Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Frank Zappa - Lumpy Gravy (1968)

Who better to post on April Fool's Day?

Frank Zappa is the king. I've pledged my undying allegiance to his genius ever since I was a young man, which, come to think of it- is exactly why he still appeals to me; the scatological humor, the whole anti-establishment vibe, his politically incorrectness, his supreme guitar work...

Lumpy Gravy was Zappa's first album without The Mothers moniker, and it's a pastiche of conversations with his band (inside a piano), found sounds, tape loops, splices, etc. A freaky piece of experimental sound collages with occasional jazz rock sprinkled about. Not for the faint of heart, and not for you serious indie rock types.

John Zorn - Bar Kokhba (1996)

Happy Passover, my Hebrew brethren...

Bar Kokhba
, John Zorn's small ensemble project, features scaled-down versions of his larger Masada compositions. The music feels ancient; the strings (Mark Feldman on violin and Erik Friedlander on cello) pull and weave their way around Zorn's alto sax, and the addition of clarinets (David Krakauer & Chris Speed) is a warm and welcoming bit of nostalgia for these ears, combining Jewish klezmer with orchestral chamber elements and avant-garde jazz.

Rounding out the program is the estimable Marc Ribot on guitar, Greg Cohen and Mark Dresser on bass, Anthony Coleman and his excellency John Medeski on piano/organ, Kenny Wollesen on drums and Dave Douglas on trumpet. Mazel Tov!

John Zorn - Bar Kokhba (1996; Tzadik Records)
disc 1
disc 2

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - f#a#oo (1997)

Dark and orchestral post-rock from Montreal's Godspeed You! Black Emperor; I bring my love to you in the form of 1997's f#a#oo (F-sharp A-sharp Infinity). This record sends shivers down my spine and listening to it is sort of like a ritual; it's an intensely deep and spiritual experience for me- if you can find a copy on vinyl I would suggest tracking down an original, handmade one (the one I have has no label on the vinyl and an envelope inside with a flattened penny, hand-typed liner notes, a playbill for a show, a silk-screened picture of a train with the text "For The Reverend Gary Davis" on the side of it and a photocopied drawing of some metaphysical diagram of life). It also has hand-printed on the back cover in silver Sharpie the CST003 catalog number.

If you listen to this record and it doesn't stir something within you, you are dead inside...

Moondog - Moondog (1956)

Moondog (Louis Thomas Hardin) was a blind street musician (that preferred to compose his scores in braille) and made various field recordings (mostly of New York City at street level) interspersed with tribal drumming (that sounds like it was made on drum machines, which at the time weren't invented yet- it's just maracas and clave here) and actual melodies as well, with pianos, animal noises, ocean waves, etc. (see: Musique concrète).

Moondog was way ahead of his time...

The Fall - Hex Enduction Hour (1982)

I think This Nation's Saving Grace is widely regarded as The Fall's best album, but for me; I'll go with Hex Enduction Hour. It's just a little more raw, slightly more psychotic and at times violently jagged. Then again, isn't that Mark E. Smith's whole mission?

Do Make Say Think - & Yet & Yet (2002)

Easily the most accessible release from Canadian post-rockers DMST; & Yet & Yet sees the band at a more relaxed, dare I jazzier pace than previous albums (and since). It’s way toned down as far as this band is concerned; they exercise a calm flow throughout the record with careful precision and uncomplicated noodling that never gets boring. The horns don’t blow you away on the song White Light Of and they don’t build every song to a dizzying crescendo and explode, it’s a lesson in refinement. Whether it’s the wordless singing of Soul And Onward, the bubbling synths, low-bottom bass and glitchy beats on the track Chinatown or hypnotic swirling of End of Music, the subtle build-up and short bursts of intensity on Reitschule or the majesty of drone during the album’s closer (Anything For Now), it’s a stunning offering from a band that continues to make excellent records, each one different from their last…

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Residents - Not Available (1978)

Hey, you wanna hear an album that was never supposed to be released?

Apparently that's the story behind this record- recorded in 1974 but held for release until '78 (they released it when they all "forgot" about it, story goes) it's halfway between unlistenable and annoying; but mostly it's hilarious. It's a concept album, it's a prog nightmare, it has elements of musique concrete, it's got some weird electronic shit- basically it's way ahead of its time. I love this album so damn much I hunted down a copy on vinyl and paid whatever was asked. That's what you do when you've been brainwashed.

I wish I could tell you more about The Residents, but that's really all anyone has ever known about them. You'll just have to listen...

Sam Rivers - Contours (1965)

Sam Rivers is the man.

This is his second solo album, recorded in '65 right after he left the Miles Davis Quintet (he appears on only one Quintet record, Miles In Tokyo). It wasn't that Rivers wasn't up to snuff with Davis, it was that he was too "free" to play Miles' compositions the way they were intended- that and; frankly, he was too good to be a sideman any longer. Take this record by itself (or as a companion piece to Fuchsia Swing Song, also released in 1965) and you have some of the finest avant-garde post bop of the mid-60s.

The line-up here is spectacular as well, Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Herbie Hancock (piano), Ron Carter (bass) and Joe Chambers (drums).

Jandek - Chair Beside A Window (1982)

I think this record is a pretty good primer to the enigmatic Jandek; of his 60+ albums, this may be the most accessible (it's my favorite). Then again, I only have about five, so I should amend that to say "this is my favorite of the five I have". There. Anyway; here's some quick background on the man:
Jandek is the musical project of an outsider musician who operates out of Houston, Texas. Since 1978, Jandek has self-released over 60 albums of unusual, often emotionally dissolute folk and blues songs without ever granting more than the occasional interview or providing any biographical information. Jandek often plays a highly idiosyncratic and frequently atonal form of folk and blues music, often using an open and unconventional chord structure. Jandek's music is unique, but the lyrics closely mirror the country blues and folk traditions of East Texas. The name "Jandek" is most commonly used to refer specifically to the main—often sole—performer, rather than to the project. - from Wikipedia

Allow Me To Re-Introduce Myself...

Another music blog? Yeah. This one isn't any different.

Disclaimer: all the links here are for educational purposes; if you like what you hear, please buy these records.

I'm calling this one
Out Sounds- as in; sounds from way out. Out of what? Mostly the mainstream, but I'm not going to flood this page with painfully obscure and overly avant type stuff (basically; no "weird for the sake of weird" shit), this is stuff I really like that I've felt has been overlooked or unfairly glossed-over. Which means I totally reserve the right to go ahead and post stuff like Van Halen or MC Hammer or what have you.