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May 31, 2012

13. Akhnaten - Philip Glass [1983]



Synopsis: Akhenaten, 18th dynasty Pharaoh, rules 17 years, dies circa 1335BC, causes righteous kerfuffle by abandoning polytheism and introducing monotheistic worship centered on sun god Aten. Priests get mardy. It doesn't take.



Commissioned and performed by the Stuttgart State Opera, Akhnaten is the last installment in Glass' portrait opera trilogy, coming on the heels of Einstein on the Beach, and SatyagrahaAkhnaten has more warmth and depth than Einstein's cold precision, and more gritty texture than Satyagraha


          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

Portentous.

Oddi wrth y brawd


[Bonus Horse Opera in Comments]



May 30, 2012

14. Kesämaan Lapset [Children of the Summerland] - Es [2009]



This recording may well enrich your life.


Sami Sänpäkkilä's Kesämaan Lapset (2009), recorded under his Es moniker, follows four years on from Sateenkaarisuudelma's kaleidoscopic drone n chant Kesämaan Lapset dials down the sprawl and explores more accessible electronic sound worlds, in part tribute to 70s Finnish acid-folk waif Pekka Streng. Sami's own Fonal label harkens to days when album label stamp signified common sound and communal mystique. Fonal particular stock in trade: experimental psych-folk, witchy SSW and blissed out electronica.


Opening Ennen Oli Huonommin fanfares a flamboyance of iridescent analog chirrups, skittering and dazzling across four major-key minutes. Clearly, we're located somewhere in the pristine Nordic electrono-Fonal lab, next valley over from the lo-fi forest folk dwellers. Next up, cheery homespun ditty Kesa Ja Hymyilevat introduces spacy vocals and free-ranging electronics. Vaguely Magical Power Mako. Then things start to get really interesting. Sateet Sun Sielusta plays with some piano phrases only to build into a celebratory cascade of drone, combining disciplined minimalism with mind-manifesting kosmische synthesiser worship. 

Still reeling from the meteor shower of trickling lines and deep-space drones, stagger aboard title track Kesämaan Lapset for a twenty minute ride through personal space, childhood summers and euphorically expansive vistas of the latent. First comes a repeated piano phrase  - possibly a Dvořák steal - as pastoral grounding. This morphs into into idyllic trills, washes and field recordings, or perhaps simulated, summoning woods, streams and sea-shore adventure. Final enveloping section builds skywards to a celestial crescendo worthy of Popol Vuh in its pomp. Heady.

Closing, comparatively brief Haamut Sun Sydamesta is a necessary psychedelic come down which serves to remind us that, however abstracted the journey, this is a SSW album at heart. Which brings us back to Pekka.


Oddi wrth y brawd


[Pekka up bonus: Comments]



May 29, 2012

15. Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven - Godspeed You Black Emperor [2000]



Post-orchestral-space rock windfall for "kitchen sink" production aficionados. Trademark dynamics front and centre: begin sparse n slow, build, build, build...... crescendo.....come down...shuffle...repeat. Textbook.



Oddi wrth y brawd



May 28, 2012

16. Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet & The Sinking of the Titanic - Gavin Bryars



Two lengthy art pieces packing emotional punch. Cast-iron testament that the experimental and constructivist may cleave to the power to move. 

Gavin Bryars is not light on methodological muscle, working across jazz, free improv, minimalism, avant-garde and neoclassicism. A founding member of the Portsmouth Sinfonia - an orchestra whose membership consisted of performers who “embrace the full range of musical competence” (there’s a euphemism in there somewhere). Sinfonia members included erstwhile pal Brian Eno whose Obscure Records label put out several Bryars works in the mid-70s including the Titanic piece herein.


Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet (1971) loops around a field-recording of homeless man vocalising-improvising a hymn. Over the loop, are built rich harmonies, played by live ensemble; slowly increasing in density, and impact before gradual fade. The piece was first recorded for use in a documentary chronicle of street life in and around London’s Elephant and Castle:
When I played it at home, I found that his singing was in tune with my piano, and I improvised a simple accompaniment. I noticed, too, that the first section of the song - 13 bars in length - formed an effective loop which repeated in a slightly unpredictable way. I took the tape loop to Leicester, where I was working in the Fine Art Department, and copied the loop onto a continuous reel of tape, thinking about perhaps adding an orchestrated accompaniment to this. The door of the recording room opened on to one of the large painting studios and I left the tape copying, with the door open, while I went to have a cup of coffee. When I came back I found the normally lively room unnaturally subdued. People were moving about much more slowly than usual and a few were sitting alone, quietly weeping.


I was puzzled until I realised that the tape was still playing and that they had been overcome by the old man's singing. This convinced me of the emotional power of the music and of the possibilities offered by adding a simple, though gradually evolving, orchestral accompaniment that respected the tramp's nobility and simple faith. Although he died before he could hear what I had done with his singing, the piece remains as an eloquent, but understated testimony to his spirit and optimism.
 - Bryars 


The Sinking of the Titanic (1969), indeterministically allows performers to render various sound sources related to the sinking of the RMS Titanic. Cue heart-tugging, uplifting and perfectly poised melodic motif of Nearer My God To TheeAmazing Grace against ambient backdrop of chilly ocean noise.

 Oddi wrth y brawd

[Sundry bonus sunderings and landings in Comments]

May 27, 2012

17. Gôg - Meic Stevens [1977]



Y caneuon hyn oedd fy ail record hir, a gai ei recordio maes o law yn stiwdios Sain yn Llanrug. Roedd y record yma'n gam mawr ymlaen i mi fel cyfansoddwr caneuon; cafodd groeso brwd, gwerthodd yn dda a ges i lawer o waith ar ei chorn.

Recordiwyd Gog o fewn pum niwrnod.
 - Y Crwydryn a Mi

Practical, self-effacing Meic Mortimer Stevens, wizard and true Welsh star. Melodic nous and unquestionable chops grounded in earthy authenticity. He doesn't put a foot wrong on this astonishingly good amble among Breton idylls, wandering blind boys, and country loving. Contender for best folk-rock album of 70s, in any language. 

 Essential.

Oddi wrth y brawd

[Dros ben llestri in Comments]

May 26, 2012

18. Cœur De Verre / Herz aus Glas [Heart of Glass] – Popol Vuh [1977]




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.
  - Herzog on Florian

 ...the essence of Popol Vuh is a mass for the heart. It is music for love. That is all.
  - Florian on PV


Clang kosmische to drive away the wolves.


Oddi wrth y brawd


[Deluxe harmonious bonus in Comments]



May 25, 2012

19. The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (Original Television Soundtrack) - Robert Mellin and Gian-Piero Reverberi



Y brawd's desert island luxury; your abject pleasure.


23 secs, opening titles, crashing surf, sun blessed mid-70s summer morning adrift…cue Robinson’s monochrome adventures. À la recherche du temps perdu be damned.




Oddi wrth y brawd


[TV eyed bonus in Comments]

May 24, 2012

20. Cannabis - Serge Gainsbourg & Jean-Claude Vannier [1970]





Decades before de facto relaxation of cross border genre regulations, Serge strolled with protean disregard and somewhat arch insouciance through chanson, lounge jazz, world music (sic), ye-ye, pop psych, rock, dub, disco, funk et caetera.... Wanton profligacy did him no favours outside France: artistic fearlessness and a shrug of Gallic shoulders to misconceived Anglo-US notions of authenticity interpreted abroad as dilettantism and promiscuous cheese.


Actor, writer, director, producer, pop svengali, performer, musician, smoker, drinker and, at the end, dilapidated national treasure. Above all else, 20th century composer and lyricist nonpareil who considered writing songs a trifling art form compared to figurative art. Ever the accomplished painter and draftsman who gave up painting because he knew he would never equal Picasso or scatological comrade in arms, Dali. 


Franchement, Gainsbourg / Gainsbarre was a genius; not to be taken lightly.



High watermark must-have is Histoire de Melody Nelson. Go buy it. Cannabis soundtrack - also with Jean-Claude Vannier  - is something of a dry run for Melody Nelson (grooves, break beats, larger guitar riffs, orchestral drama, funked out bass...) and an essential gem in its own right.



Oddi wrth y brawd


[Bag Birkin Bonus in Comments]

May 23, 2012

21. Odessa - Bee Gees [1969]



Conceptual pop magnum opus. Maximally hook loaded n orchestrated. Double album with not an ounce of fat (read, cheese), and nothing short of a revelation. Remember Bros. Gibb like this.


Oddi wrth y brawd

[Bonus Melody in Comments]

May 22, 2012

22. 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, Machen too not rudely treated by presumption.
Mundane terror.
Not Egypt but stinking boats of the Thames.
Not the spineless usual 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. Cue shouty sloganeering whisky descend.
Shadow walks behind paranoia man trapped in Flat of Angles after killing wife.
Bent sinister from start.

Cog-nisant:
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

[Bonus in comments]

May 21, 2012

23. We Sold Our Soul For Rock 'N' Roll - Black Sabbath [1975]



Fulsome doffing of caps to revered old masters Tony, Bill, Ozzy & Geezer. Culled from 70 - 73 run of anvil smitten classics -  Black SabbathParanoid, Master of RealityVol 4, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath - historical heaviosity imprimatur par excellence. Monolithic, primally unsubtle indebtedness to sheet metal factory accident. Yea, the evergreen thrill of Sweat Leaf's opening salvo; Sabbath Bloody Sabbath's noisy-quiet template which we fule know eventually births Pixies and Nirvana and beyond; the magnificent, dunderheadedly audible manual turning of volume to number 11 at 0:40secs into N.I.B..

In retrospect, a surprisingly pervasive air of less than sunny trips and drowsy narcotics. Presumably, before Messrs. Brandy and Snow commandeered the driving-seats.

As y brawd is prone to declare, essential.

Oddi wrth y brawd

May 20, 2012

24. Recital, Kokkyou Junreika [Border Pilgrim Songs] - J. A. シーザー / J.A. Caesar [1973]



In his early 70s psycho-pomp, Julius Arnest Caesar (J.A. Seazer / J.A. Ceaser) conjured some unique concoctions on behalf of Shuji Terayama’s Tenjo Sajiki Theatre Company. An experimental blend of kosmische rock, dappled with Noh stylings and witchy women choruses for added weirdness. Not too preposterously seen as distant cousin to ISB’s “U” – a surreal parable in song and dance, as performed by Black Sabbath.

[Bonus in Comments: "Music that evokes the Khanate Golden Horde invading eastern Turkey, anyone? Yes, please."]


Oddi wrth y brawd

May 19, 2012

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



Abandon the quotidian all ye who enter the wang: a gallimaufry of chant, caterwaul, instruments plucked, objects struck and assorted bukkacophony. There is method in ribald moniker madness, for herein prowls a winning amalgam of magickal Riff Mountain Jajouka riffing and esoteric Far Eastern ritual malarkey. Screeching, outlandish percussion, keening females acting up in a series of mostly short impenetrable psychodramas. Tenjo Sajiki / J. A. Caesar troupe on collective bad trip.

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

Oddi wrth y brawd


[Bonus bukkakerie in Comments]




May 18, 2012

26. Force the Hand of Chance - Psychic TV [1982]




Suffusing dread, ritual, drama and tenderness to coalesce themed meditations on nature of being and Will.


Not, then, hit parade material, steeped as it be in Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis reorganised around the Law of Thelema: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law / Love is the law, love under will. Often misinterpreted as carte blanche for all kinds of psycho-sexual carry-on and to indulge emotional impulses, however transgressive. A subtler reading is about seeking out and following one's own True Will rather than the ego's desires - thereby, if you will, forcing the hand of chance.



Music ideologically freighted at the expense of the thrills? Not so. Assisted by the more than able Fergusson and Christopherson, Genesis P-Orridge conjures a  collection of powerful soundscapes and some oddly captivating "pop". Agit-prop ontological soundtrack....and arguably PTV's most fully realised work.

GP-O confounds expectations from the get go. A pastoral, string-driven melody to baby daughter, Just Drifting (for Caresse) flows pleasantly like the country streams and rural breezes it eulogizes. Tender and sincere yet of a thematic piece: the child's pre-verbal state of being, drifting, following it's own will and under a "simple love".

It can't last of course. Things quickly get as dark as the devil's nutting bag. Terminus X-tul, a deeply unsettling account of a young man journeying toward initiation (?), derailed by a - fantasy or actual - suicide  jump from a railway bridge into a passing train. Morricone twang and strang ups the drama and cheekily references the time-stetching opening scene of Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West. The first lines of spoken lyric: 

Quiet and hooded, his eyes stared out, small hands make patterns on the window.
Body shifting on wood, dog outside the door, flickering memories as trains manoeuvre in the old men's eyes.
Forever part of a sleeping world, waiting for him to come.
Lost dreams of childhood forgotten like hope.
These lives are stones made for cemeteries.
This time the victim is desired, like misery.

He stepped down from the train, dust on road and clothes.
Across the way a boy was grinning, hard-on obvious in torn grey trousers inherited from an earlier victim of the white horse.
The shade of Old Bill Lee hovers in Western Lands. A crisis is upon the lad - cue demonic howl of heavily distorted guitar. Time slows, a mystery is arrived at, a secret coda fulfilled.
   
Leavening the gloom, in swoons Marc Almond like the winsome nephew of Macbeth's Porter, offering Stolen Kisses and Doug Yule VU bubble-gum pop. Though, as "dark suns of sunlight flower", we seem to be talking about the oblivion of smack by way of light relief.


And so the album unfolds. Central themes unfurling like a sickly rose; moments of light made pungent by pervasive dark. Marc crops up again on Guiltless, exhorting us - with, it must be said, more than a soupçon of lascivity -   to "see it and go for it". Do what thou wilt.


Sex magick and Genet (Querelle / Queer Hell) combine in New Order-ish dance number Ov Power. In the parlance of Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth, Ov = comingled male-female sexual fluids. Shouty chanting validates the bestial in us all.


Message from Thee Temple dogmatically lays out the Law of Thelema, delivered by a vaguely creepy if authoritatively warm voice (think Jeremy Irons in Dead Ringers). A re-statement of Crowley's road map for discovering one’s True Will:
The temple strives to end personal laziness and engender discipline.
To focus the Will on one's true desires in the belief, gathered from experience, that this maximises and makes happen all those things one wants in every area of life.


Explore daily your deepest desires, fantasies -
Gradually focusing on what you would really like to happen in a perfect world,
Picking away all restrictions and practical considerations.
An unsettling doubling effect is discernable by the closely listening ear; uneasy.




Counterpoint to Terminus X-tul is jackal-snarling Thee Full Pack (for Bachir Attar). Equally cinematic in feel, this time evoking the disorientation and lurking fear that stalks Max Von Sydow through the souk at the beginning of The Exorcist. O.T.O., ceremony and fraternal bonding through ritual is captured in the name check for Bachir Attar, leader of The Master Musicians of Jajouka. The song invokes a great threatening force, surrounding us, and from which there is no escape.


Oddi wrth y brawd


[Bonus Themes in Comments]

May 17, 2012

27. All The Pretty Little Horses - Current 93 [1997]



David Tibet's poetry borrows from Pascal's Pensées ("thoughts"): a defence of Christianity. Patripassianist thought heretically posits God the Father as incarnate and co-sufferer with/in  human Jesus. Classical theology has Christ suffer by dint of human nature. The poem is a perfectly pitched denouement to All The Pretty Little Horses, revisiting and invoking preceding themes: suffering, abandonment, innocence blighted, mystical Passion. Even ye most secular non-believers deserve hearts of stone and ears of cloth not to be moved by Nick Cave's recitation:

                                   Patripassian

       "The rivers of Babylon flow and fall and carry away.
       Jesus is alone on earth.
       Not merely with no one to feel and share His agony,
       But with no one even to know of it.
       Heaven and He are the only ones to know.


       Jesus is in a garden.
       Not of delight like the first Adam, who fell there and took with him all mankind,
       But of agony, where He has saved Himself and all mankind.


       He suffers this anguish and abandonment in the horror of the night.


      Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world.
      There must be no resting in the meantime.


      Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world.
      There must be no resting in the meantime."
..........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................




The title track, All The Pretty Little Horses, is traditional lullaby and leitmotif - sung first by Tibet and later by Cave in refined gent Murder Ballads tone. Trad. ATPLH voices an African American slave who cannot take care of her own baby being too busy taking care of her master's child, to whom she sings the song:



     Way down yonder, down in the meadow,
     There's a poor wee little lamby.
     The bees and the butterflies pickin' at its eyes,
     The poor wee thing cried for her mammy.


     Hush-a-bye, don't you cry,
     Go to sleepy little baby.
     When you wake, you shall have cake,
     And all the pretty little horses.



And so, poor wee little lamby. Tibet binds southern gothic child's rhyme with heavy ontological debate. Impressive stuff. Consonance in cover art that is both kitsch and Blakean innocence lost.


Admirers of master prose stylist Cormac McCarthy will be familiar with borrowed resonances from the same lullaby and for similar thematic ends in border trilogy novel All The Pretty Horses:

  " ...it was good that God kept the truths of life from the young as they were starting out or else they'd  have no heart to start at all."

Musically, Tibet makes use of eerie and desolate reverberant loops of early choral music aiming for what sounds like a digital facsimile of 70s mellotron liturgicial chorale effect. Electrics are blended nicely with organics, the latter mostly acoustic guitar.

In sum, a profoundly gripping and coherent expression of Tibet's Christian mysticism "phase".


Oddi wrth y brawd


[oh big boys, bonus in Comments, check it out]



May 16, 2012

28. The Power of the True Love Knot - Shirley Collins [1967]



Quietly adventurous '67 recording by sisters Shirley and Dolly. Traditional love ballads with early music patina courtesie of Dolly’s restrained arrangements and flutey toned miniature wooden pipe-organ. Pristine Joe Boyd production and array of supporting off-kilter instruments ascendantal Wlliamson and Heron (a favour Dolly repays on Incredible String Band's God Dog).



So to Shirley’s voice: natural, artless and wholly inhabiting 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. Check guest vocal on Current 93’s 2006 Black Ships Ate the Sky: as harrowing as it is breath-taking.

Oddi wrth y brawd


[bonus in Comments]

May 15, 2012

29. Live at The Old Ash Tree, Kent 1972 - COB



Time entwines my very soul,
The tangled briar kills the tree
 - Music of the Ages, COB

Unutterably magical performance. Anachronistic, rough around the edges mantric lo-fi hypnotism; harmonium drone and homemade "dulcitar". Wyrd ur-text and more compelling than contemporaneous Incredible String Band output.

Music for the ages. Absolutely essential listening.


Oddi wrth y brawd [and Pagan Dad]


[bonus in Comments]

May 14, 2012

30. The Wyrd Meme - Alasdair Roberts [2009]



Earning legitimate claim to Robin Williamson's mythopoeic surmise and Martin Carthy's sturdy yeomanry, Alasdair Roberts makes music expansive, earthy and timeless. A compelling weave of traditional and innovative; antique and modern; wyrd and meme. 

The skirl and roil of minimal ensemble playing herein showcases Roberts' reedy brogue and syncopated guitar. 

Oddi wrth y brawd

[bonus in Comments]

May 12, 2012

Count Down To Closing Time: Dug And Re-dug



For reasons irrelevant to mention Weird Brother ceases trading in 30 days' time. Y brawd embarks upon re-up mission re. currently unavailable archive posts; one per day over the coming month.


Re-dug artefact selection depends upon:
  • personal whim
  • valedictory stab at summing up
  • post popularity by DL volume (Will ELO make the cut? World bates its breath)
  • re-up requests folks may want to add to Comments section below
Oddi wrth y brawd


(mail direct with left-field ideas, including anyone passionate enough to take this project over; will consider passing on the keys....)

Fingerbobs - Jessett, Cole & Jones [1972]


...a tortoise head peeps out


Pate, scarf, beard and sinister knitwear. Join Scampi, Flash, Gulliver and, of course, Fingermouse in pointless repetitive escapades.


Smell the glove.

Oddi wrth y brawd

May 08, 2012

Whipped Cream and Other Delights - Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass [1965]


Tip tifer to angle we like to call jaunty and kick back to the ur-text of all things easy.


Oddi wrth y brawd

May 07, 2012

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest [OST] - Jack Nitzsche [1975] re-dug



Yes Mr. Martini, there is an Easter Bunny. Hawaiian melancholy all at sea with Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Poignant, sedated and in the final end, triumphant. Aloha los pescadores...come meet the boys.




Oddi wrth y brawd

May 05, 2012

Tower of Love - Jim Noir [2005]


Quirky English garden melody in classic psych pop auteur vein. Nice.


Oddi wrth y brawd

May 01, 2012

Greatest Hits - Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians [1996]

 

Cracked pop genius primer vintage 1988 - 1993 (the A&M years!). Robyn, undisputed queen of making surreal sense - viz.
    
    And it rained like a slow divorce.
    And I wish I could ride a horse.

and....

    "Doctor, doctor I'm on fire!"
    "Oh I'm sad to hear that squire. We're closing."
    She snuffs you out like silk.
    And pours you out like milk.
    
Criminy, this is groovy.

Y brawd gotta go...but it won't be so he don't be back again.



Oddi wrth y brawd