February 28, 2011

I Grew From A Stone To A Statue - Black Flowers [2009]

Black Flowers are Alex Neilson & Lavinia Blackwall (Trembling Bells), Mick Flower (Vibracathedral Orchestra), and Alasdair Roberts set sail on 30 minute+ experimental folk rock tour de force. Got your attention?

Huge opening - Calvary Cross -  sets the bar high: slow burn a la Richard Thompson, building to crescendo guitar organ psych jam with Neilson pounding away like Mattacks' and Bonham's feral nephew. Remainder alternates between updated traditional song structure and iconoclastic unscaffolding of form, leaving behind music infinitely expansive, free and joyous. Rise up and demand more.

Oddi wrth y brawd
and the words fell like malting blossom

February 27, 2011

The Sea - Guzzo Pinc [2010]

Intimate lo-fi bedroom folk oozing analog warmth. Harry Smith, early Devendra B. and Joanna N. fanciers take note: this will hook ya' and not let go. New weird America is alive and well in Madison Wisconsin.

Oddi wrth y brawd
gangsters are at it again

February 25, 2011

Rejuvenation - The Meters [1974]

On the one, earthy down-home New Orleans syncopated breaks intertwined with gritty guitar and bass grooves. Funked up avec un soupçon de soul.  Quite simply one of the best funk albums you are likely to hear. What'cha say?

Oddi wrth y brawd
just kissed my babay

February 24, 2011

Vanguard Years - Country Joe and the Fish [1967 - 1970]

She came along the alley and up the back steps the way she always used to. Doc hadn’t seen her for over a year. Nobody had. Back then it was always sandals, bottom half of a flower- print bikini, faded Country Joe & the Fish T- shirt. Tonight she was all in flatland gear, hair a lot shorter than he remembered, looking just like she swore she’d never look.

 - chapter one, paragraph one, Inherent Vice - Thomas Pynchon

Where next after laying down quintessential psychedelic rock album of SF Aquarian age? Post 67 peak slow decline requires patient sifting. Y Brawd goes prospecting.

April 1967

...that album was the best psychedelic rock record made by anybody in the world...We tried to make an album that had no bum trips on it - and millions of people have tripped and will continue to trip on that album...there is no way, unless you are latently psychopathic, that you can bum out to that album. It is guaranteed!
- Country Joe McDonald

Olde time carny waltz tempo on Porpoise Mouth unparalleled.

Remember kids, set and setting...

01  Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine
02  Porpoise Mouth
03  Section 43
04  Grace

November 1967

05  The Fish Cheer & I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die
06  Who Am I?
07  Janis
08  Thursday


Disaster and scant salvage as Country Joe shares songwriting with band members. Can anybody explain the cover?

Sole tripped out Joe drone downer is, nevertheless, right on the money.

09  Untitled Protest


Welcome back. And an opening melody catchy enough to inspire Twiggy cover. Like all Joe's best, Here I Go Again has a sweet-sad mix of good times had and lost,  nostalgia and uncertainty for how all this is going to pan out. Trademark olde time carny waltz tempo still on the go -  gorgeous.

10  Here I Go Again
11  For No Reason
12  Maria


Chilled out come down for the decade. Laid back, tired and engaging. Wearily feisty collection, and with a curious, burned out retread of Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine the game is effectively up.

13  Sing, Sing, Sing
14  She's a Bird
15  Silver and Gold
16  Rockin' Round the World
17  The Return of Sweet Lorraine

Oddi wrth y brawd

February 23, 2011

Rob Jo Star Band - Rob Jo Star Band [1975]

Absurdly thrilling freak French '70s underground psych proto-punk. Dimestore instruments; distorted gonzo guitar fuzz; preposterous slabs of synth blurt, swoosh and fart; incomprehensible Franglais Lou  / Damo lyrics; Velvets, Elevators, Suicide a-go-go. Hell, yeah.

Oddi wrth y brawd

February 22, 2011

III - The Alps [2008]

Righteous sun-stricken psychedelia in kosmische trappings. Yeah, yeah, yeah you say. Yes, yes, yes sayeth y brawd.  Burnt resin vapour grooves in sundown peyote gloaming. Nice.

Oddi wrth y brawd

February 21, 2011

Lambent Flame - The Black Sun Ensemble [1989]

The Black Sun Ensemble: miraged somewhere post Kashmir Led Zep, ante current crop 21st century sun-baked cosmic desert  psych post-rock (Alps, Headdress et al.). Quiver and tremble to ghost dance raga onslaught of guitarist Jesus Acedo. Following inexorable buckling to drugs, acclaim and mental illness, Jesus has recently re-emerged from fried Arizona of the mind. Sample what sent him spinning out there in the first place. Essential.

Oddi wrth y brawd

February 20, 2011

War War War - Country Joe McDonald [1971]

Early 70s Country Joe released a winning body of solo work: Thinking of Woody Guthrie, Tonight I'm Singing Just For You, Hold On It's Coming, Paris Sessions, each in their different ways concept albums. From this period, War War War coheres around Country Joe compositions based on poems of "bard of the Yukon" Robert W. Service (1874 - 1958). Service saw war first hand as World War I red cross ambulance crew member. Much of his poetry celebrates duty to country in war, and though often dwelling on personal sacrifice of the common soldier, is not out and out "anti-war" writing:

Yet may it not be, crime and war
But efforts misdirected are.
And if there's good in war and crime
There may be in my bits of rhyme,
My songs from out the slaughter mill:
So take or leave them as you will.

Room for ambiguity, focus on the human cost and it's not hard to see Service's appeal to Country Joe, whose commitment to supporting Vietnam veterans is unwavering.

So you'll live, you'll live, Young Fellow My Lad,
In the gleam of the evening star,
In the wood-note wild and the laugh of the child,
In all sweet things that are.
And you'll never die, my wonderful boy
While life is noble and true:
For all our beauty and hope and joy
We will owe to our lads like you.

For more, visit Country Joe's Place.

Oddi wrth y brawd

February 19, 2011

Zachariah - Various OST [1971]

Gunslinging and guitars, an accident just waiting to happen. Musical experience mercifully superior to cinematic. "Count those guns, man". Stars Don Johnson and Country Joe and the Fish...

Oddi wrth y brawd
how gun fighters didn't live (probably)

February 14, 2011

Dirty North Walians / Gogleddwyr Budur - Mr Huw [2010]

Mordantly whacky sunshine guitar pop to slit your wrists by. Check titles: Departure Track; Desperate and Bored; Mid-Album Crisis. Check lyrics on ultimate loser anthem Everything We Do:
The devil's got me by the hand, to guide me home and watch me die.
The cravings that we tend to feel, I think that most of mine are real.
It's all the hate that gets us through.
We'll celebrate just when we lose.
I don't know why but when we choose,
We'll fuck up everything we do.

Played with pumped up panache it is, unbelievably, enormous fun.  Wounded Lion with undumb words. Mr Huw is without doubt within a hair's breadth of genius and must be heard.

Whole album available as free download at  Mr Huw's place.

Buy Welsh music at Sadwrn.

Oddi wrth y brawd
diolch, Mr Huw

February 13, 2011

Tickley Feather - Tickley Feather [2008]

Giving the lie to notion of lo-fi bedroom electronica as exclusive pasty boy preserve, Tickley Feather, Annie Sachs, comes on like casio-sponsored Ariel Pink of old.  Despite cutsy sampling of wee toddler Sachs'  non sequiturs the listener is finally charmed into submission over 20 track course. Scattered midget gems and nary a dull moment. Longest tune clocks in at 3:30.

Oddi wrth y brawd

February 12, 2011

The Conet Project Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations [1997]

Weird, wired, paranoid shit and a whole new world of possibilities across ghostly unilluminated static.

Shortwave radio stations of uncertain origin believed to be operated by government agencies to communicate with field agents. This collection based on the work of numbers station enthusiast Akin Fernandez, released on Irdial-Discs label.

Unsettling and unaccountably compelling.

Oddi wrth y brawd

Thanks to Pagan Dad ...
More buzz UVB-76

February 11, 2011

Halcyon Days - Dr Strangely Strange [2007]


Unfairly and too often written off as pale imitators of Incredible String Band, the good Irish Doctors deserve attention for high water period studio albums Kip of the Serenes [1969] and Heavy Petting [1970]. Heady times from which Halcyon Days outtakes are culled. No rough cuts; instead, prime additions to DrSS canon;  produced by Joe Boyd, surely recommendation enough. Happily, three new tracks (ominously recorded in 2006) stand up well. The only piece of addled whimsy too far is the disastrously unfunny HMS Avenger - at least to Y Brawd's ears.

Oddi wrth y brawd
on a mountain range

February 10, 2011

Dear Companion - Meg Baird [2007]

Quietly magnificent. From opening seconds, settle in to the vocal performance and prepare to remain entranced for the duration. Perfectly balanced acoustic guitar and occasional multi-tracked vocal harmonies apply fresh magic on this collection of traditional songs and folk standards. An autoharp here, a couple of Baird orginals there. Witchy etherealness of her work with Greg Weeks' Espers exchanged for natural simplicity, heart and soul. And perhaps the most satisfying version of Barbara Allen (The Cruelty of Barbary Allen) you are likely to hear.  Not to be missed.

Oddi wrth y brawd
cyfaill annwyl

February 09, 2011

HMS Donovan - Donovan [1971]

February marks Donovan's Life Time Achievement award from the BBC Radio 2 Folk folks. A little too little, a lot too late but no doubt graciously received.  By way of low key celebration Y Brawd presents Don's last huzzah to 60s folk nursery whimsy. Deeply unfashionable even in 1971, H.M.S. Donovan sold poorly and failed to chart. Epic Records refused to release the album in the US; in the UK, Pye only put the album out on subsidiary label Dawn. Churls one and all.

Following For Little Ones portion of A Gift From a Flower to a Garden, this is DL's second collection of child song: here, music for poems mostly written by others. Many rhymes appear in One Hundred Poems for Children compiled by Herbert Strang, others, courtesy of Lewis Carroll.

Captivating, charming, melodious and, like all Don's best work, gauche and defiantly naive. Pure magic.

Oddi wrth y brawd
DL 1
DL 2

February 07, 2011

Le Meilleur De Tri Yann - Tri Yann [1998]

Veteran 70s folk rock stalwarts Tri Yann serve up thirty years of Breton Celtic roistering on  1998 compilation. Hardly breaking new ground nor likely to win new converts but solid, satisyfing fare all the same.

Oddi wrth y brawd

February 06, 2011

Opera from the works of Tadanori Yokoo - Toshi Ichiyanagi [1969]

Prescient and unprecedented monument to indeterminacy, electronic hiss, ruptured nostalgia, guitar / siren wail, ghostly future times past, patriotism, distant bells, radio transmissions, tape manipulation, fatal pre-war swagger, and perhaps in the end, friendship. For all the artiness of the undertaking - avant garde to its core - the "Opera" is intensely autobiographical, entirely original and completely engaging.

Ichiyanagi compares music to Japanese garden design: meticulous, painfully ordered yet always interacting with indeterminate elements - moisture, light, wind. Despite Ichiyanagi’s self-declared tilt at natural multiplicity over concentrated construct, the do-it-yourself flow of patchwork elements benefits from an intimate aleatoric framing. The details look after themselves.

To Tadanori Yokoo, magus of Japanese pop design. Like Ichiyanagi, Yokoo's multi-layered approach is highly personal and gives the lie to easy comparisons, notably "the Japanese Warhol" moniker. Modus operandi converge. Yokoo saturating and manipulating popular by-gone images in bang up to date lysergic colour; Ichiyanagi knitting traditional enka  with musique concrète and psych feakout à la mode. Both artists tackle loaded themes of nationalism and nationhood: Yokoo's risqué red sun ray flag (kyoku jitsu-ki) as recurring motif; Ichiyanagi's sampling of rousing miltary marching song. More cultural reclamation than the revivalist impulse that drove contemporary  - and great Yokoo friend and influence - Mishima Yukio.

The “Opera” is a multi-media affair; the importance attached to the visual side of the production well ahead of its time. Attention to sonic and visual detail - however indeterminate -as meticulous as only Japanese traditional art and crafts can be. The work is ahead of its time in other ways, as we shall see. Arguably, the rest have yet to catch up.

Side A

1 Aria ichi [Aria one]
Traditional ballad setting leit motif of melancholy nostalgia.

2 Erekutorikku chanto [Electric chant]
More hiss and whine than chant. "Chant" well-chosen, nevertheless, as sickly electronic  Buddhist drone morphs into air-raid siren. Cue martial brass band and military singing. Oppressive and rousing; attracting as it repels. 20 years later, the likes of Current 93 and Death In June would court controversy with similar use of Nazi martial tunes. Ichiyanagi's ploy is utterly outrageous. No gimmicks here though and is of a piece with the pervasive tension  between comforting nostalgia and repellent militarism.

3 Otoko no junjo [Man’s pure heart]
Distant noises, footsteps, two men feeling their way into a song on skeletal piano. Complaining about the piano, they notice the environing silence:
"Everybody’s gone – nobody is watching. Should we continue when there is no one?"
Big question. Finally, free from background noise, the song is delivered in full.

Switch: crowd noise. Rumpus. Sports match? Riot? Protest? Woman sobbing  - with fear or erotic excitement?

A low-flying aircraft passes overhead.

(1966, a group of Narita locals residents combine with student activists and left-wing political parties to form Sanrizuka-Shibayama Union to Oppose the Airport)

Side B

4 Uchida Yuya to Za Furawaazu (Uchida Yuya and the Flowers)
 27-minute long psych free form freak out. 20 mins. one side, remainder on next. Ichiyanagi let loose the reins on budding young psychonauts with the sole stipulation that the piece be titled after Yokoo's signature 1965 poster I Was Dead.

The central slogan on Yokoo's poster: “Having reached a climax at the age of 29, I was dead". An inkling that on one level Ichiyanagi is having a joke at young gun expense.

Side C

5 Uchida Yuya to Za Furawaazu (Uchida Yuya and the Flowers)
Caution, mind melting in progress. 7 more minutes.

6 Nyuyooku no uta [New York song]
Poem recited in Edo-jidai Japanese, then contemporary dialogue and short monogatari.

At this point, check again Ichiyanagi's integration of Yokoo thematic riffs. For instance, the "Opera" shares imagistic and sonic links to Yokoo's 1965 animation Kach Kachi Yama:


7 Kayo myuzikare [Kayo musicale]
Medley: radio jingles, random commentary, film excerpt (adult scolds initially recalcitrant but ultimately pliable young woman for accepting something from a stranger), and Meiji Chocolate ad given the full Group Sound treatment  chokoreeto – chokoreeto.  Switch: European church bells, harpsichord looped, echoed, deconstructed. Switch: sound of massive bombing raid. End.

Adding up to what? Let's venture: a comment on corrosive Western / capitalist influence? Whether low art  - reedy GS organ peddling chocolate - or high - Bach keyboards selling God -  the outcome obliterates.

Side D

8 Love Blinded Ballad Uta 1969 
Archival announcements, patriotic songs, marching fanfares, speeches, classical violin, military songs intermixed curvilinear fashion.  Whirlwind tour through 30s & 40s public sphere. Pervading unease and eeriness recalls Derrida's hauntology. Ichiyanagi way ahead of "nostalgia for the future" curve.

And blinded by love for what exactly? Patriotism again points the way.

9 Spite Song Uta 1969  Frogs croak, waterfowl cackle, crows caw; earlier patriotic choruses hover ghostly in the background. Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake subjected to discordant squeaking as AM radio tunes in and out of romantic cliché to the point of unlistenability. Ironically, final transition to bombing alert siren is a relief.

10 Takakura Ken, Tadanori Yokoo o utau [Ken Takakura sings to Tadanori Yokoo]

Or is it more an "All Clear" signal? That would make sense as next and last up is an enka serenade by yakuza movie hard man Takakura Ken.

Ichiyanagi's choice of Takakura Ken is apposite and affectionate. Tadanori Yokoo provided commercial posters for several of Takakura’s gangster flicks and was obviously enamoured.

And so, a warm, personal ending to a disquieting, shattering journey. Enjoy the trip.

Oddi wrth y brawd

February 05, 2011

Cochin Moon - Haruomi Hosono [1978]

Hosono's final 70's solo contribution: the delightfully bizarre Cochin Moon, soundtrack to a space-age Bollywood romance that never was. Bonus design by Japanese pop artist Tadanori Yokoo (see pink tentacle for more Yokoo sleeves).

First few tracks all twittering synth -  moon on jungle, sea, birds and night sounds. Playful. Like Hosono's just bought some new circuitry and can't wait to try it out (or maybe credit Sakamoto's enthusiasm, also on synth duties). YMO-ophiles will also want to know that Hideki Matsutake is on the sequencer programming case.

Proceedings wind up with perky Indian electropic-pop on closing two tracks but in truth this is a treat from start to finish.

Oddi wrth y brawd
happy end

BTW Track 1. 02:12 - name company who sampled, and did Hosono get paid?

February 04, 2011

Shake Sauvage French Soundtracks 1968-1973 - Various

Percussive rhythms, pumping organ riffs, funky flute, immoderate use of wah wah pedal, slathered with sitar, pulsing bass, Blaxploitation strings, and beat breaking a-plenty.

Lurid. Louche and loose.

01. Sexopolis - Jean-Pierre Mirouze
02. Nues Dans L'eau - Georges Garvarentz
03. Haschisch Party - Georges Garvarentz
04. Jukes Boxes Chez Saidani - Phillipe Sarde
05. Full Speed - Claude Bolling
06. Ok Chicago - Pierre Bachelet
07. Kidnapping - Karl Heinz Schaffer
08. I Don't Know Why - Francis Lai 
09. L.S.D. Party - Roland Vincent 
10. Le Crocodile Porte-Cle - Bernard Gerard 
11. Grand Theme Malko - Michel Magne 
12. Le Temps Des Loups - Georges Garvarentz
13. African King - Andre Aprino
14. Bowery Mood - Vladimir Cosma
15. Petrol Pop - Michel Magne & Jean Yanne 
16. Le theme d' Olivier - Francis Lai 
17. Munich Party - Thierry Vincent 
18. Sweet Bacon - Julien Covey

Oddi wrth y brawd


February 03, 2011

I Love Serge: Electronica Gainsbourg - Various [2002]

Naturellement, un "must" pour tout les Sergistes. Beyond that, ...aquabonistes de chilled out groove, slinky bass, fetichisme 80s et sleazerie generale, votre attention s'il vous plait.

01- Ballade de Melody Nelson - Howie B. Remix
02- Là-bas c'est naturel - Faze Action Remix
03- Love on the beat - Krikor & W.A.R.R.I.O. Remix
04- Bonnie & Clyde - Herbert Remix
05- No comment - Dax Riders Remix
06- Sea, sex & sun - Demon Ritchie Remix
07- Lola Rastaquouère - Château Flight Remix
08- Aeroplanes - Ready Made Remix
09- Marabout - Bob Sinclar Remix
10- Five easy pisseuses - OGM Remix
11- Requiem pour un con - The Orb Remix
12- L'hôtel Particulier - Stratus Remix
13- Je T'aime... moi non plus - Dzihan & Kamien Remix
14- New York USA - Snooze Remix

Oddi wrth y brawd
Initials GS

February 02, 2011

Dragnet - The Fall [1979]

M.R. James be born be born
Yog Sothoth rape me lord
 - Mark E. Smith, Spectre Vs. Rector

Door-stepped by normal horror. M. R. James is good but Machen's fucking brilliant. Great everyday mundane terror. Not Egypt but stinking boats of the Thames. Not the spineless usual. The hero is not a spaz. No romantic not sub-intellectual not "tough" recycled cabaret glam three-chord big boots. White crap let loose in studio. Supernatural theme. "I used to be psychic but I drank my way out of it". Used to be folk devil lyric poet. Shouty sloganeering whisky descend. Shadow walks behind paranoia man trapped in Flat of Angles after killing wife. Bent sinister from start.

part the first.       Spectre vs rector
part the second.  Inspector visits rector
part the third.      Spectre possesses rector
part the fourth.    Inspector versus rector possessed by spectre
part the fifth.       Hero appears; his soul possessed a thousand times
part the sixth.      Spectre enters hero; possession is ineffectual

Oddi wrth y brawd

February 01, 2011

A New World Record - Electric Light Orchestra [1976]

Rockaria is shit. Deeply, irredeemably shit. And yes, there's done been talk about the worldwide consensus on taking Lynne out to the street and shooting him like a mangy English sheep dog for his Beatles Anthology "work". And yet, and yet...

Tightrope (Lennon glitter stomp dust up), Telephone Line (thumbs aloft melody trumps 70s Macca, at every turn), So Fine (whoo whoo), Living Thing (a little bit George, a little bit bloody brilliant), Do Ya (sound of 80s rock being invented: a good thing, believe).

Jeff, all is forgiven. Almost.

Oddi wrth y brawd
higher and higher, baby