Friday, 16 November 2018

Various Artists (incl. Jan Garbarek Quartet) - Popofoni (1973)

Anyone watching the Åpen Post show on Norwegian TV on 6th March 1969 (which I doubt will include any readers here, but you never know -YouTube link, sorry no subtitles) would've caught a fascinating, bizarre debate about pop music/popular culture vs. classical music/high art.  The programme caught the attention of Arne Nordheim, previously featured on these pages here, and of the Ny Musikk organisation and the Henie-Onstad arts centre.

The plan was hatched (in an uncanny precedent for Ode To Marilyn) to get hold of some prime Nordic musicians - step forward Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Arild Andersen, Jon Christensen and Terje Rypdal - and have them collaborate with some of Norway's foremost modern composers to produce music that would represent a meeting point between popular music and the avant-garde.  Arne Nordheim, Alfred Janson, Gunnar Sønstevold, Kåre Kolberg and the soon-to-be ECM-ers, plus additional musicians, duly obliged, and a concert of the results was held in April 1970.  Three years later, this limited-edition double album emerged as a document of the project, which had been titled Popofoni.

The six tracks here are certainly fascinating, essential listening, especially if you're familiar with early ECM classics like Afric Pepperbird / Sart / Rypdal's debut.  Imagine these records with a whole extra layer of avant-garde composition/production over the top, and that's pretty much what Popofoni sounds like. 

The 20-minute opener Arnold, composed by Gunnar Sønstevold, is a free jazz groove with echo-laden vocals wafting over the top, and occasional organ and tape effects.  Nordheim's two tracks that follow are even better works in the same vein, with the eerie collage of Solar Plexus (his first response to the TV debate) ending in a scratchy, sampled dance orchestra, a hail of gunfire then an emptying sink (or toilet?).  The second disc is dominated by Alfred Janson's 25-minute Valse Triste, where the jazz musicians veer between free playing and lounge pastiche, feeling their way towards the eventual schlager payoff, whilst spoken samples of the TV debate pepper the sonic landscape.  Kåre Kolberg's Blow Up Your Dreams is a more succinct attempt at stretching a conventional song (sung by Karin Krog) to fit an avant-garde frame, and as a closer we get a brief Rypdal composition in which he plays flute rather than guitar.  An utterly essential collection.
Original double-LP cover
Disc 1
Disc 2
pw: sgtg

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Van Morrison - No Guru, No Method, No Teacher (1986)

If Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart was a bit synth-heavy for some Van Morrison fans in the 80s, they needn't have feared - by 1986 he had fully returned to a more natural sound, and released one of the greatest albums of his career.

Morrison's lyrical preoccupations were more grounded too - after spending the early part of the decade looking into theosophy and the burgeoning New Age (especially Anglo-American writer Alice Bailey), the title of this album could be read as a statement of intent.  With Ray Charles named as one of his earliest sources of rapture within the opening lines, No Guru is an album that primarily looks back, but still finds spiritual wonder everywhere.

Musically, it's a largely relaxed and meditative listen, only breaking a sweat a couple of times, and the closing Ivory Tower is the only decisively upbeat track.  Elsewhere, six out of ten tracks break the five-minute barrier (nothing approaches Common One status, though!) as the extended meditations on love, nature and art take jazzy and folky forms.  Some reviewers have even posited No Guru as an 80s sequel to Astral Weeks, and if you listen to Tir Na Nog, or the "gardens wet with rain" callbacks on In The Garden, you can see their point.  A massively underrated career highlight from a singular artist.

pw: sgtg

Previously posted at SGTG:
Saint Dominic's Preview
Common One
Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart

Monday, 12 November 2018

Nurse With Wound - Lumb's Sister (2014 compi, rec. 1986-7)

Long overdue some NWW here, so here's one that I've been listening to a lot on the dark evenings.  Originally written as a film soundtrack - the director's eventual choice of alternate music gets a good-natured "aw shucks" from Stapleton in the brief liner note - Lumb's Sister is classic mid-80s Nurse With Wound.

All the expected ingredients are present: huge, formless chasms of ambient sound from which emerge creakings, groanings, occasional soft and ominous rhythms, and so forth.  A selection of Lumb recordings were released as part of a 3LP box set in 1989, shared with Current 93 and Sol Invictus; Stapleton then took an informal run at a reissue circa 2012, which appeared on a few CDRs, before this definitive collection was released in 2014. 

It can probably be taken as a given, knowing the artist's predilection for remixing himself, that at least some of the material was smartened up for final release, but it certainly all sounds fantastic and has an album-like consistency.  As a bonus, Coil appear on Stapleton's remix of How To Destroy Angels.

pw: sgtg

Friday, 9 November 2018

Yep, another files update...

Google Drive isn't going to work.  I've already started to receive copyright notices and account suspension warnings.  Had to immediately delete all the files from the past few months as they were in the Drive tied to my personal email address, and there's tons of family photos etc stored there that I don't want to risk losing.

So I'm afraid (unless anyone has any other suggestions) it's back to Zippyshare for everything.  Will re-upload as and when I've got the time and energy.

Update. Sat 10 Nov: Thanks again everyone for your helpful comments, and your encouragement.  First thing I'm getting done is putting back up the 2018 links that I wiped yesterday; Zippy will do for now, then will think through other options.

The good thing is that all the other Google Drive accounts that I opened to host the 2016-2017 links have so far (fingers crossed!) not received any notifications, so they can stay there until any problems arise.  (Ellington Uptown from Dec 2017 will go back up today - thanks to the person who noticed I'd skipped over it!)

I stopped using full names for the zip files and changed to letters & numbers a while back, and will use passwords going forward; re-zipping everything else to include passwords will get done eventually, but that'll need to be a low priority.  The other thing that will be useful will be when I get a Lumen report from Google, apparently this service tells you (eventually, it can take weeks) which files were reported.  Will be interesting to find out - I think the main problem I have that, say, Die or DIY doesn't have, is my tendency to stray in to major label waters, or labels that were once indies and now have ownership by one of the majors, e.g. Virgin/Charisma.  May have to avoid that going forward if it turns out to be the case.


Wednesday, 7 November 2018

John Adams - The Chairman Dances, etc (1987)

If you enjoyed the John Adams piano post last month, here's some of his classics for orchestra/chamber ensembles.  This album was released as a trailer for Adams' opera Nixon In China, which would get a full album release the following year.  The title piece here remains the most famous excerpt from the opera, and chugs along nicely with its foxtrot and cabaret influences representing the dance between Mao and his wife.

The rest of this collection gives a nice overview of Adams' work from the mid 70s onward, with the gentle Christian Zeal & Activity being the oldest.  With the melancholy atmosphere and overlay of snippets from a preacher's sermon, it somewhat evokes Gavin Bryars' Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet.  Next up are 'Two Fanfares for Orchestra' from 1986, the first being the sedate pulse of Tromba Lontana and the second the more upbeat and well-known Short Ride In A Fast Machine.  Lastly, Common Tones In Simple Time (1980) stretches out for a nicely hypnotic 20 minutes, and makes plain the influence of Steve Reich on Adams' compositional style.

pw: sgtg 

Monday, 5 November 2018

Robert Rich & B. Lustmord - Stalker (1995)

This'll do nicely as a belated Halloween post.  I did get hold of this album on Halloween last week - walked in to my favourite Oxfam Music shop, and it was playing over the speakers.  Initially wondered if this was Tangerine Dream circa Atem, or something... no, the tech's not vintage enough... eventually, I just walked up the counter and asked to buy it.

So here it is - over an hour of first class dark ambient from California ambient master Robert Rich and Welsh industrialist Brian 'Lustmord' Williams, inspired by Tarkovsky as per the album title.  I've never actually seen that film - any good?  This album is phenomenal though, I keep hearing Coil-esque bits, even eerie resemblances to In The Shadow Of The Sun.

pw: sgtg

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Re-upping Update

Hi folks.  Just about there - every post should be on Google Drive by Tuesday.

Aug-Nov 2017 was the trickiest - looks like the only backup I did was on the HD of a laptop that died at the end of last year.  Still, got just about everything re-ripped, or otherwise found, with one exception that I've completely lost.  So here's a bit of a reader appeal: anyone got the files for the Mingus Tribute?  I know I did that one plus an unedited file, so it's a big ask, but if anyone's able to help out (doesn't have to be both aspects, unless anyone has the whole lot) that would be awesome (All good now, with huge thanks to the two contributors of the files!).


Friday, 2 November 2018

Astor Piazzolla - Concierto Para Quinteto (rec. 1981, rel. 1990)

Whilst the re-uploading continues, the show must go on!

A recent charity shop find, of the very best kind - where I take a chance on something completely unfamiliar, and it turns up pure gold.  I've definitely heard the name Astor Piazzolla before, maybe even looked him up on discogs, so I knew he was an important Argentine musician, but hadn't listened to him at all until now.

Grabbed this double set (in an old-style fatbox) initially thinking from the title that it was some kind of classical-crossover work.  Turns out 'Concierto Para Quinteto' is one of Piazzolla's (1921-1992) most famous compositions, but it's only one track here in a live concert recording from the Cine Teatro Gran Rex in Buenos Aires on 20 December 1981.  Piazzolla's bandoneon is supported here by electric guitar, piano, violin and double bass.

And it's quite a listening experience - especially if you're unfamiliar with the artist and his 'nuevo tango' style.  From what I've read, Piazzolla's mature style from this era was the result of fusing traditional Argentinian tango with jazz and classical influences, where he traveled extensively, working in the US and back in Argentina with different ensembles, becoming a stylistic pioneer as well as a national legend.  There's a good mix in the setlist here of upbeat material and more reflective, sometimes more complex compositions, and it was all an absolute joy to listen to.  Will definitely be exploring further.

Disc 1 link
Disc 2 link
pw: sgtg

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Mega have suspended my account, and every link seems to have been wiped.

Yep, even the Zippy links.  Don't know where to go from here, or if I've got the time to spare to re-up Zippy links.

Update:  Now that the shock has sunk in, time to move forward...  Thanks all for your comments.  I reckon Google Drive is the way to go - currently rattling around with memory sticks, with fingers crossed that there aren't any stray months I didn't back up [Update 2: that's this year to date back up, and 2017 except Aug-Nov].

Will get everything back up in due course.  Hey ho, that's life.  Thanks again everyone for your support.


Monday, 29 October 2018

Nils Frahm & Ólafur Arnalds - Collaborative Works (2015 compi, rec. 2011-15)

Back to Erased Tapes, with a compilation that does exactly what it says on the tin: brings together an hour's worth of EP tracks recorded by labelmates & close friends Nils Frahm & Ólafur Arnalds.  Then tops it off with a bonus 40 minutes drawn from an evening's improvisations whilst planning the reissue of the EPs.

The EP tracks find both artists in a much more pure electronic mode that they normally operate in, most notably on the superb 25 minutes of Loon, recorded 2014 and originally released as a 12" the following year.  They skirt the edges of Cluster-esque minimalism before taking a full-on dive into it with the standout tracks W and M.  This is followed by the three untitled tracks of 2012's more atmospheric Stare EP.  German cellist Anne Müller (who had previously collaborated with Frahm on 2009's 7Fingers album) proves an inspired and understated third partner on the longest track.  Lastly, the 2015 7" (recorded in 2012) Life Story/Love & Glory returns to the more familiar piano-and-ambience of Felt.

As noted above, when meeting up to arrange the EP compilation, Frahm and Arnalds decided to record a new exclusive track for it.  This turned in to an entire evening of spontaneous loveliness, and was titled Trance Frendz, receiving its own vinyl release in 2016.  The first three tracks are again in Felt mode, based around gentle piano and electronics, and washes of harmonium in 23:17 (each track is named after the time recording started).  Then there's a change of scenery with 23:52's swelling synth and harmonium atmosphere, and the pure electronics of 00:26.  Entering the small hours, everything mellows out once more with tinkling piano and music box ambience.  Essential, gorgeous music from start to finish.

Disc 1 link
Disc 2 link