Thursday, April 16, 2009

Record Scores - Pick A Style & Stick With It Edition

Karl Berger, Dave Holland, Ed Blackwell - Transit Lp (Black Saint)
- Jazz trio recording from 1987. While the 80's were generally a dark time for Jazz, the Italian Black Saint label was more interested in the developing avant garde than the drive to Sunday afternoon, adult contemporary swill even respected labels like Blue Note were headed down. This recording isn't particularly out-there even, but features vibraphonist Karl Berger leading bassist Dave Holland and drummer Ed Blackwell through shorter, original compositions including a tribute to Ornette Coleman. Like most Black Saint recordings, the production is beautiful, clean but not over-filtered like most 80's material.

Joe Albany & Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen - Two's Company Lp (Inner City)
- Safe piano-jazz from Joe Albany with bassist Pedersen. As i'm sure i've mentioned, Pedersen is my all time favorite bassist, so i couldn't pass this up even though it's pretty tame.

Balaclavas - Inferno Lp (Phonographic Arts)
- Discovered this on my friend Doug's excellent internet features "Still Single" where he sold me on it by describing it as a colder version of Mi Ami. I had some troubles getting the record direct from the label, but it finally arrived and it is fantastic. A well locked-in rhythm section with huge, pounding drums feeds a spare, guitar-wash trance and a talented singer punches in appropriately flitting somewhere between Ian Curtis & Grace Slick. Think Mi Ami, Gang Of Four, later Fugazi, and Joy Division...

V/A - Records Toreism Lp (Thrill Jockey)
- Oooh, Record Store Day exclusive compilation from Thrill Jockey featuring an as-yet unreleased track from Tortoise as well as exclusive-exclusive tracks from Mountains, Double Dagger, White Hills, and Trans Am. I admit that it was mainly the Tortoise-completist in me driving me to secure the limited-edition, silk-screen-covered, petroleum disco, and i went through that terrible addiction cycle of elation, deflation and desire for the next fix upon scoring it. The Mountains track at the out-set was a nice surprise, with its simple, soothing, psych drone tones. The Tortoise track has the group revisiting their guitar rock influences, a move that alienated me completely on their "Standards" album (the only Tortoise record that I don't own), but a stretched out run time of about 9 minutes does hold some interesting twists and turns, and i'm going to try to spend some time with it before throwing down my internet-critic hammer. Double Dagger & White Hills let the garage rock flag fly high. Trans Am is less casio and more rocked out too.

Carlos Nino & Miguel Atwood-Ferguson - Suite For Ma Dukes 12" (Mochilla)
- Carlos Nino, who I love dearly as the leader of Build An Ark, Ammon Contact, Life Force Trio, Hu-Vibrational... teamed with orchestral arranger Miguel Atwood-Ferguson to adapt the work of J Dilla to the realm of first chairs and cellos. Picking cuts from across Dilla's tragically short career, the duo bring a slighty stodgy manner to Common's 'Nag Champa', A Tribe Called Quest's 'Find A Way', Slum Village's 'Fall In Love', and Dwight Trible's 'Antiquity'. It's interesting, and maybe great brain food while i work, but not as full of life as i'd hoped.

Woods - Sunlit 7" (Captured Tracks)
- 2 great, delicate pop songs that i'm really happy about. $5 for 2 songs with a combined run-time of less than 4 minutes, not so much.

Jay Reatard / Sonic Youth - Split 7" (Matador)
- Record Store Day moment of weakness.

Osaka Monaurail - Signed Sealed Delivered 7" (Our Label)
- The Japanese funk outfit's cover of the Stevie Wonder classic is okay, nice and punchy in spots, but ultimately it was the cover of Angelo Badalamenti's 'Sunshine #9' from the obscure blaxploitation film 'Gordon's War' that sold me on this. I think a lot of this funk revival stuff would be really popular with the average joe if they could figure out a way to market it.

El Michels Affair - Enter The 37th Chamber Lp (Fat Beats)
- I really liked the 2 7"s of Wu Tang covers that El Michels Affair had put out over the last few years, but, honestly, i thought a full album of it would be overkill. I was wrong. El Michels affair is one of tightest bands working today (yes Hip Hop, better than the Roots) and with their locked-in groove mechanics, they're able to reconvert RZA's beautiful compositions back into raw instrumental funk. Now, if some young buck samples this record for a hip hop beat, the world may collapse under the weight of its post-modernism.

Gene Ammons - My Way Lp (Prestige)
- Haven't had a chance to really digest this yet, but its another slice of poppy, organ-led, R&B-jazz from the Jug in the vein of Groove Merchant or later CTI material.

Directions - Echoes 12" (Soul Static Sound)
- AKA Bundy K Brown one of the original architects of Tortoise (also of Bastro & Gastr Del Sol fame) remains one of my favorite musicians despite the fact that his recorded output is so limited. In that brief moment in the mid-90s when Mo Wax was huge and the Chicago family of 'post-rock' musicians were getting paid to do remixes left and right, Bundy's remixes were always my favorites, because they were often epic with multiple movements stretching out the tracks into 10 minute territory, and usually only borrowing the original melody for seconds at a time. Directions In Music was Bundy's group with Doug Scharin (drummer for June Of 44, Rex, HIM...) and guitarist James Warden. Their album was a mixture of Americana ballads and the sort of earthy, analog studio manipulation present in the early Tortoise material. This 12" is Bundy solo, maybe reworking some practice tapes, spliced with what i think are samples from a Paulinho da Costa record I have, bubbling into a soothing, sprawling dub. I have bought this record every time I've seen it (i think i'm up to 6 times now), giving it to friends and hoping that they appreciate its sublime beauty (although i suspect that i've bought back a couple of those copies)

Iceburn Collective - Power Of The Lion 2xLp (Southern Lord)
This was a really unexpected surprise. One of my favorite bands of the 90s, the hardcore band that became a free jazz group, Iceburn floated between the two worlds ably but largely unappreciated. This album originally came out CD-only in 1998 on Revelation Records, and probably never sold more than 10 copies, which is why I was so shocked to see the vinyl sitting in my local record shop 10 years later. I guess it makes sense now that a lot of the dirgy metal bands and protracted psych rock stuff is so big now that Iceburn's prog-rock/jazz stylings get a little credit.

The Dutchess & The Duke - Never Had A Chance 7" (Hozac)
- Two nice little hipster-folk pop songs. I have enough music with people screaming at me about how everything i do is destroying the world, sometimes i like to feel pretty.

Shirley Scott - Like Cozy Lp (Moodsville)
- Earlier Shirey Scott material (somewhere around 1960) that settles into long, wailing notes from her organ over subdued playing from George Duvivier on bass and Arthur Edgehill on drums. Most of the tracks here are more sorrowful than i'd expect from Scott as its her infectous playfulness that really hooked me on her in the first place.

Pterodactyl - Worldwide Lp (Brah)
- one of the few rock bands that i kept up with over the last 8 years (before my re-conversion this past 1.5 years). Pterodactyl has the sugar, that important X-factor of ego-less attitude, practiced musicianship coupled with abandon, melody married with noise. While their first 2 7"s, and most of the 1st Lp were raw and chaotic, like 90's hardcore, this album marks a very different turn for them, veering into psych-pop territory. It's still noisy but more delicate and pretty. This new sound is right up my alley right now. Definitely will be in my top 10 records for this year.

Cedar Walton - Animation Lp (Columbia)
1978 funky jazz led by keyboardist Cedar Walton. Features a well utilized horn section that gives the music body but isn't obtrusive, percussion from mister Paulinho da Costa, and frenzied playing by bassist Tony Dumas.

The See See - Keep Your Head 7" (The Great Pop Supplement)
Folky psych-pop from London. 2 sharply produced summer of love throwbacks.

1 comment:

pipecock said...

yeah that Balaclavas shit is dope.