Musicophilia

[Musique du Monde] – ‘Le Nouveau Son’ – Vol. 4 (1969-1976)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on February 18, 2014

On my latest trip to Paris, in a little hole-in-the-wall in the Montparnasse, I chanced upon another forgotten compilation from the venerable Musique du Monde label, which has also given us the ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ series, ‘Les Miniatures,’ ‘Le Mystere de la Musiqe,’ and ‘Les Rythmes du Monde. . .  Ok, I admit it.  There is no Musique du Monde, sad to say (nor do I make it to Paris very often, sadder to say).  Truth is, these are some of the hundreds of tracks I’ve earmarked over the last few years (along with a few old favorites I never mixed before).  Making mixes with any regularity hasn’t been feasible, but I’ve continued to seek out new music as voraciously as ever.  Over the last few years I’ve had the good fortune to live in Portland, Rome, New York, Chicagoland and now New England, and I’ve collected the tracks I feature at Musicophilia at some of my favorite shops (Exiled, Soul Food, Rockit Scientist R.I.P., Dusty Groove, Weirdo Records).  These are some of the tracks that that have really stuck with me, and I think anyone who is still listening will be pleased.  Those unbelievable beats and hooks are there, as usual (some of the best, in fact), and there’s an emphasis on the synthesizer, but on the whole ‘Le Nouveau Son’ is an enchanting, mysterious an moody, late night affair.  The second disc especially enters deep into goosebump territory, the realm of the timeless.  I hope you enjoy–spread the word, and as always, please support these artists and the labels that reissue their work.   Tracklist and download after the “more…” link.  Edit: download link corrected.

Artists featured include Todd Rundgren, Silver Apples, Ananda Shankar, Eroc, 10cc, Amon Duul II (sounding rather post-punk, a la Television), John Cale, Syreeta (with Stevie Wonder), Duncan Browne, Hall & Oates, Sensations Fix, Catherine Ribeiro, Francisco (who also does quite amazing abstract work), Brian Eno, Placebo (whose Marc Moulin is the Zelig of Belgian art rock/jazz–look him up and you’ll see what I mean), Harry Nilsson, Marcos Valle, Roxy Music, Wolfgang Dauner, D.R. Hooker, These Trails, Tim Buckley, Franco Battiato, Michael Chapman, Jacqueline Thibault, and Comus (sounding nothing like you’ll expect, if you’ve only heard their first LP).

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[One-Off] – ‘Zygotic’ (After the Flaming Lips’ ‘Embryonic’) (2009)

Posted in Mixes by Soundslike on November 9, 2011

I would never have guessed I’d be making a mix in response to a Flaming Lips album, in 2009.  But the Lips, purveyors of grinning, gleeful quirk-pop, festooned by confetti and bunny suits during the last decade–a recipe with initial charm but diminishing returns–have, according to Wayne Coyne, killed off their “former selves . . . Our more crafty or calculated selves. Our less brave selves . . . Our less spontaneous selves”.  Thus in their 26th year, the band has created what I feel is their strongest work ever: ‘Embryonic,’ (which can be streamed here at NPR).  I was so floored by the strength of the album–a total surprise, including its staggering cover–that rather than trying to review the album, I felt compelled to respond in mix form, with ‘Zygotic‘.  The Flaming Lips’ new album borrows from the production techniques and stylistic eclecticism of their previous best, ‘Zaireeka,’ and from the manic energy and freak-out distortion of their 80s and early-90s albums.  The stylishness and cinematic scope of their most acclaimed album, ‘The Soft Bulletin,’ is channeled into a darker, sparer, more visceral direction.  Though there are moments of silliness and optimism, most of the cartoonish clowning (“She Don’t Use Jelly,” “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots”) and scrubbed-clean brightness of their mainstream successes is gone.  The lyrics remain largely abstract, but a more lifelike character voice is conveyed, one wrestling with the ambiguities of humanity that can be “evil” but can “be gentle, too, if they decide”.   It all adds up to their most sonically vigorous, sometimes most soothing, sometimes most ferocious, and certainly most emotionally evocative work to date.

Looking back, I see that 1997’s ‘Zaireeka‘ was a truly mind-altering experience, formative in my expectations of what music could do in terms of sound, increasing my appreciation of how sounds could be produced and arranged on a record.  Without it, I doubt I would have traveled as readily during the next couple of years into Can, 70s Miles Davis, early Reich, Faust, Silver Apples, early dub, or the more experimental side of post-punk–to say nothing of music concrete favorites like Bernard Parmegiani or Pierre Henry a few years later.  ‘Embryonic‘ proves the link was no fluke, as it reflects a deep connection with many of the sounds that are central to the Musicophilia aesthetic–to the music they propelled me toward.  ‘Zygotic‘ is not meant to suggest, however, that Coyne & Co. have created a pastiche; the mix isn’t an attempt at sonic genealogy, and I wouldn’t claim that any of this music is definitely a direct inspiration for the Lips’ resurgence.  ‘Embryonic‘ is imbued with a here-and-now quality, and it maintains a wit and vocabulary that is uniquely Flaming Lips–ultimately it sounds like nothing else.  Rather, ‘Zygotic‘ is primarily intended as an echo (or pre-echo, as it were) of the spirit of the album; and only secondarily is it an attempt to illustrate the sound-heritage from which the Lips may have drawn inspiration.

I’ve followed the overall form of the album: two halves totaling roughly 70 minutes, in 18 parts, all interlinked with repeating motifs and sounds.  I’ve also attempted to match the careful blend of the beautiful and the ugly, the ambient and the massively heavy, that characterizes ‘Embryonic‘.  The result is hopefully a nice counterpart to the album–but certainly not a replacement for it, and I highly recommend you buy it from the band or at your local record shop.  If you need some convincing for the download, I’ll break down the mixes after the “more…” link, along with the full tracklist.  Personally, I recommend that you surprise yourself and listen to the mixes first, and then look at the artists and tracklist later.  So, if you trust my mixing heretofore, here is the download link.

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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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[One-off] – Can – ‘The Church of Latter-Day Can, Book One’ (1975-1979)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on June 14, 2009

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If you’re listening here at Musicophilia, odds are you’re a devotee of Can’s early records.  But the ‘received wisdom’ says that the later Can is vastly inferior, perhaps not even worth listening to, and so many people have never looked past the first few albums.  I know it took me years before I explored beyond ‘Soon Over Babaluma,’ and a little while further before it could hit me on its own terms. It’s true, the later albums are not what their early albums are, as so little is; when Can began, they were essentially inventing a whole new sound and aesthetic almost from scratch.  But if later-day Can were a separate band free to create its own legacy, I believe ‘Can II’ would be held in equal esteem alongside the “Krautrock” bands that rate just behind early Can, like Faust, Neu! and Cluster, certainly up there with Harmonia, early Kraftwerk, Agitation Free and La Dusseldorf.  And as much as post-punkers no doubt loved their copies of ‘Ege Bamyasi‘ and ‘Tago Mago,’ the truth is this music sounds more post-punk, as it’s tapping into the same diverse sounds–funk, dub, reggae, Afrobeat, sundry “world musics,” and surely not least disco–as the best post-punk would do a couple years later.  So give it a try–just please support the artists, do yourself the favor, and buy the albums you may have missed.  (And it almost  goes without saying, if you don’t know Can well already–run, don’t walk, and buy the first few albums as soon as possible.  Then come back to this music after your mind has exploded and you’ve put it back together as best you can.)  A second mix will follow shortly of extra- and post-Can tracks and collaborations by members of Can during the post-punk and new wave years.  Tracklist and download link after the break, for a limited time. I ask that if you enjoy the music found on this mix, you purchase the relevant albums, and remove the mix from your devices–please.

Can – “Aspectacle” (1979)

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[Post-Punk Covers Classics] – Various – ‘No Heroes’ (1982)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on June 2, 2009

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[Update:  5/3 Download Link is down again.  If you are an artist or label responsible for a particular work but do not wish it to be featured, please let me know and I will remove it.  My sincere intention, as always, is to promote the artists’ work and help people discover it and purchase what is available.   So listeners, as always, the music shared here is not intended to replace purchased music.  Please support the artists involved, especially via independent shops like those linked in the right-hand column. ]

[Check out ‘No Heroes’-style bonus tracks, with links to the originals, as part of an ongoing series at Musicophilia Daily.] For a bunch of supposed futurist Marxist Modernist post-historical art-weirdos, the post-punk/New pop set were actually remarkably affectionate toward the music they grew up loving, “I Hate” graffiti t-shirts notwithstanding.  And not just toward their Can and Roxy Music and Lee “Scratch” Perry albums that they all had, naturally, when they were 13 years old proto-Art School students.  Sure, there’s an LP worth of voidoid Rolling Stones anti-covers of varying quality that can be pretty backhandedly complimentary in a Warhol sort of way.  But at least in music, if not rhetoric, there was a lot of love for the radio of recently-lost youth: for Motown, for psychedelic bands and garage (the “first punk” kind) rock, for the Beatles, even for the occasional movie theme and crooner standby.  The covers on this “newly discovered 2xLP” compilation “from 1982” are certainly not reverent, and few are straight (most are decidedly a little bent, befitting the zeitgeist), but few of them are detached, (wholly) ironic, or dismissive.

Post-punk is often quite catchy in its way, and so there’s plenty of singability, listenability, pop ability on display–some of which actually had some popular impact in the grand tradition of the commercial cover tune.  The Beatles get channeled by Yellow Magic Orchestra, The Feelies, and Hecter Zazou.  Lee Dorsey and Al Green are both faves, fueling Devo and Trio, Talking Heads and Orange Juice, respectively.  There’s Motown and funk love to spare, with A Certain Ratio, Flying Lizards, Soft Cell and The Slits being careful to avoid direct theft they can’t pull off, but honoring the sources with their own quirks firmly displayed.  Straight-up pop is in evidence with Lydia Lunch, Tom Tom Club, Lene Lovich, Plastics and Antena joining the Oldies parade–and even Psychedelic Furs tackling “Mack the Knife”.  As for the “I Hate Pink Floyd” sentiment, Dolphins aren’t having it, and The Pretenders clearly don’t hate the Kinks.  Lizy Mercier-Descloux and the Selecter take you to the movies, and XTC and The Cure of all people show Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix love.  The Gun Club reach back to Robert Johnson, and Siouxsie’s Creatures laud The Troggs.  Only Bauhaus and Japan cover material you’d think of as post-punk-approved–Eno and The Velvets–but they do it with aplomb.  I can’t say most of this music eclipses the originals–be sure to check below for links to all of the source tracks–but it’s all a lot of fun.  Full tracklist, artwork and download link–along with those originals links–at the “more…” link.

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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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[Miniatures Series] – ‘Les Miniatures, Volume 3′ (1967-1971)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on November 27, 2008

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‘Les Miniatures, Volume 3’ is the second mix in the ‘Les Miniatures‘ series, fifth in the ‘Miniatures‘ method. For more information and the first download, check here. In short (appropriately) these are mixes in the musical style of the globe-spanning, late-60s-to-mid-1970s sound-collecting ‘Le Tour du Monde’ series—but with every track coming in at under two minutes in length, and each mix under forty minutes (like the ‘Miniatures: Post-Punk‘ mixes did for the years 1976-1983). So give them a whirl—you don’t have much to lose, not even much time.

This volume features some very well known names like the Velvet Underground, Bob Marley, Ennio Morricone (though not in his better-known Spaghetti Western mode), Serge Gainsbourg, Syd Barrett, King Crimson and Nick Drake. But it also emphasizes the less-knowns like Sagittarius (for fans of the Beach Boys, The Millennium, or California sunshine pop in general); library hero Roger Roger (of Stringtronics’ ‘Mindbender’ “fame”—seek that one out) and other sound librarians like Oskar Sala, Roland Kovac, and Reg Wale; weirdos like Red Noise, Pearls Before Swine and the ever-wonderful Shaggs; Krautrock stalwarts Amon Duul II and Kluster (in their pre-electro Cluster, more cosmic abstraction days); and lovely Turkish Les Mogol (aka Mogollar) and Japanese artist Hiro Yanagida. Twenty artists and tracks, two “sides,” thirty-one minutes, nine countries—and I’ve got three more like this one nearly ready, so keep your ears open. Full tracklist and a download link to the mix with cover art and “liner notes” following the “more…”.

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[Musique du Monde] – ‘Le Tour du Monde, Volume 5’ (1967-1971)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on October 4, 2008

A two-LP set of international beats, breaks, sophisticate funk, sweet organs, harpsichords, heavy bass lines, late psychedelia, bits of playful experimentation and musique concrete, squelching analogue synths, harps, strings, flutes, and a dash of autumnal musing as only the early 1970s could produce. A ‘found’ mix from the ‘legendary’ French Musique du Monde label and their ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ series, more volumes to follow.

Featuring bands and artists from 18 countries, including the well known and the far from it, ‘Volume 5’ blends a wide range of genres through commonalities in instrumentation and production into a whole that is exciting and yet accessible. You’ll hear Kraftwerk with Donovan; Moondog with Nino Nardini; Leo Kottke, Geraldo Pino, Eugene McDaniels, White Noise, El Kinto, Jean-Michel Jarre, Silver Apples, Roland Kovac, Shuggie Otis, Pierre Henry, Ennio Morricone’s Feed-Back, et al. Track listing, liner notes and the download link (including full artwork), beyond the break.

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