Musicophilia

[Full Album] – Phantom Band (with Jaki Liebezeit) – ‘Phantom Band’ (1980)

Posted in Albums, Talking by Soundslike on June 21, 2009

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[UPDATE: Great news–the album is set to be reissued in 2010 on the Bureau B label (home of Faust, Cluster, Wolfgang Riechmann, et al) on CD and 180g LP, as per a representative of the label in the comments below.  If you downloaded and enjoyed the album, please support them and Jaki Liebezeit & Co. by buying the reissue when it’s available.]

This is a very unusual post for Musicophilia, but it’s one I think needs to be made.  For the most part, the out-of-print albums I’d like people to hear are already shared at places like Mutant Sounds, Egg City Radio, the Library Hunt, Never Enough Rhodes or Decoder Blog.  My primary objective in sharing music at Musicophilia is to encourage the further discovery and support of featured artists, by getting you the listeners to make new purchases.  But for (very) out-of-print music, this is not an option–if you bought the overpriced LP on eBay nothing goes to the artist anyway–so all bloggers can hope for is to foment enough interest that a (legitimate) reissue eventually happens.  This is one of those cases of an album being severely out-of-print (going for $150+, if you can even find it for that; or on a similarly rare bootleg “twofer” CD), and amazingly this wonderful album doesn’t seem to have been shared on the blogosphere.  I simply ask that you support Jaki Liebezeit and Phantom Band by purchasing the one album that remains in print, 1984’s equally good ‘Nowhere.

Phantom Band, as featured at Musicophilia Daily and in the recent post-Can compilation here at Musicophilia, was Jaki Liebezeit’s principle ongoing project after Can.  On this, their first LP, they were in many ways a direct extension of Can, further developing the fusion of art-rock, Afrobeat and South American and African pop, reggae, spacey funk, and disco and electronic dance music that the former band originated on ‘Saw Delight‘ and ‘Out of Reach‘.  In my opinion, though, ‘Phantom Band is a stronger and more cohesive album than any of the late Can albums.  It’s definitely a better showcase of Can collaborator, vocalist and bassist Rosko Gee.  As I mentioned previously, it reminds me most of Hamilton Bohannon‘s warm-but-spooky disco-funk. It will also appeal to fans of the Rail Band, King Sunny Ade, Magazine, Maximum Joy, A Certain Ratio, Tony Allen or Fela Kuti, ET Mensah, fusion-era Miles Davis; 70s soundtrack work by Alain Goraguer or Roy Budd; or the funkier side of 70s sound library recording, like Alan Parker‘s ‘Afro-Rock’ LP or Janko Nilovic‘ ‘Supra Pop Impressions’.  The music is shimmering, serpentine, catchy, joyous and often wonderfully melodic.  It is rich with delectable beats, judiciously polyrhythmic percussion, slinky and bouncing basslines, glistening Rhodes and shimmering synths, minimalist funk rhythm guitar and Karoli-like leads, and unexpected flourishes like harmonica, dub production or brass arrangements, all stitched together by Rosko Gee’s sweet vocals.   It desperately deserves a reissue, and I can only assume there’s some sort of legalistic hang-up preventing Mute from getting it (and its fairly disparate but very good follow up, ‘Freedom of Speech‘) out there.  Regardless of the Can connection, this is an album that should be much more broadly heard.  Full tracklist and download link after the “more” break.

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[Miniatures Series] – ‘Les Miniatures, Volume 14’ (1972-1975)

Posted in Albums, Mixes by Soundslike on April 14, 2009

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After an unintended hiatus, Musicophilia’s “reissues” of the Musique du Monde label are back, with the first of three more “10-inch LPs” from the ‘Les Miniatures‘ series following Volumes 3 and 12: ‘Volume 14,’ drawing from the years 1972-1975.  As with all the mixes in the broader Miniatures Series, the aim is to cover a lot of ground in very little time: all tracks are two minutes or less in duration; and the mixes are around 30 minutes total.  The ‘Les Miniatures‘ mixes are like morning commute-length portions of the 2xLP-length ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ mixes, so anything goes as long as it’s got a groove: funk of myriad permutations from New Orleans to Philly to France to Yugoslavia; musique concrete, psychedelia, singer-songwriter, sound library and soundtracks, proto-punk, Krautrock, early electro-pop, jazz, Tropicalia, and a little of the simply unclassifiable.  You’ll find the familiar and the new, each hopefully adding something to the experience of the whole.  (If you’ve been visiting Musicophilia primarily for the post-punk, I invite you to take a chance on some of the Musique du Monde stuff–it may be worlds apart from post-punk in some regards, but for my money, this is where the coolest sounds in the world were happening, presaging the radical artistic fecundity of the post-punk years.)

Franco Battiato – “Cariosinesi”  (1972)

Shuggie Otis – “Happy House” (1974)

Making up the thirty minutes of this mix are twenty artists from seven countries.  The better known include Marvin Gaye, The Residents, Kraftwerk, Big Star, Barry White, and Brian Eno.  Less well known in the U.S. but heroes elsewhere are Bernard Parmegiani (probably my favorite artist working with electro-acoustic experimentation), Franco Battiato, Brigitte Fontaine & Areski, The Aggrovators, Popol Vuh, the Soft Machine’s Hugh Hopper, and Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry.  Finally there’s key sound library figure Janko Nilovic; funk-pop prodigy Shuggie Otis; savant-garde group Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Curt Boettcher (of The Millenium, Sagittarius and the SoCal sunshine pop scene); and soundtrack maestros David Snell and Karl Heinz Schafer.  If you like what you hear, there’s plenty more where that came from: nine other Musique du Monde volumes so far, and several more in the coming weeks and months.  Full tracklist, “liner notes,” and download link after the “more…” below.

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[Full Album] – Chalsa Nepal – ‘Let Them See’ (1983)

Posted in Albums by Soundslike on April 1, 2009

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A Musicophilia first: sharing an utterly out-of-print album in full!  I’ve scoured the internet, including the encyclopedic Mutant Sounds, and nobody seems to have shared it yet, so I’m happy to make a first-source contribution.  The album is truly one-of-a-kind, and unfortunately almost a total mystery: its nine tracks are untitled, and I can find almost no information beyond what is written in the liner notes of the Russian “import” reissue promo that I picked up at Exiled Records.  So I’ll simply quote the notes here:

Let Them See‘ is the long-lost cornerstone of the nearly-forgotten but deeply influential post-post-punk Circuscore scene based in La Digue in the Seychelles from the early 1980s through the fall of the Berlin Wall. The album was produced jointly by Robert Gotobed of Wire and Albert Kuvezin (later of Tuvan thoat singing combo Huun-Huur-Tu), and features guest contributions from bassist Lemmy Kilmister, trombonist Peter Zummo, ex-Shangri-Las Mary Weiss, and string arrangements by future Fraggle Rock music director Don Gillis.

Chalsa Nepal combine their obvious debt to Crass, the bands of Les Disques du Crépuscule, and an abiding love for classic skiffle 78s with the longstanding Seychelles tradition of Circus Music derived from the islands’ French, African, Indian, and Chinese populations’ roots. ‘Let Them See’ (a title taken from a quote by band-hero Henry David Thoreau) is a free-wheeling set of neo-psychedelic disco-dirges and xylophone-led post-Soul proto-dubstep pop confections–albeit with a tendency toward Marxist-Feminist death metal darkness.

Says Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, “The first time I heard it, I hated it; but the second time, my brain turned around backwards in my skull. It changed me forever; I think it changed all of us.”

This is one you have to hear to believe.  Full tracklist and download link below the “more…”

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[Full Album] – Soundslike – ‘A Where Was And Isn’t Anymore’ (1999)

Posted in Albums, Talking by Soundslike on March 30, 2009

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Before spring wins out, winter gives it one last shot, and the night can seem colder than ever.  And so this album seems to fit, inspired by vast open spaces of a Southern winter night.  ‘A Where Was And Isn’t Anymore‘ is partly the sound of hiding in a cocoon of winter bedding, partly the sound of lonesome sojourn drives away from distant love; this brief album reflects the feeling of a transitional time and place in life.  If you have not heard ‘The Irish Sea‘ and ‘Complicity,’ I’d recommend you start with those more fully-formed works (previews of which have been added to the original posts).  But if you happen to enjoy them, you’ll probably find worth in this one.  Like those others, this is improvised music, created by impulse and instinct in my youth, when a lack of any ability to create music that reflected my tastes didn’t stop me.  I was beginning to listen to more expansive music, but I had no skill to replicate or reflect expanding influences.

Perhaps that was an advantage, as this music has no direct musical inspiration, but rather bypasses intellectual channels and reflects emotional (in)experience directly.  The music is spare, open, unadorned, with flashes of fire and ice; it was never really intended for an audience, but it might find a home with those who place value in simplicity and emotional honesty.  Improvised on an inexpensive Danelectro guitar and a cheap Korean acoustic over the course of three days in December, 1999, this album contains nine tracks over 25 minutes.  The track “Sleep” is previewed below.  Full tracklist and a download link are found at the “more…” link.

Sleep” (1999)

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[Full Album] Soundslike – ‘The Irish Sea’ (2001) + ‘Full of Blue-Green Blood’ (2004)

Posted in Albums, Talking by Soundslike on December 7, 2008

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The most surprising result of the recent Musicophilia poll is that in response to the question of what Musicophilia should cover next, “pretty stuff, in general” was tops, with double the votes of the next closest option.   Emboldened by that result, I’ve decided to post the second full album (and a remix project) of my own work.   Like the first album posted, ‘Complicity,’ ‘The Irish Sea‘ was improvised by adding one extemporous layer of sound to another over the course of a couple days.  (So determined was I to record that you’ll hear a couple of unmuffled sniffles from a cold I was suffering—there could be no second takes.  It was always my pattern to record in a flurry of days, and then most likely not touch an instrument for months till the next session.)  The similarities more or less end at the improvisational methodology.  Whereas ‘Complicity’ is a dark, largely electronic, slightly wide-screen and nocturnal affair, ‘The Irish Sea’ was created almost entirely with a cheap acoustic guitar with some borrowed piano, and it paints a winter day on a small canvas.  Though created ad-hoc, it is entirely listenable, simple, spare and inescapably “pretty”.  I am not a song-writer, but this album turned out to be a collection of songs (even including a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather”).  It is an intentionally small creation (running just under 28 minutes), but it has stuck with me because it is emotionally evocative and feels whole and self-contained.

As a counterpoint to the unabashed English midlands- and Irish east coast-inspired prettiness of ‘The Irish Sea,’ I have also included in the download ‘Full of Blue-Green Blood‘.  Created several years later, this was an experiment in using only the final mix-down of one of the tracks from ‘The Irish Sea’ (“Full of Blue-Green Doubt,” an acoustic build in a canon-like form), tearing it apart and pushing and pulling it back together to see how far from the original sound and feeling I could end up.  So from the gentle original, using primative wave editing software and no additional sound sources, I created twelve short pieces totaling 24 minutes.  Some are unrecognizable, harsh or menacing rhythm pieces; others more clearly stem from the original but are altered completely in mood and feeling.  ‘Blue-Green Blood’ is not meant to be a proper companion to ‘The Irish Sea,’ but I find it most interesting in direct comparison and contrast to its source material.   The results are not for the most part as ugly as I’d first intended, but I felt the modest experiment was a success—you probably wouldn’t know this album came from one finished song without being tipped off.  Full tracklists and the download link after “more…”.

Full of Blue-Green Doubt” (2001)

DNA” (“Full of Blue-Green Doubt” Remix) (2004)

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[Full Album] Soundslike – ‘Complicity’ (2001)

Posted in Albums, Talking by Soundslike on October 22, 2008

As a break from the usual mix/compilation focus of Musicophilia, this morning I’m posting a full album.  And it’s one full album I have full confidence I’d never be sued or jailed for posting–because it’s one of the improvisational albums I recorded at the beginning of this decade.  This particular album is predominantly electronic, but too untrained (and manually created) to qualify as “IDM” or any sort of dance-rooted-music.  It’s rough, organic, sometimes a little ambient, spooky, menacing, disappointingly pretty, and despite all my intentions when I began recording, emotionally resonant above all else.

I post ‘Complicity’ simply because listening to it for the first time in a long while, it surprises me: it does seem to capture something about when it was recorded (10th-12th September, 2001) and the feeling of creeping uncertainty and desperate hope I have felt over the last eight years.  It may reflect none of that for anyone else, I don’t know.  On the eve of beginning as a people the process of healing and moving forward, while as deeply mired in the excesses and failures of our time as ever–the album feels surprisingly relevant to me, and it’s also not quite as musically trivial as I thought at the time.  I am not a musician, so this stuff was all improvised, cobbled together bit by bit with no existing framework, working on a feeling for sound alone.  Despite that fact, it’s surprisingly (annoyingly to me, at the time) song-like and listenable.  More rambling, tracklist and the download link follow the “more…”.

Sideways” (2001)

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