Monday, 25 May 2020

Einstürzende Neubauten ‎– Strategies Against Architecture III (1991-2001) (2001)

Genre: Electronic, Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Mute, Rough Trade, Potomak, Grand Harbour

1-01.   Zentrifuge
1-02.   12305te Nacht
1-03.   Für Wen Sind Die Blumen?
1-04.   Redukt (Live)
1-05.   Ende Neu (Live)
1-06.   Blume (French Version)
1-07.   Three Thoughts (Devils Sect)
1-08.   Implosion
1-09.   Scampi Alla Carlina
1-10.   Snake
1-11.   Alles Was Irgendwie Nützt (Live)
1-12.   The Garden
1-13.   Anrufe In Abwesenheit
1-14.   Querulanten
2-01.   Architektur Ist Geiselnahme
2-02.   Helium
2-03.   Wüste (Ballet Version)
2-04.   Der Leere Raum
2-05.   Was Ist Ist (Extended Version)
2-06.   I Wish This Would Be Your Colour (Live)
2-07.   Bili Rubin
2-08.   Die Interimsliebenden
2-09.   Installation Nr. 1 (John Is Mixing)
2-10.   Montblanc
2-11.   Open Fire
2-12.   Salamandrina
2-13.   Letztes Bild
2-14.   Silence Is Sexy
2-15.   Drachen

Compilation Producer – Boris Wilsdorf
Mastered By – Michael Schwabe
Einstürzende Neubauten Are – Alexander Hacke, Blixa Bargeld, Jochen Arbeit, N. U. Unruh, Rudolf Moser

Berlin's Einstürzende Neubauten -- that's "Collapsing New Buildings" to the uninitiated -- are in many ways an embodiment of a certain stereotype about German art rock. They could have been the inspiration for the Saturday Night Live "Sprockets" character -- you know, the tight black trousers, the turtlenecks, the pale, unsmiling faces. Early footage taken of Neubauten features a bunch of skinny, dark clad young men who never smiled, beating with all their might on the detritus of an abandoned industrial site. Live, they set the stage on fire -- literally. Einstürzende Neubauten's arsenal of "instruments" initially included the dulcet tones of the pneumatic hammer, the circular saw, and the pile driver. Formed in 1980, Einstürzende Neubauten adopted punk's apocalyptic impulse, but incorporated none of its sarcasm or joyful abandon. Their nihilism was more Dada than Chelsea: they coveted nonsense rather than simplicity, improvisation over the three-chord mantra. 
For all this apparent typecasting, after 21 years it is clear that Einstürzende Neubauten are that rare thing: an enduring avant-garde act. From their ear-smashing, power-tool wielding inception onward, Neubauten have been faithful to their founding credo: that you must destroy in order to build. As easy as it might be to pigeonhole these Teutonic noisemeisters, Neubauten have consistently striven to smash not only popular music's conventions, but their own as well. 
Even by the mid-'80s, they were moving away from pure improvisational havoc. They began to use actual instruments, objet-trouvé recordings, and singer/guitarist Blixa Bargeld began to pen lyrics that actually seemed to be about something, even if it was something weird like helium or shrimp scampi. The '90s saw him start to singing in other languages besides German -- the current list now stands at English, French, Latin, and Spanish. With the added structure came a new focus on song craft and on stage production. The title of their most recent album (before this retrospective), Silence Is Sexy brings Einstürzende Neubauten 180 degrees from their cacophonous beginnings, exploiting restraint and reticence over explosive excess. In other words, you'll be waiting a long time if you're hoping to spy Blixa Bargeld on the side of a highway in Eastern Germany, screaming as he waves a piece of twisted highway flotsam. He is so over that. 
For all that, it isn't easy to map Neubauten's implosive trajectory on to the traditional "avant-garde purists grow up, become more accessible" story that describes musicians from Jonathan Richman to Sonic Youth. The closest analogy I can find, not really in terms of sound but in terms of narrative, is Elvis Costello, whose early do-it-yourself angry man anthems gave way to a hodge-podge of collaborations and reinventions, some more successful than others. Einstürzende Neubauten have spawned a variety of side projects in addition to the broadening of their sound. Since 1984, Blixa has been the guitarist for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Other band members have worked with industrial acts like KMFDM, penned movie soundtracks and even ballet scores. The band has written and performed music for a theater play of Faust, which was written by Werner Schwab with the band in mind. Like Elvis Costello, whose most recent project is a jazz collaboration, Einstürzende Neubauten have never been shy of so-called "high" art. Part of their commitment to anarchy involves a refusal to acknowledge the validity of any such distinctions. 
In Neubauten's case, the story is complicated by the role they've come to play in the European art establishment. Their work on Faust, for example, provided them with a workspace at East Berlin's prestigious Academy of Art. In collaboration with stage designer Erich Wonda called "Das Auge des Taifun" (The Eye of the Typhoon), the band went to new heights in its conceptualization of site-specific performance art. They built a set designed to process around Vienna's Ringstrasse, a street that rings the city, and within the moving installation the band frolicked in an enclosure that resembled a bomber cockpit while huskies moved past on conveyer belts. Blixa Bargeld has so much high-art cachet in Germany that his serialbathroomdummyrun project -- a series of photographs from different hotel bathrooms he's used -- has spawned not only several exhibitions but also a coffee table book. His list of projects reads like the CV of a pair of idiot-savant Siamese twins. 
I very much doubt that the irony of this situation is lost on Herr Bargeld, whose waspy, leather-clad Sturm und Drang is nothing if not deliberately cartoonish. On the other hand, Einstürzende Neubauten's experimentations are sincere: Silence Is Sexy's "Anrufe in Abwesenheit" (also included in this collection) is a commentary on modern communication made entirely of cell-phone noises (rings and beeps) coupled with the caller's disclosure of his or her exact location at the time of the call. It certainly goes a lot further, influence wise, than a dry academic monograph on the shrinking distances of our wireless world, but the impulse is the same. Though the packaging may be goofy, the critique is always dead-on. 
This newest retrospective covers the years 1991 through 2001, thus bringing us up to date on the band's latest doings. The double-CD set covers the Tabula Rasa triptych of albums inspired by the band's collaboration with the Canadian dance company La La La Human Steps (Tabula Rasa, and the EP's Interim and Malediction); Ende Neu, and Silence Is Sexy. During this period, the band lineup also went through significant changes: longtime members Mark Chung and founder F.M. Einheit left shortly after the Faust play, and longtime friend, keyboardist, and soon-to-be-full-fledged-member Roland Wolf was killed in a car accident. 
Rabid fans (and there are millions of them worldwide) will purchase this album anyway, but they will be gratified by the large percentage of live and unreleased material included on this album -- again in keeping with the band's "ever onward!" philosophy. You get to hear Blixa yell, "Ready to go, the only take we're gonna take on this one! No further changes! Rolling!", and then at the end say, "Again!" and laugh with a welcome bit of irony. The album includes unreleased, alternate versions of recent favorites "Three Thoughts (Devils Sect)", "Architektur Ist Geiselnahme", "Was Ist Ist", "Installation Nr. 1 (John Is Mixing)" and "Silence Is Sexy". This last track I found particularly compelling for its sparse, moody feel, and the immediately recognizable crackle and hiss of a long cigarette drag as its main sonic feature. 
It's such gems that are sure to intrigue the less-than-rabid fan, though I'll admit it takes a die-hard to sit through over two hours of this stuff. Songs like "Helium", in which, you guessed it, Blixa inhales helium to produce chipmunk-style German voices, are almost worth the entire price of admission (so to speak). Blixa's characteristically deadpan commentary, by the way, was, "I had the idea that helium always just lifted up in pitch, but in fact it also means it's impossible to control for voice's range, which, of course, is very interesting". 
The retrospective also includes extensive liner notes, which will help guide the novice through the riotous soundscape. 
Einstürzende Neubauten's great gift, what has allowed the band to last for so long without becoming hidebound, is absolute immediacy. From the breathless intimacy of the inhaled cigarette to the goofiness of "Scampi Alla Carlina", (the recipe's included in the liner notes), even the uninitiated listener will feel themselves drawn into the intimate world of this group of creative people who are willing to try anything. Furthermore, those who faithfully bought the albums over the past decade and found themselves flinching more often than not (I'm thinking of Ende Neu's ill-fated detour into ska on "Zampano", but there are others) will be grateful that Mute has so thoughtfully passed over these embarrassments to bring us the multifaceted best of Einstürzende Neubauten's past decade.
Margaret Schwartz / PopMATTERS

Orelha Negra ‎– Orelha Negra (2010)

Genre: Electronic, Hip Hop, Funk / Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: ArtHouse

01.   A Memória
02.   Barrio Blue
03.   Lord
04.   A Força Da Razão
05.   961919169
06.   Tanto Tempo
07.   Futurama
08.   Tripical
09.   M.I.R.I.A.M.
10.   Saudade
11.   A Cura
12.   We're Superfly

Drums – Ferrano
Electric Bass, Guitar – Rebelo Jazz Bass
Electronics, Synthesizer, Sampler– Mira Professional
Keyboards, Synthesizer – Gomes Prodigy
Turntables – Cruz

O baixo já está a marcar o compasso funk, o órgão Rhodes anda entrelaçado com o Hammond e ouve-se uma voz que declara: "a memória é a coisa mais jovem, não há nada mais novo que a memória". Isto, que é o início do álbum de estreia dos Orelha Negra, tem ar de prelúdio à viagem que se seguirá. 
Falar de memória é definir aquilo que criaram Mira Professional (Sam The Kid), Cruz (Cruzfader), Gomes Prodigy (João Gomes), Rebelo Jazz Bass (Francisco Rebelo) e Ferrano (Fred). Porque "Orelha Negra" não é um mergulho no passado, é precisamente um jogo de memórias. Começamos em modo clássico, com groove latino e orquestrações "blaxploitation" (lembramo-nos de Joe Bataan em "Barrio blue"), com o Clavinet imortalizado por Stevie Wonder e Sly Stone às voltas com citações da opulência orquestral de Isaac Hayes ("961 919 169"). Chegamos a "Futurama", precisamente a meio do álbum, e o tom muda. Inventam-se os Parliament no século XXI ("Futurama"é título adequado), capturam-se palmas e trompetes em loop envolvente ("Tripical" faria as delícias do catálogo da Stones Throw) e, quando chegamos ao final, a "We're superfly", a viagem já transformou tudo: a voz de Curtis Mayfield em alegre diálogo com vocalizações de hip hop "old school" e a música, orgânica, a crescer em dinamismo como se set de DJ se tratasse. Nesta viagem maioritariamente instrumental (excepção para o spoken word de PacMan em "Tanto tempo"), a pedagogia transforma-se em intuição e as linhas da história procuram tecer um novo classicismo para os clássicos da música negra. Dificilmente a Orelha poderia ter-se introduzido até nós de melhor forma. Que nos deixe com sede do seu futuro é, por ora, um dos maiores elogios que lhe podemos fazer.
Mário Lopes / ípsilon

Hermeto Pascoal & Grupo ‎– No Mundo Dos Sons (2017)

Genre: Jazz, Latin, Folk, World, & Country
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Scubidu Music, Disk Union, Selo SESC SP

1-1.   Vivo São Paulo!
1-2.   Vinícius Dorin Em Búzios
1-3.   Para Thad Jones
1-4.   Para Miles Davis
1-5.   Mazinho Tocando No Coreto
1-6.   Viva Piazzolla!
1-7.   Forró Da Gota Para Sivuca
1-8.   Carlos Malta Tupizando
1-9.   Som Da Aura
2-1.   Entrando Pelos Canos
2-2.   Para Tom Jobim
2-3.   Ilza Nova
2-4.   Salve, Pernambuco Percussão!
2-5.   Viva Edu Lobo!
2-6.   Para Ron Carter
2-7.   De Fabio Para Jovino Santos
2-8.   Um Abraço Chick Corea
2-9.   Rafael Amor Eterno

Composed By – Hermeto Pascoal

The packaging for the two-CD set from Brazil's Hermeto Pascoal, an 81-year-old multi-instrumentalist, shines of its own accord. Its trifold paper cover, unfolds like a lotus to reveal two CDs and a sleeve containing a large fold-out glossy paper. The insert unfolds to read "Hermeto Pascoal & Grupo," along with the title No Mundo Dos Sons. The reverse side has the details of each track in Portuguese. Homage is paid, in terms of song titles (a type of "shout out"), to artists as diverse as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Miles Davis, Sivuca (the late a Brazilian accordionist and guitarist), Astor Piazzolla, Chick Corea, Thad Jones and Ron Carter. Spin either of the two CDs and you are in for a treat. 
Wide ranging and eclectic, Pascoal is known as "The Wizard" because he can extract a sound from anything. While one cannot always be sure exactly what instrument in his arsenal he is deploying at any particular point in time, the results are marvelous, defying easy (or any) categorization. The 18 tracks, each of which have their own distinct personality and character, include elements of traditional jazz Brazilian jazz, traditional Brazilian music, pop, African, symphonic element, as well as music from Pascoal's cerebrum. All are imbued with Pascoal's tools of the trade—whistles, screams, scales, keyboard, kettles, spoons, squeeze toys, children's voices, prepared piano and geese calls. 
Band members—whose ranks include such standouts as João Paulo Ramos Barbosa ("Jota P") and Itiberê Zwarg —add Brazil's pandeiro, surdo, caixa, apitos, bonecos and agogos, as well as more conventional Western instruments such as soprano and tenor saxophones, flute, electric piano, electric bass and other instruments. Musicians and genres such as Terry Riley, Frank Zappa, Weather Report, Javanese gamelan and Indonesian kulintang, Philip Glass and others come to mind, but there is no real overlap: Pascoal has his own special brew. 
No Mundo Dos Sons (Selo Sesc, 2017) is Pascoal's first recording with his band in 15 years. He recently told Brazil's Anoticia that "My music is not commercial; it's not like selling bananas or soap. I'm not in a hurry to record. My whole life is to do shows.... I have a frightening amount of music, almost 9,000 compositions on paper. But do not confuse quantity with quality, see? I always worry about quality."
Harry Pariser / All About Jazz

Coke Escovedo ‎– Coke (1975)

Genre: Jazz, Funk / Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Mercury, Vivid Sound, Cisco International

01.   No One To Depend On
02.   Why Can't We Be Lovers
03.   Rebirth
04.   Easy Come, Easy Go
05.   Love Letters
06.   Hall's Delight
07.   If I Ever Loose This Heaven
08.   What Are You Under
09.   Make It Sweet
10.   Life Is A Tortured Love Affair

Arranged By – Coke Escovedo, Mark Phillips
Backing Vocals – Julia Tillman, Maxine Willard
Bass – Mark Philipps
Drums – Harvey Mason, Pete Risso
Guitar – Joe Rubino
Keyboards – Frank Mercurio
Lead Vocals – Calvin Tillery, Linda Tillery
Percussion – Coke Escovedo
Saxophone – Vince Denim
Horns – Forrest Buchtel, Mike Kirkhouse, Ron Smith, Vince Denim
Strings – Joanna Hervig, Miriam Dye, Nathan Rubin, Roy Malan, Teresa Adams
Producer – Patrick Gleeson

I stumbled across this album while quenching my thirst for some groovy classic funk. 
You know, the kinda funk that incites that face like you caught a whiff of somethang so rank…  Well, this 1975 release by Coke Escovedo will certainly spark your soul.  “Coke” is a certainly an addictive album that leaves you with a smile. 
The feel of the album is one of Soul, Latin Grooves and Funk.  A prime example is “Love Letters”, a conga rich, guitar-licked single that seamlessly goes through 4 movements in less than 3 minutes. Too bad they cut short the percussion solo near the end. 
The voices of Calvin & Linda Tillery’s lead vocals warms the heart in songs like  “No One To Depend On”, “Rebirth” and “Make it Sweet”.  The most familiar song for most of us will be “If I Ever Loose This Heaven” released in 1974 by Quincy Jones and covered by bands of the era including Average White Band and crooners like Will Downing. 
You will not be disappointed with this album at all.  It is guaranteed to spark conversations between generations and among music lovers like yourself.  Get yourself some “Coke” by Escovedo, that is. 

Koop ‎– Sons Of Koop (1997)

Style: Trip Hop, Future Jazz, Downtempo, Ambient
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Superstudio Grå, Logic Records, Colombe D'Or

01.   Introduktion
02.   Glömd
03.   Psalm
04.   Bjarne Riis
05.   Absolute Space
06.   Worlds Of Tranquility
07.   Salvation
08.   Jellyfishes
09.   Once Britten
10.   Hellsbells

Mastered By – Kaj Erixon
Mixed By – Kaj Erixon, Koop
Performer – Magnus Zingmark, Oscar Simonsson
Producer, Written-By – Koop