Saturday, 23 May 2020

Einstürzende Neubauten ‎– 80-83 Strategien Gegen Architekturen (1984)

Style: Industrial, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Mute, SMS Records, Homestead Records

01.   Tanz Debil
02.   Schmerzen Hören
03.   Mikroben
04.   Krieg In Den Städten
05.   Zum Tier Machen
06.   Draußen Ist Feindlich
07.   Stahlversion
08.   Schwarz
09.   Negativ Nein
10.   Kalte Sterne
11.   Spaltung
12.   U-Haft Muzak
13.   Gestohlenes Band (ORF)
14.   Schwarz (Mutiert)

Written-By – Einstürzende Neubauten
Compiled By – Einstürzende Neubauten, Jim Thirlwell
Performer – Alexander Von Borsig, Blixa Bargeld, F.M. Einheit, Marc Chung, N. U. Unruh

STRATEGIES AGAINST ARCHITECTURE is a compilation of early tracks by Einsturzende Neubauten. The disc includes material from the band's first EP (SCHWARZ) and LP (KOLLAPS) along with a few b-sides and live versions. On these tracks, Neubauten uses an orchestra of everything from traditional rock instruments to power tools and smashing glass. The record opens with an extended peal of feedback that sets the tone of the entire record. If Lou Reed had taken his METAL MACHINE MUSIC beyond the stage of free-form noise sculpture and added jackhammers and an assortment of chants, wails, and screams (in German) he might have come close to STRATEGIES. As it stands, Neubauten's early work is about as extreme as music can get before it becomes nothing more than noise. 
All of STRATEGIES' songs are classics of industrial music. The eerie, slow "Stahlversion" features percussion in the form of drumming on the struts of a hollow bridge. "Negative Nein" is rhythmically constructed from the electronically altered sound of bubbling water and Blixa Bargeld's unearthly vocals and screams. "Kalte Sterene" is probably the closest that EN have ever gotten to traditional rock, though the vocals are so heavily echoed and multi-tracked that they overpower the simple beat patterns.

When it comes to long-lived makers of weird music, Einstürzende Neubauten is a fair match for Pere Ubu. Pere Ubu was founded a couple of years earlier, but as far as I can tell Neubauten has never had an officially inactive period. Pere Ubu is arguably the poppier of the two bands (most of their songs have musical instruments, chords, and even melodies), but it was Neubauten who was booked to support U2 on their Zoo Tour in 1993. (Just yesterday I was trying to think of a more surprising opening act than Joan Jett's selection of Lungfish in the '90s, and now I've found it.)Blixa Bargeld and co. are, like our friends from Cleveland, still active, still making new recordings and performing. I have no idea if or when we'll get them to cross the Atlantic again (their last planned tour here was canceled due to visa issues), but they certainly have a catalog vast and deep enough to keep DJs around the world arguing about the difference between music and noise for many years to come.
Levi Fuller / KEXP 

Koop ‎– Waltz For Koop (2001)

Style: Soul-Jazz, Bossa Nova, Downtempo, Cool Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label. JCR, Quango Records, Superstudio Grå, Stimulus

1.   Waltz For Koop
2.   Tonight
3.   Baby
4.   Summer Sun
5.   Soul For Sahib
6.   Modal Mile
7.   In A Heartbeat
8.   Relaxin' At Club F***n
9.   Bright Nights

Bass – Dan Berglund
Bongos – Ola Bothzén
Flute, Brass – Magnus Lindgren
Recorded By, Mixed By – Koop
Vibraphone – Mattias Ståhl
Vocals – Yukimi Nagano, Terry Callier, Earl Zinger, Cecilia Stalin, Mikael Sundin

When you hear the new album by Swedish duo Koop, your first instinctive thought is, "This is a jazz album." Even when you notice that this CD is filed under the electronic category in your local record store, when you give it a listen, you're thinking this is a jazz album. Techno, jazz, acid jazz, call it what you will; the bottom line is, these guys from Stockholm have created the most seamless combination of jazz and electronic I have heard in a very long time.

Members Oscar Simonsson and Magnus Zingmark let the jazz do its thing, smartly keeping the electronic enhancements to a minimum. Yes, there are samples (primarily the drums and the odd bassline here and there), but Koop know the purpose of the samples are to provide the rhythmic foundation, with live instruments like bass, flute, vibes, bongos, and the five guest vocalists providing the soul. The result is an album that sounds incredibly natural, with more focus on structure than improvisation. Not to say that it's stiff; contrarily, Koop combines various influences from several forms of jazz, such as modal jazz, bossa nova, big band, West Coast "cool" jazz, silky-smooth European jazz vocals, and John Coltrane-styled solos, turning it all into their own version of jazz fusion.

It's the often-brilliant work by the guest vocalists that immediately wins you over. Cecelia Stalin opens the album with "Waltz for Koop", singing breathy lines over sampled strings and a nifty little 6/8 bass sample that runs for the song's entirety, setting a supercool modal groove. Koop reprises the same formula on "Baby", with Stalin again providing ultra-sultry vocals, over live bass this time, but this time around, midway through, the song breaks into a light flute solo over a gliding, walking bassline. Mikael Sundin sings on "Tonight", contributing his own low-key Chet Baker vocal impersonation, while Koop provides a Brubeck-like 5/4 piano riff as support. The greatly underrated jazz vocalist Terry Callier sings on the Latin-tinged "In a Heartbeat"; this time, the arrangement is more spare, with slightly more emphasis on the techno aspect of the music. The song is all Callier, as he infuses the tune with emotion; like Koop, it doesn't take much effort for Callier to get the feeling across, and his simple, relaxed delivery blends well with the understated backing music. The album hiccups very slightly on "Modal Mile", where English singer Earl Zinger does the Beat poet/barfly schtick that Tom Waits nailed over twenty years ago. Zinger does it well, and his lyrics are charming enough (much in the same vein as Canadian poet/singer Ralph Alfonso), and Koop provide a typically dusky arrangement, but their only crime is, we've heard this all before.

The real revelation on Waltz for Koop, though, is 15 year-old singer Yukimi Nagano, who floored me on the two songs she sings. On the splendorific "Summer Sun", a song so pretty, so sunny you'll swear you've heard it before, Nagano's voice, sounding twice her age, carries the entire tune. It brings to mind similar music from those old Brigitte Bardot movies; simple, crooning, jazz lite, with lush horns, swirling strings, and some cute scat singing. As Nagano sings, "My life once a misery / But now your love has set me free", you can practically see her smile. Nagano also closes the album with "Bright Nights", sort of the counterpoint to "Summer Sun". Over an arrangement that includes a brushed-snare sample, a minimal, two-note bassline, and entrancing vibes, Nagano conveys a more middle-of-the-night, moonlit, deserted beach type of vibe that'll have you floating. We need a solo album from this young lady. Fast.

There are also two neat little instrumentals on the album: "Soul for Sahib", a tribute to jazz flautist Sahib Shihab, during which, over a swingin' walking bass, guest musician Magnus Lindgren pulls off a virtuoso flute solo of his own, as samples of Shihab himself explaining his music bookend the piece. The most techno-oriented song on Waltz for Koop is "Relaxin' at Club F****n", providing a more house-styled beat as an acoustic bass sample plays, and a sax solo is improvised. Thankfully, the electronic arrangement still manages to take a backseat to the solo instead of drowning it out with pulsating beats; here, it's more of a light thump.

As an added bonus, this new version of Waltz for Koop also comes with a special DVD, where you can either watch the excellent video for "Summer Sun" (created by Stylewar, who are responsible for great recent videos by the Hives and Millencolin) and the clip for the tune "Glomd" (directed by Stina Nordenstam, of all people), from the album Sons of Koop. The DVD also has audio remixes of both "Summer Sun" and "Relaxin' at Club F****n", a photo gallery, and a bio of Koop, and is a great little addition to an already highly enjoyable album.

You've got to love Koop; not only have they proven themselves extremely capable of creating a very accessible fusion of jazz and electronic music, but they're also outspoken opponents of something plaguing modern music today: the overlong CD. Instead of packing 70 minutes' worth of musical overkill on an album, Koop keep things nice and simple on Waltz for Koop, with only nine songs, totaling 34 minutes in length. The result is a record that leaves you craving more, but your only option is to hit the repeat button and play this album again. And again. And again. Within two hours, you'll be completely won over. It's that intoxicating.
Adrien Begrand / 9opMATTERS

Domenico + 2 ‎– Sincerely Hot (2002)

Style: Latin, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Luaka Bop, Ping Pong, V2

01.   Alegria Vai Lá
02.   Aeroport 77
03.   Possibilidade
04.   Te Convidei Pro Samba
05.   Comigo
06.   Solar
07.   Sincerely Hot
08.   Felizes Ficaremos Na Estrada
09.   Você E Eu
10.   Telepata
11.   Tarde De Chegada
12.   Tema Da Zorra
13.   Despedida

Bass – Kassin Kamal
Drums – Domenico Lanceloti
Guitar – Pedro Sá
Synthesizer – Berna Ceppas
Vocals – Domenico Lanceloti, Nina Miranda
Producer – Kassin Kamal

This is the second part of a musical trilogy that began in 2001 with the release of Music Typewriter by Moreno + 2. Now it's drummer Domenico Lancellotti's turn to step out front. The original idea of making it a bossa nova trio obviously became sidetracked, as the album veers into idiosyncratic experimentalism right from the start. But there are infectious rhythms throughout, even as the tracks bleed into one another, and a low-key Brazilian funkiness pervades the whole album. As planned, the rhythms are vital to the whole record, even more than the melodies (which show their face subtly rather than traditionally), whether made by man or machine. It's a record of exploration, both in ideas and arrangements (at one point electric piano and cello combine on a line that manages to be funky and achingly beautiful at the same time). But it's a disc that demands several listens to bring out its delights, and here the devil really is in the details, which need to be examined. It's far from easy listening, but well worth the effort. Just don't expect anything like Moreno Veloso's album.
Chris Nickson / AllMusic

Holger Czukay, Jah Wobble, Jaki Liebezeit ‎– Full Circle (1982)

Style: Electro, Experimental, Dub
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Virgin, Trio Records, Grönland Records

1.   How Much Are They?
2.   Where's The Money?
3.   Full Circle R.P.S. (No. 7)
4.   Mystery R.P.S. (No. 8)
5.   Trench Warfare
6.   Twilight World

Lyrics By, Music By – Czukay, Wobble
Synthesize, Bass, Vocals – Jah Wobble
Trumpet, Voice, Drums, Percussion – Jaki Liebezeit
Electronics, Drum Machine, Guitar, Organ, Piano, French Horn, Percussion, Mixed By – Holger Czukay

I have never understood why this record has always been so overlooked and severely underestimated. Even in the tons of praise heaped on Can in recent years the cursory mention given to the solo recordings of Can members tends to ignore or dismiss this fantastic disc.

During Can’s later years the influences of dub and ‘world’ music watered down the unhinged aggression and sheer naked artistic intent of their earlier recordings. However, here those influences give the record a hue, rather than sloppily splashing gaudy colour all over the place. The zany professor tendencies which Holger exhibits to occasionally irritating effect in his solo work are reigned in here as he has to restrain himself in the context of his collaborators.

Reading between the lines of the statements made about this collaboration by all concerned it seems that Wobble’s relationship with Czukay and Liebezeit wasn’t totally harmonious. Maybe this is the reason why there is a distinct lack of the mawkish sunniness which ruined later Can records, although the fallout from Jah Wobble’s involvement in PIL’s ‘Metal Box’ is also a major factor. Whatever the reasons, there is definitely a darker, more sinister edge to this record than anything the Can members had recently recorded.

‘How Much Are They?’ is a dubby dance tune with klanky rhythm-box and beautiful, warm bass. The music flies all over the room. Infact the same could be said of all the tracks on this LP. Tapes play backwards, instruments sound like they’re being played outside one minute, then right next to your ears the next. Wobble’s vocals are Shaun Ryder rough (specially on ‘Trench Warfare’). There’s dissonance all over the place. Guitar pickings, french horn, keyboards and tapes drop in and out with no immediately apparent logic. I’m making this sound like a mess, I know, but don’t forget that Holger Czukay’s in charge of the tapes, so the chaos is never allowed to take over. This album is one of the best editing jobs in music. Jaki’s fluid yet precise drumming is the glue holding it all together. The wanky EFS concept Can loved so much is mutated into the RPS (Radio Pictures Series) concept on two of the tracks on this record. As the name suggests radio samples fly around the mix as the Jah bass and Liebezeit sticks keep a head-nodding dub a-rolling. ‘Mystery RPS (No.8)’ is one of the most strangely beautiful pieces of music. It’s like Stockhausen’s moment form, but with gorgeous, stoned, seductive sounds instead of spiky, confrontational noises. Beguiling is the word. ‘Can you feel the wind?’ indeed. Mmmmm…yum!

Oh, and all this packaged in beautiful sleeve-art depicting a post-war radio receiver.

My involvement with this record is hardly an objective one. The only Can I had heard up until this point was on Cannibalism, which with my limited funds was the only Can CD I could afford at the time. It was played incessantly, much to the bemusement of my flat-mates. I then spotted ‘Full Circle’ in a second-hand record shop and, recognising the names on the sleeve, was compelled to buy it. Especially as it was so cheap. It was not what I was expecting after my baptism of ‘Mother Sky’, ‘Spoon’ etc. In fact I hated it and thought I’d wasted my money. It took a while to get over the feeling of being burnt. However, as with many of the things I don’t initially like, I eventually started to love this record with a passion and realised this was indeed an artistic triumph. ‘How Much Are They?’ was going round and round and round… Then I started dabbling in LSD. Same thing as the record, really: Didn’t like it particularly to start with then wanted to convert the whole world to my 24 hour acid habit.
This record and the Can compilation mentioned earlier then took on a life of their own. ‘Full Circle’, whilst tripping was mind-blowingly fantastic. It had just the right level of edginess and creepiness along with subtle, but thoroughly disorientating effects, ‘samples’ and tape-editing. It also seemed to have no historical context, and still doesn’t sound bound to any particular year or decade, even.

This CD has endured (which is why it is fitting that it be included here), and gets played at regular intervals. I have, over the years, listened to it in all sorts of chemically altered states (and straight, of course). It works with all of them, which is more than can be said for most overtly druggy records, which try too hard.

If you track this disc down do not hesitate to buy it. You may think I’m mad when you first hear it, but like I said, this music gives its treasures up slowly. If you already have it and haven’t heard it for a while dig it out of your collection again skin up and repeat play, repeat play, repeat play. 
Lord Lucan / Head Heritage

Retta Young ‎– Young And Restless (1976)

Genre: Funk / Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: All Platinum, Expansion

01.   Really Really
02.   Now Or Never
03.   Just Look Into His Eyes
04.   We're So In Love
05.   I Love My Jim
06.   My Man Is On His Way
07.   That's How Some Men Are
08.   Our Way Of Loving
09.   Let's Make Up For Lost Time
Bonus Tracks:
10.   You Beat Me To The Punch
11.   (Sending Out An) S.O.S.
12.   My Man Is On His Way (12" Mix)

Producer – A. Goodman, H. Ray, S. Lowe, W. Morris

Rare and in demand 1976 album from Reeta Young, ‘Young And Restless’ was originally released on All Platinum and kicks off with the sumptuous stepper ‘Really, Really’. The warm, sweet ‘We’re So In Love’ is a good mid tempo head nodder while the uptempo ‘My Man Is On His Way’ is a soulful dance effort that was no doubt aimed at the disco market of the time. The mid tempo groover ‘I Love My Jim’ is a good foot tapper while the main theme of the album is slower, ballad material, the highlight of which must be the sultry ‘Our Way Of Loving’.
Soul Brothers Records
Back in 1976, Retta Young - previously a member of 60s soul group The Superbs - recorded and released her sole debut album, Young & Restless. For some time, that set has been in-demand amongst soul and disco collectors, with pristine copies changing hands for hundreds online. Happily, Expansions have put together this licensed reissue. There's much to enjoy throughout, from the simmering strings and heart-aching vocals of slow jam "Now or Never", to the ultra-sweet bliss of "We're So in Love", via the Philadelphia International style brilliance of "My Love is on His Way" and emotion-rich "Let's Make Up For Lost Time".