Sunday, January 4, 2009

Jon Hassell: Earthquake Island

As good an introduction to Jon Hassell's music as any. Earthquake Island was his second as a leader, and features a cast of musicians who were known, more often than not, for their work in jazz and fusion - and explains the jazz-ish touches throughout the album. It's a personal favorite that is regrettably one of his more hard-to-find recordings.

Download Earthquake Island

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cabaret Voltaire: 2X45

I first learned about Cabaret Voltaire in the mid-1980s, when their videos to such tracks as "Kino" and "Do Right" were still fresh. By that point, the Cabs were a duo consisting of Steve Mallinder and Richard Kirk (Chris Watson was gone by the end of 1981), and their singles were mostly industrial dance tracks intended for rotation in clubland - and they managed some minor hits in their day. Of course even their hits were a bit too left-field to be accused of sounding mainstream. Before then, the band was known for their abrasive electronic experimentation. 2X45 finds the Cabs in transition between their past, when their only intention was to piss their audience off, and what would be their future. The album was recorded over two sessions with somewhat different lineups: one from October 1981 and the other from February 1982.

The sound will please fans of the No Wave scene to no end - it's dark, paranoid, angular, and downright funky. The Cabs' influences were varied, ranging from the minimalism of Steve Reich, ambient music of Brian Eno, the funk that made James Brown famous, and On the Corner-era Miles Davis. I've always dug on the first two tracks especially. "Breathe Deep" sounds like a tune ideal for some postpunk blaxploitation flick soundtrack. "Yashar" has some pretty interesting percussion and tape loops.

Tracks 1-3
Richard H. Kirk - Guitar, Sax, Clarinet, Synth
Stephen Mallinder - Bass, Vocals, Percussion
Chris Watson - Vox Continental, Tapes
Alan Fish - Drums, Percussion

Tracks 4-6
Richard H. Kirk - Guitar, Sax, Roland SHO9 and CSQ 100, Tapes
Stephen Mallinder - Bass, Vocals, Tapes
Eric Random - Guitar, Percussion
Nort - Drums, Percussion

1. Breathe Deep
2. Yashar
3. Protection
4. War of Nerves (T.E.S.)
5. Wait and Shuffle
6. Get Out of My Face

Download 2X45

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Marion Brown: Live in Esslingen

It's been a little while since I posted any Marion Brown recorded material, so I thought I'd hook you up with a live bootleg recording that I happened upon about three or four years ago. The sound on this live bootleg should serve as a bridge between Brown's live recordings from around 1968 or 1969 (as well as the album Porto Nova), and his ECM release Afternoon of a Georgia Faun and his duets recordings during the early 1970s. In fact, those latter releases are arguably quite similar to what you'll find here with this quintet. The ECM connection should be apparent not only from the basic approach this particular combo takes, but from the personnel list: ECM founder Manfred Eicher plays bass on this session. Expect a fairly minimalistic soundscape, "little instruments", and plenty of open spaces. In other words, don't expect a noisefest, but don't expect easy listening. Brown's music, no matter how spare, refuses to stay in the background. It's also a pleasure to hear a young Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet. Marion Brown fans will want this.

Marion Brown - Alto Sax
Leo Smith - Trumpet
Thomas Stoewsand - Cello, Flute
Manfred Eicher - Bass
Fred Braceful - Percussion

Note that although the track listing consists of a part A and B, on the CD I have, it simply appears as a single continuous improvised piece, running 46 minutes.

Download Live in Esslingen