Friday, 23 June 2017

Vangelis - Invisible Connections (1985)

The year after Soil Festivities, Vangelis pushed the boat right out to make his most experimental album in nearly a decade - and even ended up having it released on the esteemed Deutsche Grammophon label.  Three lengthy tracks of dark ambience make this an essential headphones-in-a-dark-room experience.

The title track is up first, and is the most free-form, with seemingly random bleeps, echoes and occasional faraway percussive sounds dominating the first half of its 19 minutes.  Atom Blaster is next, with what sounds like plucked piano strings subjected to tape manipulation, and the final track Thermo Vision is probably the highlight for me.  High electronic tones contrast with the eerie background to make for perhaps the most recognisably Vangelis-y track.  Recommended for late-night investigation.

mega / zippy

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Australian Soundscape series - White Water Rafting (1994)

Couldn't resist posting this - it's another charity shop classic.  Parted with my 99p as soon as I saw this CD, as the cover just made me laugh out loud.  Anyone else ever considered white water rafting to be "the ultimate in relaxation"?  The notes on the back cover absolutely sealed the deal, as they made me wonder if the whole exercise had been some sort of knowing pisstake - here they are in full:
"Ah, the excitement as you narrowly miss the threatening rocks around you whilst the racing water below attempts to engulf you at every turn... You are ready to relax - the wondrous sounds of nature await you..."
So how much excitement/relaxation is really to be had on this hour-long recording?  To be perfectly honest, it sounds like an hour of someone recording some birds by the side of a fast-flowing river, and I ended up quite enjoying it on those terms.  Whether someone involved in the CD release just then shoehorned in the whole rafting thing for the tourist market (other releases in the series covered camping, sailing in the Great Barrier Reef and morning in the Outback).... who knows.  As fans of Loon Talk and Frog Talk will be aware, I live for these kind of little oddities whenever they present themselves.  Oh, and in the inside cover was a list of musical releases by a related label - if I ever manage to get my hands on 'Yodelling Down Under' - you lucky, lucky people....

mega / zippy

Monday, 19 June 2017

Iancu Dumitrescu / Ana-Maria Avram / George Astalos - Musique de Paroles (1993)

Mark your SGTG bingo cards, folks - we're following up Iannis with Iancu & Ana-Maria.  Took me ages to track this one down, and it was worth it.  Astree Lontaine is first up, a fine orchestral Dumitrescu work that stands up with the best of his large-scale works of the 80s and early 90s, e.g. Grande Ourse - the ominous droning and screeching suggesting a haunted orchestra pit.  Later on, there's a solo work apiece from the two composers - Avram's Archae for voice, and Dumitrescu's Holzwege for viola.

In between is the album's centrepiece Symetries, a half-hour long suite of five pieces based on writings by George Astalos (1933-2014), a Romanian poet and playwright who settled in Paris (I'm guessing that's why all the words are in French).  Dumitrescu and Avram take turns at filling out the sonic backdrop, as French literary-spoken word performer Pierre Lamy intones the texts on a ghostly bed of reverb and other effects.  Haunting stuff and very effective, even if you're not fluent in French - I'm certainly too rusty to get much out of Astalos' texts, but I still enjoyed these settings a lot.  The one that's stuck with me most is Magma, with Avram's bubbling and sputtering electronics.
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mega / zippy

Friday, 16 June 2017

Iannis Xenakis - Orchestral Works & Chamber Music (2000 compilation)

Been meaning to post this one for ages.  As regular readers will know, Iannis Xenakis may be my favourite composer of all time, has featured here a few times and will continue to do so.  This 2000 compilation on the Col Legno label is a great career-spanning overview, from a vintage 1955 recording of Metastaseis (1953/4) Xenakis' breakthrough work in mathematical composition that evoked the horrors of war, right through to a 1996 recording of Ioolkos, written that year and a fine example of his late work.

Bookending this disc are two of Xenakis' large scale epic pieces, Ata (1987) for 89 musicians, and the stunning fireworks of Jonchaies (1977) for no less than 109 - both essential listening for anyone who was as amazed by Terretektorh/Nomos Gamma as I was.  As promised in the album title though, this is balanced out well by Charisma (1971) for clarinet and cello, here in the original recording by the great Siegfried Palm, and the truly odd N'Shima (1975) for two amplified mezzo-sopranos and a quintet.  Ligeti aficionados will definitely appreciate the hazy, queasy microtonal collissions in the latter.

mega / zippy

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Fred Frith - Guitar Solos (1974)

Solo debut from guitar/prepared-guitar legend Fred Frith, who'd go on to become an institution in the British (and worldwide) avant-garde, playing on hundreds of records.  Back in 1974, when he was a member of Rock In Opposition pioneers Henry Cow, Frith stepped into the studio alone for four days and recorded Guitar Solos - no overdubs, and only a couple of vague ideas with which to shape these eight improvised pieces.

After a short bouncy introduction, the album moves into more muted, atmospheric territory with the hovering-UFO feel of Glass c/w Steel.  The overall mood of the album largely stays there, bar two brief outings for the fuzz pedal.  If I had to pick favourites on this great little record, they're both in its second half - Hollow Music, perhaps the most recognisable as an instrumental guitar piece with lots of nice harmonics; and the epic closer, No Birds.  Over 12 minutes, a shimmering halo of sound builds up into a great atmospheric space, as Frith uses two guitars laid side by side, using his bespoke extra pickups and an echo unit to make it sound so unique.
CD reissue cover
mega / zippy

Monday, 12 June 2017

Kenny Wheeler - Double, Double You (1984)

Let's stick around with 80s ECM for another post - and a fine set of tunes from the late Kenny Wheeler (1930-2014), the Canadian-transplanted-to-UK trumpeter who wholly deserves to be namedropped as often as much more familiar names on the instrument.

Four months on from the legendary Jarrett trio recordings that we ended last week with, Jack DeJohnette found himself back in the same studio to give another rock-solid performance - but the real supporting star here as far as I'm concerned is pianist John Taylor, especially on the triptych of songs that takes up the whole second half of the album.  Wheeler and Taylor had of course worked together in Azimuth (I'll post a few of their albums eventually, but if memory serves I think Opium Hum did the essential first one not long ago) and were on telepathic form by this point.

Still haven't mentioned the absolute highlight of Double, Double You - the 14-minute opener, Foxy Trot.  Superbly constructed, with a lengthy, winding theme that constantly seems just about to trip over its own feet before it eventually slams back into the major key to resolve itself into a wonderfully memorable hook.  Everyone sounds great on this one.  Yes, even Michael Brecker, who I ordinarily wouldn't have much interest in - this record appears to have been his sole ECM appearance, and it's a good one all round.

mega / zippy

Friday, 9 June 2017

Keith Jarrett Trio - Setting Standards: New York Sessions (2008 compi, rec. 1983)

This blog's had a decent sprinkling of Keith, Gary & Jack doing their thing in concert - see Changeless, Blue Note and Tokyo '96 - so here's the original studio blueprint for the Standards Trio, when they first recorded in a NYC studio at the beginning of 1983.  Three albums' worth of material ensued, and for the Standards Trio's 25th anniversary all three were reissued in this handy box.

It wasn't the first time ever that these three musicians had played together - that was a Peacock-led date in 1977.  This however was the moment when they chanced on the proposition (without even planning - see below!) that what jazz needed in 1983 was a back-to-basics Great American Songbook investigation, and one that breathed fresh life into these classic songs, making them sound freshly minted.  Case in point - the 15 minute joyous romp through Billie Holiday's God Bless The Child that ends the first disc here, originally released later in 1983 as Standards Vol. 1.

Apparently the recording session began with no rehearsal or song choices - they just simply played, and ended up with two hours' worth of standards and improvisations.  The two improvisations were in fact the next to be released, as Changes (1984) - an inspired, free-form album (Disc 3 in this box set) that built into this Standards Trio's modus operandi that they'd always leave room to improvise and run with a mood if it took them.  Changeless, as mentioned above, would be the next installment of that.  Lastly, in 1985, the cool and contemplative Standards Vol. 2 (Disc 2 here) was released, and was possibly the most successful album in creating an extended, unified mood reminiscent of Bill Evans' great trios.
original album covers
Disc 1 mega / Disc 1 zippy
Disc 2 mega / Disc 2 zippy
Disc 3 mega / Disc 3 zippy

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Einstürzende Neubauten - Perpetuum Mobile (2004)

Posted some early Einstürzende Neubauten a while ago, so here's something more recent which remains one of my favourite albums from the last decade.  EN's first album of the millennium, Silence Is Sexy, had been widely hailed as a return to form, even a reboot, and this follow-up streamlined the sound even further.  Where this group had once been notorious for its full metal racket, there was now room to breathe - and indeed the plastic tubing with air-compressors sound of this era is the first thing you hear in Ich gehe jetzt.  Later on, Ozean und Brandung is three minutes of pure air, leading straight into one of the most gorgeous ballads on this album of new subtleties, Paradisseits.

Plenty of the glorious metal percussion of old remains, driving the rhythms of album highlights Ein seltner Vogel, Selbsportrait mit Kater (a perfect illustration of a blinding hangover if ever there was one), and the epic title track.  Perpetuum Mobile itself is a brilliant 13-minute travelogue, taking in flights, airport walkways, taxis and trains in a constant motion that alternates between a frenetic dash to meet the next connection and an only marginally slower brisk stroll.  This album is unmissable for that alone, and contains enough variety and strong, mature songwriting to make it a highlight in the Neubauten catalogue.

mega / zippy

Monday, 5 June 2017

Ivana Stefanović - Inner Landscape (1996 compi of works 1979-1992)

Handy three-work intro to Serbian composer Ivana Stefanović (b. 1948 in Belgrade), who studied at IRCAM in Paris before starting work at Radio Belgrade, where she founded a Sound Workshop in 1985.  She's frequently described as a primarily radiophonic composer (the CD booklet uses the phrase multiple times), so we'll go for that as the category for this fascinating album.

First up is Interpretation Of A Dream (1983/4) for solo flute, tape and female speaking voices.  Starting out with pure flute tones, the piece quickly goes a bit Maggi Payne with the effects, before introducing urgent whispered voices a la Homotopy-era NWW - the more percussive noises of the flute and other odd, echoing sounds also have a bit of Stapletonian feel.  The voices in this unsettling dream recount fragments of The Poet's Prayer by Vesna Krmpotić and Rosa Luxemburg's Letters From Prison.  The second work, Whither With A Bird In The Palm (1979/80), for percussion and tape, has a similarly dark atmosphere, sometimes recalling the Bartok Adagio made famous by Stanley Kubrick (in The Shining) and others.  The great range of percussive sounds is bit like a tape-manipulated reduction of that Yoshihiro Kanno album I posted a little while ago.

The most epic work is saved for last - 32 minutes of Metropolis Of Silence/Ancient Ras (1991/2), described as a radiophonic sound poem.  According to the sleevenotes, "This composition was taped in the recording studio after a year of field research of live sound fossils etched into the remnants of the medieval Serbian town of Ras and its surroundings."  After opening with sounds of nature, the sonic landscape comes to life with the voices of the Renaissance Ensemble, who performed vocal and musical improvisations in the open spaces of the town remnants and the Sopoćani and Crna Reka monasteries.  Fascinating stuff to listen to on headphones, with the extended length letting the concept really take effect, before it all ends by a flowing river.

mega / zippy

Friday, 2 June 2017

Palestrina - Missa Papae Marcelli / Missa Brevis (rec. 1988)


Founded in England in 1980, Hyperion Records have been keen on early music and Renaissance music right from the start, and have since become an institution in the world of classical recordings.  Also, an absolute ton of their early CDs seem to turn up in charity shops near me, meaning that these great recordings can be had for a couple of quid.  Or, in this case, £1.50.

Giovanni Pierluigi Da Palestrina (ca. 1525-1594) was one of the most celebrated and influential composers of the Roman School of Rennaissance polyphony, and sounds pretty damn heavenly on two of his most famous masses represented here.  The text is crystal clear (one of the church's bones of contention at the time; Palestrina was adept at keeping in line whilst still producing music more sophisticated than most of his contemporaries) and the Westminster choir sound pretty damn angelic.  One for anyone who enjoyed the Hilliard disc I posted a little while ago, or indeed for anyone wanting to luxuriate in some of the most beautiful sounds on earth.

mega / zippy

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Steve Hackett - Please Don't Touch (1978)

For the title track of his first post-Genesis album, and second overall, Steve Hackett gave the following directions: "For maximum effect this track should be listened to as loudly as possible with as much treble and bass as your system can muster - not to be played to people with heart conditions or those in severely hallucinogenic states of mind."  And the track in question definitely packs a punch, framed perfectly as the centrepiece of a three-part instrumental suite.

Please Don't Touch, the full album, is a curious thing - almost like a series of picture frames that don't quite make for a coherent gallery, but still form a satisfying collection.  I've been listening to this album for more than any other in the last six weeks, so seemed obvious to feature it here.  Hackett set out his stall here with a great mix of his strengths in playing, composing, and full-on songwriting, with a well-picked supporting cast.

The vocal talents of Richie Havens, Randy Crawford and Steve Walsh (from Kansas) gave the album an oddly transatlantic feel right from the start, as Walsh sings lead on the C.S. Lewis-inspired Narnia (specifically, Lucy and Edmund's respective discoveries of the land beyond the wardrobe).  This is followed up by another literary tribute, this time to Agatha Christie - Hackett obscured his own vocals à la Laughing Gnome, which grates a little, but the track is musically brilliant with its memorable organ motif.  You could imagine this more English-sounding, whimsical track appearing on a Genesis record (like the title track nearly did).  From then on, the gear shifts into Racing In A, a solid piece of AOR with Walsh on lead vocal again.

A heavy 'and don't miss...' quotient for this great little record: the brief instrumental Kim (Hackett's then-wife), showing the writer's debt to Erik Satie; the gorgeous soul ballad Hoping Love Will Last fronted by Randy Crawford; and Richie Havens' two great contributions.  Think I've now covered every track actually, so I'll wind up there.  I love this album.

mega / zippy

Monday, 29 May 2017

Hans Otte - Das Buch der Klänge / Stundenbuch / Face à Face (2006 compi)

German composer Hans Otte (1926-2007) penned his masterwork for piano, Das Buch der Klänge (The Book Of Sounds) between 1979-82.  It's been recorded a few times since by other performers, but this is the composer's own reference recording from November 1983.  A comparison for starters might be Philip Glass' solo piano work, but it's The Book Of Sounds that I keep coming back to if I want to drift away to minimal piano heaven - it's just so much more satisfying.

Otte was particularly interested here in rediscovering the piano "as an instrument of timbre and tuneful sound with all its possibilities of dynamics, colour and resonance", and pretty much does so for 75 gorgeous minutes.  If I had to pick an oustanding favourite, it's Part 10, but the whole thing is best experienced together, at your leisure.

On this 2006 compilation, not only was Book Of Sounds presented for the first time on CD at full length (Parts 2 and 10 were snipped on old discs, presumably to stay under the 74-minute limit on early CDs), but also accompanied by Otte's other major piano work, Stundenbuch (The Book Of Hours) (1991-98), four books each holding twelve little minatures.  Musically, they're not quite as accessible as the Sounds pieces, and none of the 48 pieces last long enough to make a great impression, but taken together Hours is still an interesting experiment in harmonics and texture, that I sometimes listen to on shuffle to try and land on sections that I might have previously overlooked.  And stick around for the bonus at the very end of Disc 2 for a fine example of Otte's early avant-garde work - Face à Face (composed and recorded 1965) is an engrossing 15 minutes of percussive piano noises and tape manipulation.

Disc 1 mega / Disc 1 zippy
Disc 2 mega / Disc 2 zippy

Friday, 26 May 2017

Tangerine Dream - Force Majeure (1979)

Here's some more Tangerine Dream, as I continue to take a voyage of rediscovery through their years on Virgin Records - and this is one of the most atypical albums they made.  Well, apart from the predecessor Cyclone of course, with its not-entirely-successful experiment in having a vocalist.  By September 1978, Steve Joliffe was gone, but drummer Klaus Krieger/Krüger was retained for this minor masterpiece of instrumental prog.

From the discordant intro onwards, Force Majeure is an album full of dramatics and forward momentum, and the title suite runs through its sections with grace and power, and an interesting neo-classical style of composition (particularly in the last five minutes) that saw TD move farther and farther away from free-floating improvisation.  Following this 18-minute masterpiece is the shortest track, Cloudburst Flight, a great guitar showcase for Edgar Froese (both acoustic and some of his most stinging electric lead work).

Lastly, the 14 minutes of Thru Metamorphic Rocks are essential TD as well, having the most in common with the sequencer-based electronic work they'd broken through with.  After a melodic four-minute intro, the sequencer quickly hits warp speed and doesn't let up - Chris Franke would remain justifiably proud of this as one of his favourite pieces the group ever made.

mega / zippy

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Vangelis - Soil Festivities (1984)

Often underrated, coming in after a run of legendary, indelible soundtracks (Chariots Of Fire, Antarctica; not to mention Blade Runner, which wouldn't get a proper album release til much later), Vangelis' 1984 release was this great album.  Soil Festivities conceptually put the natural world under the microscope, reflected in its artwork (rear cover below, not to mention the jumping beetle on the front).  Vangelis described it as just the album he wanted to make, "rather than sell a million records", and the result was a classic that I reckon ranks among his very best.


The five 'Movements' that make up the album open with the longest, at 17 minutes, as storm clouds give way to a rainforest teeming with life, centred around an insistent pulse as the track opens up to all the warm, melodic synth washes and odd little sounds you'd expect from Vangelis.  In the closing minutes, this gives way an elegaic electric piano section and more rain.  The second movement is similarly melodic and insistent; both of these tracks would be perfect documentary soundtrack material for a marching army of ants or suchlike.

The second half of the album is more dark and dramatic, especially in the very soundtrack-like Movement 3.  The most minimal track, like a trip back through time to life in a primordial soup, Movement 4 is based around a slow, repetitive minor-key sequence that would appeal to Tangerine Dream fans, but it's unmistakably Vangelis.  Lastly, Movement 5 is more lively again, led by an almost jazzy electric piano.  Soil Festivities is gorgeous, highly listenable 80s electronics of the highest order - recommended.

mega / zippy

Monday, 22 May 2017

Górecki, Satie, Milhaud, Bryars - O Domina Nostra (rec. 1992, rel. 1993)

Christopher Bowers-Broadbent's Trivium seemed to go down well the other week, so here's the organist's second ECM New Series release, again focusing on just three well-chosen composers.  The most striking difference with this album is that he's also joined for two pieces by Sarah Leonard, an English soprano with a particular interest in contemporary classical music, to great effect.

First up is the Górecki work that gives the album its name.  O Domina Nostra (1982-1985/90) takes inspiration from the iconography in a Polish monastery, and making stunning use of the deep organ drones set against the developing soprano part.  The organist is then featured solo in a vocal-less version of Erik Satie's Messe des Pauvres (1895) and a couple of Darius Milhaud Preludes from 1942, before Sarah Leonard returns for the stunning finale - Gavin Bryars' The Black River (1991), with its text from Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.  Compared to the Trivium album, this collection is much more about subtlety and gradual shifts in atmosphere, making it a fascinating feast for the ears.

mega / zippy

Friday, 19 May 2017

Raum-Musik für Saxophone - Doubles (2005)

Raum-Musik für Saxophone, based in Karlsruhe, are a German-Dutch group of nine saxophonists who were founded in 1985 and like to play in large spaces to exploit their natural acoustic characteristics.  The first part of their name is also the preferred descriptor: spatial music. 

For their 20th anniversary, the group decided to record two concerts a week apart, firstly moving through the rooms of the Badische Kunstverein art gallery with both ambient and contact microphones.  These sounds were then used for the second concert in the ZKM Cube hall, with a 'loudspeaker orchestra' playing in Kunstverein recordings whilst the musicians played live again over the top.

The final results were released on this 52-minute album of 11 untitled tracks.  Whilst you clearly had to be there to appreciate the full spatial effects of all these sound sources interacting together, what you do get on CD is still an intriguing and highly-listenable document of the concert in the Cube.  No-one gets too overly noisy, skronky or free-jazzy (track 5 is about as lively as it gets); the players seem content for the most part to just enjoy the various live and recorded sax sounds wafting around in the echoing space, making for a recording that lends itself to repeat listens.

So what, then, was this CD of a 2005 double-concert of ambient sax trails doing sitting in an Edinburgh charity shop in May 2017, surrounded by piles of indie/chart/dance compilations?  Your guess is as good as mine, but I'm glad I spotted it.

mega / zippy

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Kaija Saariaho - Graal Théâtre, Solar, Lichtbogen (2002)

Some more Kaija Saariaho, as promised when I put up the other album of her music that I have.  This 2002 release was recorded the year previous.  First up is Graal théâtre (1997), a two-part violin concerto, followed by Solar (1993), an ensemble piece with small parts for two synths, one playing quarter tone metallic bells sounds and the other fleshing out the piano and percussion. 

Lastly, the highlight of this programme for me is definitely Lichtbogen, or arc of light, inspired by seeing the Aurora Borealis in the Arctic sky.  This one dates from 1986 when Saariaho was working much more deeply with computer software manipulations of sound.  It's a stunning, 16-minute haze of shifting light and texture, especially as it goes on and the sound gets more and more eerily transformed.  Recommended, as are the other two works on the album.  Another great example of this composer's unique sonic signature.

mega / zippy

Monday, 15 May 2017

la! NEU? - Zeeland (Live '97) (1997)

Second album from Klaus Dinger's loose, improvisatory 90s ensemble.  Despite the title, this isn't a proper live album like the Kunsthalle concert, but a live-in-the-studio effort.  Zeeland was the first la! NEU? album I bought, and it remains a favourite, with more than enough sweetness and charm to forgive the rough edges.

The album kicks off with To Get You Real, centred on a couple of riffs from Dinger's heavily reverbed guitar, and Viktoria Wehrmeister alternatively singing an insistent single line over one riff, and overlaying the other one with subtle, cooing vocalese.  Following that are two lengthy jams that focus more on electronics, the first one mellow, bouncy and gently melodic, the second more rough and uptempo.

After this, there's another rather sweet, if characteristically underdeveloped Dinger song, Satellite, before a bit of a grab-bag of odd inclusions: a thirty-second trailer for the forthcoming solo album by keyboardist Rembrandt Lensink, a rough demo of an elegaic performance by Dinger's mother, Renate, and six minutes of Insekt, an electronics and voice improv.  The final track, another long guitar-based song, is worth sticking around for though.  Silly Face is a wistful, closing-time gaze into an empty glass, like the Velvet Underground's After Hours slowed down to a sleepy crawl.  Wehrmeister's vocal is suitably slurred-sounding, but the affecting lyrics are still comprehensible, and the end result, set to a gentle tambourine tap, is quite lovely.

mega / zippy

Friday, 12 May 2017

Conlon Nancarrow - Studies For Player Piano, Vols. 1-4 (rec. 1977)

I'd been seeing the name Conlon Nancarrow (1912-1997) crop up for a while, and decided to take the plunge a little while ago.  What I've been struck by, perhaps to an even greater degree than with Harry Partch, is some of the most unique, single-minded music ever created.  There might be fewer instruments here than in Partch - just two slightly modified player-pianos - but Nancarrow's music is so stunningly original I could probably listen to it for the rest of my life and it would still sound fresh.

Starting from an early Art Tatum influence, but already with much more ambitious 'sliding' tempi, Nancarrow went on to develop an interest in the canon structures of J.S. Bach, taking them to the nth degree and far beyond the limits of human playability.  If you're interested in more detail on the theoretical side of this style of composition, the YouTube video below explains it beautifully - and/or you can just go ahead and download these four volumes of  Nancarrow's music that he supervised in 1977 and released one at a time in the next few years after.

The sequencing of each album is wonderfully effective - Volume 1 kicks off with one of the most accessible Studies, No. 3, aka the Boogie-Woogie Suite.  The sheer joy and exhilaration in this 15-minute stretch of Nancarrow's music alone was enough to get me hooked - and three hours worth, of wildly varying complexity, harmony, and breathtaking rhythm/tempo, is just sheer bliss.  Unreservedly recommended.

Disc 1 mega / Disc 1 zippy
Disc 2 mega / Disc 2 zippy
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Disc 4 mega / Disc 4 zippy

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Popol Vuh - Aguirre (rel. 1975)

Time for more Popol Vuh, in the form of the 1975 soundtrack album (of sorts) for Werner Herzog's 1972 film Aguirre, Wrath Of God.  I really ought to see the movie again sometime, as I haven't for years and suspect there's a lot more to it than just the memory I have of Klaus Kinski gurning menacingly on a river raft.  This album does get regular rotation of course, if not quite as often as the peerless studio albums surrounding it in the Vuh catalogue.

Aguirre the album, then, is not quite a soundtrack, more of a compilation/outtakes album; at least we get the most stunning piece from the film featured in two takes here, with 'choir organ' played by US organist Jimmy Jackson (who'd also played with Amon Düül II and Embryo). Besides this, Morgengruss from Einsjäger & Siebenjäger is featured in a slightly different mix, as is an instrumental version of 'Sohn Gottes' from Seligpreisung.  These two tracks might post-date the film, but they sit nicely enough on this album.  Apparently Fricke just liked having the wider exposure for certain pieces of his music.

And don't miss the final 16-minute Vergegenwärtigung, which dates right back to the In Den Gärten Pharaos era of Moog-synth dominated Popol Vuh in all its spacy formlessness.  If you listen hard enough, there's occasional bits of the main Aguirre theme buried far down in the mix - I missed this completely for ages until someone else's review pointed it out.

mega / zippy

Monday, 8 May 2017

Thomas Demenga / Heinz Reber - Cellorganics (rec. 1980, rel. 1981)

Staying in the ECM organ zone for today, and adding a cello.  That cello is the first sound you hear on this recording from October 1980, tentatively staking out its naturally-reverbed territory (in Pauluskirche, Bern) before the organ gradually fills the rest of the space.  From then on, these two Swiss composer-musicians create a perfectly-balanced dialogue, sometimes quiet and reflective, but able to work up to a full-on maelstrom when necessary.  A great combination of two unusually-paired instruments, that needless to say for ECM, sounds absolutely stunning.

mega / zippy

Friday, 5 May 2017

Arvo Pärt, Peter Maxwell Davies, Philip Glass - Trivium (rec. 1990, rel. 1992)

Time to crank up the speakers or headphones as far as they (and you) can tolerate, and enjoy an hour of total sonic immersion in the playing of English organist Christopher Bowers-Broadbent.  He recorded this programme for ECM in 1990 on the organ of Grossmünster church in Zurich as a "performance about time and space", focusing on just three modern composers.

Four stunning pieces by Arvo Pärt are followed by two short palete-cleansers in the form of Peter Maxwell-Davies' arrangements of 16th-century Scottish hymns, before Bowers-Broadbent truly blows the roof off in two great Glass works.  Firstly, there's an organ arrangement of the finale from the opera Satyagraha.  Then finally, Glass' 80s organ piece Dance No. 4 gets the full-bodied workout in deserves.  If I knew more about how the musical structure of this masterpiece develops, I'd briefly describe it - but then that might detract from the sheer majesty of just letting yourself get lost in it for its 15 sublime minutes.

mega / zippy

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Roedelius - Lustwandel (rec. 1979, rel. 1981)

 
Hans-Joachim Roedelius' third studio album was very much cut from the same cloth as his second, Jardin Au Fou, and in fact they were both recorded in 1979 at Peter Baumann's Paragon Studio.  With its heavy focus on piano-led minatures, Lustwandel is even more lushly romantic than Jardin, and electronics take a back seat to provide only occasional colouring.  There's fascinating use of odd bits of percussion too, in tracks like the slight mood-breaker Wilkommen - but even the marching rhythm of that piece sounds more like it's heralding a medieval banquet rather than a march to battle.

Other than that, and longest track Langer Atem, Lustwandel, perhaps even more so than Jardin, is the pick of Roedelius' early records when it comes to pure mellow gorgeousness.  I'm writing all this on a Sunday morning with a cool spring breeze coming in the window, and it fits perfectly.

mega / zippy

Monday, 1 May 2017

Joji Yuasa - Piano Works & Tape Music (compi of works spanning '57-'72)

Joji Yuasa (b. 1929, Koriyama) is a wide-ranging Japanese composer, with a particular niche in pioneering electronic/electroacoustic work.  This handy sampler is preceded by a trio of piano pieces, recorded in 1973 by Yuji Takahashi, that are worth a listen, but the remaining 48 minutes of this compilation are mindblowing, and I'll definitely be seeking out more of Yuasa's tape music.

First up is Music For Space Projection, created for the 'Fiber Pavilion' at the 1970 World's Fair in Osaka.  A choppy brass fanfare announces the 15-minute hallucinatory nightmare of orchestral fragments and electronic sounds, like a much more striking, dramatic companion to Xenakis' Hibiki-Hana-Ma  from the same event.

Then there's two great examples of Yuasa's work produced in the NHK Electronic Music Studio in the 60s.  Voices Coming chops and mutates various snatches of telephone conversation, suddenly switching in its last four minutes to words of much more historical weight, focusing on speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr, this work coming from the year after his assassination.  Lastly, "Icon" On The Source Of White Noise from 1966 is fairly self-explanatory, and hisses with great clouds of processed sound for its 13 minutes.  A highly recommended introduction to a trailblazer in sonic manipulation.

mega / zippy

Friday, 28 April 2017

Kraftwerk - Electric Café (1986)

Staying in the German-electronic-80s zone for the time being, here's a not-so-classic album that I've been trying to give an honest re-evaluation.  And to be honest, it still sounds great.  Once the rhythms of Boing Boom Tschak really kick in I always wish it could be twice as long; the rest of that Techno Pop/Musique Non Stop suite is great too, probably their last great extended/conceptual work; and the last three tracks are at least entertaining.  In fact, Der Telefon Anruf/The Telephone Call always strikes me as another quite touching portrait of loneliness and isolation, from the same narrator as on Computer Love five years earlier.  No such redeeming features on Sex Object, unfortunately; especially not those truly hideous bass sounds.

zippy / mega

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Tangerine Dream - Logos: Live At The Dominion, London (1982)

As promised last week, some more live TD - this time taken from a concert in London on 6 November 1982.  By this point, Peter Baumann was gone, and his replacement, Johannes Schmoelling, well integrated into the group.  The TD sound had updated from the long-form improvisations of the 70s into something much sleeker and polished, but Logos is still a cracking live set to listen to. 

For release, the material from the concert that already appeared on studio albums was snipped out, leaving just the great little encore-finale (which always makes me think more of Jean-Michel Jarre than TD) and the new 'Logos' suite, with its sections named by colours - respectively, Cyan, Velvet (not quite a colour, but whatever), Red, Blue, Black, Green and Yellow, bookended by an intro & coda. 

These contrasting sections offer plenty of variety across the suite's 45 minute duration: highlights for me include the dark ambience of Intro, Cyan and Black; the longest stretch (Red), from about 12-20 minutes into the piece, which looks forward to Hyperborea, and the uptempo section towards the end (Yellow), its rhythms more suited to the dancefloor than the stoner futon.

zippy / mega

Monday, 24 April 2017

Charles Lloyd - Forest Flower: At Monterey, 1966 (rel. 1967)

Speaking of Keith Jarrett... nearly thirty years prior to that trio date in Tokyo, he appeared at the Monterey Jazz Festival in his early sideman role to the great Charles Lloyd.  Showing great promise even then, Jarrett fills out the clipped, Latin rhythm (Jack DeJohnette's here too) of the 'Forest Flower' suite as the perfect foil to Lloyd's warm, mellifluous tenor sax.

Jarrett ups the groove whenever Lloyd takes a more free flight and takes an assured solo early in the 'Sunset' section, and even plucking the piano strings towards the end.  The fact that I've mostly made this writeup all about Jarrett clearly shows I need to listen more widely to Charles Lloyd (his flute playing on the Jarrett composition Sorcery is also superb), so consider that my homework.

zippy / mega

Friday, 21 April 2017

Keith Jarrett Trio - Tokyo '96 (rel. 1998)

From the intermittent SGTG tradition known as Jazz Piano Friday, some more Jarrett, Peacock & DeJohnette on rollicking form at the Orchard Hall, Tokyo on 30 March 1996.  By the time ECM released it two years later, Jarrett was laid low with ME/CFS, but would fortunately recover in time to take the Standards Trio into the 21st century for more transformed songbook classics and extended improvs.  Highlights on this particular release include the turbo-charged It Could Happen To You and Billie's Bounce in the first half, and the two Jarrett originals - Caribbean Sky and Song - that are effortlessly segued from standards at the end.

zippy / mega

Previously posted at SGTG: Changeless / Blue Note June 4, 1994

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Nurse With Wound & others - Angry Eelectric Finger (Spitch'cock One) (2004)

Sampler for a series of collaborative albums, spawned by Steven Stapleton giving chunks of NWW raw material to a select group of acquaintances.  Review, written by me for Head Heritage shortly after the release of this CD, can be found here (published 13 years ago today!).  Needs a bit of editing if I'm honest, being about five times as long as the average SGTG writeup... and despite saying I couldn't wait to hear the rest of the project, I've still to get around to it, for shame.  Anyone heard the other installments? Worth picking up?

zippy / mega

Monday, 17 April 2017

Tangerine Dream - Encore (1977)

Been rediscovering Tangerine Dream lately, so here's the first of a couple of live albums that number among my favourites (Logos coming up next week).  Forty years ago this month, Froese, Franke and Baumann were touring the US recording the material that would be used for Encore, with their great washes of mellotron and rhythmic sequencer work at its height on these four side-long tracks.

Coldwater Canyon is possibly the best of the best for me here, especially with Froese letting rip on lead guitar, and the mellow, meditative finale of Desert Dream is a classic too for highlighting the more atmospheric side of TD, with only a short sequencer section at the very end.

Encore
alt. link (zippy)

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Friday, 14 April 2017

Vyacheslav Artyomov - Requiem (rec. 1989)

Quite fancied posting more Artyomov after mentioning him the other day, so this'll do as an Easter-weekend post.  Artyomov's Requiem was written between 1985 and 1988, and recorded in 1989.  Opening with a dramatic organ blast, like a more rough-around-the-edges version of Fauré's Requiem, the various sections of the work show Artyomov's orchestral forces and use of organ and bells at their most fully realized.

The choral parts are at times stately, unsettling and mournful, as centuries of Russian Orthodoxy and other liturgical traditions are woven into something timeless.  As Artyomov himself preferred, this is "eternal music" rather than just contempoary classical.  This CD was a bit hard to digest when I first got it - all one track! - so I split it up using timings that I found, which made it more accessible.  Definitely one worth sticking with.

Requiem
alt. link (zippy)

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Dimitri Yanov-Yanovski (1998 compilation of works '91-'97)

Uzbek composer Dimitri Yanov-Yanovski was born in Tashkent in 1963.  These 1997 recordings of his works from that decade were recorded by the Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble, and make for a really interesting and worthwhile listen.  The definite highlight for me was Pressentiment (premonition), for chamber ensemble and the voice of a muezzin on tape; the eerie buildup of the droning strings and distant gongs gives the perfect backdrop to eventually introduce the voice.

Elsewhere, there's two different works for soprano and string quartet, which really caught my attention just from being a combination I haven't heard much at all.  One of these, the album opener Lacrymosa, gave Yanov-Yanovsky wider exposure in 1993 when it appeared on a Kronos Quartet album with Dawn Upshaw taking the vocal part.  The ensemble work Lux Aeterna is another highlight here, with its ominous piano and gongs and a mournful violin solo; it reminded me a bit of Vyacheslav Artyomov.

Dimitri Yanov-Yanovski
alt. link (zippy)

Monday, 10 April 2017

AMM - The Crypt, 12th June 1968 - The Complete Session (rel. 1992)

There's nothing like blowing the cobwebs away at the start of a new week with nearly two hours' worth of fearsome, ear-blasting free improvisation, so enjoy.  A decade before Throbbing Gristle were terrifying London audiences (including at The Crypt), and three years before Kluster recorded Eruption, there was AMM at their most unhinged.

Wishing to stake out territory far beyond free jazz, Eddie Prévost, Keith Rowe and Lou Gare hooked up with pianist/composer Cornelius Cardew and percussionist Christopher Hobbs to make this glorious racket.  Prévost continues with versions of the group to this day.  First released as a an extract on one side of a shared LP, more of the Crypt performance was given a double-LP release in 1981 before the complete recording came out in 1992 on this 2-CD edition.

Fades where they occur are when tapes ran out; other than that, all 109 minutes of the show are here for your, erm, enjoyment, and actually it's not all quite as extreme as it starts out.  Long passages of meditative, near-ambient formlessness crop up at intervals; often I just pick a random 20 minute section of The Crypt to listen to, and always find something new to focus on.

Disc 1
Disc 2
alt. link (zippy) CD1
alt. link (zippy) CD2 

Friday, 7 April 2017

Luigi Nono - La Lontananza..... / Hay que caminar (rel. 1992)

Luigi Nono's final works before his death in 1990, these two epic violin workouts certainly aren't easy listening, but they're a uniquely rewarding experience to get lost in - ideally on headphones in a dark room.  Roughly translating as 'Nostalgia for a future utopia, viewed at a distance' (one of many renderings out there!), the 40-minute main work here was constructed by Nono, Gidon Kremer and Sofia Gubaidulina onto eight tapes in 1988 with the live solo part written the following year.  In performance, the soloist is instructed to walk between several different music stands in the performance space, playing against the tapes.

On an album, we obviously lose that theatrical element, but Lontananza is still a striking listening experience.  Waves of howling violin overdubs drift around like ghost trains passing in some vast abandoned station. Periodically a mournful or shrieking solo part will tell it's story centre stage, like a passenger emerging from the train.  Ambient sounds from the recording process were added to the tapes, enhancing the otherwordly atmosphere with occasional creaks, clicks and fragments of conversation.

Straight afterwards on this disc, there's a 20-minute epilogue-dialogue for the final two ghosts left on the platform - may as well extend the metaphor as "Hay que caminar" Soñando inhabits a similar sonic space.  Gidon Kremer and Tatiana Grindenko frequently play extremely high frequenices as if the two voices are crying out to each other, and at other times having a spirited, bruising conversation as they navigate their way through the piece.  The title of this work came from a motto that Nono had seen on the walls of a Spanish monastery: "there is no way to travel, there is only the journey" - ideal words to have in mind when digesting a great, unique album like this.

La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura

alt. link (zippy)
Previously posted at SGTG: Tape works

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Moebius - Tonspuren (1983)

In a career full of interesting collaborative records, which seems to have been his preferred modus operandi, Moebius still found the time to fit in some solo albums proper.  This one, his first, sits between two great collaborations already posted here, Zero Set and Double Cut (all links below).

In the post-Curiosum break, Roedelius and Moebius both seemed to retain a little of each other's influence - if Offene Türen sounds a bit like 'Roedelius does Moebius', Tonspuren definitely has its moments of 'Moebius does Roedelius'.  This is most notable in the melodic/harmonic content of the first three tracks, not to mention the waltz-time of Hasenheide, but the chugging drum machine tracks and slightly ill-sounding synths are pure Moebius.

The second half of Tonspuren shows the clearest links to the aforementioned albums that came before and after it.  Furbo, and especially Nervos, look back to Zero Set with their use of garbled voice; what's missing of course is the loose Neumeier funkiness.  B36 and Sinister are indications of what was to come with Double Cut and its static, narcotic pulse, but nowhere near as minimalist.  All in all, it's hard to pick a favourite on Tonspuren amongst such a consistently great little set of tracks.  Compare it against Curiosum and Offene Türen; somewhere between those three records lies the perfect early 80s Cluster album.

Contramio
alt. link (zippy)

Monday, 3 April 2017

Gary Burton Quintet - Dreams So Real: Music of Carla Bley (1976)

A definite Spring favourite this one, with a clean, fresh sound like a homemade lemonade.  The great four-malletted vibesman was accompanied for one of his most legendary recordings by drums, electric bass, and two guitarists, a lineup that really lets the strength of the composer's writing shine through.

Recorded in the same month as Pat Metheny's ageless debut album, Dreams So Real is from the dead-centre of ECM's purple patch when classic after classic were being seemingly effortlessly turned out, and needless to say is a gorgeous listen.  Burton is highlighted solo on the beautifully tender Jesus Maria, and the larger part of the rest of the album is in a mellow vein too.

One notable exception is the three-song medley of the second track, in which Metheny and Goodrick (the latter too often underrated, in the shadow of the former who'd become a superstar) bop along with a funky, rock-solid underpinning from Steve Swallow, who himself had the most direct connection to Carla Bley.  Bley herself of course would remain just ECM-adjacent until much more recently, so this flawless record would be key to highlighting her music on the main label.

Wrong Key Donkey
alt. link (zippy)

Friday, 31 March 2017

Iancu Dumitrescu / Ana-Maria Avram - In Tokyo (2003)

Let's have another Avram/Dumitrescu, shall we?  This one, as the title suggests, is centred around two live recordings from an October 2002 concert in Hamarikyu Asahi Hall in Tokyo, the first of which is Iancu's Abysses Latents.  Dark percussive clouds, mostly ominous gongs a la early NWW combine with rock-boring sax and a wordless, free vocal from Japanese avant-garde singer Keiko Hatanaka.  Yoko Ono is a lazy comparison to make, but hey, I'm on a holiday week and engaging my brain as little as possible.

On either side of this piece, Dumitrescu offers some of his trademark "computer-assisted" studio work, in the opener Implosive Eternity and the multi-part Bolids & Contemplations.  Sounding a bit like 90s Whitehouse played underwater in the latter piece and a bit like a less-clinical Autechre on the former, this stuff is the most engaging on the disc for me.

Avram contributes the most substantive work, certainly in numbers of players, with La Légende D'icaire for the full Hyperion Ensemble.  Tim Hodgkinson takes the lead with a nice honking, skronking bass clarinet solo, up against various string and percussion clatter - some of it electronically treated, increasingly so as the track goes on.  And how better to close out this fascinating release than with 11 minutes of solo saxophone?  Dedicated to its player, Turkey-based musicologist Robert Reigle, Penumbra is another great rumble 'n' screech through registers of its instrument that only composers with this strength of vision can go to.

ED.MN.1019
alt. link (zippy)

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

NorthSound Audio - Frog Talk (1990)

From the Canadian NorthSound Audio label that also brought you Loon Talk, here's the self-explanatory Frog Talk.  From the sleevenotes: "As the frogs begin their gentle night chanting, you may find yourself mesmerized by one of the most elemental of sounds."  I suppose in some ways, some of this might be relaxing, but it frequently sounds to my ears at least more like pretty abrasive electronic music gone haywire.  Which is not a bad thing, of course.  See what you think - whether the spring peepers, wood frogs, green frogs and pickerel frogs of this hour-long release enchant you or rile you, hopefully you may find this as inexplicably addictive as I do.

Pseudacris crucifer
alt. link (zippy)

Monday, 27 March 2017

Komitas - Divine Liturgy (1988 recording, Choir Of St. Gayané Cathedral)

Been listening to Komitas again, so here's the other recording of his most substantive choral opus.  Review here, along with download of the 1989 Melodiya recording that I previously posted, to compare & contrast.  Will post other Komitas works in due course, as soon as I get around to getting hold of them!

Divine Liturgy (New Albion release)
alt. link (zippy)

Friday, 24 March 2017

Tamia / Pierre Favre - De la nuit... le jour (1988)

Second collaboration, and first for ECM, between French avant-garde vocalist Tamia Valmont and Pierre Favre, a Swiss percussionist who already had a history with the label.  This gorgeous little record doesn't need too much of a description; simply six tracks of Favre's subtle wood and metal percussion, overlaid with Tamia's wordless, ululating voice.  Occasionally, as in the opening minutes of Maroua, her unique vocal tones are featured unaccompanied and overdubbed in layers, as they were in her first two (very hard-to-find) solo records. 

The overall effect I get from this is similar to some early Popol Vuh, in that it's like getting to eavesdrop on some lost ancient civilisation making ritual music of otherworldly beauty - not least in the long, shimmering tones (from both participants) in the stunning title track.

Wood Song
alt. link (zippy)

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Dumitrescu / Avram / Cutler / Hodgkinson - Musique Action 98 (1999)

Still making my way gradually through the Avram/Dumitrescu Edition Modern catalogue - up to No. 19 now, with some gaps of unavailability.  Here's an interesting one in that two of their key musical collaborators are also featured as composers.  The fact that almost everyone involved plays on each others works gives a nice album-length homogeneity and listenability to this release.

Rock In Opposition stalwart Chris Cutler contributes Life On Earth for ensemble with the focus on strings, alongside his own percussion featuring sparingly, and English avant-garde reedsman Tim Hodgkinson (who had been in RiO agitators Henry Cow with Cutler) gives us Black Death And Errors In Construction.  The shortest piece of the four, it packs in plenty of thunder and some great piano work from Avram before a midway solo for Hodgkinson's bass clarinet.

Avram's piece Nouvelle Axe is characteristically scratchy-spectral, fusing her string-torturing talents into a striking ensemble work, and Dumitrescu's New Meteors And Pulsars is arguably the highlight, a stunning account of (according to his endearingly pretentious sleevenote) of witnessing a meteor.  Assisted by Cutler on percussion, the underwater-sounding sonic manipulation characteristic to much late-90s Dumitrescu is very much in evidence.

Recorded at Nancy - Vandoeuvre Festival 'Musique Action' May 17, 1998
alt. link (zippy)

Previously posted at SGTG:
ED.MN.1001
ED.MN.1002
ED.MN.1003

Monday, 20 March 2017

Dieter Moebius / Asmus Tietchens - Moebius + Tietchens (2012)

 According to Liliental lore, Dieter Moebius suggested a future duo collaboration to Asmus Tietchens as that six-day supergroup went their separate ways.  Only took them 35 years to get round to doing it.

Recorded in 2011 and released the following year, Moebius + Tietchens is the wonderful combination of two unique pioneers in electronica simply plugging in and coming up with something fresh and bang up to date.  Sounding like it's emenating from the laptop of a circuit-bending envelope pusher half their age, the warped electronics of Moebius + Tietchens sometimes result in the formless, industrial ambience of Vincent, Fontenay, Windkanal, sometimes in the grinding rhythms of Thorax, Yes Yes and Grimm, and are always engaging without any filler.

Highlights for me are the two longest tracks, Kattrepel and Lange Reihe, each subjecting a seemingly static idea to around ten minutes of infinite tweaks to ensure the track never gets boring.  Essential stuff from two masters in their field.

Mach Auf!
alt. link (zippy)

Friday, 17 March 2017

Yoshihiro Kanno - The Four Seasons In Resonance (1983)

Picked this up for cheap recently when reading about the Japanese audiophile label Denon (who also made hi-fi equipment, and blank tapes that I remember owning).  By 1983 when this release came out on vinyl and CD, they were already old hands at digital recording - so needless to say it sounds great, and the music itself is charming, impressionistic and highly listenable in its variety of sounds.

Yoshihiro Kanno was born in Tokyo in 1953, and has composed film soundtracks as well as a neat body of standalone work.  Out of the latter, this suite for percussion is conspicuous in its absence from the lists of works/releases on Kanno's official website, but it definitely deserves attention. 

Starting with a softly twinkling track for December, followed by the even more entrancing gossamer shimmer of January: Silver Storm Illusion, these Four Seasons (nothing to do with Vivaldi) go through several different percussive shadings courtesy of the Tomoyuki Okada Percussion Ensemble.  Arrangements are mostly subtle but cook up a storm when necessary, most notably in September: Typhoon Sphere.  And don't miss the imitation frog noises on May: Dream of the Frog in the Well!

The Four Seasons In Resonance
alt. link (zippy)

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Qluster - Fragen (2011)

A year after Qua, Roedelius and Moebius announced that Cluster had come to an end; that same year, Qluster was announced as the next Roedelius project, described as "the extraordinary shedding of skin of one of the most important German electronic groups".  This album, the first of six and counting, was the first under the new name.

Joining Roedelius was sound artist, producer and musician Onnen Bock, who had barely been born back when Cluster made Zuckerzeit, and first met the living legend in 1991.  Fragen wasn't their first recording together, but as the first Qluster release it was the ideal introduction to this great project.  On this initial evidence at least (I've only heard half of the Qluster catalogue so far and it's quite diverse - they later become a trio), Bock brought out the more free-form, kosmiche ambient side of Roedelius that stretched all the way back to the Cluster II album and beyond, whilst updating the sonic palate perfectly.

Only one of the seven tracks on Fragen stretches out quite as much as Cluster of old, though - the 13-minute Wurzelwelt even brings to mind latter-day Coil in its extended dark ambience.  The rest average about four minutes, and pulse away in gentle, exploratory space, occasionally bursting into a more melodic light (the end of Auf der Alm), and more often stark and austere with a subtle rhythmic pulse when needed.  All in all a fantastic album that bode well for this latest chapter in the Roedelius story.

Fragen
alt. link (zippy)

Monday, 13 March 2017

Philip Glass - Glassworks (composed 1981; new live recording 2017)

I am terrible at Photoshop - feel free to substitute your own artwork, or use original below.
A bit remiss of me to overlook the legendary 'music with repetitive structures' composer on this blog when his 80th birthday celebrations came around in January, but better late than never.  Here's a highlight from the 'Glass at 80: Total Immersion Weekend' that the BBC put on; a fresh performance of one of Glass' most deliberately accessible works that he composed in 1981 to reach a wider audience, even releasing a special 'Walkman mix' for the cassette edition.

Glassworks, performed live at Milton Court, London on 28th January 2017 by the Guildhall New Music Ensemble, remains an ideal entry point to the composer's vast catalogue, and just sounds absolutely gorgeous - much of it mellow and evocative, turning away from the more harsh minimalism of his early works towards something lush and romantic.  The two odd ones out, of course, are the frenetic second and fourth movements, Floe and Rubric, ensuring that Glassworks doesn't get too laid back.  You can hear exactly where Glass was about to go with his next major project (and first big soundtrack), especially in Rubric, which was actually slated for Koyaanisqatsi but didn't make the cut.
original album cover, 1982
Glassworks (Live 2017)
alt. link (zippy)

Previously posted at SGTG: 
Music In Twelve Parts
Early works performed by Steffen Schleiermacher