Musicophilia

[Musique du Monde] – ‘Le Monde du Funk’ (1973-1977)

Posted in Mixes by Soundslike on December 29, 2016

musicophilia_00_le-monde-du-funk_vol-09_1973-1979_2016_covers-01-front

Just in time to say goodbye to a year that has seemed like an endless winter, here’s a little summer sunshine.  Picking up threads of the ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ and other ‘Musique du Monde‘ series but a few years later, and a close (if perhaps mellower) cousin to the Daft Punk tribute mix ‘The Gold and the Silver Dream,’ ‘Le Monde du Funk’ explores the warm world of the mid-to-late-70s where funk, jazz, fusion, art rock, folk and pop met worldwide in mutual love for the electric piano, the analogue synth, the active bass, the funky beat, and the melodic hook.  It’s a sound that is forward looking without being coolly futurist (that would come a bit later), highly skilled but all about having fun, and accessible while adventuring past all genre boundaries.  It’s funk, but defined in the broadest terms.

‘Le Monde du Funk’ glides over four sides, featuring Musicophilia mainstays like Hamilton Bohannon, Can, Colin Blunstone, Space Art, Giorgio Moroder (as Munich Machine), Jean-Michel Jarre, Scott Walker (nominally with the Walker Brothers) and Haruomi Hosono–some sounding rather different than their best-known selves–along with the Jan Hammer Group, Herbie Hancock, Parliament, Baris Manco, 801 (Phil Manzanera), Al Stewart, Simone, William DeVaughn, Hall & Oates, Dexter Wansel, Les McCann, and Azymuth.  The US, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Brazil, France, Japan and England are all well represented.  (And the tracks I had to cut were just as good as what stayed in, and I’ve got another mix of the same vibe from the early to mid 80s percolating, so hopefully more to come.)

At the “more…” link below you can stream the mix, check the full tracklist, and download the mix. As always, if you like what you hear, please pass it along and support the artists and labels who made all this fantastic noise.

(more…)

[Post Post-Punk] – ‘The Dawning’ (1981-1989)

Posted in Mixes by Soundslike on November 15, 2015

As autumn becomes winter, here’s a new mix that’s been slowly percolating for the last couple months.  It follows some of  the artists of Post-Punk and New Wave as they developed into the later 1980s, as their music–still empowered by the artiness and intelligence of Post-Punk and the popular ambitions and joy de vivre of New Wave–began to become less self-consciously futurist, also drawing inspiration both pan-culturally and from decidedly pre-Punk, even classical and folkloric traditions.  These artists deftly blend state-of-the-art electronics, sequencers and samplers with organic acoustic and electrified instrumentation, confidently in control of their means of production always toward a greater end.

Perhaps this music can be described as post-Modern, but unlike its architectural or academic/art world counterparts that superficially tacked on non-Modernist references at random (always with air-quotes-implied irony) to a fundamentally Modernist framework that rejected accrued culture and understandings, this is music that has moved on from abstraction for its own sake, and is whole-cloth human and humane, unashamed to be deeply concerned with conveying emotional truth by all available means.  It is music that is unafraid to be more than simply “new,” and to declare that Beauty is a good and worthy pursuit.  And the music is indeed beautiful, speaking equally to the body, mind, soul and heart.

This music is the work of mature artists, including The Blue Nile, Heaven 17, Dif Juz, Tears For Fears, Thomas Dolby, Talk Talk, Scott Walker, Scritti Politti, Arthur Russell, David Sylvian, This Mortal Coil and others.  I imagine they were inspired by artists like Brian Eno, Sly Stone, Joni Mitchell, Bernard Parmegianni, Marvin Gaye, Erik Satie, Van Morrison, Haruomi Hosono, Mike Cooper, Vangelis, Astrud Gilberto, Milton Nascimento, Nina Simone, Brigitte Fontaine, Nick Drake, Tim Buckley, et al; and likely serving as inspiration to people who would follow a similarly sophisticated humanist vision, like Bjork, CFCF, Matmos, Antony and the Johnsons, Fennesz, Junior Boys, Caribou, Earth, Joanna Newsom, The Knife, Anja Garbarek, Erykah Badu, Massive Attack, Stina Nordenstam, Burial, FKA Twigs, Matthew Herbert, Sade, Portishead and countless others.

I imagine this music will serve you equally well on a last-of-Autumn walk through the woods and as the soundtrack to a late-night walk through the empty city streets.  For me, this music inhabits the ethereal and the physical, the cinematic and the intimate, the pastoral and the urbane, the orchestral and the synthetic, the nocturnal and the dawning light.

Full tracklist, stream and download after the “more” link.  As always, if you like what you hear, pass it on, and please support the artists and labels who made the music!  A very special thanks to Eric Scheidt for allowing me to use his gorgeous photography for the cover art.  If you like this one, I recommend you check out the ‘1981 – Heart‘ mix, which is the spiritual forebear of ‘The Dawning;’ and the other “Post Post-Punk” mixes which follow the more angular and more electronic paths of Post-Punk.

(more…)

[Tribute] – ‘Memories of Tomorrow’ (1997-2015)

Posted in Mixes by Soundslike on August 23, 2015

As a listener to the Musique du Monde series of mixes would probably guess, two of my favorite contemporary bands are Stereolab and Broadcast, both because their music is wonderful, but also because it’s through them that I discovered things like the United States of America and White Noise and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Serge Gainsbourg, and on to David Axelrod and Placebo and library music and Italian/German/French/UK/Czech soundtracks and. . . probably half of what you hear at Musicophilia. So in the tradition of the ‘Zygotic’ tribute to Flaming Lips‘ unexpected resurgence, and the ‘Gold and the Silver Dream’ tribute to Daft Punk‘s recent success, I’ve cooked up two mixes that, while perhaps not so directly responding to the music of their inspirations, are intended to honor Stereolab and Broadcast via the amazing sounds of their forebears, comrades and descendants.

Where the first of the two, ‘La Diffusion,’ looked back to the foundation of Stereolab and Broadcast, ‘Memories of Tomorrow’ focuses on artists with whom those sounds found a home in the 1990s through to today. In the 90s, as a couple decades of shambling indie rock, increasingly dumb metal and “alternative” rock, and smart but unambitious college rock had pretty much extinguished any sense of style, adventure, artiness and class from rock-based music, Stereolab showed that the way forward was to back up to the sounds that were too quickly lost, and start building anew from there to see where things went. A few years later, Broadcast joined them as the beacon of what was possible moving forward for people who knew where they were coming from (paralleling Dilla and other crate-diggers in hip-hop and the world of electronic music, which ironically rarely abandons its history). They lived in the heady brew of analogue synths, jazz xylophones, cosmic guitars, tight beats, and nimble basslines; others made similar discoveries at the time; and collectively they continue to inspire new artists (and well-established but restless artists) who discover how much untapped potential remains in these sounds.

‘Memories of Tomorrow’ is somewhat unusual in focusing on the 1990s through 2010s, with a lot of well-known names like Portishead, Beck, Yo La Tengo, Tortoise, Air, Erykah Badu and Flaming Lips. Joining them are Beak (furthering Portishead’s new path), His Name Is Alive, Ivy, Caribou; Ghost Box figures Mount Vernon Arts Lab, Belbury Poly and The Advisory Circle; and a new generation who draw on Broadcast as much as White Noise, like Death and Vanilla, The Soundcarriers, and Jane Weaver. And of course, Stereolab and Broadcast are both here. There are quotes to be found–Caribou samples Barry Forgie, the Soundcarriers sneak in the “Vitamin C” beat, Tortoise finds a bowl of pasta in the Wild West, and Beck pulls of the supreme homage to Serge–but these artists aren’t burdened by influence, but rather liberated by it (with Portishead/Beak and Flaming Lips in particular given new leases on old band lives in the last decade through these sounds). Whatever you may think of those big-name artists, or however skeptical you may be of new bands working an old tradition–close your eyes, open your ears, and I think you’ll move into a timeless space that’s a lot of fun.

At the “more…” link below you can stream the mix, check the full tracklist, and download. Be sure to check out the companion mix to this one, ‘La Diffusion,’ featuring the spiritual roots of Stereolab and Broadcast. As always, if you like what you hear, please pass it along and support the artists and labels who made the music.

(more…)

[Musique du Monde/Tribute Series] – ‘La Diffusion’ (1957-1975)

Posted in Mixes by Soundslike on August 23, 2015

As a listener to the Musique du Monde series of mixes would probably guess, two of my favorite contemporary bands are Stereolab and Broadcast, both because their music is wonderful, but also because it’s through them that I discovered things like the United States of America and White Noise and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Serge Gainsbourg, and on to David Axelrod and Placebo and library music and Italian/German/French/UK/Czech soundtracks and. . . probably half of what you hear at Musicophilia.  So in the tradition of the ‘Zygotic’ tribute to Flaming Lips‘ unexpected resurgence, and the ‘Gold and the Silver Dream’ tribute to Daft Punk‘s recent success, I’ve cooked up two mixes that, while perhaps not so directly responding to the music of their inspirations, are intended to honor Stereolab and Broadcast via the amazing sounds of their forebears, comrades and descendants.

The mix at hand here, ‘La Diffusion’ (probably incorrect French for ‘The Broadcast’) looks back not necessarily on the direct influences of Broadcast and Stereolab (for example, it doesn’t get into the Neu-derived motorik side of things), but to the originators of the animating spirit of the bands.  I’ve features a lot of library music since the beginning of Musicophilia–the joy of discovering that whole secret history of the 60s and 70s is probably what made me start the blog in the first place–but I’ve never had the chance to do the exclusively library/soundtrack-based series for which I’ve culled several hundred tracks over the last six or seven years.  So late 60s and early 70s library cuts feature heavily here, because to me while Broadcast and Stereolab clearly draw on the period, it’s mostly the less commercially known, more sophisticated and cool side of the era that’s their main inspiration–and library stuff embodies that feeling.  Also featured are several of the sorts of related scenes I mentioned above, all drawing on early song-based electronics, tight rhythms, deep but gymnastic basslines, sparse and funky guitar, and jazz-derived vibes, brass and melodic sensibilities.  I’ve never found a satisfactory shorthand for all of this, perhaps because it was never really a fully popular movement; but it’s the sort of thing that is instantly recognizable and, to me, a whole lot of fun.

‘La Diffusion’ features Musicophilia mainstays like Silver Apples, David Axelrod, the Free Design, United States of America, Jean Michel Jarre, Ennio Morricone and Kraftwerk (in their pre-K days as Organization).  But the majority of the cast are library and soundtrack stars, most of whom aren’t nearly as well-known as they should be, like Barry Borgie, Braen’s Machine, Jacques Siroul, Piero Umiliani, Alessandro Alessandroni, Alain Goraguer, and Gianni Oddi.  At thirty two tracks, I won’t list everyone, but rest assured, there are no fillers here.

At the “more…” link below you can stream the mix, check the full tracklist, and download.  And be sure to check out the follow-up mix to this one, ‘Memories of Tomorrow,’ featuring artists from the 90s through today who, like Stereolab and Broadcast, have a deep appreciation for the far from fully mined world of sound this mix is all about.  As always, if you like what you hear, please pass it along and support the artists and labels who made all this fantastic noise.

(more…)

[One-Off] – ‘The Gold and the Silver Dream’ (1971-1982) (After Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories’)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on June 10, 2013

Hello!  Musicophilia is at this point mostly a memory–but it’s back from the dead, at least for a little while!  If you’re reading this, thanks for remembering.  Architecture grad school is in the rear-view after three years of all-consuming work, so I finally have a little time for mix making.  I’ve been listening and buying music as much as I could, and I’ve started (in my mind, at least) a dozen mixes, so who knows, maybe life will allow the opportunity to finish them.  Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories’ was release two days after I graduated, and listening to it (again and again) has felt like a celebration.  It’s an album tailor-made for fans of this blog, connecting the dots between so many sonic obsessions that are the motivation behind the Musicophilia mixes.  So it seemed only natural–and honestly, I couldn’t shake the desire, even in the midst of finishing a thesis–to honor the album with a mix.

‘The Gold and the Silver Dream’ isn’t a Daft Punk influences mix, and it isn’t meant to correspond to the album in any direct way.  Instead, I put it together as a way of spending more time in the space ‘Random Access Memories’ occupies.  It’s filled with the same warm, wonderful sounds of funky, melancholic robots skirting around the edges of the discotheque, alternately wondering what life’s about and deciding it’s all about forgetting to worry what it’s all about. There’s space disco, library funk, sophisticated rhythmic orchestrations, savvy art-rock, psych-poppers and proggers gone dancefloor, and a singer-songwriter or two–all meeting in those blissful sonic years 1971-1982 from which Daft Punk brewed their latest potions.  So if you like Musicophilia’s faux-vintage ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ series, or the dance-oriented ‘Les Rythmes du Monde‘ mixes, or the spooky ‘Le Mystere de la Musique‘ series, you probably love ‘Random Access Memories’ and I think you’ll really enjoy this mix.  Stream it or download it after the “more” link.

(more…)

[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.

(more…)

[Decade-End] – ‘A Decade in the Dark’ (2000-2009)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on December 22, 2009

Ten years out from 2019, it’s pretty clear ‘Blade Runner‘ was a little off the mark in terms of flying cars, bio-engineered supermen, a resurgent retro-Deco architecture (alas), and attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.  But as this first decade of the new millennium comes to a close, I can’t help but feel like the film nevertheless got more right than we might like to admit.  Not the least is the pervading sense of darkness; no, things aren’t literally gritty, wet and ever-dark, but it’s not hard to feel after this bungled decade that things might not be soon enough if things carry on with current trajectory.  The upside of this noir condition is that uncertain times, a futurism that isn’t optimism, and the melted cultural edges of an internet age have produced a lot of fantastic music that wouldn’t sound the least bit out of place in the sin dens and street bazaars (and cold storage laboratories) of ‘Blade Runner‘.

A Decade in the Dark‘ began gestation as a more traditional end-of-decade best-of mix, a la Musicophilia’s annual ‘Get Off My Lawn‘ series, based on my recent ‘Top Albums of the 2000s‘ list.  My favorite albums and singles of the decade included plenty of love songs, pop tunes, wistful singer-songwriter fare, etc. (which I’ll visit in future mixes).  But as I gathered pieces, I noticed a more compelling (if less comprehensive) story emerging.  The result is remarkably singular and cohesive, all parts sharing common threads of minimalist exoticism; spartan electronics that verge on organic; a judicious balance of wet and dry sound; and a haunted, longing emotional quality.  This is not the sound of realism: it’s not meant to convey the religious and imperial violence, political bitterness, or economic depression of the closing decade.  Rather, it is a romantic exploration of the emotional territory of this future-past, one we never dreamed of as kids when imagining life beyond that far-off year 2000.  It’s a dark story, but an evocative and enchanting one.

The twelve main songs that make up ‘A Decade in the Dark,’ along with two textural interludes, feel like individual vignettes set in a shared cinematic world.  The characters here are played by The Knife, Daniel Menche, Erykah Badu, Bjork, Burial, Portishead, Junior Boys (channeling Frank Sinatra), Low, Flaming Lips, David Sylvian, Thom Yorke, David Thomas with Two Pale Boys (re-envisioning the Beach Boys), The For Carnation, and Fennesz.  All play anti-heroes, like Deckard and Roy Batty–their motives and their motivations are complex, their outlooks informed by unresolved romanticism and pessimism, uncertain nostalgia and even less certain hopes.  I hope you enjoy the “film”–best played in the dark.   Download with artwork and full tracklist after the “more…” link.

(more…)

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

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

Folder

[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.

(more…)

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

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

Folder

[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.

(more…)

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

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

les-miniatures-volume-14

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.

(more…)

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

Posted in Albums by Soundslike on April 1, 2009

chalsa-nepal_let-them-see

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…”

(more…)

[Guest-Mix] – ‘Spring2009Mix’ (By Richard)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on March 23, 2009

00_various_-_spring2009mix_2009_cover

And now, as they say, for something completely different: Musicophilia’s 2nd guest-mix, graciously crafted and contributed by my old friend Richard, singer and songwriter of Portland, OR’s dream-pop band The Subcons (newer music here).  As you might have guessed from Musicophilia’s usual content, I mostly left behind the current day a long time ago; but as a working musician, Richard has got his ear to the ground, and brings Musicophilia a bit of the new with this mix.  Almost all of it is completely new to me, and my trainspotter ears hear a lot of fun things: plenty of prime Beach Boys, bits of Scotland’s Orange Juice or New Zealand “Pink Frost;” a little Buggles and Telex and Trio; some Tiny Tim, Vashti Bunyan, The Zombies, Marine Girls, and any number of quality cuts from the ‘Rushmore’ soundtrack, Mark Mothersbaugh included; and finally, touches from the last time I was current with current indie-pop, like The Minders, Kings of Convenience and Belle & Sebastian.  But the point is: it’s great sweet pop music, and definitely evocative of the onset of more verdant days.  I’ll turn it over to Rich:

Strikingly both familiar and new, the onset of spring has always felt so welcome and relieving. I think some of this music may affect the same way. Mozart used the phrase “gleich alles zusammen” to describe how he heard all the parts of a symphony he was writing all at once. So lovely to imagine taking it all in—perhaps this mix can accompany an upcoming outdoor excursion, where new sights and smells abound, helping to catalyze the beginning of spring in your life. Musicophiliacs may find some of this to be familiar territory laden with new ornamental trim. Others may find it wholly refreshing and invigorating. Wherever it takes you, make a point to anticipate a renewal, a tribute.

From the Swedes (Melpo Mene) to the Scots (Camera Obscura) and Welsh (Super Furry Animals), the Euro slant on springy popness can be sublime. Likewise for the Americans: whether east coast (Animal Collective, AC Newman, Grizzly Bear), midwest (Ghosty, Bird Names, Papercuts, Deastro), southern (Dent May, Canon Blue), or west coast (Coconut Records, Mirah, The Long Lost, M Ward), each region holds its own version of spring and its own odes to the beauty and newness of this time of year. All tracks were released within the last few months or will be in the next few.

Rich has been making his ‘SeasonYEARmixes’ for going on six years, and they can be found here.  For the full tracklist and download link, click the “more…” link below. [UPDATE: tracklist file was errant in all downloads prior to March 24th, the correct tracklist is below; a new download link has been created with a corrected file.]

(more…)

[1981] – ‘Computer’ Mix (2005)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on February 10, 2009

1981-computer1

As exciting as it must have felt if you were in the right place with the right people in 1981, my guess is that within a couple years it was evident that 1981 was a high-water mark for arty weirdo fusion un-rock rock music, and things had moved on.  Most of the music on the ‘1981’ box set represents this climax, and it doesn’t sound much like what your average person on the street thinks of when they think of “80s music”.  And not just because some of it was obscure even in its day; but rather because although it would inspire a small minority, a lot of music on the ‘1981’ set is actually the sound of the end of something, not a beginning.  By contrast, the music on ‘Computer,’ the seventh disc of the 1981 set, presents the birth of what most would identify as “80s music”.  This is “Electropop,” this is “New Wave,” this is “New Pop,” with a little bit of “New Romantic” for good measure–unabashed pop melodiousness, accompanied by synths and lead by keyboards, informed by the beginnings of an obsession with chorus, delay, and reverbed drums.  But–this is still 1981, so it all feels a little innocent, a little rough around the edges; the art-school diplomas and the bedsit squats and the situationist screeds still peek out from behind the bigger hairdos and the pleated trousers and the faux-corporate rhetoric about band-as-brand and taking on the system through the system.  ‘Computer‘ is the sound of turning at a crossroads.  But I would say it’s far from a lamentation of something lost–this music is above all else about smiling in the face of uncertainty.

This isn’t electro-disco or Italo or Hi-NRG.  This is electronic-based pop and some of it was quite popular: Depeche Mode, Devo, Human League, Duran Duran, Gary Numan, Soft Cell and the Cars you’ll recognise from the radio even if you were in diapers in 1981.  And most will most likely know Thomas Dolby (at least by way of John Hughes), Annie Lennox’s Eurythmics (with half of Can), Cybotron, OMD, The Buggles and of course the godfathers, Kraftwerk (here with probably one of my top 5 tracks of 1981).  But the trick is, this isn’t quite these bands as you might best recognise them, though depending on your proclivities, it might be these bands as you best enjoy them.  These staples are joined by the darker or slightly odder likes of Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, The Associates, Heaven 17 (ex-Human League), the Plastics, Yello, the lovely New Musik, Manuel Gottsching quietly “inventing” House, Tuxedomoon, Chris & Cosey (the softer side of Throbbing Gristle), Moev, Classix Nouveaux, and the wonderful Blue Nile with a song of pure unadulterated joy.  Full tracklist and download link are after the “more…” link.  And keep on the lookout of the next couple months for the final two mixes from the ‘1981’ box.

(more…)

[Women of Post-Punk] ‘The Young Lady’s Post-Punk Handbook, Vol. 1’

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on January 27, 2009

the-young-ladys-post-punk-handbook-volume-1

The first mix of a three-part series, Volume 1 of ‘The Young Lady’s Post-Punk Handbook’ is Musicophilia’s first mix-by-request, based on a 2-disc set I put together several years ago [here are ‘Volume Two‘ and ‘Volume Three‘].  Yet another reason I view “post-punk” as both distinct from and superior to “punk” is that it has little need for the traditional machismo of hard/arena/punk rock; indeed, it might be argued that a degree of political feminism and personal androgyny were prized or even required qualities of the ideal post-punk artist.  While I’m sure the ideal was rarely achieved, it would be hard to deny that seldom in its history has the Boys Club of Rock and Roll been more infiltrated by women as equal participants.  In a way, it seems slightly odd to explore “the role of women in post-punk” because I don’t want to ghettoise or marginalise it–women were so central that there is none of the feeling of searching for exceptions to the rule here: many of the artists featured are Big Names, who’d make any top-40 list of Most Important Post-Punk Bands.  However, singling women out only illustrates their centrality: you could play these mixes for a post-punk neophyte, and they would come away with a good sense of the breadth and depth of the fertile era/ethos; but they might not even notice, if you didn’t point it out, that the mix focuses on women.   So listen with your Gender Studies and Subaltern Political History caps on if you want–but you certainly won’t have to.  As long as you’re enjoying the music–and there’s no shortage of top-shelf tracks here–you’re getting what is important about the shifts post-punk brought to art-rock music.

‘Volume 1’ features performance artists, No-Wave inheritors, gentle proto-indie singer-songwriters, ska revivalists, dance-funk-disco popularizers, artsy weirdos, west-coast pop-punks, agit-prop art-punks, and more from between 1978 and 1983.  You’ll find Laurie Anderson; Delta 5; The Go-Go’s revealing a more pensive side; Raincoats deconstructing rock; X; Flying Lizards; Jane Hudson; Crass; Blondie; very early Sonic Youth; Selecter; Marine Girls; Lizzy Mercier-Descloux; and the lovely post-Young Marble Giants project Weekend.  Further volumes feature Family Fodder, Au Pairs, Pylon, The Slits, B-52s, Y Pants, Cocteau Twins, E.S.G., Lydia Lunch, The Pretenders and others.  These mixes make a nice companion to the ‘1981′ series, and I’ve avoided any track overlap with that or other post-punk mixes.  Download link and full tracklist (along with an update on upcoming mixes) after the “more…” link.  [Update: and here is ‘Volume Two‘ and ‘Volume Three‘]

(more…)

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

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

00_various_-_le-tour-du-monde-volume-05_2xlp_1971_cover-small

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.

(more…)

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

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

les-miniatures_volume12_front_small

‘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.

(more…)

[1981] – ‘Convertible’ Mix (2005)

Posted in Mixes by Soundslike on October 31, 2008

The second posted mix from the ‘1981′ box set, the ‘Convertible’ compilation showcases a side of the post-punk sound that usually gets the least attention: its poppy, melody-oriented, hummable, playful persona. Some of this gets lumped under “New Wave,” but for many that term connotes a synth-based sound that ascended later in the decade. The sounds on this mix in some ways reflect a more traditional, sometimes even pre-psychedelic, singer-songwriter-oriented “pre-punk” or “un -punk” approach to songwriting. Some of it foreshadows the late-80s rise of “indie rock” as an ‘antidote’ to excessive perceived synthetic-glam, but in 1981 there’s not much of the anti-artrockist twee feeling of 80s indie. This is simply catchy pop music, a continuation of a long tradition, with a feeling that is nevertheless uniquely informed by the heady musical freedom in the underground of the era.

I put ‘Convertible’ together as further evidence that post-punk was fun, for those under the looming cultural shadow of Joy Division and the other dark-side mopers. The music found here isn’t nearly as “cool” as a lot of the other stuff on the ’81 set, but it simply doesn’t need to be: it’s just right the way it is, simple, well-crafted, cleanly produced. As usual, there are big names (Costello, REM, Go-Go’s, TheRamones, Pretenders) and less so (Go Betweens, Pylon, The Suburbs, The Stranglers, and the Necessaries, featuring Arthur Russell, transitional Scritti Politti, pre -Everything But the Girl Marine Girls), but to my ears again the remarkable thing is the parity, the consistently high quality of the era’s broad zeitgeist, between those who received lots of attention at the time or went on to become mainstream acts, and those who never came close (or never wanted to). More information about the ‘1981’ box set in general (as well as the first mix in the series posted toMusicophilia) can be found here. Keep your eyes open for more mixes from the ‘1981’ set in upcoming weeks, including synthy goodness, weirdo careening, and the very height of 1981 “cool”. Full tracklist and download link after the “more…”.

(more…)

[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.

(more…)

%d bloggers like this: