Saturday, 29 March, 2008

Cabaret Voltaire 1974-76 (1992)

Recorded at Chris Watson's Loft.
Originally released on cassette by Industrial Records in 1980.
Tracks 4, 5, 6, 8 & 9 also appeared on a cassette limited to 25 copies that the band duplicated by hand and gave to friends in 1976.

1. The Dada Man
2. Ooraseal
3. A Sunday Night In Biot
4. In Quest Of The Unusual
5. Do The Snake
6. Fade Crisis
7. Doubled Delivery
8. Venusian Animals
9. The Outer Limits
10. She Loved You

Thursday, 27 March, 2008

Christian Marclay, Ikue Mori, Elliott Sharp - Acoustiphobia (2000)

"The works in this collection are from an evening celebrating the third year of the Sonic Arts program at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Collectively, the artists represented on this CD encounter sound, engage architecture, articulate a building and ultimately create a sound walk for their audience. This document reveals emerging movements toward sonic portraiture, elaborate and sometimes whimsical sculptural multi-channel diffusions, and re-re- and recording practices." Lauren Weigner & Doug Henderson

"On the first Acoustiphobia disc, we'll listen to Christian Marclay, a veteran turntablist, joining forces with Ikue Mori's drum machine and electronics, as well as Elliott Sharp's guitarbass, saxophone, and electronics. The sounds that emerge from the mix often have a distorted, eerie character. Reverberant held tones waft off into pitch-shifted whirs and punchy thuds. One can make out Sharp's guitar in many passages simply on the basis of its heavy string overtones; likewise, his saxophone playing emerges clearly because of its reediness. But those instruments merge with the electronics and the turntables into a dynamic pastiche of sound whose original connection with its sources remains nebulous. Thank god for stereo recording, which greatly enriches the experience.
Disc two of Acoustiphobia features experiments in sound from students of Boston's School of the Museum of Fine Arts. As a strictly student presentation, these twenty pieces reflect a cleverness and naiveté which is rare in recorded media. Found sounds, vocal passages, and heavily treated electronic tones trade off throughout these pieces. And with the rich diversity of approaches, the listener must shift gears every few minutes to adjust to a new style of composition". Nils Jacobson

recorded January, 31, 2000

Elliott Sharp -
bass , saxophone , computer, electronics
Ikue Mori -
electronic drums, electronics
Christian Marclay -

1 - boston one (8:22)
2 - boston two (17:39)
3 - boston three (7:31)
4 - boston four (19:21)


DISC 2: Student works from the Sonic Arts Program at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

1 - Anna Davis - Eavesdropping (1:09)
2 - David Weber - Fuzzy Quadraphonic Headwear (2:43)
3 - Seth Colburn - Not A Rainstick (2:13)
4 - Sophie Mikes - Freedom Fighter Radio (1:45)
5 - Jon Macintosh - Kissing Audio Instructional (1:28)
6 - Luke Walker - Selma (3:40)
7 - John Corso - Words For Small Children (1:04)
8 - Noel Weber - Elevator Interior Ambience (2:00)
9 - Yuki Yoshida - Dragging Chair & Popcorn Maker (1:08)
10 - Adriane Hughes - The Fourth Wall (2:51)
11 - Josh Winer - Windowseat (1:03)
12 - Martin Pavuni - A Small Heroic Suite (5:19)
13 - Lana Gospodnetic - Portrait Of The Museum Of Arts And Crafts Zagreb (3:10)
14 - David Matorin - Clock Phase (1:55)
15 - Ben Fenton - Building Bolts (1:03)
16 - Lana Gospodnetic - Third Space (5:30)
17 - David Weber - Suitcase: Playback Unit 3 (4:26)
18 - Ben Fenton - Queensbury Garage (1:18)
19 - Seth Colburn - Live Feedback (1:27)
20 - Martin Pavunic - Adventure (6:55)

disc 1::link@320
disc 2::link@320

Otomo Yoshihide New Jazz Quintet - Live in Lisbon feat. Mats Gustafsson

"Like Ken Vandermark, Yoshihide is a player well versed in free jazz, canonical works. This concert date finds his regular quintet in the company of frequent Vandermark confrere Mats Gustafsson and the Swedish saxophonist plants a nest of primed blasting caps under the band’s already explosive chassis. The set opens to the strains of a rousing rendition of “Song for Che”, Gustafsson leading the charge with a rising Brötzmannian tenor blast and the rest of the ensemble soon following him in the collective vertical leap. Bassist Mizutani Hiroaki’s bass strings braid a resonant harmonic bass and the rhapsodic emancipatory overtones of the Charlie Haden classic come through in full bloom. It’s coupled in medley form with Yoshihide’s own “Reducing Agent”, a guitar-monopolizing freak-out that shows him hardly reticent in indulging his inner-Haino and Sharrock with swathes of roiling distortion and feedback. Drummer Yoshigaki Yasuhiro, who doubles on trumpet later in the program, also assumes an integral role the action with an arena-style workout at his kit. Also on the docket, canny covers of Dolphy’s “Serene”, here retooled as a gradually building tone canvas broken by several interludes into lopsided swing, and Jim O’Rourke’s “Eureka”, an anthemic piece that blends folk forms and textured sound collages with balladic grace to a crescendoing release. But the disc’s centerpiece is a 22-minute version of Yoshihide’s own “Flutter”, a cousin to Coleman’s “Lonely Woman”, where Gustafsson once again earns the right to consideration as potential permanent addition to the band. With this disc as reliable yardstick, I fully intend on tapping the wallet for ingress into Yoshihide’s earlier efforts. Derek Taylor

"From the heavy sampled madness of both his electronic music and the group Ground Zero, in which he mixed his love of jazz and rock and dealed with an overdose of sound information, Otomo Yoshihide turned minimal, reducing the materials to the essential. When he came to Portugal in 2004 to play in the Jazz em Agosto festival, he showed that in two gigs. With the Canadian turntablist Martin Tétreault he used his decks without records, only manipulating the pickups and the needles with paper, rubber and metal round surfaces, forging a brutal noise music with very little. And with the New Jazz Quintet he used an electric guitar not to phrase, not to play chords, but to produce controlled feedbacks. That’s what we hear in “Live in Lisbon”, the (partial) recording of that memorable concert, the last of this group before he converted it to an ensemble of eight instrumentalists.

Similarly to what characterizes the Otomo Yoshihide New Jazz Ensemble and the Otomo Yoshihide New Jazz Orchestra, this quintet with Mats Gustafsson as special guest performed covers of great jazz tunes by the likes of Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus and Charlie Haden, among other be bop and free jazz standards, adding to the repertoire a pop song (“Eureka”, by Jim O’Rourke, was a common choice, and it’s still used by the present orchestra) and Otomo’s own compositions. Some of those unorthodox interpretations are documented in this fantastic CD that gives us the opportunity to listen with more time and focus to the very special virtues of someone like the alto saxophonist Tsugami Kenta, who deserves a wider recognition. It’s very fulfilling and fun to follow him in open and free situations with his Paul Desmond / Lee Konitz stylings, as it is to catch Gustafsson in a context in which he has to moderate his expressionistic impetus. This means you shouldn’t miss this album, ‘cause you’ll certainly find things that you don’t even imagined possible".

Mats Gustafsson - tenor and bariton sax
Mizutani Hiroaki - bass
Otomo Yoshihide - electric guitar
Tsugami Kenta - alto sax
Yoshigaki Yasuhiro - drums, trumpet

1. Song for Che (Charlie Haden) / Reducing Agent (Otomo Yoshihide)
2. Serene (Eric Dolphy)
3. Flutter (Otomo Yoshihide)
4. Eureka (Jim O'Rourke)

Recorded in Lisbon, August 2004. Released by Clean Feed in 2006


Wednesday, 26 March, 2008

Living Like an Ewing #1

Nobel Petit cigarillos

Bravo Clippings #28

[Walker Evans at Work, 1984]

Tuesday, 25 March, 2008

Robert Ashley & Paul de Marinis - In Sara, Mencken, Christ and Beethoven There Were Men and Women (1974)

"New definitive CD reissue of this original Cramps label album from 1974, an early classic from Robert Ashley (previous CD version on Cramps is now deleted). This deluxe slipcased version features a 110-page book, reproducing the original Wolgamot text along with fascinating liner notes explaining the whole project from Keith Waldrop and Robert Ashley. The CD features one long composition with Ashley reading a text by poet John Barton Wolgamot. The poem has 128 stanzas; each stanza is made up of the same phrase, into which are introduced four variables, three are names or groups of names or constructions of names, and the fourth variable is formed by the adverb of the active verb. The result is considered "one of the most unusual and difficult linguistic textures in the English language". The underlying music is supplied by Paul DeMarinis on Moog synthesizer. Ashley on DeMarinis: "Paul has elaborated seven different modular combinations, each of which can be controlled by programmed impulses. These derive from the sound of the reading of the poem passed through the regeneration high frequency filter and successively translated into a series of command impulses."

"This uniquely original work for voice and electronics dates from 1972. A 128-stanza poem by the legendary John Barton Walgamot traces a hidden story of social progress and influence within the gradual repetition of a single grand phrase. For example, "In its very truly great manners of Ludwig Van Beethoven, very heroically the very cruelly ancestral death of Sara Powell Haardt had very ironically come amongst his very really grand men and women to Rafael Sabatini, George Ade, Margaret Storm Jameson, Ford Madox Hueffer, Jean-Jacques Bernard, Louis Bronfield, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche and Helen Brown Norden very titanically." In the other verses names are added and subtracted, and there occurs a subtlety organized variation of syntactical parts leading to further mysterious integration of meanings. The voice part is read with as few inflections and breaths as possible -- in the first realization prepared on tape, all pauses were removed, so that the voice has this eternal quality. (Gertrude Stein once mentioned that she aimed for this same quality while in the 1934-35 recording of her works, but had to settle for reading in long breaths). The voice activates electronic sounds that respond with inflected sounds; in the initial realization for records, electronic sounds designed by composer Paul DeMarinis were variously beautiful and humorous. The musical effect is that of an internal voice stimulating involuntary ideas and feelings. This piece, together with Ashley's "Automatic Writing" (1979), "The Wolfman" (1964), "Fancy Free, or It's There" (1970), "Purposeful Lady Slow Afternoon" (1968, from The Wolfman Motorcity Revue) and "She Was a Visitor" (1967, from the opera That Morning Thing) offer a profound musical exploration of the relation between the physical nature of the voice and social/language behaviors". AMG

Synthesizer - Paul DeMarinis
Voice - Robert Ashley
Text - John Barton Wolgamot

CD reissue in 2002 by Lovely Music

Link removed by request.
See comments.

Friday, 21 March, 2008

Antonio Vivaldi - Stabat Mater

01-03 - Concerto Ripeno
04-07 - Cantate "Cessate, Omai Cessate"
08-09 - Sonata a Quatro "Al Santo Sepolcro"
10-12 - Intoduzione al Miserere
13-21 - Stabat Mater

Andreas Scholl, c-ten.
Ensemble 415, directed by Chiara Banchini.
Released by Harmonia Mundi in 1995.


Benjamin Weissman - Hitler Ski Story (1994)

"Initially, I wanted to write that story from the perspective of a Hitler historian, under the premise that there was new information about Hitler having been a lousy skier, which is sort of the ultimate insult for a Tyrolean. But after seeing photographs of Hitler in the Alps, I couldn’t help but imagine his experience trying to ski. Maybe putting him on skis makes him an easy target for parody and humiliation". Benjamin Weissman

Taken from the album Oostende, published by Bigg Truck Records in 1994.


Thursday, 20 March, 2008

Philippe Vuillemin / Jean-Marie Gourio - Hitler=SS (1989)

"In the early 1980s comics writer JM Gourio and artist Philippe Vuillemin serialized a series of holocaust-themed cartoons and stories in the satirical adult-only magazine HARA-KIRI, collected under the title "HITLER = SS" (a joke on the 1968 "CRS = SS" rallying cry).

The stories were then collected into a book that immediately became the subject of numerous lawsuits from Jewish organizations and Holocaust survivors. It was banned in some countries, not in others."


"B'nai B'rith de España, and Amical de Mathausen - an association of former Spanish inmates of Nazi concentration camps - each filed a criminal complaint against the people responsible for the editing and publication of the comic, on the grounds of grave insult and mockery of a religious belief. The Examining Judge in Barcelona decided to proceed with the criminal actions and to confiscate the publication and the printing equipment. In his defence, [the manager of the Spanish publishing house Makoki] Carullᇠmaintained that his only intention was to parody and ridicule the so called 'neo-revisionist' organizations which deny the Holocaust or genocide of the Jewish people, an 'intention' which does not appear in the tales of the comic. In spite of this, on 29 January 1992, the Criminal Court acquitted Carullᇠon the grounds of lack of criminal intention.

An appeal was brought against Carull‡á's acquittal to the Provincial Court of Barcelona. This Court partially upheld the appeal and sentenced Carullá‡, as only author of the insult, to one month and one day of 'major imprisonment' (arresto mayor), a fine of 100,000 pesetas and half of the legal fees. However, the Court acquitted him of the offense of mocking a religious faith. According to the judgment, the contents of the comic entail 'contempt for an historical event in which [the Jewish] people is one of the protagonists'. The Court held that the publication clearly contains the potential to hurt the sensitivity of the Jewish people, which was directly affected by the Nazi genocide."

Alberto Benasuly, Justice [Journal of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists]

link [French]

Find a free comics reader here (windows) or here (mac). If you want to burn the book, unzip the file in order to obtain a ton of jpeg images that you can print.

Thanks to the original uploader.

Wednesday, 19 March, 2008

Boredoms - Super Roots 2 (1994)

1. Sexy Boredoms
2. Go Come Uparks
3. Magic Milk
4. White Plastic See Thru Finger
5. Boxodus ( noise ramones mix )

3" EP, available via the Japanese version of Chocolate Synthesizer

Thanks to Prof. NT for this.


Bravo Clippings #27

Philippe Vuillemin / Jean-Marie Gourio, "N'oublions jamais qu'ils ont sauvé 'Bébé' [Don't Forget They Saved 'Bébé']" (Hitler=SS, 1989)

Tuesday, 18 March, 2008

Frank Zappa - Jazz from Hell (1986)

Was all of Jazz From Hell recorded on Synclavier?
No. There's one cut on there, a guitar solo, that was done with a band on the '82 tour. That's "St. Etienne." Everything else is 100 percent Synclavier.

The Synclavier has direct-to-hard-disk recording options that would let you, for example, have somebody come in and actually play saxophone, and it would still be recorded on Synclavier. Was any of that done, or was it all input directly?
No, it was all done with samples and synthesis. It was all typed in or performed in on the keyboard, or performed in using [Roland] Octapads.

Typing it in must be a fairly slow process.
Well, I worked for eight months on this album. So there's quite a bit of work in it.

It sounds like a real breakthrough album, with the vocabulary you used before, but distilled in a very new way.
Wait until you hear the stuff that's coming up. When I first started with the Synclavier, we didn't have a very advanced sampling system. We had mono sampling with not a lot of RAM. Then, at great expense, I picked up the rest of the new sampling gear. We were doing stereo samples here in the studio before Synclavier even had stereo sampling. We figured out a way to do it, and it changed a lot of ways that you could write for the instrument. So the compositions that are on Jazz From Hell already sound old to me, compared to what I'm doing now.

There are some places where we can hear that it's an acoustic guitar sample or a saxophone sample or something quite clearly. But in other places it's not so clear. On "Night School," for example, there's a sustained sound that has a piano attack and something else spliced onto it.
It's actually not spliced; it's simultaneous. It's a stereo sample, a combination of trumpet with pitch-bend and grand piano. The piano notes are not short. They attack, and then as they ring off, you get to hear an unusual noise, which is the acoustic piano playing bends. That's a real easy thing to do on the Synclavier.

So even though you're calling them stereo samples, they weren't always used to create a stereo field.
Well, when I say stereo sample, on the Synclavier you have four partials. You can have a different sound on each partial, which means that when you strike one note, you can have four completely different sounds come out, or you can have two stereo pairs. Or you can have a stereo pair and two other sounds at random. In the case of that particular sound, it is a mono piano and a mono trumpet sample. But the accompanying keyboard sounds are all stereo grand piano.

Have you ever sampled your own guitar and used that?
I've sampled a few notes. I've never plugged into the thing and said, "Now I'm going to sample myself." We extracted them from digital tapes of live performances. A couple of good feedback notes are plopped in. I haven't really gone hog-wild with guitar samples, but Dweezil [Zappa's son] did a whole guitar sampling session last year, and the stereo fuzz-tone samples are just now being trimmed and built into patches, so I'll have a whole assortment of characteristic heavy metal noises.

Do you ever use a guitar synthesizer controller with the Synclavier?
I've tried it, but because of the style I play and the way my hands land on the guitar, it has never felt comfortable to me. I've tried maybe three or four different systems, but none of them drove me crazy.

In general, do you like working with samples, or if you could get good synthetic reproductions that eliminated all of the associated problems, would you prefer that?
I couldn't imagine that any kind of a synthetic reproduction would be able to give you the type of nuance that you get out of a sample. For string pads and things like that, you could fake it pretty good. For bogus globulant brass ensemble stuff, that kind of orchestral cheese, you could get away with FM. And Minimoog bass sounds and things like that usually sound best if they're actually coming out of a Minimoog. What we've done to get those kinds of sounds is sample the Minimoog. You see, with samples, not only are you getting the sound of the instrument, you're getting the ability to capture the instrument in different types of air spaces. For example, we have both dry and ambient room sound percussion noises, and dry and ambient wind. Even with the classical guitar, different types of environments make a big difference.

What percentage of Jazz from Hell was input by typing, and why would you choose one type of input over another?
There are three different ways to type in. One is in a language called Script, which I don't know. I don't use that at all. Bob Rice can type Script. But that's more like writing a computer program, so it has no charm for me. Another way is with their Music Printing program. You can enter or delete notes with the cursor while looking at real music on staves. And if you want to write in tuplets -- if you have 7 over 3 or something like that -- it's real easy to do it that way. You just make a couple of marks and then redraw the screen. You now have edit blocks that correspond to a septuplet over three quarters, or whatever you want. It could be anything. Then you just enter the pitches. For that kind of stuff, that's the easiest way for me to do it. The third way to type is a facility called the G Page. The screen is split into three segments, and you can display three tracks of data at the same time on the screen. In each of those three units, you have three columns of information. The left-hand one tells you the start time of the note. In other words, the beginning of the piece would be beat 1, and all the subsequent beats have numbers. This data reads out either in seconds, beats, or SMPTE numbers; that's all selectable. The center column gives you the name of the pitch an a number which tells you the octave that the pitch lives in. And the right-hand column gives you the duration. All that is editable, so you can move the cursor around, add and delete notes, change start times, which changes the rhythm, and change the pitch and the octave and how long the note lasts. I divide my time between doing stuff on the G Page and doing stuff in the Music Printing.

Have you ever worked with any of the lower-end gear that has some similar functions?
Well, I had a [Yamaha] DX5 and a rack of [Yamaha] TX modules. I also use the [Axxess Systems] Mapper, which is MIDIed to the Synclavier. We've been able to get some truly frightening things out of that. I also have a [Yamaha] CS-80, I've got Electrocomps, Minimoogs, Synkeys. . . . All the heavy-duty hardware that a rock and roll touring band would use, I've purchased and supplied to whoever the keyboard guy is who does the tour. So I know basically what the consumer end of the synthesizer stuff is like, even though I'm not a keyboard player and never expect to be. I am a composer, and as a composer you deal with timbre and other technical matters, and it pays to know what's available so that you can write for it..

Has technology also made it possible to hear more things in your head than you were hearing before?
Well, let's say that a person had never heard a bassoon in his life. And the day that he hears one he's either going to say, "That's the ugliest thing I've ever heard," or "That's God's instrument." Or maybe something in between. But you're going to have a response to an instrument. Every composer has some image in his mind of what he wants his stuff to sound like -- not just the composition, but the overall tonal quality of what he's writing. In my head I have an audio image, not just of the notes, but of the way the notes will sound played in an idealized air space, which is something you can't get in the real world. The closest you can get to it is a digital recording with digital control over imaginary audio ambience. When you can design rooms to your own specifications with a Lexicon, and then place your music in that space, that's getting pretty close to what it's really all about. It's not just the notes on paper that matter, but what they turn into when you start making air molecules move. If it's on paper, it's roughly the equivalent of a recipe for something to eat. The ingredients may sound good on paper, but how do you know whether or not you're going to like it until you eat it? It also resembles the blueprint for a building. A good composition will take into account that you need to have toilets, you need doors going in and out, windows, ventilation. You need all the basic stuff, and then all the rest of it is interior and exterior decorating.

But as you get more involved in electronic instruments, do the things that you're hearing change?
I was going to get to that. Obviously, if you're dealing only with the instruments to which most composers normally have access -- in other words, the known instruments -- you will tend to think in terms of what to do with a known instrument. The moment you get your hands on a piece of equipment like this, where you can modify known instruments in ways that human beings just never do, such as add notes to the top and bottom of the range, or allow a piano to perform pitch-bends or vibrato, even basic things like that will cause you to rethink the existing musical universe. The other thing you get to do is invent sounds from scratch. Of course, that opens up a wide range.
One of the most intriguing things about working with a Synclavier is what it lets you do with rhythm. That's always been one of my favorite things to investigate. It's possible to get accurate performances of the most ridiculous rhythmic combinations. I'll give you an example. I've been working in large tuplets recently. If you're in 3/4, I'd put in a tuplet -- say, a bar of 3/4 that has a 75-tuplet or 35-tuplet in it. You can hear that there's a waltz going on, but when these things occur, it's like, "What is that? Where do these things come from? Why does it still have a groove to it?" It still relates mathematically to something else that's going on in the bar. With this system, you can pick a random number, then take any size bar of music and divide it up into those components. You're going to have an 88-tuplet or an 87-tuplet. Or you can take a composition that has, say, ten bars of 4/4. The first bar you start with an 88-tuplet, the next bar is 87, 86, 85, 84, 83, 82, 81, something like that. You could never hand that to a musician on a piece of paper and say, "Here, do this."

So electronic media have really freed you to get closer to your ideal, to what you're hearing.
It's really made that possible. The next question is whether anybody in the audience wants to hear it. That's the big problem, because the further out I get with these timbral combinations and the unusual rhythms, the further away it gets from any possibility of radio play. And without radio play or some kind of advertising for the album, nobody's even going to know it's there, let alone pick it up. Some people, when they hear it, they absolutely don't like it just on principle because it doesn't have that boom, boom, boom on the floor all the time. I'm delighted that I have the opportunity to go wandering around out in the zones of this thing. I would like it if I had some company out there.

You were talking about creating a specialized ambience with digital reverb, yet Jazz from Hell sounds relatively dry. What kind of processing, if any, did you use on that album?
There's a lot of real subtle processing. It is absolutely not dry. There are tricks to using echo. If you want something to really sound like it's echoing, then that's an obvious effect, like yelling into a cave, that kind of stuff. That tends to make things get soft around the edges. The way ambience is perceived in this album is, each composition has to exist in some sort of imaginary air space, and you don't want the air space to fight against the musical content. You don't just pick an echo program at random, then turn it on and say, "Now we've got air space." What we do is, for each piece, depending on how much transient information is in the piece or what style the piece is, we tailor at least three different rooms. In other words, we have a live echo chamber and two Lexicons. and that gives you the possibility of locating different types of orchestration in different types of imaginary rooms, and then combining those things to make the final stereo picture.

Excerpts from a Keyboard Magazine interview, February 1987

"Not quite Jazz, not quite Hell. An electronic Telletubbian Utopia that will make you feel that pink has become blue - except track #7, which really shouldn't be here." Ken Kercheval

Released in 1986. UMRK Digital Remix in 1990 by Bob Stone.


Monday, 17 March, 2008

Bravo Clippings #26

Anonymous, "Amor Impossível [Umpossible Love]" (Telenovela Proibida #8, December 1993)

Friday, 14 March, 2008

Ekkehard Ehlers - Plays (2002)

The tribute album has long been one of the more unnecessary and unscrupulous chapters in the musical canon. These compilations rarely operate as anything but superfluous fodder, pieced together by record execs to extract every last penny from a (dead) artist’s lingering popularity.

Of course, the tribute record is inevitable – it epitomizes, in a sense, why children pick up instruments in the first place. Musicians beget musicians, stars beget stars. “They” are the reason “we” play (at least until “we” becomes so jaded, admitting any influence whatsoever becomes embarrassing). The problem is, as flattering as it may be, a tribute album usually consists of hapless covers that actually do a disservice to the original material (and play a key role in why stars secretly loathe their fans).

Ekkehard Ehlers’ Plays is different. Ehlers, a Frankfurt-based artist/educator and label head of Whatness, prefers to “refer”. His abstract compositions channel inspiration rather than mimic it. “Everyone is sampling,” Ehlers said. “Sampling is the figure of historic devices in digital music. My idea is not to sample, but to refer to historic places and figures.”

On Plays, Ehlers’ abstraction solidifies his status as one of the more exciting, creative “electronic” artists in Germany, a country already known for its mixing board prowess. His selection of references spans the spectrum of art: Post-WWII German author Hubert Fichte, saxophonist Albert Ayler, blues legend Robert Johnson, avant-garde composer Cornelius Cardew, and director John Cassavetes. Each figure is tragic in his own way, and all passed before their time. Fichte was a homosexual “half-Jew” growing up in Nazi Germany, dead at age 50. Cassavetes brought cinema verité to America, dead at age 59. Cardew struggled with his beliefs, and was killed in a hit-and-run at the age of 45. Johnson was killed by a jealous husband at the age of 27. Ayler wound up drowned in New York’s East River at just 35.

Ehlers’ true intentions behind each of these pieces are hidden among the abstract strands that make up Plays, but there is no mistaking the emotion invested throughout. Each project (three EPs and two 7”s) traverses unique ground, but the tragic, rebellious background of his subjects permeates the collection. The following interpretation of his work is by no means definitive. Plays’s nebulous nature defies strict explanation and will undoubtedly mean many things to many different people.

Ehlers’ first take on Cardew relays melancholy and hope, maybe more so than anywhere else on Plays. The first piece features delicate organ drones gradually rising to the heavens, each tone blooming, exhaling, before finally giving ground to another. Behind the syrupy layers of warmth, an in(con)sistent rattle pokes imprints in the gloss, adding an air of uncertainty to the euphoric foreground. The two contrary, but hardly conflicting, sounds lend an intricate sense of depth to the piece, with each party respecting the other’s space.

The mood changes quickly. An ethereal mist settles over the second Cardew piece, clinging to drawn-out ambient vocals. While the first piece may have reflected Cardew’s initial gift, this muddled pool of sound seems to hint at confusion or vacillation. Cardew certainly seemed lost at the end of his life, spurning his prior experiments in the avant-garde in favor of Maoist agitprop designed for the proletariat. Ehlers’ disorienting production here aptly captures Cardew’s beautiful, but troubled mind, aimlessly writhing in its own profundity.

The Fichte compositions mark a dramatic departure and establish the variety of emotion on Plays. Ehlers shifts from the claustrophobic cosmos of Cardew to a more wide open, spacious approach on Fichte. While Ehlers tried his best to fill the Cardew with too many ideas, Fichte’s piece relies on the tension between silence and near silence. The first section begins with a high-frequency pitch opposed by lower register clicks. As the song progresses, more sounds come out to play, steadily piling up layers of clicks, chirps and swooshes, but the production only enhances a sense of loneliness. All of these characters are kept in the background to compete for a supporting role behind the silence. Fichte, in life, prided himself on outsider status, and Ehlers’ homage here looks beyond the philosophy and the poetry and anthropology, and instead paints a portrait of the man trapped in a solitude beyond his control.

The second Fichte piece explodes out of the gate, relatively speaking, with sounds ousting silence as the protagonist. In fact, one could even make the argument there’s a speaking role present. A distorted horn of some sort, squawking like the teacher in Charlie Brown, babbles throughout the piece while treated strings, guitars and not-quite-piercing tones swirl the periphery. The horn’s oration is affecting, evading cadences in typical beat poet fashion. Unpredictable, yet strangely groovy, of all the compositions on Plays, this may be the most impressive; a Poem Electronique for a fallen compatriot.

Switching skills again, Ehlers’ interpretation of Cassavetes work strips away the freeform in favor of ambient stasis. Both Cassavetes pieces involve orchestral loops, similar to the dreamworlds of Stars of the Lid, especially their work circa The Tired Sounds of… The first Cassavetes composition ebbs and flows underneath a varnish of audible hiss, as if unearthed from some Hollywood catacomb. While the string section loops with metronomic consistency, Ehlers surrounds the synths with digital duststorms, similar to Christian Fennesz’s Endless Summer. What the second piece lacks in sophistication, it makes up with emotion. Once the loop settles, the strings march steadily onward for close to 10 minutes before Ehlers slowly disassembles. The Cassavetes EP, while simplistic compared to the rest of Plays, establishes and maintains a dramatic, triumphant edge quite well.

Drama only begins to describe Ehlers' take on Ayler. One would logically expect a variation on Ayler’s intense, magically demented reed playing. Yet, Ehlers only hints at Ayler’s chaotic blasts, scattering brief flurries throughout the two pieces. Rather than focus on Ayler’s fiery, over-the-top semantics, the overlying theme here is positively chilling – downright Hitchcockian. German cellist Anka Hirsch performs Ehlers' composition, sculpting dark alleys where there should be light. The pace is achingly slow, cautious even. Lacquered glitches drip somewhere in the shadows. Even when rapid-fire staccatos emerge, the cello remains ever-present, casting an ominous tone over the proceedings.

On first listen, this interpretation seems all too peculiar. Given additional thought and different perspective, however, these pieces fit perfectly. Ehlers' Plays series is not a reinterpretation of its subjects’ music or accomplishments; these are reflections on the humans themselves: Cardew’s psychosis; Fichte’s loneliness; Cassavetes’ rebellion. And so with Ayler, these sonic frescoes aren’t necessarily strictly homage to his revolutionary take on jazz. Ehler, instead, has vividly recreated Ayler’s mysterious demise. The piece reeks of death. No one knows for sure how Ayler ended up in the East River, whether he was murdered or suicidal, and Ehlers' terrorstocked memoire only perpetuates the mystery. Music rarely sounds this disturbing.

The final installment is the Robert Johnson 7”, which features two four-minute ditties capturing the two sides of the Delta-blues pioneer. The first is a dusty piece of guitar virtuosity, restrained but hardly solemn. It’s been said Johnson was the greatest guitar player folks had ever seen, and the intimidating feel of this piece seems to reflect that. The second Robert Johnson is a straight-up micro-haus hoedown, with a distorted vocal hoot serving as the hook. Johnson’s sexy reputation and hedonist persona oozes forth over the track’s four minutes, but, much like Johnson’s life, ends much too early and without warning.

Plays has to be one of the more ambitious undertakings of the past year and Ehlers succeeds on every level. These recordings honor past artists with both emotion and innovation. One can study its overwhelming abstract complexities or simply bask in its passion. Either way, there’s little doubt Plays stands as one of the most unique and welcome tributes in a long time. Otis Hart

1. Cornelius Cardew (1)
2. Cornelius Cardew (2)
3. Hubert Fichte (1)
4. Hubert Fichte (2)
5. John Cassavetes (1)
6. John Cassavetes (2)
7. Albert Ayler (1)
8. Albert Ayler (2)
9. Robert Johnson (1)
10. Robert Johnson (2)


Monday, 10 March, 2008

Paul Schütze - The Rapture of Metals (1993)

"The title of this CD might erroneously suggest something heavy, abrasive and industrial, but The Rapture of Metals is in part an elegant homage to the metallic gongs of the Indonesian gamelan orchestra. The title track is the most overtly Indonesian, with electronic drones and effects enhancing a traditional gamelan gong pattern. But on several other tracks, Schütze further personalizes his use of gongs, capturing the dreamy, otherworldly quality of Indonesian court music not just by "Westernizing" Indonesian motifs but by blending gamelan sounds and scales with his own rather haunting musical vision. Elsewhere on the CD, Schütze utilizes keyboard synthesizers and sophisticated electronic processing to create thick, ambivalent atmospheres which explore the boundaries between madness and ecstasy. "The Rapture of Drowning" has a viscous, aquatic texture and bursts of nightmarish discord, but nonetheless suggests a transcendent experience of some sort. And the final piece, "Sites of Rapture on the Lungs of God," is a series of elongated musical inhalations and exhalations, comprised of cathedral organ chords, sonorous drones, intriguing dissonances and various strange electronic treatments which add another level of dislocation to the music". William Tilland

"This disc was intended to accompany the 1992 release New Maps of Hell as the necessary stylistic conclusion to that work. Unfortunately my label at the time would not agree to this. In the six months which separate the two releases, I have been unable to resist altering, re-editing and replacing some of the pieces, but I still regard this disc as the second part of Maps". Paul Schutze, CD liner notes.

1. The Rapture of Concealment

2. Rapture of the Drowning

3. The Rapture of Ornament

4. The Rapture of Metals

5. Rapture of the Skin

6. Sites of Rapture on the Lungs of God


Thursday, 6 March, 2008

RD Burman - Caravan (1971)

"The quintessential Burman score and a true testament to his off-kilter genius. The rock ‘n’ roll flavoured Cabaret scene had been a standard in Bollywood movies since the ‘50s, but with the song ‘Piya Tu Ab To Aja’, Burman invented a whole new revolutionary style of music - featuring surf guitars, sleazy jazz sax, moody vibes, Spanish trumpet, eerie organ playing, a big band and a ridiculous number of breaks, bridges and rhythm changes. A total classic." Fact Magazine

1. Pya Tu Ab To Aja - Asha Bhosle & RD Burman
2. Dilbar Diln Se Pyare - Lata Mangeshkar
3. Chadati Jawani Meri Chal Mastani - Lata Mangeshkar & Mohd. Rafi
4. Goriya Kahan Tera Desh - Mohd. Rafi & Asha Bhosle
5. Ab Jo Mile hain - Asha Bhosle
6. Hum to Hain Rahi Dil Ke - Kishore Kumar
7. Daiya Yeh Main Kahan Phasi - Asha Bhosle
8. Kitna Pyara Wada - Lata Mangeshkar & Mohd. Rafi


Wednesday, 5 March, 2008

Anthony Braxton - News From the 70s

"There can be few jobs in the jazz world better than that of Francesco Martinelli, the Italian music journalist who was invited into Braxton's basement in 1996, where he came across a cardboard box of tapes from the 1970s that had never seen the light of day. From that box Martinelli curated this compilation of unreleased Braxton tracks. The album fulfils its purpose as a document of Braxton's music in the mid 70s very well indeed, the tracks showing several aspects of his unique style.
Most exciting are the three tracks recorded in groups featuring the great Dave Holland, especially 'Composition -1' which is a duet between these two giants of free jazz. Elsewhere, there are two solo performances on alto by Braxton (compositions 8c and 8g), and a percussionless group ('Composition -2'). The music covers the breadth of Braxton's 70s output - the solo pieces are alternately firey and reflective, while the group improvisations are typically more intense. Notable amongst these is 'Composition 23E' - a piece dedicated to Albert Ayler that is certainly as intense as any in that great player's catalogue. After a haunting, tension filled opening section, backed by Holland's insistent, bowed bass, the band unleash a collective improvisation. Braxton in particular plays like a man posessed, with a power and sense of control that had seldom been seen in free jazz since the passing of John Coltrane. The fact that Braxton chooses to play this piece largely on soprano only serves to increase the similarities to Trane.

But simply aping Coltrane is not what Braxton is about; his compositions are much more original than that, and the solo pieces are the places to see this best. Both are typically angular, with '8C' being a little calmer and more rounded than the jagged '8g'. Braxton was one of the first saxophonists to realise the potential of solo performance, and these riveting pieces of music are sure to convert sceptics everywhere.
The only piece to sound less than Braxton-ish is the closing Dave Holland composition, 'Four Winds'. A live version of the lead track on his seminal 'Conference of the Birds', Braxton plays a smaller part than elsewhere on the album. It's still a great piece of music though and fairly crackles along with some superb playing by Holland and a fine trombone solo courtesy of George Lewis.
As a retrospective of Braxton's 70s output for the committed fan there is plenty of meat here, but the record would also work well as a primer for those new to his music. Highly recommended." Craig

1. Composition 23E (Gronigen, May 1974)
Kenny Wheeler - flugehorn
Anthony Braxton - sopranino, clarinet, piccolo
Dave Holland - double-bass
Barry Altschul - percussion

2. Composition 8C (France, 1971)
Anthony Braxton - alto sax

3. Composition -1 (NY, May 1972)
Anthony Braxton - clarinet
Dave Holland - cello

4. Composition -2 (Nantes, 1973)
Kenny Wheeler - flugehorn
Anthony Braxton - sopranino, clarinet, piccolo
Antoine Duhamel - piano
François Mechali - double-bass

5. Composition 8G (France, 1971)
Anthony Braxton - alto sax

6. Four Winds (Graz, Austria, 1976)
George Lewis - trombone
Anthony Braxton - sopranino, clarinet, piccolo
Dave Holland - double-bass
Barry Altschul - percussion


Tuesday, 4 March, 2008

Paraty é Ladrão!

Daniel J. Levitin - This is Your Brain on Music (2006)

"Levitin is a neuroscientist and a former record producer. He is one of those people -- think of a Nick Hornby character -- for whom music has always been a source of infinite aesthetic and emotional pleasure. He is also one of those people lucky enough to have turned his abiding interest into worthwhile work. Levitin's primary scientific pursuit concerns how music operates on the human brain, though it might be more fitting to say that he uses music to study how everything works in the human brain. By looking at how our brains process music -- at how we turn collections of sounds into patterns that we think of as songs, how we remember and categorize those patterns, and how we feel them as intense emotion -- Levitin and other scientists have uncovered important neural processes that had previously eluded researchers. The brain systems they discovered explain why music -- whether in high school or in life beyond -- can touch you so deeply: Our brains seem to have evolved to maximize musical ability. Indeed, Levitin argues, music has been essential to our very success as a species". Farhad Manjoo

Introduction: I Love Music & I Love Science - Why Would I Want to Mix the Two?
1. What is Music?
From Pitch to Timbre
2. Foot Tapping.
Discovering Rhythm, Loudness & Harmony
3. Behind the Curtain.
Music & the Mind Machine
4. Anticipation.
What We Expect from Lizst (and Ludacris)
5. You Know My Name, Look Up the Number.
How We Categorize Music
6. After Dessert, Crick Was Still 4 Seats away from Me.
Music, Emotion & the Reptilian Brain
7. What Makes a Musician.
Expertise Dissected
8. My Favorite Things.
Why Do We Like the Music We Like?
9. The Music Instinct.
Evolution's #1 Hit.

link rapidshare
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[2 mb PDF file: 316 pages]

Many thanks to Prof. Calypso for sharing this.

Monday, 3 March, 2008

V/A - The Complete Death of Cool (2001)

"The self-proclaimed Stupidest Recording Organization in the World, the Noodles Foundation, the brainchild of Si Begg, has a ramshackle, nothing's sacred attitude to the world that makes it music hilarious, exciting and beyond-diverse. The Complete Death of Cool, the title of which, like everything they do, is a sly subversion of an already existent cultural artifact, collects tracks from two vinyl-only compilations. There's 38 tracks here, by mysterious artists with names like The Buttmasters and Cabbage Head. When the veils are taken off, as on the Noodles web site, you'll see some familiar names among the participants, but the pseudonyms help add to the wild mystery of this whole thing. Beginning with a track which splices up electronic whirrings, goofy announcer voices, rock star voices, manic beats, cheesy 70's organ music and all sorts of other voices and sounds in under two minutes, The Complete Death of Cool flies all over every map, written or unwritten, before you even know what you're listening to. Throughout there's beats, rhythms and melodies of all sorts, plus a mad collection of samples, some given in straight form and some reworked for effect. It's a circus of sound from start to finish, a trip, for sure. But it's also a completely full page, an album packed with more furiously delivered sounds, ideas, jokes and surprises than you can imagine. Dissecting it all would take up volumes of books that no one would read, so don't think too hard, just let them take you on a ride". Dave Heaton
"The Complete Death Of Cool is a compression of the previously released Parts 1 & 2, with a letter from the Noodles Foundation slipped in to its sleeve, making clear their manifesto of musical equality, their love of aesthetics over fashion. Noodles is also dedicated to being "the stupidest recording organisation in the world". It's a partnership between 1970s Hammond organ wunderkind Zygmunt Janowski and that sonic disrupter with an identity-crisis, Si Begg, no doubt appearing here several times under various pseudonyms. These pair set the test tone immediately with a three-track barrage of tumbling, loopy trash, kitsch soundbites levering into huge boom-beats, petulant scratching, 80s Smurf vocoding, a tuning-dial twisterama that soon develops a lumbering funk habit. It's a complete ear-mugging, setting a precedent for 38 (count 'em) nervy, swervy, pervy, scalpel-edited vignettes. Hopefully one or two of The Buttmasters, Anal Parade and Barry Pseudonym are really Si Begg. Also on hand are Sand, their speeding noir jazz burbling with electro-harmonised trombone, Mou Ars On, flapping and glugging their disruptive freak-funk, or Cursor Miner's subversively fey electro-crooning. A further high spot is provided by the orchestrated burp-chorus of The Hibiscus Geronimo III Players, leading straight into the bass-jacking, robot sexuality of Michael Forshaw's "Work That Mutha". The Noodlers recommend a party airing, thereby keeping hold of your wanted guests and spewing the rest right out into the gutter". Martin Longley

2. SI BEGG - New And Different Experiment
3. SI BEGG & NAVARIO SAURO - Unknown Dialect
4. SAND - Desperate
5. ROBIN MAHONEY - Sunnyside
7. DEEP BURIAL - Gimme That Wine
9. THE BUTTMASTERS - Dirty Tackle
10. JAMIE LIDELL - Mouth Fool
11. MOU ARS ON - Pizza Tock Baby
12. ANAL PARADE - Ansaphone
14. BARRY PSEUDONYM - Hetroskedacity

15. ROBIN MAHONEY - Harmonica Storm
17. MICHAEL FORSHAW - Work That Mutha
18. CABBAGE HEAD - Future Today
19. CURSOR MINER - Curse_Of_The_Bannister
20. THE BUTTMASTERS - Sweet Dreams

21. SAND - Take 4
23. ROBIN MAHONEY - English Cubase
24. NEIL LANDSTRUMM - Titos Block

25. BARRY PSEUDONYM - Pissed Scratch Break
26. CABBAGE HEAD - Fun Fun Fun

27. DR KOSMOS - Holiday
28. SI BEGG - Brothers And Sisters
29. DR DOBROVOLSKI - Batcholo Mang
30. SI BEGG - Singcircle
31. CURSOR MINER - Totallyunreal
33. DR DOBROVOLSKI- Saxon Come From Barnsley

35. CABBAGE HEAD - Commercial Suicide
36. STEVE DIXON - I Dream Of Genie
37. THE BUTTMASTERS - Gangstairs
38. ROBIN MAHONEY - Cucumber Song

Limited edition of 1000 copies.
Released by Leaf Label & The Noodles Foundation in 2001.
"I'm not young anymore, I prefer serious music"


Bravo Clippings #25

In 1991 Franck Gohier graduated with a BA (Fine Arts, majoring in printmaking) from the then Northern Territory University, where he also worked as a studio printmaker/lecturer between 1993-96. During this time, Gohier co-founded (along with Leon Stainer and George Watts) a series of groundbreaking printmaking workshops involving Indigenous artists from remote communities throughout the Top End and Desert regions of North Australia.

The important links forged by this team of printmakers, between the University and several key Indigenous art communities, formed the foundation of the Northern Editions Printmaking Studio, recently described by former Chancellor Mrs Nancy Giese, AO OBE as ‘the jewel in the crown’ of Charles Darwin University.

In 1997, Gohier co-founded Red Hand Print Studio together with Shaun Poustie (also formerly of Northern Editions), an ideologically radical and independently spirited venture, which continued Gohier’s involvement with the tuition of printmaking skills to Indigenous communities, later extending this to prisoners at Berrimah Jail.

The range of Gohier’s creative accomplishments include intaglio and relief printing, painting, collage, sculpture and filmmaking. To this should be added his impressive history of poster production. In April 2004, the Charles Darwin University Art Collection confirmed its acceptance of seventy-nine (79) poster prints by Gohier dating from 1997-2002, emanating from the pioneering printmaking studio of Red Hand.

About Country & Western: Franck Gohier brings a pop-inspired twist to the politics and topography of the Kimberley cattle industry. In the tradition of political posters, Franck draws on his love of cowboy culture, a favorite fifties children’s novel Cowboy Small, and his admiration for the contribution made by Aboriginal people to the Kimberley cattle industry. An established artist, Franck taught and editioned prints in communities across the Northern Territory for many years. He now pursues his own socio-politically motivated practice full-time.

A small sample of Franck Gohier's True Tales from the Far North, Country & Western and It's All Fun & Games collections at the Ray Hughes Gallery (Sidney).