Monday, 24 July 2017

Raymond Scott - Three Willow Park

Three Willow Park, the new Raymond Scott collection, is here and has been entertaining me for weeks. I know I don't have to tell you about it. You already know. Don't you? Who are you again? 

Scott's playful experimentation is like a parallel BBC Radiophonic universe of dedicated DIY pioneering electronics (us Brits had Daphne Oram in her oast house, a little later) - it's all a joy, the joy of Raymond Scott's toys as he tinkers to create rhythm samples and ripple effects - an antidote, you might say, to the DoomTech of so much contemporary electronic music (Goth just won't die, in whatever form!). 

But should any of those jokers dare dismiss Scott's recordings they should think again about what he achieved, how devoted he was to finding new sound and therefore paving the way, bleep-by-bleep, for many tech-heads to come. Scott was scientist of sound but a commercially-minded one (no epic Stockhausen-like sonic operas for him!) and as such, I should condemn him, perhaps....because he could be seen as the very worst example of making soothing sounds for big business - but - listening to much of this selection, how can we criticise him for that? Besides, I do like the whole visual culture of the space-age/cold war electronic vanguard, perfectly encapsulated in the title and sound of IBM Probe, for instance. I can detach my political self (seeing the insidious imperialist corporate/war complex) and savour this music.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Toby Esterhaus - Technotheque

Forget 'Cold Wave' here's Cold War tinkering with electronics, tailor-made for those of you with Good Taste - I spy a classic example of tech-no music, flying under the radar of most press, no doubt, just as anyone toying with a fictitious espionage moniker should do -

- enter Kek-w, no less, trench coat collar turned up against the bitter wind as he stalks the shadows of East Berlin's mean streets trying escape attention BUT it is my duty to put him under this lamp in a bid to expose his shady manoeuvres -

- if not exactly a themed album, there are suggestions, as in titles such as the Vienna Incident, Stuck In Stuttgart, Unfilmed Chase Sequence and The Informer but forget film noir Blade Runner cliches as per usual when electronic music turns future detective - Esterhaus presents not cinemascopic sound drama but micro-film snapshots & Technotheque is all the better for that -

- he frequently throws us off the trail with jokes about Steve Strange, a sci-fi B-movie Martian skit and even some Ac_id but don't be fooled, his prints are all over this playful, eclectic, dark/light little masterpiece which in my book punches far above it's weight and deserves your attention so that you may enter the Technotheque, join Toby at a table in the corner and try to discover what he knows. Available from Eriksoisdance

Monday, 3 July 2017


,,,,,,,,,,have you heard the news from Neptune? the Arkestra asking me this morning at Work as I climbed three floors to mine because two of the lifts are broken so the queue was massive me starting to pant but not wanting to display signs of exhaustion in front of those also climbing behind me - I should have been listening to some energising Techno-thump like people in gyms do but sod that & anyway,
what's that got to do with Buried Treasure's release of Alan Sutcliffe material? NOTHING!
other than......
Sutcliffe's synthitones could well be broadcasts from Neptunians - like - first off, LIKENESS (ACM conf. California) is very B-movie sci-fi cold war soundtrack & well, so is most of it & you may think 'Oh not another retro-sounding electronic album' but it was recorded in 1972-3, not quite so retro as all the planets Americans were forbidden from visiting but did anyway in the name of killing communists, I mean aliens.
this compilation is brief but brilliant
aside from raw pure synth experiments there's the 14minute SLIDESHOW of Cage/Schaeffer kaleidoscopic concrete components which really is (and I mean this) one of the best examples of the tradition you will hear.
top marks to Buried Treasure!

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Kurt Weill's Die Sieben Todsünden / Oneirika by zeitkratzer + ELLIOTT SHARP

on the day that I found Kurt Weill's Die Sieben Todsünden for 50p (need I tell you how good it is? of course not)'s appropriate that I should also listen to Oneirika by zeitkratzer + ELLIOTT SHARP - the berlin connection - would Weill have approved? who knows? (not of my pairing, but of the avant-orchestral Zeitkratzer) something about them tells me he...might? what a fantastic pointillist-action-sonic sound this is - all over - drums pound, saxophone scribbles (march of death like horrendously portentous on VI - of what? the death of something/war against something & to transport american Sharp's composition to berlin of cabaret-era berlin theatric the nazi national socialist death camp figurehead grinning in the wings). Really first class. even, at times, bernard Herrmann-esque horror strings plus everything that's great about Zeitkratzer, here taking a chance on John Cage (apparent inspiration for Elliott's composition) the upward/downward dance of strings on VIII is stunning...

otherwise, Oneirika offers everything you want from music (unless you're in the mood to dance/relax/hum along) - it's total music, all-encompassing, from deft atmospherics to a deluge of noise.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Glastonbury essential round-up review of the very best

really? you didn't believe that for a minute, did you?
Chic were good though, weren't they? - LJ turning to me after a minute with a grin on her face, me unconvinced that Disco 12" studio perfection could be translated to the 'live' stage - until a few minutes later when I realised Nile Rogers had assembled a top-notch bunch of old-ish hands, real pros who can, you know, play, which helps - and two great female singers, even though one of them made a small mistake by beginning to sing another line when she shouldn't have - oops - but that bass player! tight horn section too
who else? Sleaford Mods, of course. funny, you sense the irony, almost (if you know) of them playing to a big festival crowd even though they now seem to play to big crowds around Europe but by the end, at the end, even Jason Williamson couldn't resist looking a little chuffed - he even quoted Bad Manners' Lip Up Fatty (ha-ha!) - must say, a brilliant delivery of Jobseeker, I mean, full of spunk & bile -

bile is what's missing these days - anger/noise - of course I haven't tried to catch every act & for all I know in a small tent someone was causing a riot - meanwhile, I predict no riot - talking of which, ten minutes (yes, I gave them that long) of Kaiser Chiefs nearly saw the end of our TV - I noticed young people singing along to Barry Gibb (Bee Gees) songs - see - that's partly the problem - oh us 'old' folk may find him comfortingly/nostalgically entertaining but The Kids should have been throwing bottles at him, not bloody singing along. as I said to LJ, could this have happened 40 years ago? the equivalent being Val Doonican playing a Rock festival? & being embraced? no bile. no balls. no anger (despite, supposedly, all kiddoes being terribly upset about the world - well, I guess music isn't the answer, music with balls anyhow - so they sing-along-a-Barry before going on a demo? before applauding Jeremy Corbyn? says it all - Corbynistas & The Bee Gees - clueless - did Guy Debord kill himself in vain? yes. I heard a bit of his speech (Corbyn, not Barry Gibb), something about encouraging art & creativity in da yout -  wot, like Katy Perry, ya mean? or a new Bee Gees? a new Kaiser Chiefs? how about Sleaford Mods as role models (talking of whom, there was a shot of happy, smiley girls bouncing along to them...I mean...what? are these muppets game for anything & everything without having an idea of what's being played & said? yes, obviously). the thought of Labour government-funded 'arts' is terrifying. the arts (music especially) are fucked in this country & that's after 100 years Tory rule! imagine the effect of their beloved leader's appointment as prime Minister! if they can't muster cultural rebellion of any kind now, what the fuck would they do once utopia is built? lay around on their rapidly-spreading arseholes zombied-out on social media, presumably, just as they do now (when they're not enjoying Sleaford Mods (in situ, but not as chosen to view via the BBC site)) - funny, ain't it.......

who else?
Ed Sheeran - don't get it, or rather, I do, but since I stopped writing teenage angst diaries a long time ago it didn't mean anything.
Radiohead - don't get 'em, never did.
Craig David - heh-heh
The National - I don't get it.
The Killers - I don't get it.
Lorde - lord
Cabbage? - Hold on, I'm listening...they 'bring political post-punk to Pilton' according to the description on the BBC site...OK...I'm waiting...Johnny Rotten forward...enough! musically totally unoriginal, fake 'angry' posturing & so speaks someone who saw the real thing 40 years ago...always a problem, that...

Friday, 23 June 2017

Coltrane Kulture caffeine etc

go out the gate woman in her car windows shut music playing loud - not, not that, anything but that insipid, shitty bland disco(new)beat song of radio bland hateful high street shop audio torture that tears your soul (your what?) apart - no
so walking up the road wondering why nobody's angry anymore, about LeRoi Jones, about John Coltrane, about Marxism, about the fact that people in a tent at Glastonbury started chanting jeremy corbyn and THAT made the fucking news! about the stink of disinfected culture doused in chemicals to cleanse it all of what has made music/art great - the sweat, dirt, stain,smudge, smear - anger/noise - what annoys me is of no importance, only being kulture (state of) when people have been burnt black to their bones because of safety standards ignored, burnt in fires through Portugal, rammed by vans, stabbed by terrorists & on the world doesn't stop ever being a grave for someone who didn't expect The End quite so soon - 

-so go up the shop buy some chocolate - you need an uplift - make fresh coffee - eat the chocolate...

Kulu Se Mama Coltrane calls because Leroi Jones made me think of him - it's a very real thing on a disc that's old and fell apart when I dropped it...

so I sing this melody an old refrain the urge to complain to myself of how things are and were and could never be again - the nostalgia of rebel culture May 68, Zurich 1917, London '76 etc -

Selflessness is playing - oh Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders who we watched bump his head on the beam at the Jazz Cafe once walking on stage - "what are you in this world and where are you going?" - "I just don't know"
see, people are too tolerant - why? - because it's the thing to be all Mr & Mrs People ex-youth now parental even taking the offsprings to festivals (which aren't for freaks anymore - you noticed?) - you bitter old man! 
hold on 5mins 18secs into the tune McCoy Tyner solo -

nuff to turn a person to religion - the holy church of the eighty-eights in His hands - 

"Each to their own"
what? all we do is tolerate - "If you don't like it, don't listen" - you need to rip off your ears & tear out your eyes to avoid this shit - in cars, in shops, out of windows, in backyards come summer, on the internet you can't click fast enough to avoid your eyeballs being tattooed in a nanosecond by news/advertising infiltration & even your 'friends' bug you with shit - social mediacide - 

silence - except for a car rolling by & the neighbour upstairs moving furniture around - clock says six swallow coffee go cook some dinner...

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Sun Ra: Storage Space Is The Place / The Shadow World

RTomens, 2017

On a file deletion spree this afternoon having been told by The Machine that I'm running low on storage space and as you know, space is the place where all those photos, files and documents reside so there had to be a culling. Regarding Sun Ra, I had albums on file which also exist on my CD rack so they had to go. My work ground to a halt going through all the Sun Ra tracks. I was distracted, you might say, by his genius and in particular The Shadow World. What an amazing example of the Arkestra at full pelt with Ra ripping through the electro-cosmos fuelled by a band in hyper-drive...

Monday, 19 June 2017

Terry Riley Don Cherry Duo

Calling all Planetary Dream Collectors, it is time to whirl dervish-like to the sound of Terry Riley and Don Cherry - and as the world spins around the axis we form, for once the terrible, chaotic blur of events (should you live in London especially) will dissolve, be dissolved by sound that is both moving (literally) and centred in a harmonious cyclical dance, enough to entrance and calm the most troubled minds. Riley's cosmic fugues defy/deny time, seemingly expanding it even as it is precisely measured, the opposite of waiting or watching, in his music every module measures what feels like instantaneous moments in an eternal flow. 

As I say that, I'm in danger of sounding as if I have indulged in mind-expanding drugs just as Riley did in the 60s. No matter, whatever it took to open and walk through the doors of perception it may or may not have created this sound as much as made it possible. Who knows? Did Charlie Parker need a fix to attain his sense of higher improvisational capabilities? Surely he was capable anyway, but can an artist and his life be severed so easily?

Here, on the first track, The Descending Moonshine Dervishes, fellow traveller of celestial roads, Don Cherry, proves himself a worthy partner, a man who was, as his track record proves, a free-ranging artist. So it is no surprise that his voice, although in some ways contrary to the rhythmic precision of Riley's, beautifully contrasts the cyclical pace. I'm reminded of the way Miles Davis would add restrained yet potent dimensions to sometimes frenzied collective noise. Here he may hold a note or mimic the bubbling keyboards. Whatever he blows it is in tune with Riley; you sense him listening and reacting.

Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector is Riley alone. I'm struck by the 'sacred' opening, as if a service is about to begin - or has ended? I shy away from religious analogies in music, usually, for fear of lending too much weight to something. Having said that, I confess to having 'preached' the virtues of John Coltrane (and countless others) in the past. I may even have said that whilst I worship no recognised (in the religious sense) god, I kneel (metaphorically) before the speakers when playing Ornette Coleman's The Shape Of Jazz To Come which, as I'm sure you know, also happens to feature Don Cherry.

Meanwhile, these two 'sermons' are worthy additions to your collection. It is sometimes hard to focus on sanity and this music, whilst taking you 'away', also has a unique kind of healing force of its own. You can buy it at Soundohm

Friday, 16 June 2017

Various Artists - Monika Werkstatt

Ah, the power of collective creativity! Artists usually work alone except in group improvisational scenarios but here are the results of time spent eating, walking and making music in one environment, as individuals for the good of the whole project. Perhaps each artist was inspired simply by the existence of others in close proximity, spurring each other on, psychically - who knows. With no overt political objective, Monika Werkstatt emerges as defiantly political against notions of lonely artistic struggle in a commercial world and, of course, the dominant image of women in music, that of sexual objectification and self-exploitation. The highlights are too numerous to mention and it would be unfair to choose any in this context, not that the sum is greater than it's parts for there are many worthwhile individual components. Easily one of the Albums of the Year, as if that accolade matters since Monika Werkstatt denies egotistical competitiveness in the name of communal expression. Outstanding. 

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Lisbon trio ÄLFORJS

Oh yes, juj-ju music, to steal an Archie Shepp title - just discovered Älforjs, a trio from Lisbon whose debut, Jengi, was released a year ago, followed up by Demons 1 in February this year. Both are outstanding examples me' - erk - so percussion to the fore and fierce alto sax from Mestre André, on Natura Ruidosa 1 (Jengi) in particular, whereas Homem Lobo from the same album features Bernardo Álvares not supplying a bassline by sawing at his strings for the whole 12mins to rumbling drums and fuzzy electronics. Demons 1 a little more accessible but in no way a compromise - reminds me of some Griot Galaxy material at times. Either way, it's intergalactic-cosmospiritual class.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Schizophrenic Politics & Democratic Jazz

Untitled, RTomens, 2017

Symptoms of schizophrenia include:
- hallucinations – hearing or seeing things that don't exist
- delusions – unusual beliefs not based on reality
- muddled thoughts based on hallucinations or delusions
- changes in behaviour (NHS website)

Are we all schizophrenic now? After the general election, considering Politics and how we see things, perhaps. "We are all middle class now," said John Prescott before the 1997 general election, managing to twist (to the point of perversion) some 'big tent' New Labour ideological vote-catching spin designed to catch all voters (it worked!).

We're all nuts now, possibly...we're seeing things...such as a post-Socialist utopia (one more push, comrades!), a brave new post-Brexit Britain of boundless opportunity or entrenched Toryism because, despite appearances, they still won more votes.

Fake news? We're hearing and 'seeing things' - seeing the kind of Britain we want even if it's not possible whilst the media, according to which way they hang (does swinging to the Left or Right suit you, sir?), I mean lean, shore up belief systems. The news, like Jesus, isn't fake if you believe anyway, is it? You just choose which one's the truth according to what you already think. Easy.

Are we all deluded? You have to be to believe. Nothing got done by allowing ugly realities to tarnish your beautiful vision, least of all voting. Yes, that democratic right which you would deny should you hit the reality button in your brain and realise the terrible truth of Politics. It's always 'the better option' after all; rarely the absolutely, ideologically perfect option. Unless you're a party member.

Muddled thoughts - those bastards! We shouldn't admit to delude ourselves we're clear-headed about who we vote for, which side is right etc. After all, a muddled head could mark the wrong box - "Oh, bollocks! I voted UKIP!" "I voted Green!" "What's their economic policy?" "I dunno, they like animals and stuff, don't they?"

We're hallucinating, seeing Reality and it's driving us even more nuts. Hard Brexit (don't weaken!), Soft Brexit (but we want a good deal so we can't upset our European friends), austerity (it's wise to be cautious with money, isn't it?), higher spending (tax the rich! Borrow money! Sod the maths!). Reality isn't clear, though, since it depends on who's reality you believe because your own is muddled, mixed up, mashed up from all the conflicting opinions of experts (who we're told not to trust, so just do what that ranting taxi driver says, or better still, the rappers and Grime stars who support Corbyn - coo-o-ol! But I wonder what Sun Ra would have done...had he been alive...and British...).

Changes in behaviour? Vote Leave, then vote Labour? Vote Labour all your life because you're working class then vote Tory because we're still the fifth largest economy in the world so they must be doing something right. Vote UKIP, then Labour? Cha-cha-cha-changes...turn and face a world gone mad, then decide. Live in posh Kensington and vote Labour - they did!

Never trust a Hippy...or a politician? I had a thought yesterday (my yearly one), about Trump. I thought people voted for him because he's an honest liar. Yes, contradictory, I know, but possibly true. I mean, they're always saying 'You know what you're getting with Trump' and it's true. You're getting an upfront mad man who Tweets what he likes and generally does what he likes. A maverick. A showman (snake oil politics!). People voted for what he isn't; a slick, professional capable of mesmerising you with apparent truths spun from the finest career politician coaching school of Politics. Boris Johnson has the same appeal here. Buffoons, businessmen boldly blabbering like idiots who are smarter than they act when it comes to getting what they want.

Bandcamp ran a feature on FMP Records and the Destination Out! blog the other day. A good thing. I needed a good thing...and still do in the form of music which, as we know, is some kind of saviour in this world, even though it doesn't solve the housing crisis. You can guess by the above album what sparked my political thoughts here. Go to the feature (no, not yet) and have a listen because there's some great music there. Schizophrenic Blues by Noah Howard, recorded 'live' in Berlin (1977) is one of the featured albums. Howard's alto-playing is a real treat but as is the democratic way with Jazz everyone contributes superbly. If only society was that democratic, eh? We all get to have our say, do our thing and gain recognition. We all 'solo' for the sake of 'the band'. I'll stop before my metaphor gets too muddled. This album takes a leaf from the Art Ensemble of Chicago, being all kinds of everything from full-on Out There to marches, blues and waltz-time. Brilliant.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Ekoplekz - Bioprodukt

Without being overtly 'anything' as in Dark, Avant-garde, Industrial etc Nick Edwards' Bioprodukt for Planet Mu succeeds in being everything, which is no mean feat. In fusing so many of his personal influences Nick has, whilst retaining the nature of himself as an artist (albeit a multi-faceted one as his many previous releases have proved) created an ultimate version of Himself. Bioprodukt is clean yet dirty, light yet heavy, Pop yet 'underground'. As with all prolific artists it's absurd to talk of 'best' and 'better', the canon itself being the thing of importance as a total entity. Calypzoid is one example of the way he brilliantly blends aspects of electronic culture, the Acid line topped with a light Pop refrain through which dance strands of the Radiophonic era. His understanding of space comes to the fore in Expedition, where 'trademark' Ekoplekz sounds ride an ebb'n'flow low end amid 'alien' song and a hint of dub. Without regard for electronic music's trends, Bioprodukt has an air of classicism about it that ensures it will stand the test of time.

Released June 16th on...Planet Mu.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Jason Williamson / Life, art, survival...

Sun Ra Arkestra, 1981
The general election's over.
Who won?
Labour lost well. Jeremy Corbyn's taking Samuel Beckett's old dictum seriously by failing better!

On the subject of society and politics, here's Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods chatting with the famous (in the UK anyway) ranting taxi driver about life and stuff. It's a good conversation so watch all three. In this one they discuss being creative whilst still having to do a mundane job... they say, you get 'smashed to bits', as everyone struggling with daily life in drudgery or the doledrums does although whether it's worse if you're 'creative' I don't know. What that does mean is that you think you should be doing something better, ie earning a living from your art, as opposed to simply thinking there's a better life out there. I know all about that, being a 'failure' at school at suffering in Work ever since, except for the few years I spent on the dole, which was a kind of freedom, albeit without much money, of course. It's interesting that Jason admits to feeling some guilt about his success and he raises an interesting point about the notion that he 'doesn't deserve it'. That's what's drummed into the working class, the idea that we don't deserve better because we didn't study hard enough, weren't ambitious enough etc. Where I disagree with him is his idea that if you 'keep going' you'll make it. That's obviously not true. But you must keep going with your art for the sake of claiming something special for yourself in an otherwise mundane daily existence.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Merry Prankster Don Ellis & Not Dying Before You Get Old

Charity shop find this morning - why not? I had a thing about Don Ellis years ago but never bought this 1968 album and haven't played him for some time. It's in VG condition, as is the band, especially on the 'live' version of Indian Lady, all 17mins of inspired freeform soloing lunacy as befits the era of merry pranksterism, even in Jazz such as this. Don was something of a hippy's choice when it comes to Jazz (along with that bloke who made Bitch's Brew) and did all right with the longhair crowd. Here are the original 'sleevenotes' by Columbia. Note the idea that 'With records it's easy to pick out the songs you want to play' (!) Not compared to an MP3 it isn't, is it? So the notion of an easy, convenient listening experience becomes outmoded. 

A few doors down I walk into Age UK chariddy shop to find their station playing Cream's White Room - no-one else found that ironic I'll bet, not that the super group's classic was a protest anthem but once again it struck me how passing decades deaden the impact of alt culture music. Will they be playing The Damned in ten years? Probably, because the Punk generation will be well and truly 'aged' by then and therefore the concern of charities like this. (gulp). No doubt The Who are already on their playlist, although even Age UK's radio programmers might consider My Generation too ironic. An ex-Mod hears it, rifling through the clothes, barely able to contain the tears she wants to shed for her lost youth since she didn't die before she got old. Well, as Groucho Marx said, getting old isn't so bad when you consider the alternative. TTFN

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Charlie Yardbird Parker's Blues & Best Available Technology

Charlie Parker's Blues No.1 cloaked in crackle, unclean audio emphasising time past of the old new Bop revolution shock delivered yesterday via my digital (portable) MP3 player - Cool now mainlined into mainstream culture and even 'hipster' (mis)appropriated to mean something else - so I sort of thought - like the revolutionary chic of a Che t-shirt or Punk pruned for meaning for popular taste - so it goes. The Complete Charlie Parker On Dial comp from which Blues No.1 comes is actually a version of Yardbird Suite, correctly titled on the box set pictured, so why re-title it? It crackles so because there was only one microphone in the home of Charles Copley, the 'venue' for a get-together to celebrate Bird's release from Camarillo State Hospital early in 1947. I would have posted the track, of course, but it hasn't been YouTubed.

Session7780 from Best Available Technology's Exposure album knowingly (ironically?) plays with notions of time and technological advances, muddying the stream as if to try and reclaim a time of old-skool cassette mix tapes, perhaps - whatever, the album's a treat for those who savour the sound of someone scratching their sonic signature on the digital 'wall' with a blunt blade as Kevin Palmer does. It's all very down, dirty and akin to being inside the mind of someone who's quite possibly as 'high' (low) as Charlie Parker before being put in hospital; a purple haze of crippled beats and subdued fx.

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