Musicophilia Daily

[Audio] – Kode9 & The Spaceape – “Quantum” (2006)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 5, 2009

Kode9 & The Spaceape – “Quantum” (2006)

To the casual follower of the Hyperdub label, Burial’s work looms large.  However, Kode9 & The Spaceape’s album ‘Memories of the Future’ is almost equally appealing.  Existing in a less hazy/rain-drenched landscape of sharper shapes amidst the cavernous dub, propelled as much by The Spaceape’s vocal contributions as Kode9’s beats, this music lives up to the album’s name.  It sounds like a future that knows the past, a futurism that isn’t about pretending to exist ex nihilo.  [Kode9 & The Spaceape are featured in an appropriately spooky, rich mix, ‘Tall Stories of Evil Gris-Gris,’ at Musicophilia.]

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[Audio] – Nico – “Frozen Warnings” (1969)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on May 28, 2009

Nico – “Frozen Warnings” (1969)

Neither Nico’s contributions to the Velvet Underground, nor the lovely ‘Chelsea Girls,’ could suggest the breathtaking mystery and utter timelessness of her first two incredible albums, ‘The Marble Index‘ and ‘Desertshore‘.  Those records might also be the best examples of prime John Cale at the crossroads between his avant-garde and drone-based experimental work, and his “friendlier” singer-songwriter work.  Dark doesn’t come close to capturing the shimmering depths of this work; and from a purely sonic standpoint, this is minimal but careful production at its finest, surely influencing later masterworks like Talk Talk’s beloved couplet or Arthur Russell’s more introspective work.  This track is relatively “pretty,” but even the more challenging tracks remain stunningly beautiful and emotionally gripping.  [Nico is featured on one of my favorite mixes at Musicophilia.]

[Audio] – Paolo Renosto (Lesiman) – Moto Centripeto (1973)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on May 27, 2009

Paolo Renosto (Lesiman) – Moto Centripeto (1973)

Another brilliant cut from the alternate history of popular music, aka Sound Library music.  Echoing and reverbed piano and harpsichord float over dulcet vibes with abstract sounds, all grounded by a breezily funky bassline.  This is cool beyond cool, the soundtrack to the movie version of life as one wishes it were lived.

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[Audio] – Miles Davis – “He Loved Him Madly” (1974)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on May 13, 2009

Miles Davis – “He Loved Him Madly” (1974)

Don’t miss this one. This is deep, intense listening, and it won’t grab you if you don’t have the attention (and about half an hour) to devote.  But I promise, it rewards the effort.  This is beyond the cosmic-exploration of the Germans we love; this is an exploration of the infinite spirit, the depths of mourning, the heights of love.  It is minimal, subtle, undulating, meditative, careful, above all beautiful.  Anyone who questioned Davis’ motives for “abandoning jazz” and going fusion couldn’t have maintained that incredulity if their ears were open to the sheer expressiveness of this music.  This wasn’t booty-funk, this wasn’t stoner-rock, though its elements are guitar, flute, drum kit, keyboards, electric bass, and echo effects: this is simply, utterly human music.  Give it the time, give it your ears, and it will build itself slowly through you.  [The glory of “Judas” Miles Davis is featured here, here and here at Musicophilia.]

[Audio] – The Del-Byzanteens – “Girl’s Imagination” (1981)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on May 11, 2009

The Del-Byzanteens – “Girl’s Imagination” (1981)

From the final ‘1981’ mix up today over at Musicophilia, “Girl’s Imagination” is further proof of just how cool New York was in the world of ‘Downtown ’81,’ or at least in the minds of its art-participants.  (One participant here of note is director Jim Jarmusch, on vocals and keyboards.)  The EP earns its hieroglyphic cover with a beguiling, snake-charmer sound and a fascinating storyteller approach.  The sound of the coolest mental breakdown ever, a nightmare you want to hang out in for a while.

[Audio] – Front 242 – “Black White Blue” (1982)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on April 21, 2009

Front 242 – “Black White Blue” (1982)

I can’t speak for later Front 242, but in the early 80s these Belgians were really onto something, making a spooky style of electronic music that is akin to Throbbing Gristle or fellow Liaisons Dangereuses and presages later Electro, but which remains unique.  This track, with its periodic hyper-32nd-note 808-hi-hat breaks and bouncing rhythmic emphasis remains strikingly contemporary.

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[Audio] – Karen Dalton – “Katie Cruel” (1971)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on April 7, 2009

Karen Dalton – “Katie Cruel” (1971)

For me, Karen Dalton is at her best when she’s at her most spare, and this might be my favorite: jittery banjo, bittersweet voice, and aching fiddle, knitting a tale of loss and regret.  This is where she transcends “folk revival” or “singer-songwriter” (or “Billie Holiday of folk music” comparisons) and simply creates pure American music, out of time, beyond any single persona. [Karen Dalton is featured in a wide-ranging ‘Le Tour du Monde’ mix at Musicophilia.]

[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.]

[Video] – Massive Attack – “Protection” (1994)

Posted in Video by Soundslike on March 12, 2009

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Massive Attack – “Protection” (1994) [By Michel Gondry]

With its James Brown-based beat and Tracey Thorn (Everything But the Girl and post-punk tweesters Marine Girls) vocals, though it’s dated slightly, this track is still a winner.  For me, though, its impact is heightened greatly by this technically unbelievable single-shot, single-take Michel Gondry video, one of the first videos I ever remember finding simply enthralling.  Typical of Gondry when given emotionally meaningful material, his faux-lo-tech wizardry transcends the technical fascination and comes to reflect its subject matter in a way more honest and accurate than any more straightforward presentation ever could.  UPDATE: Argh, embedding disabled for whatever reason, so a link instead–worth your while.

[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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