Sunday, 28 April 2019

Holger Czukay ‎– Der Osten Ist Rot (1984)

Style: Krautrock, Art Rock, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Virgin, P-Vine Records, Grönland Records

01.   The Photo Song
02.   Bänkel Rap
03.   Michy
04.   Rhönrad
05.   Collage
06.   Esperanto Socialiste
07.   Der Osten Ist Rot (The East Is Red)
08.   Das Massenmedium
09.   Schaue Vertrauensvoll In Die Zukunft
10.   Träum Mal Wieder

Drums, Harmonium, Trumpet, Piano, Organ – Jaki Liebezeit
Performer (Telephone, News) – Gandhi
Recorded By – Holger Czukay, René Tinner
Synthesizer (Emu) – Conny Plank
Vocals, Organ – Michy
Written-By – Czukay), Jaki Liebezeit, Traditional
Performer (Dictaphone), Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Organ – Holger Czukay

Holger Czukay ‎– Rome Remains Rome And Excerpts From Der Osten Ist Rot (1987)

Style: Krautrock, Experimental
Format: CD
Label: Virgin, Virgin Japan

Rome Remains Rome
01.   Hey Baba Rebop
02.   Blessed Easter
03.   Sudetenland
04.   Hit Hit Flop Flop
05.   Perfect World
06.   Music In The Air

Der Osten Ist Rot
07.   Der Osten Ist Rot (The East Is Red)
08.   Das Massenmedium
09.   The Photo Song
10.   Rhonrad
11.   Michy
12.   Esperanto Socialiste
13.   Traum Mal Wieder

Drums, Trumpet, Piano – Jaki Liebezeit
Guitar – Michael Karoli
Guitar, Piano – Olli Marland
Harmonium, Organ – Jaki Liebezeit
Percussion – Jaki Liebezeit
Performer (Telephone, News) – Gandhi
Sampler– Conny Plank
Recorded By, Guitar, Vocals, Organ – Holger Czukay
Vocals – Sheldon (Kelly) Ancel
Vocals, Bass – Jah Wobbl
Vocals, Organ – Michy
Producer, Bass (Abs-bass), French Horn, Synthesizer, Electronics – Holger Czukay
Recorded By – René Tinner

Holger Czukay ‎– Rome Remains Rome (1987)

Style: Electro, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Virgin, P-Vine Records, Grönland Records

1.   Hey Baba Reebop
2.   Blessed Easter
3.   Sudetenland
4.   Hit Hit Flop Flop
5.   Perfect World
6.   Music In The Air

Drums, Trumpet, Piano, Percussion – Jaki Liebezeit
Guitar – Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli
Guitar, Piano – Olli Marland
Vocals – Sheldon (Kelly) Ancel
Vocals, Bass – Jah Wobble
Organ, Electric Bass, French Horn, Synthesizer, Electronics – Holger Czukay
Producer  – Holger Czukay

Ursula Bogner ‎– Recordings 1969-1988 (2008)

Style: Experimental, Abstract
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Faitiche

01.   Begleitung Für Tuba
02.   Inversion
03.   Proto
04.   Metazoon
05.   Momentaufnahme
06.   2 Ton
07.   Speichen
08.   Modes
09.   Atmosphäre 1
10.   Punkte
11.   Expansion
12.   Für Ulrich
13.   Pulsation
14.   Testlauf
15.   Soloresonanzen

Music By – Ursula Bogner
Liner Notes – Jan Jelinek
Mastered By – Kassian Troyer

According to German electronic musician Jan Jelinek, the homemade recordings of the late Ursula Bogner might never have been heard outside her immediate family had Jelinek not discovered them through a random encounter with Bogner's son. I say "according to" because rumors that Bogner's story is a hoax-- a cover for music Jelinek made himself-- have already circulated. Some cite the recordings' rather clean fidelity, odd for music purported to be this old and inexpensively produced; others claim to hear Jelenik's minimal style in Bogner's simple compositions. Then there's the fact that Recordings 1969-1988 is the first release on Jelinek's label, Faitiche-- a name the label's own website claims is a French/German hybrid meaning "factish," or "a combination of facts and fetishes [that] makes it obvious that the two have a common element of fabrication." 
Barring any denials or confirmations from Jelinek, that's probably all we'll ever know. His entertaining liner notes make Bogner's story seem plausible. Born in Germany in 1946, she became a pharmacist, wife, and mother by her early twenties, but still found spare time to study painting, printing, and electronic music. The latter interest led her to record her own synthesizer-based compositions on reel-to-reel tapes in a studio she built herself. Some songs survived intact, while others had to be assembled by Jelinek from individual, unmixed tracks. 
The truth of this tale is ultimately a minor concern, because as intriguing as the story is, the songs on Recordings 1969-1988 are much more interesting. Bogner's work fits squarely in the world of early electronic music-- the period from the late 1950s to the early 70s, when synthesizers were so new that using them to craft melodic songs and create abstract sound were both considered "experimental" pursuits. The king of this era was Raymond Scott, whose whimsical jazz was adopted for cartoon soundtracks, and whose electronic inventions resulted in radio commercials, Jim Henson film scores, and unique curios like Soothing Sounds for Baby, a series intended to help parents pacify their infants. Bogner's music bears much of Scott's playful spirit, finding common ground between nursery-rhyme simplicity and the absurd humor of abstract art. Some of these songs are practically direct Scott rip-offs, but you can also hear echoes of Scott contemporaries and descendants: the radio concoctions of Daphne Oram, the comic pop of Perry and Kingsley, the conceptual art of the Residents, even the post-rock repetition of Black Dice. 
Most of Recordings 1969-1988 sounds simultaneously like pop and art. Bogner's M.O. is to take a few simple loops-- rumbling bass, water-y plops, chirping squalls, laser-like blasts-- and overlap them, producing songs so sweet they'll make you laugh (the elephant-march opener "Begleitung für Tuba"), so repetitive they'll hypnotize you (the swinging "Inversion"), and so inventive they sound alien (the robotic "2 Ton"). At best, like on the jazzy "Punkte" and the cresting "Expansion", she crafts pulsing, organic melodies that burrow into memory like tree roots gripping the ground. 
I've often wondered why the music of Raymond Scott, as catchy as it could be, is frequently relegated to the status of odd curiosity or gear-geek niche. The same will certainly happen with Bogner, whoever she "really" was/is. And sure, the songs on Recordings 1969-1988 (as well as the included shot of her with big glasses and floppy bowl cut) have a tech-y, art-nerd sheen. But give these tunes time, and you may find yourself humming them randomly, much the way a 60s housewife might have unwittingly memorized Scott tunes via the background noise of his sneaky radio jingles.
Marc Masters / Pitchfork

Nuno Canavarro ‎– Plux Quba (1988)

Style: Abstract, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Ama Romanta

01.   Untitled
02.   Alsee
03.   O Fundo Escuro De Alse
04.   Untitled
05.   Untitled
06.   Untitled
07.   Untitled
08.   Wask
09.   Untitled
10.   Wolfie
11.   Crimine
12.   Bruma
13.   Untitled
14.   Cave
15.   Untitled

Composed By – Nuno Canavarro
Instruments – Nuno Canavarro
Remastered By – Rafael Toral

There’s something perfect about our imperfect minds. Most of the thoughts we think are the best, most of the time, aren’t the product of an instant occurrence. I’d say the best ideas truly come from a combination of luck/accident plus human intuition. Sometimes we may not know that our answer, or thought, is correct, but we feel it must be. That must be some of the explanation behind the timeless experimental album Plux Quba – Música Para 70 Serpentes by Portuguese musician Nuno Canavarro. Before Glitch was even a thing, Nuno, in his own way, was discovering that some of the best musical ideas could be created by looking for those bits of accidental imperfection. 
Not much is known about Nuno on our side of the world. We do have an apocryphal story. In 1991, American musician, Jim O’Rourke, traveling by train through Köln, Germany sits in on a listening session where someone takes out a copy of an obscure Portuguese music album. For the next 30-odd minutes everyone listening to the album are just floored by it, unable to piece together how someone could have released something like this, in that frame of time. Years pass – seven to be exact – and finally Jim’s able to secure the rights to reissue the recording. Only 500 or so copies are printed on his own Mokai label, and of the few who get a second chance to listen to this record, once again all of them were left floored by what they hear coming out of that piece of wax. In 2015, once again another label, Drag City, saw fit to reissue the record in a drastically small run which is now out of print. Much like the album itself, it’s existence had this vaporous quality. 
The music of Plux Quba is hard to describe. Gentle, tender, joyful, ghostly, and intriguing, it truly sounds like the gates of heaven opening up to the first sentient humanoid robot trying to process all this illogical oneness. It’s the sound of us trying to comprehend our technology through the technology we in fact birthed. On the record, sampled sound mixes with real and conjured up instrumentation. You also hear real voices slice, transform, and mutate through barely controlled aural prisms; in the end, everything combining into this emotional feeling more appropriate for our disjointed technological time than the pre-internet world that birthed Nuno’s Plux Quba. More songs are left untitled, than titled, as if seeming to allow the listener to fill in the rest of the musical picture. It’s ridiculous to sound colonial over this, but as much as we want to think our modern world holds the keys to human abstraction, someone has already been there before. Our goal, of course, should always be to try to find new blanks to fill in, once one is filled. I’ll share with you just a bit of new history that’s been filled in this year, concerning Plux Quba.
Diego Olivas / Fond/Sound