2017-09-15 Ardor


Ardor by Big | Brave.

When I saw Big | Brave open for SUNN O))), I thought their little Orange Amps and Drumset were kind of cute in front of SUNN O)))’s massive cabinets. But they put up a nice squall of feedback lightning and rumbling drum thunder.

On their new album, their first for Southern Lord, they deploy similar strategies to their previous efforts, slow tempos, extremely distorted guitars, and shout-sung lyrics.

I like that the lyrics seem to be about, from what I can decode, longing and loss, topics which seem a bit unusual to me, in music of the heavy nature.

My favorite song here is “Lull”, with its added amplified acoustic strings used to good effect.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #BigBrave #Ardor #SouthernLordRecords

2017-09-14 Okovi


Okovi by Zola Jesus.

My first inclination is to take young Zola by the shoulders and say, “With the nearly limitless sonic palette and resources of the modern digital recording studio, this is the album you chose to make?! Are you trying to be a slightly morbid Katy Perry!? If so, you’ve succeeded.” Ms Jesus had come to my attention via some of her collaborators over the years, and I was a bit curious.

Google Play notified me that she had a new album, so my curiosity got the best of me.

Some days I regret my Commute Sountrack choices, but unless the album is so bad, I have to pull over, I am committed to listening to the whole thing.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #ZolaJesus #okovi

2017-09-13 Vespers


Vespers by the Steve Lacy Octet.

This is a great album. Everyone is at the top of their game. My favorite section is Ricky Ford’s Tenor solo on “If We Come Close”, I love how he moves easily between free playing and more traditional Jazz phrasing.

Listening to this, perhaps the most amazing thing is that the record got made at all. A large group recording of idiosyncratic jazz with sung-spoken texts based on the poems of a dissident Bulgarian Poet. Yeah, that’s going to sell a lot of copies.

Thank goodness someone at Soul Note had the foresight to green light this transcendental work.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #SteveLacy #IreneAebi #JeanJacquesAvenel #JohnBetsch #BobbyFew #RickyFord #StevePotts #TomVarner #SteveLacyOctet #Vespers

2017-09-12 Lark Uprising

Lark Uprising by the Mikolaj Trzaska Ircha Clarinet Quintet featuring Joe McPhee.

I found this album on Joe McPhee’s Bandcamp site and bought it because, well, Clarinets and Joe McPhee.

I was familiar with one of the members, Waclaw Zimpel, from his work with Ken Vandermark, but really didn’t know what to expect.

What a surprise, and what a reminder of how amazing clarinets can be in creative and talented hands. Definitely one of the most outstanding modern clarinet records I’ve run across.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #JoeMcphee #MikolajTrzaska #WaclawZimpel #PawelSzamburski #MichalGórczynski #MikolajTrzaskaIrchaClarinetQuintet #CatalyticSound

2017-09-11 The Mockingbird

The Mockingbird

The Mockingbird by John Zorn.

Trio for Guitar, Harp, Vibraphone, and occasional Tubular Bells. Bill Frisell, Carol Emanuel, and Kenny Wollesen, respectively.

I find it interesting that Zorn, known for much of his early career for making difficult, dissonant music, is spending much of his later career making carefree, pleasant music, that wouldn’t be out of place in an elevator or airport.

This is arpeggio based music that brushes up against Aaron Copland, Ennio Morriocone, and Frank Zappa. If I had to put it anywhere, I would swear it was a long lost release from the almost new-age Penguin Cafe Orchestra.

With the exception of “A Mystery”, most of the tunes here eschew tension and dissonance, instead, playing with modes of major scales.

Dedicated to the character “Scout” in Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Mockingbird” is a pleasant diversion in strife filled times.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #JohnZorn #CarolEmanuel #BillFrisell #KennyWollesen

2017-09-08 The Gradual Progression

The Gradual Progression

The Gradual Progression by Greg Fox.

New album from percussionist Greg Fox, of eXeYe, Liturgy, Zs, etc.

It’s interesting to compare this with John Colpitts’ Man Forever album, “Play What They Want”. I think, strictly speaking, this has more harmonic content. The Gradual Progression has saxophones, vocals, keyboards, vibraphones, etc.
However, the core is still Fox’s drumming.

Mrs Flannestad compared “Play What They Want” to Drum and Bugle Core, it was so filled with drum and percussion players.

The Gradual Progression doesn’t have any attempts at drum ensembles at it’s core, rather the solo drumming of Fox (and various digital manipulations thereof). Enjoyable, perhaps most of all, because, the album’s lightness stands in contrast to the “heavy” bands Fox is most associated with.

#GregFox #TheGradualProgression #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

2017-09-07 Living Time

Living Time

Living Time by the Bill Evans and George Russell Orchestra.

An online aquaintance posted this album to one of his daily playlists, and I’ve been meaning to check out some George Russell.

My understanding of Russell is he was a person who tried to synthesize large group Jazz with 20th Century Classical music.

This album feels like it has a few elements that are competing. Along with the symphonic modern classical elements, there’s a core of Jazz writing that wouldn’t be out of place in 1970s film and Television soundtrack work, complete with mod backbeats. There is also some free playing, especially from the Saxophone section, a la Archie Sheep. And finally, there’s a harmonic element in the keyboards and some of the harmony parts that wouldn’t be out of place on a Fela Kuti album.

All of these elements seem to struggle for dominance, winding in and out among the pieces on the album.

Not sure if it is entirely pleasant, or succesful, but it is interesting, and very ambitious.

For my money, the strongest player in the (ridiculously long) list of contributors is a 22 year old Stanley Clarke, who really holds the whole enterprise together on the three songs he plays on.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #GeorgeRussell #BillEvans #LivingTime #GeorgeRussellBillEvansOrchestra

2017-09-05 Every Country’s Sun

Every Country’s Sun

Every Country’s Sun by Mogwai.

This record is getting notice for adding synthesizers and vocals to the Mogwai mix.

It’s honestly not as big a deal as the reviewers are making out. Everything on most Mogwai records is so processed, with various digital effects, etc., that the line between guitar and synth is pretty tenuous. Really, just talking about signal generation.

Anyway, this is a pleasant record, with semi-amusing, punny, song names. It’s OK, but makes me miss Bailter Space, who do this ringing, layered, guitar sort of thing in a manner much more to my taste.

#Mogwai #EveryCountrysSun #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

2017-09-01 The Tower

The Tower

The Tower by Xetas.

Tower, as in the Tarot Card, going from the cover illustration.

[The Tower] …follows immediately after The Devil in all Tarots that contain it, and is associated with sudden, disruptive, revelation, and potentially destructive change.

Shouty vocals, distorted guitars, blistering tempos, and a tight band. Somewhere in the vicinity of Albini’s bands. Located somewhere South of Superchunk and West of Discord, (but my references for this type of music are so stale, they’d probably say they’re from a completely different state. Well, Austin, Texas, to be exact.) Noisy and not particularly anthemic, the closest they get to sing-a-long is the pleasantly syncopated chorus of “The Silence”, “Is it easier to die, than try, rotting on the vine?” A motivational sentiment I can get behind.

#Xetas #TheTower #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack