Musicophilia

[Musique du Monde] – ‘Le Mystère de la Musique,’ Volume Three (1972-1977)

Posted in Mixes by Soundslike on October 6, 2009

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.  If you like what’s going on here at Musicophilia, please take a moment to participate in our 1st Birthday poll and CD giveaway drawing.  Your feedback is very much appreciated!

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[Musique du Monde] – ‘Le Mystère de la Musique,’ Volume One (1973-1977)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on September 15, 2009

The ‘Le Mystère de la Musique‘ series progresses the Musique du Monde label into the under-appreciated mid-70s, bridging the gap between the late-60s/early-70s ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ and ‘Les Miniatures‘ mixes and Musicophilia’s post-punk mixes.  Appropriately for a time that sits in the shadow of the more well-loved musical “peaks” before and after, ‘Le Mystère‘ explores a nocturnal, ambiguous territory that is perhaps more understated but also more bewitching than the other Musique LPs.  The fantastic beats are still featured, and the genre-eschewing, world-spanning ethos remains in place.  But there is a greater emphasis here on spaciousness, noirish shadow and light, and slow-boiling sexiness–on mystery.

Volume One‘ opens with three tracks–by Henri Texier, Joni Mitchell, and a very young but already ambitious Arthur Russell–that set the mysterious, unclassifiable tone of ‘Le Mystère‘.  Osama Kitajima amps things up with an avant-metal-cum-kabuki sound.  Musique concrete master Bernard Parmegiani provides an abstract interlude, while Lou Reed brings the first side to a close with a dose macabre humor.  Alan Parker and John Cameron, sound library kings, open Side B in a mellow grove, and Brigitte Fontaine and Areski echo Texier’s French-via-Central-Asian exoticism.  Italians Le Orme follow the direction laid out by Franco Battiato into sci-fi-tinged Prog that doesn’t need to show off its chops to be effective.  Sun Ra simmers one of the Arkestra’s funkier, more laid-back numbers, and Harmonia bridges to Iggy Pop‘s dark masterpiece “Nightclubbing”.  The untouchable Hamilton Bohannon closes the record with one of his sexiest, most intoxicating sophisticate-disco grooves, sending us off into late-night ecstasy.  Full tracklist and download link for this LP-length mix (with full “sleeve art” and “liner notes”) at the “more…” link.

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[Guest-Mix] – ‘Somniloquies’ (1931-2009) [By Love, Execution Style]

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on July 20, 2009

Today I’m very happy to present ‘Somniloquies,’ mixed by our fourth guest contributor, the sound-obsessed mind behind the truly uncategorisable Love, Execution Style (described on one website as making “”Music” for those who love sounds just as much as songs,” which is almost exactly how I’ve classified myself).  L,ES is, in the best possible way, close to what you’d get if you took every good track ever shared on Mutant Sounds and hit random–perhaps on several stereos at once.  (For a quick sense of at least the non-musique concrete side of what I mean, check out the “WAWL Local Show Theme Song” on L,ES’s MySpace page, which expertly runs through surf rock, early jazz, dub, disco-funk, indie rock, country, metal and chamber pop in an incredible 49 seconds.) I’m very honored that the mix L,ES has crafted is envisioned a “sequel” to ‘The Somnambulist,’ one of my ‘Sensory Replication Series‘ mixes (which are my favorite mix undertakings: densely mixed, spacial, cinematic, seeking unexpected synergy in new combinations and de/re-constructions of tracks).  L,ES’ unabashed love of sound is the perfect match to the Sensory Replication approach, and he’s coalesced a heady blend of thirty tracks by thirty artists in exactly 30 minutes.

Among the artists found here in previously unheard contexts are such Musicophilia favorites as La Dusseldorf, Edgar Varese, Sun City Girls, Jean-Claude Vannier, Z’Ev, Muslimgauze, The Flying Lizards, Faust, Boredoms, John Fahey, Nurse With Wound, Derek Bailey, Can, and Family Fodder, amongst many others.  The full tracklist and download link are after the “more” link.  Here are L,ES’s thoughts and narration for his rich nightmare/dreamscape:

“Thomas Edison would unlock his creativity by entering a “twilight state” between sleep and consciousness, and during these sessions, he would hold a handful of ball bearings.  If he fell into a deep sleep, his grasp would loosen, and the resulting racket would awaken him, allowing him to vividly capture the current state of his wandering mind.  A previous entry in the Sensory Replication series, ‘The Somnambulist,’ was an absorbing, sleepwalking journey through “an immersive aural environment,” and I strived to make ‘Somniloquies‘ a worthy sequel to ‘The Somnambulist,’ beginning with a shared fascination with unconscious states.  However, this time the focus is on spontaneous creation—sounds, melodies, syllables—all arranged with Edison’s twilight state in mind.  Quiet, lulling passages are punctuated with startling jabs, intended to be the equivalent of ball bearings, to stir the listener from a slumber, and such arresting moments are scattered among the mix, including the blood-curling shrieks of “Black! Black! Black!” from Patty Waters or the disruptively played piano tone clusters in “Giving Up” by Stock, Hausen & Walkmen.

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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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[Musique du Monde] – ‘Le Tour du Monde, Volume 4′ (1968-1971)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on December 9, 2008

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Back again with the third “reissued” release in the ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ series: ‘Volume 4,’ covering 1968 to 1971.  The mood here is a little spookier, a little funkier, a little rawer, the beats are more to the fore.  But if you’ve heard any of the previous volumes, you can probably anticipate what’s in store: a heady post-Psych, post-Funk stew from a time of boundless exploration and fusion and invention.  Crazy Moogs, slinky harpsichords and Rhodes, choppy guitars, break-worthy drums, soaring strings, Tropicalia- or Indian-tinged percussion, horizon-expanding musique concrete production techniques, fuzz-bass as a lead instrument, sunny pop melodies, heartbreaking singer-songwriting, literal bells and whistles—all unstoppably funky.  There is a proto-electro Beethoven cover, a Japanese take on Jefferson Airplane, a Greecian take on “All Along the Watchtower,” a Moog-and-choral take on “Peace Train”.   Library sound, West Coast psych-rock, soundtracks, experimental 20th century composers, Motown and Motown-on-the-Seine (or Motown in the Outback, etc.).  Over fifteen countries, thirty-five artists and tracks, 2LPs, 100 minutes.

Naming names: you’ll find The Velvet Underground, Yoko Ono (in ghostly ballad form), Isaac Hayes, Nico, Curtis Mayfield, Miles Davis (featuring Sonny Sharrock’s echoplex madness), Can, and Stevie Wonder.  Then there are Brits Bill Fay, Roy Budd and weirdo-folkster Simon Finn; Moogists Gershon Kingsley and Hugo Montenegro; Italian purveyors of the beat Piero Piccioni, Giancarlo Gazzani, and Ennio Morricone in a poppy form; Jorge Ben from Brazil, Yuya Uchida & The Flowers from Japan, Swamp Salad from Australia, Saka Acquaye from Ghana and The Funkees from Nigeria.  Yugoslav sound librarian Janko Nilovic shows up here as Andy Loore.  Composers Vladimir Ussachevksy and Gyorgy Ligeti fit in with German Bruno Spoerri (a Can compatriot), Dionysis Savopoulos from Greece, and lesser-known Americans like The Open Window, Stark Reality, Black Heat, The United States of America, and revered jazz-funk bassist Monk Montgomery.  And of course, Musique du Monde represents la Patrie with Francis Lai, Trust, and Jean-Jacques Perrey with classic sample-fodder.  Tracklist, full album art, liner notes, and complete download follow the “more…” link.

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[Miniatures Series] – ‘Les Miniatures, Volume 12’ (1971-1975)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on November 24, 2008

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‘Les Miniatures’ is a new series of mixes combining the methodology of the ‘Miniatures’ series— sub-two-minute track lengths and sub-thirty-minute mix lengths—with the aesthetic and musical forte of the ‘Le Tour du Monde’ series. So you’ll hear sound library tunes, krautrock, psychedelia (especially in the Canterbury mold), proto-punk, a little singer-songwriter, funk (and Eurofunk), tropicalia, perfect pop, early electro-pop and musique concrete. You’ll hear artists from around the world, and more of those strings, those beats, those leaping bass lines, those production flourishes that could only have come from the brilliance of the 70s. A full helping of all of this—in thirty minutes or less. I’ve got four further volumes of ‘Les Miniatures’ finished. The five volumes feature over 100 artists and tracks, and they’ll be coming soon. In the meantime, check out the original ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ mixes for a more in-depth exploration of what’s going on here; or the post-punk-oriented first three volumes of the ‘Miniatures‘ series.

This first-issued volume of ‘Les Miniatures’ features heavyweights like Faust, Curtis Mayfield, Kevin Ayers, Sun Ra, Serge Gainsbourg, Paul Simon, Sly & The Family Stone, Lou Reed, Robert Wyatt and John Cale. But given equal time and weight by France’s ever-eclectic Musique du Monde label are cult figures like Henry Cow, Erkin Koray, Gil Scott-Heron, and barely-heards Seesselberg, Joe Ufer, Orchester Fritz Maldener, Sammy Burdson Group, and Franco Bixio. [I thank the blogs linked in the right column for introducing me to several of these—do yourself a favor and let this mix send you digging amongst the “primary source” blogs, they’re doing the heavy lifting.] Full tracklist and download (including full “album sleeve,” liner notes, and “reissue” notes) follow the “more…” link.

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[Musique du Monde] – ‘Le Tour du Monde, Volume 7’ (1967-1973)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on October 13, 2008

The second release in the ongoing ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ series, ‘Volume 7’ features more of the jaw-drop breakbeats, spinning bass lines, post-Psychedelic production flourishes, tape-manipulation and music concrete techniques, early electronic instrumentation, copious strings, harps, Hammonds, Rhodes, brass arrangements, matured post-folk singer-songwriter tunes, and illustrations of mutating funk as it made its way around the world.

Artists from twelve countries are represented, including sound library heroes like Janko Nilovic, Gerard Manset (a major discovery for those who love Serge Gainsbourg), Roger Roger, and Bernard Estardy; art kings Faust, Franco Battiato, and John Cale & Terry Riley (in supreme beat-centric mode); singer songwriter greats like Karen Dalton, Richie Havens, and Nick drake; as well as representatives of pure-pop, jazz-funk, post-psych and even surf-rock-supreme. Bobby Darin even makes an appearance, and if all you know is “Splish Splash” and the Las Vegas crooning, you’ll be in for a surprise. Tracklist, full album art, liner notes, and download link follow the “more…” link. For the previous release in this series, see ‘Le Tour du Monde, Volume 5‘.

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