Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Arcade Fire ‎– Funeral (2004)

Style: Indie Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: High Note Records, Rough Trade, Merge Records

01.   Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
02.   Neighborhood #2 (Laïka)
03.   Une Année Sans Lumiere
04.   Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
05.   Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles)
06.   Crown Of Love
07.   Wake Up
08.   Haïti
09.   Rebellion (Lies)
10.   In The Backseat

Cello – Michael Olsen
Harp – Anita Fust
Horn – Pietro Amato
Accordion – Richard Reed Parry, Régine Chassagne
Acoustic Guitar – Timothy Kingsbury, Win Butler
Drums – Howard Bilerman, Régine Chassagne
Violin – Owen Pallett, Sarah Neufeld
Vocals – Régine Chassagne, Win Butler
Strings Arranged By – The Arcade Fire, Owen Pallett, Sarah Neufeld
Bass – Timothy Kingsbury, William Butler, Win Butler
Double Bass – Richard Reed Parry, Régine Chassagne
Guitar, Organ – Richard Reed Parry
Guitar – Win Butler, Timothy Kingsbury, Howard Bilerman
Percussion – Richard Reed Parry, Régine Chassagne, William Butler
Piano – Richard Reed Parry, Régine Chassagne, Win Butler
Synthesizer – Richard Reed Parry, Régine Chassagne, William Butler, Win Butler
Xylophone – Richard Reed Parry, Régine Chassagne, William Butler
Producer, Written-By – The Arcade Fire

Fittingly, it was a record called ‘Funeral’ that killed indie rock as we knew it. Fifteen years ago this week, on September 14 2004, it was Arcade Fire wot did it, in Urban Outfitters, with the accordion.

Changed or killed? Truth is, indie barely made it out of Britpop in one piece. When it emerged from the 90s, like a shellshocked war vet, it barely knew what it was anymore. An ethos? A sound? None of the era’s major players – Blur, Pulp, Oasis – could provide an answer. Come the millennium, garage rock – The Strokes, The White Stripes and so on – gave it a bump and bought it a second-hand leather jacket.

Then a band from Montreal, Canada, released their debut album. They had a singer, in Win Butler, who looked like he’d just walked off the canvas of a haunted gothic painting. His wife, Regine Chassagne, was in the band. His younger brother Will too. Loads of their mates. During recording, an alarming number of the band’s grandparents died – including Win and Will’s grandfather, jazz legend Alvino Rey – hence the album title. And yet for a record principally concerned with death, it couldn’t have sounded more alive.

The record entered a world no longer on fire, but dolefully combing the ashes for sense and reason. Inquests were in vogue. Into the suspicious death of weapons inspector Dr. David Kelly the previous July. Into whether Iraq had possessed the weapons of mass destruction that would have justified the allied forces’ invasion in March of the same year. Into al Qaeda’s role in the 9/11 attacks a few years earlier. In March that very organisation took the lives of 191 in the Madrid bombings. In April, photos emerged of US soldiers abusing Iraqi solders in Abu Ghraib prison. In October, the British civil engineer Ken Bigley was beheaded by Islamic militants and the footage was posted on the internet. The 18 years since the towers fell have featured many that are significant in signposting to the daily dread of 2019. 2004 is one of them.

‘Funeral’ is a record that provided a soundtrack to a generation who wanted to feel something but didn’t know what, and barely remembered how. “Something filled up,” went the big song ‘Wake Up’, “my heart with nothing”. Little made sense now. We’d been living to a faded rulebook for five strange years. If two aeroplanes could incinerate a New York picture postcard, what other horrors might unfold? If 2,977 people could lose their lives simply for going to work, what was the point in me running for the bus? What was the point of planning a future when I might not be here tomorrow? When my friends might not? When my family… What was the point of staying up all night making placards that read “no war”, marching, shouting until your throat was raw, only for the bombs still to fall? “They say a watched pot won’t ever boil,” muses the singer on ‘7 Kettles’, with perhaps a view to the wells of black gold bubbling in the Middle East. “You can’t raise a baby on motor oil”.

And yet the record swelled and soared, whispered and roared; it said nothing direct about the war but everything about 2004. “Purify the colours!” roared the man from the haunted painting on the album’s opener ‘Tunnels’, “purify my mind!” God knows what any of it meant, but the way he sang it sounded like it meant something. That would do for now. Like a teeterboard weighted by angst and hope, the record veered between the two, often several times within the same song. Then came a song, ‘Laika’, that appeared to be about sending a dog to space to die. These were, as we say, the strangest times. But then there was a song called ‘Power Out’. It sounded like New Order playing a Joy Division song. When the man sang, “don’t have any dreams, don’t have any plans, I went out into the night, I went out to find some light” it sounded like he was singing to all of us. We were all trying to find purpose back then.

The band managed to squeeze five singles out of ‘Funeral’, by then a Grammy nominated album. Platinum in the UK and Canada, gold in the United States. The last was ‘Wake Up’. It was the best song they’d written then, and perhaps even now. It changed everything. Opened doors indie bands were rarely allowed through. The following year the band would perform the song live with David Bowie at a Fashion Rocks gig in New York. Coldplay’s live show – once snively and insular, now clearly indebted to the Montreal band’s live act with the dials for euphoria turned up to 11 – would never be the same again. Then, like a fly to shit, came Bono. He’s always there, is Bono. You can set your watch by him. Ringing the cool magazine’s ‘Ones To Watch List’ in marker pen, lying in wait, sharpening his fangs, ready to pounce, to drag the latest big thing off to his Dublin dungeon, to drain them of blood. In the case of the Arcade Fire, he made do with using ‘Wake Up’ as the walk-up music on U2’s colossal Vertigo Tour in 2005.

Seemingly overnight everyone owned an Arcade Fire tote bag. Otherwise rational people started openly praising the merits of kale. The film Garden State was released and Natalie Portman, like Bambi dressed at American Apparel, really wanted you to check out The Shins. “You’ve got to hear this one song, it’ll change your life, I swear…” Young people started wearing knitwear. The music website Pitchfork, which had become a bastion for all things earnest and perceived real, could make or break a band with a single decimal place. ‘Funeral’ got 9.7. That same year, the US punk rock band Rise Against released an album called ‘Siren Song of the Counter Culture’. On it was a song called ‘The First Drop’. It featured the lyric “this system of power and privilege is about to come to an end”. Pitchfork awarded said album 2.9. Nobody wanted to fight in 2004. They just wanted a flat white.

Don’t hate the playa, hate the game, and ‘Funeral’ isn’t guilty of anything but association with some strange times. It came when we needed something of sustenance, and it delivered in spades. Its legacy is giving meaning where there once was little. Emotion when the well had run dry. It is the greatest album of the moral, ethical, spiritual conundrum that was the 00s, if you give a ‘Kid A’ and take an Arctic Monkey. Thanks to said record, for the following 10 years, every advertising executive at every tech company on the planet would commission their campaign with a request to “find me something like Arcade Fire…” It rendered the term indie rock useless. Something that played beneath the whir of Starbucks coffee machines. You might argue we’re still looking for what’s next.

But it also reminded us that we were alive, when most days it had started to feel that we’d ceased to be so. Every cloud…
James McMahon / NME

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Nahawa Doumbia ‎– Kanawa (2021)

Genre: Folk, World, & Country
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Awesome Tapes From Africa

1.   Blonda Yirini
2.   Didadi
3.   Ndiagneko
4.   Djougoh
5.   Hine
6.   Kanawa
7.   Adjorobena
8.   Foliwilen

Bass – Fassiriman Dembélé
Drum Programming – Vieux Paré
Guitar – Sékou Marcel Coulibaly
Ngoni – Cheick Oumar Koita, Mamatou Diabaté
Ngoni (Kamale N'goni) – Drissa Sidibé
Percussion – Halassane Sissoko
Acoustic Guitar, Arranged By, Producer – N'Gou Bagayoko
Backing Vocals – Bella Sobrega, Sadio Maria Sidibé
Vocals – Doussou Bagayoko 
Recorded By, Mixed By – Abou Cissé

The meaning of “Kanawa” is so simple. We see our children trying to cross the ocean all the time. I said that many of our children die in the ocean and some of them while crossing the Sahara. Some climb over the wires across the borders and they have gotten shot. We have asked them not to leave and instead stay home. But I ask them why do they leave their country? Why do they decide to go? They said that they leave because of the family situation or problems, poverty, and unemployment. We told them if ever they are to leave, they should privilege legal ways. They should abide by laws vigorously when they are to emigrate. That’s better than hiding in boats or adopting other illegal means. I ask them to stay and work in their country. So that we can help each other find a solution to this problem. I call on the UN and African leaders so that we can coordinate our efforts to find a solution, to create jobs for them so that young people stop leaving. This song is about that message and I chose it as the title of my album because I like it. My choice is because it is very meaningful and it is something we see on a daily basis. I chose it in order to alert and sensitize everybody about this question of illegal immigration. To sensitize our brothers and sisters. It is a message. That’s why I chose it as the title of my album so that everybody can learn from it and also so that there is a reduction in the number of people emigrating. To sensitize them so that some can stay home and grow the land. Leaving is not the only solution. That’s my message. — NAHAWA DOUMBIA

Monday, 1 March 2021

Wilma Archer ‎– A Western Circular (2020)

Genre: Electronic, Hip Hop, Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Weird World

01.   Western Circular
02.   Scarecrow
03.   Last Sniff
04.   Killing Crab
05.   The Boon
06.   Cheater
07.   Cures And Wounds
08.   Decades
09.   Ugly Feelings (Again)
10.   Worse Off West

Drums – Ellis Dupuy
Cello – Clíona Ní Choileáin
Vocals, Electric Violin – Sudan Archives
Double Bass – John Pope, John Williamsonr
Tenor Saxophone – Theo Erskine
Soprano Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – Dom Pusey
Vocals – Laura Groves, Samuel T. Herring, MF Doom
Backing Vocals – Ross Hutchison, Samuel T. Herring
Drums, Synthesizer, Singing Bowls, Alto Saxophone, Electric Guitar, Bass Guitar, Synthesizer, Piano, Backing Vocals – Will Archer
Composed By, Arranged By, Producer, Mixed By – Will Archer

Having released material as Slime between 2010 and 2017, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Will Archer has taken on a new pen name, Wilma Archer. A Western Circular is his debut LP under this new alias, representing a shift in his career. Inspired by the books of John Fante, the record aims high, exploring aspects of duality in the human condition: the ideas of life and death; peaks and troughs of emotion; finding beauty in pain.

The record moves dramatically between genres without feeling mismatched, emphasising Archer’s remarkable musicality and diversity as a composer. Two instrumental tracks open the record – the title track populated by sallow strings, and the smooth jazz of ‘Scarecrow’ – before MF DOOM comes in to speak the record’s first words. Archer expertly plays with tempo and layering, building a sonic world that induces everything from sorrow to nostalgia, anxiety to joy. 

A Western Circular plays host to an impressive line-up of guests, featuring vocal contributions from Samuel T. Herring of Future Islands, Sudan Archives and Laura Groves. These collaborations have formed and developed over a number of years, the end result being a project which is as ambitious and far-reaching as the soundscapes Wilma Archer creates.
Katie Cutforth / LOUD AND QUIET

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Michel Giacometti, Fernando Lopes-Graça ‎– (Breve Antologia) Cancioneiro Popular Português (1981)

Genre: Folk, World, & Country 
Format: Cassette
Label: Círculo de Leitores 

01.   José Embala O Menino
02.   Do Tronco Nasceu A Rama (Natal)
03.   Deus Nos Dê Cá As Boas-Festas (Janeiras)
04.   Senhora Santa Combinha (Canto De Romeiros)
05.   Vai-se O Dia, Vem A Noite (Moda Da Lavoura)
06.   Por Riba Se Ceifa O Pão (Cantiga Da Ceifa)
07.   Oliveiras, Oliveiras (Moda Do Varejo)
08.   Segadinhas, Segadinhas (Cantiga Do Linho)
09.   Tascadeiras Do Meu Linho (Cantiga Do Linho)
10.   Fiz Uma Aposta, Senhores (D. Mariana)
11.   Ofícios D'Aprender (Dança Dos Paulitos)
12.   Redondo (Dança)
13.   Por Baixo Di A Porta Hai Luz (Epitalâmio)
14.   Ai, O Vosso Devino Nome (Martírios)
15.   Senhora Do Almurtão (Canto De Romeiros)
16.   Ó Senhora Do Alívio (Rogativa)
17.   Recordai, Nobre Senhor (Oração Das Almas)
18.   Rula, Rula (Cantiga Das Sementeiras)
19.   Manhaninha De S. João (Romance Da Segada)
20.   Maçadeiras Do Meu Linho (Cantiga Do Linho)
21.   Ai, Ajuda-me, Ó Camarada (Cantiga Da Rega)
22.   Pur Beilar El Pingacho (Dança)
23.   Corridinho (Dança)
24.   Eu M'arrogo Prá Batalha (Do Auto Da Floripes)
25.   Ó Que Linda Pomba Branca (Canção Amorosa)

Teve o destino mais inverosímil, longe daquilo que os primeiros anos de formação e as consecutivas viagens que protagonizou fariam adivinhar. Michel Giacometti nasceu na Córsega em 1929. A infância e a adolescência viveu-as na Argélia (ainda colónia francesa). Mudou-se para Paris, fez parte de grupos de teatro itinerante e arriscou mesmo uma fugaz dedicação à poesia. Aos 30 anos visitou Portugal por “razões de ordem sentimental” – assim se lê na entrada com o seu nome na “Enciclopédia da Música em Portugal no Século XX”. Depois de desventuras entre viagens e desamores, transformou–se no nome maior da etnomusicologia nacional. Hoje assinalam-se os 20 anos da sua morte, pretexto para a reedição (revista e ampliada) da série documental que gravou para a RTP entre 1970 e 72, “Povo Que Canta” (realizada por Alfredo Tropa), e de outros registos.

Diz-nos Francisco d”Orey, produtor da RTP que acompanhou as gravações dos documentários, que Giacometti “entendeu que a música tradicional é a do povo, a do camponês, não é como a música dos citadinos, que compram bilhetes para concertos e gastam dinheiro em CD”. Estudioso crónico, descobriu, através do Museu do Homem (Paris) e do livro “Folk Music and Poetry of Spain and Portugal”, (de Kurt Schindler) a motivação para se instalar em Portugal e percorrer o país de norte a sul com um gravador e um mapa de intenções.

O processo “Giacometti registou o verdadeiro folclore, não o folcloró”, diz-nos Francisco d”Orey. O antigo produtor recorda ranchos e outros colectivos como coisa “de antigo regime, que serviam para dar uma ilusão daquilo que era a música tradicional”. O que Giacometti foi descobrindo, nas diferentes regiões do país, foram “aqueles que são mais músicos que muitos que usam o mesmo título”. Ao “antropólogo”, como é recordado por d”Orey, foi revelado o valor da “preservação”, da insistência entre territórios que não eram os seus por natureza. “Dedicou a sua vida a recolher gravações de música tradicional sem grande apoios e com muitos sacrifícios. Passou mal, adoeceu, mas foi um exemplo de entusiasmo pela nossa cultura.”

Recordando o método, Francisco d”Orey fala-nos de um processo simples: “Íamos para o campo e entrávamos em contacto com as pessoas. Muitas vezes desconfiavam do homem da cidade. Mas quando viam que estávamos interessados naquilo criavam-se laços. Às vezes não, às vezes as coisas até acabavam mal. E não acreditavam em nós, no que queríamos fazer.” Estas ocasiões eram pouco habituais. A grande maioria das situações tinha um resultado bem diferente: “Quando se estabeleciam boas relações, gravávamos tudo o que era cantado em festas, romarias, no trabalho do campo ou enquanto as mães embalavam os filhos. Toda a música tinha uma função.”

Seguia-se uma segunda etapa, fundamental, a de avaliar e catalogar todas as recolhas com o compositor Fernando Lopes-Graça, uma aliança perfeita no cuidado e na análise do material em causa (os dois publicaram também, em 1981, o “Cancioneiro Popular Português”). Refere d”Orey que o compositor “conhecia bem a música portuguesa, os dois garantiam a selecção entre o que era legítimo e o que era resultado de contaminações”. As conclusões deste trabalho foram editadas na colecção de registos “Antologia da Música Regional Portuguesa”, os famosos discos de vinil com capa de sarapilheira que conheceram uma edição muito limitada. No início da década de 70, Giacometti regressou aos locais onde recolheu as suas gravações para a realização da série documental “Povo Que Canta”.

Tradição televisiva Paulo Lima, coordenador da reedição de “Povo Que Canta”, lembra as origens de Michel Giacometti enquanto pedagogo e divulgador da tradição portuguesa: “Em 1962/63, Giacometti tem o projecto de fazer uma série etnográfica. Realiza primeiro um filme em Portimão sobre a pesca da sardinha, ”O Alar da Rede”, com o cineclubista Manuel Rua.” O retrato filmado da faina acaba por fazer uso do som gravado por Giacometti um ano antes na mesma traineira. “Mais tarde fez um filme em Rio de Onor, uma aldeia de Bragança, com o apoio do Cineclube do Porto”, assinala Paulo Lima.

A série não teve continuidade mas descobriu segunda vida uma década depois, no ecrã da RTP. José Moças, responsável pela Tradisom, a editora que recuperou “Povo Que Canta”, afirma que “hoje não é possível repetir uma recolha destas, 75% destas canções já não existem assim, tão-pouco quem as cante”.

Aponta Armando Leça, Artur Santos e Ernesto Veiga de Oliveira como referências da etnomusicologia em Portugal e o espólio sonoro de José Alberto Sardinha como o maior “e um dos mais importantes de sempre” (será, aliás, alvo de edição discográfica “num par de anos”, também com selo da Tradisom). “Mas mais ninguém fez uma recolha tão exaustiva e completa das nossas tradições vivas”, diz.

este texto foi originalmente publicado na edição de 23 de Novembro do jornal ‘i’

Saturday, 27 February 2021

José Mário Branco ‎– Ser Solidário (1982)

Genre: Folk, World, & Country
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: EMI, Som, Warner Music Portugal

CD1-01.   Travessia Do Deserto
CD1-02.   Queixa Das Almas Jovens Censuradas
CD1-03.   Vá... Vá...
CD1-04.   A Morte Nunca Existiu
CD1-05.   Fado Da Tristeza
CD1-06.   Fado Penélope
CD1-07.   Qual É A Tua, Ó Meu?
CD1-08.   Eu Vim De Longe, Eu Vou P'ra Longe (Chulinha)
CD2-01.   Inquietação
CD2-02.   Não Te Prendas A Uma Onda Qualquer
CD2-03.   Linda Olinda
CD2-04.   Treze Anos, Nove Meses
CD2-05.   Sopram Ventos Adversos (Maiden Voyage)
CD2-06.   Eu Vi Este Povo A Lutar (Confederação)
CD2-07.   Ser Solidário
CD2-08.   FMI (1ª E 2ª Partes)

Producer – José Mário Branco, Trindade Santos

O que guardamos de um criador para além do resultado mais visível daquilo que cria?

À margem de livros, quadros, discos, coreografias, há outros objectos, fragmentos e elementos documentais que concorrem para o que viremos a conhecer como a obra de alguém e que, muitas vezes, são tão inacessíveis ao público como os processos mentais que originaram determinada criação. Há excepções, sob a forma de acervos ou espólios devidamente catalogados, muitas vezes guardados em fundações ou arquivos, que preservam esses testemunhos e os disponibilizam junto de investigadores e académicos, mas é pouco frequente que esses fundos documentais estejam acessíveis a qualquer pessoa que tenha curiosidade em conhecê-los.

Nome fundamental da música e da cultura portuguesas a partir da segunda metade do século XX, José Mário Branco tem discografia extensa, em nome próprio e com trabalhos de autoria colectiva. Álbuns como Mudam-se os Tempos, Mudam-se as Vontades, Margem de Certa Maneira ou FMI acompanharam momentos muito intensos da história contemporânea portuguesa, da luta contra o fascismo aos anos quentes do início da democracia, e o passar do tempo confirmou esses e outros discos com a assinatura do autor como elementos fundamentais da cultura portuguesa de décadas recentes, quer no cânone musical, quer na memória colectiva. Agora, o Centro de Estudos de Sociologia e Estética Musical (CESEM), organismo que integra a Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa, dá um passo importante em direcção a uma maior apropriação colectiva desse património criado por José Mário Branco. Em parceria com o próprio músico, o CESEM criou um arquivo on-line que disponibiliza partituras, correspondência, anotações, fotografias e inúmeros outros documentos que permitem conhecer de outro modo o trabalho de José Mário Branco.

Para além da documentação associada aos discos assinados pelo músico, a solo ou em colectivo (como os do Grupo de Acção Cultural), deambular pelo Arquivo José Mário Branco permite conhecer ou redescobrir as inúmeras colaborações que o autor desenvolveu com outros músicos, tantas vezes como produtor, bem como os trabalhos feitos para televisão, cinema ou teatro. Partituras criadas para a peça Galileu Galileu, de Bertold Brecht, encenada por Carlos Avilez para o Teatro Experimental de Cascais, em 1986, para o filme Agosto, de Jorge Silva Melo, estreado em 1991, ou apresentadas no programa televisivo Notas Soltas, de 1984. Fotografias dos espectáculos realizados em 2001, com João Lóio, Regina Castro e Manuela de Freitas. Alinhamentos de concertos, horários de entrevistas, correspondência sobre projectos e espectáculos. E depois há as letras das canções, as que José Mário Branco gravou e as que criou para outros, tantos, bem como o alinhamento completo dos álbuns. Organizados por tipologia das fontes e pelas entradas que ajudam a estruturar o acervo (álbuns espectáculos, teatro, cinema, rádio, etc), os documentos permitem uma navegação intuitiva, mas igualmente uma pesquisa detalhada em função de interesses concretos.

Cumpre-se, deste modo, a intenção de disponibilizar o acervo de José Mário Branco para quem queira estudá-lo, ou estudar, através dele, aspectos concretos da história contemporânea portuguesa, mas também para quem pretenda deambular sem destino certo, respigando imagens, pautas, informações avulsas sobre o trabalho do autor. Foi esse o acordo firmado entre José Mário Branco e o CESEM, devidamente explicado na apresentação do site que alberga este arquivo: «No final do processo, foi acordado que estes materiais digitais, coerentemente organizados, seriam inseridos numa base de dados própria, para livre consulta em linha, concebida como instrumento auxiliar para o estudo, divulgação e reapropriação social da sua obra.» Reapropriemo-nos, então.

Este artigo foi publicado ao abrigo da nossa parceria com a Fundação José Saramago. Foi publicado originalmente na Revista Blimunda de junho de 2018.

Friday, 26 February 2021

Kyriakos Sfetsas - Greek Fusion Orchestra Vol.2 (2019)

Style: Fusion, Avant-garde Jazz, Free Jazz, Jazz-Funk
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Teranga Beat 

1.   Με Παραδοσιακό Τρόπο - On a Folk Mode
2.   Η Χήρα - The Widow
3.   40 Βήματα - 40 Steps
4.   Σέλιανη - Seliani
5.   Από Ξένο Τόπο - From a Foreign Land
6.   Σημάδια - Imprints
7.   Εναλλακτική Άποψη - Alternative Aspect

Kyriakos Sfetsas - Composer, Director
Yannis Terezakis - Piano, Cembalo
Manthos Chalkias - Folk Clarinet, Alto Sax, Flute
Yorgos Manikas - Tenor Sax, Flute
Nikos Tatsis - Guitar, Electric Lute
Yorgos Theodoridis - Bass
Dimitris Marinakis - Drums, Percussion

TERANGA BEAT proudly presents Vol.2 of Kyriakos Sfetsas' 1976 "Greek Fusion Orchestra" project. Sfetsas' vision behind the formation of GFO, was to create a piece of work that would expand the boundaries of Greek traditional music. The result was a Progressive-Jazz Fusion masterpiece comprising complex and intriguing compositions, performed by Athens' best musicians of the day.

Following the success of Vol.1, Vol.2 is a compilation of musical pieces Sfetsas recorded with the group right upon the completion of the Vol. 1 material. Vol.2 is still reflective of his ambition of bringing together progressive jazz and traditional music, but it does so in a different manner. Although the element of traditional music remains present, it does not provide the compositional foundation for the songs (e.g. most pieces are no longer based exclusively on traditional musical forms). More jazzy and more complex than Vol.1, Vol.2 has a darker feeling, presenting Sfetsas not only as a musical experimentalist, but also as a demanding and distinctive composer, who truly puts his musicians through the test.

The recordings on this album are previously unreleased and form only a small part of his overall body of work with the GFO. The music was originally recorded Stereo on Reel Tape with highest standards for the time, with the modern mastering process highlighting even more their original sound quality. The result is a truly impressive and pure audiophile album, even slightly better than Vol.1 on that regard.

The LP version of the album is a Deluxe Edition and comes with a high gloss laminated gatefold cover, a printed insert and a digital download code. The CD packaging is Digipak with Slipcase, including a booklet with photos and liner notes outlining the story of the band members. 

King Crimson ‎– Discipline (1981)

Style: Prog Rock, Art Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: EG, Polydor, Warner Bros. Records

1.   Elephant Talk
2.   Frame By Frame
3.   Matte Kudasai
4.   Indiscipline
5.   Thela Hun Ginjeet
6.   The Sheltering Sky
7.   Discipline

Chapman Stick, Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals – Tony Levin
Drums – Bill Bruford
Guitar, Lead Vocals – Adrian Belew
Guitar, Devices – Robert Fripp
All Titles Written By – King Crimson
Producer – King Crimson, Rhett Davies

1981 was a heck of a year for music. One of the shocks that it held for me was the shocking re-emergence of a band I’d only ever gotten into a few years earlier during my “Prog Phase.” In 1978 I was on a Prog tangent but didn’t manage to get too deep before I was distracted by the emerging Post-Punk phenomena. Nevertheless, while listening to FM Rock that year, I’d heard King Crimson [guess which track] and made a bee-line for that first album. While the mellotron antics of the title cut pointed to a group like The Moody Blues, the toughness [to put it mildly] of jazz damaged tracks like “21st Century Schizoid Man” didn’t reflect any previous parts of my musical diet. A few years later I bought a copy of “Starless + Bible Black” and found it to be my favorite KC album of the several I’d heard.

By 1979, I was all over Robert Fripp’s first solo album, the still amazing “Exposure.” Fripp was experiencing a vast lateral shift that saw his approach to Art Rock having a greater congruence with Post-Punk rather than the dying dregs of Prog. He even guested on Blondie records! Even so, the idea that he would ever re-form King Crimson was fairly inconceivable since the man gives off a rather severe aura. How could he ever backslide into a King Crimson reunion?

Ever so gently, it seemed. The new Crimson had begun their life as “Discipline” but over time, the band convinced Fripp that this was not just a new group, but new growth from the King Crimson root. Master drummer Bill Bruford had played on the last three KC albums. Bassist Tony Levin was known to Fripp by his playing on the first three Peter Gabriel albums. The wildcard was second guitarist and vocalist Adrian Belew, who came to prominence when Frank Zappa plucked him out of a hotel lobby and then it seemed everyone wanted a piece of him. Sessions and tours with Bowie and Talking Heads cemented his credentials and he was the busiest guitarist of this period as previously recounted here.

A friend gave me the “Discipline” album as a Christmas present and it’s been an astounding album from the first play to this very morning. To this day I can hear “Frame By Frame” and forget to breathe. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The album kicks off with “Elephant Talk” and from the moment the needle hit the PVC it was apparent that this was a King Crimson that wasn’t looking backward one iota. The opener reflected recent Talking Heads more than anything, due to the presence of Belew; fresh from that band’s acme “Remain In Light.” But vocally, he resembled David Byrne. Enough so that the rest of the Heads had asked Belew to front the band instead of Byrne. Belew correctly discerned that such an offer was very dangerous, so he wisely demurred.

“Elephant Talk” offered a newly funky Crimson that one could almost dance to if one wanted. Levin’s Chapman Stick work first graced my ears on the previous year’s jaw dropping Peter Gabriel album, so I was more than ready to hear him cut loose without any restraint. Bruford’s rhythmic fills were as ever, cut like fine diamonds. This was the sound of a band who had taken a look at their competition [primarily Talking Heads and Japan] taken stock and proceeded to blow them out of the water as only they could.

If “Elephant Talk” showed a loose and funky side of the group, then “Frame By Frame” burnished the group responsible for “Red” and “Lark’s Tongues In Aspic” to a brilliant sheen. Fripp’s propulsive guitar figure seems more like a tightly sequenced synthesizer with his inexorable leads speeding along with a series of sixteenth notes that Bruford punctuated with tattoos of drum fills that pummelled and roiled the surrounding music like torrents of staccato quicksilver. At abrupt points in the song, the tempo shifted suddenly to touch base on straight 4/4 time before soaring off into wilder tangents again. I can’t emphasize just how powerfully this track affects me. It’s still my favorite King Crimson track to this day.

After the tour-de-force of “Frame By Frame,” “Matte Kudasai” comes as a gentle zephyr of a tune. I can’t recall the band sounding this relaxed before as Fripp’s guitar lines keen like gliding seagulls. A track like this shows that it’s not all exotic time signatures and hundreds of notes per minute for this band. The islands of lyrical beauty are necessary to give respite to the turbulence elsewhere. As a friend puts it, the punishment/reward ethos of Kind Crimson!

Well after that reward it was time for some punishment. “Indiscipline” sounds of a piece with “Red’s” most intense moments. The track began as a subtle buildup of percussion before turning on a dime into a wildly hurtling beast careening through the city at full speed; ignoring the screams of the pedestrians. The lyrics that Belew recites were taken from a letter his then wife had sent him during the recording period regarding a painting that she had just made. When he stops reciting the lyrics, the track ramps up to breakneck pacing in less than a heartbeat. Managing to be both playful and intimidatingly intense at the same time.

Speaking of intimidation, Side two of the album began with the pummeling grove of “Thela Hun Ginjeet,” wherein a shaken Belew recounted a street run-in with the threatening denizens of the city outside of the confines of Notting Hill Gate studios in London. Fripp got him to recount the tale to the engineers while making a recording on the sly of the still shaken singer. Appropriately enough, the title is an anagram for “Heat In The Jungle.” Shards of Belew’s guitar vie with Bruford’s serrated knife drums while Fripp steamrolls the song forward with his propulsive, trancelike lead lines.

After the peak of intensity on “Ginjeet,” the album dialed down the intensity with the long, languid instrumental of “The Sheltering Sky.” I swear that this track was the impetus for Sting to write the flaccid “Tea In The Sahara” on the last Police album, two years later. The guitar synths that Summers used on the latter can’t help but point back to this far superior tune.

Though this lineup of King Crimson persisted through to 1984, they didn’t come close to matching the level of accomplishment on this album, though “Satori In Tangier” on “Beat” manages the trick capably enough. The group then scattered for a decade before reincorporating in a massive “double trio” lineup in 1994 which added Trey Gunn and Pat Mastelatto to the roster that recorded “Discipline” thirteen years earlier. That tour was the first time that I managed to see King Crimson and I was pleased to hear that they performed most of this album still in their set. Hearing “Frame By Frame” live is nothing I’ll soon forget. And my wife won’t forget going to a concert where [for once] there was a huge line outside of the men’s restroom but no waiting at all at the ladies rooms!

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Robert Fripp ‎– Network (1985)

Style: Alternative Rock, Synth-pop, Ambient 
Format: Vinyl, Cass.
Label: EG, Polygram, Polydor

1.   North Star
2.   Water Music I
3.   Here Comes The Flood
4.   God Save The King
5.   Under Heavy Manners

David Byrne - Guitar, Vocals
Phil Collins - Drums
Paul Duskin - Drums
Brian Eno - Synthesizer
Peter Gabriel - Composer, Piano, Vocals
Daryl Hall - Composer, Vocals
Buster B. Jones - Bass
Tony Levin - Bass
Robert Fripp - Composer, Frippertronics, Guitar, Producer

You might remember the BASF commercial from a few years ago where the tagline was “We Don’t Make the ______, We Only Make it Better”. That’s usually the thankless job of background musicians and producers. On many occasions, a producer is a musician also. In the case of Robert Fripp, he has been a member of The Leauge of Gentleman and one of the founders of the legendary prog rock band King Crimson. In those bands, he has acted as leader, producer, and musician. Despite that deep history in the word of rock, most people would be hard pressed to name one song by him.

Fripp is at his best when he’s collaborating (often as a producer). I have found that on many of the projects he has worked on with various artists, his contribution is what ends up making that particular track or album a standout. It’s easy to pick out, usually in the form of a subtle departure from the approach of the artist he’s working with. Yet it is also difficult to peg in any general terms as Fripp is so versatile. His music can range from placid abstractions to jarring funk ( just listen to the song “Exposure”).

For anyone wanting a quick intro into Fripp’s genus, a frustratingly short 20-minute compilation called Network is a great place to start. It includes collaborations with Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Brian Eno and oddly enough Daryl Hall of Hall & Oats.

While Fripp is best known for experimental work, like the kind of music you might hear at an art installation, the songs included here are more pop-oriented. In some cases, the music is a surprising juxtaposition of rock, pop, and soul creating a Fripp-centric style of the avant-garde.

You can’t get any more pop than Daryl Hall, yet his song “Northstar” has an undeniable edge that comes with Fripp’s involvement, while maintaining Hall’s Philly Soul roots thanks to his soaring falsetto and inflections. It’s the album’s most beautiful if the not accessible song. Another equally powerful track is soberer “Here Comes the Flood” which pairs Peter Gabriel, who is a musical force in his own right, with Fripp in a beautiful but grim tale of possible ecological apocalypse. It has the haunting gritty sound that Gabriel would fully exploit on songs like “Dirt” and “Steam” on his LP So years later.

The rest of the album features contributions from Genesis singer/drummer Phil Collins. Songs from Fripp’s other band, League of Gentleman’s God Save The King are featured as well as a random sample from other projects. It’s all too short of an intro but gives some insight to Fripp’s ability to stay aloft in the world of the progressive musician while still coming down to earth to enhance pop music by giving it an edge.

The Network album itself is difficult to find, yet is rewarding for those willing to dig deep enough (just search Spotify). Just as rewarding is hearing the album’s contributors sometimes out of their normal context. You can follow Daryl Hall’s Sacred Songs and Peter Gabriel’s second self-titled album as two good starting points to hear further Fripp involvement. As for Fripp’s own albums, they continue to be excellent examples of versatility and innovation making him all the more likely to be the element behind great music from somebody else – just like the line from the BASF commercial about not making things, but making them better.

José Mário Branco ‎– Mudam-se Os Tempos, Mudam-se As Vontades (1971)

Genre: Folk, World, & Country 
Format: CDVinyl
Label: EMI, Guilda Da Música

01.   Abertura (Gare D'Austerlitz)
02.   Cantiga Para Pedir Dois Tostões
03.   Cantiga Do Fogo E Da Guerra
04.   O Charlatão
05.   Queixa Das Almas Jovens Censuradas
06.   Nevoeiro
07.   Mariazinha
08.   Casa Comigo Marta
09.   Perfilados De Medo
10.   Mudam-se Os Tempos, Mudam-se As Vontades

Double Bass – Willy Lockwoode
Acoustic Guitar, Handclaps, Choir – José Mário
Arranged By, Directed By – J. M. Branco

O fenomenal álbum de estreia de José Mário Branco, é um dos melhores álbuns de sempre da música portuguesa. 
Muito se fala sobre álbuns de estreia com uma aura diferente. Talvez porque, normalmente, contêm todos os elementos de surpresa, mais fúria criativa e são menos controlados por estratégias de mercado. Se a isso juntarmos o contexto político e, precisamente, a estratégia de mercado que poderia haver, um dos grandes álbuns de estreia não só da música nacional, mas também internacional é “Mudam-se Os Tempos, Mudam-se As Vontades” (o tema título é baseado no poema do nosso maior poeta – Luís Vaz de Camões), que José Mário Branco gravou em Paris, em 1971, durante o período em que esteve em exílio (1963-74).

Há quem o chame o “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” da música portuguesa. Este não é um álbum pontuado por psicadelismo, mas o sentido de fusão e experimental que denota – com as miscigenação de estéticas provenientes do fado, do folk (mesmo duma estética medieval) e do blues – tornam-no num marco de composição e som na história da nossa música.

Para lá da expressão social que denotava, com muitas das letras escritas por Sérgio Godinho, como “Cantiga Para Pedir Dois Tostões”, “O Charlatão” ou “Queixa Das Almas Jovens e Perdidas” (da poetisa e romancista Natália Correia) e “Perfilados de Medo” (de outro grande, Alexandre O’Neill), fazia a exclamação das dores de um país através de música genial, que depois outros começaram a chamar revolucionária – à laia de, musicalmente, justificarem banalidades criativas. Também José Mário Branco escreve, “Nevoeiro” e “Mariazinha”, e bem, mas o centro aqui é mesmo musical – e com todo o respeito por tantos grandes músicos que surgiram na contra-resposta cultural à opressão do Antigo Regime, este álbum é a obra-prima surgida nesse contexto.

Vibrante, melodioso, mordaz ou lamentoso – quer lírica, quer musicalmente – este álbum potenciou a herança de Zeca Afonso, porque lhe acrescentou a intensidade da electricidade e amplificou as palavras muito para além da simplicidade canto e viola, enquanto as raízes “rockeiras” e o groove que pontifica em alguns temas ridicularizam a banalidade do “yé-yé” tão popular na altura e que, curiosamente ou não, tem sido revivido nestes tempos.

Um álbum impressionante!
NERO / Arte Sonora

Banda Do Casaco ‎– INTEGRAL VOL. 2 (2013)

Style: Folk, Psychedelic Rock, Prog Rock, Jazz-Rock
Label: Companhia Nacional De Música

CD1 - No Jardim Da Celeste (1980)

1-01.   Argila De Luz
1-02.   Estranha Força
1-03.   Barquinha De Lua
1-04.   Ai Se A Luzia
1-05.   Natação Obrigatória
1-06.   Liliana Nibelunga (A Bruxa Boa)
1-07.   Madrasta
1-08.   É Ouvi-los

CD2 - Também Eu (1982)

2-01.   Salvé Maravilha
2-02.   Sedução
2-03.   Sétimo Dia
2-04.   Crença
2-05.   Alcateia I
2-06.   Alcateia II
2-07.   Alcateia III
2-08.   Esvoaço Em Lorilai
2-09.   Assim

CD3 - Banda Do Casaco Com Ti Chitas (1984)

3-01.   Cantilena Da Consolação
3-02.   Consilação
3-03.   Lugar Do Ínicio
3-04.   Almutante
3-05.   Veaveza
3-06.   Dono Da Noite
3-07.   Aguaceiro
3-08.   Bailemos
3-09.   Nossa Sinhora D'Azenha
3-10.   Salvé Maravilha II
3-11.   Matar Saudades
3-12.   Música Do Sol
3-13.   Quando Eu Era Pequenina
3-14.   Cantilena
Reissue Producer – Nuno Rodrigues
Remastered By – José Fortes

Integral Vol. 1 & Integral Vol. 2 Banda do Casaco CNM Pode pensar-se na Banda do Casaco como um ponto de encontro: António Pinho, com a Filarmónica Fraude, tinha ensaiado uma aproximação à música tradicional portuguesa vindo de um contexto pop; por outro lado, Nuno Rodrigues, partindo dos medievalismos de recorte erudito dos seus Música Novarum procurava chegar ao mesmo destino. O encontro dos dois na Banda do Casaco, nas vésperas da revolução de 1974, cumpridas que estavam as suas obrigações militares, representou o culminar dessa mútua aproximação a um terreno comum que os inspirava a re-imaginar a nossa condição e identidade.

A Banda do Casaco, através da chancela da Companhia Nacional de Música de Nuno Rodrigues, vê agora recolocada no momento presente a sua obra integral em duas cuidadas caixas - uma negra e outra vermelha - onde aos sete álbuns que editaram se adiciona um oitavo de título Origens... que reúne parte da pré-história deste projeto, compilando material dos Música Novarum, de Daphne e dos Family Fair, um DVD com material de arquivo diverso e livros com textos contextualizantes assinados por Nuno Galopim e pelo próprio Nuno Rodrigues e ainda mais dois tomos onde se reúnem as letras de todos os álbuns e respetivas fichas técnicas. José Fortes, técnico em boa parte das gravações originais da Banda do Casaco, assegura um rigoroso restauro áudio dos masters originais (exceção feita a Hoje Há Conquilhas, Amanhã Não Sabemos cujos masters se encontram até hoje perdidos e que por isso mesmo foi transcrito de cópias de vinil), funcionando assim como a proverbial cereja em cima do metafórico bolo que estas reedições representam.

A Banda do Casaco é um daqueles casos que beneficia claramente da imersão no estado que Simon Reynolds descreveu como "retromania": surgidos num tempo de estandartes, estes discos, que se editaram entre 1975 e 1984, nunca alcançaram o sucesso que mereciam, sendo ultrapassados em termos de impacto pelas mais engajadas vozes do canto livre, num primeiro momento, e, logo depois, pela explosão rock que assolou o país após 1980. Os anos que se foram acumulando em cima do derradeiro registo da Banda do Casaco, Com Ti Chitas, lançado em 1984, permitiram um lento mas inevitável reencontro com esta música que foi merecendo referências crescentemente elogiosas por parte de quem, na blogosfera, se foi dedicando a documentar o lado mais secreto do passado. Como acontece com alguns vinhos, também a música da Banda do Casaco beneficiou desse tranquilo passar do tempo nas caves da memória, emergindo agora como uma obra plenamente realizada, onde os textos, a música e os arranjos serviam ideias arrojadas, desalinhadas, como cuidam de referir hoje os seus responsáveis originais (ver página 68). O surrealismo das letras, por um lado (com imperatrizes que por um triz não são meretrizes), e o arrojo musical, por outro, também elevam a obra da Banda do Casaco a um patamar singular na história da música portuguesa. De facto, faz algum sentido que esta música tenha falhado o alvo de um grande público, pois não pretendia impor nenhuma cartilha ideológica nem forçar uma rutura geracional. Ouça-se "País: Portugal", retrato agudo de um "país fardado à força", ou "Salvé Maravilha", sopa no mel de uma discografia praticamente imaculada, para se perceber que esta música só se servia a si mesma, sem reconhecer sincronismos com nenhum dos seus contemporâneos. Banda do Casaco: orgulhosamente só. E basta.
Rui Miguel Abreu / Blitz