Percussion Ensemble

Percussion Ensemble

Milford Graves Percussion Ensemble with Sunny Morgan.
Label Website: Percussion Ensemble

I’m not quite sure how to describe, or even really listen to, this album.

It’s not a ferocious hurricane of percussive sound.

Nor do the two percussionists particularly engage with each other in call and response. Or even particularly pay attention to each other’s tempos.

It feels more like sitting on your porch in the North Woods listening to the various independent sounds of insect calls, bird noises, and animal sounds.

A cricket will call for a while, then an owl. Then maybe the raccoons knock over your trash cans. Maybe later a loon. Then more crickets. The beams creak and mice skitter in the walls.

It feels more natural than created.

#MilfordGraves #SunnyMorgan #PercussionEnsemble #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Daqa’iq Tudaiq

Daqa’iq Tudaiq

Daqa’iq Tudaiq by Jerusalem in my Heart.
Bandcamp Link: Daqa’iq Tudaiq

I mostly know Jerusalem in my Heart because they are on the excellent Canadian label, Constellation Records, whose releases I follow slavishly.

Jerusalem in my Heart is a duo, one of whom is a visual/projection artist, so judging them solely on audio evidence is giving them short shrift.

According to the liner notes, the first 4 songs on this album are, “an arrangement of the popular Egyptian classic “Ya Garat Al Wadi” by the legendary composer Mohammad Abdel Wahab.”

As a modern song cycle combining electronic and organic instruments, it is quite enjoyable.

The last 4 songs are solo for instruments and electronics and are more eclectic in their production treatments and often a bit noisy.

If I can borrow another quote from the liner notes, I believe they express the sentiment of the music here.

“Love in a time of politics, politics in a world conspiring against love, and the specificity of Arab diasporic experience in our brutish 21st century.”

#JerusalemInMyHeart #DaqaiqTudaiq #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Free LSD

Free LSD by Crazy Doberman.
Bandcamp Link: Free LSD

If, after listening to Puce Mary, you’re still looking for the perfect music for your Halloween Party, especially music that will freak your guests out, Crazy Doberman’s Free LSD might be a good choice.

Along the lines of the menace put out on early Cabaret Voltaire tracks on albums like “Mix Up” and “Voice of America”, the tracks on Free LSD are echo and pan laden exercises in pure atmospheric doom.

I especially like the semi random low bass boom on Free LSD pt. 1. Though, the bass clarinet on pt. 2 is also very nice.

As I like to say, there’s no freak out like a clarinet freak out!

#FreeLSD #CrazyDoberman #drewdavis #timgick #johnolson #aaronzernack #jasonfiler #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Winter Gardens

Winter Gardens

Winter Gardens by John Butcher.
Bandcamp Link: Winter Gardens

4 tracks, recorded live in London, UK, and Milwaukee, WI, some time around 2013.

The first track, “Sporangia (High)”, is a workout for soprano saxophone prominently featuring flutter tongueing.

The second track, “Sea Cone”, is an exploration of percussive sounds created by opening and closing the Tenor Sax keys and also manipulating feedback created by changing the resonant space in the sax.

The third track, “Sporangia (Low)” is a more general workout for Tenor Saxophone, utilizing a wide variety of “extended technique”.

The fourth track, “Sea Fret” is for Soprano Sax and starts with Butcher making sounds into the Sax without the mouthpiece attached, sort of as a trumpet player would. Percussive sounds of the keys follow, and towards the end it seems he attaches the saxophone’s mouthpiece and the track finishes with high pitched sounds.

Which all sounds very programmatic when you lay it out, but the thing I like about Butcher’s solo playing is that while he is using “extended technique” in his Saxophone playing, he is still telling a story with his playing.

There is a logic to the language he has created and the solos have a progression and through points, which make listening to his music enjoyable and rewarding. There is tension and release. Drama. Humour. Pathos.

It isn’t simply a display of techniques.

#JohnButcher #WinterGardens #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

The Drought

The Drought

The Drought by Puce Mary
Bandcamp Link: The Drought
I read a music magazine called “the wire“.

A Danish artist called “Puce Mary” has come up from time to time in their album reviews.

I classified her, mentally, in the area of performance-art/musician/poet types, but never really listened to her music.

I noticed she recently released a new album, “The Drought”, and I was in a bit of a funk, looking for something to add to my commute playlist this week.

According to her bandcamp site, “Puce Mary is the solo moniker of Danish experimental artist Frederikke Hoffmeier.”

The music is about what I expected, digital sonic landscapes of noise, feedback, and percussion.

Most of the album is instrumental, but there is a bit of declaimed prose/poetry. Most of it in the, hm, well, “Cronenbergian” vein.

“I would like to take off your skin and live inside your body,” that sort of thing.

So, perfect music for your Halloween party. That is, if you would like your party to actually be disturbing and a bit scary.

#PuceMary #TheDrought #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

>>>

>>>

>>> by Beak>.
Bandcamp Link: >>>

(No, not Jordan Glenn’s Percussive ensemble Beak, who have an excellent new album, “Beak“.)

This is Geoff Barrow’s band Beak>.

Geoff Barrow was in the Trip Hop band Portishead.

Lately, he has been involved in soundtrack music, specifically with directors Alex Garland (Ex Machina and Annihilation) and Ben Wheatley (Free Fire).

Beak> grew out of a project he did that was a reverse soundtrack. He created atmospheric music inspired by the Judge Dredd/2000AD comic book universe and released it as an album.

He called it a “soundtrack to a film that didn’t exist”.

Beak’s music is similar. Primarily Keyboard and Drums it feels like SciFi. Specifically, it feels like the 1980s and 1990s SciFi and thriller soundtracks of Tangerine Dream and John Carpenter, with a little extra kraut-rock thrown in.

However, there is some very nice close harmony work in the vocals. I especially liked the last song, “When We Fall”.

#Beak #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Dusted Machinery

Dusted Machinery

Dusted Machinery by Toshimaru Nakamura & John Butcher.
Bandcamp Link: Dusted Machinery

TOSHIMARU NAKAMURA – No-input Mixing Desk
JOHN BUTCHER – Saxophones

“No-input Mixing Desk” is a bit of a puzzle to me. The idea, I guess, is that Toshimaru Nakamura has a mixing desk with a mixer, obviously, and some effects units, but there is nothing coming in to the mixing desk other than the feedback and ambient noise from manipulating the output. A sort of feedback loop.

Butcher, as well, has experimented with creating feedback loops using the harmonics of space and a mic’d saxophone.

Indeed, the track “Nobasu” here is one where Butcher manipulates feedback created from a mic’d sax, creating sound without ever actually blowing into the saxophone.

So, this is not exactly what is typically described as “music”, closer to what is regarded as “noise”.

The songs, such as they are, involve manipulating the textures of sound created by their instruments over the course of a piece.

Will you enjoy this?

Do you enjoy sitting in the woods near a road, listening to birds and traffic?

Or perhaps find yourself fascinated by the repetitive sounds from a construction site?

Do you purposely de-tune your radio and enjoy the sound between the channels?

The “music” here is constructed by the artists, but the sounds created and the interactions are a long way from Western Pop music.

If you can loosen your expectations about what is and isn’t music, you may find yourself tapping along.

#JohnButcher #ToshimaruNakamura #DustedMachinery #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

The Other Side of Time

The Other Side of Time by Quin Kirchner.
Bandcamp Link: The Other Side of Time

I read this band was touring on the Astral Spirits instagram feed. Three things caught my eye. The first was the horn heavy instrumentation, which is a bit idiosyncratic and tilted towards the low end (Bass Clarinet, Trombone, Tenor Sax, Drums, and Double Bass). The second thing I noticed was that Nate Lepine was the Tenor Player. I am familiar with is work from other bands, both rock-ish and jazz-ish. The third thing I noticed was that the Bass Clarinet player is Jason Stein. Bass Clarinet is pretty much my favorite instrument (even though I suck at it), so anytime I see it in a featured role, I am down. Also, I’d read about Jason Stein obliquely. I had read that his half sister, Amy Schumer, likes to torture her comedy audiences by having Jason Stein, “Free Jazz Bass Clarinetist”, open for her when she tours.

The fourth thing I knew is that almost everything that Astral Spirits puts out is pretty great.

And this is pretty great.

It’s on the Boppish side of free, a bit West of Charles Mingus, and a bit North of Frank Zappa. They actually cover a couple Mingus tunes, The Shoes Of The Fisherman’s Wife Are Some Jive Ass Slippers & Self Portrait In Three Colors, along other tunes from with Sun Ra, Kelan Philip Cohran, Andrew Hill, and Paul Motian. Some ballsy choices!

Kirchner, and his bandmates, have obviously gone to music school because these are some pretty complex arrangements.

I was particularly struck by the close harmonies executed by the horns. Getting Bass Clarinet and Tenor Sax to harmonize and sound good together isn’t one of those things that is easily done, but these guys pull it off, and throw in a trombone for good measure.

Beyond the arrangements, there’s a lot of music here to digest, around 70 minutes. This is no EP disguised as an album, as some artists are recently releasing, but there is no filler.

Kirchner gives himself some space on three tunes, playing percussion solos, though multitracked, and with some electronic effects, I was particularly taken with the songs he calls “Drums and Tines”.

The free-est tune is the 14 minute “Armageddon”, which, while raucous, still doesn’t quite give up having a tonal center. Stein, especially, acquits himself with grace, exploring the full sonic range of the Bass Clarinet.

I’m glad I took a chance on this one, I learned some new names to look out for!

If you get a chance to see this band live, take it!

#QuinKirchner #TheOtherSideOfTime #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #NickBroste #NateLepine #JasonStein #MattUlery #BenBoye

It’s After the End of the World

It’s After the End of the World by Sun Ra and His Intergalactic Research Arkestra

Sun Ra was a smart guy.

When he confronted the inhumanity man often visited upon man for various inconsequential reasons, (color of skin, birthplace, religious philosophy, etc.) he entertained different ideas over the course of his life about how one human being could possibly do these terrible things to other human beings.

One possibility he considered was that the world had already ended and we are living in the aftermath of that apocalypse, tortured by demons and visited by angels.

The longer I live, the more I am beginning to agree with this assessment.

Especially, since it seems like those who are convinced the world will end soon, are hell bent on destroying what is left of our tattered and bruised orb.

It’s After the End of the World is a selection of tunes recorded live at Donaueschingen and Berlin, Germany, in 1970. A more full version of these concerts is available on the 2CD release, “Black Myth/Out in Space”.

However, even the shorter version is wonderfully pungent and thought inducing. The second side, “Myth Versus Reality (The Myth-Science Approach) / Angelic Proclamation / Out in Space”, with its “out” synthesizer solo and group improvisations is particularly toe curling.

If things don’t work out on this planet, I’ll meet you on Saturn.

#SunRaandHisIntergalacticResearchArkestra #SunRa #ItsAfterTheEndOfTheWorld #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

3 Characters

3 Characters

3 Characters by Sunwatchers with Eugene Chadbourne (with contributions from Mike Watt).
Label Link: 3 Characters

The 3 Characters of the title are D. Boon, Doug Sahm, and Henry Flynt.

D. Boon was the lead singer of the Minutemen. Doug Sahm was a founding member of the bands The Sir Douglas Quintet and the Texas Tornados. Henry Flynt was involved with Terry Riley and Lamont Young, along with John Cale, in the early years of New York Minimalism. He went on to record prolifically from his home. But most of his recordings didn’t see wider release until the 2000s. He was an anti-art artist, and an anti-music musician. He wrapped up influences from the avant garde with American roots music.

Eugene Chadbourne, well, I don’t quite know how to start that one. I first saw him when I was at UW-Madison in the 1980s. He is an incredibly talented guitarist, banjo player, and instrument inventor. He has been known to attach electric pickups to just about everything from a bird cage to a rake and deploy them in concerts. He started playing “Free Jazz” with Anthony Braxton. Played in bands with John Zorn and Henry Kaiser. Was in a rock-ish band with Mark Kramer called Shockabilly. Had a long running band with members of Camper Van Beethoven called “Camper Van Chadbourne”. Has had a long a productive solo career, and more collaborations than I can list here. I would say his primary interests, like that of Henry Flynt, are in the sort of confluence between what could be called avant garde music and American Roots music, but also with a tendency towards pop music tropes, as in the Beatles.

Sunwatchers are a perfect band for Chadbourne. Like him, they are incredibly talented and chimeric musicians, who can be rocking a tune one second, and in the blink of an eye turn the corner to African or Classical influences.

Aside from Flynt, I don’t know that I would have thought of either the Minutemen or the Sir Douglas Quintet as influences on Chadbourne or Sunwatchers, but I have to say The Minutemen’s politically inspiring music has once again gained a hearty resonance in today’s world. How great is it to hear Chadbourne and Sunwatchers rip into “Political Song for Michael Jackson”, “The Product”, and “Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs”? Though, I think, to be honest, the Chadbourne/Sunwatchers versions of the Sir Douglas Quintet Songs, “Too Many Docile Minds” and “Give Me Back the Keys to My Heart” are maybe the best expression of the combination of their spirits. Well, that and Henry Flynt’s great rant of a song, “Uncle Sam Do”, which I wish lasted about 20 minutes longer than its 8 minutes.

“Nobody talk peace, like Uncle Sam Do. Nobody talkin’ peace, like Uncle Sam Do. Uncle Sam he talks peace, then he drops napalm on you.”

#Sunwatchers #3Characters #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #EugeneChadbourne #MikeWatt