Saturday, May 26, 2007

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

We Are Only Humans, Listen To the Sounds In Our Heads!

Magical Power Mako - (Polydor)

I love this record. It is one of the best records I've heard this year, and I hear a lot of records. Don't miss this one.

As far as I can tell, this is more a guy than a band. Still, there's lots of folks who sing on it, so there must be some other input. When I listen to it, it has a jammy feel like some of it is improv, but who the hell knows? Maybe one of you rockers can fill me in.

The second track is a nice demonstration of the difference between the rock music of Japan and the stuff from Germany or the states. The singer (multi-tracked to all hell) comes out with "Takatakatakatowwwwtakatowww" over and over and over again. But the fucker really sells it, where a band like Gentle Giant would make it sound all sissy and stupid. It will slay you on the first spin.

A big part of the genius of this record is in the arrangments. Try this: every 30 secs or so, try to pick out all the instruments in the mix. One minute, maybe it's a koto and hand drums. Next, a choir of children and a mellotron. Later, a piece of rebar and a bass. But it's never guitar / bass / traps.

He/they saves maybe the best track for last. This one is the most Krautrock-ish to my ears, maybe somewhere close to Future Days-era Can, with a fadeout that seems to last for days.

I see this album compared to Faust a lot, and I kinda sorta see it. But where a Faust record makes jagged segues between often abrasive parts, this album is wayyyy more musical in its flow.

There was a limited edition reissue around a couple years ago. If you find a copy, buy it, because you'll probably never see it again.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Away From Desk

IRA is on jury duty this week (subverting the American justice system, one case at a time). We'll get some new stuff up this weekend, hopefully.

Note that there is some kickass stuff buried in the discussions for the last few posts. Thanks for blog friends Dreamy and Fuzztunnel (the latter from the wonderful Lost-In-Tyme blog) for their links.

Get the new Dungen. It's good.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

IRAs Favorite ESPs

Noah Howard -
Quartet / Live at Judson Hall
By now, IRA readers will note that I've got a thing for ESP jazz. These are the two albums that got that ball rolling. And a couple of rare jewels lost in jazz history.
Howard was (and is) an alto player in a free jazz bag. Seeing a piano-less quartet led by an alto and a trumpet, you'd probably think his quartet album is Ornette-lite. Not so, I'd call it way more formally structured and more melodic. And in areas more fiery than Coleman. I'm having a hard time with a good comparison, because I find this record so unique.
The second album is a little more standard free jazz fare. It sounds very enamored of the Coltrane of Live at the Village Vanguard Again - lots of that rolling and placid piano keeping things anchored down. The second side is surprisingly funky in parts - not a feel you'd usually associate with an ESP session.
If I had to choose between the two, I think I like the quartet album a little more. I think the piano rooting things down gives the live set a little more of a sleepy feel, even though I really like the piano player (Dave Burrell). The live set sound leaves a bit to be desired - a lot of cavernous room sound dulls the energy a bit, too. Still, they are both great records, and a must if you like the style.
A fun backstory on these records - they both used to belong to famous activist John Sinclair. I bought 'em second hand in Detroit because they had his name written on the back as well as because they were on ESP. I wonder if he had to hock his precious and famous free jazz collection to help foot a legal bill at one point or another. If that's the case, they found a good home, John, and thanks for sharing.

Sharebee Down, What Else Is New?

Man, this Sharebee service is cool, but it breaks down a lot. Too bad, as I've got a couple gems ready to go. Is anyone else having trouble with them?

I think I might be missing a bunch of re-up requests down the list here. If you loyal readers have requests, put them in the comments here, and I'll try to get to them. Special respect will be given to readers who give back to the team, my requests are listed in the comments, too.

Monday, May 7, 2007

A Quick One, While I'm Away

Glaxo Babies - This Is Your Life e.p.

Here's a brief one, for you NWW list collectors. I'll bet that Stapleton feller would have been pretty pleasantly surprised in '80 or so to know that almost 30 years later, that tossed-off list would end up being the guidebook for diving into the '70s underground.

As I see it, there's some pretty consistent categories in that list:
  • Prog rock, much of it from the continent
  • Kraut rock, much of it fuckin' great
  • Avant classical, a lot of it electronic in nature
  • Avant jazz, mostly French
  • Zappa/Beefheart weirdo rock
  • Post-punk

It's that last category that is the area where I've been most disappointed with the quality of the listed records. I do think that it is difficult to tell how good music is immediately after it comes out. A lot of that post-punk stuff, present day nostalgia notwithstanding, must have sounded better then than it does now.

This one is very generic post-punk. If you like the style, you'll like this. But it isn't going to change your life, even if your life really sucks.

By the way, a Glaxo baby was a child born with serious birth defects due to maternal use of thalidomide as a sleep aid during pregnancy. Glaxo was the company that made the drug. In case you care.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Reader of the Day Award

Eroc - 1 and 2

The IRA sympathizer of the day award goes out to a reader who calls hisself (herself) Dreamy. Ol' D posted not one, but two Eroc records in glorious 320 sound. I, for one, can't hardly wait to dig in. I'll forgo my usual snarky comments on this one, because I don't know a damn thing about it.

Eroc 1

Eroc 2

pw: dreamy

Take a bow, Dreamy.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Edward Gorey Rocks Out!

Michael Mantler - The Hapless Child
Now that I've got this new software figured out, let me drop that bomb I've been waiting to get up here. This is a tough one to find, released in a small run on a custom label in 1976.
Sure, it's under Mantler's name, but this is an Edward Gorey record, too. He wrote the words and drew the pictures. And it's a Robert Wyatt record, because he sings the words. In a way, it's a Terje Rypdal album, because his guitar playing dominates the arrangements. Of course, this is to take nothing away from Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, and Jack DeJohnette, because they're here, too. A who's who of high brow jazz rock elite, huh?
My biggest gripe about this record is that the songs are written as stories, and sometimes the words don't match the music so well. But then you key in to what those words are really saying, and it all makes sense. Because those words are dark dark dark.
Yet another one of those Nurse With Wound list favorites. Speaking of which, any of you got Headmaschine? Eroc? Lily? How's about helping out, then?