Plain Brown Wrappers #5- Sounds from the Fractured Universe

I know that you all have been eagerly awaiting the next episode of Plain Brown Wrappers, and I think that you will be more than satisfied with the sounds I have prepared for your ears today.

This record literally landed in my sonic universe a little over two months ago, but it was as if it had always been there, simply waiting for me to acknowledge its existence. Upon first hearing this record, I will say that is nearly impossible to discern what era it was recorded, thus making it a perfect candidate for the Plain Brown Wrappers series. Considering the breadth of music that I consume in a given day, it would be understandable if an astoundingly complex record like this didn't grab my attention on the first listen. It would also be understandable that after repeated listens, I would discover that this record is an ultra mind-blower.

It is the type of record that makes you grateful you have two ears to experience the goodness within. The music itself is difficult to describe when all of the major touchstones might be a giveaway. I will say that the music falls somewhere in-between prog, jazz and electronic, but this really doesn't even prepare you for what you are about to experience. Tempos have more stops and starts than the L.A. freeway during rush hour, and the musicians act as mechanical robots, responding to each other's parts with an impeccable sense of timing. I really feel that you need to experience this music without any descriptions clouding your mind, so dive in and experience something new.

Until next time...

Download here


Re-issued in this form in 2000, it originally contained only four tracks, now expanded to eight. RIOish, I dunno. A rare classic. Thanks for this one & PBW is great fun.
Anonymous said…
Yeah, to these relatively uneducated ears, it sounds like something around later Soft Machine or something Hugh Hopper-ish.
Am I even close?
Interesting listen, nonetheless.
I really enjoy the PBW series, Kevin!
No-head said…
Never heard this before. But a nice piece of work. In that jazzy prog vein but manages to avoid the cliches. Fractured rythmns, odd time signatures, some very skillful playing. Whoever it is has a passing aquaintance with the likes of Ian Carr or Chris Cutler (or Hugh Hopper) but I don't think they're British. Americans don't make music like this so it's European - Dutch? Belgian? Possibly French. Haven't got a Scooby to be honest. And it's probably from the late 70s early 80s. Only a guess. How am I doing?
Kevin said…
Nathan: You never cease to amaze me with your ability to guess these. At least it seems like based on what you said, you have the right answer. I appreciate that you chose not to give it away, even though you know the answer. I would wager that there isn't much that I can post on here that you haven't heard.

Ugly radio: If this is Rich, I would definitely not put yourself in the "relatively uneducated ears" section of the population. Don't sell yourself short man. I've listened to some of your podcasts and checked out your blog many times. You definitely know a lot about music my friend. I can see why you would think it sounds like Soft Machine, but I assure you that this is not Soft Machine. Looking up RIO bands would be a good start.

No-head: I like your assessment of the music, and you are on the right track when you say "American's don't make music like this". Although, I don't necessarily agree with this statement as there are at least a few American bands that make music like this- Frank Zappa, Mahavishnu Orchestra and just about any American prog band worth its salt.

I appreciate all of your comments. Keep 'em comin'

Here's another thought for everyone: What is your favorite band in the prog-jazz vein and why?

Best, Kevin
I didn't think it would be polite to say the answer right off, so I just said enough that you would know.

You would be surprised at the bands & artistes I wouldn't know. It just so happens that your tastes & mine seen to be tangential at times.

Last time I had no idea it was Silvinha Araujo even though I had heard some of her more Latin sound.

As icastico said to No-head last PBW#4, "No matter how immersed in music you are, there are more bands you've never heard of than bands that you have." That's much of the fun.

But I didn't know you were gonna give everyone hints.
Ash Ra Tempel...because they are Ash Ra Tempel (but The Mars Volta are my favorite contemporary, go figue & why...Omar & Cedric.

Well, I guess I've exposed more than enough of my problems.
No-head said…
I lean more to the jazz that the prog. My favourites at her moment have got to be Volcano the Bear. They just chuck it all in the bin, shake it around and see what drops out at the end. The most eclectic band around - and I mean that in a good way. Historically Loose Tubes were my musical heros in the 80. A collection of amazing musicians who genuinely breathed new life into the music. I didn't mean to suggest that Americans can't do prog - clearly that's nonsense as you say- but this is does not have an American sound and almost certainly has European roots and British influences. Still don't know what it is though. Thanks for all the posts. Don't go away for so long again. :)
Kevin said…
Nathan: I will have to check out some Ash Ra Tempel soon. I have listened to some Mars Volta, but I can't get past the vocals. I used to listen to At The Drive-In when they were still a band, but I kind of grew disinterested in them over time. I know a lot of people like them though, so they must be doing something right.

Hope you keep stopping by.


I'm totally with you on Volcano the Bear. They have an amazing back-catalog of music that is for the most part out-of-print. I just checked at one of the best local record stores in Portland (Exiled Records)and he couldn't find anything that was available to order except for a 7". I have a lot of their stuff downloaded, but I'm currently looking for some of their side projects like Dragon Or Emperor, Guignol and Songs of Norway. If I find these, I might post them here someday.

I've never heard of Loose Tubes, so I'll have to look them up to see what I can find.

P.S. I didn't go away for so long... I just haven't posted a Plain Brown Wrappers post since July.

Best to all, and I'm glad that you are diggin the posts.

No-head said…
Loose tubes were a kind of loose musical collective in the early to mid 80s. I don't know if they ever made it across the Atlantic which may be why they don't ring any bells with you. 3 albums, all brilliant but now sadly unobtainable. a seconhand copy of the first album might set you back about 80 to 100 of your American dollars. They were the band where John Paricelli, Django Bates, Steve and Julian Arguelles, Iain Ballamy and Chris Batchelor first cut their musical teeth. In fact a whole generation of great British jazz musicians. Very strongly influenced by the South African musicians who came over with Chris McGreggor a decade earlier and who were all still around at the time. I had the great pleasure of seeing their one and only gig here in Sheffield about 1986. Your own Evolutionary Jass Band remind me a lot of them - loads of energy and a great sense of fun. I'll see what I can do for you regarding VTB. Glad you like them. I've heard them compared to This Heat. Not too sure about that except that it might give an unwary listener some idea what to expect. Thanks again for a fantastic blog. Now, what's the answer to PBW? I still haven't got a Scoobie.
Thomas said…
Like your secret series a lot.
Can you please tell what this no 5 is?
Im not familiar with this type of music, but this was a greeat album. it would be cool if i could find more form the same band.
Thomas said…
could it be Van der Graaf Generator?
thats my best guess:)
Thomas said…
haha:) stupid me didnt look at the post about Dun..Tanks!

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