Don't be fooled by the title: this is harsh and uncompromising noise. Sussmann (I believe he has ditched the Umlaut, so this is another case of me trying to be hypercorrect) plays in Stasis Duo, whose untitled album was another one of the highlights of 2010 as far as I'm concerned (although much, much less hard on the ears than this solo outing - unless you have problems with sinewaves). What we have here is a very limited solo album on Document, the completely obscure and untraceable label who released some stuff by Matt Earle, Will Guthrie and Mattin on CDR some 5 years ago and seems to have vanished since. I think it was Earle and Sussmann themselves who ran it. I wonder if there's a link with Antboy, their catalogues have a lot of artists in common. Anyway, I thought I might as well save this one from total oblivion. The tiny paper in the cardboard cover says "adam sussmann acoustic guitar solo recorded late 2003 probert st sydney acoustic guitar microphone ebow no amplifier document 2". There's 2 tracks (24 minutes), one a fierce razorblade attack on your eardrums, the other more about sinewaves. Play it loud on headphones and let me know how that worked out for you. How's that for a happy new year? Enjoy.
The tiny area of modern music known as eai (electro-acoustic improv) is one of my primary fields of interest (maybe even a little expertise?), so don't be surprised if I keep throwing up some of its forgotten masterpieces in the near future. This one for example has been next to impossible to find for years now, yet it's a lovely performance by a very interesting combination of players: Dafeldecker plays all sorts of things (mainly bass, but also guitar, electronics, percussion), Hautzinger is one of a number of trumpet pushing the boundaries these days (think Axel Dörner, think Greg Kelley), John Tilbury is the revered piano player and Morton Feldman and Cornelius Cardew expert, and Sachiko M has turned up here before, the queen of sinewaves. Released in 2002 on Grob. Hear it.
'Private Parts' is a hypnotic masterpiece. Its two long sides feature Ashley's nonchalant reciting of observations and maxims whose meaning and coherence always remains just out of reach (in that inimitable voice of his, which also graced Eliane Radigue's 'Songs of Milarepa') and music by "Blue" Gene Tyranny (piano, polymoog and clavinet) - plus some guy named simply Kris on tablas. If that doesn't sound like the most appealing set-up imaginable at first glance, think again. This is truly mesmerizing listening. I believe Ashley was on the Nurse With Wound list because of 'Automatic Writing', but if you ask me this album too has all the one-off oddball genius required to make it into any such list. Released in 1978 on Ashley's own Lovely Music (and reissued on CD in 1990 with different, truly atrocious cover artwork), it seems to have been a bit of a hype in New York those days, with people learning large chunks of the lyrics by heart. The two pieces were later used as the opening and closing segments of the TV-opera 'Perfect Lives', while the original cover (pictured above) inspired the one for Graham Lambkin & Jason Lescalleet's 'The Breadwinner' (2008 Erstwhile). Check out Ashley's label and listen here.
Unfortunately this blog's tradition of impeccably tagged files must be interrupted today, due to my equally unfortunate lack of Albanian language skills. Or rather, due to the perennial disdain for foreign languages exhibited by those who profess to love foreign music (an imbalance I have never really understood). OK, no rant, just to say that this beautiful album of Albanian traditional music was released on a French label (Label Bleu) that has chosen to spare us the odd and possibly frightening-looking characters that are current in Albanian orthograph (i.c., the ë, as in the name of the family's hometown Përmet; we are granted the ç, because the French are fond of that one as well). So if anyone fluent in this language can offer some corrections to the track titles, that would be very welcome.
Anyway, 9 Albanians (most of them named Lela) perform some vocal and instrumental (clarinet, accordion, lute, percussion, violin) polyphonic music here, and it sounds wonderful. Get it here.
Some lovely drones this time from Stefano Pilia from Bologna. He is also in Medves and Glow Kids, and (a bit better known, I think) in 3/4HadBeenEliminated, who went from eai to something a bit poppier these days if I remember correctly (I should re-listen to that myself). He also continues to release solo albums on labels such as Last Visible Dog, Sedimental and even Die Schachtel, but this, his debut, was released as a limited edition (150 copies) black CDr on Time-Lag in early 2005. Pilia is credited here with 'guitars, microphones, tape noise, feedback, wind doublebass, cymbals'. Who played the rain is not mentioned.
Long gone, of course (strangely, the label doesn't even mention it among their OOP releases). But thanks to the interwebs, still among us.
10 minutes of new Lescalleet material on a 7", released in June on Kye (only 100 copies made). Kye is Graham Lambkin's label, and Lambkin & Lescalleet's second duo album 'Air Supply' on Erstwhile is one of the best albums of the year, so get that too (along with 'The Breadwinner' from 2008) for more tape loop mistreatment and who knows what else. Here.
A nice live recording by Carla Bozulich from Evangelista (and of course from Ethyl Meatplow, The Geraldine Fibbers and Scarnella, way back when). Recorded at the Unrock record store in Krefeld, Germany, in 2007 and released later that year in a limited run of 300 copies. For even better live Bozulich, I recommend you get 'I'm Gonna Stop Killing' (2004 DiCristina Stair Builders). Both have great cover versions of 'Times Square' (Barry Reynolds, but famous in Marianne Faithfull's version). This one also has 'Pissing' by Low, which she'd already covered on the first Evangelista album the year before, and 'Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain' (Willie Nelson). New link!
More wonderful sound art today, with this installation piece by California-based Steve Roden (one of my favourite artists tout court). These 2 pieces are very gentle layers of tinkling light bulbs with some electronic processing. If that sounds uninteresting, you haven't bathed in the gorgeous warmth of this audio-blanket. Released in an edition of 500 copies on Semishigure (which is basically Bottrop-Boy) in 2003, the same year as the equally wonderful 'Speak No More About the Leaves' (on Sirrecords). Sadly, Roden's release rate seems to have declined sharply in the last couple of years, but in those days it was one masterpiece after the other. Explore! Check this beauty out at the label or slip into it here.
"It is said that Sesshu-tei Garden of Joeiji Temple in Yamaguchi was built by Sesshu, a priest and artist, about five hundred years ago. The garden is positioned on the north of the main temple, and in the center of about 30 acres is a pond, which is shaped in the Chinese character of "heart," surrounded by many vertically-standing stones. The woods on the east, west and north sides of the garden make up the shape of a horseshoe, which creates a special space for vision and sound. For this live performance, three performers were positioned around the garden apart enough not to see each other to present their music over the garden. (I.S.O. / left side: Yoshihide Otomo, center: Sachiko M, right side: Yoshimitsu Ichiraku)
Note: This CD was recorded through one-point stereo recording in the center of the main temple. The surrounding sounds such as animals around the garden, wind, and visitors were kept as they were at the mastering, because if they had been mechanically removed, delicate feelings generated by the extremely subtle sounds penetrating the whole garden would have been ruined."
That was from the inside of the nicely embossed digipack. This is the fourth I.S.O. album, released in December 2003 on Sound Tectonics in association with the Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (YCAM). There haven't been any releases since then, I don't know if this project is terminated or just on hold.
Yoshimitsu Ichiraku: drums, percussion, electronics
Sachiko M: sampler with sine wave
Otomo Yoshihide: turntables, CD player, guitar
Seth Nehil is yet another one of those artists that deserve so much more attention than they get. I mean, he is only one of the greatest sound artists of today, or any other day. Not only that, but he has matured a lot since 'Tracing the Skin of Clouds' (1998 Kaon), his first release, and his early collaborations with Jgrzinich. 'Flock & Tumble', his fifth solo album by my count, is the pinnacle of his career (for now). It was released in June 2009 on French label Sonoris to maybe one or two rave reviews, and completely silence besides. I have no clue how to describe this, but if you like Olivia Block, Mnortham and Joel Stern, you really need this. Textures, field recordings, manipulated instruments and the odd shout (a recent addition to his sound palette); it sounds like nothing else. Buy this from the label, and this year's follow-up 'Furl' too, while you're at it. Listen!
Decoryah were a doomy but not quite doom metal band from Finland, whose lyrical themes are summed up on Metal Archives as follows: 'Astral, mystical, sorrow, love, water'. How can you go wrong? This is their second and last full album, 'Fall-Dark Waters'. It was released on Metal Blade in 1996, but is now out of print. It has become a cult classic in some circles, and with good cause: cute and/or whiny vocals, keys, flute and strings alongside the more traditional metal instruments, chilled, melancholy vibe (don't say new age), a bit psychedelic even? In any case, they really had their own thing going there. Don't know what happened to them, but this is nice to return to once in a while. Hear this.
Direct Chamber is an early eai (electro-acoustic improv) album, recorded in May 1998 in Montreuil, Vandœuvre and Verdun, during a mini tour in the context of the Musique Action festival. It was released 2 years later on 33revpermi in collaboration with For4Ears. The latter label is run by Günter Müller, who plays percussion and electronics here. He is backed up by 2 horns: the soprano sax (and sopranino) of Michel Doneda, and the trombone of Fabrice Charles. I don't think I've heard Charles anywhere else, but Müller and Doneda both played on a thousand albums in a hundred different ensembles each (rough estimate). This relatively early date is not often mentioned though, and has been out of print for years. It did however get namechecked in Jon Abbey's eai primer a couple years back, so why not give it a spin.
An obscure Finnish sound art compilation. The Wehowsky and O'Rourke pieces were commissioned by the Avanto Festival. Wehowsky's piece was sourced from recordings by Topias Tiheäsalo (guitar) and the Rogalli Revival Band, MK II (Sonja & Sören, vocals, Ch. Rogalli, oud). Jim O'Rourke's piece dates back to 1990, and was reworked in 1991, 1994 and again in 2006.
1. Tony Conrad - DAGADAG for La Monte
2. Ralf Wehowsky - Würgengels Lachende Hand
3. Jim O'Rourke - Out with the Old
Hardly an obscure band, of course, but this album (in dire need of a reissue) deserves more attention. It was originally released in 1999 as a ridiculously limited vinyl LP on Prescription, Gary Ramon (Sun Dial)'s label (all of their LPs came out in runs of 99 copies). At one point a vinyl reissue on Threshold House sold for 550$ on Discogs. There was also a CD reissue (with extra track and this new cover artwork) in January 2000, but even that is long gone.
Chronologically this album fits between the EPs that were later collected as 'Moon's Milk in Four Phases' and the 'Musick to Play in the Dark' albums that formed the pinnacle of their career (to me at least). Contains their smash hit 'I Don't Want to Be the One'.
With the death of Sleazy (R.I.P.) I don't know what's going to happen to their catalogue. You can wait forever for a reissue or get it here.
Other than most metal albums, this one is intentionally funny. I think.
Hard to believe this is the same Hungarian band that recorded 'Anno Domini' 12 years earlier, and whose singer Attila Csihar did the vocals on Mayhem's 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas'. Csihar would go on to play in Aborym, Plasma Pool and Sunn O))) among many other bands (his latest I think is Burial Chamber Trio), and bewilder audiences all over the world with his ridiculous outfits and stage antics. What with his street cred these days, this album is still strangely ignored by many. Sad fate for such a bizarre masterpiece of ecstatic soloing, folky and faux jazz interludes, and clownesque singalongs. Especially from Part Two on things get really odd. This one will have you in stitches one minute and chanting along heroically the next.
The album title is Latin for 'Receive the sword!' - as was said to vanquished gladiators right before they were killed.
Tracks 1-9 are Part One: Soul, Blood, Sun, Dark, Power, History, Night.
Tracks 10-13 are Part Two: Cult, Legend, Fun, Joke, Nation (The Hungarian Trilogy).
Track 14 is Part Three: Sickness, Debility, Punishment of the Evil Child.
The last two tracks are bonuses.
Note: these are the chapters as indicated on the promotional copy I have; they seem to have been altered a bit on the actual release (which adds 777 to the album title, compare Metal Archives).
Release Date: 24 April 2000, claims the promo. See if this clownfest is still available or try it first here.
L is (was) a project of Hiroyuki Usui (臼井弘行), who in some very distant past used to drum for 不失者 (Fushitsusha), although I don't think there's any recordings with him on it. He was also in some very early incarnations of Ghost, 兇悪のインテンション (Kyōaku no Intention) and Marble Sheep, apparently, but again I can't find any albums featuring Usui. Later he popped up in Landfall (whom I don't know anything about) and Ken'ichi Takeda (竹田賢一)'s political 'anti-pop' group A-Musik. The first tangible trace of his art that I'm aware of is this lost little gem, 'Holy Letters', which was released in 1992 on his own label Holy Castle Records, as an 11-track CD + 7" package. Presumably it didn't do much back then - in fact it wasn't until a decade later, when some copies somehow ended up at Aquarius Records, that this album got noticed, and even got an elegant reissue (with bonus track from the same sessions but without the nice over-sized packaging) on VHF Records (in 2004). New linernotes were provided by Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance), who didn't stop at that but formed a duo with Usui named August Born (their only, untitled CD was released on Drag City in 2005). In 2009 Six Organs released a split-LP with Azul, yet another of Usui's projects (with - among others - Masaaki Motoyama (本山正明), who already played the 'cello on 'Holy Letter') on PSF. Usui also seems to be part of a band called
現代即興 (Gendai Sokkyō, or simply 'contemporary improvisation') these days. So yeah, he seems to know his way around the hip & freaky side of the Japanese underground.
Mention of Fushitsusha, Ghost etc. might have given you the wrong idea though. This is in fact a very relaxed folk album, intimate and moving, featuring gentle bluesy guitar (the opening track is Blind Willie Johnson's 'Cold Was the Ground!'), drones, field recordings, throat singing, didgeridoo... and a surprise guest appearance of Taku Sugimoto (杉本拓) on 'Troll'. An album that I've often returned to over the years, one you can't afford to let slip under your radar. Gorgeous. Buy it without thinking twice, or try it first (and then buy it. Seriously).
The only pairing of Melbourne-based musique concrète composer Philip Samartzis and Japanese sinewave queen Sachiko M(atsubara), this neglected album contains 4 pieces Samartzis conjured out of an improvised duo performance recorded in Paris. Too bad we don't have the untampered-with recordings to compare. Released in January 2002 on Darrin Verhagen (Shinjuku Thief)'s Dorobo label, which has been defunct for 6 years now. This was a limited edition of 600, long gone now.
Billy Gomberg is a Chicago-born, Brooklyn-based electroacoustic musician who makes compositions out of his own improvisations. He is also active in Fraufraulein, a duo with Anne Guthrie and Other Vultures with Richard Kamerman. The three of them together are known as Delicate Sen. This solo album slipped out quietly last year, got some good reviews, but doesn't seem to have caused many ripples. It deserves a wider audience. Buy it from And/OAR and check out the rest of their catalogue (a lot of hidden gems there). Try it first here.
When's 8th album was released in November 2001. It was the second one for Jester Records, after 'Psychedelic Wunderbaum' (1999). Together they mark something of a change of direction for the Norwegian one-man band from the crazy sample collages, cartoon snippets, RIO indulgences and medieval or industrial soundscapes of earlier albums such as 'Drowning But Learning', 'Black, White & Grey' and 'Prefab Wreckage' to a more poppy but still quite eclectic and experimental sound.
Creative mastermind is Lars Pedersen, who first rose to attention in the early '80s as member of Holy Toy. On this album he is credited with sampling, organ, guitar, bass, xylophone, drums and vocals. Assisting him are Øyvind Borgemoen (drum pad, organ, melodica) and Nils Arne Øvergård on guitars, while one Gro Løvdahl makes an appearance on the viola on 'The Greatest Sorrow on Earth'. Actually, this information does not appear anywhere on the cd artwork, I got it from this When discography. While I haven't cared much for his later albums, where things got a bit samey and the excitement was to some extent diminished, this one is pretty great if you ask me. Maybe it just came at the right time for me, or maybe this is indeed the album where pop-When is at its freshest and most exciting. I remember my piercing disappointment when I travelled to Oslo for 'The Music and the Machines' (I remember it as if it were 13 September 2002, which indeed it was), a small Jester-organised festival where When was scheduled to appear, and found out a few days beforehand that they (or he) had cancelled. Still got to see Rotoscope and, best of all, Bogus Blimp though.
Has anyone ever managed to rip the pre-gap track? Anyway, you are urged to try this. If you're into it, you may still be able to buy it at the label's website.
夕焼けの記憶から (Yūyake no kioku kara) from 三上寛 (Kan Mikami) was released in 1977 on Victor Japan. The title translates to 'From Memories of Sunset'. It was recorded in Aomori as the subtitle tells us (青森ライブ, Aomori Live). The date is not specified.
The tracklist is as follows:
Or in rōmaji:
1. Yoisho yoisho
2. Shōben-darake no mizūmi
3. Dare o urameba ii no de gozaimashō ka?
4. Ōtobai no shitsuren
5. Appare, appare
6. Aomori-ken Kitatsugaru-gun Tōkyō-mura
7. Yume wa yoru hiraku - Ashita no Joe nanka kirai da
8. Nante hidoi uta na n da
10. Kyōkun 110ban
The first track doesn't appear anywhere else in Mikami's work. A pity, it's a nice little track I would have loved to hear on a studio album. The title seems to be a mishearing of 良い死を、良い死を (yoi shi o, yoi shi o; 'a good death, a good death'), if I made that out correctly from the liner notes. But what with my lousy Japanese skills and the crazy-small fonts on my CD reissue here (seems to be a facsimile of an original gatefold vinyl jacket), who knows.
Track 2 is from the debut album 三上寛の世界 (Mikami Kan no sekai, 1971). The song title means 'Lake Full of Piss'.
Track 3 (my tentative translation: 'Whom would it be allright for me to curse?') and 6 (which seems to reimagine Tokyo as a village in the Kitatsugaru district of Aomori prefecture) are from the third studio album ひら'夢などあるじゃなし (Hiraku yume nado are ja nashi, 1972).
Track 4 ('Unrequited Love of a Motorcycle'?) and 5 ('Bravo, Well Done!') are from the seventh studio album (and at that point the last one), simply entitled 寛 (Kan, 1975).
Track 7, the centrepiece if you will, is a spine-chilling rendition of what was possibly Mikami's signature track in the early days, even if he didn't write it (it is originally by Keiko Fuji (藤圭子)). Yume wa yoru hiraku ('The Dream Opens at Night') pops up on several of his live and studio albums starting with the debut (I have 8 different recordings of it here, with varying lyrics), but nowhere is it as emotionally wrenching as here on this recording, where it segues into a second half, the title of which means 'I Hate Stuff Like Tomorrow's Joe').
Tracks 8 ('What a Terrible Song!') and 9 are from the fifth studio album, the experimental Bang! (1974). Too bad he didn't perform its stunning opening track that night.
The last track ('Lesson no. 110') isn't on any of the studio albums, but was recorded live on 2 other occasions (that I know of): on the compilation albums '71中津川全日本フォークジャンボリー実況 ('71 Nakatsugawa Zen-Nihon Fōku Janborī Jikkyō, that is to say the '71 Nakatsugawa All-Japanese Folk Jamboree Live) and on 1974 Hobo's Concerts III.
As far as live recordings of singer-songwriters go, this is impossible to beat in my book. There would be many more Mikami live albums in later years (9 altogether by my count), but this is the one, folks. Goosebumps every time.
Files have been tagged in Japanese. 320kbps.
Buy the 2006 CD reissue on Showboat, or try first.
OMG! Reupped once more!