March 30, 2011

To Be Still - Alela Diane [2009]

Alela Diane hails from bohemian hamlet Nevada City, northern California, home town also to childhood friend Joanna Newsom. Her voice conjures shades of Sandy Denny. Her expansive musical ambitions are partial to big universal themes within a traditionalist aesthetic - unlike Newsom's idiosyncratic not to say rococo microverse - taking in nature, childhood, family, friends - Denny again.

To Be Still does not exist to fire up parties. Its purpose is to enchant, to beguile with perfect little flaws that make the record almost perfect, almost flawless.

Oddi wrth y brawd

March 29, 2011

Toygopop - Modified Toy Orchestra [2006]

Rare beastie. Electronica album sans midi, sampling, synthesisers, and laptops. Point of fact: no conventional instruments whatsoever.

Five years in the making - two years stripping, tweaking, rebuilding and learning to play kids' toys; three years unearthing sound collages and musical phrases. Brian Duffy, Modified Toy Orchestra mainman, sees the process as "collaborating with the third mind of the machine".  Whether viewed as exploring the hidden potential and surplus value latent inside redundant technology or more straightforwardly as pissing about with car boot sale cast off tech-toys (think Speak and Spell - danke Kraftwerk - Happy Farm Chorus, Play School Saxophone and the Melotone Electronic Jazz Drum), prepare for an accessible, sometimes funny, sometimes moving, sometimes dark and disturbing listen.

Eschewing novelty despite being obviously novel. Play away.

Oddi wrth y brawd

March 28, 2011

Bande Originale de la Comedie Musicale ANNA - Serge Gainsbourg [1967]

Des yeux gris
Des yeux verts
Demain je saurai leur couleur exacte...

Un jour comme un autre
Ou je reste seule avec moi
Pourquoi Anna...Anna...

Oddiwrth y brawd
voici le disque

March 27, 2011

Poupée de Son - France Gall

Joann Sfar's intelligent and thrillingly rendered Gainsbourg bio art pic Une Vie Heroique offers up scene after scene of class Gainsbourg/Gainsbarre moments. Few more so than Gainsbourg's first meeting with teenager France Gall belting out Baby Doll in the raw (steady, meaning sung unplugged...oh, desist).

Present comp musters poppermost ye-ye apres ye-ye classic. Galloping opener Poupée de cire, poupée de son won Eurovision Song Contest 1965, representing Luxembourg. Being Gainsbourg, words unfold double / triple meaning wordplay. Translating as doll of wax, doll of bran/sound, the title sets up floppy singing doll Gall as Gainsbourg's plaything. Sylvie Simmons in her fine biog Fistful of Gitanes writes the song is about "the ironies and incongruities inherent in baby pop", that "the songs young people turn to for help in their first attempts at discovering what life and love are about are sung by people too young and inexperienced themselves to be of much assistance, and condemned by their celebrity to be unlikely to soon find out." (And if the galumphing rhythm and melody weren't later ripped off for theme tune of 70s UK children TV staple "The Flashing Blade" then je suis l'oncle d'un singe.)

Les Sucettes, Lollypops, ups le risqué factor with anis flavoured oral sex shenaniganisms.

Annie aime les sucettes
Les sucettes à l'anis
Les sucettes à l'anis
Donn'nt à ses baisers
Un goût ani-
Sé lorsque le sucre d'orge
Parfumé à l'anis
Coule dans la gorge d'Annie
Elle est au paradis

Annie loves lollypops
Anis lollypops
Anis lollypops
Give her kisses
A taste like ani-
S while the barley sugar
Perfumed with anis
Sinks in Annie's throat
She's in paradise

Gall maintains she performed the song wholly unaware of Serge's sleazy intent.

All this plus anti-LSD flop single Teenie Weenie Boppie.

Oddi wrth y brawd
salut poupee

March 26, 2011

Magic Days - Gkfoes Vjgoaf [2009]

From the patently unpronouncable, the charmingly eclectic Magic Days.
01 Lo-Fi Flaming Lips channelling The Seekers' Hey There Georgy Girl
02 Horsey sleigh bell ride
03 Wonky Akihabara electro folk
04 King Tubby meets The Ventures for surf-dub beach BBQ
05 Cabinessence windchime thingy
06 Squelchy radio dial acoustic
07 Off with the woodland faeries
08 Gorky Yule tide
09 Brothers Reid De Nudes
10 What does this button do? Ah, underwater banjo
11 Peyote prairie cookout

Oddi wrth y brawd
Swinging down the street so fancy free

March 25, 2011

Supercontinent - Donato Epiro [2010]

Fried drone. Deviant tribal electrick. Rotovator psych. Neon foliage. Animatronic adventure. Sonic hieroglyphs. Sibilant hypgnosis.


Very good.

Oddi wrth y brawd
mr donato

March 23, 2011

Kigali Y'Izahabu - The Good Ones [2010]

Back porch folk Kigali. Balm for troubled times. Unearthly harmonies, direct, and hugely endearing. Beautiful and enduring.

Buy. Portion of sales proceeds go to pukka Rwandan charities Stories For Hope and The Kigali Memorial Centre.

Oddi wrth y brawd

March 22, 2011

Head Hunters - Herbie Hancock [1973]

In which Herbie tracks down and slays his funk, soul, R&B mojo. Deeply funky grooves, gritty rhythms in abject abeyance to Mr H.'s Fender Rhodes piano, clavinet, synthesizer soloing.

Continuing y brawd's presentation of jazz for people who dinnae like jazz.

Oddi wrth y brawd

March 21, 2011

Jos Ken Pahoin Uneksii - Pekko Käppi [2007]

Astounding amalgam of worldstopping psych folk blues pagan gospel from Kiila & Lau Nau stalwart Pekko Käppi. Voice of ages over jouhikko: Finnish horse hair lyre. 

I, Pekko, am a player of Jouhikko – the ancient Finnish-Karelian bowed lyre. My music has been described like this: "In his hands the rough sound of weaved horsehair strings are swaying between the foul and lovely – dirty and pure. The old songs of unwritten tradition, timeless and dark stories mediates in his mouth."


Visit Pekko's nest. Currently sharing live dates with Alasdair Roberts. Figures.

Oddi wrth y brawd

March 20, 2011

The Gathering - Arbouretum [2011]

Sincerity is burdensome and oftimes inauspicious.

Y brawd involuntarily recalls Jon Anderson's vexing liner notes for Tales From Topographic Oceans (on the hunt for a "big theme" one day, flicking through Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi , and  - bingo! - timeless principles of the shastras: The Revealing Science of God, The Remembering, The Ancient, and Ritual...).

Thus Dave Heumann & Co.'s conceptual journey through Carl Jung's mystical archetypes  - snakes, spirit guides, preternatural landscapes, doubtless a white bird or two, that sort of thing - augurs poorly. The heaviest price is lyrical: There is a righteous band that's marching/ They're beating on drums and even speaking tongues/ They're passing plates along/ Clothed in garments of the sun. 'Struth.

(Beware too those ashen riders on shadow mares as you walk out beyond the barriers of what is said and known.)

Po-faced overreaching notwithstanding, here is one gratifying assemblage. Vintage psych-riffs, overdriven bass in grand heavy folk epic mode. Richard Thompson off on a spree down among houses of the holy. A strait-laced though oddly apposite Jimmy Webb cover mid-point crash lands into 10 minute closing juggernaut Song of the Nile.

All in all, stirring sexless stuff. Ye gods, we even encounter inner-searching oceans. Cosmic Jon would be proud.

Oddi wrth y brawd

March 19, 2011

Split - High Wolf / Masaki Nakazawa [2010]

Wobbly French loop adept High Wolf & guitar magus Masaki Nakazawa meet in monumental collaboration. Opening salvo's tribal skitter and echo - Snakes Threesome -  belongs to High Wolf. Folest, several milligrams higher up out under desert stars Nakazawa's unutterable, cataclysmic stoned guitar shredding. Burning, man.

Oddi wrth y brawd
on fire

March 18, 2011

Magneticring & Osama "Sam" Shalabi - Magneticring / Sam Shalabi [2008]

First 10 seconds of The End slowed down, speeded up, up over 22 droned out minutes. Oud (Sam) & EMS Synthi (Joshua Stevenson) never sounded so well acquainted. Synthi coils oud cobra-like. Arising from wicker basket to strike a steel sun.


Oddi wrth y brawd

March 17, 2011

Dawn of the Golden Eternity - Plankton Wat [2009]

Burnt-out bedroom psych malarkey. Another blissful installment of Dewey Mahood's 4-track lysergic excursions. Spacey vroom wedded to Fahey creak and flicker.

Enter the Magic Citadel.

Oddi wrth y brawd
other realms

March 16, 2011

Sand Paintings - Stag Hare [2010]

Rustic drone raga from Utah flats. Mountain surround. Landscapes, texture, story, time, big slow changes......natural shapes. Magical Salt Lake Isle sunset. Flat water epic silence unafraid.

Oddi wrth y brawd
holy sound

March 15, 2011

Sloow Road - Sloowroad [2008]

Some folkses unwind with a beaded glass of red and square or two of chocolat noir. Not Bacchus or his pards for Sloow Road fellahs. Savour instead heavy taste of Flora and country green, with forest branches the trodden weed. Time slowed to drowsy tripped out transcendental hymns from deep woods. Intoxicating synth and narcoleptic raga throb. Vision or waking dream. Do you wake or sleep?

Oddi wrth y brawd

March 14, 2011

Border Lord - Kris Kristofferson [1972]

Recorded on the road and seemingly off the cuff. Familiar Kristofferson riffs to the fore: freedom, the Devil (and the Lord), boozers, losers, lowlifes and loose women. For the latter, see six of the album's ten cuts - Stagger Mountain Tragedy, Somebody Nobody Knows, Little Girl Lost, Smokey Put the Sweat on Me, When She's Wrong, Josie - suggesting nary a dull moment on tour in the early 70s.

Not one of Kristofferson's strongest sets and no gold-plated classics but second line Kritstofferson 1972 beats most all anyway.  

Foot-loose, frazzled and burnt around the edges. A beardy treat.

Oddi wrth y brawd
How's Jesus look to you now, Bob?

March 13, 2011

Red Headed Stranger - Willie Nelson [1975]

Willie prevails. Jim Reeves string section nada. Adios Nashville faux country choral harmonics. Just Willie and a gloriously muddled concept album about a preacher on the lam, a murdered wife and a cowboy lover. Brief episodic song-vignettes, minimal backing. sun-dried no hokum cowpoke campfire tale.

Distinctive and elusive keeper.

Oddi wrth y brawd

March 12, 2011

Clarence Ashley's World

"Tom" Clarence Ashley (1895 – 1967), American clawhammer banjo magus, guitarist and singer. Medicine show initiate, Southern Appalachia 1911. Thereafter, string band aficionado. 60s folk revival inevitable. Essential.

01 Little Sadie
02 Coo Coo Bird
03 House Carpenter
04 Old John Hardy
05 Naomi Wise
06 Dark Holler

07 Whoa Mule
08 Shout Little Lulu
09 Wild Bill Jones
10 Cluck Old Hen
11 Little Hillside

12 Shady Grove
13 Walking Boss
14 Wayfaring Pilgrim

oddi wrth y brawd
dark holler

March 11, 2011

Stackalee Variations

"William Lyons, 25, a levee hand, was shot in the abdomen yesterday evening at 10 o’clock in the saloon of Bill Curtis, at Eleventh and Morgan Streets, by Lee Shelton, a carriage driver. Lyons and Shelton were friends and were talking together. Both parties, it seems, had been drinking and were feeling in exuberant spirits. The discussion drifted to politics, and an argument was started, the conclusion of which was that Lyons snatched Shelton’s hat from his head. The latter indignantly demanded its return. Lyons refused, and Shelton withdrew his revolver and shot Lyons in the abdomen. When his victim fell to the floor Shelton took his hat from the hand of the wounded man and coolly walked away. He was subsequently arrested and locked up at the Chestnut Street Station. Lyons was taken to the Dispensary, where his wounds were pronounced serious. Lee Shelton is also known as ‘Stagger’ Lee.”       
 - St.Louis Globe-Democrat 1895

Stag, Stack, Stackerlee, Stack O’Lee, Stack-a-Lee. Cab driver, "Macks" pimp exotic. No mere urban stroller; an object to be observed. Counterweight John Henry and bad man - no doubt. Persistent legendary tweaker. Power fought and to be fought.

Go Stagger Lee. Go Stagger Lee.

01 Billy Lyons and Stack O'Lee - Furry Lewis
02 Original Stack O'Lee Blues - Long "Cleve" Reed & Little Harvey Hull
03 Stack-A-Lee Pts 1 & 2 - Archibald
04 Old Stack O'Lee Blues - Sidney Bechet
05 Wrong'em Boyo - The Rulers
06 Stagger Lee - Ike & Tina Turner
07 Staggolee - Pacific gas & Electric
08 Stack-O-Lee - Fruit Jar Guzzlers
09 Stagger Lee - Foghorn Stringband
10 Stagger Lee - Professor Longhair
11 Stack O'Lee Blues - Ma Rainey
12 Stack-O-Lee - Champion Jack Dupree
13 Stagger Lee - Lloyd Price
14 Stagger Lee - Woody Guthrie
15 Stagolee - Hogman Maxey
16 Stack-O-Lee - King, Queen, Jack
17 Stagger Lee - Henry Gray

Oddi wrth y brawd

March 10, 2011

1928 Sessions - Mississippi John Hurt

In 1920s, almost by chance,  Mississippi John Hurt cut a few 78 rpms at Okeh Records:

"... a great big hall with only the three of us in it: me, the man, and the engineer. It was really something. I sat on a chair, and they pushed the microphone right up to my mouth and told me that I couldn't move after they had found the right position. I had to keep my head absolutely still. Oh, I was nervous, and my neck was sore for days after."

And thence returned to farms and fields around hometown Avalon, Mississippi. True “back porch” musician, playing and singing mostly to entertain family and neighbours, or accompanying a square dance fiddle. Repertoire understated and humble like the man: pre-blues black folk ballads and spirituals, played with ragtime feel alternating bass and gentle melodic picking. Not  “Blues” singer but “songster”. Pre-blues craze country black music.

Hard-working man, sharecropper and entertainer. No seeker of fame or fortune. Unlike contemporary Skip James, no bitterness over neglect and  late-in-life mass success, and as a result continued to please and win over new listeners until last weeks of life. Nothing Mississippi John Hurt recorded was less than inspired. These pre-obscurity sessions are superb.

Oddi wrth y brawd
candy man

March 09, 2011

Blood - This Mortal Coil [1991]

Darkling ethereal chamber pop brainchild of 4AD kingpin Ivo Watts-Russell. Third and final installment in TMC's modus operandi allowing artists creative freedom on material outside realm of the expected. Gorgeously innovative covers versions a particular speciality. Reimaginings herein include: Gene Clark, Syd Barrett, Chris Bell [Big Star], Spirit, Rain Parade, Emmylou Harris, and The Apartments.

Discerning only need apply.

Oddi wrth y brawd
(nothing but) blood

March 08, 2011

Amara Tanta Tyri - The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud [1994]

Dance yersinia pestis. Brooding and malefic. Malodorous round, martial sound.  What say you? Will you yield, and this avoid, or guilty in defence, be thus destroy'd?

Oddi wrth y brawd

March 07, 2011

As the World Disappears... - Current 93 [1991]

A turning point. Live December 15 1990 La Lune des Pirates, Amiens, France. No more declamatory pagan malodorous invocation; menstrual apocalyptic folk strumming begone. In its place, courtesy Michael Cashmore, something refined, delicate and classical phrased. On this soft beauty based 90s triumphs:  Thunder Perfect Mind and All The Pretty Little Horses.

Abaddon abandoned. Terra tegit terram.

Oddi wrth y brawd

March 06, 2011

"Born Bad" - Wooden Wand [2009]

Faded fucked up outlaw bar-room gathering - Bukowski, Nelson, Kristofferson, Van Zandt & Brother Earle - swapping scuzzy Americana tales from jail, flop and doghouse. Booze, broken-hearts, bad behaviour and drugsdrugsdrugs...

Not a party album then. For all that, winking foul-mouthed gallows humour keeps the ball articulating only to fetch up in gas station toilets doing lines on the baby changing platform or sharing needles with bus boys.

Bad boy, good form. A low life treat.

Oddi wrth y brawd
shaving cold beats shaving dry

March 05, 2011

Pour Down Like Silver - Richard and Linda Thompson [1975]

Overlooked classic™.

Downbeat, cynical, mesmerising, meditative, heartfelt. Shoots for redemption. Guitars stutter and stagger.

Turn your world around.

Oddi wrth y brawd
turn turn turn

March 02, 2011

Invasive Exotics - Indian Jewelry [2006]

Variegated: garage rock; primal thud; psych-punk forward motion; blurred Krautrock repetitions; murky synth blats, disembodied guitar figures, and obscurantist vocal gibberish. Careful how you let them loose.

Oddi wrth y brawd