaching genius.

Oddi wrth y brawd

November 29, 2010

In The Studio - Pan Sonic & Keiji Haino [2010]

Looking for intense dentist drill effects, aluminium foil on fillings feedback skree, deranged vocal caterwauling and complete reality disconnect, our Finnish electro experimenters give Keiji a call. He turns up. He delivers. 

A punishingly beautiful racket. Come feel the noise.

Oddi wrth y brawd

November 28, 2010

The Iron Stone - Robin Williamson [2006]

Magnificent late period Robin Williamson. Delivering on all fronts: bardic story-telling (The Climber; The Badger); Blakean musings (To God In God's Absence); questing folk (Sir Patrick Spens). Revelatory unearthing and revisting of past material.

Arrangements flawless, ensemble playing intimate. These pay dividends on occasional improvisatory backing to Williamson's text, and breathes new life into the words of others: Sir Thomas Wyatt, Ralph Waldo Emerson,  Sir Walter Raleigh, John Clare.

Stripped of ISB ethno-frippery, the title track shines beacon-like with ever more metaphysical heft; Political Lies is rescued from its original 80s setting and elucidates Williamson's evergreen concern - in his art and craft since ISB days:

And you and I are left with the same old question
The sheer unspeakable strangeness
Of being here at all.



Sir Primalform Magnifico

November 27, 2010

Time Machines - Coil [1998]

Farewell Uncle Sleazy.
You have gone upstairs, dozed on the ultimate narcotic,
Passed over the threshold and among the boys choir
Beyond a city ov angels.

Y Brawd, like the late Sleazy, is a resident of Krung Thep, though moving in very different circles:

"The small army of Thai lads who I keep around the house, just to look pretty or handsome or to pander to my every whim, no matter how outlandish or perverted, or whatever, always think it's hysterical when I start blubbing watching Lord of the Rings, or Peter Pan, or some even wetter film I would be too embarrassed to mention!"

With our paths now certain not to cross, Y Brawd turns to the music, specifically and perhaps most appositely to Time Machines: an attempt to dissolve time by the application of pure tone pulse and drone as aural simulacra of the psychophenomenological properties of hallucinogenic drugs.

"To me any kind of psychedelic can be a really amazing way of opening a door and showing views that you’ve never seen before, but once you’ve had a really good look, I don’t think that you need to continue seeing if it's still there by opening the door again. It’s not a necessity for your life.

[Time Machines intended] to recreate or give an impression of the experience that one had on different types of drugs. Time Machines had five tracks on it that were all drones, interesting ones that actually make you feel different if you played them loud and in a really good way. I think it was the purest drone piece that I’ve ever heard, actually, and to me paved the way for Earth and all those bands.

The titles were all taken from the [Alexander] Shulgin books and pretty much all of them were drugs that we had taken at one time or other. We had connections with the whole American Chemical Underground at the time so we would get these weird little bags of experimental things that never became as popular or famous as, say, MDMA. These were coming from proper white-haired old chemists who really knew their stuff."
Sleazy 2009
Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson 1955 - 2010

Oddi wrth y brawd

November 26, 2010

At Last - Frogmorton [1976]

Much sought after UK folk with 4/4 beat in Steeleye Span Rocket Cottage period tradition. Expect mandolin, guitar, kazoo, psaltery, accordion and more.

Oddi wrth y brawd
place inside pipe, smoke

November 25, 2010

A House Safe For Tigers - Lee Hazlewood [1975]

Late period gem from the late brother Lee and soundtrack to one of many television movies Hazlewood made as a semi-recluse in 70s Sweden. Directed by  friend Torbjörn Axelman, A House Safe for Tigers is accompanied by strong material in classic Hazlewood vein. Could be viewed as the mirror image of 1973's sublime Poet, Fool or Bum: swapping the latter's experiences touring the Las Vegas circuit for a laid back Swedish idyll. Some lovely orchestration to boot.

("May your house be safe from tigers" is part of a Buddhist prayer which asks that blessings and peace be on your house. Though there is also talk of  peculiar Swedish folklore wherein everyday life is kept safe from "tigers"  - problems, misfortune -  by throwing flowers around the house. Hmm...)

Oddi wrth y brawd
absent friends

November 23, 2010

Genius: The Best of Warren Zevon [2002]

A signature song is a blessing and a curse – a dilemma Warren Zevon faced for decades. Despite being among the most acute and savagely intelligent of SSWs, and satirical story-teller non pareil, to the world at large Zevon remained "the guy who sang Werewolves of London." This stellar selection of highlights - and genius it be - spreads the news beyond the faithful. Listen up.

Oddi wrth y brawd
lawyers, guns and money

November 21, 2010

Akhnaten - Philip Glass [1983]

Open are the double doors of the horizon,
Unlocked are its bolts.

The constellations stagger,
Clouds darken the sky,
The stars rain down,
The bones of the hell hounds tremble,
The porters are silent when they see this king dawning as a soul.

Open are the double doors of the horizon,
Unlocked are its bolts.
- Libretto, Act 1 Prelude, Refrain, Verse 1, Verse 2

"Plot": Akhenaten, Pharaoh of 18th Egyptian dynasty, rules for 17 years, dies circa 1335BC but not before causing an unrighteous kerfuffle by abandoning polytheism and introducing monotheistic worship centered on sun god Aten. Priests not happy. It doesn't take.

Commissioned and performed by the Stuttgart State Opera, Akhnaten is the last installment in Philip Glass's trilogy of portrait operas on the heels of Einstein on the Beach, and Satyagraha.

Akhnaten has more warmth and depth than the cold precision of Einstein, and more grit and texture than Satyagraha. Neo-classical feel despite no violins.

Stirring stuff.

Oddi wrth y brawd

November 20, 2010

At the Sign of the Crumhorn, Flemish Songs and Dance Music - Convivium Musicum Gothenburgense

Drawn from the collection of Tielman Susato: composer, instrumentalist and publisher of music in renaissance Antwerp. Convivium Musicum Gothenburgense is a mixed ensemble of voices and period instruments.


Oddi wrth y brawd
Compt alle uut by twe by drye

November 19, 2010

Anthems in Eden / Amaranth - Shirley & Dolly Collins [1969 / 1976]

Anthems in Eden is characterised by what Dolly Collins called a "natural orchestra", the songs costume-dressed in an unusual and occasionally unique guise of organ and period instruments...David Munrow was invited in as musical director, and the small ensemble drawn from the Early Music Consort dappled the record with crumhorns, sackbut, cornett, rackett, recorders, viols, harpsichord, etc. Side one [weaves] a patchwork Song-Story [and] the second side contains a selection of other folk songs [including] a version of The Incredible String Band's God Dog, delightfully accompanied by Munrow's piping treble recorder...harpsichord and Dolly's organ fanfaring a little triumphal flourish between verses. 
Rob Young - Electric Eden

For this 1976 reissue Shirley Collins recorded an additional set of songs - Amaranth. The accompanying tracks, produced by Ashley Hutchings and drawing on Albion Dance Band fellow travellers, were intended at the time to be Shirley's final recordings and were chosen to cover all aspects of the music she loves best.

Amaranth is an imaginary flower that never fades.

Oddi wrth y brawd
before the fall

November 17, 2010

The Etchingham Steam Band [1995]

Frustrated that a number of completed recordings remained unreleased and prompted by a suggestion from Martin Carthy, Shirely Collins and Ashley Hutchings formed an all acoustic band able to travel the club and festival circuit economically. For Hutchings this provided an excuse to purchase a huge acoustic bass and fill an interregnum between the Albion Country Band and the Albion Dance Band; for Collins, another opportunity to essay the traditional music of her beloved Sussex. 

The Etchingham Steam Band released no work during their brief span, and collected here are live tapes and studio takes from that 1974-75 period. Collins sings with gusto and the incipient creaks, cracks and wheezes highlight the honesty and humanity in her voice. Just three more years and she would be recording her last album and retiring from public concerts.

Oddi wrth y brawd
young collins

November 16, 2010

Me Oh My - Cate Le Bon [2009]

Following 2008's Welsh language EP -  Edrych yn Llygaid Ceffyl Benthyg - and assistance on Gruff Rhys's Neon Neon project, Cate Le Bon applied her dark magic to debut album proper, Me Oh My. Dark indeed, though tongue is surely in cheek when she announces by way of explanation "Early experiences with a string of pet deaths had a profound lasting effect on me," and inform an "abnormal fixation with death." Or maybe not - check video.

Me Oh My is a rewardingly strange listen. Acoustic folk in feel but bringing in bursts of electronica, 60s psych and VU melancholy. Weirdness seeps through cracks in the folksy pop structures. Understated and spare. Fully merits the glowing reviews garnered on release. Where next for Ms. Le Bon?  

Oddi wrth y brawd
headed for the black

November 14, 2010

Lepidoptera - Fursaxa [2005]

A feather on the breath of God

The ever prolific Tara Burke's "breakthrough" release. Hi-Lo-Fi celestial drone and flutter of mantric pulse. Weaving medieval plainchant, ancient folk, psychedelic traditions, Fursaxa hypnotises and enthralls. She escapes reductive classification and roams enchanted new meadows; fields of low droned chord organ and farfisa, detuned ringing guitar, and endlessly looped, multi-tracked and delayed vocals. And the voice...resonant, and radiantly narcoleptic; easy comparison to Nico's monotone lullabies are only half of it. Tara's humming narcosis is a floating mind made manifest.

Oddi wrth y brawd
una de gato

November 13, 2010

Gravitoni - Pan Sonic [2010]

"the Great God Pan had become a modern icon [for] the recurrence of primal urges at the heart of the civilised world"
- Rob Young, Electric Eden

"one ov thee original meanings ov thee word pan was drowning, whilst panic can mean an unreasonable fear leading to excessive and extravagant behaviour"
- Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Godstar Thee Director's Cut [booklet]

"And I rave; and I rape and I rip and I rend
Everlasting, world without end,
Mannikin, maiden, meanad, man,
In the might of pan.
Io Pan! Io Pan Pan! Io Pan!"
 - Aleister Crowley, extract from Hymn to Pan

Yo Pan Sonic! No soothing electronica or lush soundscapes. Instead, the mesmeric demiurge; raw powered primeval electric spark moulded into sound. The might of natural wavelength rhythms; ripped extremes of pitch and volume. Post-industrial (Einstürzende Neubauten, Throbbing Gristle), post-lapsarian search for primal essence in the maw electrick; hum of generators, harsh fizz of white noise; drowned in black hot metal.

Calling time on seventeen years of unadulterated electronics, Mika Vainio and Ilpo Väisänen lay Pan Sonic to rest with Gravitoni. No softening of agenda in the finale bulletin. An arsenal of brutal beats and lucid tones; a landslide of skull basting bass hits and molten silicon slurry; sheet metal noise and punishing volume; beats that hammer the brain into pulpy mass; nightmarish drones.

But noise is only a part of the story.  Microsounds; floating eerie waves; strange clicks and creaks around cosmological silence; sustained glassy notes; subterranean drip and echo; dark ambience, and a slow slow black heartbeat.

A thrilling legacy. Fade to test tone..........................

Oddi wrth y brawd

November 11, 2010

Go Hawaii - Casino Versus Japan [2000]

Casino Versus Japan is Erik Kowalski, purveyor of intelligent dance music, baroque melody and distorted trip-hop beat. Samples of children's voices, sparkly synth lines, and a general air of nostalgia permeate the music. No darkness in these defracted memories  - unlike say,  Boards Of Canada  - and more than a few Eno-esque moments of prettiness. Nice. 

Oddi wrth y brawd
lie dream

November 10, 2010

Geogaddi - Boards of Canada [2002]

Geogaddi is a tapestry of strange contrasts. Sweeping synths, crunchy drum patterns and the distorted voices of children weave in and out to create a surreal mindscape. Ruminant paranoia hypnotises as it disorientates. Loping beats wrestle with melodies possessed by a blatant disregard for time signature.  On their second outing, our Scottish duo continue to traffic in childhood and nostalgia but the atmosphere is darker and noticeably tense. Where the quivery modulation of analog synths once seemed designed to evoke the sensation of strained memory, the distortions now have a disturbing undercurrent. Something frightening waits beneath the surface.


Oddi wrth y brawd
Koeeoaddi Here

Curling Pond Woods - Greg Davis [2004]

Greg Davis invites us to a walk in the countryside inside his head. Dreamy, bucolic instrumentation integrates acoustic and electronic: field recordings, drones, occasional vocals, and backwoods ambient mixed in with more structured songs. Digital experimentation with the pastoral and organic employing a strong emotional canvas - more melancholic than sombre - to layer slow-moving yet rich sonic elements: finger-picked strings stretched to resemble barren branches, bird chirps and music boxes scattered about and a kick-drum keeping step.

Like a winter landscape, seemingly sparse from the outside, once among the trees, Curling pond Woods reveals a nuanced density of sound to get lost in. The mood is maintained by two charming covers: Brian Wilson's At My Window, and The Incredible String Band's Air.

Oddi wrth y brawd
an alternative view of a thicket 

November 08, 2010

Trough of Bowland - Woodcraft Folk [2005]

Lap-top folk of the first order. Locks into some addictive holding patterns that hypnotise and enchant in equal measure. Perfectly poised, more wired than wyrd and craftily more-ish. Have a go.

Oddi wrth y brawd
reindeer on the roof

November 07, 2010

Sounds of the South - Various [A Musical Journey from the Georgia Sea Islands to the Mississippi Delta, Recorded in the Field by Alan Lomax]

1959 and Atlantic sends ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax into the American South with a stereo tape recorder to conduct field recordings of traditional music. This box set documents that journey. Originally released in the early 60s as a six-LP collection, these digitised tracks have been remastered and geneally spruced up and encompass an array of trad. US sounds: bluegrass pickers, country blues guitarists, gospel choirs, folk singers, chain gangs, and more. Represented artists range from the familiar - Mississippi Fred McDowell - to the obscure - Miles & Bob Pratcher -  but all add up to a captivating portrait of US history through and in music.

Compared with Harry Smith's Anthology of American Music the weirdness is dialled down. Lomax's approach is more academic. The 30 year or so gap between the two sets of recordings is telling. Where Lomax's recordings have an edge is in bringing the performance and the song more cleanly to the fore, allowing an emotional connect that the fizz and crackle recordings of the Anthology cannot render.

Needless to say, highly recommended.

Oddi wrth y brawd
1 Blue Ridge Mountain music
2 Roots of the blues / The blues roll on
3 Negro church music / White spirituals
4 American folk songs for children

November 06, 2010

Prespring [EP] - 2muchachos [2010]

Dreamy Russian experimental troika. Think urban folktronica, warm, progressive, minimal, melodic, gentle ambient sounds.

On this showing, new album Formanta should be very special indeed.

Oddi wrth y brawd

November 05, 2010

Black Byrd - Donald Byrd [1972]

Prepare to enter funk and soul jazz heaven. Stratospheric mellow grooves. And without over-pimping the mothership, all necessary blaxploitation tropes deployed: thwak-a-waka guitar, flutes, hand-held percussion, big meaty bass and driving rhythm. Over and above all the inspired trumpet of Mr. Byrd.

If the collocation of the words "jazz" and "fusion" sends a cold chill down your spine, then start here. It may well be the beginning of a beautiful journey.


Oddi wrth y brawd
sky high

November 04, 2010

The Visible Sign of the Invisible Order - Master Musicians of Bukkake [2004]

There is method in the ribald madness of the moniker. For herein find a winning amalgam of magickal Riff Mountain riffing and esoteric Far Eastern ritual practice. Chanting, weird percussion, keening females acting up in a series of mostly short impenetrable psychodramas. Ye olde Tenjo Sajiki / J. A. Caesar troupe on collective bad trip.

Two longer black psych standouts are Access of Evil - summoning the spirit of Jajouka in massed drums and insistent call and response, invoking who knows what – and Circular and Made of Earth – bringing closure with eastern drone, Karakoram blues guitar and Mongolian throat-signing against a soothing backwash of waves.

A ceremonial trip.

[If any innocents out there are puzzled by band's name, then just don't for the love of god  search on "bukkake"]

Oddi wrth y brawd

November 01, 2010

Animal Totem - High Wolf [2009]

Schwingungen Ash Ra Tempel meets Sun Araw in lo-fi cosmic loops of equatorial electronics, droning synths and tribal percussion. Animal Totem was High Wolf's first release, and originally on cassette, giving rise to a fudgy mix that adds to a feverish atmosphere and occasional blurry vocals. Elsewhere, our French loop enthusiast employs reedy guitars, flipped out tape delays, and tranced keyboard melodies. Enter a ripe psych jungle.
Oddi wrth y brawd
swimming with piranhas