Thursday, 24 December 2020

Tom Waits ‎– The Black Rider (1993)

Style: Blues Rock, Alternative Rock, Music Hall, Noise
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Island Records, Alka-Seltzer Medien GmbH

01.   Lucky Day Overture
02.   The Black Rider
03.   November
04.   Just The Right Bullets
05.   Black Box Theme
06.   'T' Ain't No Sin
07.   Flash Pan Hunter / Intro
08.   That's The Way
09.   The Briar And The Rose
10.   Russian Dance
11.   Gospel Train / Orchestra
12.   I'll Shoot The Moon
13.   Flash Pan Hunter
14.   Crossroads
15.   Gospel Train
16.   Interlude
17.   Oily Night
18.   Lucky Day
19.   The Last Rose Of Summer
20.   Carnival

Producer – Tom Waits

Just when it seemed that Los Angeles’ premier bar casualty could not get any weirder, on his 15th album, Tom Waits teams up with beat writer William Burroughs (who turns up on one song) to score a 19th-century opera. The 20 tracks, written for director Robert Wilson’s re-vision of The Black Rider, back the twisted Faustian tale with dark and wickedly funny melodies. (Onstage, the songs are performed by actors, though it’s hard to imagine these sick numbers done by anyone other than Waits.)

From his first gutter-folk album (Closing Time, from 1973) to last year’s experimental masterpiece, Bone Machine, Waits’ work has grown consistently stronger, more ambitious and less self-conscious. The Black Rider continues that tradition. Its songs offer the morbid excitement of a ride on a decrepit old Tilt-a-Whirl.

The rich, dizzying tunes incorporate graveyard fright noises, bizarre piano sounds and creepy sci-fi whistles into traditional, orchestrated Fiddler on the Roof-style melodies. A clanking, tin-can beat lurches through the material like a frantic Ichabod Crane, while disturbing violin and contorted blasts of French horn trudge along like drunken, determined sailors.

Waits’ wrenching, lounge-loser vocals hawk in ragged, carney-style tones; love songs consist of lines like “I want to build/A nest in your hair.” Burroughs’ voice hobbles through on his one track like a crotchety passerby — “T’ain’t no sin to take off your skin/And dance around in your bones,” he moans in a sexier moment — while in others the evil chatter and whining of anonymous tormented souls exude a hysterically pathetic quality.

Although this odd, operatic collaboration with Burroughs and Wilson does not completely fit in with the whiskey-and-bar-stool concept of Waits’ previous albums, it does continue his intriguing expansion into more surreal realms. His dervishlike approach to The Black Rider makes you gawk like a freakshow spectator in fear, fascination and delight.
Lorraine Ali / Rolling Stone

Jean Jacques Perrey ‎– Moog Indigo (1970)

Genre: Electronic, Funk / Soul, Pop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Vanguard, BGP Records

A1.   Soul City
A2.   E.V.A.
A3.   The Rose And The Cross
A4.   Cat In The Night
A5.   Flight Of The Bumblebee
A6.   Moog Indigo
B1.   Gossipo Perpetuo
B2.   Country Rock Polka
B3.   The Elephant Never Forgets
B4.   18th Century Puppet
B5.   Hello Dolly
B6.   Passport To The Future

Performer – Jean-Jacques Perrey
Written-By – Andy Badale, Mann, Fernand Bouillon, Gary Carol, Gilbert Sigrist, Harry Breuer, Perrey, Jerry Herman, Marie Perreault, Pat Prilly

Without a ship Columbus could not have traversed the Atlantic, without a telescope Galileo could not have charted the solar system, and what the MOOG SYNTHESISER opens up for the future of music is beyond dreams. This enthusiastic proclamation was originally published on the back cover of Moog Indigo by Jean Jacques Perrey (released on Vanguard in 1970). Conveying the optimism of an earlier era, it offered new adventures and promised to make the impossible possible. It was overlooked by a generation.The obscure composer Jean Jacques Perrey was born in a little village in northern France in 1929. He learned piano by ear, teaching himself after receiving an accordion as a Christmas gift at the age of 4. By 1952, Perrey was studying medicine, until he met George Jenny. Jenny had just invented the Ondioline, a keyboard capable of reproducing the sound of many melodic instruments while creating electronic timbres simultaneously. Perrey left medical school to travel through Europe's many cities, demonstrating this ancestor of the modern synthesiser. The Ondioline gave Perrey his first hit, performing with French singing star Charles Trenet and playing alongside Django Rheinhardt on Soul Of A Poet. Their success introduced Perrey to Jean Cocteau, who told him: You should try to become well known across the ocean. You have a mission on this earth, because you were born to create.Through Cocteau, Edith Piaf organised a trans-Atlantic crossing on Perrey's behalf. Relocating to New York in 1960, Perrey became one of the first Moog musicians, creating weird beatnik electronic jams, before inventing what he described as a new process for generating rhythms, utilising the environmental sounds of musique concrete. This was evident on THE IN SOUND FROM WAY OUT and KALEIDOSCOPE VIBRATIONS: SPOTLIGHT ON THE MOOG (both Vanguard, 1966 and 1967 respectively) written in collaboration with Gershon Kingsley, one of John Cage's acolytes of the early 60s. Using only tape recorders, scissors and splicing tape Perrey and Kingsley spent weeks piecing together their uniquely comic take on the future. They also collaborated on sound design for television commercials and won a Clio Award in 1968, writing an extremely wild soundtrack for Volkswagen.Perrey returned to France in 1970, composing for television and scoring for ballet. He has produced numerous solo albums, soundtracks, commercials and therapeutic sounds for insomniacs. On reflection audiophiles agree that Perrey was ahead of his time. Little could he have known that his far out electronic entertainment would attain a credible vogue, a certain 'in-the-know' notoriety, a quarter of a century later. Now Ace are set to reissue this long lost treasure chest, characterised by exotic moods and deliciously weird breaks. MOOG INDIGO, which includes the much in-demand track E.V.A. makes a welcome return, with Jean Jacques Perrey rediscovered by a new generation it's an appropriate release. After all, the 90s are a decade in search of an identity, a sample-scramble where the future lies in the past.(c Desmond K. Hill).

Cornershop - Woman's Gotta Have It (1995)

Genre: Rock, Funk / Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label:  Wiiija Records, Luaka Bop, Warner Bros. Records

01.   6 A.M. Jullandar Shere
02.   Hong Kong Book Of Kung Fu
03.   Roof Rack
04.   My Dancing Days Are Done
05.   Call All Destroyer
06.   Camp Orange
07.   Wog
08.   Jansimram King
09.   Looking For A Way In
10.   7:20 A.M. Jullandar Shere

Drums – Nick Simms
Guitar – A. Singh, Wallis Healey
Geetar – Ben Ayres
Percussion – Pete Hall 
Sitar, Keyboards – Saffs
Vocals, Bass – T. Singh
Written-By, Producer – T. Singh

In the beginning, God created the drone. And She said, “The drone is Good.” She was talking about the Velvet Underground of course, before John Cale took his viola and skedaddled, but unbeknownst to God, xenophobe that She is, there was another drone out there, a very cool South Asian drone native to India and Pakistan.

How cool are our South Asian brothers and sisters? So cool that they’ve based their classical, folk, AND pop music on the drone. Take your Hindustani Sangeet and Carnatic Sangeet, for instance. Both feature performers kicking out the drone on the tambura, with its four strings tuned to the tonic, and that’s hardly scratching the surface.

Which brings us to Cornershop and its genius of a front man, Punjabi Londoner Tjinder Singh, about whom the critic Robert Christgau wrote, “There are only so many places you can take the Velvet Underground at this late date… but [Singh] has found one.” What Singh did, obviously, was take that wonderful Indian drone and combine it with good old rock’n’roll to create what one critic dubbed “Hindi-pop,” or as I prefer to think of it, that nonexistent but wonderful place on the world map where Lou Reed and the Ganges converge.

On Cornershop’s 1995 sophomore release Woman’s Gotta Have It, Singh and company (Cornershop features three guitarists and another guy on the sitar, and it tells) mingle Indian-flavored drone rockers with such great Indian-free lo-fi indie numbers such as “Call All Destroyer” and “Hong Kong Book of Kung Fu,” which will make you forget all about the great Carl Douglas. And then there’s the irresistible “Wog” (a derogatory term for a dark-skinned South Asian), in which Singh repeats, “This western oriental/going full circle” to the sound of hand claps and some very cool backing vocals by Parsley and Sasha Andres. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the slow and way indie groove that constitutes “Roof Rack.” Love the sound of the meaty lead guitar on this one!

While Singh definitely has what it takes to be an indie hero, he’s at his best when he’s melding his Punjabi roots with indie pop to create a sound as infectious as a mouthful of Ganges’ water. “My Dancing Days Are Done” is a sonic experiment turned duet (love the sitar and Indian percussion), while “Camp Orange” is a funky Punjabi rocker that features lots of children singing.

But Singh really kicks out the Indian jams on album opener “6 A.M. Jullandar Shere,” which boasts a beguiling drone over which Singh sounds like he’s singing through a megaphone. And if this very-Indocentric baby sends you into a trance (as it should) the same goes double for LP closer “7:20 AM Jullandar Shere,” on which Cornershop stretches things out to 13 beguiling minutes.

They’re both great, great songs, but my own personal faves are the guitar rave-ups “Jansimram King” (a slow one that’ll poke you in the eye if you’re not alert) and “Looking for a Way In,” on which Cornershop’s guitarists play the gnarliest distorto guitar this side of the Velvet Underground’s “I Heard Her Call My Name.” Neither is particularly Indian tinged, but both are sophisticated applications of the VU Prinzip. On “Looking for a Way In” Singh and Company obviously decide the best way in is by means of carelessly modulated noise, as both the lead guitarist and the rhythm guitarist segue from VU groove to one wonderfully fucked-up freak-out.

When I asked a whiz-bang guitarist friend how Cornershop achieved said sound he mentioned some boring guitar techniques, before conceding, “It sounds like the guy just pulled a t-shirt over the guitar while playing it.” Eureka! That’s what I’m talking about! And here I thought there was no topping the frenzied guitar sound Philadelphian Ron Gallo got on last year’s “Young Lady, You’re Scaring Me”! Well, think again brothers and sisters, cuz “Looking for a Way In” is the real McCoy!

Yea! Heavy and a bottle of bread, whether you prefer Cornershop’s more South Asian-influenced sound or its more westernized melodies, they have created some of the coolest music you will ever hear. From 1994’s Hold On It Hurts through to the present, Cornershop have been producing a sound that racists would no doubt refer to as “mongrelized.” To which I can only say, we’re all mongrels, darlings, so be proud of it. Now turn up the VU-meets-“Quinn the Eskimo” fusion “Brimful of Asha” (from 1997’s funkier and more experimental When I Was Born for the 7th Time) and dance your legs down to your knees. All praise to Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god!
Michael H. Little / The Vinyl District