Thursday, 13 September 2018

Harry Partch ‎– The Harry Partch Collection Volume 4: The Bewitched (1997)

Style: Contemporary, Experimental 
Format: CD
Label: Composers Recordings Inc. (CRI)

01.   The Lost Musicians Mix Magic
02.   Three Undergrads Become Transfigured In A Hong Kong Music Hall
03.   Exercises In Harmony And Counterpoint Are Tried In A Court Of Ancient Ritual
04.   The Romancing Of A Pathological Liar Comes To An Inspired End
05.   A Soul Tormented By Contemporary Music Finds A Humanizing Alchemy
06.   Visions Fill The Eyes Of A Defeated Basketball Team In The Shower Room
07.   Euphoria Descends A Sausalito Stairway
08.   Two Detectives On The Tail Of A Tricky Culprit Turn In Their Badges
09.   A Court In Its Own Contempt Rises To A Motherly Apotheosis
10.   A Lost Political Soul Finds Himself Among The Voteless Women Of Paradise
11.   The Cognoscenti Are Plunged Into A Demonic Descent While At Cocktails

Bass Clarinet – Joseph Firrantello
Cello – Peter Farrell
Chorus – The Chorus Of Lost Musicians
Clarinet – Warren Birkett
Composed By, Supervised By, Liner Notes – Harry Partch
Conductor – John Garvey
Ensemble – The University Of Illinois Musical Ensemble
Koto – Carol Zuckerberg
Marimba – Warren Smith
Marimba – Danlee Mitchell
Marimba, Voice, Leader [Chorus] – William Olson
Organ – Herbert Bielawa
Other – Brian Conley
Percussion, Marimba – Thomas Gauger
Percussion – George Andrix
Percussion – Michael Donzella
Piccolo Flute – Charles Delaney
Vocals (The Witch) – Freda Schell
Zither (Harmonic Canon) – Barbara Grammar, Georgi Mayer
Zither (Kithara Left Side) – Jan Bach
Zither (Kithara Right Side) – Sanford Berry
Zither (Surrogate Kithara), Gong – Jack McKenzie

The earliest surviving recording of Harry Partch's "Dance Satire" The Bewitched was made in 1957 from a production of the work given at University of Illinois and originally issued on his own Gate 5 Records. This is one of Partch's longest continuous works of music and perhaps the most successful realization of his ideas about ritual theater, which he hoped in vain to make obsolete the "music drama" of Richard Wagner, to be produced and recorded during Partch's own lifetime. Indeed, The Bewitched has an almost Wagnerian scale, but is wildly different in just about every other way. To what extent can be gauged simply by mentally visualizing one of Partch's characteristic scene settings: "Visions Fill the Eyes of a Defeated Basketball Team in the Shower Room." The music, played by an orchestra of 18 Partch instruments, is some of the most elaborate and complex that he ever conceived. However, Partch goes to greater extent to incorporate alien styles and ideas in The Bewitched perhaps more so than in any other work this side of The Dreamer That Remains. 
The Bewitched serves as the fourth and final volume in CRI's Harry Partch Collection. This is not performed by the Gate 5 Ensemble so often credited on Partch's Gate 5 Records, which sometimes consisted of just himself, overdubbed, playing all the instruments. For The Bewitched Partch trained two dozen musicians, dancers, and actors from the University of Illinois to realize his vision. There was never a tighter and more disciplined group of Partch musicians than these, and the album is justifiably a classic. Since CRI's demise in 2002, its Harry Partch Collection, including The Bewitched, has been taken over and greatly improved by New World Records.
Dave Lewis / AllMusic

Sean Khan, Hermeto Pascoal ‎– Palmares Fantasy (2018)

Style: Latin Jazz, Soul-Jazzy
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Far Out Recordings

1.   Moment of Collapse
2.   Waltz For Hermeto
3.   Palmares Fantasy
4.   Said
5.   Montreux
6.   The Conversation
7.   Tudo Que Você Podia Ser (All That You Could Be)
8.   The Blonde
9.   Your Way Not My Way

Mixed By – Daniel Maunick

Palmares Fantasy is the fifth album to be released by British saxophonist Sean Khan under his own name or as the leader of SK Radicals. Like its predecessors, it is a blinder, in touch with the jazz tradition while absorbing influences from beyond it and wearing its political heart on its sleeve. The music is characteristic of Khan's wide-angled aesthetic. To make it, he travelled to Rio de Janeiro to collaborate with fellow outsider, multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal, and other luminaries of the Brazilian music scene, and took the album's title from a settlement established by escaped slaves in northeastern Brazil some 400 years ago. Khan's liner note for the title track observes that while most of Palmares's population was made up of ex-slaves, many deserter conquistadors also joined the settlement, making it a rainbow-hued community of rebels. The album is a utopian jazz message for a world in crisis, spiritual jazz informed by samba's revolutionary tradition.  
Despite his talent, Khan remains strictly niche. Partly, this is of his own making. Partly, he is regarded as too subversive by Britain's jazz establishment. Khan is a largely self-taught musician. He was unable to afford his teenage dream of studying at Boston's Berklee School of Music, and was rejected by London's Guildhall School of Music for being "too raw." He became disillusioned with the exclusivity and institutionalisation of the jazz world, but his love for the music remained and he taught himself alto and soprano saxophone, clarinet and flute.  
Pascoal, who Miles Davis once called "the most impressive musician in the world," is another self-taught maverick. The two autodidacts make a dream team here and the rapport between them is brilliantly showcased on the unaccompanied, free-rhythm duet, "The Conversation." Other guests include, from Brazil, Azymuth drummer Ivan Conti, bassist Paulo Russo, nu-bossa vocalist Sabrina Malheiros and Cinematic Orchestra frontswoman Heidi Vogel and, from Britain, guitarist Jim Mullen.  
Palmares Fantasy is an instrumentally focused album, but vocals are an important element of several tracks, notably the opener, "Moment Of Collapse." Khan's meditation on the instability of modern Western civilisation, the piece is gorgeously sung by Vogel over a richly arranged string-section and Alice Coltrane-like harp. Seven of the nine tracks are Khan originals. The other two tunes are Pascoal's lovely "Montreux" and an uplifting soul-jazz take on Milton Nascimento's MPB classic "Tudo Que Voce Podia Ser," sung by Malheiros.  
Palmares Fantasy is the sound of summer—with an edge.
Chris May / All About Jazz

The Durutti Column ‎– Obey The Time (1990) (1998 Reissue)

Style: Avantgarde, Experimental
Format: CD
Label: Factory Once, London Records

01.   Vino Della Casa Bianco
02.   Hotel Of The Lake 1990
03.   Fridays
04.   Home
05.   Art And Freight
06.   Spanish Reggae
07.   Neon
08.   The Warmest Rain
09.   Contra-Indications
10.   Vino Della Casa Rosso
        The Together Mix
11.   The Together Mix
12.   Fridays (Up-Person Mix)
        Trade 2 Singles Club
13.   Kiss Of Def

Programmed By, Engineer – Paul Miller
Written-By – Vini Reilly

For all that the previous album was called Vini Reilly, Obey the Time was in fact Durutti's most specifically Reilly-only release yet. Even percussion stalwart Mitchell only appeared on one track this time around, the fine, subtly uplifting punch of "Art and Freight," partially due to where Reilly's head was at this time around. Inspired by the late-'80s acid house revolution in England, with his native Manchester firmly at ground zero, Reilly aimed to combine that with his usual guitar approach to see what would happen. Where in nearly any other hands this would have been a pathetic crossover disaster waiting to happen, the end results are gratifyingly like what his compatriots in New Order did the previous year with Technique, synthesizing up-to-date styles to create something distinctly different. Even a title like "Spanish Reggae," which sounds like something out of world music hell, turns out to be both accurate and not a nightmare, with light flamenco snippets and other electric guitar work from Reilly fed through heavy dub echo over a slow, just menacing enough modern dancehall rhythm. While most of the percussion patterns Reilly creates aren't specifically acid in sound, reflecting more hard-slamming electro and synth-funk from earlier years, there's enough of the cusp-of-the-'90s about everything to show he wasn't dating himself. Keyboard stabs, as on "Fridays," clearly show techno's favoring of stuttering, choppy melodies, while Reilly's own knack for what suits a song best means sometimes it's more gentle acoustica and other times full-on electric shimmer and drive. "Hotel of the Lake, 1990" demonstrates his skills well, with a steady beat and clean, funky guitar and bass work accompanied by whooshing, minimal synth loops and, reappearing throughout the song, a classically Durutti five-note guitar melody with deep echo. Other numbers like the gently dramatic "The Warmest Rain" make Obey the Time another fine Durutti release. The 1998 reissue includes a 1990 dance mix by Together and, in an interesting discographical switcheroo, a moody jungle remix of "My Last Kiss" from 1998's Time Was...Gigantic album called, in a knowing nod to New Order's "The Perfect Kiss," "Kiss of Def."
Ned Raggett / AllMusic