Musicophilia Daily

[Audio] – Henri Texier – “Le Piroguier” (1976)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on August 25, 2009

Henri Texier – “Le Piroguier” (1976)

This is music that can only be called genre-free–spare, pure, feeling equal parts experimental and folk-made, calling to mind only other iconoclasts like Brigitte Fontaine & Areski or Emmanuelle Parrenin in its spooky stillness-through-rhythm.  Consisting solely of acoustic and organic sounds–handclaps, wordless vocals, single-note bowed strings, and upright bass played in a whirling fashion–it feels vaguely Turkish or Moroccan.  It’s elemental and at the same time futuristic, small and yet suggesting wide-open space.   Simply beautiful–and inexplicably out of print, so grab it at the ever-essential Mutant Sounds.

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[Audio] – Jane Birkin – “Kawasaki” (1973)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 1, 2009

Jane Birkin – “Kawasaki” (1973)

Birkin’s work here is indelibly imprinted with the signatures of Serge Gainsbourg and Jean-Claude Vannier in top-flight ‘Melody Nelson’ mode, and that’s hardly a bad thing: those whirling strings, spare funky drums and bass, weeping guitar, and balanced temperaments of dynamism and melancholy are effective as ever.  But Birkin’s half-sung, half-breathed vocals add a nice counterpoint to Gainsbourg’s more earthy speak-sing.  The coy, coquettish album cover doesn’t hurt.

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[Audio] – Pascal Comelade & Robert Wyatt – “September Song” (2000)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on May 5, 2009

Pascal Comelade & Robert Wyatt – “September Song” (2000)

Pascal Comelade has made a lovely career of making smart music with toy instruments, and this collaboration with Robert Wyatt brings out the sweetest warmth from both.  Nostalgic, whimsical, and simple, this song is the sound “golden days” captured perfectly. [Robert Wyatt is featured in varied contexts in several mixes at Musicophilia.]

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[Audio] – Emmanuelle Parrenin – “Topaze” (1977)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on April 13, 2009

Emmanuelle Parrenin – “Topaze” (1977)

I can guarantee you’d never match this track to its cover. Parrenin’s ‘Maison Rose‘ is an odd one, but fascinating: mostly pastoral in the Drake/Bunyan vein, but with bits of an edge that remind me a little of Laurie Anderson or Brigitte Fontaine or Linda Thompson; quite lovely and worthwhile.  And then there’s this track, that seems like it’s from another album; but also from another time and place: abstract wailings ostensibly derived from a hurdy gurdy (the link with the rest of the album) are wrapped around a booming, single-note bass tone and then. . . holy shit, that beat: all echoed, sliced up, turned around, and utterly cool.  Where this came from out of this artist, I don’t at all understand; Like a cousin to This Heat’s ’24 Track Loop, it’s simply out of nowhere.  I’ll leave it for you to supply what genres it anticipated and by how many decades.  All I know is, I can get completely lost in this beat, on repeat.

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[Audio] – Jean-Jacques Perrey – E.V.A. (1970)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 31, 2009

Jean-Jacques Perrey – E.V.A. (1970)

I love Pierre Henry, but I prefer his “serious” work to his most famous track, “Psyche Rock”.  “E.V.A.” is sort of an alternative to “Psyche,” blending similar early sci-fi pop electronics with a funky backbeat and even the large bell accompaniment–but I’d have to say, I like Perrey’s take better, since this sort of electronics-popularising was his main thing.  Sampled regularly and with good reason, “E.V.A.” is as cool today as forty years ago.

[Audio] – Maurice Ravel – “Sonatine 1: Modere” (1905)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 30, 2009

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Maurice Ravel – “Sonatine 1: Modere” (1905)

Though I know little about classical music broadly speaking, I know I’m a sucker for the impressionistic, painterly styles of compositional music from around the turn of the 1900s: Satie, Debussy, Ravel.  This is one of my favorites, though I have little language to describe it properly.  It is delicate but not slight, rhythmically adventurous without being mathematical, virtuosic without being flashy, dynamic and sensitive.  If pressed, though, I’d simply call it beautiful.  [Ravel can be heard here and here in two of my favorite mixes at Musicophilia.]

[Audio] – 1906 [Jean-Michel Jarre] – “Helza” (1973)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 20, 2009

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1906 [Jean-Michel Jarre] – “Helza” (1973)

Early Jean-Michel Jarre is too hard to find, considering how crazy-good a lot of it is, like the insanely cool, spooky proto-synth featured in this mix at Musicophilia.  This one  is a sublime example of the sort of elegant but funky stuff the French/Italians/Germans were doing with instrumentation borrowed from Motown in the early 70s, bringing in choice touches of early electro.  A solid, close-miced rhythm section (bass, drums, clavichord) carries the weight of the track along with spare percussion and rhythm-flute a la early Kraftwerk, but what takes it to a magic level is a ghostly, reverbed piano line that floats over the top, and electronic bits floating around the periphery.  Magic stuff.

[Audio+Link] – François Bayle – “Solitude” (1969)

Posted in Audio, Link by Soundslike on March 18, 2009

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François Bayle – “Solitude” (1969)

Please don’t pass this post by. One, for the track at hand: it will turn your brain inside out, to be sure.  But also for the links and the general information this post will contain next.  First, the track: in a similar style to Parmegiani’s “Pop’eclectic,” Bayle’s “Solitude” is a fantastic melange of student politics energy, psychedelic rock, musique concrète, and early electronics.  It makes a great gateway drug to the latter styles, chugging along with Krautrock-esque beats and guitars, run through the more sophisticated, less bleepy-bloopy-space-musik end of concrète/electronic music.  It is proof that while the avant-garde weren’t often trying to make pop inroads (Henry’s “Psyche Rock” and BBC Radiophonic Workshop aside), they weren’t hiding away in ivory towers by the late 60s, and the visceral impact of this music makes it inarguable.  If it hits you, you’ll hear the 2nd half of the 20th Century all flowing in and out of the mix.  So listen, please listen, with open ears:

But that’s just the hook. What I really want you to do is start treading in deep sound, if you’re not already.  And if you haven’t jumped in–there’s really no place better to start than at the top.  Which is, for me (some of Parmegiani’s albums aside) the simply inconceivably amazing 4LP set, ‘Electronic Panorama: Paris, Tokyo, Utrecht, Warzsawa‘ released in 1970 and drawing on music from the late 1950s through 1970 from leading figures of those four cities’ avant-garde (Paris is unsurprisingly tops; Utrecht, for me, comes in next).  If you’re obsessed with sound, if you ever get excited about the way sound literally feels in your ears and how it moves through your body, if you ever listen to the sounds around you in the world as though they were music: you’re ready for this.  You need this.  I’ll let my hero of deep listening Woebot give you the verbiage.  And I’ll tell you that these records cost hundreds of dollars, if not more: so yeah, I don’t own a copy myself.  But, this is one of those examples where I say fuck all the doubters, the internet is a beautiful thing: you can download these amazing records in very high quality here and here at the absolutely life-changing Avant Garde Project.  Along with UbuWeb, Mutant Sounds, and the Wax Cylinder Preservation Project, I don’t really know any more wonderful archive for sound on the internet.

This is not pop music, and I’m not pretending it’s for everyone. But if you’re at the right place in your life, if your ears are shaped (metaphorically) anything like mine–well all I can say is that for me, whereas I’d been a skeptic about musique concrète and early electronics, thinking it was all bubbly bleeps and bloops; after I heard these records along with a few key bits from Stockhausen, Henry, Parmegiani, Schaeffer, Ferrari (those last four all found here), Raymond Scott, and Dockstader: I am a devotee.  I don’t try to push this stuff very often at Musicophilia, but finding these people the last few years has been as important as finding Can or “Piano Phase” or hearing my first fusion-era Miles Davis was for shaping my musical love affair.

[UPDATE: Check out this nice article from Simon Reynolds on the sleeve design for the series from which ‘Electronic Panorama’ comes–truly objects of beauty, and an inspiration for anyone attempting phony label-series artwork and for any graphic designer.]

[Audio] – Bernard Estardy – “Emeute À Tokyo” (1972)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 10, 2009

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Bernard Estardy – “Emeute À Tokyo” (1972)

Top-notch early-70s sound library stuff here from a Frenchman who seems to be consistently strong, whether working in this “Psyche Rock”-ish electro-jam mode or in a Gainsbourg-like Chanson idiom.  This one is a nice funky breakbeat (with phasing no less!) and rollicking piano surrounded by diving, swirling synths, for a resulting high fun factor.  Check it the full album at the completely essential Library Hunt. [Bernard Estardy is featured here in a fairly different mode at Musicophilia.]

[Audio] – Wapassou – “Chatiment” (1974)

Posted in Audio, Link by Soundslike on March 3, 2009

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Wapassou – “Chatiment” (1974)

If the Raincoats (circa ‘Odyshape’) had been French, and had invented trip-hop. . . it would’ve sounded something like this.  Spooky organ drones, slightly shaky breakbeat, violin and flute accompaniment, whisper-sung French female vocals–you can’t lose.  Out of print except on seemingly dodgy “Asian import” CD, your best bet to find this album is via the invaluable Mutant SoundsUPDATE: Continuing to have some difficulties with streaming–let me know if a track doesn’t work for you.

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