Thursday, 30 May 2019

Pere Ubu ‎– Carnival Of Souls (2014)

Style: Alternative Rock, Art Rock, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Fire Records

1.   Golden Surf II
2.   Drag The River
3.   Visions Of The Moon
4.   Dr Faustus
5.   Bus Station
6.   Road To Utah
7.   Carnival
8.   Irene
9.   Brother Ray

Bass Guitar – Michele Temple
Clarinet – Darryl Boon
Electronics– Gagarin
Guitar – Keith Moliné
Synth, Theremin, Computer – Robert Wheeler
Drums, Percussion, Electronic Drums, Backing Vocals – Steve Mehlman
Producer, Vocals, Synth – David Thomas

Very few bands display such dedication to constant self-reinvention as Pere Ubu, whose highly methodological madness always seeks new ways of evolving their sound, whilst paradoxically keeping their DNA essentially unchanged. Perhaps only The Fall (who John Peel once famously described as "always different, always the same") can be said to have walked such a similarly fine line over such a lengthy career arc. 
Ubu began performing live soundtracks to classic black-and-white cult films starting in 2002 with Jack Arnold's 1953 science-fiction epic It Came From Outer Space and moving on two years later to Roger Corman's X: The Man With The X-ray Eyes. Given David Thomas's often stated acknowledgement of the influence of Ghoulardi (the anarchic fictional persona of Ernie Anderson, presenter of late night B movies and father of the film maker PT Anderson) in imparting a sense of 'otherness' to Cleveland bands of the 70s, such films could hardly have found a more apt band to underscore them. Indeed, Pere Ubu's inherent sense of inner darkness and use of widely ranging electronic textures–including the classic sci-fi instrument the theremin–made them the perfect B movie house band. The soundtracks were performed with such attention to detail and with such respect for the films in question that they were always hugely successful. 
As an Ubu fan, however, as much as I enjoyed them, I always wanted to hear the band play more than the spaces in the film allowed for–as great as their soundtracks were, I wanted to hear songs. Happily, with the release of the new album, the dichotomy has been solved. The live score for the film Carnival Of Souls was first performed at the London East End Film Festival in 2013, and ideas taken from the soundtrack were further developed and mutated whilst the band were on tour. The album takes the more electronic direction of 2013's Lady From Shanghai further still, towards what Thomas describes as a mixture of Suicide and Kraftwerk, and accentuates the prominence of newcomer Darryl Boon's clarinet in the mix. The result is a beautifully eerie song cycle whose pulsing analogue heart is even darker than the penumbral territories the band usually inhabit. 
In many ways, Herk Harvey's 1962 low-budget shocker Carnival Of Souls is the perfect Pere Ubu source material - a spectral road trip undertaken by an outsider into an increasingly alienating landscape. The other element in the album's stated intent, the "fixing of prog rock" is not immediately apparent, although the 1971 Van der Graaf Generator album Pawn Hearts (which Thomas claims as an inspiration prior to beginning the recording process) is certainly one of the darkest and most tortured sounding examples to be found in the genre, equal parts punk and krautrock in spirit and an avowed favourite of both John Lydon and Julian Cope. Opener 'Golden Surf II' - easily the most direct and rocking track on the album - is something of a red herring in terms of the songs that follow. It's as though the band are saying 'see how well we can still do this', before heading off on another tack entirely. 'Drag The River' contrasts doom-laden bass and booming drums with clarinet and theremin, the woodwind instrument rising crystal clear above the otherwise murky atmosphere. It's a startling combination, a simultaneous evocation of ancient and modern that is used to great effect throughout the album. 'Visions Of The Moon' shimmers and twinkles like starlight over a steady heartbeat pulse before dissolving into chaotically oscillating swathes of electronic sound. 'Dr Faustus' is one of the most far-out tracks on the album, a spooky spoken word piece which finds Thomas screaming 'I am damned' in a way that surely echoes Peter Hammill's 'I know I'm not a hero [...] I hope that I'm not damned' from 'Man-Erg' on Pawn Hearts. 
By the time we get to 'Bus Station', 'Road To Utah' and 'Carnival,' the band are really hitting  their stride. Propulsive, dark and hypnotic, its easy to see these tracks being inspired by the road scenes from the movie, as is aptly demonstrated by the video to 'Road To Utah.' Taken together, these three songs are for me, the highlight of the album and as compellingly powerful as anything Ubu have ever done. Following on from the intense climax of 'Carnival,' which showcases the band at their most driving and machinelike, 'Irene' changes direction once again with a lovely, serenely atmospheric melody. Given all that has gone before, the effect is like coming out of a dark tunnel into a spacious, calm night with a clear open sky. 
'Brother Ray,' the final track, available only on the CD version, is a 12-minute long improvised piece that Thomas describes as a prelude to Nathanael West's 'Day Of The Locust.' An epic exercise in delayed climax, it really hits home when the payoff finally arrives. The vinyl version omits the final track, instead opting for a series of minute-long 'strychnine interludes' made up of stretched out guitar notes, shortwave interference, Thomas reading from 'Last Of The Mohicans' and Morse code spelling out 'Merdre Merdre', thereby referencing both the infamous first word of the Alfred Jarry play from which the band took their name, 'Ubu Roi', and their song 'The Modern Dance'. 
Sean Kitching / The Quietus

Pere Ubu ‎– Cloudland (Remastered & Expanded) (1989)

Style: Art Rock, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Fontana, PolyGram

01.   Breath
02.   Race The Sun
03.   Cry
04.   Why Go It Alone?
05.   Waiting For Mary
06.   Ice Cream Truck
07.   Bus Called Happiness
08.   Monday Night
09.   Love Love Love
10.   Lost Nation Road
11.   Fire
12.   Nevada!
13.   The Wire
14.   Flat
15.   The Waltz
16.   Pushin'
17.   Breath (Alt Mix)
18.   Wine Dark Sparks
19.   Bang The Drum
20.   Bus Called Happiness (Live)
21.   Love Love Love (Cajun House Mix)

Bass, Vocals – Tony Maimone
Drums – Chris Cutler, Scott Krauss
Guitar, Vocals – Jim Jones
Keyboards – Stephen Hague
Synthesizer, Vocals – Allen Ravenstine
Vocals – David Thomas

In a press handout that accompanied the original release of Pere Ubu's Cloudland, David Thomas quipped "We'd never been asked to write a pop record before. I guess it never occurred to anyone." Given the sonic Dadaism of much of Pere Ubu's work, what's most startling is not that it took so long for someone to suggest they make a pop record but that they were able to comply so successfully. Stephen Hague, who had previously worked with the Pet Shop Boys, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and New Order, produced these sessions, and Cloudland boasts a glossy surface that was unprecedented for Pere Ubu's work; the drums sounded crisp and tight, the songs included traditional melodies and melodic keyboard lines, Allen Ravenstine's noisy punctuations were pushed to the back of the mix, and the harmonies sounded as if they were performed by actual professionals. However, beneath the hipster friendly production, Cloudland remained a Pere Ubu record -- David Thomas' yelping vocal style was as unrestrained as ever, and while the tunes here lack the sharp angles of Pere Ubu's first era, the lateral sway of the melodies is still cheerfully off kilter. Lyrically, Cloudland finds Ubu moving cautiously from their passionate defense of the Midwest's industrial wastelands to a look at the broad plains that lurked elsewhere, as if they were looking for sunnier climes like many other denizens of the Rust Belt and finding many strange, troubling and wonderful things in their new surroundings. Ultimately, Cloudland showed that however much you dressed up Pere Ubu's music, their heart and soul would show through, and that is a very good thing. [In 2007, Mercury Records reissued Cloudland in a new remastered edition created with the input of the band. The new disc includes two non-LP B-sides, "Wine Dark Sparks" and "Bang the Drum," as well as a live BBC recording of "Bus Called Happiness" and alternate mixes of "Breath" and "Love Love Love." David Stubbs' liner notes describe the circumstances behind the making of the album as well as Thomas' lyrical themes on this material.
Mark Deming / AllMusic

Momus ‎– Don't Stop The Night (1989)

Style: Acoustic, Synth-pop
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Creation Records, Rough Trade

01.   Trust Me, I'm A Doctor
02.   Righthand Heart
03.   Lord Of The Dance
04.   Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous
05.   How Do You Find My Sister?
06.   The Hairstyle Of The Devil
07.   Don't Stop The Night
08.   Amongst Women Only
09.   The Guitar Lesson
10.   The Cabriolet
11.   Shaftesbury Avenue

It was possible to hear a budding provocateur lurking behind Tender Pervert, and its follow-up, Don't Stop the Night, unequivocally puts Momus on the path of his hero Serge Gainsbourg. Musically, it also makes him a full-fledged synth-pop artist, with a strong club flavor (and coolly ironic outlook) highly reminiscent of the Pet Shop Boys, who accordingly nominated Momus as 1989's most promising artist. But where the Pet Shop Boys' disco updates mirrored the jaded decadence of the Reagan/Thatcher/yuppie era, Momus went a step further into outright perversion. Song after song features characters using sex to gain power, or vice versa; some are merely quirky, and others genuinely disturbing: a doctor who molests his patients, a guitar teacher who molests his 12-year-old student, a social climber who pimps his sister to the rich and powerful, a necrophiliac, a jilted lover who fantasizes obsessively about his ex-girlfriend masturbating, a couple hoping to get caught making love one more time. While there's a lot of potential for adolescent glibness, Momus' literary bent leads him to flesh out these characters, to give them depth, history, and viewpoints. It's their recognizable humanity that truly makes the album shocking. Overall, Don't Stop the Night is just a little less successful than Tender Pervert; toward the end, the lively club beats disappear, and although the production remains skilled, Momus falls back into old hookless habits -- it's a shame that the music of "The Guitar Lesson" and "The Cabriolet" isn't as attention-grabbing as the lyrics. But for the most part, the record works very well. The synth-dance sound is cold and emotionally disconnected, to be sure, but that's an intentional reflection of the subject matter. Overlooking a couple of awkward hip-hop references, Momus' production is sleek and stylish, an amazingly convincing transformation for someone who'd been a Leonard Cohen disciple just two albums prior. And with its provocatively perverse sensibility, Don't Stop the Night set the tone for much of Momus' best work in the future.
Steve Huey / AllMusic

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

MC 900 Ft Jesus ‎– One Step Ahead Of The Spider (1994)

Style: Trip Hop, Downtempo, Conscious
Format: CD, Cass.
Label: American Recordings

01.   New Moon
02.   But If You Go
03.   If I Only Had A Brain
04.   Stare And Stare
05.   Buried At Sea
06.   Tiptoe Through The Inferno
07.   Gracías Pepé
08.   New Year's Eve
09.   Bill's Dream
10.   Rhubarb

Backing Vocals – Analisa Ripke
Bass – Drew Phelps
Congas, Percussion – Mike Dillon
Drums – Earl Harvin, Jr.
Guitar, Keyboards, Trumpet – Mark Griffin
Piano – Dave Palmer
Producer – Mark Griffin
Tabla – Nikhil Pandya
Tambura – Rajiv Chakravarti
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Flute – Chris McGuire

Tony McPhee ‎– The Two Sides Of Tony (T.S.) McPhee (1973)

Style: Abstract, Blues Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: WWA Records, Castle Communications, Air Mail Archive

1.   Three Times Seven
2.   All My Money, Alimony
3.   Morning's Eyes
4.   Dog Me, Bitch
5.   Take It Out
6.   The Hunt

Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar – Tony McPhee
Drum Programming, Electric Piano, Synthesizer – Tony McPhee
Written-By – Tony McPhee

Aptly titled, Two Sides of Tony McPhee not only explores McPhee's conceptions about love, relationships, religion, and aging, but the album is divided up musically, showcasing his talent as both a guitarist and a keyboard player. After displaying his keenness for composing a concept album with Split, a piece that he recorded with his band the Groundhogs based on the complexities of schizophrenia, McPhee decided to record an album that was more exclusive and personal. The result was Two Sides of Tony McPhee, with McPhee playing an acoustic and electric guitar for the first four tracks, then switching to three different synthesizers and an electric piano for side two, a lengthy spoken poem entitled "The Hunt." What results is an extremely entertaining and engrossing conceptual production that is equal to anything he's done with the Groundhogs. McPhee's writing is penetrating and resonant, unleashing his thoughts on the transcendence of life ("Three Times Seven"), the bitterness of failing relationships ("All My Money Alimony"), the pain of loss ("Morning Eyes"), and pure anger ("Don't Dog Me Bitch"), with each song accompanied by the guitar and nothing else. The second half of the album is comprised of "The Hunt," which is just as esoteric and sagacious as it is long and opens up with the ARP 2600 synthesizer mimicking an eerie, echoed howl of a dog in the distance. McPhee bellows and rants in a penetrating manner about the unethical nature of war and humankind's inhumanity throughout the ages, switching ever so smoothly to his abstract philosophies about the corruption of power and the mystery of fate, life, and death. Not only is his poetry forceful, but the overlapping of the electric piano and drum synthesizer shroud the piece with an ornate progressive ambience, adding a deeper sense of intrigue to his words and creating a rather bizarre electronic climate. The entire album is riveting, and Two Sides of Tony McPhee hinted at McPhee's fondness for progressive rock, an area in which he eventually led the Groundhogs into with their next few albums. Although this album has been eclipsed by what McPhee has accomplished with his band, its revelations about McPhee as a musician and a philosopher are quite gripping, and this is a must-hear for all Groundhog fans. 
Mike DeGagne / AllMusic

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Rolling Stones ‎– Exile On Main St. (1972)

Style: Blues Rock, Rock & Roll, Classic Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Rolling Stones Records, Atlantic, EMI, Gamma

01.   Rocks Off
02.   Rip This Joint
03.   Shake Your Hips
04.   Casino Boogie
05.   Tumbling Dice
06.   Sweet Virginia
07.   Torn And Frayed
08.   Sweet Black Angel
09.   Loving Cup
10.   Happy
11.   Turd On The Run
12.   Ventilator Blues
13.   I Just Want To See His Face
14.   Let It Loose
15.   All Down The Line
16.   Stop Breaking Down
17.   Shine A Light
18.   Soul Survivor

Bass – B. Wyman
Drums – C. Watts
Guitar – M. Taylor
Guitar, Vocals – K. Richard
Piano – N. Hopkins
Saxophone – B. Keys
Trumpet, Trombone – J. Price
Vocals – M. Jagger
Producer – Jimmy Miller

Harold Land ‎– Damisi (1991)

Style: Post Bop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Mainstream Records, Solid Records

1.   Step Right Up To The Bottom
2.   In The Back, In The Corner, In The Dark
3.   Pakistan
4.   Chocolate Mess
5.   Damisi
6.   Dark Mood
7.   Up And Down

Bass – Reggie Johnson
Congas – Mtume
Drums – Billy Hart, Ndugu, Woody Theus
Electric Bass, Acoustic Bass – Buster Williams
Electric Piano, Piano – Bill Henderson
Piano – Harold Land Jr.
Tenor Saxophone, Oboe – Harold Land
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Oscar Brashear
Vibraphone – Bobby Hutcherson
Producer – Bob Shad

Blue In Heaven ‎– All The Gods' Men (1985)

Style: New Wave
Frmat: Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Island Records, Polystar, Dacapo

A1.   Sometimes
A2.   The Big Beat
A3.   It's Saturday
A4.   Old Ned
A5.   All You Fear
B1.   Julie Cries
B2.   Like A Child
B3.   In Your Eyes
B4.   Slowly

Producer – Martin Hannett

Monday, 27 May 2019

Romare ‎– Love Songs: Part Two (2016)

Style: Future Jazz, House, Downtempo, Breakbeat
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Ninja Tune

01.   Who To Love?
02.   All Night
03.   Je T'Aime
04.   Honey
05.   Come Close To Me
06.   Don't Stop
07.   Who Loves You?
08.   L.U.V
09.   New Love
10.   My Last Affair

In 2014, Romare – AKA producer Archie Fairhurst – released Love Songs: Part One, pasting Peggy Lee into stuttering, bass-heavy R&B and aping retro funk, jazz and blues. Although the result was timeless in the sense that it borrowed from multiple decades, the sense of curation made it feel fresh. And yet Romare’s presence didn’t feel entirely definite; Fairhurst even cribbed his stage name from an African American artist who died in the 80s. This sense of his being a conduit for larger concepts of race and identity – or maybe just a well-meaning cultural appropriator – carried on into 2015’s sample-heavy debut LP, Projections. But here the Londoner’s mission is less about recycling than creating his own psych-ish oddities: on Je T’aime, a slither of Truffaut or Godardish dialogue gives way to irregular ambience and 8-bit sounds, while Honey is bound together by gelatinous alien synths and a low-key jazz melody, with Fairhurst playing much of the instrumentation himself. Although Who Loves You sounds as if it could be a lost 70s underground disco cut, overall this collection provides more of a window on to Fairhurst’s own motivations, as he experiments around themes of love – from innocence to filth. 
Hannah J Davies / The Guardian

Romare ‎– Love Songs: Part One (2013)

Style: Ghetto, Bass Music, Hip Hop
Format: Vinyl
Label: Black Acre

1.   Your Love (You Give Me Fever)
2.   Jimi & Faye (Part 1)
3.   Taste Of Honey (From The City)
4.   Hey Now (When I Give You All My Lovin')

Mastered By – Beau
Written-By, Producer – A. Fairhurst, Romare

A year on from his Mediations On Afrocentrism EP, Romare returns to Black Acre with four frenetic and sample-heavy soul cuts. Paced by a stuttering footwork skip, samples of Peggy Lee's "Fever" loop throughout "Your Love (Give Me Fever)," before breaking out with a tearing sub-line. "Jimi & Faye (Part One)" sticks closer to his roots-orientated output by layering field recordings over tribal rattles, while "Taste Of Honey (From The City)" is a more floor-driven number comprising equal measures of '80s hip-hop and '70s afro-funk. Completing a decent package, "Hey Now (When I Give You All My Lovin’)" is a more blues-influenced inclusion that percussively trudges alongside a lamenting piano and flaring trumpet. 
James Lawrence / Resident Advisor

Van Morrison ‎– Astral Weeks (1968)

Style: Classic Rock, Folk Rock, Acoustic
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Warner Bros. Records, Midi

         Part 1: In The Beginning
01.   Astral Weeks
02.   Beside You
03.   Sweet Thing
04.   Cyprus Avenue
        Part 2: Afterwards
05.   Young Lovers Do
06.   Madame George
07.   Ballerina
08.   Slim Slow Slider
        Bonus Tracks - Previously Unissued
09. Beside You (Take 1)
10.   Madame George (Take 4)
11. Ballerina (Long Version)
12. Slim Slow Slider (Long Version)

Arranged By, Conductor – Larry Fallon
Bass – Richard Davis
Drums – Connie Kay
Flute, Soprano Saxophone – John Payne
Guitar – Jay Berliner
Percussion, Vibraphone – Warren Smith, Jr.
Vocals, Guitar – Van Morrison
Written-By – Van Morrison
Producer – Lewis Merenstein

In 1968, Van Morrison was 22 years old and one album down, a Northern Irishman in New York, with a fledgling career built on garage rock, TB Sheets and Brown Eyed Girls. He was also involved in a contract dispute with his label, Bang Records, that prevented him from recording, and discouraged live venues from booking him.

In many ways Astral Weeks was born out of this frustration, and the accompanying financial anxiety, although little of that desperation seeps into the record; it is an album that sounds warm and rich and luxurious, and the urgency that runs through its eight songs has always seemed tethered to Morrison's desire to articulate something – a longing, a desire, an essence.

This is an album heavy with yearning, with an aching for the streets of Belfast, for the "gardens all misty and wet with rain", for being "conquered in a car seat". It marries folk and rock and blues and jazz and gospel, flute, harpsichord, vibraphone – to create these eight songs that don't so much play as wrap themselves around your legs, that get stuck beneath your fingernails.

Morrison himself described Astral Weeks as an opera of sorts, a story with definite characters, a song-cycle of "poetry and mythical musings channelled from my imagination". And so we find memories of viaducts and slipstreams, ferry boats and cadillacs and cherry wine, mingling with talk of Huddie Ledbetter and little red shoes. We find the bewitching Madame George, the ecstatic Sweet Thing, the great knee-deep tangle of reminiscence that made up Cyprus Avenue. It was one of those albums that seemed to be about everything and nothing, the past and the now, the vital and the fleeting, and that somehow stood quite complete in its vision.

It was Lester Bangs who put it best: "Astral Weeks, insofar as it can be pinned down, is a record about people stunned by life, completely overwhelmed, stalled in their skins, their ages and selves, paralysed by the enormity of what in one moment of vision they can comprehend," he wrote. "Maybe what it boiled down to is one moment's knowledge of the miracle of life."

It baffled many upon its release, listeners thrown by its strange rhythms and peculiar lyrics, but over the following decades it would acquire towering cult status. Much of this is down to this record's remarkable ability to prompt an overwhelming emotional response – the album's producer, Lewis Merenstein, has described how, upon hearing the title track, he began crying. "It just vibrated in my soul," he said.

This is an album I grew up with, and that embodies everything I love about Morrison's work – the great rich stew of it, the beguiling swarm of the music, lyrics that are proved on the pulses, a voice that sounds like rain against granite – dour and swarthy and half-grunted, barking and nickering its way through the "clicking, clacking of the high-heeled shoe". It stands to me as a masterpiece, a maverick, a quite extraordinary creation. 
Laura Barton / The Guardian

Flying Lotus ‎– Flamagra (2019)

Style: Abstract, Jazzy Hip-Hop, Fusion
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Warp Records

01.  Heroes
02.   Post Requisite
03.   Heroes In A Half Shell
04.   More
05.   Capillaries
06.   Burning Down The House
07.   Spontaneous
08.   Takashi
09.   Pilgrim Side Eye
10.   All Spies
11.   Yellow Belly
12.   Black Balloons Reprise
13.   Fire Is Coming
14.   Inside Your Home
15.   Actually Virtual
16.   Andromeda
17.   Remind U
18 .  Say Something
19.   Debbie Is Depressed
20.   Find Your Own Way Home
21.   The Climb
22.   Pygmy
23.   9 Carrots
24.   FF4
25.   Land Of Honey
26.   Thank U Malcolm
27.   Hot Oct.

Mastered By – Daddy Kev
Mixed By – Daddy Kev, Flying Lotus

 One of the most inventive forces in modern music, Steven ‘Flying Lotus’ Ellison’s last album ‘You’re Dead!’ fused hip-hop, jazz and electronica to boldly explore the idea that there’s a strange beauty in death. Yet as interesting as that record was, it felt a little too sporadic — a collection of fascinating sounds that didn’t necessarily add up to a satisfying whole. But that was five years ago, and new album ‘Flamagra’, a spaced-out funk epic that’s much more soothing than its predecessor, proves Ellison has grown as a producer. 
There’s something very J Dilla about tracks such as ‘Post Requisite’ and ‘Heroes in a Half Shell’, which both share the late producer’s ability to transport listeners into an alien world filled with bouncy hip-hop synths and calming transitions that kick in just as things get too intense. There’s a druggy swirl to this music, with the distorted first part of potent Anderson .Paak duet ‘More’ feeling like it’s filtering through a thick fog of weed smoke. The inventive beat switch, which brings in a bass guitar that cuts right through the beat, is a sleight-of-hand worthy of Frank Ocean and Travis Scott. It also makes you wish Flying Lotus had more of a hand in crafting .Paak’s last two underwhelming albums.

‘Takashi’ is dream-like, its psychedelic chimes creating a sense of pure escapism. But this calm is quickly replaced with urgency, thanks to the thrilling burst of electricity that is ‘All Spies’, an IDM track that sounds like the spaceship from Close Encounters (had the jingle-crafting martian on board been tripping on high-grade acid). Ellison is a master at shifting tone, and knows how to take listeners on an exhilarating journey that unites both calm and chaos. 
He also knows how to inject versatility; this is an album that consistently combines Dr. Dre‘s ‘2001’-esque sun-drenched bass and bold chord progression (particularly on the excellent ‘FF4’) with the kind of inward-looking funk (exemplified on ‘Debbie Is Depressed’) you’d expect to find on a vintage Sly And The Family Stone record. At times, it can feel like Flying Lotus is just showing off, but there’s something endearing about him playing music with confidence that says: I’m at the top of my game. This record is an amalgamation of everything Flying Lotus has ever learned as a musician – dating back to being an intern at Stones Throw all those years ago, through to the raw edge he brought to Kendrick Lamar’s masterpiece ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’. It’s all welded together to create a piece of art that’s bursting with ideas that impressively compliment one another. 
High-profile guests include Solange, George Clinton, Thundercat, Toro y Moi, Shabazz Palaces and David Lynch, who spouts trippy dialogue on ‘Fire Is Coming’ (which could easily be taken from the truly surrealistic latest season of Twin Peaks). Yet it’s new rapper Tierra Whack, an artist already threatening to be this generation’s Andre 3000, who soars the highest. Her nutty verse on ‘Yellow Belly’ bottles the vibrant spirit Flying Lotus possesses as a producer, with lyrics such as “I’m so high everyone else looks up to me” feeling like a tribute to his genius. It’s also evocative of the album’s concept, which is apparently based around an eternal flame flickering at the top of a mountain. 
‘Flamagra’ is at its best when Ellison embraces his jazz roots (his great aunt and uncle were jazz legends Alice and John Coltrane), as introspective jazzier tracks such as ‘Andromeda’ and ‘Say Something’ really do summon the atmospheric theatrics of being sat high up in the mountains at sunset, looking out onto a vast landscape and wandering what might be possible in life. Judging by this album, Flying Lotus can make just about anything happen. 
Renata Raksha / NME

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Ursula Rucker ‎– Supa Sista (2001)

Style: Breaks, Downtempo, Experimental, Conscious
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Studio !K7

01.   In Her Elizabeth
02.   Womansong
03.   7
04.   Letter To A Sister Friend
05.   What???
06.   Digichant
07.   Philadelphia Child
08.   Supa Sista
09.   Brown Boy
10.   Spring
11.   1 Million Ways To Burn
12.   Song For Billy

Long term, prime exponent of the New York Slam poetry scene, Ursula Rucker has spent the last seven years working with some of the finest downtempo outfits including Silent Poets and The Roots. Whilst her talents have embellished their work from 1994 onwards, it is former musical partners 4Hero, Alexkid and King Britt who have returned the gesture and collaborated with her on this beautiful fusion of hip hop, nu-jazz and soul. 
Inspired by the social commentary of black female writers Zora Neale Hurston and Sonia Sanchez, Ursula Rucker has made it her mission to elevate the mind of hip hop and purify the art form. Like her previous work Supa Sista fixes Ursula's attentions firmly on the issues of sexuality, technology, women's rights, politics, education, evolution and spirituality. 
Unlike so many working in the business she is an engaged woman who knows the true power of words. Levelling criticism at some of her male contemporaries for the effects that the violence and machismo in their lyrics has on the young, she purrs, "... formidable minds pay the price for your microphone mistakes. Change or be changed. Break the chains, don't be slaves". 
Lazy beats with sweet soul soaked in Rhodes piano and double bass punctuation provide a wonderful, musical contrast to the often gritty subject matter. "Philadelphia Child" combines the city's trademark strings with tabla percussion whilst "What???" extends the variety to subtle drum and bass rhythms all of which compliment Ursula's vocals. 
Charged with 'she-lectricity', hers is a silken delivery that, like Michael Franti's, demonstrates that a quiet word in the ear can speak volumes above the microphone rant. Ursula is one that would like to see hip hop become more responsible and more original. This is a woman who is both a poet and performer with important things to say and with her smoky, seductive lyricism it is all too easy to listen and absorb.
Andy Puleston / BBC Review

VA ‎– Best Of Acid Jazz (1996)

Style: House, Acid Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Garage House
Format: CD
Label: Global Television

1.01.   Us3 - Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)
1.02.   Jamiroquai - Space Cowboy
1.03.   The Brand New Heavies -Midnight At The Oasis (Radio Version)
1.04.   Incognito - Everyday (Bluey's 7" Mix)
1.05.   Freak Power - Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out (Radio Mix)
1.06.   Spearhead - People In Tha Middle
1.07.   Des'ree - Feel So High
1.08.   Digable Planets - Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat)
1.09.   Guru - Feel The Music
1.10.   Martine Girault - Been Thinking About You (Original Opaz Mix)
1.11.   Ronny Jordan - So What!
1.12.   Drizabone - Real Love (Nush Glamour Mix)
1.13.   The Brand New Heavies - Never Stop (Radio Edit)
1.14.   Urban Species - Spiritual Love (Natural 7")
1.15.   New Jersey Kings - Green Screen
1.16.   The James Taylor Quartet - Mission Impossible
1.17.   Omar - Keep Steppin'
1.18.   Vibraphonic - Heavy Vibes
1.19.   Leena Conquest & Hip Hop Finger - Boundaries (Radio Edit)
1.20.   Brooklyn Funk Essentials - Take The L Train (To 8th Avenue)
2.01.   Goldbug - Whole Lotta Love
2.02.   Young Disciples - Apparently Nothin' (Edit)
2.03.   Diana Brown & Barrie K Sharpe - Masterplan
2.04.   Corduroy - Something In My Eye
2.05.   Working Week - Venceremos
2.06.   Jhelisa - Whirl Keeps Turning (Radio Edit)
2.07.   The Brand New Heavies - Dream Come True
2.08.   D'Influence - Good Lover (Wow Original) (Dance Energy Edit)
2.09.   Repercussions - Promise Me Nothing (Album Version)
2.10.   Brooklyn Funk Essentials - The Creator Has A Masterplan
2.11.   D Note - Now Is The Time (Original Version)
2.12.   City Lix - Find Our Love
2.13.   Snowboy - 24 For Betty Page
2.14.   Corduroy - Follow That Arab
2.15.   This I Dig - Turn It All Around
2.16.   Xan - Watcha Gonna Do
2.17.   Groove Collective - Whatchugot
2.18.   TC 1992 - Funky Guitar (Sure Shot Deep Mix)
2.19.   Mother Earth - Jesse
2.20.   Carleen Anderson - Let It Last

Concept By, Compiled By – Nic Moran

Friday, 24 May 2019

Bob Dylan ‎– Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

Style: Folk Rock, Blues Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: CBS, Columbia

1.   Like A Rolling Stone
2.   Tombstone Blues
3.   It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry
4.   From A Buick 6
5.   Ballad Of A Thin Man
6.   Queen Jane Approximately
7.   Highway 61 Revisited
8.   Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
9.   Desolation Row

Bass – Harvey Goldstein, Russ Savakus
Drums – Bobby Gregg
Guitar – Charlie McCoy, Michael Bloomfield
Organ, Piano – Al Kooper, Paul Griffin
Piano – Frank Owens
Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica, Piano– Bob Dylan
Written By – Bob Dylan
Producer – Bob Johnston, Tom Wilson

There’s been so much written and said about each and every one of Bob Dylan’s albums that it’s all too easy to wind-up lost in the vast, labyrinthine myths surrounding them. One of the biggest is the whole shock-of-the-new deal, otherwise known as the day the earth stood still when Dylan picked up a Stratocaster. It seems ludicrous now that there could be so much ballyhoo over his decision to play some tunes with a rock group, especially when, even by the standards of the day, it was fairly innocuous rock music at that. 
Still, escaping fundamentalists from whatever cult they belong to is no bad thing, and it was a newly-liberated Dylan, just days after his controversial appearance at Newport, who recorded Highway 61 Revisited with a rock band in tow. This is the point where Dylan planted both feet firmly on the ground that had been partially turned on 1965’s Bringing It All Back Home, and started digging in. It’s easy to overlook the testy brilliance of “Like A Rolling Stone “on account of its having been part of the musical furniture for the last forty years. Yet the fresh air and fresh ideas, whistling alongside Al Kooper’s soaring organ lines, all add up to this being a 100% classic with one of the great cutting vocal performances to date. 
Though comparatively muted at an instrumental level, the “Ballad Of A Thin Man” is no less mordant and biting a put-down. Not all imagery tucked up inside those increasingly florid lyrics plays well but there’s no mistaking the attitude jumping out of every last syllable. The abrasive scrape of his voice meets its match on the boisterous shuffle of “Tombstone Blues” with a spectacular guitar break from Mike Bloomfield ahead of the penultimate verse. 
To these ears at least, Dylan works best when he’s at his most concise. Though the purists may find sanctuary in the acoustic-only eleven minute-long “Desolation Row”, and regard any dissention as sacrilege, such verbosity drags slightly upon an invigorating collection of songs which takes things at a brisk pace. 
Sid Smith / BBC Review

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Jeremy Steig ‎– Wayfaring Stranger (1971)

Style: Soul-Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Free Improvisation
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Real Gone Music, Blue Note

1.   In The Beginning
2.   Mint Tea
3.   Wayfaring Stranger
4.   Waves
5.   All Is One
6.   Space

Bass – Eddie Gomez
Drums – Don Alias
Engineer – Fred Weinberg, Jay Messina, Rich Mays
Flute – Jeremy Steig
Guitar – Sam Brown
Liner Notes – Pat Thomas
Producer – Sonny Lester
Remastered By – Kevin Bartley

In the very late 1970s – or perhaps it was the very early 80s; after so many years, I’m not entirely sure – I picked up a used copy of Lillian Roxon’s Rock Encyclopedia. I was (and remain) a voracious consumer of that kind of thing; not long after I became a rock fan, I became a fan of rock journalism. Roxon’s 1969 book was one of the first long-form serious treatments of rock music, and while it’s quite dated now, it remains an absolutely fascinating read. (Ed Naha‘s mid 70s update of the late Lillian Roxon‘s work is a disaster to be avoided, except in a compare-and-contrast sort of way.) 
Roxon made a point to include a number of bubbling-under artists, including several whom (at the time of the book’s first printing) hadn’t even released albums. Thus readers can learn about a new group “out of Detroit” (sic) called The Psychedelic Stooges. Another group that merits mention is a jazz-rock outfit (the hybrid was quite new and novel at the time) called Jeremy Steig and the Satyrs. Their sole album (a self-titled LP released in March 1968) is, in Roxon’s estimation, jazz aimed at a rock audience. Predictably, it didn’t shift major units and is largely forgotten (despite a small-label CD reissue in 2009). But Steig himself was then a fairly highly regarded jazz flautist, and he remains musically active today, now based in Japan. 
A couple of years after the Satyrs LP, Steig released an album called Wayfaring Stranger (named after the traditional folk classic). As the liner notes in the album’s new reissue (on the estimable Real Gone Music label) explain, in those days Steig “was signed to a manager who tended to trade him around to record companies like a major league ball player,” and as a result he ended up on Blue Note for the 1970 album. 
Steig’s band is small and configured in a traditionally jazz-styled manner. Bassist Eddie Gomez was already quite well known as Scott LaFaro‘s replacement in The Bill Evans Trio, and Don Alias (drums) and guitarist Sam Brown were highly regarded in the jazz world as well, both with extensive pedigrees. 
“In the Beginning” is a spare piece in which Steig’s flute carries the tune, with subtle yet funky support from Gomez and Alias (if Brown is on the track at all, his contributions are minor). Toward the song’s fadeout, some vocalizing a la Ian Anderson works its way into Steig’s attack, though Pat Thomas‘ liner essay asserts that the then-new Jethro Tull wasn’t an influence upon Steig’s playing. Of course others (notably Rashaan Roland Kirk) used similar breath techniques. 
In some ways the vibe created within “In the Beginning” is continued in “Mint Tea.” While the band hits a bit harder – and Steig’s playing becomes more forceful – the tracks continues unfolding in a catchy/funky manner, but not one that will find listeners with a hook-laden melody stuck in their heads thereafter. 
Sam Brown’s electric guitar makes its first audible appearance on the title track, easily the most melodic and accessible of the record’s six tracks (it’s perhaps worth noting that the other five are either Stieg compositions or co-writes with Gomez). In the tried-and-true jazz tradition, Steig states the melody, and then restates it in mutated fashion, then more so, then he’s joined by countermelodic work from his cohorts. The track goes on some eleven minutes, but never fails to sustain interest; each player takes his turn to shine, albeit in a muted fashion. It would be a disservice to characterize this music as background music, but in a pinch it could serve that function quite well. 
Things take a welcome turn toward the funky with “Waves,” in which Gomez’s upright bass takes a more prominent role; the counterpoint between his assertive yet subtle acoustic playing and Steig’s breathy, precise flute work is a highlight of the record; Alias’ drumming – with plenty of subtle snare and cymbal work — makes it even better. 
The lengthy “All is One” builds from a spare Steig solo showcase into something punctuated by Gomez’s moody bass plucking. Five-plus minutes in, Steig adopts a more fluid, lyrical style, while Gomez plucks way ominously (Brown and Alias are wholly absent on this track). Eight minutes or so along, Steig blows what might most accurately be called psychedelic flute. 
Wayfaring Stranger wraps up with “Space” (as with most Real Gone Music reissues of forgotten/lost treasures, there are no bonus tracks on the CD reissue). Gomez takes up the bow and plays his bass like a cello, playing higher on the neck, well up into the treble range. The result is a lovely (if melancholy) duet between the bassist and Steig. The musical dialogue between the to truly feels like a conversation, and is perhaps the most evocative piece on the album. (Evocative of what, you can decide.) Toward its end, “Space” gets truly weird in an avant-garde kind of way, perhaps presaging Steig’s work with Yoko Ono a mere year later, on her Fly LP. 
Bill Kopp / Musoscribe

Jeremy Steig ‎– Howlin' For Judy (2008)

Style: Soul-Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Free Improvisation
Format: CD
Label: Blue Note

1.   Howlin' For Judy
2.   Mint Tea
3.   Alias
4.   Waves
5.   In The Beginning
6.   Nardis
7.   Permutations

Bass – Eddie Gomez
Drums, Percussion – Don Alias
Flute  – Jeremy Steig
Producer – Sonny Lester
Reissue Producer – Michael Cuscuna

"Howlin' for Judy" is flutist Jeremy Steig's best-known track, thanks to the Beastie Boys' use of a sample from it in "Sure Shot." As the title track for this collection, it marks new chapter in Blue Note's Rare Groove series. This seven-track set is compiled from two different albums: 1969's Legwork, which appeared on Solid State, and 1970's Wayfaring Stranger on Blue Note itself -- both of which were originally produced by the great Sonny Lester. Blue Note's Michael Cuscuna produced this collection by paring down the original albums to just the tracks that featured the trio of Steig, bassist Eddie Gomez, and drummer Don Alias. Why? In order to maximize its groove quotient; Legwork had its share of duo cuts and Wayfaring Stranger had some that featured a quartet with guitar. That said, the previous outings were quite adventurous in places: they contained various blues, ostinato workouts, and more ponderous numbers, too. Cuscuna pruned away until only the deeply funky, beat-driven trio tracks remained. That said, there is plenty of adventure -- not just in the music, but in its production: Steig was a fan of stereo separation and overdubbing techniques that were focused to maximize the rhythmic aspects of certain tracks. His own playing style is a great cross between Hubert Laws' more soulful technique and the dynamically rich and physically percussive aspects of Rahsaan Roland Kirk -- both rhythmically attuned players. While many are familiar with the title cut with its two-channel overdubbed bass and flute, far fewer punters know Steig's wildly groove-drenched sound world from the era. What a treat! You are the person this compilation is directed at. 
Thom Jurek / AllMusic

Ricardo Saló (Séc XX:100 anos/100 discos)

RICARDO SALÓ (Um quarto pop com vista) 

  1. MILES DAVIS "The birth of cool"
  2. ELLA FITZGERALD "The Cole Porter songbook"
  3. MILES DAVIS "Kind of blue"
  5. OLIVER NELSON "The blues and the abstract truth"
  6. JOHN COLTRANE "Giant steps"
  7. JOHN COLTRANE "Live at Birdland"
  8. ERIC DOLPHY "Out to lunch"
  10. DIONNE WARWICK "The original soul of Dionne Warwick"
  11. PHIL SPECTOR "Back to mono"
  12. BEACH BOYS "Pet sounds"
  13. JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE "Are you experienced?"
  15. DR. JOHN "Gris gris
  16. THE BAND "Music from the big pink"
  17. MILES DAVIS "In a silent way"
  18. SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE "There's a riot going on"
  19. BOBBY HUTCHERSON "San Francisco"
  20. ALICE COLTRANE "Ptah, The El Daoud"
  21. MARVIN GAYE "What's going on"
  22. ARCHIE SHEPP "Attica blues"
  23. DAVID HOLLAND QUARTET "Conference of the birds"
  24. CAN "Tago mago"
  26. ROXY MUSIC "For your pleasure"
  27. FUNKADELIC "America eats its young"
  28. JAMES BROWN "The payback"
  29. MILTON NASCIMENTO "Milagre dos peixes"
  30. EDDIE HARRIS "I need some money"
  31. PARLIAMENT "Mothership connection"
  32. GIL SCOTT-HERON AND BRIAN JACKSON "The first minute of a new day"
  33. CURTIS MAYFIELD "There's no place like America today
  34. BRIAN ENO "Another green world"
  35. BURNING SPEAR "Marcus Garvey"
  36. HAROLD BUDD "The pavilion of dreams"
  37. DR. BUZZARD'S ORIGINAL SAVANNAH BAND "Dr. Buzzard's original savannah band
  38. KRAFTWERK "Trans europe express"
  39. STEELY DAN "Aja
  40. PERE UBU "Dub housing
  41. BURNING SPEAR "Social living"
  42. CHIC "Risqué"
  43. PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED "Second edition"
  44. HOLGER CZUKAY "Movies
  45. THE B-52'S "The B-52's
  46. SUICIDE "Suicide
  47. THE FEELIES "Crazy rhythms
  48. YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS "Colossal youth
  49. LINTON KWESI JOHNSON "Bass culture
  50. FELA KUTI & AFRIKA 70 "Coffin for head of state
  51. CURTIS MAYFIELD "Something to believe in
  52. FLYING LIZARDS "Flying lizards
  53. GRACE JONES "Nightclubbing
  54. TOM TOM CLUB "Tom tom club
  55. A CERTAIN RATIO "Sextet
  56. RIP RIG + PANIC "God
  57. LAURIE ANDERSON "Big science
  58. MARVIN GAYE "Midnight love
  60. TOM WAITS "Swordfishtrombones
  61. ARVO PART "Tabula rasa
  62. BLUE NILE "A walk across the rooftops" 
  63. SPECIAL A.K.A. "In the studio
  64. SADE "Diamond life
  65. VIOLENT FEMMES "Hallowed ground
  66. RAY LEMA "Medecine
  68. ANITA BAKER "Rapture
  69. SONIC YOUTH "Evol
  70. STEVE REICH "Sextet/six marimbas
  71. LEE SCRATCH PERRY & DUB SYNDICATE "Time boom x de devil dead
  72. SALIF KEITA "Soro
  73. ERIC B. & RAKIM "Paid in full
  74. PUBLIC ENEMY "It takes a nation of millions to hold us back
  75. SUN RA "Out there a minute
  77. WIRE "A bell is a cup until it is struck
  78. DE LA SOUL "3 feet high and rising
  79. SOUL II SOUL "Club classics vol.1
  80. MASSIVE ATTACK ''Blue lines
  81. A TRIBE CALLED QUEST "The low end theory
  82. MATERIAL "The third power
  83. THE DISPOSABLE HEROES OF HIPHOPRISY "Hypocrisy is the greatest luxury
  84. YOUSSOU N'DOUR "Eyes open
  85. UNITED FUTURE ORGANIZATION "United future organization
  86. JON HASSELL AND BLUESCREEN "Dressing for pleasure
  87. SANDALS "Rite to silence
  88. MC 900 FT. JESUS "Welcome to my dream
  89. V/A "Headz: A soundtrack of experimental hip hop jams
  90. ST GERMAIN "Boulevard
  91. COOL BREEZE "Assimilation"
  92. NIGHTMARES ON WAX "Smokers delight
  93. KARMA "Pad sounds
  94. SYLK 130 "When the funk hits the fan
  95. ROCKERS Hl Fl "Overproof
  96. WAIWAN "Distraction
  97. CRAZY PENIS Nice hot bath with crazy penis
  99. TOSCA "Suzuki
  100. CHARI CHARI "Spring to summer"  

Chari Chari ‎– Spring To Summer (2000)

Style: Abstract, Acid Jazz, Ambient
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Ultima Sounds, File Records

01.   Flow Dub Outta Borneo
02.   Spring Ocean (Smoker's Delight)
03.  Across The Universe
04.  The Sun Song
05.  Udu Spiral Monkey Dance
06.  Life In Flow Motion
07.  Solar-Pass
08. Buddha & Jewel
09.  We
10.   Ti Burung
11.   Subtropica
12.   Enter The Metal Circle

Kaoru Inoue aspired to be a DJ around the Nineties, being fully active playing diverse music such as House, Afro,Brazil, Latin, Break Beats, Jazz, Techno, etc, in his own distinctive style at various clubs in Tokyo. Apart from DJing, he also was producing songs and participated in a compilation album called 'LISTEN UP' (released from Universal Ape) in 1994. Taking advantage of this, he started his own musical project, CHARI CHARI. After his first opportunity of releasing his own production, he produced many songs for independent labels such as the UK label, PUSSYFOOT owned by HOWIE B. and EMIGRATION both at home and abroad as well as doing many remixes for these labels. In August1999, his first solo album, 'SPRING TO SUMMER' was released by File Records and received great reaction from inside and outside Japan specially from underground club music scene. 
This album was also released from the label, ULTIMA in Portugal to the world in January 2001.At the moment, he is participating in various kinds of parties around the world as a guest DJ and also producing songs for compilations such as 'BOSSA TRES JAZZ…'(YELLOW PRODUCTION in France) as well as doing remixes for many artists in the world for instance, Femi Kuti, NXS, Crue-l Grand Orchestra, OOIOO, Frankie Valentine, Soft, Buffalo Daughter, Calm, Port Of Notes , Arto Lindsay, Bebel Gilbert to name a few. In Jan. 2002, his 2nd album,'in time' was released from Toy's Factory Records in Japan. This album included the big hit song called 'Aurora' which was also featured recently on Deep & Sexy 2 mixed and compiled by Ron Trent released by Wave Music. This song was also supported by many DJs (Francois K., Danny Krivit, Joe Clausell, Jazzanova, etc.) from around the world. 
In 2003, he started his own label called 'Seeds and Ground' under the Japanese independent label, 'Crue-l Records'. He forms a band called Aurora with his production partner, DSK aka Daisuke Kojima. In this band, he plays guitar and in fall 2004, released their debut album, 'Flare' (SAGCD005). In summer 2005, with his real name, Kaoru Inoue, he produced a more dance oriented album which was a first for him called 'The Dancer' (SAGCD007). 
In March 2006, he releases under his own name, a very ambient-style in abundance, an album called 'Slow Motion' (ACCR10049) from the label, Rush! Production as well as another album with Aurora called 'Fjord' (SAGCD010) from seedsandground around the same period. He put out the mix CD titled "groundrhythm2" in late 2006. 
Kaoru Inoue periodically DJs as well. Holding residencies at Club Air for a regular party called 'groundrhythm' and at Unit called 'FLOATRIBE'. He regular DJs at a cross section of places whether it be inside or out. And recently, has been regularly playing live with his group, Aurora and a progressive live session band called 'Floatribe Live Session'.  
nebeski /