Friday, December 12, 2008

Harmonia - Live (1974)


This archival live set catches Dieter Moebius, Roedelius, and Michael Rother at their most expansive and free form, pushing deeper into the territory they had begun exploring on Musik Von Harmonia before their work coalesced into De Luxe's more structured, glossier pieces. The emphasis here is on experimentation and process, rather than end product: guitar, keyboards, synths and machine-generated beats abandon rock's narrow narrative path in favor of hypno-minimalist soundscapes whose melodic and rhythmic patterns nod to the likes of Terry Riley.

Combining repetition and incremental change in seamless, kaleidoscopic configurations, these five previously unreleased tracks take listeners on proto-ambient trips into inner and outer space. Such mind-expanding excursions clearly suited the rapt audience members (gathered in a decomissioned German train station), who don't make a sound for the duration, save for the occasional cough (In fact, Michael Rother claims in the press release that the show was attended by a good 50 or so people, who were too stoned to even applaud, or who couldn't work out where the songs ended. That makes sense: the five lengthy tracks here stretch out to between nine and 17 minutes each, but have an enveloping momentum that makes them feel like they are - or at least should - go on forever.)

Like Harmonia's studio work, this live document underscores the trio's ability to paint in both intricate and broad strokes, generating engrossing detail as well as larger environments. Two tracks in particular dramatize this: living up to its title, the exquisite "Arabesque" belies its five-minute duration, spinning out an ornate sonic mandala that seems to extend infinitely; "Schaumberg" mesmerizes with precise, decorative keyboard arpeggios and oscillating rhythms as Rother layers fluid, wandering guitar textures. Even at its most epic, Harmonia's material is never less than spellbinding: the quarter-hour "Holta-Polta" chugs relentlessly through dark, disquieting industrial dub terrain, while the 17 minutes of "Veteranissimo" are an exhilarating Motorik ride from start to finish.

More than 30 years after Harmonia's original studio recordings, the rediscovery and release of this long-buried treasure reiterates quite emphatically how hard it is to overstate the band's pioneering influence: from Eno and Bowie -- as Another Green World, Low and Heroes attest -- through subsequent generations of artists charting the intersections of rock, pop, and electronic musics.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Birds - Say Those Magic Words (1997)


A personal fave' - The Birds included a very young Ronnie Wood on guitar, vocals and harmonica,Tony Munroe on guitar/vocals, Kim Gardner on bass, Ali McKenzie on vocals and Pete McDaniel on drums.

Their first single written by Wood came out on Decca in November 1964 and for the next two 45's they recorded a couple of Soul numbers but transformed them totally into powerful tunes with the inimitable Birds' aggression! The B-sides were great too, both written by Ronnie Wood.

By the end of 1965 they were changing label and manager and their fourth final single was released on Reaction in 1966 actually as the Birds Birds after a suggestion by their new manager Robert Stigwood following their failed legal battle over the band's name when The Byrds toured England the year before...

They also appeared on the film "The Deadly Bees" in 1966 with the great unreleased track "That's All I Need You For" and while they recorded few more songs nothing came out and eventually by 1967 it was all over. Both Kim Gardner and Ron Wood joined The Creation in 1968.

The Top 10 Records I Downloaded Because Of Their Names (2008)

By Jean "Fuck You" Williams

Musicblogs are awesome.. it seems like the availablity of free hosting spacing is returning the internet to the old-days Wild West that it used to be in the late 90's... it's become part of my morning ritual to check a few blogs I like and download a few new records and listen to them throughout the day. I have, while doing this, stumbled across a few records whose names compelled me to download them. Sometimes this leads to great discoveries, sometimes this leads to crushing disappointment. The albums weren't all good. They were mostly un-good. One constant is that their names were great. And because nothing could be more fascinating to you than me, here's a list of them:

What I Imagined This Record To Sound Like: Angry gay people or perhaps straight people who think gayness is funny, but are still angry. Definitely males either way.
What It Actually Sounded Like: Hard to determine; but gayness appears to be ironic rather than actual.
What I Imagined This Record To Sound Like: More power-pop bullshit.. but I had to be sure.
What It Actually Sounded Like: I wish I could un-hear this.
What I Imagined This Record To Sound Like: Hyperactive and Japanese.
What It Actually Sounded Like: Wrong again. I love this record though. Synths and distorted guitars and awesome drumming but really hopeful sounding... on helium as well.
What I Imagined This Record To Sound Like: Jerkoff artrock full of weltschmertz
What It Actually Sounded Like: I was wrong. It's total screaming heroin metal. I kind of like it. Nothing jerkoffy about it, that's for sure.
What I Imagine This Record To Sound Like: Annoying noise
What It Actually Sounded Like: Awesome! Squarepusher meets Do Make Say Think. Highly recommended.
05. The Masters of Ceremony - Sexy (downloaded because it had a track called "Yellow Panties")
What I Imagined This Record To Sound Like: Smooth Sex Jams
What It Actually Sounded Like: The soundtrack to the feature film "House Party". Your mileage may vary.
What I Imagined This Record To Sound Like: Pop rock / Pots and pans falling down the stairs
What It Actually Sounded Like: Jangly Pavement
Listening Notes: To fully appreciate the awesomeness of this name, say "Jing Jang Jong" out loud. I would advise you not to do this around Asians however.
What I Imagined This Record To Sound Like: I have to admit I didn't really care what this sounded like. The awesome band name coupled with a title that I am both amused by and can TOTALLY relate to made this a necessary download.
What It Actually Sounded Like: Bright Eyes meets Xiu Xiu; so.. pale dudes crying on a Yamaha DX-7 inbetween guitar lessons. In a good way; sorta.
What I Imagined This Record To Sound Like: The Best Thing In The World
What It Actually Sounded Like: EXACTLY AS I SUSPECTED
What I Imagined This Record To Sound Like: Sludge Metal about coprophagia and baby-killing
What It Actually Sounded Like: I was too scared to download this; if someone has the guts, let me know. As it stands, I'm content to know a record with this name exists, full stop.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Beach Boys - Landlocked (1970)


The bootleg called Landlocked by the Beach Boys is a much circulated, rejected version of what would eventually become Sunflower. After leaving Capitol Records in 1969, the band compiled an album's worth of demos and recordings for approval by their new label. In 1970 Warner/Reprise smartly demanded that the band continue work on new songs. The Beach Boys went back to the drawing board, abandoning the Landlocked songs at the time. (A second rejected "version" is available in bootleg form as Add Some Music to Your Day.)

Some of the songs in Landlocked remained unreleased for decades while others made their way onto future Beach Boys albums. "Take a Load off Your Feet," "'Til I Die," and "Lookin' at Tomorrow" were first heard on Landlocked but made it onto Surf's Up. "Good Time" was eventually recorded for Love You, "Big Sur" was released on Holland, and Mike Love's "When Girls Get Together" was heard on 1980's classic Keepin' the Summer Alive. Other songs like "I Just Got My Pay" stayed in a vault until the release of the Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys box set in 1993. Standout tracks include "Loop De Loop" which was a collaboration between Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks (later heard on Endless Summer Soundtrack) and "Lady" which was a Dennis Wilson composition.

Clearly, this is a record for diehards only. It is worth tracking down for Beach Boys fans who are interested in their recording process, especially in the post-Pet Sounds world where other members like Dennis and Al Jardine began taking a more active role in the group. Landlocked is the only time when these songs fit into their original context. To that end the well-developed demo of "'Til I Die" is fascinating. It is perhaps the best song on this bootleg and fit in perfectly on their 1971 album. But here is where it first appeared. - AMG