“Chicken Little Was Right”
Did ya hear what happened to the world today?
Somebody came an' they took it away
Wrapped it up in a wire net
Took it away an' it ain't back yet
We were waitin'
We were watchin'
Yes, we knew it all along
You were wrong
Put it in a place where dead worlds lie
Underneath a tombstone, ten miles high
We're so safe, so secure
Heaven knows we're absolutely sure
Never grew up but now it's dead
What'd you suppose the epitaph read?
"We're so young, we're so good
Heaven knows we surely must endure"
We were waitin'
We were watchin'
Yes, we knew it all along
You were wrong
Now, it's gone
And we saw the little squirrels
And we watched their thrifty deeds
Who prepared for winter's needs
And we planted
Planted lemon seeds
If that there world comes back again
We'll be there, so let's be friends
We'll be waitin'
We'll be watchin'
Yes, we've been here all along
Oh, so long
So, so long
Ehhh, ehhh, ehhh Mmm
Lemons growin' on our tree
Lemonade for you and me
The above song, “Chicken Little Was Right” first appeared as the B side of the “She’s My Girl”, a single by the Turtles which was released in 1967. I bought only singles between 1965 & 1967, when I started to buy full length LP’s. I always listened to B sides since I/we never knew what the bands at the time would but there. B sides could be a leftover, a dud or even a hidden gem so I always gave them a listen. The song was written by the Turtles themselves, a band whose hits were mostly written by outside (hitmaker) songwriters like Bonner & Gordon or Bob Dylan. The single was released in 1967, during the Summer of Love, when most bands were trying to be psychedelic. The lyrics are interesting and the music is quaintly psychedelic. I don’t think there is some deep meaning going on yet I do get the feeling that the Turtles have created an odd look at the world at the time. This song was re-recorded foe the Turtles album, ‘Battle of the Bands’, which seems like a compilation of a dozen bands doing their songs in different styles. The version on this album is a bluegrass or country-rock like version. There is a joyful innocence going on here in the lines: "We're so young, we're so good, Heaven knows we surely must endure”. The question remains: will we still endure? Think about it. - MC BruceLee, DMG
The DMG FREE Weekly In-Store Performance Series Continues With:
Tuesday, February 28th:
6:30: TIME PHASE TRIO: TY CITERMAN / JEN BAKER / SHAYNA DUNKELMAN - Guitar / Trombone / Drums
7:30: KYLE MOTL - Solo Contrabass
8:00: HARMOLODICS 1: BENJAMIN GREEN - trumpet electronics / DAVID WARD - drums / BENJAMIN WOOD - bass
9:00: HARMOLODICS 2: JAMES McKAIN / CALEB DUVAL / JAMES PAUL NADIEN - Tenor Sax / El Bass / Drums
Tuesday, March 7th:
6:30: LOUISE D.E. JENSEN / T.J. BORDEN - Sax / Cello
7:30: DAVE MILLER / RAS MOSHE - Drums / Reeds
8:30: ANDERS GRIFFIN / SANA NAGANO - Drums / Violin
Saturday, March 11th - The GauciMusic Series Continues with:
6pm: Rich Rosenthal - guitar / Ken Filiano - bass / Guillermo Gregorio - clarinet / Leonid Galaganov - drums
7pm: Stephen Gauci - sax / Adam Lane - bass / Kevin Shea - drums
8pm: Jeremy Carlstedt - drums / Nick Demopoulos - S.M.O.M.I.D.
THIS WEEK’S DYNAMITE DISCS BEGIN WITH A GREAT DUO:
SATOKO FUJII / OTOMO YOSHIHIDE - Perpetual Motion (Ayler 175; France) Featuring Satoko Fujii on piano and Otomo Yoshihide on electric guitar. This set was recorded live at the Pit Inn in Shinjuku, Tokyo in Japan in January of 2022. Satoko Fujii is an amazing pianist, composer and multi-bandleader who recently released her 100th (!) disc. Although she has done solos, duos, trios, quartets on up to several large ensembles, she loves the challenge of working with someone she worked with before. On this disc Ms. Fujii plays a rare concert performance with an another immensely creative music, Otomo Yoshihide, who often switches between guitar, turntables and samplers, depending on the situation. Mr. Yoshihide is equally prolific and diverse as far as the numerous types of music he works with: solo guitar, jazz quintet & large unit, onkyo (lower case), noise, rock, soundtrack work and improv with a large amount of unlikely suspects. This set is/was the first time that these two musicians played together.
The first thing I noticed is how well this disc is recorded, clean, warm and superbly balanced. Both of these musicians are master improvisers and they take their time to create mesmerizing sounds or textures. I know that Ms. Fujii uses an ebow to coax drones from the strings inside the piano. We can hear this buzz or hum here while Otomo also rubs or bows his guitar strings. The overall sound is most enchanting, eerie, subtle and slowly builds into some more intense waves. Otomo never or rarely seems bound by any one genre or style hence, his guitar playing is often in between our expectations. Fragments of rock, free music, prog, noise and quiet music are all within his sound/reach. Ms. Fujii is a perfect foil or partner, often adding her own in-between-the cracks sounds as well. There are moments of great beauty here as well as some occasional noisy bits. Yet, everything flows together like a canoe on a fresh stream or a school of fish sailing through the water currents in a school. This is Free Improv at its very best. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
ELLIOTT SHARP // ASASELLO QUARTET / NICHOLAS ISHERWOOD - Die Grosste Fuge (Infrequent Seams 44; USA) Featuring Elliott Sharp - composer, director, librettist, synth, electric baritone & bass guitars, bass drums, percussion & processing, Nicholas Isherwood - bass baritone voice and the Asasello (String) Quartet. Every time I thing I have a handle on whatever project that Elliott Sharp is working on, he releases another disc or performs live with a different personnel, thus making him impossible to pigeonhole easily. The composition for this two disc set was inspired by Elliott Sharp’s deep study into the late period music of Beethoven, as well as the many trials and tribulations of Beethoven’s mental and physical health. The title of this work was taken from the title of Beethoven final string quartet, “Die Grosste Fuge”, a piece which was often referred to as being way ahead of its time or being contemporary forever. Considering that I have listened to so little opera, except for ‘Lulu’ and ‘Wozzeck’ by Alban Berg, I have little to compare this music/work to. I have long listened to and appreciated the many different recordings and concerts that Mr. Sharp has done throughout the forty years that I’ve heard him do his thing. On the first piece, E# uses a pounding drum machine underneath guitars and string quartet churning on top. Bass baritone vocalist Nicholas Isherwood enters on “Dieser Ton”, his deep, serious sounding voice naked at first, the stark string quartet to enter soon thereafter. Although I don’t understand German, I do like sound of Isherwood’s voice and the way he sings, stretches out some notes and does some strong spoken word sections, all of which fit well with the string quartet he is working with. Janene Higgins is Mr. Sharp’s wife and longtime artistic collaborator. She has provided production design for the live version of this work (shown in the booklet) and designed the sleeve of this disc as well. At times I wished that there was an English translation of the words spoken or sung by Mr. Isherwood, if only to understand what is being discussed in the words. Even without understanding the exact words, I do hear the feelings that are being stirred with the sound of Isherwood’s voice. I’ve listened to this entire 2 CD set twice so far and felt that Mr. Sharp has done a fine job of evoking an interesting story which can be felt from within. Reading the English translation would be another of understanding what is being said. Just listening to the music and sound of Isherwood’s voice is good enough to get an understanding or appreciation of the sonic or musical story that evolves throughout this unique modern opera. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
2 CD Set $18
ELLIOTT SHARP / HELENE BRESCHAND / CHANSONS du CREPUSCULE - L’Apres-Midi d’un Bot (ZoAr Records; USA) Featuring Helene Breschand on concert & electric harps, vocals & texts and Elliott Sharp on guitars, bass, analog synth, violinoid, toy piano, drum programing and vocals. I caught E# last night (2/19/23) in a power trio with Percy Johns on el bass and Don MacKenzie on drums at Nublu. It was a powerful and intense set! Elliott Sharp is a workaholic who keeps extremely busy playing guitars, saxes, composing, producing a wide variety of different projects for varied labels. Mr. Sharp has been running the zOaR label for several decades, releasing his own music as well as music for former students, friends and different musicians. I’ve known of Ms. Breschand since the early aughts as she has worked with mostly French musicians/composers like Franck Vigroux, Luc Ferrari, Jean-Francois Pauvros and Michel Doneda. She seems to record infrequently. This is his second release with French harpist Helene Breschand.
Although this is a duo, Mr. Sharp always bring a variety of sounds and structures into the blend. “Tres Very Very” uses a drum machine groove buried a bit with layers of strange, somewhat disorienting vocals from Ms. Breschand. Although things are not too dense, both musicians keep adding different swirling sounds like guitar, bass, drum samples, harp and other mysterious voices and sounds which are often in flux. Ms. Breschand speaks in French with her sexy, sly accent while E# weaves assorted sounds (the tapping of strings or odd samples) into the rich blend. On “Fievre”, the duo layer several guitar, harp, vocal samples and ritualistic drum beats in the mix, making it a sort of industrial, psych, hypnotic throb/groove. On each piece, the duo create a different scene or mood. Since I have to review discs currently with headphones (my speakers need to be re-attached), I notice that Mr. Sharp does a great job of producing by selectively adding numerous sounds in different placed within the stereo panning mix. This keeps things fascinating as we notice different layers or sounds evolving in different ways. Sort of like a film for our mind’s eyes and ears while we use our imaginations to fill in. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
MARC DUCRET // TIM BERNE with FABRICE MARTINEZ / SYLVAINE HILARY / CHRISTIANE BOPP / BRUNO DUCRET - Palm Sweat: Ducret Plays the Music of Tim Berne (Screwgun / Out Of Your Head Records OOYH001; USA) Featuring Marc Ducret on electric & acoustic guitars, 4 & 6 string basses, daxophone, percussion, etc., Fabrice Martinez on trumpets, flugel & tuba, Sylvaine Helary on flute, Christiane Bopp on trombone and Bruno Ducret on cello, voice & handclaps. French guitarist Marc Ducret has been working with Downtown saxist/composer/band-leader, Tim Berne, since the mid-1990’s when Mr. Ducret was a member of Berne’s band Bloodcount (3 discs on JMT & 3 discs on Screwgun), as well as a band called Big Satan. Mr. Ducret and Mr. Berne still work together from time to time. I know about French flutist Sylvaine Hilary since she’s released three of her own great discs and has worked with Eve Risser, Michel Edelin and Kris Davis. The other players here, Frabrice Martinez, Christiane Bopp and Ducret’s son Bruno, I know of from a few previous discs with Marc Ducret as the leader.
The open piece contains three Berne songs, “Curls/Palm Sweat/Mirth of the Cool”, and it starts with several layers, fuzztoned, sustain guitars, all interlocked and somewhat sinister sounding. What’s interesting abiut hese interpretations is that MR. Berne often writes this cyclic pieces which often repeat the same phrases over and over. Mr. Ducret plays these pieces or themes without so many repeated lines, using them to lead to something else. Ducret plays solo acoustic guitar on “Rolled Oats” before switching to several layers of electric guitars, many of them altered and buzzing together like angry bees. I love the way Ducret layers several electric and acoustic guitars on “Shiteless”, which also has the brass (trombone & trumpet) adding strong harmonies. Much of this disc features several solo guitars, each electric one manipulated in different ways as well as the acoustic ones all tightly played together. Mr. Ducret seems to use his varied guitars in a more orchestral way as he layers many of them, rarely getting too dense. On “Stutter Step”, Ducret begins with a dark, distorted metalish drone on which he adds some power, dark oddly melodic fragments. The fragments are based on a theme by Tim Berne most likely. Two other musicians, Matt Mitchell and Gregg Belisle-Chi, have both done tribute to Tim Berne in the past few years. This tribute obvious took some time as Mr. Ducret has reworked Mr. Berne’s music in a variety of unexpected ways. This is one of the best and most inventive guitar(s) records I’ve heard in recent memory. Guitar freaks and Tim Berne fans please take notice. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
GEORGE with JOHN HOLLENBECK / ANNA WEBBER / AURORA NEALAND / CHIQUITA MAGIC - Letters to George (Out of Heads Records 018; USA) Featuring John Hollenbeck on drums, piano & compositions, Anna Webber on tenor sax & flute, Aurora Nealand on voice, alto & soprano sax & keyboards and Chiquita Magic keyboards, voice & piano. It’s been around 4 years since percussionist/composer John Hollenbeck has released anything as a leader. He has collaborated with other musicians like Anna Webber plus an odd duo disc with Bernard Meyer on Shhpuma. You should well know about reeds player & composer Anna Webber, since she has several bands and is a most inventive reeds player. I hadn’t heard of saxist Aurora Nealand or keyboardist Chiquita Magic. It turns our that Ms. Nealand is based in New Orleans, has worked with Tim Berne and and has a half dozen records as a leader. I hadn’t heard of Chaquita Magic before this disc arrived. Perhaps he is from Montreal since Mr. Hollenbeck has been teaching at Magill University (in Montreal) for the past few years and this is where this disc was recorded. Mr. Hollenbeck wrote all but two of the pieces here. Since each of Mr. Hollenbeck’s bands and projects are so different, I had no idea what to expect.
Starting with “Earthworker”, the group sound like a quirky pop quartet: with cute non-words vocals, wistful flute, simmering electric piano and a great groove provided by Hollenbeck’s drumming. The only band that I can compare this with is perhaps Free Design, a quaint, sunshine pop band which existed from the late 1960’s into the early 1970’s. “Clinton” (as in George Clinton of Parliament/Funkadelic) starts as a rambunctious, freeish sax and drums duo and then goes back into that cute, pop/rock sound. “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” written and by Sonny Bono & sung by Cher in the mid-sixties and it seems like an odd song to cover. Mr. Hollenbeck has long covered a variety of pop songs, this being the theme for two albums of his called ’Songs We Like A Lot’ and ’Songs You like A Lot’. This version of “Bang Bang” is stripped down to just vocals & drums and it is kinda cool, going free in the middle. I noticed on “”Washington Carver” that this band had their own quaint, quirky sound. The electric piano (Wurlitzer sounding) and the echoplexed flute is/are used in a distinctive way plus the quartet has their own fun-filled groove/sound. Both saxists (soprano & tenor) stretch out together on this piece as well as the theme together. For “O’Keefe”, the electric piano and drums slam together over a tight groove with the two reeds swirl tightly around them. Each piece get a bit more progressive in sound. Check out “Can You Imagine This?” where saxes and organ or synth swirl around one another over Hollenbeck’s slamming drum groove. The reeds, electric keyboards and drums all sound like they are drenched in echoes. Here is what I find most interesting here: this music is in between any established genres like rock, jazz, prog of even (un}easy listening. “Floyd” is mostly made up a drum solo with layers of sampled voices, flute and keywords floating throughout. It is also rather solemn so perhaps it is a requiem for George Floyd, a black American unjustly murdered by the police. “Grey Funnel Line” is the other cover song here, although I’ve never heard of this song before. Ms. Nealand’s vocals sound forlorn yet spirited here with a cushion of drumming underneath. For all or most of the discs by John Hollenbeck, we should expect the unexpected and that is what makes this disc so great, it is in a class of its own. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
GRAHAM COLLIER with HARRY BECKETT / STAN SULZMANN / NICK EVANS / KARL JENKINS / JOHN MARSHALL - Down Another Road @ Stockholm Jazz Days ’69 (My Only Desire Records 005CD; UK) Featuring Stan Sulzmann on tenor & alto saxes, Harry Beckett on trumpet & flugelhorn, Nick Evans on trombone, Karl Jenkins on piano & oboe, Graham Collier on bass & compositions and John Marshall on drums. Due to progressive, fusion and Canterbury bands like Soft Machine, King Crimson, Nucleus and If, I started to work my way backwards through the British (avant) jazz scene, discovering who influenced and nurtured the musicians in the aforementioned bands. I now have a much clearer view of which jazz musicians in England were influential in the 1950’s and 1960’s. If you want to know how the UK Creative Music Scene evolved you should check out Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Scott, Joe Harriott and Stan Tracey. During the mid-1960’s British rock and jazz scenes exploded and of worked together with many jazz musicians working with rock, folk, ethnic and varied songwriters. Also in the mid-to-late sixties, a number of new composer/bandleaders came into view: Michael Garrick, Mike Westbrook, Neil Ardley, Michael Gibbs and Graham Collier all flourished. Mr. Collier studied at Berkley College in Boston in the early sixties along with Michael Gibbs and Gary Burton. Mr. Collier was the first jazz musician/composer to get a commission in the late sixties to compose a serious work for a jazz ensemble. Mr. Collier’s first popular record was called ‘Down Another Road’ and it was released in 1969. The same year Mr. Collier’s sextet played at Stockholm Jazz Days festival. His all-star sextet consisted of the cream of the future British Modern Jazz Scene: Karl Jenkins & John Marshall (both future Nucleus & Soft Machine members), Nick Evans (pre-Keith Tippett Group & Soft Machine) and young masters like Stan Sulzmann and Harry Beckett. This disc includes both live versions of songs from ‘Down Another Road’, as well as some other unreleased pieces by Mr. Collier.
The opening piece here, “Burblings for Bob” is a rarity for Mr. Collier and was never recorded for any of his 20 or so albums. This is an extraordinary piece which sounds somewhat free at first yet Collier’s writing for the swirling horns is passionate and tightly wound with different waves or combinations woven throughout. Brassman, Harry Beckett, was originally from the West Indies and moved to England in the late 1950’s. Both Mr. Beckett on trumpet or flugelhorn and Stan Sulzmann on tenor & alto saxes take a number of superb, inspired solos throughout this disc. Mr. Beckett’s first solo is on flugelhorn and it is a gem. Towards the end of this piece, Karl Jenkins takes haunting oboe solo. Mr. Jenkins would go on to play with and compose for both Nucleus and Soft Machine, often soloing on bari sax, recorder and oboe (a rarely used instrument in jazz ensembles. Mr. Collier’s sumptuous contrabass is at the center of “Molewrench”, which features fine solos from the oboe and Nick Evans on trombone. A few years later Mr. Collier gave up playing the bass in order to concentrate on composing, bandleading, eventually teaching and writing books about Creative Music. His playing throughout this disc is exemplary and is often at the heart of each song. Karl Jenkins would end up co-leading Soft Machine and becoming their main composer, Jenkins contributes “Lullaby for a Lonely Child” here, another highlight here with those solemn horns simmering together. The title track from Collier’s then current album, “Down Another Road”, has an infectious, slightly funky groove and superb flugel solo from Mr. Beckett. The hypnotic harmonies between the oboe and trombone on “The Barley Mow” is most sublime and mystical. Each piece here is a marvel of writing and playing. As a longtime fan of Graham Collier, I am pleased that this disc was found and finally released. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
DUCK BAKER - Contra Costa Dance (Confront Recordings; UK) Featuring Duck Baker on finger style acoustic guitar. The music on this disc was recorded in the summer of 1982 at home when Duck Baker was living in Oakland, California. According to the liner notes, Mr. Baker was in between labels after being dropped by Kicking Mule, going through a painful divorce and trying to figure out what and where he wanted to do or go next. He went from recording traditional songs to writing his own more modern music for his next project. Since his own music was more adventurous and didn’t fit with the New Age era of lightweight guitar music promoted by Windham Hill, Mr. Baker recorded these songs at home as a demo. Mr. Baker didn’t find another label for another decade (in the 1990’s) to release his own music so these demo recordings were forgotten. During the pandemic, Dix Bruce, a friend of Baker’s that recorded them, found the tape and gave it back to Baker. 40 years after it was finally released by the Confront label, which is based in London where Mr. Baker currently lives. Duck Baker wrote all of the songs here with one co-written. Mr. Baker rerecorded many of these songs for his releases on the German Acoustic Music label but actually digs these versions better.
Starting with “Putney Bridge”, these pieces have their own sound or touch. Mr. Baker is a gifted acoustic guitarist and sounds like he has been influenced by many types of music: folk, bluegrass, old style jazz, blues, modern jazz and much more. The first piece has a repeating pattern which reminds me of a jig of some sort. Baker looks to take a theme or melody, repeat it several times and then develop it as it evolves through different sections. Although these pieces have complex layered lines, it never sounds like Mr. Baker is showing off. Each of the 12 tracks/songs is like a shorty story with setting and then an unfolding. A song like “Deirdre” sounds like it has a central theme that might be at the center of a progressive song which then is altered as it goes, growing through a series extrapolations. The more I listen to this, the more I hear different ghosts or characters that slowly grow into something else. It will take some time to hear all that is going on here since things seem modest at first and then we hear a buried turnaround which evolves into something else. Most enchanting on several levels. How does Duck do it? Only time and concentration will tell. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
MAGGIE NICOLS / MARK WASTELL - And John (Confront Recordings; UK) Maggie's life long love for John Stevens is no secret and she wears it on her sleeve very proudly. They first met in 1968 and through John's encouragement Maggie soon became a regular member of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble. She has championed his music and workshop pieces ever since. On the occasion of the January concert presented here - our first meeting as a duo - I was fortunate to have been loaned a couple of John's cymbals by his son Ritchie. Additionally, in the audience that evening was John's daughter Loo together with her son. Naturally, this all added an extra atmosphere to what was a very special musical encounter. We all certainly felt John's presence in the small gallery performance space, some of which manifested itself quite naturally in the music we made together. - Mark Wastell
ENSEMBLE VAR with MATS GUSTAFSSON / ANNA LINDAL / MATS LINDSTROM / JOACHIM NORDWALL - VAR (Confront Recordings; UK) Personnel: Mats Gustafsson - saxes, flute, concept, Anna Lindal - violin, Mats Lindström - electronics, effects, sampler and Joachim Nordwall - analog synths, effects & tapes. "Sweden’s leading avant gardists, Mats Gustafsson, Anna Lindal, Mats Lindström and Joachim Nordwall are captured live in quiet concentration during an online concert from ’21. ‘Vår’ renders the quartet in one intensely longform work beside a pair of odder preparations for the concert that venture into regression session primitivism and spectral electro jazz. Playing to no present audience, but heard remotely at the time, Ensemble Vår get right under the skin of their thing on the main piece, ‘Consort’, evolving from scribbly lower case plucks and scrapes into a restrained, primitivist language of animalistic purrs and breaths extracted from saxophone, flute, violin, electronics, sampler, analog synths, effects and tape. Nobody attempts to outdo anyone else, holding to a democratic division of frequencies that stalk each other and congeal into a sort of synaesthetically stimulating sound that feels like it grows hair, scales and baby teeth as their improvisation proceeds." - Boomkat, UK
THE SEEN with PHIL DURRANT / DAVID TOOP / MARK WASTELL / et al - Edition 26: Live (Confront Recordings; UK)“It is the changeable aspect of the group that attracts its members. In varying the framework of ensemble size, mixture of acoustic and electronic instrumentation, and various pairings and contrasts of instruments and musicians, Wastell sets up active playing environments that both challenge the members to consider how to engage, while encouraging them to bear in mind the overall group sound. He acts more as instigator than leader, providing the simplest of instructions such as a sub-grouping to begin the piece or what order musicians are to enter and places full trust in the ensemble from there.” - Michael Rosenstein
DAVE TUCKER / PIERPAOLO MARTINO - Melophobia (Confront Recordings; UK) Featuring: Dave Tucker - electric guitar and Pierpaolo Martino - double bass. Dave Tucker is a British guitarist whose been around for a long while but has only recorded on rare occasion. You can hear hime working with John Butcher, Evan Parker, Alan Tomlinson or even Thurston Moore (who now lives in London). Bassist Pierpaolo Martino I know much less although he has recorded with Steve Beresford and Adrian Northover in The Dinner Party. This disc was recorded in Waveahead Studios in Monopoli in April of 2019 and January of 2022. Things begin quietly with the haunting sounds of electric guitar drones in the distance and an eruptive contrabass coming in and building up. It sounds like these two musicians have worked together at length since both work well together no matter how far out they go, are are connected. Mr. Tucker sounds like a rock-based improvising electric guitarist who doesn’t use too many devices except for some distortion at times. The balance between these two is well recorded, each player can be heard as an equal. On “Melophobia III”, Mr. Tucker adds layers of distortion without increasing his volume while Mr. Martino plays a slow walking bass line, which slows down as the piece evolves, ending with a most suspense-filled final section. Mr. Martino’s contrabass is well-recorded here and has a rich, thick sound which he uses well whether providing the constant throb, speeding up and slowing down the tempo or pace as he goes. There is quite a bit of compelling dialogue going on here throughout this entire disc. If I were producing this disc, I would’ve brought Mr. Tucker’s distinctive guitar up a bit louder in the mix but other than that I am most impressed with the results. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
ENSEMBLE DEDALUS & ERIK M - Fata Morgana (Relative Pitch Records 1146; USA) Featuring ErikM - composition, electronics & field recordings plus Ensemble Dedalus, a ten piece ensemble which includes 5 instrumentalists plus artists whose role is to collect data, give advice and two rim developers. I recall the work of sonic pioneer ErkM from around a decade ago when he was involved with the lower case/electro-acoustic/new music scene which was documented and promoted by labels like: Erstwhile and For 4 Ears. Ensemble Dedalus are based in France and have worked with and/or performed the music of Moondog, Catherine Lamb and Jürg Frey. The only musician in Dedalus with whom I am familiar is trumpeter Christian Pruvost who is also a member of Satoko Fujii’s Kaze quartet. The other musician members of Dedalus, I recognize from their work with composers or ensembles like Zeitkratzer, Michael Pisaro and Ramon Lopez.
The music or sounds on this disc have a complicated history. First all of the sounds were created and collected by ErkM, then the sounds were transposed via MIDI code and turned into a score. The musicians then listen to the sounds via headphone and play along to those sounds. The combination of original sounds with the instrumentalists creates an effect known as “Fata Morgana”. Then all of the collected sounds are brought into the studio to rearranged or altered, tuning them into islands of sounds/music. The piece is again notated and played by the musicians with electronics and other effects added. There is even more organizing and focusing going on here, but you get the sonic picture. As I listen through my headphones, the sounds are quite fascinating and ever-evolving. The electronics and altered samples are at the center of what is going on here with the subtle sounds of the instruments also carefully being woven in. Is that feedback or a bowed string or a sound being elongated into a drone? No matter. Slowly I start to recognize the sounds of strings, flute, trumpet and trombone as they enter to floating islands passing by. Certain sounds are stretched out, while other sounds are cautiously tweaked. Each sound seems to resonate in its own way, at its own speed. Although I do recognize certain instruments like the brass or strings or guitar, there are a number of other electronic or samples or altered sounds which are more difficult to distinguish. The overall effect is most compelling and superbly focused or effective. This is an example of strong, spirited Creative Music which is between the usual categories or expectations. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
SOPHIE AGNEL / JOKE LANZ / MICHAEL VATCHER - animals (Klanggalerie GG426; Germany) Featuring Sophie Agnel on piano, Joke Lanz on turntables and Michael Vatcher on drums. When I saw this disc in my new release catalogue last month, I was rather mystified since it only listed the three musicians last names. Considering that I am good friends with Michael Vatcher (who has worked here at DMG on occasion), I was surprised that he never mentioned this disc to since I often ask him about anything he is working on. Since Vatcher spends some of his time living in Amsterdam and touring in Europe, he probably forgets about some sessions that he is or was involved in. The trio features Sophie Agnel, French pianist who has long experimented with coaxing unique sounds from the piano. Ms. Agnel has worked with other sonic pioneers like John Butcher, John Edwards, Phil Minton and Steve Noble. Turntablist Joke Lanz is someone I don’t know very well although he has worked with Shelley Hirsch, Dieb 13, Günter Müller and Ute Wasserman. I hope you all know about Michael Vatcher since he is one the best and most distinctive drummers around, invention some unique percussion instruments and playing in his own way.
It is hard to tell exactly who is doing what here since Mr. Lanz in playing turntables which provide a variety of recorded sounds (voices, etc.) while Ms. Agnel is getting some odd sounds from within the piano while Mr. Vatcher plays in the Euro free-wheeling insect music-like style. A toy piano like melody, sounds sped up, slowed down and sampled in endless odd ways… I find this music to be endlessly inventive, hypnotic, mystifying and difficult to pin down. The titles of many of these tracks are equally quirky like “Michael Nyman Fell Asleep” or “Paul Rutherford’s Trombone”. I find this music joyous and inspiring since this trio sound like they’ve created their own weird sonic world and they sound as if they are having fun. Indeed they have and that feeling is infectious - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
DAVID LEE MYERS - Ceremonial Fires (Pulsewidth PW023; USA) Mutant chestnuts roasting on an open pyre broach the latest illustrious salvo from our resident electronica master Myers, who just seems to get better and better with each successive catalog number in his growing and by now necessary Pulsewidth catalog. On Ceremonial Fires, he’s channeling a multi-kulti form of preening intergalactic gamelan that ushers in the magikal thinking and rites of passage being forged by tribal civilizations of far-flung millennia. More clearly put, much of these works defy categorization. “The Kudzu” has something of a pan-Asian tincture to it, but its shifting tableau incorporates the uneasy mien of Hassell’s fourth-world iconography with its chunky rhythms and aberrant pulsations. Like the humid thermals rising from its sticky surfaces, “Okefenokee” traces ghostly contrails of sound that writhe about its popping, frenzied maelstrom, the passionately embracing wooden marimbas a bellydance of shimmering, erotic color. “Compactor” is even more pronounced in its gong-bangin’, a pounding, engaging blurt of industrial-lite that wreaks havoc with your frontal lobes in glorious fashion, particularly as Myers’ forever blows bubbles around its ever-diminishing center. By the time of this record’s shuddering finale, “Doctor Memory”, all Cabaret Voltaire-gasps and moog mishegoss, the listener can no doubt be left fairly agog at what their ears just experienced. Where Myers goes, others simply follow—the guy continues to make what the rest of his so-called ‘colleagues’ do seem like felonies. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
CINDYTALK - Subterminal (False Walls FW10; UK) Originally formed way back in the early 80s as a post-punk duo with something of a goth/darkwave pedigree, CIndytalk have gradually matured into a more substantial concern every bit as confrontational as similarly striped outfits like Coil, Carter Tutti, Lull, etc. You don’t eventually land on a label like Editions Mego twiddling your thumbs; sole remaining member Cindy Sharp (for all intents and purposes the heart and soul of Cindytalk the last few decades) largely shuck off the ‘band’s’ faux-goth tendencies to become an intrepid sound explorer of some repute. Now with her latest debuting on the ‘revived’ UK False Walls label (an imprint mostly known for minimalist, onkyo-inflected improv), Cindytalk continues her foray into deep textural exploration. Her illustrative track titles truly describe the sounds etched within: “Where Everything Sparkles and Shines” reveals untold, glistening vistas that bend light, subjugate shadow, and peek out from event horizons of galvanic depth and coal-black infinity, gently warped ‘ambience’ that inverts old-school space music to reveal moldy tangerine dreams where sprites adorned with sharp nettle puncture the hazy void. “Systems Are Spiralling” is indeed like beholding the light emitted by galaxies too distant and gargantuan to comprehend, buttressed by quasar-like squiggles of synthesizers and barely-glimpsed bits of mysterious, refracted electronic tintinnabulations. “We Fly Away Like Birds” treads more introspective climates yet its underlying, hesitant modes express sensations just as strange to the ear and touch. Though somewhat Namlook or Eno-esque in nature, this mesmerizing work of rugged electronic soundscaping warps those omniscient backgrounds with a never less than startling determinism. Packaged in a beautifully-designed, mini-LP gatefold sleeve every bit as desirable as the music. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
HELENA CELLE - Music for Counterflows (False Walls FW08; UK) Glasgow-based experimentalist Celle is relatively new to the scene, but she joins a expanding roster of talented women synthesists (Lisa Bella Donna, Hannah Peel, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, et al) making their mark across a sonic spectrum of never-diminishing returns. This hour-long piece, created for the 2021 edition of the online Counterflows Festival, conjures all sorts of proto-fantastical mental states thanks to a profoundly wrought synthetic substructure and percussive architecture to match. Opening with the sounds of asphyxiated xylophones mapping inimical terrain, Celle’s imagistic sound sources make all sorts of brave noises, from the somewhat willowy to the abrasive and echoey, all the while trudging ahead to some quizzical destination only known to her. Though the vibes get smudged and trampled underfoot in the primordial mix as the aural sculpture approaches the halfway point, masticated under the synthetic boots of a squadron of terminators, clock towers beat in other-dimensional time while leading the cyborgs forward; all the while, the percussive blats become more and more hazy, their attacks subsumed in elongated tones of endless electronic decay. Housed in one of the label’s new mini-LP, gatefold sleeves, themselves a work of art, this is a piquant, subtly shifting work for the mind’s eye, alternately indelicate yet still strangely made. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
SCOTT THOMSON / YVES CHARUEST / KAREN NG / JEAN DEROME / JOHN OSWALD - Pal o’Alto (Ambiances Magnetiques AMB-AM 261; Canada) Featuring Scott Thomson on trombone, Jean Derome, Karen DG & Yves Charuest on alto saxes. This is a nod to alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, Montreal trombonist Scott Thomson brings together four exceptional Canadian alto saxophonists with whom he has worked and who motivate his improvisational drive, heard here in four duos: two with Toronto alto saxophonists John Oswald and Karen Ng, and two with Montreal alto saxophonists Jean Derome and Yves Charuest.
TRIO DEROME with JEAN DEROME / NORMAN GUILBEAULT / PIERRE TANGUAY - Si tu partais (Ambiances Magnetiques AMB-AM 272; Canada) “The long-standing Montreal trio of saxophonist Jean Derome, here on alto & baritone sax, flute and voice, bassist Norman Guilbeault and drummer Pierre Tanguay, frequent collaborators through a vast set of creative improv/Actuelle projects, continue their research into the history of jazz with compositions including those from Ornette Coleman, Duke Ellington, Eric Dolphy…
MATT ROSNER - Empty, Expanding, Collapsing (Room40 4197; Australia) "In the half-light stillness, the old piano rattles. Vibrations set forth into the expanse, at first empty, then expanding, set free then collapsing. This one note, appearing in a fleeting moment, an analog for the beginning of time, but really what is time? Some human construct to interpret chaos, to put some shape to what is happening around us, to associate memory and distance?"
West Australian artist Matt Rösner was amongst the first artists to be released by Room40. His Alluvial album of the mid '00s set out a methodology, guided by a deep interest in spatiality and texture, that still haunts much of his work to this day. Empty, Expanding, Collapsing his latest album, sees Rösner refine the working methods and approaches recently tested on his 2021 edition, No Lasting Form. Being led by a series of improvised melodies and movements, recorded on a borrowed upright piano, this album is simultaneously freeform and highly directed. It documents and tests the tensions that sit at the nexus of creation and composition. Mixed by Taylor Deupree. Mastered by Lawrence English at Negative Space. Cover Image by Traianos Pakioufakis.
From Matt Rösner: "Empty, Expanding, Collapsing was recorded in the months after the release of 2021's No Lasting Form. Whilst No Lasting Form documented a return to the creative process after a long period away, Empty, Expanding, Collapsing comes from a more confident and assured place. At the heart of this record is an upright piano, loaned from a dear friend for safe keeping. Built in the 1898, the piano is heavy, laden with time, a resonant lead sound board and the carefully restored hammers and strings. These pieces started as loose piano improvisations played in the early morning light to be later assembled alongside an array of guitars, electronics, synthesizers, and percussion. Whilst the basis of the tracks started as tentative improvisations, the overdubbed parts were very much painstakingly written, rewritten and aged with sounds of the surrounding dune systems seeping through the wafer thin studio walls."
AMM - AMMMusic (Black Truffle 018LP; Australia) 2023 repress! “First vinyl reissue of the landmark 1967 debut album by AMM, AMMMusic. Remastered and cut by Rashad Becker at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin. Exact replica sleeve by Stephen O'Malley. "Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of its recording in 1966, this reissue makes one of the cornerstones of the experimental music tradition available again in its original form, replete with Keith Rowe's beautiful pop art cover and the terse aphorisms by the group that served as its original liner notes. A testament to the interaction between the experimental avant-garde and the countercultural underground, the album was originally released on Elektra, recorded by Jac Holzman (the label's founder, responsible for signing The Doors, Love, and The Stooges) and produced by DNA, a group that included Pink Floyd's first manager, Peter Jenner (the title of Pink Floyd's 'Flaming' is a tribute to AMM's 'Later During a Flaming Riviera Sunset'). Formed in 1965 by three players from the emerging British jazz avant-garde -- Keith Rowe and Lou Gare had played with the great progressive big band leader Mike Westbrook and Eddie Prévost played in a post-bop group with Gare -- AMM quickly evolved from a free jazz group into something decidedly more difficult to categorise. By the time these recordings were made, two more members had joined the group: another Westbrook associate, Lawrence Sheaff, and the radical composer Cornelius Cardew. Then at work on his masterpiece of graphic notation Treatise, Cardew brought with him extensive experience of the post-serialist and Cageian currents in contemporary composition. Using a combination of conventional instruments and unconventional methods of sound production (most famously Keith Rowe's prepared tabletop guitar, but also prepared piano and transistor radio), the group performed improvised pieces often running for over two hours and ranging from extended periods of silence to terrifying cacophonies. On AMMMusic, long tones sit next to abrasive thuds, the howl of uncontrolled feedback accompanies Cardew's purposeful piano chords, radios beam in snatches of orchestral music. AMM's clearest break with jazz-based improvisation concerned the idea of individuality. Initially through an engagement with eastern philosophy and mysticism and later though a politicized communitarianism, AMM sought to develop a collective sonic identity in which individual contributions could barely be discerned. In the performances captured on AMMMusic the use of numerous auxiliary instruments and devices, including radios played by three members of the group, contribute to the sensation that the music is composed as a single monolithic object with multiple facets, rather than as an interaction between five distinct voices." - Francis Plagne
JOANNA NEWSOM - The Milk-Eyed Mender (Drag City 263LP; USA) 2023 repress. "Drag City takes great pleasure in introducing to you a remarkable new musical singer, songwriter and all-around talent, Joanna Newsom. Joanna's music has more of an affinity with the folk revival of the 60s, or the bluegrass movement at present, than with most contemporary 'folk' (or 'anti-folk') scenes. Affinities aside, her style could hardly be called bluegrass; nor does it evoke the pastoral tonalities of 60s folk: she sings about whalebones, sleep, grammar, mollusks, accumulation, automobiles, owls, burning boats, string collections, milk, teeth, bridges, balloons, cake, colors, and kin, all in an otherworldly, ragged-sweet voice that defies convention. Her harp arrangements are at times ethereal and delicate, at others galloping and ornate, but never overwrought -- presenting not so much a mere fusion of influences, as an inquiry into the places where those influences naturally intersect. She considers the late composer Ruth Crawford Seeger (who was one of American folk music's earliest advocates, as well as a vanguardist composer) to be a major influence, because of Seeger's ability and desire to reconcile the tenets of experimentalism with her love for a beautiful melody."
JIM O'ROURKE - Simple Songs (Drag City 620LP; USA) 2023 repress. "Yes, Simple Songs is an album of songs sung by Jim O'Rourke all the way through! It has been ten years since Jim's voice rang out from a new album. Ah, when James Michael was just a wee lad, he sang all the time, with a lovely little lilt to his voice, like all the children do. But the songs he sang gave his parents no end of consternation: 'Great Decei-verrr! Cigarettes, ice cream, figurines... of the Vir-gin Mar-eeee!' Aye, if only we'd-a been there -- little Jimmy's career would have started much sooner. Child labor laws be damned! It's hard to believe it has been nearly fourteen years since Insignificance. When that album hit in late 2001, we heard once or twice how it was too bad that it wasn't Eureka Part 2. Sissies! Then in 2009, when The Visitor returned Jim to the orchestrated instrumental feel of Bad Timing, people wondered when we'd have another album like Insignificance! Grrrr.... now, has the world caught up with Jim? Maybe -- but only because he let us. What Simple Songs sounds like.... At this point, the range of sounds and songs that have turned Jim's head are numerous enough to have crushed together into something that is unmistakably his -- the vast, glossy and glittering O'Rourkian (yes, like Kervorkian) wall of sound. The music's got OCD quality, played so immaculately by so many instruments, and most of them by the creator's hand. This time's really the widest screen yet for Jim's popular song-style, truly breathtaking! As for the songs themselves, one may have to resist the urge to skim the lyrics to try and guess who the target of each ditty might be -- but this ain't 'You're So Vain,' okay kids? And you're definitely NOT Warren Beatty. Simple Songs was worked over, from source material to finished mix, for five years or more now. Jim's writing is kinda rooted in the approach of Insignificance -- frosted pop tarts that leave a darkly bitter aftertaste. So bilious not even Jim can listen to it all the way through! Fine, it's not for him to listen to anymore -- WE can't stop from listening. It's like a beautiful car wreck we can't look away from or stop feeling AMAZING about. Super fun stuff."
BONNIE 'PRINCE' BILLY - Ease Down The Road (Palace Records 026LP; USA) 2023 repress. "Twelve songs, dealing lovingly with adultery and vivisection, with the bold ignorance of weakness, and with keeping verse-chorus-funnypart respected in the grand order of things. Plus kids, unborn and unconceived even, and perversity of humanity and harmony. For the record, it was David Pajo and Will Oldham that roped everybody in, and they added all their parts to the mix too."
JOSEPH ALLRED - What Strange Flowers in the Shade (Feeding Tube Records 656LP; USA) "Tennessee-based string bender, Joseph Allred likes to change things up from album to album. But usually, he does this one element or instrument at a time. On What Strange Flowers Grow in the Shade, Joseph adds a whole heck of a lot of elements. And he does so without ever really disguising the identity of his music. The six tracks here were all recorded with different line-ups. 'The Valley' features Chris Davis (Cherry Blossoms) and the Magic Tuber Stringband. 'The Ruins' is a Basho-esque solo piece created with large varieties of instrumental glisten. 'A Long Winter' features previous collusionists, Mikey Allred on trombone and Matt Johnson on synth. 'Lake Erie' features Jen Powers on dulcimer and Matthew J. Rolin on electric guitar. 'Sunburst' features Michael Pierce (Sweeteartflying) on synth. 'The Flood' features Anthony Ford (of Hellbender and Holy Mountaintop Removers) on drums and Patrick Shiroishi on sax. This may seem like wild and wooly selection of players (which it is), as might Joseph's decision to play electric guitar (amongst many other instruments), but it's really just another step along Allred's long and winding road. He had recorded on electric earlier, with both Hellbender and Graceless, but, as he wrote, 'I got a Fender Jaguar guitar at the beginning of the pandemic lock down and that really influenced the album too. I've been big into shoegaze and no wave kind of stuff for >20 years but didn't ever have a guitar like that for some reason until now. Fenders in general and especially a guitar like the Jaguar with all the chrome on it feels more like a contraption than a musical instrument in a lot of ways. Leo Fender was an inventor/tinkerer who wasn't a musician at all and was more influenced by car manufacturing than traditional instrument making. That guitar really encouraged me to use the volume knob and whammy bar a lot and I ended up with a kind of ethereal bowed string section sound by doing that and recording a lot of layers. That became the basis for all the tracks except for one where I started with an open tuned autoharp and a bunch of bass clarinet tracks for some reason.' The music on What Strange Flowers... was also influenced by the work of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, Glenn Branca, My Bloody Valentine, Loren Connors, Sonic Youth, and a variety of other folks, but as always, Allred's sound has signature spiritual components that are uniquely his own. And no matter how wide he opts to cast his stylistic net, there is a core depth to his music you can always recognize, even if you can't quite describe it. As ever, it's a real pleasure to have a new Joseph Allred LP to dig in to. So get diggin'." --Byron Coley, 2022
TRAFFIC with STEVE WINWOOD / DAVE MASON / CHRIS WOOD / JIM CAPALDI - Mr. Fantasy (Vinyl Lovers VL 900181LP; Russia Federation) 2023 repress. THE Release of MR. FANTASY also includes five single-only bonus tracks. The stereo version of the album has been rereleased under its original U.S. title HEAVEN IS IN YOUR MIND. Traffic were Steve Winwood (vocals, guitar, piano, harpsichord, organ, bass, percussion); Dave Mason (vocals, guitar, sitar, tamboura, shakkai, Mellotron, bass); Chris Wood (vocals, flute, saxophone, organ) and Jim Capaldi (vocals, drums, percussion). Originally released on Island Records (ILP 961). Producer: Jimmy Miller.Rehearsed and written at a cottage in the Berkshire countryside, Traffic's debut was former child prodigy Steve Winwood's first foray into headier territory after a stint playing R&B-fueled rock & roll with the Spencer Davis Group. Rounded out by drummer Jim Capaldi and multi-instrumentalists Chris Wood and Dave Mason, MR. FANTASY included experimentation with vaudeville-inspired numbers ("Berkshire Poppies"), flamenco-flavored fantasy ("Dealer"), and sitar-drenched meditations ("Utterly Simple"). Winwood's inspired organ playing and soulful singing emerge on cuts like "Coloured Rain." In keeping with the band's unorthodox approach to composition and arrangement, "Giving To You" offers a funky groove sandwiched between tidbits of an overheard conversation about the relative merits of jazz.
For me, this is one of my favorite records of all time! When this was released in 1967, there was nothing else quite like it. Stevie Winwood had recently left the Spencer Davis Group, which had a couple of hits in 1966. Winwood was only 19 when he formed Traffic. He was a triple threat: a soulful singer, a fine organ player and lead guitarist. Also up front was Dave Mason, another fine guitarist (& sitarist!), strong singer and great songwriter plus his songs were usually the more psychedelic ones (“Paper Sun”). The American and British versions of this album were very different with three different tracks on each and in different order. This LP version contains all of the songs of both versions. If you never heard this album, you should really give it a try. - BLG at DMG
ATTENTION ALL CREATIVE MUSICIANS OUT THERE, Around the world.
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Loren Connors: A Coming to Shore
January 28–March 25, 2023
Opening 4–7 PM January 28
468 Grand Ave #1D
Brooklyn, NY 11238
SHA / TIM BERNE
March 18th - 8-10pm - doors at 7
Live at KI Smith Gallery
170 Forsyth, NY, NY, 10002
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