Monday, October 30, 2006

All Hallows Eve

I came up with some non-traditional Halloween songs for this post. These songs are all made by artists who aren't typically known for crafting spooky music, but they still evoke the Halloween spirit.

Lenny Bruce: My Werewolf Mama

This is an extremely rare track featuring Lenny Bruce on vocals, sounding like a demented cross between Screaming Jay Hawkins and Tom Waits. It features such fiendish lyrics as "Bite me on the neck- I said bite me on the neck- When you stop bitin' I'll be a total wreck- You're my werewolf mama- freaky as you can be" This should start your Halloween off on the right foot.

Dean Gitter: The Reaper's Ghost

I don't know much about Dean Gitter, but I spotted this track on the absolutely incredible Scar Stuff site. Eerie thoughts enter your mind when lyrics like "The reaper crossed the hayfield as sets the blood-red sun" are sung over a delicately strummed acoustic guitar. Here is a link to his post on this album. The site is comprised of many rare and out-of-print Halloween albums archived in Zip file format for your downloading pleasure. Check it out for a true Halloween experience!

Jandek: What Can I Say, What Can I sing?

While this track doesn't have anything to do with Halloween, ghosts are lurking in every pluck of the strings. Jandek evokes a detached spirit as he moans over repetitive minor-key guitar chords that never seem to end. This track is for people who want to hear a raw and unproduced obscure musical visionary. If you want to find out more info about Jandek, he has an official website called Guide to Jandek.

Quixotic: Open Up the Walls

Of the artists featured today, Quixotic is the only group that has a Halloween-ish sound. This song reminds one of evil witches casting magical spells on their unsuspecting victims. With lyrics like Before the hours of the night are slipping into daylight- do you notice is something not right? The snaking guitar chords and shuffling drums provide a dark and eerie backdrop for Christina Billotte's wonderfully haunting vocals. Absolutely enticing.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Random Curiosities

Today, I am featuring a variety of tunes that I've been listening to lately. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Bardo Pond: Destroying Angel
From: Ticket Crystals [ATP, 2006]

First off, is a sludgy, psychedelic slab of wax from Philadelphia's
Bardo Pond. Bardo Pond's music can best be described as long passages of transcendental and psychedelic "stoner rock" which is highly influenced by Black Sabbath, Acid Mother's Temple, and My Bloody Valentine. Destroying Angel is the first track on the band's latest mind-blowing effort entitled Ticket Crystals. While Ticket Crystals is a mellow album for the most part, this song rips out the walls of your speakers with loud, distorted and droning guitars, propulsive drumming and dynamically searing vocals. After the first verse, the band maintains this intensity, while the lead singer's wordless, yearning moans and psychedlic flute playing give the track a sense of mysticism. Absolutely amazing!

Radian: Rapid Eye Movement
From: Juxtaposition [Thrill Jockey, 2004]

I first read about the Austrian trio
Radian when I was reading a review of their album Juxtaposition in the UK music magazine called Wire. I wrote down the name of the album because I was interested in checking it out. However, I hadn't had the pleasure of hearing it until just recently. Radian could best be described as an electronic, post-rock Tortoise style mixed with Amon Tobin's jazz-electro sound. This makes sense since John McEntire from Tortoise produced this album and another album called rec.extern, which were both released on Chicago's Thrill Jockey label. Like Tortoise, Radian incorporates precise, electronic music using mostly acoustic based instruments such as drums and bass. "Rapid Eye Movement" starts out with a pulsing synth which gives way to a precise drum/high-hat rhythm and propulsive bassline that stops and starts on a dime. Then, a cathartic synth line fills up the background and provokes a claustrophobic feeling on the listener. It's as if you are watching a fast-paced whodunit and the protagonist is being chased by street thugs through dimly-lit alleyways. This is the background music for that scenario!

Aesop Rock:
The Next Best Thing
From: The Next Best Thing w/ The One That Got Away (Limited Edition 7 " Picture Disc) [Upper Playground, 2006]
My next feature is on
Aesop Rock, who is an incredibly gifted master of verbal linguistics. Aesop started out in NYC, peddling his self-produced demos and demonstrating his lyrical prowess in freestyle ciphers or battles. He paid his dues and gained a loyal following, while releasing Float on Mush Records, home to the indie rap movement known as Anticon. After El-P, label head of Def-Jux, heard this record and realized how talented Aesop was, he decided to sign him to Def-Jux in 2001. His first album on Def-Jux was entitled Labor Days, and it was a quick-witted, lyrical masterpiece about surviving the drudgery of working mundane nine-to-five jobs . He has gone on to release two ep's and another full-length album on Def-Jux, as well as guest star on other hip-hop records. The track that I am featuring here is called "The Next Best Thing" and is only available on vinyl picture disc, so check it yo! It is a collaboration between Aesop, who provides the music, and Jeremy Fish, who designed and illustrated the book. Jeremy Fish is an extremely talented artist from San Francisco who designs, illustrates and paints for a living. Aesop's delivery is top-notch on this one as he spits rapid-style verbiage about the creative process of writing a new song. His intelligent rhymes are backed by one of the funkiest rhythm tracks I've heard in awhile, and chimes are cleverly placed in the music to let you know when to turn the page in the book. Listening to this song reminds you of your childhood, except of course that you're listening to Aesop Rock not Aesop's Fables. Please do yourself a favor, and pick up this record. You can find it online at the Upper Playground site.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Free Jazz Fire

Sam Rivers-Part 1- Instrumental Solo of the Tenor Sax andPart 4- Group With Tenor Sax
From: Vol 1- Essence- The Heat and Warmth of Free Jazz [Circle Records, 1976]

Sometimes I go for quite some time without exposing my ears to the mind-expanding sounds of Free Jazz. This is an unfortunate thing, since I am inspired to create and write everytime I hear it. Now when one usually thinks of Free Jazz, they think
Sun Ra, Coltrane-late 60's, and the man who coined the term Free Jazz- Ornette Coleman. In my opinion, one of the most underrated free jazz saxophonists is Sam Rivers. His ensemble, the Sam Rivers Rivbea Orchestra, recently released a record on Aurora releases called Aurora, but unfortunately I haven't heard this yet. I want you to listen to a couple tracks from a live recording from the Bim Huis in Amsterdam-1976 called Essence- the Heat and Warmth of Free Jazz. As I listen to this record, I feel the raw spontaneity combined with skilled musicianship that inspired countless free-jazz musicians to practice until they deeply felt the passion and soul in their own music. The band consisted of Sam Rivers on flute and tenor sax, Joe Daley on tuba and Warren Smith on drums. Each of them play a short solo before the band let's loose with wild abandon on the track entitled Part IV- Group With the Tenor Sax. It is very refreshing to hear Sam walk the line between classic Blue Note-era hard bop and Albert Ayler-inspired cathartic squawking and squealing. However, this album has too much unbridled imagination and creativity to be dismissed as a cacophonous racket. It even features an incendiary, psychedelic flute solo on the last track entitled Part V- Group with the Flute that doesn't sound like anything else in the Jazz world.

I found this description about the album on the Oink website, which is a torrent download site focusing on rare independent records:

His tenor is brimming with idiosyncratic fire, while his flute spools out long strands of melody. The interaction between Rivers, Daley and Smith is markedly different than with other 70's trio, with Dave Holland and Barry Altschul. Daley tapped a vocal quality that is largely, if not totally unavailable to a bass player. Smith’s background as an orchestra percussionist informs his playing to an appreciable degree, distinguishing him from Altschul, who is primarily a jazz kit player. Once the solos are performed, the trio heats up rapidly.

Enjoy listening to this rare stuff!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Monday Evening Jitters

Los Comadrejas- Lou FerringoFrom: We Are Ugly, But... We Have the Music [2003, Munster Records]

I've been trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do for my first post. I have been listening to all kinds of shit lately, but nothing has grabbed me quite like Los Comadrejas. I came across this last week while surfing maniacally for new tunes on the WFMU blog. If you haven't yet, please do yourself a favor and check out this blog. It features all kinds of obscure novelty recordings, mix-tapes and full length releases from unknown idiot savants. I am featuring the track called Lou Ferringo from their album entitled We Are Ugly... But We Have the Music. This track is like a speed-addled version of an Ennio Morricone score if he was listening to a steady diet of Can, Dick Dale and Clinic. In other words, this track tears it up. If you like this track and want to find out more about them, look for Los Comadrejas