The Red Krayola - God Bless the Red Krayola and All Who Sail with It
Saying that these guys were ahead of their time is an understatement if there ever was one. What The Stooges were for all things heavy and freaky, The VU for all things indie, these guys were for the punk, no wave, lo-fi and free folk movements. These are their two first longplayers I think and if you take into consideration the fact that they were almost thrown of the stage at their first gigs, then you realize that people never will learn: they will always mistake a diamond for a shit. Their loss.
Sun City Girls - Tibetan Jazz
The first thing I ever tried from this strange group. The thing is that Tibetan Jazz sounds like exactly that. It is jazzy and free-in-an-ethnic-style at the same time. Though a tad chaotic at times, this is impressive stuff and it was way ahead of the whole New Weird America thing.
Anthony Braxton - 3 Compositions of New Jazz
Anthony Braxton - For Alto
In the past I have often shyed away from the caustic and abrasive and arcane nature of free jazz (and free music in general). But I re-read the amazing interview Braxton gave The Wire a time ago and this guy has such an amount of purpose and will in his body, mind and soul that I just had to discover his music.
3 Compositions of New Jazz was his first work as a leader and it is all the above mentioned things. It is very difficult music but intensely rewarding if you are willing to put your teeth in it. Think Coltrane, Ayler or Coleman's Live at The Golden Circle and then make another leap and you have got Anthony Braxton.
For Alto, the first record ever for solo saxophone, is even more difficult. Patience and a receptive attitude are very much required if you want to sit through this. Still, it is less shocking than the stuff English improvisers like Evan Parker, John Butcher or Paul Rutherford came forth with in the early and mid-seventies. Maybe the difficulty is also partly due to the fact that Braxton's music is sometimes nearer to classical music than to jazz. This may be almost forty years ago, but I am willing to bet that a lot of people still deny that this is music. They are of course wrong.
Olivier Messiaen - Méditations sur le Mystère de la Sainte Trinité
This is his one of his famous organ works. And as much as I like this, as much as it moves me, I have to admit that I was not able to sit through it in one listening. At times the music is just too painful and intense for your ears. I do not know, not being a religious person at all, maybe I am missing the necessary level of faith and abandon to fully appreciate this. Some might say: you do not have to be a religious person to appreciate religious music, and I can agree with that. But this is so powerful that it borders on the psychotic. Then again, I have always found religious people to be a little psychotic, believing in things that to not exist (that is a tautology, not?) and regulating your life accordingly...
Faust - Faust V
A big thank you to Omar for signaling this to me. There seem to be quite a few mixes, editions and bootlegs of these sessions that were supposed to sprout Faust V, were it not for the usual shortsightedness of even a forward-thinking label like Virgin. I have to agree that even left-overs and try-outs that sound like they were recorded in a stable (or even in open air) from Faust sound a hell of a lot more relevant twenty years after than a lot of music that calls itself 'rock' these days. Mind you, the sound is worse than some cassette editions from Outer-Mongolia. Nonetheless, nice to know that these guys still cut it with the best, as I am always under the impression that Can and Neu! in recent history always had way more exposure than this equally revolutionary lot. Krautrock forever!
Hu Vibrational - Universal Mother
I have always had a soft spot for percussion records. And this is another of those beautifully packaged Soul Jazz editions. Produced by Carlos Niño and played by Adam Rudolph (Yusef Lateef) with Brahim Frigbane (Peter Gabriel, Morphine) and Hamid Drake (Peter Brötzmann, Pharoah Sanders) it is no less than a drum feast from beginning to end. Evidently you do not go looking for songs on such a recording, it is the grooves and the rhythms that are enchanting. The saying goes that "in the beginning there was the drum", and on the basis of this record one must conclude that it is going to be there in the end too. All Hail Soul Jazz!
VA - Plague Songs
Strange record, being a compilation of ten songs where each artist writes a song about one of the ten plagues. Not everyone delivers memorable songs of course, but overall I found this to be an enjoyable and at times moving record that encompasses a lot of musical styles around a common theme. When it comes to Scott Walker I must admit I am not entirely rational and thus I was most carried away by his contribution (that backing choir, bordering on the psychotic, damn', I am using that word a lot these days), but the Eno-Wyatt collaboration was intriguing too. Further decent work comes from Laurie Anderson, Cody Chestnutt and a list of less known singers. Do not know if I will remember this compilation in a few months or so, but every Scott Walker outing is worth a listen.
Jandek - Interstellar Discussion
Jandek - Staring at the Cellophane
Ludo (who even named his blog after a Jandek record) once suggested that it is best to just throw yourself into the Jandek universe. I had these two on my hard-disc for a while and when I listened to them this weekend I was just flabbergasted and, to be more peculiar, deeply moved. This is music that is so naked and so emotional without much ado, going straight for the root of things without much accompaniment to speak of. I was hooked from the first minute and the moment I have the money I am going to fill out that cheque and place that order for those twenty or so Jandek cd's. I use the word revelation way too much but this the real thing.
Morton Subotnick - Silver Apples of the Moon
Morton Subotnick - The Wild Bull
Those truly were the days! Elektra offshoot Nonesuch actually offered Subotnick money to make these records. These days he probably would have to release it on a limited-run cd-r. To me these records sound like a guy trying to make a sort of minimalistic classic music of chance with electronic devices. But the sounds are so wonderful that sometimes you can not help but ask yourself if the sounds they are using today are as intricate and detailled as on Silver Apples of the Moon and The Wild Bull. Both are pretty introverted without being really dark or coming on uneasy. It is the music of cosmic awe and surprise, full of playful coils of sound. And it also has the insight (clearly still derived from classical music and Cage) that silence is one of the most important parts of music as such, an insight that, regretfully, has all too often rightout disappeared from today's horror vacui they call music.