Wednesday, 7 October 2020

VA ‎– Uneven Paths (Deviant Pop From Europe, 1980-1991) (2018)

Genre: Electronic, Jazz, Pop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Music From Memory

01.   Nightfall In Camp - Cada Día
02.   Tony Hymas - Pictures Of Departure
03.   Violet Eves - Listen Over The Ocean
04.   Miko & Mubare - Komoma Ya-Ya-Ya
05.   John Makin & Friends - No Lie
06.   Nonobstant - Jessica
07.   Wolfgang Klingler, Thomas Heimes, Hans-Christian Mittag - Nach Dienst
08.   Sound On Sound - Depression
09.   Pete Brandt's Method - What You Are
10.   Lost Gringos -Tambo Machay
11.   Vanakos - I Hate Disco.. Not The Dance
12.   Patrick Forgas - Sex Move
13.   Xavier Jouvelet - Oeuf En Clock
14.   Lou Blic - Minéralité
15.   Steve Beresford - Comfortable Gestures
16.   Härte 10 - Happy New Year
17.   Monica Rypma - Hey, Where You Goin!

Compiled By – Jamie Tiller, Raphael Top Secret

When punk first emerged in the mid 1970s, it promised revolution in the simplicity of three chords and the revelation that you too could start your own band. But as punk’s energy grew increasingly diffuse by the start of the 1980s, other musicians realized that even without three chords—much less a guitar—making music remained a graspable possibility. With the increasing affordability of drum machines and 4-track recorders, anyone, skilled player or otherwise, might press up a single or three. A new world of self-expression lay within easy reach, even if success remained as elusive as ever.

An array of peculiar pop fusions, fascinating detours, inconsequential blips, and woeful failures comprises the Amsterdam label Music From Memory’s latest compilation, Uneven Paths: Deviant Pop From Europe 1980​-​1991, which digs across the continent for square pegs and songs that briefly asked “What if this could be pop?” before dropping off the map. Last year’s Brazilian set Outro Tempo, which covered the same era, provided a similar sense of a parallel world. Compiled by MFM main man Jamie Tiller and fellow DJ Raphael Top Secret, Uneven Paths is equally ambitious, though ultimately not quite as evocative as its predecessor’s track-by-track chain of alternate universes.

Across its 21 songs, this vision of ’80s pop embeds strands of mutant DNA from genres like bossa nova, jazz, folk, new wave, spoken word, and world music. Mixing violin, heavy drums, a Peruvian melody, jazz saxophone, and murmured longing, Pete Brandt’s “What You Are” evokes Arthur Russell, a far more famous proponent of deviant pop’s DIY approach. Similarly open-ended approaches lead to oddities such as “Nomad Song,” credited to a German jazz-fusion group called Ströer Duo and the American spoken-word performer Howard Fine. With his dry, vocoded delivery, the song at times verges on turning into “O Superman,” though flutters of harmonica and references to Occam’s razor keep the song decidedly off-kilter.

Chance personal encounters and happy accidents abound. The French poet Lou Blic made the acquaintance of saxophonist Philippe de Lacroix-Herpin through a mutual friend but lost touch after recording one 7”. “Minéralité” pairs Blic’s words with hiccupping downtempo jazz and a looped snippet of tribal chant. Belgian new-wave group Nightfall in Camp met vocalist Marie Mandi right before recording at their flat, inviting her to purr lines about her daily routine for the ethereal “Cada Dia.” And the rattling rhythms of “Happy New Year” came about after a glitch erased all the programmed beats and samples on the German trio Härte 10’s completed album, requiring them to try to recreate it all in a night.

Not every jumble of sounds works out. Some of these paths are, indeed, uneven, and when they fail, they make for some wincing face plants. A faux-tribal beat on Miko & Mubare’s “Komoma Ya-Ya-Ya” might appeal to DJs, but the overly dramatic proclamation that “We must all speak in one tongue” ruptures its rhythmic spell. Frenchman Patrick Forgas’ lecherous growl about “sexy move” might work better were it not repeated incessantly against a backdrop of monkey noises. And some songs just plain fizzle. The French fusion band Nonobstant’s wobbly pop song “Jessica” falls flat, and John Makin’s “No Lie” is just a live track from an English singer tackling Brazilian samba.

But some hybrids are just too enticing to ignore. Violet Eves’ “Listen Over the Ocean” is a simmering Italo ballad that reimagines what shoegaze might have been had it consisted of shimmering vibraphones instead of guitars. A recording of the Greek musician George Vanakos talking about how much he hates disco makes for a woozy, lo-fi outsider disco track in “I Hate Disco… Not the Dance.” British post-punk Brenda Ray melts melodica, dub effects, and doo-wop vocals into a heady confection on “Dancing Thru’ the Night.” And Xavier Jouvelet’s “Oeuf En Clock” posits perhaps the most intriguing “what if” of the set: What would Sade’s quiet-storm sultriness have sounded like had they arisen in France instead of Britain? The unanswered questions raised by Uneven Paths might be the most intriguing of all.
Andy Beta / Pitchfork

Nightfall In Camp ‎– Nightfall In Camp (1985)

Style: Synth-pop, Minimal, Avantgarde
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Soundwork

A1.   The Right Stuff
A2.   Hour - Second
A3.   Cada Dia
B1.   Horizontal
B2.   Poetry
B3.   Three Friends

Bass – Thierry Royo
Clarinet, Saxophone – Dirk Descheemaeker
Producer – Erwin Autrique
Producer, Composed By, Recorded By, Music By – N.I.C.

Sabu Martinez ‎– Afro Temple (1973)

Genre: Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Grammofonverket

1.   Martin Cohen Loves Latin Percussion
2.   Meapestaculo
3.   Wounded Knee
4.   Afro Temple
5.   All Camels Hump
6.   Hotel Alyssa-Sousse, Tunisia
7.   Para Ti, Tito Rodriguez
8.   My Son Johnny And Me
9.   My Christina

Bass – Red Mitchell
Chorus – Christina Martinez
Drums – Ali Lundbohm, Stephen Möller
Flute, Alto Saxophone – Christer Boustedt
Narrator, Written-By – Red Mitchell 
Percussion – Peter Perlowsky
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Bernt Rosengren
Congas – Bo Östen Svensson, Conny Lundström, Johnny Martinez, Per-Arne Almeflo
Producer, Written-by, Congas, Bongos, Talking Drum, Gong, Effects, Vocals, Chanter – Sabu Martinez

The final release of conga master Sabu Martinez is an out-in-the-psychedelic-ozone masterpiece. Featuring a politicized Martinez reciting poetry, his own manically exotic percussion ensemble, and a slew of reeds, woodwinds, and brass, this is a heady brew of poetry expressing Latino and indigenous pride, political indictments against the white man, and killer Afro-Cuban jazz. Think of Archie Shepp's Attica Blues or Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite done by Chano Pozo and you are getting the idea. The layers and layers of congas and djembe drums, the wailing saxophones à la Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, and swirling flutes played as if they were Eric Dolphy or Prince Lasha, hypnotically elocuting Martinez's poetic recitations -- after he's finished speaking. The title track is the best example of this, though it is a cut without poetry at the top. There's a mesmerizing rhythm that creates a kind of speech between the drums. The saxophones -- and I have no ideas who is playing them because this company in Italy that issued this provides no credits -- act as singers punching into the stratosphere with the cry of birds. Next, in "All Camels Hump," to a frenetic polyrhythmic orchestra of drums -- some heavily reverbed -- a pair of flutes play blues licks back and forth until they are drowned out by electronically distorted percussion. From the camels we move to the "Hotel Alyssa-Souisse, Tunisia." Here a drum kit and a choir of congas go to work as a saxophonist plays alternating lines from R&B records and Sonny Rollins solos! It's a mind-bending experience to think that someone heard music like this in his head and then went out and made it. This record is essential for any fan of Latin jazz, Vanguard jazz, Cuban music, or just plain sound. This guy went out riding the crest of a creative wave of pure genius.
Thom Jurek / AllMusic