Friday, 21 July 2017

Deodato - Night Cruiser (1980)

Magnificent jazz-funk from the era in Eumir Deodato's career where the Rio-born keyboardist/arranger/producer decisively headed for the dancefloor.  This is around the time Deodato was producing Kool & The Gang, and Night Cruiser is similarly good-time music.  Electric piano grooves, synth bloops and great brass arrangements are everywhere, along with more slap bass than you can shake a stick at.

Pretty much every box is ticked, to be honest, for what you'd expect from an album with a track called Uncle Funk.  I should start insisting that my niece and nephews call me that, but I think to qualify for the title you have to have to post a bit more than, er, one jazz-funk album a year on your blog.  Will try to seek out more - in the meantime, if you love stuff like this, Opium Hum have been crate-digging it to the max lately.

mega / zippy

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Iancu Dumitrescu / Ana-Maria Avram - Five Pieces (1997)

String quartets a-plenty from Ana-Maria and Iancu (well, two of his, one of hers), with instruments being tortured within an inch of their lives and occasional tape maniplulation adding to the magnificent organised chaos.

But in addition, it's the two non-string quartet works on this disc that make it a standout in the Edition Modern catalogue.  Avram's 20-minute electronic/instrumental On The Abolition Of The Soul treats the philosophical wiritings of Émile Cioran with the nightmarish gravity that they deserve, and Dumitrescu's Fluxus, for tapes and orchestra, approaches (if not equals) the viciousness of early Pendercki.

mega / zippy

Previously posted at SGTG:
ED.MN.1001 - Medium/Cogito
ED.MN.1002 - Au Dela De Movemur
ED.MN.1003 - Pierres Sacreés
ED.MN.1004 - Musique de Paroles
ED.MN.1011 - Musique Action '98
ED.MN.1019 - In Tokyo

Monday, 17 July 2017

Françoise Hardy - s/t (aka La Question) (1971)

From Brazil to France - without entirely leaving Brazil.  Françoise Hardy's eleventh album, again untitled but retrospectively known by the title of one of its best known tracks (as per conventions of the time/genre), was a collaboration with Brazilian musician Tuca, who was living in Paris at the time.  Tuca, real name Valeniza Zagni da Silva, tragically died seven years later at age 34, having released just three albums of her own.  Here, writing all the music for Hardy's album and playing beautifully understated guitar, is perhaps her best known work, which took Hardy's career to a new level of maturity.

La Question in some ways reminds me of my favourite Astrud Gilberto album, I Haven't Got Anything Better To Do - around half an hour long, but managing to cram in a huge emotional weight in its wistful, small-hours ambience and songs about love both unrequited and long gone.  In amongst this, there's also an offbeat oddness in songs like Le Martien (French sophistication apparently dictates that alien abductors come bearing not bodily probes, but engagement rings) and in the breathy, wordless evocations of Pauline Réage's Story Of O.

Arrangements throughout this great record are restrained and always perfectly complementary to the track, right through to the closing reimagining of a song by another Brazilian musician, Taiguara.  La Question is a huge highlight not just in Françoise Hardy's discography, but in chanson in general

mega / zippy

Friday, 14 July 2017

Luiz Bonfa & Maria Toledo - Braziliana (1965)

Some classic bossanova/samba goodness to go in to the weekend with, courtesy of legendary guitarist and songwriter Luiz Bonfa and his wife Maria Toledo on vocals.  Just over half an hour of blissful, summery chillout, bookended by sweet wordless duetting and featuring Toledo's wonderful, Astrud-Gilberto's-older-sister voice on most of the tracks, with subtle, unobtrusive arrangements in the background.

Bonfa's unique and influential guitar genius takes the solo spotlight on two tracks, Boticaro and Improviso, and as part of sublime instrumental tracks on Sugar Loaf, Baroco and one of his most famous compositions Samba De Orfeu.  The latter originally came from the Black Orpheus soundtrack that springboarded Bonfa, Jobim and others to fame.  More to come in due course from all of these icons of Brazilian music, while the sun's still out (tempting fate round here, I know!).

mega / zippy

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Eivind Aarset - Dream Logic (2012)

Eivind Aarset is a Norwegian guitarist whose stock in trade is near-ambient atmospherics, favouring heavy amounts of electronic manipulation, reverb and other effects.  He's contributed to a number of ECM projects, and this, his solo debut for the label, came out in late 2012, supported throughout by long-term collaborator Jan Bang.

As you might expect, textures and atmospheres take precedence on these 11 tracks over formal song structures (the aptly named Black Silence being the most formless), but spindly, minimal melodies abound.  The result is a gorgeous, immersive listening experience with lots of little production treats, like the little ghostly music-box melody that winds its way around the jittery jump-cuts of Jukai (Sea Of Trees), to name just one favourite.  To name another, Homage To Greene is a tribute to Peter Green, with its gentle Albatross-esque melody, but Dream Logic is best experienced as a whole, to let all of its, well, dream logic wash right over you.

mega / zippy

Monday, 10 July 2017

Various - CMCD: 6 Classic Concrete Electroacoustic & Electronic Works, 1970-1990 (1991 compi)

CMCD (Concrete Music CD) is a 1991 compilation, reissued 2004, of six pieces previously featured elsewhere on the ReR label.  I'm posting this mainly for A Quiet Gathering (1988) by Steve Moore, which I got into thanks to a comment from Peter on the Ivana Stefanović album, and was what made me track down the CMCD disc.  It's a phenomenal 22 minutes of "Chamber music for environmental sounds" - children playing, church bells, birds and so on - deftly stitched together.  In the absence of a reissue of the full album (see Peter's YouTube link) this is the only way to get hold of this masterpiece digitally.

Elsewhere, there's two highly entertaining 'plunderphonic' works from US artists bookending this compilation, one mashing up Erik Satie and the other Jerry Lee Lewis.  And don't miss the much more dark-hued Aide Memoire, composed in East Germany by Georg Katzer in 1983.  The subtitle is "Seven nightmares from the thousand year night...with sound documents from 1933-1945".  Even though some of the most infamous voices are tape-manipulated into dalek/chipmunk grotesques that (presumably intentionally) negate much of their power, the piece still carries an unsettling weight of history that neatly expands on Luigi Nono's Ermittlung from two decades previous.
cover art for first issue, 1991 (2004 cover at top)

mega / zippy

Friday, 7 July 2017

Quaternaglia ‎- Forrobodó (2000)

Something a bit more summery today - and the first Brazilian post for this year; won't be the last.  The Quaternaglia Guitar Quartet are from São Paulo and have been active since 1992.  This was their third album - a bit easier than the others (which I'm on the lookout for) to get hold of internationally thanks to Egberto Gismonti's Carmo label and its distribution deal with ECM.

Gismonti's presence looms large in the songwriting credits too - tracks 5 thru 9 are all his compositions, including a lengthy arrangement of his classic piece Forró, and a welcome dizzying run through Karatê.  The tempos throughout this great album are mostly fleet of foot, letting the sheer knotty virtuosity of the four guitarists shine as brightly as they deserve, with everything exquisitely arranged and beautifully melodic.  Highly recommended.

mega / zippy

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Georg Friedrich Haas - In Vain (2003)

Hour-long microtonal-spectral masterpiece by Austrian composer Haas (b. 1953, Graz).  The liner notes of this 2002 premiere recording use a staircase metaphor for music in common intonation, working towards a comparison of this piece with M.C. Escher's famous engraving.  A good starting point, particularly in the most dramatic final quarter with its more animated series of downward spirals and percussive thunder.

Other than that, the mood is ominous, minimal and dark - quite literally in the performance instructions, which call for complete darkness on two occasions (at 5-10 mins in, and 40-50 mins as seen in this performance).  Quite a feat of memory for the musicians working their way through the extra-small gradations in tone, and a treat for the ears, especially in the dark as intended.  Almost like the night-time flipside of all the spectral sun-rays of Gerard Grisey's Espaces Acoustiques.

mega / zippy

Monday, 3 July 2017

Pandit Pran Nath - Raga Cycle, Palace Theatre, Paris 1972 (rel. 2006)

We're long overdue some raga goodness from the master Kirana singer on these pages.  Compared to the album release from the previous year (posted here), this brief live recording sets the accompanying instruments (played by Pran Nath's US students Terry Riley, La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela) a bit further back in the mix, so that you appreciate all the better how that wonderful voice finds its way "in between the notes".

This archival release came out on Terry Riley's label in 2006, and in fact represents only a small excerpt of the ambitious Raga Cycle that the players undertook in Paris in May 1972: performing the 'night ragas' (those intended for playing at night) on a Friday night, the 'day ragas' on the Saturday, and the 'morning ragas' on the Sunday morning.  Raga Shudh Sarang and the brief Raga Kut Todi, featured here, are both late-morning ragas (from my admittedly limited research on the fascinatingly complex rules of Indian classical music), so must have been from the Sunday morning concert.  Wonder if Riley or Young have any more in their archives?

mega / zippy

Friday, 30 June 2017

Pat Metheny Group - First Circle (1984)

Pat, Lyle & co certainly got what turned out to be their ECM farewell off to a memorable start, parodying an off-key high school marching band, which must have had hundreds of record store owners saying 'oh, you want to hear the new PMG?  You might want to skip track one... yep, definitely skip past it'.  From then on in, though, drummer Paul Wertico leads into the album proper with the sunny, upbeat Yolanda You Learn, and all was well.

The PMG sound for years to come was crystalised on this LP, although the seeds of it had been sown over the previous few years.  Yolanda goes on to feature a fine wordless vocal performance by Pedro Aznar, looking forward to the Still Life (Talking) era, before Pat whips out the guitar synth - tastefully, of course.  First Circle (the album) still retains a bit of an avant-garde edge, but for the most part the lush, South American-influenced rhythms and melodies were all in place to full out the sound beautifully.  A stunning high point for Pat to end his ECM tenure on and look to his future, that still makes for fresh, life-affirming summer listening today.

mega / zippy