Friday, 29 May 2020

Pauline Oliveros / Stuart Dempster / Panaiotis ‎– Deep Listening (1989)

Style: Contemporary, Ambient
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: New Albion, Ioda, Important Records

1.   Lear
2.   Suiren
3.   Ione
4.   Nike

Recorded By – Al Swanson
Executive-Producer – Foster Reed
Producer – Stuart Dempster
Metal Pieces, Pipes, Voice – Panaiotis
Conch Shell, Accordion, Voice – Pauline Oliveros
Conch Shell, Whistlin, Winds, Trombone, Didgeridoo, Voice  – Stuart Dempster

In 1989, Pauline Oliveros coined the term Deep Listening to describe a practice of radical attentiveness. This double LP collects the famed original record with selections from her Deep Listening Band. 
Listening is an inherently empathetic act, requiring receptivity to the intentions of others and the natural world. Composer Pauline Oliveros wrote frequently about what it means to listen throughout her career, which spanned over half a century and encompassed electronic works, compositions for magnetic tape, improvisation, and exercises in focus and reflection designed to deepen everyday engagement with sound. She considered sound not only to be the audible vibrations of the air around us, but the totality of many vibrational energies throughout the universe. To listen is to be aware of one’s self in that collective whole. 
Since her death in 2016, Oliveros’ ideas about what she called “Deep Listening” (which she described as “a practice that is intended to heighten and expand consciousness of sound in as many dimensions of awareness and attentional dynamics as humanly possible”) have become increasingly popular. In her 2019 book How To Do Nothing, Jenny Odell returns several times to Oliveros’ Deep Listening techniques as a salve to the increasingly chaotic flow of information in the Internet age. A 2016 article in The New Yorker brought her Sonic Meditations to a wide audience, saying they “make a timely case for listening as a form of activism.” Events have been staged throughout the country, from Houston to St. Paul to Washington, DC, celebrating her sonic legacy. 
The salience of Deep Listening resides in its contrast to mainstream culture’s riptide trajectory towards distraction and saturation, towards siloed media and political environments. It also stands in opposition to the numbing listening habits encouraged by streaming, which positions music as a utilitarian tool for productivity, something to be ignored while your concentration rests elsewhere. Oliveros provided a secular alternative to the increasingly commodified mindfulness movement that paradoxically co-opts the posturing of meditative practice in the service of productivity and capital. Deep Listening exists as its own end, without a pretense of functionality.

Oliveros coined the term Deep Listening in 1989 to describe her collected improvisations with trombonist Stuart Dempster and vocalist Panaiotis, it would go on to become the name of the album released that same year on the under-appreciated avant-garde classical label New Albion. Important Records, which has spent nearly a decade producing impressive new editions of an array of Oliveros’ recordings, has collected the entirety of that seminal album in a new double LP, augmented by related material from a follow-up of sorts, 1991’s The Ready Made Boomerang, credited to the Deep Listening Band. The release is a remarkable realization of her ideas and demonstrates the sensitivity of the musicians to their physical environment, as well her profoundly expressive accordion playing and singing. 
Both Deep Listening and The Ready Made Boomerang were recorded in a massive underground cistern in Washington State that Dempster had discovered some years before. The space, which once held two million gallons of water, has a 45-second reverberation time, and the recordings are defined by a surreal smearing of tones. Like much of Oliveros’ and Dempster’s work around this time, most of these improvisations are focused around extended drones, with Dempster’s trombone and didjeridu providing the backbone. Far from evoking any sort of stasis, these tones swell and resonate actively throughout the space, and the effect is hallucinatory. Melodic lines intertwine as they ripple and decay, and momentarily raised voices seemingly emerge from within the insistent, omnipresent root. “The cistern space, in effect, is an instrument being played simultaneously by all three composers,” Oliveros stated in the album’s original liner notes. 
With the exception of “Nike,” which consists of the reverberant clang of metal on metal segueing into extemporaneous vocalizations and discordant trombone interjections, this collection is largely consonant, reveling in the resonances produced by the careful tuning of the instruments to just intonation. It would be inaccurate to describe music produced with such intensity as strictly pleasant, but there is a quality about it that feels centered and calming in a strange, otherworldly way. Pieces like “Lear” and “Ione” are meditative without falling into the trappings of new age music; instead, they enact core tenets of meditative practice—reflection, attentiveness, an openness to one’s surroundings—in a musical framework. Each musician is listening intently and reacting in kind not only to each other but to the space around them. The cistern stands in for the world, the entire universe, as they listen to its contours. 
In a contemporary context, Deep Listening still sounds revolutionary. While drone, minimalism, and ambient music have proliferated in the intervening decades, few albums in those fields are as rich texturally and harmonically or have such a clarity of vision. The album remains vital largely because it embodies Oliveros’ ideas, which have themselves resurfaced as a corrective to the sinister undercurrents of social and technological advancement. If art is a way to grapple with philosophical and societal hardships, Deep Listening may resound with just as much, if not more, clarity now than when it was created.
Jonathan Williger / Pitchfork

KA ‎– The Night's Gambit (2013)

Genre: Hip Hop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Iron Works Records

01.   You Know It's About
02.   Our Father
03.   Jungle
04.   Barring The Likeness
05.   Nothing Is
06.   Soap Box
07.   Peace Akhi
08.   Knighthood
09.   30 Pieces Of Silver
10.   I'm Ready
11.   Off The Record

Mastered, Mixed By – Christos "Mixbystos" Tsantilis
Producer – Ka

Ka's voice isn't overexcited. It's not larger-than-life, not a caricature, not a distillation of TV rap fantasies. His voice doesn't swell with braggadocio or bristle with rage. It's cool, but not cool in the way some people flaunt themselves and their own unflappable attitude, or callously disregard the lives of people they look down on. It's the cool of someone who, by necessity, has figured out how to detach himself from the emotional stress that would otherwise knock most people in the dirt. What's the point of embellishing something you already know is intense in itself? 
The initial appeal of The Night's Gambit and Ka in particular is lyrics, and it'd be easy enough to just lay out a string of them to prove it. The Brooklyn rapper's thoughts scan well on paper, then unspool in a delivery that lets the internal rhyme structure provide the emotional emphasis. “You Know It's About” offers a scene of a street business days gone by with shifts of tense that make old memories fresh, emphasizing the cycle he can't believe he's not still stuck in: “With a toast to rap that roasts your fabric/ The friends, if conflict ever ends we're post-traumatic.” After that opener, the album is a litany of scenarios that play up guilt, betrayal, anxiety, resilience, and everything else that reduces interpersonal workings into a high-stakes chess match. Not for nothing that the three biggest thematic presences in intros and outros are games of strategy, martial arts philosophy, and the church-- tactical, adaptive maneuvering cut through with deep moral weight. 
Maybe that seems a bit Recommended If You Like GZA. But while the Wu MC has the bearings of someone doing scientific analysis, Ka's vibe is more like that of a true-crime reporter, trying to find a balance between laying out all the facts and trying not to let that excess of knowledge take a toll on his soul. Reformation narrative “Our Father” packs in enough observations, introspective and looking outwards, to drive this home clearly. But it also puts its point across by situating the rehabilitated perspective in the first verse and the vivid criminal revenge he's trying to atone for in the second. A mid-album stretch of cuts gets even more Scorsese with it, pervaded with criminal guilt on “Barring the Likeness”, restless brass ring-grabbing on “Nothing Is”, and calculating, whistling-through-a-graveyard iciness on Roc Marciano team-up “Soap Box”. And when he really does get double-meaning conceptual a'la “Labels” on “Off the Record”, it's a brilliant recursive trick: the rap he classics he references aren't evoked as mere namedropping, but reflections of how many different artists found indelible, unique ways to tell similar stories.

It's hard to separate the stark tone of Ka's voice and narrative from the equally stark mood music he embeds it in. As a rapper/producer, he has that finely-tuned awareness of how a track works from every angle. Some moments of upfront beauty shine through, as the soul-blues guitar licks and electric piano on “Jungle” cut through like a cold wind, and the aching, wordless hum that intermittently pierces the organ drone of “Knighthood” turns a meditative dirge into a hairs-on-end spiritual. But, like his voice, a lot of his production's pull lies in how its sparseness deeply sinks in just through exposure. The interpolation of that riff of doom from Black Sabbath's “Black Sabbath” on “You Know It's About” is a telling point of reference. Like the source material, he draws a lot of strength from the same insistent tritone, but turns its immediate menace into lurking dread by pushing it into the background and melting it down into bass frequencies. 
Last year's Grief Pedigree showed a DIY auteur with one of the more unique and underreported stories in hip-hop. Despite the exposure that comes with his professional working partnership with Roc Marciano and a base in the ironclad diehard world of 1990s-steeped NYC hardcore hip-hop, the stakes of his come-up seem more personal than anything. His outlook on that recent groundswell of support has the levelheaded perspective of someone hitting his stride in his forties: “Of course this isn't over night sensation's the music of the sensations you get over the course of the night”, he quipped on Twitter. And his work's total lack of compromise has the drive of someone who only got stronger when he stopped trying to do things on some other label's terms. If The Night's Gambit has that same imprint, the same ruminative, clinical yet human scale as its predecessor did, it also seems to have the renewed idea that this voice has something that really needs to be heard. Listen, then listen closer.
Nate Patrin / Pitchfork

Radiohead ‎– Pablo Honey (1992)

Style: Alternative Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Parlophone, EMI, Capitol Records

10.   You
02.   Creep
03.   How Do You?
04.   Stop Whispering
05.   Thinking About You
06.   Anyone Can Play Guitar
07.   Ripcord
08.   Vegetable
09.   Prove Yourself
10.   I Can't
11.   Lurgee
12.   Blow Out

Bass – Colin Greenwood
Drums – Phil Selway
Guitar, Vocals – Ed O'Brien
Lead Guitar, Piano, Organ – Jon Greenwood
Vocals, Guitar – Thom Yorke
Producer, Engineer – Chris Hufford
Producer, Engineer, Mixed By – Paul Q. Kolderie, Sean Slade

Oxfordshire's best-known musical export have been voicing the angst of an inarticulate generation for the last fifteen years, kicking off with Pablo Honey, their exploration of suburban, adolescent self-awareness. Released when the boys still glistened with the sheen of an expensive private education and set against the more mature redneck, white bread, blue-collar roar of Nirvana, Radiohead's intelligent, delicate take on the loud/soft, quick/slow language of grunge appeared spineless and effete until Creep was released and set the record straight. 
Massively backed by UK 'indie' radio, the single became a hit in the slacker student community, and simultaneously established the band as serious musicians, with interesting points to make and hefty musical skills with which to drive them home. 
The band's apparent overnight success came after years of dedication (even keeping in touch while away at various universities) and endless free time spent in rehearsal. They'd toughened up and tightened their sound on the road before setting out to make the album, and had grown the confidence to expand ideas across lengthy instrumental breaks that other new kids in the studio might fear to try. 
It all resulted in a stunning blend that combined the best aspects of prog rock (challenging lyrics, deft chord changes, novelty time signatures and so forth) with the plaintiveness of bedsit singer song-writing and the sound of expensive equipment thrashed at by experts. Though later albums were better received, this remains one of rock's most impressive debuts.
Al Spicer / BBC Review

Spacemen 3 ‎– Playing With Fire (1989)

Style: Indie Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Fire Records, Taang! Records, Space Age Recordings

01.   Honey
02.   Come Down Softly To My Soul
03.   How Does It Feel?
04.   I Believe It
05.   Revolution
06.   Let Me Down Gently
07.   So Hot (Wash Away All The Tears)
08.   Suicide
09.   Lord Can You Hear Me?
10.   Suicide (Live)
11.   Repeater (How Does It Feel?) (Live)
12.   Ché
13.   May The Circle Be Unbroken

Bass – Willie
Vocals, Guitar– Jason
Vocals, Guitar, Organ– Sonic
Producer – Jason, Sonic

“Thirty years? Fuck! Thirty years!” Jason Pierce, one half of the creative duo at the heart of Spacemen 3, is struggling to take in the fact that Playing With Fire is celebrating its Big Three-Oh. And, it seems, he’s also struggling to remember events from 1989. 
“What were you doing 30 years ago?” he asks as he gathers his thoughts together. 
Getting baked to Playing With Fire, your correspondent tells him. 
Pierce chuckles in response, but it’s an honest reply to his question, not least becausePlaying With Fire is that kind of an album: lay back, fire up and float on. But that’s to damn the record with faint and superficial praise for in truth, it’s so much more than that: Playing With Fire is an extraordinary album and its ramifications and reverberations are still being felt to this very day. Not only was it the moment that Spacemen 3 found themselves reaching a wider audience after years of indifference, but it was also one that saw them create a contemporary form of psychedelia that was ripe for the time and beyond. And in fairness to Pierce, three decades is a considerable period of time, so a re-acquaintance with Spacemen 3’s third album and the times in which it was made is called for. 
Looking back three decades is to be reminded of a time characterised by huge social, political and cultural upheavals. The year leading up to the album’s release had been marred by shocking levels of violence in and around Northern Ireland. Margaret Thatcher became the 20th century’s longest-serving Prime Minister at the turn of the year. The Local Government Act – featuring the notorious Section 28 preventing local authorities from “promoting homosexuality” – became law. And in a grotesque full stop to the year, Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie when a terrorist bomb went off on board, killing a total of 270 people. 
Cultural changes were afoot. The first rumblings from the Pacific Northwest were beginning to make themselves felt, hip hop had taken bold steps forward thanks to groundbreaking records by Public Enemy, Eric B & Rakim and EPMD among others, while the likes of Sonic Youth, Pixies and R.E.M. were reaching far and wide. 
Closer to home, the psychedelic experience was in the process of taking an unexpected turn when British youth once again seized upon underground black American music and this time began to refine it into rave culture. The addition of MDMA to the existing menu of mind-altering substances inextricably linked the drug with the scene. If you want to track the seed of the best of the 90s and what followed, this is when it was planted. 
And it was against this backdrop that Spacemen 3 unshackled psychedelic rock from its origins in the 60s to give it an updated and modern vernacular. 
Driven by the partnership of Pete ‘Sonic Boom’ Kember and Jason Pierce, Spacemen 3 had been ploughing their own unique and unfashionable furrow since their formation in 1982. From the fuzzed-up ramalama of their Stooges-indebted 1986 debut album, Sound Of Confusion, through to its follow-up a year later with the laid-back and medicated washes of The Perfect Prescription, Spacemen 3’s gradual reduction and minimalising of their sound would result in Playing With Fire. Opening a fresh chapter in the band’s evolution in the shape of new bassist Will Carruthers, the circumstances around the album’s creation helped precipitate the increasingly fractious relationship between Pete Kember and Jason Pierce. 
Speaking to tQ from his Berlin home, Carruthers muses: “People always ask, ‘Why did the band split up?’ The more interesting question is, ‘Why did they stay together?’” 
Carruthers has a point and the answer lies in the grooves contained within Playing With Fire. This is an album that’s defined as much by what’s not there as is there. The monolithic and overdriven onslaught of their debut is largely gone, and when it does re-appear on the hypno-monotony of the repetitive call-to-arms that is ‘Revolution’, the sound is more streamlined, focussed and attacking. Boiled down to a single E chord, its audacity is matched by its mesmeric qualities as it layers one guitar on top of another, before reducing the sound down again to the bare minimum of guitars and single, open strings. 
Similarly, ‘Suicide’ strips away structures to just an isolated chord, and instead applies washes of tremolo, delay, echo and wah-wah on a circular guitar riff for dynamic effect. Its tempo is anchored by the beat of a single, programmed bass drum and a bass guitar that locks in on the groove. The end result is a relentless wall of sound that simultaneously disorientates yet welcomes the listener to an experience where time, space and structure become meaningless concepts. 
Yet for all that, Spacemen 3 were creating even more space on the album. Opening with the beatific ‘Honey’, the band’s intentions become manifestly clear. This is to be a trip fuelled less by power and more by stealth, pace and room to roam. The sparseness at the heart of ‘How Does It Feel?’ – an eight-minute exercise in minimalism – is matched by the haunting yet oddly lachrymose ‘Let Me Down Gently’. 
And among these stark excursions are songs of stunning beauty. ‘Come Down Softly To My Soul’ dances and shimmers, while ‘So Hot (Wash Away All Of My Tears)’ is a tender search for redemption and inner peace that’s underlined by the neo-gospel yearn of ‘Lord Can You Hear Me?’ 
In short, Spacemen 3 were making the best music of their career. And in doing so, they were also laying down the groundwork for what was to come next as they gradually fell apart first into factions, and then two separate groups in the shape of Spectrum and Spiritualized. But how much of it was evolution or revolution? 
“I don’t think there was ever a wilful decision that said we’re going to do something different than we had before, but there was always an assumption that it was going to be like that,” states Jason Pierce. “But what seems to be a giant leap for the listener isn’t such a big step for the musician. To my ears it doesn’t seem like a huge step. We were moving relatively fast anyway, and we had a huge amount of influences already involved ahead, even, of the first album.” 
It’s a viewpoint shared by Pete Kember: “I would venture that Sound Of Confusion through to The Perfect Prescription was a night and day switch as well. My thing has always been that I’m not that interested in making the same record twice. I think most musicians feel like that and it’s an unfulfilling thing to repeat yourself. Most of the bands that I like, they like to keep themselves walking.” 
He continues: “Speaking for myself, I’d call myself an untrained musician and we were very much experimenting with what we could do and how we could encapsulate what we were trying to present in sound, really. The Perfect Prescription was definitely an awakening for us. Initially we thought that there would be severe limitations to having these one and two-chord, very minimal song structures that would burn themselves out quickly, but they never did. I think we kept finding other ways that we could have these other avenues and branches where we could take music that were still part of the same tree. Playing With Fire was a slightly different direction.” 
“There was also a certain musical inability that helped our sound,” elaborates Pierce. “We couldn’t do certain chord changes so we minimalised the whole thing through necessity. With Spacemen 3, it’s almost like you’re listening to people learning their instruments as they go along; there might be guitar bends here and there, but they’re not learned guitar bends. And you’ve also got the inherent stupidity of rock & roll, but that’s not to undermine anyone’s talent. The simplicity of language and notes makes things so exciting.” 
“Well, the greatest effects came from the least effort. That’s one of my driving motivations!” laughs Kember. “I’ve always been in awe of people like Kraftwerk, who wouldn’t have more than three or four elements in their tracks; they would all own and occupy their own space, sonically. They’d keep clear of each other but would be awesome around each other. I think there was some influence from that.”

Work began on Playing With Fire in June 1988 when Kember and Pierce were persuaded to record at ARK Studios in Cornwall instead of VHF Studios near Rugby where they’d previously recorded. 
“We got offered a cheap deal at a studio that didn’t turn out what it was meant to be,” recalls Kember. “We did, in fact, complete about half of the album back in Rugby at VHF. We had to re-record parts as stuff got wiped in Cornwall.” 
Will Carruthers, who had never actually played with Spacemen 3 until he arrived for the sessions, is less flattering in his recollections of the Cornish studios. 
“We’re not talking about fucking Abbey Road,” he chuckles at the memory. “It was the corner of the living room in a hippy house. It was a really crusty, anarchist punk household.” 
“We liked the idea of not being on an industrial estate in Rugby in a closed box for another summer,” adds Kember. “The best summers of my youth were spent in a box with no windows! In Cornwall, we could actually set up outside and play there.” 
Indeed. While the inside of the studio may not have lived up to the band’s expectations, its surrounding areas had a more positive effect. 
“It was very exciting making a record and being in a studio and playing those songs and working with Pete and Jason,” says Carruthers. “I remember sitting in the garden, playing music and smoking hash and being pretty much focussed on making that record. That was all that really mattered.” 
Carruthers had arrived in Cornwall to find the recording sessions in their infancy. 
“There wasn’t very much down at that point,” he says. “Maybe the backing track for [the cover of Suicide’s] ‘Che’, a few little drones for ‘Let Me Down Gently’, and a lot of it was written as it went. But what there was sounded great.” 
An oddly compelling aspect to Playing With Fire is that for a largely beatless album, it’s driven by a palpable groove. Was this by accident or design? 
“The drums went down in some kind of form in Cornwall, but not particularly well executed,” says Jason Pierce. 
“This French guy was drafted in to have a go but didn’t really nail it,” explains Carruthers. “They had to programme the drums but no one was really labouring over that for weeks to get it done.” 
He continues: “But it was hard to play those Spacemen 3 songs with a drummer. They’re deceptively simple, but if you weren’t bang on when you played them, they sounded gash.” 
“Well, the thing with Spacemen 3 were the very minimal or underplayed drums,” adds Kember. “I love rhythm and groove but I’m not particularly great at creating it. I tend towards the minimal and simplistic. I’m bound by limitations and Spacemen 3 were band whose limitations helped us become the band we were. We were trying to make something out of nothing and sometimes, when you do that, you get really good things out of it.” 
The distance between Cornwall and Rugby gave the principal players time to soak up further influences. For Kember and Carruthers, who’d drive back to their hometown at the weekends, it was bootleg cassettes of The Beach Boys’ Smile sessions as well as illicit recordings of New York’s electronic pioneers Suicide, while Pierce, remaining in Cornwall, would immerse himself in live bootlegs of The MC5 in action. But inspiration was coming from other areas, too. 
“Jason got into gospel around the time of Playing With Fire,” says Will Carruthers. “‘Lord Can You Hear Me?’ is a classic gospel soul tune. We listened to a lot of that stuff.” 
“I think gospel has always been there, even in the early days,” says Pierce. “And American soul. It’s there on ‘Lord Can You Hear Me’ but it’s evident on some of the others tracks, if you listen carefully enough.” 
“That song is so good that it should be a gospel standard,” opines Kember. 
“But I don’t think those influences are that disparate,” continues Pierce. “I didn’t think it was that odd to be listening to The MC5 and Kraftwerk and Otis Redding. Now, it’s not such a big deal because it’s all easily available and has some kind of reference point. It all seems to make more sense now because the world is a little smaller.” 
He adds: “It was very natural. As soon as we put those sounds together on the earliest recordings, it didn’t sound like anyone else. Of course, it was coming from our small world of music and it became bigger as we heard more music. But it wasn’t trying to copy those sounds. It was this thing that worked.” 
“We were certainly a magpie band,” admits Kember. “We would delve into the past but we ended up with this weird mix. But all of those songs are from the same place, in a weird way. It’s just people meaning what they say and owning it when they say it. We were definitely listening to Kraftwerk and Laurie Anderson, plus there were the records that we found in the studio in Cornwall that we didn’t have. Penguin Café Orchestra were an influence around that time and elements of all of them found their way into Playing With Fire.” 
While Jason Pierce and Will Carruthers deny that the emerging popularity in MDMA had any direct impact on the music Spacemen 3 were making, Pete Kember remembers things a little differently. 
“‘Ecstasy Symphony’ from The Perfect Prescription from ’87 is entirely referencing the ecstasy scene. We were lucky to play some of the pre-rave ecstasy shows in Hackney. They were called ‘The X Parties’ and we played two of those that I remember. There were large amounts of people there taking ecstasy and other psychedelic drugs. The days of The Grateful Dead and all that nonsense were long gone.” 
Pondering the cultural impact of ecstasy, Kember continues: “Ecstasy really changed British culture. If you were a kid then and into Spacemen 3 and you went out into your town or city on a Friday or Saturday night, then you’d better watch your back. When we played gigs in Rugby we’d hear bottles smashing behind us after they’d been thrown on stage. But that really changed with the whole MDMA culture and it changed that whole British bloke thing. It opened up a whole empathetic side to people that was culturally really important. 
“It was one of the more interesting cultural steps; maybe even the last truly interesting cultural movement to have happened.”
Less harmonious was what was to come. A perfect storm of Jason Pierce’s romance with future Spiritualized keyboard player Kate Radley, a new management contract with local businessman Gerald Palmer and Kember’s perception of an imbalance in songwriting duties was beginning to take its toll on the band’s two song writers. 
“We were badly advised and badly managed,” sighs Kember. “We were kids learning and trying to figure shit out.” 
A tone of remorse enters his voice. 
“If I had the chance to change things, there are many things that I would’ve done differently,” he admits. “You know, at that point we separated our song writing and there was a period when Jason stopped writing songs and we’d always split the credit. I was like, ‘Dude, you can’t just leave me floating here. Come on – you come up with totally different stuff and our stuff works really well together. I’m not going to split the credit with you, dude, if you’re not going to write anything’ and I regret that.” 
He continues: “It was only a small and temporary period that Jason wasn’t writing, and I think I reacted badly to it. I wish we had worked closer together and many of the tracks on the record were done in isolation: ‘Lord Can You Hear Me’, that’s Jason and I don’t play on that track. ‘Honey’, that’s me but Jason doesn’t play on that track. It wasn’t a critically destructive thing but it wasn’t good vibes. 
“I just wish that maybe we could have done it differently. But on the other hand, I feel that, as with the bands whose music I really love, that dysfunction can produce great music. Sometimes, that’s the way it goes.” 
In some respects, Playing With Fire is an album that’s curated as much as it’s composed. This far down the line it’s easy to spot the ingredients that went into its making but this is to miss the point. The analogue world of 1988 – 89 didn’t offer the same off-the-peg musical choices that it does now. Influences, records, and their histories and significance had to be physically hunted down. Time, effort and money were spent to seek these materials, to make sense of them and to refine and streamline them into something new. Consequently, Playing With Fire not only comes at the listener from different directions, it also sends the curious on a journey that joins a lot of dots. But crucially, it holds it all together to create a satisfying journey from beginning to end – and one that has continued to do so over the last 30 years as it inspires subsequent generations of space cadets. 
Says Will Carruthers: “It’s a peculiar album, especially when you think about the diversity – from ‘Suicide’ to ‘Let Me Down Gently’, ‘Lord Can You Hear Me’ to ‘How Does It Feel?’ and I don’t know how it works as an album. On paper, it shouldn’t fucking work. You’ve got Jason’s classic, poppy and gospel tunes. It’s interesting how it hangs together, given the peculiarity of the elements within it.” 
As one of the album’s two chief architects, Pete Kember has a clearer idea of how those different elements coalesce into a coherent statement. 
“It’s one of those weird things where sometimes you have a collection of songs that don’t appear to go together and then you find that actually, you find a way to thread them together, and so make them all stronger,” he explains. “You know, ‘Suicide’ next to ‘Revolution’? That’s not such a great mix, but when you put ‘Suicide’ next to ‘Honey’, then it makes both of the tracks more extreme. I really like that kind of journey.” 
“It’s funny, there are a lot of people now who sound like Spacemen 3 but when we were kids, we didn’t want to make psychedelic music that sounded like psychedelic music,” adds Jason Pierce. “I don’t think we’d have been able even if we wanted to. There were bands at the time wearing paisley and playing music that was copied from West Coast psychedelia, but the music we played didn’t come from that. We weren’t constrained by style or form; we went for what sounded right.” 
Pete Kember agrees and it’s with no little pride that he states: “I’ve never wanted to make a lot of records, but I’ve always wanted to feel happy about the ones I have made. 
“I could go a decade without listening to Spacemen 3, but when I hear that stuff I’m always psyched and I think to myself, Yeah, we fucking nailed it.”
Julian Marszalek / The QUIETUS

Luís Lopes Humanization 4tet ‎– Electricity (2010)

Genre: Free Jazz
Format: CD, FLAC
Label: Ayler Records

1.   Dehumanization Blues
2.   Jungle Gymnastics
3.   Two Girls
4.   Effigy
5.   Procurei-te Na Noite
6.   Infidelities
7.   Eavesdropper (For Dennis González) / Ruas Sentimentais

Double Bass – Aaron González
Drums – Stefan González
Electric Guitar – Luís Lopes
Tenor Saxophone – Rodrigo Amado
Producer – Luís Lopes

It was already understood in 2009, when it was released on Clean Feed Humanization 4tet, that the guitarist Luís Lopes had found the proverbial squaring of the circle by enlisting the tenor sax of his compatriot Rodrigo Amado and entrusting the rhythm to the brothers Aaron and Stefan González (recently listened to alongside his father, the Texan trumpet player Dennis González, in Cape of Storms). Two years later, Electricity, effort number two of the quartet published by Ayler Records, confirms the caliber of the band and, for transitive ownership, the excellent state of health of the new Portuguese jazz wave. 
The four put the cards on the table immediately. The initial "Dehumanization Blues" is a revolver shot at point-blank range, a torrid free ride that winds along a path made rough by the noise ambushes of Lopes's guitar, a little Otomo and a little James Blood Ulmer, splendidly anti-virtuous in sustaining clattering and sizzling Amado's Aylerian solo. The subsequent "Jungle Gymnastics," all edges and sharp curves, has a sinisterly monkian feel to it. Lopes goes back to being the "guitarist," near Joe Morris just to be clear. Amado confirms himself as an intrepid saxophonist by rattling off another solo full of fire and flames, played on low registers and on the angry vibrato of the tenor. The third wonder of the flawless one-two-three initial, the heart of the record, it's "Two Girls," funk-jazz at Vandermark 5 released by Amado's pen. The Chicago section draws air, with the rhythmic section that grinds and hammers, and the guitar-sax line-up that breaks the lines of the theme, creating a close dialogue made up of joints and dissonances. 
Unfortunately when the speed decreases and the structures become weak, the quartet shows some limits in terms of lucidity and ability to relate to silence. This is demonstrated by the inconclusive "Effigy," which runs idly for just under seven minutes, looking for what you don't know and where you don't know exactly. Fortunately, it is the only empty passage. With "Procurei-te Na Noite" the engine of the band returns, which in the second part of the disc confirms that it is comfortable especially at the high temperatures of the neo-free. 
Be careful not to burn your ears.
AJJ Italy Staff / All About Jazz

Cab Calloway ‎– Chronogical Classics (1930-1940)

Style: Big Band, Swing
Format: CD / BOX
Label:  Classics

CD 1 (1930-1931)

01.   Gotta Darn Good Reason Now (For Bein' Good)
02.   St. Louis Blues
03.   Sweet Jenny Lee
04.   Happy Feet
05.   Yaller
06.   The Viper's Drag
07.   Is That Religion?
08.   Some Of These Days
09.   Nobody's Sweetheart
10.   St. James Infirmary
11.   Dixie Vagabond
12.   So Sweet
13.   Minnie The Moocher
14.   Doin' The Rhumba
15.   Mood Indigo
16.   Farewell Blues
17.   I'm Crazy 'Bout My Baby
18.   Creole Love Song
19.   The Levee Low-Down
20.   Blues In My Heart List
21.   Black Rhythm Lis
22.   Six Or Seven Times
23.   My Honey's Lovin' Arms
24.   The Nightmare

CD 2 (1931-1932)

01.   It Looks Like Susie
02.   Sweet Georgia Brown
03.   Basin Street Blues
04.   Bugle Call Rag
05.   You Rascal, You
06.   Stardust
07.   You Can't Stop Me From Lovin' You
08.   You Dog
09.   Somebody Stole My Gal
10.   Ain't No Gal In This Town
11.   Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea
12.   Trickeration
13.   Kickin' The Gong Around
14.   Down-Hearted Blues
15.   Without Rhythm
16.   Corinne Corinna
17.   Stack O' Lee Blues
18.   The Scat Song
19.   Cabin In The Cotton
20.   Stricktly Cullud Affair
21.   Aw You Dawg
22.   Minnie The Moocher's Wedding Day
23.   Dinah

CD 3 (1932)

01.   How Come You Do Me Like You Do
02.   Old Yazoo
03.   Angeline
04.   I'm Now Prepared To Tell The World It's You
05.   Swanee Lullaby
06.   Reefer Man
07.   Old Man Of The Mountain
08.   You Gotta Ho-De-Ho (To Get Along With Me)
09.   Strange As It Seems
10.   This Time It's Love
11.   Git Along
12.   Hot Toddy
13.   I've Got The World On A String
14.   Harlem Holiday
15.   Dixie Doorway
16.   Wah-Dee-Dah
17.   Sweet Rhythm
18.   Beale Street Mama
19.   That's What I Hate About Love
20.   The Man From Harlem
21.   I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues
22.   My Sunday Gal
23.   Eadie Was A Lady
24.   Gotta Go Places And Do Things

CD 4 (1932-1934)

01.   Hot Water
02.   Doin' The New Low-Down
03.   Evenin'
04.   Harlem Hospitality
05.   The Lady With The Fan
06.   Harlem Camp Meeting
07.   Zaz Zuh Zaz
08.   Father's Got His Glasses On
09.   Minnie The Moocher
10.   The Scat Song
11.   Kickin' The Gong Around
12.   There's A Cabin In The Cotton
13.   I Learned About Love From Her
14.   Little Town Gal
15.   'Long About Midnight
16.   Moon Glow
17.   Jitter Bug
18.   Hotcha Razz-Ma-Tazz
19.   Margie
20.   Emaline
21.   Chinese Rhythm
22.   Moonlight Rhapsody
23.   Avalon

CD 5 (1934-1937)

01.   Weakness
02.   Good Sauce From The Gravy Bowl
03.   Keep That Hi-De-Hi In Your Soul
04.   Miss Otis Regrets (She's Unable To Lunch Today)
05.   I Ain't Got Nobody (And Nobody Cares For Me)
06.   Nagasaki
07.   Baby Won't You Please Come Home
08.   I Love To Sing
09.   You're The Cure What Ails Me
10.   Save Me Sister
11.   Love Is The Reason
12.   When You're Smiling
13.   Jess's Natu'lly Lazy
14.   Are You In Love With Me Again
15.   Copper Coloured Gal
16.   Frisco Flo
17.   Wedding Of Mr And Mrs Swing
18.   Hi-De-Ho Miracle Man
19.   Don't Know If I'm Comin' Or Goin'
20.   My Gal Mezzanine
21.   That Man Is Here Again
22.   Peckin'
23.   Congo

CD 6 (1937-1938)

01.   Swing, Swing, Swing
02.   Wake up and Live
03.   Manhattan Jam
04.   Moon at Sea
05.   I'm Always in the Mood for You
06.   She's Tall, She's Tan, She's Terrific
07.   Go South, Young Man
08.   Mama, I Wanna Make Rhythm
09.   Hi De Ho Romeo - Cab Calloway
10.   Queen Isabella
11.   Savage Rhythm
12.   Every Day's a Holiday
13.   Jubilee
14.   In an Old English Village
15.   (Just an) Error in the News
16.   Minor Breakdown (Rustle of Swing)
17.   Bugle Blues
18.   One Big Union for Two
19.   Doing the Reactionary
20.   Rustle of Swing
21.   Three Swings and Out
22.   I Like Music (Played With a Swing Like This)
23.   Foolin' With You
24.   Azure

CD 7 (1938-1939:)

01.   Skrontch
02.   We're Breakin' up a Lovely Affair
03.   Peck-A-Doodle-Do
04.   At the Clambake Carnival
05.   Hoy-Hoy
06.   Miss Hallelujah Brown
07.   Congo-Conga
08.   Boogie Woogie
09.   There's a Sunny Side to Everything
10.   Shout, Shout, Shout
11.   Mister Paganini, Swing for Minnie
12.   Jive
13.   Do You Wanna Jump, Children?
14.   I'm Madly in Love With You
15.   April in My Heart
16.   Blue Interlude
17.   F.D.R. Jones
18.   Deep in a Dream
19.   Tee-Um, Tee-Um, Tee-I, Tahiti
20.   Angels With Dirty Faces
21.   Long, Long Ago
22.   Afraid of Love
23.   Ratamacue
24.   Ad-De-Dey

CD 8 (1939-1940)

01.   New Moon And An Old Serenade
02.   One Look At You
03.   Ghost Of Smoky Joe
04.   Floogie Walk
05.   Trylon Swing
06.   Utt Da ZAy (The Tailor Song)
07.   Crescendo In Drums
08.   (Hep-Hep) The Jumpin' Jive
09.   For The Last time I Cried Over You
10.   Twee-Twee-Tweet
11.   Pluckin' The Bass
12.   I Ain't Gettin' Nowhere Fast
13.   Chili Con Conga
14.   Tarzan Of HArlem
15.   Jiveformation Please
16.   Vuelva
17.   Bee Gezindt
18.   Give BAby Give
19.   Sincere Love
20.   Do IT Again
21.   Pickin' The Cabbage
22.   Chop Chop Charlie Chan (from China)