Friday 29 September 2023

Aäkon Këëtrëh - The Dark Winter

Aäkon Këëtrëh - The Dark Winter (1997)
Then sometimes you find yourself listening to black ambient cassettes from the 90s at five in the morning. This is a whole lotta fun with all sorts of demented and murky vibes. It's folk. it's ambient, It's dark, it's slowcore, It's black metal, it's lo-fi, it's atmospheric, it's psychedelic, it's post-rock, it's even pop and it's good times.

Is it the French Cookie Monster in a forest wrestling a dark-psych-folk El Kabong?

The last three and a half minutes is a sublime post-rock hypnogogic slowcore jam or something. It's definitely something!

Wednesday 27 September 2023

Toshifumi Hinata - Reality In Love

Toshifumi Hinata - 光と水 (1986)
Could you get any more 80s soundtrack-y? How could this not be in a movie! Also very moving or as the kids say all the feels. 

Toshifumi Hinata - Colored Air (1986)
More ace eighties soundtrack ambience, this time with even more bells! Plus it's called Colored Air!

Toshifumi Hinata - A Moment (1986)
Eighties soundtrack ambient with backwards bits. Toshifumi could have done this for an hour and I would have been enthralled. 

*Actually I've just realised Reality In Love might not even be a soundtrack. I just always assumed it was due to its soundtrack-y-ness. However I think this record was before he got gigs doing scores. Doesn't really matter whatever it is...

Alan Stivell - Renaissance De La Harpe Celtique

Celtic harp played by a French bloke with strings and chorus from the seminal 1971 LP Renaissance De La Harpe Celtique. An all round ambient proto-new age ethereal vibe then check out the trip-hop beats that enter at 2:05. Pretty visionary and captivating. Nice. 

Opening tune from Renaissance De La Harpe Celtique. Waves and harp then halfway through strings, flute, double bass and er... tablas are added. Nice.

Monday 25 September 2023

Natural Snow Buildings - Daughter Of Darkness

Natural Snow Buildings - Satanic Demona Part I (2009)
I was just poking around the internet looking to clear up some things in my head. I kept getting confused I saw this album by Mount Eerie and thought I'd heard it before but then I was thinking maybe that was Mount Kimbie and who exactly are Panthu De Prince and The Microphones. And are...Natural Snow Building who I've been mixing up with slow Buildings, no some post-punk revival band Life Before Buildings for twenty years? And is James Blake the guy I've been thinking is some other guy for a long time maybe this other guy Dean Blunt? Is this Eluviam guy from Mount Kimbie the same guy from Portland who does ambient records? All these people and more have been conflated and confused in my brain for a long time. At the same time I don't wanna check out stuff I already decided was bollocks years ago but how will I know? Maybe I need to make lists of all the music I've checked out and disliked...anyway... 

So I decided to look into Natural Snow Buildings. Turns out they are French and not who I thought they are or were. I may have investigated them in the past but I don't remember. Some people out there think they are really good and say their 2009 five cassette set Daughter Of Darkness was the best music of that year. I'm getting through disc two and I gotta say it's pretty enjoyable black as night psych-folk-drone of the highest order so far, so that appears promising. Some of these tracks of apocalyptic strumming & sustain are over forty minutes long! I don't know if they're cool or dorks or poseurs or earnest or revolting hipsters or have a moronic political agenda or what and I don't really care. This shit was old hat then as it is now but it seems to be quite a likeable, seductive and enchanting hat so... thou shalt enter the darkness.

Natural Snow Buildings - Daughters Of Darkness (2009)
Undeniably exquisite drone-y psych-folk: Night Trippin' in all the colours of the dark.

Sunday 24 September 2023

Surf's Up/Child Is Father Of the Man

The Beach Boys - Child Is Father Of The Man (1966) [Released 2018]
I haven't been paying attention to Beach Boys related reissues since the 00s when they re-released one of the holy grails: Dennis Wilson's solo album. People who read this blog probably don't even realise that I'm a Beach Boys obsessive. Aside from krautrock The 90s and early 00s were all about only one old band from the English speaking world and that was The Beach Boys. The Good Vibrations Box, The Pet Sounds Session Box and the cd original album remasters were some of the great reissue excavations of the 90s. On any given drunken night there was a high likelihood of The Beach Boys Greatest Hits getting a hiding. If I recall correctly I Get Around was best for dancing while Barbara Ann was best for singing at the top of your lungs to surely annoy the neighbours. Anyway the nostalgia spiral continues. It turns out five years back they unearthed an original 1966 mix of this here tune. A pieced together reconstruction had appeared on 2011's Smile Sessions Box.

I do recall in that Beautiful Dreamer Brian Wilson Smile doco from 2004, i think, that the young music director guy with the great standy up hair had found some bits of this tune which was very exciting. It took fifteen years to get it on a reissue though. Of course fans know this is a sort of prelude tune and a coda to the big tune that is Surf's Up. There are a stack of versions out there but this is the genuine what would have been on Smile  in 1967 version! Anyway I know this is only going to be interesting to Smile minutiae aficionados of which I sort of retired from being but now I'm back baby.

Brian Wilson - Child Is Father Of The Man (2004)
This is the 2004 version of the song by The Brian Wilson Band which is very bright and shiny.

The Beach Boys - Little Bird (1968)
This was their reworking where they rewrote and rerecorded the chorus and renamed it Little Bird for the 1968 LP Friends.

Wikipedia claims that Tune X from 1967 is also a re-recording but they are incorrect (What A fucking surprise) as that is a Carl Wilson penned instrumental that does not reuse any elements from Child Is Father Of The Man, Little Bird or Surf's Up.

I've forgotten how tricky and pernickety all this Smile stuff gets. It's an entire hobby of its own apart from being a music fan.

The Beach Boys - Surf's Up (1971)
This is why it's all worth it. This is spiritual music. Pop music at its most empyrean. Pretty moving. I realise you don't need another person out there to tell you this is the fucking it is though so there's that.

*See the coda here at the end of Surf's Up is based on Child Is Father To The Man which is also the preceding track on both the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson's version of Smile. I'm pretty sure it was always intended this way. Having said that this version of Surf's Up from the 1971 Surf's Up LP appeared sans the prelude of Child Is Father To The Man.

Friday 22 September 2023

Colosseum - The Valentyne Suite

Colosseum - The Valentyne Suite (1969)
When I first heard this over twenty years ago I thought it was the proggiest of the prog and only progging for the sake of progging. Me and my mate nearly lost our minds late one evening/early morning when we thought it was just never going to end. Sure we'd taken part in some party-time activities and listened to a whole bunch of prog and this was the final track at the end of a three cd prog compilation binge. Listening to it just now though, I thought, it flew past rather quickly. 

Colosseum remain fairly mysterious compared to the big prog acts that have their stories told over and over. In Mike Barnes' book on prog from a few years back they only got a couple of pages. I kinda like that little bit of low key underexposed reputation. The fact they only did a few albums also helps of course. Perhaps they lean a bit too much towards the jazz to be truly orthodox British prog. Is there even such a thing?, I dunno. The Valentyne Suite sounds pretty unique actually and relatively fresh. 

In a way I like not being a full expert or patron of prog rock because I just can't help preferring things that lean more towards the space rock, the krautrock, the prog psych-folk, the zhuel, the Cantebury scene, the Swedish prog, the heavy psych etc. end of the spectrum. You see I just fucking hate the Genesis and I fucking can't stand the ELP. I've only just come around to Jethro Tull in the last ten years, Pink Floyd in the last twelve months and I have never once tried to investigate any further, than what I recall from The Kenny Everett Show, The Moody Blues

The Moody Blues await but don't hold your breath for my conversion to the insufferable Genesis or ELP. The only other artist I'm less likely to get into is probably the fucking utmost intolerable Elvis Costello. I'm more likely to listen to The Clash than any of these and that is never going to happen while I still have control of my faculties. Haha..ha.... 

Turns out Colosseum's second LP The Valentyne Suite was the first record ever released on the legendary Vertigo label. There you go trivia buffs. They split up in 1971 way ahead of the curve and before the rot had any time to set in.

Wednesday 20 September 2023

Steve Hillage

Khan - Hollow Stone (inc. Escape Of The Space Pilots) - (1972)
I'm totally confused today because this was always the "Space Pirates" song. I'm sure the cd I've got (somewhere) from maybe 98 or 99 had this as The Escape Of The Space Pirates. There seems to be a glitch in my matrix.

Anyway how good is this tune?

Steve Hillage had recorded with the pre-Egg outfit Arzachel on their debut LP in 1969 but Khan was the first band that was his own where he was the main man. The Space Pirates is the epic closing track from Khan's one and only album and it's an ace prog tune with some pretty cool pyrotechnics emanating from Steve's guitar. Actually the entire Space Shanty LP is pretty good little bit of prog that we should all have a listen to. 


Steve Hillage - Rainbow Dome Musick (1979)
IN the early 90s we knew Steve Hillage because of his collaborations on records by The Orb and his own ambient house records with System 7. Then the discovery of this classic proto-ambient solo record from 1979 was an absolute revelation. Rainbow Dome Musick had gained a new lease of life as a chill-out room record.

Of course Steve's secret weapon on most of his recordings is his silent partner and mrs, MIquette Giraudy, who plays wonderful fender rhodes, synth and Tibetan bells here. This is where the space rock stops being rock and is just becomes space static: a gorgeously hovering, lush and intricately crafted ambient space where visions of fantastical futuristic idyllic landscapes with shimmering streams and glimmering solar waves are conjured. Eternally serene.

It wasn't until a few years later that I would get around to discovering his earlier fully hairy proggy space rock records which also turned out to be revelatory...and then there were the Gong records he played due to my ignorance he was the gift that kept on giving. 

"Oh no Steve Hillage" So Neil was the first person to alert a lot of us to the charms of Steve Hillage although I guess we were probably meant to dismiss Neil's taste in music.

Steve Hillage - Fish Rising (1975)
Always with the aquatic vibes. When Steve's exhilarating guitar along with Mike Howlett's bass get going on The Salmon Song, oh boy what a space rock ride then that aquatic lull bassoon bit from Lindsay Cooper...oh my.

Between the break up of Khan and this record Steve had spent time in Gong contributing to their classic run of albums The Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy. By the time Steve, the most likeable man in prog, got around to recording his first solo album proper Fish Rising he had discovered "atmosphere and ambience". He'd also become a master of the glissando guitar which was a trippy technique he'd learnt from Head Gong Daevid Allen. So his post-psychedelic bag of tricks was expanding by the minute. 

Surely these are the best sounding guitar shapes in all of prog - sometimes surprisingly heavy, bubbling, weird, echoing, birdlike, aqueous, furious, floating and spaced out - often all within the same song. His guitar is in a constant state of inventive flux. The magic of Hillage on Fish Rising is that he makes prog fun, never pompous or tedious. He makes exciting blissful enjoyment an utmost priority. Now that's rare. 

Monday 18 September 2023

Dorothy Carter - Waillee, Waillee

Dorothy Carter - Waillee, Waillee (1978)
Somewhere between avant-garde drone-y post-minimalism, acid-folk, ethereal neo-medieval and rough around the edges new age. Dorothy Carter, who didn't make a record until she was in her forties, is the queen of the hammered dulcimer. She was also keen and expert on the zither, hurdy gurdy, recorder, flute, psaltery and piano. 

Enjoy the enchanted delights of a lost record that will never be reissued. Waillee, Waillee contains some of the most gorgeous dulcimer/zither this side of a Laaraji record. Sometimes the atmospheric all encompassing eternal reverberations become so sublime it's hard not to become overwhelmed. Glorious in one of the best albums ever recorded.

Other contributors to this privately pressed LP are sound sculptor and instrument maker Rob Rutman. He plays the bow chime and steel cello. Gail Edwards is the percussionist who plays tamboura, slit drum, bells, shakers and er...harps.

*I don't really know if Dorothy Carter is a cult figure or not, maybe she's not considered cool who knows? There's not exactly an over abundance of information about her on the interwebs but we do know later in the 1990s she had an unlikely chartbusting collaboration with Miranda Sex Garden's Katharine Blake. They co-founded Mediæval Bæbes, a neo-classical ensemble, that had hit records and even went silver in the UK. Perhaps this kind of mainstream success has kept Waillee Waillee out of cult record status contention that other less commercially successful musicians like Vashti Bunyan, Linda Perhacs, Judee Sill etc. now have (bear in mind tastemakers are often clueless dickheads).

**The album in the above video finishes around the forty minute mark. The last six minutes are some kind of a mish mash of repeated bits for some reason.

Sunday 17 September 2023

Ed Kuepper - When There's This Party

It's party time people! Ed gets positively upbeat and groovy on this 1988 Smash hit! This is so swinging and yet so so fucking tight it's pop perfection innit. Absolute anthem.

*The fact that this didn't make the top 10 in Australia or even crack the top 40 kinda made me hate Australia back then...well the machinations of the mainstream music scene at least. How fucking clueless! This gave me an insight, at an impressionable age, into how the world works ie. not how it should! Then again if The Go-Betweens' Spring Rain didn't go straight to the top of the charts what did I expect? The goddamn LP When There's This Party came from Everybody's Got To only made it to number 42 (???). 

Friday 15 September 2023

Barrabas - Chicco

Barrabas - Chicco (1972)
It's Friday night kick out the funky jams time. Here's a dose of Funky rock Spanishish stylee. I could listen to flute accompanied by bass and drums all day long but this has even more with its expansive summer-y harmonies, that organ worming its way around and the fabulous push and pull of that riff-age. Oh my the crazy flute with that infectiously hypnotic beat including mucho cowbell...Nice.

Party time people! 

Thursday 14 September 2023

Tim Davis - Baby Won't You Come out Tonight

Tim Davis - Baby Won't You Come Out Tonight (1972)
Somehow I've missed hearing this song my entire life until last night. How could this be? Why don't we all know it? Why wasn't it in all our parents collections? Or on the radio when we were small? Or on the golden oldies radio now?  

Sweet 70s country soul at its finest.  

Thank you Lord!

*Rock, rhythm & blues and yacht rock royalty here with Boz Scaggs on guitar, Steve Miller on organ and to top it off production duties by Glyn Johns. The entire LP Take Me As I Am (Without Silver Without Gold), I can say now say after seven listens, is terrific stuff.

Wednesday 13 September 2023

KebneKaise - KebneKaise II

Kebnekaise - Horgalåten (1973)
KebneKaise II is Swedish prog-folk-rock with great grooves, Nordic folk elements and no absurd prog wankery. Superficially not unlike the best ethnological krautrock but when you get in it's deeply psychedelic and steeped in the mystique of Swedish folklore yet also kinda jaunty at times. Kebnekaise II was released in 1973 on the legendary Swedish prog label Silence, home of Bo Hansson, Älgarnas Trädgård, Träd Gräs O Stenar, Anna Själv Tredje etc.

Horgalåten is apparently a traditional Swedish tune rearranged by Kebnekaise. Mesmerising haunted ancient melodies amongst the mantra rock with a toe-tapping beat. Nice. 

Kebnekaise - Comanche Spring (1973)
Epic psych jam that closes the album. Sweet mary jane was surely invented for listening to this. 

*Greatest back cover ever. All bands should be beautifully drawn up a tree.

Monday 11 September 2023

Alan Sorrenti - Aria

Alan Sorrenti - Aria (1972)
Avant-garde acid-folk of the highest order. 

If you've not ever heard this one look out. For fans of of avant-garde and acid-folk vocal histrionics à la Comus, Tim Buckley, Yoko, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Peter Hammill et al. at their most outré, I promise this will not disappoint. Aria is the opening song to Sorrenti's debut LP of the same name. It wouldn't surprise me if side 4 of Nick Cave's Ghosteen was influenced by this epic track as there are some uncanny vocal melody parallels. 

A few years later Sorrenti strangely enough went on to represent Italy at Eurovision. I can vouch for the quality of the rest of this LP while others also rate the follow up, after that he begins to depart from this aesthetic mission statement.

Sunday 10 September 2023

Styrenes 70s Singles

Poli Styrene Jass Band - Draino In Your Veins (1975)
This was really something. What on earth was it? It's like a blueprint for something that nobody ever bothered to follow up on. I mean you can hear hints of Roxy Music and misc. prog but what is the rest? Psychedelic soul? This is the sort of amalgamation of non-overt influences that also informed Television, Pere Ubu etc. I really think Draino In Your Veins is a forgotten little psych-prog anomaly of a pop song that deserves to be heard.


Poli Styrene Jass Band - Circus Highlights (1975)
This is the flipside to Draino In Your Veins. It's that classic in-between scenes syndrome innit: Too late for 60s psych into prog, not quite fitting mid 70s art rock and way too early for neo-psychedelia of the 80s and 90s. Melodically reverse-reminiscent of early Mercury Rev. If this incarnation had carried on in the maverick vein of this 7 inch they might have become legendary like their contemporaries Pere Ubu and electric eels instead of just a footnote.

Styrene Money - Radial Arm Saws (1977)
Weird for weird's sake maybe but these guys were compelled to make such a record surely that counts for something. Is it a paean to naff novelty faux-psychedelic cash in singles of the late 60s?

Styrene Money - I Saw You (1979) 
Sounding almost conventional here, even endearing but I guess not many punk groups had piano led singles. It's actually more psychedelic than anything. This is why genre categories are pointless sometimes. Did the genre people ever use psych-punk as a term for this kind of thing? I Saw You is psychedelic and punk. 

Styrene Money - Everything Near Me (1979)
Another sort of likeable slice of music that is at the precise intersection of psychedelic and punk. I guess not unlike some stuff The Homosexuals did.

Styrene Money - Jaguar Ride (1979)
The first Styrenes thing I heard back in the day because it was on an 80s Cleveland compilation. This is supposed to be a cover of the electric eels tune but it barely even resembles that song. It strangely actually sounds closer to Pere Ubu. I wonder if they just played this by memory considering there were no actual recordings of the electric eels version available at the time. 

Eddie & the Hot Rods - Teenage Depression

Eddie & The Hot Rods - Teenage Depression (1976)
Good bit of hard-punky pub-rock. Narcotic pop at its finest, this was a top 40 hit in Britain. As the guy in the comments said "I'm 52 and still suffering from the teenage depression" 

Saturday 9 September 2023

Agnes Strange - Give Yourself A Chance

Agnes Strange - Give Yourself A Chance (1975)
This is a pretty cool bit of speedy hard boogie 75 a British Coloured Balls. 

Blast - Damned Flame

Blast - Damned Flame (1973)
Belgium's Blast are a fun noisey blast of proto: Proto-punk, proto-thrash, proto-Motorhead and proto whatever else. The vocalist keeps it in a pop song realm making it somewhat less harsh than those future genres turned out to be though. I think they did just this one 7" single. Pretty cool.  

Elvis Presley - Burning Love

Elvis + Cowbell = The Best!

*You'll have to put this through a good system or headphones for full funky affect. The drumming on this tune is so good. 

Friday 8 September 2023

Toshiki Kadomatsu - If You...

Toshiki Kadomatsu - If You... (1984)
A spritely piece of funky boogie from Japan. An 80s bass and saxamophone extravaganza. An 80s dancefloor anthem from a parallel world. If you want an entire other 80s of this type it's ready and waiting for you in these Japanese recordings.  

Thursday 7 September 2023

The Jacksons featuring Michael Jackson - Show You The Way To Go

"They" can smear MJ all they want but a massive part of the population know he is still the king of pop and all the unkind words in the world will not change their love for him. 

After The Jackson 5 left Motown they changed their name to The Jacksons and signed to Philadelphia International. This Gamble & Huff tune is one of the most lushly lovely tunes Michael Jackson ever did. A total nitrous oxide marshmallow: Luxuriant mellifluousness. 

Peak R&B!

Wednesday 6 September 2023

Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes - The Love I Lost

Great Teddy Pendergrass vocal backed by MFSB on this 1973 Gamble & Huff tune. The secret architect here is legendary veteran arranger Bobby Martin with superior strings.

Sunday 3 September 2023

The Exciters - Movin' Too Slow

The Exciters - Movin' Too Slow (1969)
We all know their ubiquitous hit Tell Him from 1962 but here's a later one from the same era as their single Blowin Up My Mind that's very fucking cool. This deep cut from the Caviar & Chitlins LP moves along at quite a pace and it's a hell of a satisfying ride. Pop perfection innit. I mean...just press play. Sometimes talking about music is dumb.