Finishing up the ‘Le Mystère de la Musique‘ trilogy (for now) after ‘Volume Un‘ and ‘Volume Deux,’ I’m happy to present ‘Volume Trois,’ which visits a darker, moodier, but no less catchy territory. As with previous volumes, the focus here is the mid-70s, and the music which links the ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ and ‘Les Miniatures‘ sounds with the ‘1981‘ and other post-punk work. ‘Le Mystère’ blends art-rock, sophisticated funk, and artful soul with elements of dub, songwriter-noir, subtle fusion jazz, and even minimalist country, alongside music that belies the “post” in “post-punk”.
At the nexus of all the sounds on ‘Volume Trois’ is the proto-post-punk music (going to show how inaccurate the “post-punk” moniker really is) of Roxy Music and Pere Ubu, but things quickly expand far afield in terms of genre while maintaining these artists’ artfulness. David Axelrod kicks it all of with some deep-groove funk that is simply irresistible. Big Star and Bob Marley (in an instrumental dub treatment) brings things into the nighttime. Stevie Wonder carries on the contemplative mood, while Ennio Morricone adds a dainty chamber orchestra touch. Jorge Ben‘s emotional voice soars above his psychedelic orchestral tropicalia (which is in the emotional tradition of the music tristeza of Astrud Gilberto). Willie Nelson is equally emotive, in his understated fashion, and Miles Davis‘ last great group adds fire to heartbreak in an incredible tribute to Duke Ellington–stunningly and completely timeless music, it exists outside of all genre boundaries. Lard Free provide an abstract electronic transition into the unbelievably soulful simplicity of trans-Carribean-South-American-British group Cymande. This is accessible music, but it is in no way shallow, and I hope you find the combination of sounds rewards return visits. Full tracklist and download link for this LP-length mix (with full “sleeve art” and “liner notes”) at the “more…” link.
Various Artists – ‘Le Mystère de la Musique,’ Volume Three
(Musique du Monde, France – 1977)
A1 [00:00] David AXELROD – “Everything Counts” (Heavy Axe, 1975) USA
A2 [06:52] Big STAR – “Nightime” (Unreleased, 1976) England
A3 [09:38] Bob MARLEY – “Jamming (Version)” (Unreleased, 1977) Jamaica
A4 [12:39] Stevie WONDER – “Pastime Paradise” (Songs in the Key of Life, 1976) USA
A5 [16:00] Ennio MORRICONE – “Un Salotto Troppo Elegante” (Stato Interessante, 1977) Italy
A6 [17:47] Roxy MUSIC – “Sentimental Fool” (Siren, 1975) England
B1 [00:00] Jorge BEN – “Errare Humanum Est” (A Tabua de Esmeralda, 1974) Brazil
B2 [04:48] Pere UBU – “Heaven” (“The Modern Dance” single, 1977) USA
B3 [07:52] Willie NELSON – “Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain” (The Red-Headed Stranger, 1975) USA
B4 [10:07] Miles DAVIS – “He Loved Him Madly” (Get Up With It, 1975) USA
B5 [18:54] Lard FREE – “Tatkooz a Roulette” (I’m Around About Midnight, 1975) France
B6 [20:36] CYMANDE – “One More” (Cymande, 1972) Guyana & Jamaica
[Total Time: 46:54]
Rough Translation, Back Cover:
“How does one describe the mystery of music? Perhaps it’s best to let music speak for itself: language may get in the way. And so we present ‘Le Mystère de la Musique,’ which explores the changing sound of a world where borders are disintegrating between sounds, and between people. Across the discs of this series you will find feelings of the night, of the unknown, of the new and as yet undefined. This music refuses to fit itself to the old, established genres and boundaries. Instead, it pushes forward into a future where freedom of expression and breadth of creativity are the central reasons for being. The mystery is not a riddle to be solved: it asks you to revel in the indescribable, the unknown, the journey and not the destination. Open your ears, and your mind will follow, through the mystery of music.”
The Musique du Monde label built its reputation in the late 60s and the early 70s issuing some of the hippest, grooviest and eclectic collections of the era, the ‘Le Tour du Monde’ and ‘Les Miniatures’ series. It is secondarily revered for its early 80s collections of discoid madness, ‘Les Rythmes du Monde’. But among the lesser-known contributions to musical mind-expansion of Musique is a group of mid-to-late-70s compilations that explored a more nebulous territory, one that bridged the gap between the earlier funk- and psych-based music of the ‘Le Tour’ discs and the post-punk realm explored by the contemporary heir to Musique’s curatorial role, the Musicophilia Co. This nearly forgotten series, called ‘Le Mystère de la Musique,’ can perhaps be described as the night to Le Tour’s day: living up to its “mystery” moniker, the series threads through the darker edges of progressive funk, pop, folk, fusion-oriented jazz, electronic and concrete music, nascent art-rock (that would eventually be called “post-punk,”) and even touches of country and sound library music. Much of the music is difficult to categorise meaningfully, even thirty years later. But such was the Musique ethos, even in the earlier days: to celebrate the “mystery” of the connections and blurring lines between seemingly disparate forms of recorded sound. ‘Le Mystère de la Musique’ remains enticingly mysterious, even though many of the artists found across its platters are well-loved today.
— I. Sonnecomme, September 2009