domingo, 19 de agosto de 2018

Aaron Abernathy ‎– Monologue (2016)

Style: Soul, Neo Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Sweet Soul Records

01.   Son Of Larry
02.   Favorite Girl
03.   Bachelorette
04.   I See You
05.   Pretty Kind
06.   Kiss Me Again
07.   Play It Cool
08.   I Need To Know
09.   When Reality Sets In
10.   AB Is Gone Away
11.   Monologue

The Cleveland-born and D.C.-based musician Aaron Abernathy is best known for his work as a session musician and the leader of Black Milk’s live band Nat Turner, the band that played behind Milk's recent jazz-rap album The Rebellion Sessions. Now standing center stage, Abernathy goes solo on his new LP aptly titled Monologue, which blends the weathered tropes of soul with his own formative life experiences. It’s a big, autobiographical conversation that also allows listeners to identify themselves in Ab’s life story. 
The album tells the true tale of Abernathy’s teenage summer love affair just before to his freshman year at Howard University. As with many first loves, it consumes everything in Ab’s life, which leads to the album’s most significant theme of isolation. Ab notes at the start of the album that he’s the “Son of Larry” and that his mother is his “Favorite Girl,” but, like many post-high school kids, he’s conflicted between his parents and his friends who he may never see again. Furthermore, he’s confronted with choosing between his old friends, his new girlfriend, and his piano lessons. As he sequesters himself over 11 tracks, he discovers another weathered soul trope: love, music, and expressing his appreciation of both in song creates the greatest strength and most significant creative power. 
The album’s DNA is largely comprised of three iconic moments in soul music. Just take the soaring guitar solo on Prince’s Sign ‘O’ the Times* *slow-jam “Adore,” the organic acoustic soul of early *’*70s singer-songwriters like Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack, and André 3000’s most earnest and lovelorn moments on his half Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, and the table is set. The lead single “I See You” handles the Prince component with an interplay between Abernathy’s own squawking falsetto, the chopped synths, and soaring lead guitar moments that rise from the mix. Abernathy himself notes that this song is supposed to create a sense of “crushing on someone.” However, there’s so much honest sensuality here that the song gently cascades over the edge into something much more erotic in nature. 
Phonte and Abernathy’s frequent collaborator Black Milk appear on “Bachelorette,” which alongside “I See You” perfectly articulate the quasi-romantic victory of wooing a girl into your father’s car to drive her home from the mall. That it takes roughly nine minutes and 30 seconds is maybe a bit problematic. On The Love Below, André 3000 does what Abernathy attempts in roughly half the time with “Spread,” and the “Where Are My Panties?” skit, which unlike Abernathy’s album, adds some humor to balance the serious sexuality. Abernathy mimicking Andre’s ability to know exactly at which heartstring to aim his stylings is impressive, but he hasn’t quite figured out the right tone or pacing. 
The moment that best encapsulates the album’s emotional core lay within the acoustic guitars and thick organic drum breaks that drive “I Need to Know.” Abernathy lays his soul bare and the lyrics’ spiritual essence animate in your mind’s eye. There’s no synths, no Prince-fetishization, and no early 2000s neo-soul to be found. Rather, there’s just Ab delivering what teenage life at the confluence of heartbreak, depression, and a slight fear of the unknown feels like. 
On an album that oftentimes veers into overwrought sentimentality for the purposes of hammering home Abernathy’s desire to spiritually connect with the listener, “I Need to Know’” is brilliantly simple in composition. It leaves enough space for the listener to feel Abernathy’s questioning delivery of lyrics like, “Am I running a race that I can’t win?” Of late, from Miguel to Bryson Tiller, there have been many soul albums released that inspire love-making. In veering towards sex but staying well-rooted in the ultra-emotional moments of discovering love (or heartbreak, we never quite find out), Aaron Abernathy has grounded himself in a lane that feels familiar but still carries you to new places.
Marcus K. Dowling / Pitchfork

Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction ‎– High Priest Of Love (1986)

Style: Hard Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Food

1.   High Priest Of Love
2.   Hymn Of The Speed Kings
3.   High Heel Heaven
4.   Dangerous
5.   Kick Start Me For Love
6.   Wild Child (Second Attempt)

As canções de Zodiac podem não ser as «nuggets» dos anos 80, como pretende David Balfe, e os Love Reaction talvez não sejam «the biggest thing this century». como diz lan Astbury, mas, depois de Hendrix, já alguém tinha feito «dirty songs» de 3 minutos sobre «sex, LSD and rock'n'roll» com tamanha fúria? Não. Nem Marc Bolan nem Charles Manson seriam capazes de demonstrar uma tal urgência nas coisas que fizeram. Isto é o B-A-BA do rock psicadélico. Um prodigio!  
Ricardo Saló / Blitz (1986)

sábado, 18 de agosto de 2018

Jeff Rosenstock ‎– POST- (2018)

Style: Punk
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Specialist Subject Records

01.   Mornin'!
02.   USA
03.   Yr Throat
04.   All This Useless Energy
05.   Powerlessness
06.   TV Stars
07.   Melba
08.   Beating My Head Against A Wall
09.   9/10
10.   Let Them Win

Bass – John DeDomenici
Drums – Kevin Higuchi
Guitar – Mike Huguenor
Lap Steel Guitar – Dan Potthast
Vocals, Recorded By – Chris Farren, Laura Stevenson
Written-By, Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards– Jeff Rosenstock
Vocals – Angelina Banda, Gilbert Armendariz, Julia Loan, Laura Hammond, Neal Sharma, Pup, Shannon Toombs, Sim Castro

Many artists spent the past year trying to make sense of our toxic sociopolitical landscape, but few did a better job than a guy whose album dropped several weeks before the 2016 presidential election. The results of November 8 may have hit like an isolated, cataclysmic incident, but it increasingly appears to be the logical endpoint of the American experiment, caused by and resulting in economic and cultural panic which Jeff Rosenstock’s breakthrough solo album WORRY. tackled with righteous, frenzied eloquence. To paraphrase “Wave Goodnight To Me,” when it all came into focus—insistent police brutality, urban displacement, the bursting of the music festival bubble, Reddit’s sociopathic influence—Rosenstock was ready for it, the rare artist who managed to be both prescient and timely in 2017. 
WORRY. itself was an unexpected culmination of a more encouraging decades-long process, an undersung, anti-commercial punk lifer making the record of his career and getting frighteningly close to mainstream acceptance while everyone played catch up. Hours after a cathartic, drunken New Year’s Eve show in Philly, Rosenstock surprise-released his third solo album POST-., which asks the $7500 question: Can Rosenstock’s musical and political passion withstand expectations now that the inconceivable is his new normal? 
Rosenstock toured WORRY. relentlessly from the moment it dropped and he hasn’t lost his ability to read the room. "USA" announces his presence: “Dumbfounded, downtrodden and dejected/Crestfallen, grief-stricken and exhausted/Trapped in my room while the house burned down to the motherfuckin’ ground.” Later, while collapsing hungover into a dream-pop breakdown, he rallies a crowd to sing in unison: “We’re tired and bored.” 
“USA” is a moment that could be found on Titus Andronicus’ The Monitor—a seven-minute us-against-them salvo that sees the Civil War as unprocessed national trauma, continuing and ever-evolving along culture and race lines. He’s seeing them everywhere; not just the burnouts at Midwestern gas stations that are exoticized in Red State safaris, but the patriarch of a suburban family in a crossover SUV. “I won’t hate you, I just need to know/Please be honest/Tell me was it you?” he begs, demanding to find out who exactly betrayed America and put people in power whose entire platform runs on political shitposting meant to do little except expedite the death of the disadvantaged. It all builds to a cheerleading chorus of “Et tu, USA!”, but it really sounds like “F U/USA,” already the frontrunner for the most fortuitous misheard lyric of 2018. 
As an outright call to arms, “USA” is an outlier on POST-. True to its title, it takes stock of what happens after the shock subsides and a more unsettling fear arises—a world where a steady refrigerator-buzz of dull outrage becomes our emotional baseline. “Yr Throat” and “Powerlessness” touch on how invigorating it felt to finally be heard, the moments of genuine hope in seeing us finding common ground. But those songs are only briefly about hope; they’re mostly stewed in the pervasive, underlying doubt about whether any of it is sustainable or whether America is worth saving in the first place—and whether even bringing these doubts up makes you a cynic or an asshole. 
“I called it positivity and congratulated myself on a job well done/But after a couple of days the fire that I thought would burn it down was gone,” he sings on “Powerlessness,” a painfully relatable self-flagellation. How much can one give of themselves before it becomes necessary to fall back on the things that bring you mindless joy? Is it so wrong to lose yourself in “first-person shooter games/Guitar tones, ELO arrangements/The differences in an MP3 and a vinyl record that you can hear”? GUILT might have been the more appropriate title for this record, as it’s often the byproduct of acting on worry and fear. 
The darker, more introspective POST- inverts the festival-core unity of WORRY. with accounts of lovelorn sadsacks trying to pull themselves out of the quicksand of self-pity by leaning forward and staring at their navel. “TV Stars” and “9/10” continue to tease out the musical theatre that’s underpinned Rosenstock’s best work, Broadway pop-rock ballads that find an unforeseeable midpoint between Ted Leo and Billy Joel. But the brief victories that propel the day forward—finding lost keys, minor lotto winnings—get sucked down a void of crippling distractions, staring at the news trying to stay awake and, later, getting stoned and staring at sitcoms trying to go to sleep. “Melba” is the closest thing we get to an unequivocally happy song, and it’s only because a dream of starting over in Australia is sufficient enough to get through a shit day. 
No one needs Jeff Rosenstock to tell us “it's just like Black Mirror, innit?” in 2018, but POST- never lets its righteous anger or exhaustion come at the expense of empathy and melody. Even when “Beating My Head Against a Wall” is the only way Rosenstock can resist giving an opponent a Richard Spencer, we get a brilliantly primitive Ramones homage out of the exchange. Whereas any praise of WORRY. likely mandated a retelling of his backstory as an ethical compass and consummate defender of punk’s least credible subgenres, POST- is a confirmation of Rosenstock as one of punk rock’s greatest, most effusive living songwriters. It’s his most easily accessible work yet. Compared to the genre-spanning opus of WORRY., POST- is immediate, raw, and yet more open to interpretation. It’s almost a throwback to his former band Bomb the Music Industry!’s chug-and-point Long Island shout-alongs without the whiz-bang synth effects. While the subject matter of POST- ensures its relevance and substance, much like everything else Rosenstock has ever done, it also sounds like the most fun thing one could possibly do. It’s a motivation to, at the very least, get out of bed. 
To hear Rosenstock tell it, we’re all gonna need it. Which brings us to closer “Let Them Win,” a preposterous 11-minute saga. In light of what came before, had it been presented with the same triumphant resilience of WORRY.’s grand finale “Perfect Sound Whatever,” “Let Them Win” could’ve come off as cheap pandering or sloganeering. Instead, Rosenstock’s band stumbles and trudges, a callback to the punchdrunk chants of “USA”—they’ve felt tired and bored and disillusioned and now, dear lord, we are exhausted. But with every bit of depleted energy Rosenstock and friends can muster, they swear there’s absolutely no way we’re gonna let them win again and concludes with five minutes of synthesizer drone. POST- could not have ended on a more appropriate note than one of sustain—whether or not Rosenstock’s prophecies once again come to pass in 2018, for now this is the sound of a cautiously optimistic new year.
Ian Cohen / Pitchfork

sexta-feira, 17 de agosto de 2018

Tom Zé ‎– Estudando A Bossa Nordeste Plaza (2008)

Style: Bossanova, MPB
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Biscoito Fino

01.   Introdução (Brazil, Capital Buenos Aires)  / Rio Arrepio (Badá-Badi)
02.   Barquinho Herói
03.   João Nos Tribunais
04.   O Céu Desabou
05.   Síncope Jãobim
06.   Filho Do Pato
07.   Outra Insensatez, Poe!
08.   Roquenrol Bim-Bom
09.   Mulher De Música
10.   Brazil, Capital Buenos Aires
11.   Amor Do Rio
12.   Bolero De Platão
13.   Solvador, Bahia De Caymmi
14.   De: Terra; Para: Humanidade

Okay, I admit it. I do not understand Portuguese. I do not have a clue to what the words on the new Tom Ze record are about. The compact disc the label sent for review does not come with a front cover, lyric sheet, translation page, or liner notes. I have repeatedly played the new Tom Zé record, but it seems the more I play it, the more lost I get. Is Zé making fun of the bossa nova music genre? That’s what it seems like, though I cannot be sure. Maybe something more meta is going on -- is this a disc making fun of discs that make fun of bossa nova? 
In the end, none of this matters. Most North American listeners are like me. They will have little understanding of the cultural contexts or what the lyrics mean in English. We will only have the exotic sound of the music. The question becomes, is this a fun album in which to get lost? The answer is an emphatic yes. 
This is wild, wacky, and wonderful noise with traces of tropical breezes and swaying foliage sighing through the instrumentation, pretty vocal harmonies provided by women with lovely voices and alliterative sounds mixed with grunts and oys and whatever. Zé’s vocals are rough and manly, in a playful way. He has a strong sense of rhythm that makes this dance music infectious, even when Zé lays down a speechified rant to minimal accompaniment (such as on “João Nos Tribunais”). 
The music is also sexy. How can an album full of subtle sighs and gentle rhythms not be? Many of the songs seem to be endless churnings that seem headed to a climax, and whether or not it comes seems irrelevant. The fun lies in the efforts. The music may not be orgasmic as the release becomes of secondary importance. Instead, just getting worked up is an end in itself. 
There are some words in English on the album, most notably on “Outra Insensatez, Poe!”, that features a duet between Zé and David Byrne (the album is on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label). The song begins with Zé groaning in Portuguese to a lilting acoustic guitar accompaniment. Byrne then delivers his English translation in a smooth voice. The narrator complains that it’s New Year’s Eve, and while fireworks burst in the air, his love his has left him, so he feels pain like the “chicken pox and then measles and then a nasty fever that entered my chest like an invading army with barbed wire wrapped around my young skin”. Zé continues his lament and Byrne continues his translation -- and the difference between the two vocal styles -- Zé’s sandpaper-y moans and Byrne’s dispassionate and straightforward delivery creates a comic effect. Ze’s over-emoting comes off as purposely solipsistic. Byrne’s deadpan conveys a droll double-meaning. 
Indeed, a sense of humor pervades the disc. Whether it’s chorus that echoes The Beatles (“Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da”) on the fancifully titled “Roquenrol Bim-Bom” or soccer crowds chanting on “Brazil, Capital Buenos Aires”, there always seems to be something off-kilter on every song that makes one listen closer as if this would reveal hidden secrets. Who knows what this mystery may be? For all I know, the album contains the world’s greatest egg salad recipe. But there’s no riddle as to how to enjoy the disc -- just put it on and listen.
Steve Horowitz / popMATTERS

quarta-feira, 15 de agosto de 2018

Miles Davis ‎– Tutu (1986)

Style: Electro, Future Jazz, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Warner Bros. Records

1.   Tutu
2.   Tomaas
3.   Portia
4.   Splatch
5.   Backyard Ritua
6.   Perfect Way
7.   Don't Lose Your Mind
8.   Full Nelson

Bass Guitar – Marcus Miller
Drums, Percussion – Omar Hakim
Instruments [All Other] – George Duke, Marcus Miller
Percussion – Paulinho Da Costa
Percussion [Additional] – Steve Reid
Programmed By [Synthesizer, Additional] – Adam Holzman, Marcus Miller
Programmed By [Synthesizer] – Jason Miles
Synthesizer [Additional] – Bernard Wright
Synthesizer [Solo] – Adam Holzman
Trumpet – Miles Davis
Violin [Electric] – Michael Urbaniak

Jazz’s most famous son is given godly status for his work in the 50s – as in Kind of Blue – and the 70s – as in Bitches Brew. The 80s remains a dubious period of his discography. Tutu casts doubt on that received wisdom. Although it is still dismissed by many as ‘lightweight’ or, worse still, ‘pop-fusion’, the album, whose striking monochrome sleeve stylized the trumpeter’s austere, sculptural, late-years beauty, had something that captured the imagination of many outside of the world of jazz. 
And it wasn’t just the romance of Davis coming back to the fray, like some of the boxers from whom he drew inspiration, after several years on the ropes. If 1982’s We Want Miles was a clarion call for the idea that he was still relevant to music, specifically, and culture, generally, then 1986’s Tutu was proof positive that he could touch people without sounding dated. That was the whole point. The record reflected the 80s, just as Herbie’s Rockit did. That meant keyboards, sequencing, dub effects, drum machines and tonalities that often had the brightness and sharpness of the Fairlight era, something that is made all the more evident by the crisp sound of this re-issue. 
Marcus Miller was the architect who built the sonic edifice for Davis, and the key thing was that he was a producer who could play as well as a player who could produce. Amid the tapestry of electronics, his bass guitar and bass clarinet make their presence felt, as does Michael Urbaniak’s electric violin, Paulinho Da Costa’s percussion, and Adam Holzman and Jason Miles’ synths. These elements cohere in backdrops that had strong echoes of black popular music of the day – Cameo’s sparkling, day-glow funk, Prince or Jam & Lewis’ fizzing electro-acoustic cocktails and, to a lesser degree, the angsty soul-reggae that Wally Badarou and Sly & Robbie laid down for Grace Jones. But Miller brought more crystalline harmonic subtleties to the table. Combined with Davis’ brooding brass whispers, the result was a work of engrossingly fraught atmospheres. And great tunes. None are light. Some are positively heavy.
Kevin Le Gendre  / BBC Review

terça-feira, 14 de agosto de 2018

Burning Spear ‎– Social Living (1978)

Style: Roots Reggae
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Island Records

A1.   Marcus Children Suffer
A2.   Social Living
A3.   Nayah Keith
A4.   Institution
A5.   Marcus Senior
B1.   Civilized Reggae
B2.   Mister Garvey
B3.   Come
B4.   Marcus Say Jah No Dead

Credits: Bass – Familyman, George Oban, R. Shakespeare Drums – Angus Gaye, L. Wallace, Sly Guitar – Ranchie, Brinsley Forde, Donald Griffiths, D. Kingsley, Chinna Horns – Bobby Ellis, Dickage, H. Marquis, Dirty Harry, Rico, V. Gordon Keyboards – L. Harvey, Courtney Hemmings, H. Lindo, Ibo Percussion – Stickey, W. Rodney Producer – Karl Pitterson, Winston Rodney Written-By – Winston Rodney

Burning Spear's seventh album was originally released in the U.K. by Island in 1978 and has always been difficult to find in the U.S. Blood and Fire's reissue makes it possible for average American reggae fans to hear what they've been missing, and it turns out that's quite a lot. Social Living picks up where the third Burning Spear LP, Marcus Garvey, left off -- more slow, dark songs about slavery, repatriation, and, of course, Garvey himself (four of the nine songs have his name in their titles). There are still no real tunes to speak of, just immensely dense grooves that thud and rumble along slowly and relentlessly to the accompaniment of distant horns and rattling nyahbinghi percussion. If this 2003 remaster edges out the original Island release in any way, it's in the mix: Island toned down Social Living (aka Marcus' Children) a bit to appeal to British audiences, but the Blood and Fire version absolutely throbs with bass and echoes like drums heard across vast distances. In this context, when Winston Rodney sings that "Jah no dead" it's impossible not to believe him; when he instructs you in the specifics of "Social Living," you find yourself submitting to his instruction. It's that kind of album.
Rick Anderson  / AllMusic

Pere Ubu ‎– Dub Housing (1978)

Style: New Wave, Art Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Chrysalis

A1.   Navvy
A2.   On The Surface
A3.   Dub Housing
A4.   Caligari's Mirror
A5.   Thriller!
B1.   I, Will Wait
B2.   Drinking Wine Spodyody
B3.   (Pa) Ubu Dance Party
B4.   Blow Daddy-o
B5.   Codex

Credits: Engineer – Ken Hamann Mastered By – Porky Producer – Ken Hamann Producer, Written-By – Pere Ubu Performer – Allen Ravenstine, David Thomas, Scott Krauss, Tom Herman, Tony Maimone

Each time I listen to music, I hope to discover sparkling new sounds. I, therefore hardly ever go back to an older album, and, when I do, it is usually at the request of mates who have dropped in and want me to shut up whatever new crap I'm playing.  
Whether Pere Ubu, the Congos and Television prove to be life long favourites, I can't tell, but since approximately 1978, when I was 17,I have enjoyed listening to their music. Comparing 'Marquee Moon' to 'Heart of The Congos' and 'Dub Housing' only makes sense when you've spent days listening to them. Pere Ubu and Television are contemporaries from the same field, but share with the Congos an eerie, airy feel to their music. 'Dub Housing', Pere Ubu’s second album, is the album of the three that I have listened to the most intensely.  
The opening track 'Navvy' brought back to me when I first heard it memories of Devo , and later on a dance developed out of this this odd ball funk splash. 'On The Surface' , the second song, has always made me sit up and pay full attention as its 60's psycho beat slows down the whole pace of 'Dub Housing'. The foggy mystery and the nocturnal atmosphere of the title track creates and tailors the ultimate straightjacket for Pere Ubu's haunting music.  
Bearing in mind the glitsch music that is made with the 21st century in computers, 'Thriller!', the last track on the first side, was pretty far ahead of its time. Standing next to the turntable,as that young man of 17 or so, waiting for the last scratch of 'Thriller!' to be over, I felt compelled to sway to its distorted beats. After having quickly flipped the LP over, I would then settle down and start sipping a beer or scotch. At that time I couldn't possibly think of anything more pleasant than listening to the second side of 'Dub Housing'.  
Occasionally I would feel sorry that Pere Ubu never invited Captain Beefheart along to their recording sessions.I would try to imagine Pere Ubu doing those skizzo Ubu dances on a stage. On stage Pere Ubu were the next Magic Band, and frontman and singer David Thomas would put up a show that would need several cameras to catch it all.  
Yet, as I was at home, alone or with friends, 'Dub Housing' always forced me into the grey zone of indecisiveness. Should I stay or should I go? '(Pa) Ubu Dance Party' would give me the necessary push to go to the front door, but then I’d have go back to check the next track after it. 'Blow Daddy-o', which follows, was a slice of disorientation that in contrast pinned me down to my chair.  
I tried to imagine Captain Beefheart proclaiming 'Blow Daddy-o' , before ending up bewildered by 'Codex', the final track, which has David Thomas backing a Beach Boys style track at 16 rounds per minute.  
Even when I played many records at the wrong speed - by intention - I never did so with 'Dub Housing' by Pere Ubu. Respect due. 
Maarten Schiethart / Penny Black Music

segunda-feira, 13 de agosto de 2018

Steely Dan ‎– Aja (1977)

Style: Soft Rock, Jazz-Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: ABC Records, MCA Records ‎

A1.   Black Cow
A2.   Aja
A3.   Deacon Blues
B1.   Peg
B2.   Home At Last
B3.   I Got The News
B4.   Josie

Denny Dias - Guitar
Gary Coleman - Percussion
Chuck Findley - Brass, Horn
Larry Carlton - Guest Artist, Guitar, Guitar (Electric)
Walter Becker - Bass, Composer, Guitar, Guitar (Electric), Liner Notes, Photography, Vocals
Pete Christlieb - Flute, Sax (Tenor), Saxophone
Donald Fagen - Composer, Keyboards, Liner Notes, Synthesizer, Vocals, Vocals (Background), Whistle (Instrument)
Victor Feldman - Keyboards, Percussion, Piano, Piano (Electric), Vibraphone
Venetta Fields - Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Steve Gadd - Drums, Guest Artist
Jay Graydon - Guitar, Guitar (Electric)
Ed Greene - Drums
Paul Griffin - Keyboards, Piano (Electric), Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Don Grolnick - Clavinet, Keyboards
Jim Horn - Flute, Saxophone
Paul Humphrey - Drums
Dick Hyde - Brass, Trombone
Plas Johnson - Flute, Saxophone
Jackie Kelso - Flute, Horn, Saxophone
Jim Keltner - Drums, Percussion
Steve Khan - Guitar
Clydie King - Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Rebecca Louis - Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Rick Marotta - Drums
Sherlie Matthews - Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Lew McCreary - Brass, Horn
Michael McDonald - Guest Artist, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Michael Omartian - Keyboards, Piano
Dean Parks - Guitar
Bill Perkins - Flute, Horn, Saxophone
Bernard "Pretty" Purdie - Drums, Guest Artist
Chuck Rainey - Bass
Lee Ritenour - Guitar
Joe Sample - Clavinet, Guest Artist, Keyboards, Piano (Electric)
Timothy B. Schmit - Bass, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Tom Scott - Conductor, Flute, Guest Artist, Horn Arrangements, Horn Conductor, Lyricon, Sax (Tenor), Saxophone
Wayne Shorter - Flute, Guest Artist, Sax (Tenor), Saxophone

If ever a record knew its worth, it was Aja, the sixth album by Steely Dan. Released in late 1977 when half the world seemed to be down the disco and the other half were pogo-ing, here came an album that oozed detached sophistication, using every trick that keyboard player and vocalist Donald Fagen and guitarist Walter Becker had mastered over their first decade together. 
Following on from 1976's The Royal Scam, any notion of Steely Dan being ‘a band’ had gone, with a huge stream of well over 40 highly skilled session musicians creating textures to support Becker and Fagen's musical vision. As a result, you get a masterclass in laidback solos and awkward time signatures, all beneath a highly polished surface. 
At the time of the album’s release, Fagen said, "We write the same way a writer of fiction would write. We're basically assuming the role of a character, and for that reason it may not sound personal." Becker added, "This is not The Lovin’ Spoonful. It's not real good-time music." It’s true – these seven tracks are like miniature works of fiction, paying no mind to length or rock convention. 
Aja was (is) a very influential work. In Scotland Ricky Ross heard the song Deacon Blues and named his band after it, while Peg is widely known because of De La Soul’s sampling of it for Eye Know. The jaunty Josie and the sublime title-track are further stand-outs on a record that barely breaks its bossa-nova beat. It is impossible to hear this record without thinking about LA sunshine, even though Fagen's lyrics were often nostalgic, ironic and bitter; hardly suspiring for a group that named itself after a – ahem – marital aid from William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. 
To complete the feeling that you were holding an old jazz album in your hands, the original pressings came in a gatefold sleeve with a note from ABC Records’ president Steve Diener and the mock reverential critique by ‘Michael Phalen’: "In this writer’s opinion, Aja signals the onset of a new maturity and a kind of solid professionalism that is the hallmark of an artist that has arrived." Phalen was, of course, Becker and Fagen. 
To emphasize its importance, in 2011 Aja was deemed by the Library of Congress to be "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important" and added to the United States National Recording Registry. But with or without such an accolade, Aja remains a remarkable piece of work.
Daryl Easlea  / BBC Review

The Cramps ‎– Smell Of Female (1983)

Style: Rockabilly, Psychobilly, Rock & Roll
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Enigma RecordsTracklist:

1.   Thee Most Exalted Potentate Of Love
2.   You Got Good Taste
3.   Call Of The Wighat
4.   Faster Pussycat
5.   I Ain't Nuthin' But A Gorehound
6.   Psychotic Reaction

Drums – Nick Knox
Guitar – Congo Powers
Lead Guitar – Poison Ivy
Vocals – Lux Interior
Mastered By – Eddy Schreyer
Engineer – Paul McKenna
Producer – The Cramps

There are few finer examples of both the shamanic and the barbarian spirit of rock'n'roll than The Cramps. They've got a goddess incarnate on guitar and are so Odinist that their drummer was one-eyed and their lead singer has subconsciously named himself for Lugh (though so full of trickster spirit is Loki Interior that he'd rather have you believe it was for a car advert). If you like your rock'n'roll seedy, low-down, unrighteous and dangerous then how does the idea of a band lead by a convicted speed dealer and a one-time professional dominatrix strike you? Or a record recorded live in a "world-famous" lapdancing bar, New York City's Peppermint Lounge? The Cramps are that band and Smell of Female is that record. 
The Cramp's unique sound has been so influential that it has defined (or, rather, re-defined) an entire musical genre: rockabilly, which became known as psychobilly under their perverse influence. Here's how Nick Kent described rockabilly music in the NME, June 23rd 1979 CE: 
"It is simply rock primitivism at its most blazingly illogical, at its most 'crazed', at its most gone. Lyrics are of minimal importance, for example. Instead, the music is a psyched-up shuddering splurge of adrenalin-pumping dementia, with the singer spewing forth reams of garbled rant so brain-bell whacked out he sounds like he's facing off all the demons Robert Johnson had driving him down, down, down to the murky depths of hell." 
In the hands of The Cramps the already deranged sound of rockabilly has only become more frenzied, more crazed, more full on, more, more, more. Their music is powered by full-lead high-octane gasoline of which it guzzles a gallon every mile, every minute. 
Smell of Female is a truly devout homage to the goddess as Hoeur/whore disguised in The Cramps' tricksterish humour. Now let's not misunderstand this. Both Lux and Ivy are REALLY keen to point out that their music is not ironic. It surely isn't - they mean every word. They really are that low! But they disguise the deadly earnestness of their trip by making out that they have absolutely nothing of importance to say at all. The truth is, though, that their music is about all of the most important things in life: sex, love, death and fun, to name only the most obvious. Smell of Female is a beautiful piece of such trickery. Just look at the cover. Can you see past the whore to the Hoeur? Is that really a lapdancing bar or a temple of the goddess? 
The first sound we hear from these rites of Hoeur is the sound of frenzy: the crowd screaming in excitement, anticipation and abandon like the Galli of Cybele and Attis. A gong rings out - "Ladies and Gentlemen, live from the Peppermint Lounge, the Cramps". And in it lurches with a sound like the Creepy Coup from the Wacky Racers driven by Dervishes fresh from a heavy all-night drinking session in, well, in the Peppermint Lounge. The Most Exalted Potentate of Love is an unashamed declaration of sexual potency, the music hulking, looming, ramshackle and raw. A sound so powerful that its hard to believe there's no bass guitar. Singing so breathless that it simply must be inducing an altered state in the singer. Sex and death all wound into one like fucking in the graveyard. 
Trickster Lux introduces You Got Good Taste by trying to throw us off the scent (or is that taste?), disguising what he's really about to say, deliberately misleading the audience: "this one's dedicated to all you Gucci bag carriers out there". This is pumped-up, amphetemine-fuelled blues driven by heavy slabs of rhythm guitar that hit you like punches in the face, tough as leather. Lux is screaming at one moment and gutturally growling the next, the frenzied crowd howling in his every pause, responding to him like a demented multi-limbed puppet. They are absolutely lapping it up, hanging on his every word, his every wordless grunt. And such a song! Such devotion, even addiction, to the feminine. Such depraved NEED for his goddess muse Ivy. 
Now I may be showing my naivety here but I have to confess that I haven't got a fucking clue what The Call of the Wighat is about. At a guess, I'd say its about insecurity and the stupid things that insecurity makes people do. But I get the feeling I'm probably wrong. This song, I suspect, is solely intended to give you that feeling: they know something that you don't. I mean just look at these lyrics: "How do you keep a moron in wighat suspense? / I'll tell you that later, but first I'll tell you this...". Truly this song is a lyrical feast. Its got everything from the brutal ("My momma had twin babies on one sweet summer day / She beat one in the head and I'm the one that got away") to the just plain ridiculous ("My grand jumping catfish do the limbo on my face / But no-one seems to notice when my wighat is in place"). There's even more subconscious invoking of primal deities ("HU!") thrown in for good measure. And a delicious humour throughout. As for the music, its completely out of this world. Its got a drum sound that I absolutely adore, primitive and hypnotic, dusty. And such a punk ethos (which all of this music has): its just one endless, trance-inducing chord all the way. 
Faster Pussycat is a wonderfully quirky song with incredible unexpected chord-progressions. Its all unbalanced, as though it were about topple over at any moment, yet you know at all times that its completely under control and that you are in the hands of experts. The rhythm guitars are like slabs of lead, yet in the instrumental break in the middle they are beautifully complemented with the tiny twinkle of a glockenspiel. Once again, this song is pure devotion to the female, the untouchable goddess: "If you think that you can take her / Well just you try". 
I Ain't Nothin' But a Gorehound is about being in the gutter and loving it there. Its like George Clinton said: "All that is good is nasty". Its a straightforward power-driving blues. There's a wonderful moment in it where Ivy makes the guitar sound like a cartoon character's jaw dropping and drooling, eyes popping, at the sight of the opposite sex. Enough said. 
Smell of Female draws to a close with the wonderfully frenzied Psychotic Reaction. This is a song sung by someone who NEEDS the female so badly that it hurts. If Lux is Odin then Ivy is Frigg, for she is quite clearly the source of his insane amount of energy. Just a short verse ("I can't get your love I can't get satisfaction") and the whole thing goes whirling off into the eye of the maelstrom, spinning like a dervish, staggering like a drunk. Have I mentioned that Ivy is quite possibly the best female guitarist alive in the world today? Listen to her playing in this song and tell me its not so. Don't be fooled by the punk philosophy - like Lux blowing his one piercing note in his harmonica "solos" in this song, the Cramps would always prefer to play something ludicrously simple than be technically accomplished. But there's simply no disguised Ivy's musical genius in these raging instrumental whirlpools. 
The shaman in rock'n'roll? Shit, Lux & Ivy met on a college course entitled "Shamanism & Art" and have been known to describe the entrancing frenzy of their live shows as Voodoo. What more could you possibly ask for? 
alKmyst/ Head Heritage 

sexta-feira, 10 de agosto de 2018

Pacific ‎– Inference (1990)

Style: Synth-pop, Indie Pop
Format: CDVinyl
Label:  Creation Records

1.   Shrift
2.   Autumn Island
3.   Mineral
4.   Barnoon Hill
5.   I Wonder
6.   Henry Said
7.   Jetstream
8.   Shrift

Vanessa Norwood - singing
Simon Forest - cello
Nick Wilson - trumpet
Rachel Norwood - guitar
Dennis Wheatley - singing, guitars, atari computer programming various other noises

Como o grupo-fantasma Momus de Nicholas Currie, os Pacific de Dennis (quem?) in-vestem o essencial da sua energia criativa na redefinição for-mal da canção pop. Porém, enquanto a aposta do novel autor de «weird love songs» se faz no sentido da articulação dramática entre texto e música de acordo com a especificidade de cada canção, a da nova esperança da pop britânica parece assentar em exclusivo na esfera do formal segundo uma lógica de diversificação sonora, em particular tímbrica. Assim era «Jetstream», canção incluída no EP de estreia Sea Of Sand, de 1988, e sua obra-prima provisória — uma voz monocórdica como que captada no receptor de ondas curtas de um «médium» sobre tapeçaria de guitarra dedilhada, sintetizador e xilofone; corpo central da canção com voz masculina apoiada em guitarra acústica e violoncelo; trompete com surdina evocador de Pale Fountains rompendo pelos espaços; quebra súbita na estrutura permitindo a infiltração de mais vozes do Além (entre as quais a de Churchill) e final protagonizado por voz feminina por entre ataques de violoncelo. 
Mais que a tentativa de implantação de uma nova fórmula, a estratégia cénica exemplar de «Jetstream» assumia-se como uma experiência estética (sem qualquer relação, no entanto, com o conceito de música experimental) resultante da vontade de superar velhos modelos no sentido da redisponibilização do idioma pop para novas soluções. Que a reinvenção é possível, e inteiramente lícita, a partir de um trabalho de superfície que mais tarde poderá contaminar as instâncias mais profundas da canção, demonstrava-o a circunstância de não encontrarmos outra coisa senão a estrutura trivial da canção pop à medida que se caminhava para o interior de cada uma delas. Desse brioso trabalho desenvolvido de fora para dentro por uma causa justa restam como testemunhos as quatro peças-piloto de Sea Of Sand e a canção, e dois instrumentais do EP Shrift, de 1989. 
Além de proporcionar um sentido de corpo à obra ainda escassa dos Pacific, a sua re-união num único disco vem revelar-nos o ponto exacto em que se começou a definir a decisiva viragem que faz hoje da Creation Records uma das editoras mais criativas (literalmente) do momento e, por outro lado, sublinhar que a reconversão e reabilitação da pop branca, não se fará tanto pela capitulação perante a lógica da música de dança como pela absorção da multiplicidade de estímulos em livre circulação no ar que respiramos no início dos anos 90. Obviamente que este recado se estende aos circunspectos músicos pop da nossa terra...
Ricardo Saló / Expresso (1990)